few clouds


Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Help OC reach COVID-19 herd immunity

Last week Dr. Regina Chinsio-Kwong, a deputy health officer for the Orange County Health Care Agency, reported the county may not reach herd immunity against COVID-19 by the Fourth of July. At the current rate people are getting vaccinated, I’m guessing this means OC won’t reach its goal until Labor Day. 

Would a full court press by home-grown businesses and the county Republican Party help? If so, what would an “all hands on deck” campaign look like? Consider these five options Newport:    

First, Ralphs, Gelson’s, Whole Foods, Mother’s Market, Stater Bros. and Trader Joe’s match Pavilions’ offer of 10 percent discounts on groceries with proof of vaccination. 

Second, OC’s fast food giants, In-N-Out, Carl’s Jr., Del Taco and Taco Bell, give away free burgers and tacos to customers who get their shots. 

Third, Vans, a local leader in the competitive footwear industry, creates a special “run to get vaccinated” commercial for current and prospective customers.

Fourth, the Angels join the Dodgers by offering 20 percent discounts on tickets. 

And last, Orange County’s Republican Party publicly urges its 500,000 faithful – upwards of 40 percent of whom say they are reluctant to get vaccinated – to roll up their sleeves. Imagine 200,000 GOP voters proudly walking around with Band-Aids on their shoulders between now and the 4th.

Around the country, the New York Yankees and the National Football League have joined Krispy Kreme, White Castle, McDonald’s, Budweiser, Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Target and many other businesses offering fans and customers incentives to get their COVID shots. 

Newport residents can play a vital role in helping Orange County achieve herd immunity before Labor Day.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Guest Letter

Thank you NMUSD teachers!

Let’s celebrate our teachers’ accomplishments including our students being back in class! As a NMUSD Trustee and current Board President, I would like to share thoughts from my perspective. This has been a challenging time for everyone – and I can assure you that our seven trustees have heard from a broad section of students, teachers, staff, parents and administrators on every topic relating to schools. 

Much of our Board’s responsibility over the past year has been working through guidelines and safety protocols handed down by the state with the ultimate goal to reopen our schools to in-person learning. Many people in our community, and even nationally, have watched news or read reports of the educational system gone awry by public school teachers’ unions expressing their demands of not returning to campus due to safety and other concerns. By listening to the rhetoric surrounding these stories, one can assume our local educational system is aligned with these national issues.

My reason for sharing these thoughts today is because we have witnessed a different story emerge in Newport-Mesa. Our teachers came back to campus in a hybrid model last fall when most schools in the state and across the U.S. remained on full-distance learning. 

Over the last few months as our COVID numbers have continued to move in the right direction and new guidelines have been shared by the state, we have been able to open up more on-campus activities. As of April 21st, all of our elementary school students returned to campus five full days a week and beginning April 26th all secondary schools came back in-person four full days per week (with one day remote learning). 

I share this information because it is an achievement that collectively everyone should take pride in. Personally, I have visited many of our schools over the past month and have observed the joy and excitement of teachers awaiting this return. Many teachers have expressed to us how thankful they are to have their students back in-person. While negotiations took place, our district and associations have worked together to welcome our students back on campus, which we all know is in their best interest, both for academic, social/emotional and mental health reasons. 

During this week of “Teacher Appreciation,” our entire Board wants to share our appreciation for every NMUSD teacher and staff member who has navigated the challenges of the past 14 months, always with commitment to their students. We appreciate each of them for their contributions and hope our entire community will share in our thanks to all of our teachers who have come through for the students this year. 

Karen Yelsey, President

Board of Education

Newport-Mesa Unified School District

Letters to the Editor

Mariner’s Mile vision is blurred

The City of Newport has examined Mariner’s Mile, the 1.3-mile stretch of scenic corridor for more than two decades. There have been numerous studies concerning Mariner’s Mile beginning with the 2000 Mariner’s Mile Strategic Vision and Design Framework, the 2006 General Plan Update and recently, the Mariner’s Mile Charrette Design 2014.

These documents have outlined the founding principles, as well as the vision for Mariner’s Mile. The ideologies within these studies have established that this area has tremendous potential as an interesting, aesthetically attractive, multifaceted village for locals and visitors alike. 

These studies have always included language to protect the “quality of life” for the residents by creating a thriving “walkable” and safe village without expanding Pacific Coast Highway. Mariner’s Mile could prove to be an “economically productive” destination for the City of Newport Beach.

The 2510 W. Coast Highway Project will be heard this Tuesday, April 27th (today) at Council Chambers at 6:30 p.m.

As a business owner and resident, I implore that the City Council follow our city’s governing documents and defend our “quality of life” this Tuesday, and not the state’s.

Kathy Shaw

Newport Beach

Do we want Newport to lose its charm?

There have been letters to the editor talking about the development proposals before the city council, but I wonder how many residents are paying attention. Part of the reason may be the “whack a mole” nature of the issues before council. It is sometimes hard to see how they tie together. 

The redevelopment of Mariner’s Mile is before council and is one more large city-changing development being considered without the structure of a general plan for the area. 

Then there is the state mandate to provide over 4,000 new residences, many of which are to be affordable. This is being addressed with an update of the housing section of our old city general plan which lacks a strong current vision or any design guidelines and a tendency to take the easy way out – like building on Banning Ranch. 

And so we have piecemeal development that residents in the neighborhoods oppose and the vast majority of residents know nothing about.

Pretty soon when we look around, we will wonder where the charm of Newport Beach went. We can’t call it progress. Progress can be innovative. We need to call it short-sighted neglect. A process of “whack a mole” instead of robust citizen-involved planning!

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach

A plan more acceptable to residents regarding Draft Housing Element

Tonight is a major milestone at our City Council Study Session starting at 4 p.m. For the first time the Council may give direction to the staff on how they proceed. We believe that if the City of Newport Beach submits the current Draft Housing Element, HCD will not allow us to revise the draft to a version that is based on an alternate formula. We think that the following proposal represents a plan that is more acceptable to the residents of Newport Beach and should be considered by the City Council before they submit the Draft Housing Element. 

We believe the Council members should receive more in-depth training on the rationale behind our plan and the plan that is currently included in the Draft Housing Element. The Council members should be exposed to the opinions and suggestions of experienced “Mixed Income Developers” and “Affordable Housing Developers” (they do not necessarily have the same focus or expertise), not just luxury apartment developers interested in rental housing with a minimum or no affordable component. 

The impact of housing in the numbers currently being proposed can only guess at the number of luxury apartments that will be required to meet the low-income RHNA allocations being put forward in our Draft Housing Element. The number has gone from 8,000 to 12,000, and we predict it will be even higher. The implications of this promise to the State are not clearly understood by the community and under the current conditions, it is not likely to be understood until these apartments are built, at which point the residents will be furious and it will be beyond the Council or staff’s ability to unwind the zoning in the General Plan for years to follow. 

The result of this decision will be this City Council’s legacy.

Our Option 3 plan backs into the RHNA obligations based on the Low and Very Low requirements:

–Based on the 4/2021 Draft Housing Element Appendix B, Table B-1, the total low and very low RHNA units required is 2,386 (1,456 very low + 930 low = 2,386). 

–The very low and low units already in the pipeline are 130 affordable units per the City.

–After subtracting the affordable projects that are in the “Pipeline,” the remaining RHNA obligation for low and very low is 2,256 (2,386 - 130 = 2,256). This is the balance of what we need to satisfy our RHNA low/very low obligation. 

The numbers for Option #3:

–Senior Affordable Apartments – 5 projects @ 90 units each, Total 450.

–Homeless Permanent Supportive Housing – 1 Project, Total 50.

–ADU’s – 400 Existing with Forgiveness, 600 New over 8 years, Total 1,000

Mixed Income Apartments.

–40 percent affordable (1,900 x 40 percent = 760), Total 760.

–60 percent market rate/moderate (1,900 x 60 percent = 1,140), Total 1,140.

–Total Mixed Income Apartments, Total, 1,900.

Total affordable – 2,390 units (consists of 130 already entitled + 500 senior/homeless + 1,000 ADU’s + 760 low/very low units in mixed income high density apartments = 2,390 low/very low). This plan provides 1,140 moderate and above moderate apartments. We don’t support the 20 percent buffer approach.

Nancy Scarbrough

Jean Watt

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach

Every day is Earth Day…and Ocean Day 

Back in 1970, when I was a senior at USC, I attended the first Earth Day. Half a century later, I’m still celebrating it. Here’s what Earth Day means to me: Each time I see the ocean I think about the call I received in early August 1985. That was the day I learned I was picked to direct the No on Offshore Oil Drilling campaign created by a consortium of four beach cities, including Newport and Laguna, and the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

My task was to make sure that when Interior Secretary Donald Hodel chaired a town hall meeting weeks later in Newport, he heard Orange County’s message loud and clear: It’s too risky to drill off the county coastline for numerous environmental and economic reasons. 

Our lineup of speakers included California’s Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy and prominent local Republicans like Marian Bergeson of Newport and Harriett Wieder of Huntington Beach. To dramatize her opposition, Supervisor Wieder had a wheelbarrow packed with 14,000 of her constituents’ postcards unceremoniously dumped in front of the secretary. After that, 22 GOP mayors from throughout the county stepped up to the microphone and added their voices to the “No” campaign. Needless to say, I don’t think the meeting turned out the way Mr. Hodel thought it would.

I never got a chance to ask the secretary about the blowback he, and most people in the Reagan administration, failed to anticipate from Orange County local elected officials. All I know is thanks to Laguna’s Bob Gentry and several of his council colleagues in other nearby cities, their continued lobbying on Capitol Hill paid off. No president since Ronald Reagan has suggested drilling for oil off the county’s shoreline in the last 35 years.

Today, many environmentalists and political leaders are betting on reengineered cars, solar, wind and recycling as ways to protect the Earth for future generations. I don’t disagree; however, my focus continues to be on the health and welfare of the Pacific Ocean. Simply put, being part of a cause much larger than myself – one that turned thumbs down to offshore drilling – remains the single most important political campaign I ever will participate in, period. Full stop. 

If push ever comes to shove, I hope my children and yours will say “No” to offshore oil drilling along our beautiful coastline.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach 

General Plan needs to be sensitive to placement of housing units because of potential tsunami concerns

“Your first action is to be to start walking to higher ground. If everyone gets into their car, there is going to be a massive traffic jam, and people aren’t going to be able to get out in time,” said Steve Bohlen, acting state geologist of California and head of the California Geological Survey.

According to the scientists with the CGS, low-lying beach towns, including Newport Beach, are vulnerable to a catastrophic tsunami. Major quakes off the coast of Alaska or Catalina Island could send a monster wave over Newport Beach and perhaps there would be no time for a warning, so residents need to be prepared that when the shaking stops a new scare begins.

Align a near-shore event with the increasing risk of increasing sea level rise, our City will need to further evaluate the placement of residential housing along these low-lying coastal zones. In California’s coastal communities, millions of people and billions of dollars of infrastructure are threatened. 

The predicament that the City of Newport Beach should confront now is the need to recognize that these two potentially perilous events are more of a reality than not. We need to plan for our future, as our previous General Plan Update is 15 years old and does not fully take into account the probability of a tsunami and sea level rise.

So, as California mandates more than 4,800 low-income units for Newport Beach, we also need to make certain that these new residential developments are on higher ground and not in any of these designated low-lying areas (including Mariner’s Mile). To ignore these concerns would be catastrophic in the case of such an occurrence. 

So, the question emerges, in an emergency would we be able to evacuate those residents within an hour within these low-lying areas of Newport Beach?

Perhaps, we should begin walking towards higher ground now.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

City Council is encouraged to handle Mariner’s Mile development in its totality

(This letter was sent to the Newport Beach City Council)

Newport is a community of villages. Newport’s unique character and charm (Newport style designs) are on display in the villages surrounding the Newport Bay: Balboa Peninsula, Lido Marina Village, Mariner’s Mile, Balboa Island and the islands of Newport Harbor. 

It is impossible to overstate the profound change 2510 West Coast Highway and all proposed property development projects will have on Mariner’s Mile. The industrial box design and high density of 2510 West Coast Highway is out of character with Newport style development and not in harmony with Newport Bay marine design. The full scope of all the planned and proposed land use represents over one-third of Mariner’s Mile and will forever determine the future destiny of Mariner’s Mile. Without a clear vision guiding the transformation of the City and Mariner’s Mile, ongoing efforts will continue to be suboptimal and disappointing. The last thing Mariner’s Mile and the City of Newport Beach need is a crosstown freeway along scenic West Pacific Coast Highway.

Mariner’s Mile is at a Crossroads: Will the City Council sustain the character, charm and Newport style development by assuring Mariner’s Mile becomes a “village” or will our community’s foundational core values be eroded by high density development that is out of character and not in harmony with the surrounding villages on Newport Bay? 

Opportunity: What would it take for the city to promote marine oriented businesses and appropriate Newport style designs in order for Mariner’s Mile to become a friendly village and a gathering place which fosters the flow of pedestrians and bicyclists? This consideration should have priority over the suggested expansion of the highway that would increase the speed and flow of traffic. 

The attached letter dated April 21, 2021, to the City Council presents a vision, a course of action and a proven path forward for developing a Newport style Mariner’s Mile “village.” Lido Marina Village and Lido Village are excellent examples of what is possible when the city, developers and stakeholders work together. The process followed by the city in the development of Lido Marina Village where formal community outreach workshops presented the Lido Marina Village design guidelines to all stakeholders is what must be adhered to in developing Mariner’s Mile as a “village.” It is a City of Newport Beach proven process for development of a “village” (Best Practices) that has been successfully done before and can be achieved for Mariner’s Mile. It can be the framework for Mariner’s Mile to be developed into a “village” that enhances the character and charm of the surrounding villages on Newport Beach Bay. 

Strength of Community: The future of Mariner’s Mile will be determined within the framework of the interaction of the State’s impossible affordable housing requirements, the developers, city staff, Planning Commission, City Council, Caltrans, business and property owners, local merchants and residents. Our community is stronger together, especially when stakeholders, developers and the City work together to support each other based upon a common consensus, understanding and purpose. Working separately and apart, the result will be high density development along a high-speed crosstown freeway that nobody truly wants. Community stakeholders are asking the City to lay out all the Mariner’s Mile proposed and pending development projects together so we can study and understand how everything ties together. 

Planning Commission: On February 18, 2021, during the hearing for 2510 West Coast Highway, the Planning Commission recognized the need for a Mariner’s Mile Master Plan.   


–A decision on 2510 W. Coast Highway be postponed until the aggregate of all property development proposals including road safety, road widening and infrastructure projects along West Coast Highway are pulled together and evaluated before a single project is approved. 

–A Mariner’s Mile Steering Committee be created that is composed of stakeholders to shape the future of Mariner’s Mile as a Newport style “village” (Caltrans, property owners, local merchants and residents). 

–The City Council, Planning Commission and city staff assure that the proposed use of 2510 West Coast Highway and all Mariner’s Mile property development projects be Newport style “village” design in harmony with our community’s character, community norms and core values without adversely impacting the surrounding area. 

Patrick Gormley

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Lifelong love of Marguerite Avenue palms has not been without challenges, but their future now appears bright

I have loved the Marguerite Avenue Date Palms since my parents and I moved there many years ago. At that point the palm fronds touched the hood of my father’s car when it was parked on the street.

In 60 years since, we often heard “the city is trying to get rid of the palm trees so they can widen the street.” Now that I am part of “the City,” I can attest to the fact that it’s not true. 

In fact, since it was discovered that our Canary Island Palms were infected with a (Fusarium) fungus over 30 years ago, the city has gone to extreme efforts to try and save them. Unfortunately, the fungus has no permanent cure, but the City’s extraordinary care definitely slowed it down. 

Letter to the Editor Marguerite palm

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Joy Brenner

A dying date palm along Marguerite Avenue

Due in part to the fungus and trees’ age, we are now seeing more of the trees die (see photo) than in past years, and in the process the palms unexpectantly drop fronds and large chunks of bark. We have hired special consultants, increased inspections, added nutrients, and kept up consistent pruning to slow down the deterioration and ensure public safety. Our City Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission is watching these efforts carefully because safety is our number one consideration. 

The good news is that the King Palms being planted in their place are not susceptible to this fungus and are doing beautifully. On that note, it is essential that we as residents do our part to ensure that the existing trees (both the King Palm replacements and the Date Palms) are watered regularly. With summer approaching, this simple task will be more important than ever. 

With the combined efforts of the City and residents, we will ensure a beautiful and lasting Avenue of Palms leading directly to Big Corona for the foreseeable future.

Joy Brenner, District 6s

Newport Beach City Council

Letters to the Editor

Coming out of the pandemic, I’m reminded of the importance of friendship

I recently had a birthday celebration at my house for a dear friend and it reminded me, after a year of not being able to get together, of what an important role friendship plays in our life. Isolation from close friends was just one of the deprivations of the pandemic. Last week there was an article in one newspaper comparing a return to normality to that of coming out of a cave. 

Because we all had been vaccinated in February, my five retired teacher friends and I, for the very first time in over a year, got together without masks. It was a liberating experience seeing my friends’ full faces other than on Zoom. We spent five joyous hours together, talking and eating and sharing birthday toasts.

One of my thoughtful friends even bought us all matching aprons to symbolize the emotional comity we shared before and during COVID. During several years since retirement, we stayed in touch via a shared text thread, several times a week. We had emotionally supported each other during those years, particularly during the isolating period of quarantine.

We all continue to wear masks and socially isolate when we go out and get together with people out of our social and familial environments. And we plan to do so in the year ahead. But for that one afternoon, we were able to come out of our caves and enjoy each other’s company and mutually express our gratitude to the scientific miracle that made it possible.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

2510 W. Pacific Coast Highway Project comes to council on April 27, our voices need to be heard

The 2510 W. Pacific Coast Highway Project will be heard at the upcoming Tuesday, April 27 City Council meeting at 4 p.m. 

Why should Newport Beach residents be concerned about this project? This ill-conceived project will set a precedent with regard to the first mixed-use project along Mariner’s Mile. The project will incorporate a 35-foot high “monolithic structure” that will include low-income housing and an elaborate car dealership.

The applicant’s representatives took only two view simulations, one from John Wayne Park and one from Cliff Drive Park. (Ironically, the Cliff Drive Park is approximately a half-mile away from the 2510 W. PCH Project.)

The City’s General Plan states that this area on the inland side of Pacific Coast Highway, at the foot of the bluffs in the vicinity of Tustin Ave., Riverside Ave. and Avon St., presents a unique opportunity for the creation of an active pedestrian-oriented retail district.

The 2510 W. PCH Project has no retail or amenities and serves no purpose; however, it will generate unnecessary traffic in an already very tenuous area. These streets are “one-way” along Tustin, Oceanview and Avon Alley.

The General Plan states that the goal for development along Mariner’s Mile requires that projects are compatible with adjoining residential neighborhoods and open spaces, are well-designed and attractive, minimize traffic impacts and provide adequate parking.

The 2510 W. PCH Project disregards all of these elements and is inconsistent with the current General Plan, the City’s LCP and the California Coastal Commission policies.

The residents remain the largest revenue for the City of Newport Beach and our voices need to be heard loud and clear on April 27. 

This project does not benefit the surrounding communities of Bayshores, Lido Isle, Newport Heights and Cliff Haven; it will create more harm than good.

If the 2510 W. PCH Project should pass, it will forever be a “gross disfigurement” along our beautiful bay.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Memo to our next governor: Name a Water Czar

I applaud Newport’s Mayor Brad Avery for rallying his residents to be “water wise” and prudent. 

Because California’s hopes for a wet March did not materialize, we are on the cusp of another drought only a few years after a devastating 60-month dry spell that left water wells empty, and farmers idled. 

Which brings me to topic Number One in my book: No matter how the current recall effort turns out, my hope is the next governor will make naming a Water Czar a top priority.

What powers would a Water Czar have? He or she needs to be able to make decisions that transcend geographic boundaries, water district politics and partisan gridlock. Think of him or her like the director of the FBI or Homeland Security, only for water. Appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate, these crime and terrorist fighters operate at a unique level in Washington.

With the appropriate checks and balances in place, California’s Water Czar could be given similar powers in Sacramento. Yes, he or she would consider scientific, environmental, legal and political arguments before making decisions impacting the state. But once those decisions are made, the czar would rely on local leaders and agencies to quickly implement them. Not unlike the way governors, judges and police chiefs have to react after receiving news from the FBI or Homeland Security.

Fighting crime or terrorism is not the same as fighting Mother Nature. Still, we have a model in place that allows certain, key people to operate on a level unlike most everyone else. It is time California finds that person.

Mayor Avery knows water is key to our survival. The way I see it, a state Water Czar will play a critical role in being part of the solution to California’s water woes and not the problem.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

City asked to pause Housing Element process and seek more education

In two weeks, the Newport Beach City Council will be asked to submit a draft of the Housing Element to the State Housing and Community Development Department. The real due date is early in 2022. This submittal should be slowed down to give the Council time to get more education about what they are being asked to approve.

This undertaking began in 2019 when Diane Dixon was Mayor, and she formed a Housing Committee to begin the General Plan update. In 2020 Will O’Neill took over as Mayor and reformed the committee to focus on meeting the 4,845 RHNA housing mandate. Along with several residents, we have participated in every meeting to date. 

When this began in 2019 none of us had any education about this or the real ramifications of it. We were largely unaware of the impending State laws that would be signed and how they would affect all California cities. 

Since that time all of us have been learning. We have been seeking knowledge anywhere we could get it. Believing that other communities had the same desires and values as Newport Beach, we began to seek out other activist groups who may be looking for solutions to the same challenges we were facing. We found many groups grappling with the same challenges. We now have a greater understanding of the ramifications of the draft the Council is being asked to submit. 

We are deeply concerned about the direction the City is taking with the Housing Element of our General Plan. We are not sure that the full Council is aware of the ramifications of the path they are on. With COVID this has been a challenging learning curve for all of us. However, we think the residents are beginning to take notice and if we continue this trajectory the City is in store for a devastating outcome. 

Today we ask residents to ask the Council to pause this process and seek some education. We believe a study session should be held as soon as possible. There are affordable housing experts that can speak to us and give us some alternate ideas about how we can meet the state mandate without devastating our precious city. We believe there is a compromise that is challenging to implement but can be embraced by the residents. We don’t believe any of us could have known this before now. 

Nancy Scarbrough submitted a list of suggestions for study session topics to the City Council on Monday, April 12, 2021. We believe if the full council, along with the public, are made aware of other approaches then they can make a more informed decision about this critical component of our General Plan.

If you want your opinion heard, please call or attend the City Council meeting tonight or write to them at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Nancy Scarbrough

Jean Watt

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Is Newport Beach prepared to make the changes needed to continue to optimally serve their citizens and businesses?

There is a great deal of conversation around the country about government and national, state and local reform, with lots of research and discussion around changes needed. COVID has brought to the foreground problems that have been pushed aside for years. I recently read a dialogue between government researchers and loved this quote from a longtime Deloitte government researcher talking about their research.

“A lot of the focus has been on looking around the corner. Where does government need to go? What shape does it need to be? Who does it need to work with? It’s really about making sure that government is keeping up with a lot of the changes in society and business and that government can continue to serve the needs of citizens and businesses in the most optimal way.”

While government needs to be cautious in making changes, the focus needs to be on keeping up with society and stopping the partisanship. Does Newport need to go far more digital, become a Smart City? Does it need to be working on sustainability, crisis management, lean less on state and county demands and more on influencing making state and county better managed? What are the plans for sea level rise, or do we wait to react when the peninsula and islands get inundated? Is Newport looking around the corner? Is our general plan update reimagining Newport the way it needs to?

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach 

Unfortunate death of cyclist raises further questions regarding future development near Newport Heights area

Traffic problems continue to plague us in Newport Beach, particularly in the Newport Heights area where drivers often exceed the speed limit by 10 to 20 miles per hour. They whiz by stop signs as if they weren’t there.

Last week we lost one of our own, Ernest Adams, who was riding his bike near Newport Harbor High in broad daylight on March 28th when he was struck by a suspected DUI driver. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his wife, Lynda Adams, and his family who have been active community members for decades. Neighbors would often see Lynda and Ernie enjoying the front yard  of their Newport Heights home.

You can walk down Riverside Drive to Pacific Coast Highway any day of the week and witness the often excessive speed of the passing cars. They reluctantly only slow down or stop for the crosswalk if you are an assertive pedestrian. Because there are few sidewalks in the area, which hosts two community schools, pedestrians often have to walk on the side of the street, making popular thoroughfares such as Tustin, Irvine, Cliff Drive and Riverside particularly dangerous for them, as well as cyclists. 

This already critical situation threatens to get a lot worse with the new developments being planned for Mariner’s Mile. Walking on streets without sidewalks, next to traffic driving at excessive speeds is already a daunting experience, and unsuitable for a residential community. It is definitely a problem that should be resolved before proposed redevelopment in that area receives the “green light” to proceed. 

Solutions for traffic problems now and in the future definitely need to be met with transparency.

Lynn Lorenz and Tom Baker

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

There’s been a lot to learn about ourselves over this year of the pandemic

The last year has been, with little doubt, the most traumatic one in a century due to the pandemic and divisive politics. But we are breathing a cautious sigh of relief since late December due to the COVID vaccine and are starting to look back philosophically on the lessons we have learned. 

Many of us found ourselves spending much of our time at home, searching for ways to stay in communication with others as well as meet our material needs. A well-known local columnist prepared a list of lessons that she personally learned this last year. 

Just as in Shakespearean tragedies, there are always several scenes of comic relief. It is in the same vein that I write about a few lessons I learned. 

Everyone got excited, at least at first, about being able to spend the day in their pajamas. That got old, as did jigsaw puzzles and baking, not to mention the extra pounds. 

Some learned to appreciate the positive side of using Zoom. I no longer had to drive 50 miles round trip to go to my monthly book club meetings and the members of the book club could no longer pass notes or carry on side conversations when the discussions got boring.

Oh, and no need to clean your house and bake desserts for all the members. In fact, not having to clean your house at all was a big advantage to the stay-at-home crowd.

I saw some old friends I would probably not have seen thanks to Zoom. And only having to worry about what you were wearing on the top half of your body was a plus.

Also, it was definitely rewarding to be able to talk to your doctor from your living room.

My all-time favorite thing was having packages arrive on my doorstep, at least five or six a week, and getting to guess the contents of each. It still makes me wonder how a company can make so much money delivering very little individual packages instead of consolidating. But hey, I’m not a billionaire, so I can’t challenge the logic.

Wearing face masks hides a “multitude of sins” including bad makeup, no makeup and yes, facial lines and wrinkles. Everybody also got to see how they looked with long hair. And some of the “home” cuts were interesting. 

I got to see myself in long straight hair. But long straight “graying” hair just isn’t as attractive as the long straight hair of my college days!

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

There’s never a good time to share a message of hate

The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a self-proclaimed white supremacist and antisemitic organization, distributed flyers in Newport Beach last weekend. 

Kudos to Mayor Brad Avery when he said, “My Council colleagues and I were disappointed to learn of the distribution of recruitment flyers by a hate group in a Newport Beach neighborhood. Unfortunately, this is a common tactic used by some hate groups today. We condemn the group’s ideology and assure our residents that the Newport Beach Police Department is actively investigating to determine the individual or group responsible for distributing these materials in our community.” 

This isn’t the first time the White Knights have raised their ugly heads in Orange County. Back in 2014, the organization distributed flyers in Orange. I had the following published in several Southern California newspapers.

The Ku Klux Klan’s method of recruiting new members may have changed with the times, but its message is rooted in 100 years of pure hatred. Here’s what a “rebooted” KKK is doing coast to coast:

It is leaving flyers on driveways tucked into plastic bags along with a membership application, the address for the KKK national office in North Carolina, a list of beliefs and three Jolly Rancher candies. I’m sorry, but neither their credo nor the candy make the Klan’s history any sweeter to swallow.

In Orange, residents received flyers last month in sealed plastic bags, according to KTLA News.

The message on the flyers was “Save our land, join the Klan” and included a phone number and the KKK’s website. The group claims it is focused on illegal immigration from Mexico. Not surprisingly, you will hear this voicemail message if you call the telephone number on the flyer: “Always remember: If it ain’t white, it ain’t right. White power.”

On a scale of 1 to 10 of things to worry about, like ISIS attacking America or the Ebola virus making its way to our shores, I’d say the Klan is a 1. It’s estimated that there are between 5,000 and 8,000 members nationwide, divided among dozens of divergent and warring groups. What unites them is their hatred of Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, gays, lesbians and Catholics. Who’s next, Barbie lovers?

Robert Jones, the “Imperial Klaliff” of something called the Loyal White Knights sect, recently said the KKK’s flyer campaign is part of its “national night ride” – a recruitment event that happens three times a year.

Jones said these drive-by, outreach efforts aren’t aimed at specific people and that residents who receive a bag on their driveway “shouldn’t be fearful unless they’re doing something that the Klan considers morally wrong.”

What does that mean? Is it morally wrong to drive a German car instead of a Chevy? Is it morally wrong to drink Kirin Beer from Japan instead of Coors from the Rockies? Is it morally wrong to believe in Buddha instead of Jesus? I’m guessing the KKK would say yes to all three. That not only is scary, it is un-American.

Today’s Klan may be embracing new ways of recruiting members, but the organization is fundamentally the same as it was a century ago. Despite the Jolly Ranchers, it’s no sweeter now than it ever has been.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Letter to the Editor

Is the tradeoff for affordable housing worth the cost of a loss of views?

The 2510 PCH Project was appealed by Mayor Brad Avery, thus, to further review the project and its cumulative impacts. The hearing will be held on (Tuesday) April 13 at City Council Chambers. The applicant has proposed a 35-unit apartment complex (three units will be considered low income), with an adjacent car showroom. 

There are concerns of those priceless public views from both John Wayne and Cliff Drive Parks that will be severely impacted forever. John Wayne Park is one of the very few parks where families and friends gather to watch the Christmas Boat Parade every year. These people generally travel from the Inland Empire to watch the parade at no charge. They might not be able to afford to dine at a restaurant on the bay nor afford to rent a Duffy to view the parade, but they most certainly can bring a blanket and a picnic basket to watch our glorious parade, which originated in 1908.

The project does not take into consideration environmental justice issues with regard to the equal protection and meaningful involvement of all people with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies, and the equitable distribution of environmental benefits. These sacred views from John Wayne Park and the enjoyment for residents and out of town guests will be eternally eradicated, as these parks are considered an environmental benefit for all people. 

So, who are these fortunate people that will be allowed to reside in these three low-income housing apartments? According to the Staff Report, the City provides the guidelines, and these guidelines provide priority treatment for City employees (those who qualify for low-income must make $44,850 per year for a one-person household). Will these low-income apartments set precedence for Newport’s stakeholders that could conceivably pay to house City employees? 

We must ask ourselves, will three low-income apartments, potentially inhabited by City employees, be a sound reason to obliterate public views for literally thousands of people, especially for those future generations to come? 

“Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.” –John Wayne

Peggy V. Palmer 

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Still need to keep the pedal to the metal fighting COVID

Don’t throw away your masks or plan a large indoor celebratory get together yet. Despite the fact that we are finally making good progress with the vaccination program, there are still signs that we are not entirely out of the woods. Dr. Shrugi Gohil, an infectious disease doctor at UCI Medical Center, advises that “the next four weeks to six weeks will tell.” 

Before elaborating on the need to be realistic about our recovery, we should pause to give reverence to the people who played a role in getting the COVID vaccines developed at breakneck speed. If you are religiously inclined, you might think of it as a miracle. When I was complaining recently about some minor side effects that questionably could be related to the vaccine, one of my doctors reminded me of what an unprecedented accomplishment the coronavirus vaccines were. 

It inspires optimism to see the number of people being vaccinated. Even some of my friends and relatives who were once very skeptical are getting the vaccines. Also, the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine is now available and will speed vaccinations up even more.

Two big challenges in the coming weeks will be to see what role the new variants will play, particularly the California and UK variety. And it will be important to observe how well our overworked hospital and care home staffs can continue to operate under such stressful and unprecedented physical conditions.

Another UCI epidemiologist and public health doctor says that he guarantees that there will be a third wave in Orange County, so people need to get vaccinated as rapidly as possible. And it is important to not get so optimistic that we stop using our masks and keeping social distances. We need to move ahead cautiously.

Although statistics are brighter on the horizon, there are still some sobering ones to consider. There have been close to 5,000 COVID deaths in Orange County, a figure which surpasses the annual death toll of cancer and heart disease.

Those skeptics who have not been able to buy into the serious nature of the life-threatening foe we are addressing, might be able to get some inspiration from one of history’s greatest minds, the physician and humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, who wrote in one of his books that “Ethics is nothing other than Reverence for Life.”

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Are tonight’s Closed Session agenda items a cause for concern?

There are two items on the City Council Closed Session agenda tonight. They are two Real Property negotiations. It appears that resident Palmer Luckey wants to purchase or sell property adjacent to a property he owns on Lido Isle. It also appears that resident Bob Olson wants to purchase the land under his Lido House Hotel where the old City Hall once stood. 

One can surmise that these transactions are for personal gain. Both residents were prolific donors to various campaigns of current City Council members in the recent City Council and 2nd District Supervisor elections. At the least, the optics of this negotiation between these City Council members and these donors at this time is questionable. 

Residents who have sought election reform would argue it should be illegal for those Council members to vote on something brought forth by a recent donor.

Not long ago, residents of the City-owned property in Beacon Bay approached the City arguing that their land rent was too high. Instead of politicizing this request it was assigned to a citizen subcommittee or Ad Hoc of the City Finance Committee for evaluation. I suspect members of the City Finance Department also participated. This allowed the request to be evaluated outside of the political arena and the results were publicly reported at a subsequent Finance Committee meeting.

The resultant report allowed an informed City Council to publicly act on the request. I suggest that these two matters being discussed tonight be handled in the same manner. I do not take issue with these requests by these gentlemen. However, neither fellow is being philanthropic in their respective request and some level of expertise on the City’s behalf should be used to evaluate each request.

If you want your opinion heard, please call or attend the City Council meeting tonight or write to them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach

Political extremism in Newport and OC

I have lived near the beach for more than 50 years and have experienced the long arm of extremism many times. Back in 1971, when I was a student teacher at a Newport Beach elementary school, the principal told me he already had one Jew on staff and “couldn’t afford to have another one.”

Five years later, after I founded a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging high school students to vote when they turned 18, I was called a “n-lover” because I invited then-Congresswoman Yvonne Braithwaite Burke to join the group’s advisory board. 

But those insults were nothing compared to the death threats my wife and I received for publishing the Andy Warhol portrait of Jane Fonda in 1982. Back then, the actress and her husband, Tom Hayden, often were called traitors by OC elected officials and members of the powerful Newport-based Lincoln Club.

Even today, I am still on the receiving end of someone’s extreme political views. In a Facebook private message, an acquaintance of mine recently called me a “demonic, Satan liberal” because my views were so different from hers.

Whatever happened to the phrase, “Live and let live?” I guess that only applies to some who call Newport or Orange County home, not everyone.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor

Liked Duncan’s childhood memories, but don’t forget, I was there, too

Duncan Forgey did a nice article but left out Johnnie Crean. I ran with the O’Toole brothers, Chasin, and all the Point guys. We lived on Channel Road, next to the Allen sisters, 2-3 houses from the O’Tooles. And Andy Crean, my brother, was there, too. We lived on Channel Road from 1958-64, then moved to the Caribe Balboa, the high-rise in Balboa. 

It was magic. We played football on Little Beach on Channel Road by the Little Harbor Pier, next to the fenced beach that belonged to the Association. We played baseball in the street in the triangle at the center of the Peninsula, next to the park, went to the Wedge when it was roaring and climbed to the end of the jetty, and we walked to the Balboa Theater for movies and roamed the Fun Zone.   

Alice and Penny Paris were about, too.

It was so rural, because maybe one-third of the homes were summer homes, so all winter there were just a few of us kids, so we all got to know one another. 

The Wedge was risky, but Corona del Mar beach was great. Some of us crossed the channel in a small boat or on a board to surf.

At the end of Channel Road was the jungle, some bushes at end of houses just before the jetty alongside the water. We went there to smoke. Regular cigarettes.

Johnnie Crean

Kamuela, Hawaii

Still thinking good things about Governor Newsom

Certainly people can be critical of Governor Newsom because like most mortals he has made some mistakes. He has succumbed to political pressures and in an attempt to please everyone he has made and remade decisions. He has been flexible in certain areas and inflexible in others. But remember, it is not every day that one governs during an unprecedented national disaster.

Everything is relative when a leader faces such a dire situation and the natural response when making decisions is to learn from your mistakes. But those who have been overly critical of Governor Newsom from the beginning have allowed him no leeway and have failed to recognize how he masterfully issued the first national stay-at-home orders and was one of the most successful governors to procure emergency medical supplies and equipment. 

And again in his favor, California’s COVID death rate is lower than that of more than half the states, and California will emerge from the pandemic with a robust economy.

Several local politicians have criticized Newsom from the beginning simply because he is not a member of their political party. They railed against his decisions while offering absolutely no COVID response in return. We have elected and re-elected leaders who have openly defied any regulations put in place by the state and county to protect public health. 

And from the supervisors to the local councils, there has been absolutely no disaster leadership to date. You would think that they would be hiding their faces in shame instead of criticizing one who was not afraid to lead, one who constantly communicated with his constituency trying to observe the best practices to help us emerge from COVID.

Yes, he made some mistakes, but the question is, could anyone have done any better? Look at our local leaders, look at some of the states with no leadership. Having someone emerge triumphantly from a recall election with such attitudes and lack of true leadership scares me greatly.

The purpose of the recall, which became part of the California Constitution in 1911, was to help keep officials in Sacramento accountable and honest and to help unlock the grip of special interests groups. 

For the first 83 years in California, only three recall elections successfully reached the ballot. But in the subsequent 27 years it has happened seven times. It’s modern use has been frequently that by the minority party which is trying to make an end run around the normal election process. It is a costly, chaotic and unpredictable process which in Newsom’s case is being used mostly by conservatives and even some extremists whom you think would not want to waste money when a real election is just around the corner. 

And while balancing your options, remember this truism: Be careful of what you wish for.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Excited about the Jr. Lifeguard building, but concerned about area’s homeless campsite

I was happy to read about the new Junior Lifeguard building in the recent Stu News. Many of us have benefited from our kids and grandkids participating in the program. I agree the building is much needed. 

I do have one concern. Has anyone taken a walk on or near the Balboa Pier lately? If not, maybe you should. It has become a homeless campsite with all the tents and lack of hygiene that come with it. If the City and the Foundation are going to make a big investment, the City should address this problem. Right?

Jerry Piersall

Costa Mesa

Finding common purpose out of the morass!

In a recent letter, I spoke about our Newport city council’s focus on whack a mole issues rather than tackling the more difficult issues and getting innovative about them. I should have explained the pattern of behavior I see. It isn’t unique to Newport, but I live here. 

The pattern is to not seriously address the wicked problems like sea level rise or homelessness or affordable housing, or transportation or better community health within the city to the point that the courts or state government step in and mandate changes. Then when the courts or state mandate change or citizens revolt, elected leaders complain, fight them in court, or resist in other ways. 

Newport recently was to begin a general plan update. A substantial update addressing the problems of the 21st century would truly require extensive community engagement and participation. It would also require leadership to be bold in explaining what issues the city faces. A lackluster effort to engage the community ensued until the state mandated a huge housing increase and the pandemic stopped any idea for any robust community involvement. Staff and hired consultants then came up with status quo draft plans for housing and transportation which included widening PCH through Mariner’s Mile and annexing Banning Ranch to build housing. Both ideas that citizens have been fighting for years. 

Leadership in the 21st century going forward will need to be bold, inclusive and innovative. Community and organizational success and solutions of wicked problems will take communication and involvement like we haven’t seen in years or maybe never. We need a common purpose of making the changes we need to survive and saving, even enhancing, our quality of life. The parroting of partisan themes needs to be gone and we need leaders in all areas – resident, elected and business – to collaborate and lead us out of this current morass. 

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

We must get our arms around the problems facing us to just simply survive

I have been appalled at how our local elected officials have behaved during this pandemic, fighting mask mandates and the state’s stumbling emergency plans, being part of the problem instead of part of the solution with partisanship. The pandemic was declared a national emergency and it certainly is one.

Declared emergencies give government emergency powers. Unfortunately, unlike an earthquake, hurricane or flood, it is a new and long-lasting emergency. One none of us have ever seen before and do not know how to manage very well or what will come. 

To quote five past mayors in Will O’Neill’s latest Twitter – “We are making decisions on shifting sand.” Perfect description for every one of us, citizens, scientists, elected officials! It is an emergency that has shown all of us the problems with our systems and the incompetence at every level of our society and government, city, county, state and federal. 

So why don’t we hunker down and fix our problems and faulty systems? What will the next pandemic bring, and we are being told there will be others? How can we better handle community health? With its long highly built up coastline, how affected by sea level change will Newport be? Where is the true citizen/government collaboration on innovations in city, county, state government? 

This is truly the time to come together and revision, and come to terms with the changes needed to survive and thrive. It is not the time to stay mired in partisanship and our whack a mole issues. 

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Concerns with Superior Ave. bridge project

The following letter was sent to the chairman and commissioners of the Newport Beach Planning Commission concerning the Superior Avenue Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge, Parking Lot and Recreation Area Project.

Mr. Chairman and Commissioners,

Scenic corridor views along West Coast Highway cannot be taken for granted. I support preserving, protecting, and enhancing our coastal resources and coastal views. I am concerned about the significant visual impacts from project grading, construction of retaining walls and the pedestrian bridge. 


The full scope of all foreseeable development project proposals for widening West Coast Highway must meet State, Coastal Commission, community and environmental requirements before approval. 

Why is the City choosing to separate this project from the West Coast Highway Widening Bridge project? Shouldn’t they be considered together? I think additional analysis is needed to demonstrate the need for the project and to assure it is the least damaging environmental alternative to our coastal resources. Would it be better for the Planning Commission and the City Council to step back, take a look from a big picture perspective and independently inquire beyond the surface into the details of the full scope of all West Coast Highway infrastructure projects before deciding? Without a detailed justification for widening West Coast Highway and a full understanding of how the PCH & Superior Bridges project ties into all proposals to widen West Coast Highway, a decision should not be made. 

The significant risk to scenic corridor views due to these projects must not be undervalued or dismissed. I am asking the City of Newport Beach to lay out all of these projects and their impact on the environment so the community stakeholders can study and understand how everything proposed ties together before any single project is approved.

Thank you,

Patrick Gormley

Setting the record straight regarding the CdM BID

I just want to clarify a couple of my comments that were reported in Amy Senk’s recent column about the CdM Business Improvement District (BID). I want to be clear that as one member of a seven-member city council, I am in no position to tell the BID what the council will or will not do. I told the board members that in past council meetings, where this topic was discussed publicly, it didn’t sound to me like a majority of the council was in favor of continuing the BID with the current 1989 structure. Also, the BID board has not in the past indicated an eagerness to change to the 1994 BID structure. Council sentiment seems to be that we want to have our businesses keep as much of their own revenue as possible. 

I also let BID board members know that the one-time COVID relief money they received last year, as far as I can tell, will not be on the table for this year. From what I’ve heard at council meetings, it seems unlikely that more funds will be appropriated for the BID. However, I have heard very complimentary remarks about the way in which the CdM BID utilized those funds in order to help businesses with COVID-related expenses. Also, I was not advocating for the remaining BID funds to be appropriated for the Christmas Walk if the board members choose to dissolve the BID. I reported that I sought the advice of our city attorney, who told me that any remaining funds could be donated to another charity, such as the CdM Chamber, for the Christmas Walk.

I was very surprised to hear the majority of the BID board members express sentiments that indicated their willingness to let the BID go. If they do vote to dissolve the BID at their next meeting, I want to publicly acknowledge the amazing work they have done in beautifying our CdM Business District. I think our benches, trash cans and medians all look very attractive and have created a beautiful cohesive environment, of which I am very proud. 

The past and current CdM BID board members should be very proud of their many accomplishments! 

Thank you ALL for your MANY years of service! 

Joy Brenner

Newport Beach City Council

District 6

Reiterating the importance of wearing masks

 I share Tom Johnson’s consternation expressed in Tuesday’s Stu News’ Fair Game section over the large number of people in Newport Beach who, despite a year of COVID prevention information, are still not wearing masks in public.

I never cease to be amazed in fact, by the number of people I see on a daily basis in Newport Beach who are unmasked. Often, I would have to admit that the feeling that I experience is not just amazement but disenchantment because the gesture appears to be such a selfish one. Those who are healthy or young must take into account that the mask we wear has a dual purpose – to protect us and others around us who may not have a similar health profile.

Even though we have been talking about the importance of masking to control the coronavirus for over a year, I see in certain places that the same number of people who don’t wear masks has not changed. Fortunately, the compulsory wearing of masks in most indoor areas has made one feel relatively safe to enter in and around those establishments.

It is the “in-between areas,” outdoor groups, outdoor eating areas, even indoor areas in larger buildings where the rules are seen as grey areas. As I walk around Newport Beach, I see that there are very few outdoor groups who observe the six-foot social distancing rule which is a relatively safe distance without a mask. When I occasionally see people who are masked outdoors other than in community areas, I assume that they must be from out of town.

Because I take daily walks in and around my neighborhood, I have taken to wearing masks because of the latest major surges. I rarely see another walker wearing a mask and during each walk, I never fail to see several people who look surprised or do a “double-take” to see that I am wearing one. An improvement that has been pretty much the rule since I started wearing a mask, is that most mask-less people are polite enough to go out of their way to avoid proximity to me.

All of these issues have been going through my mind for a year. But yesterday, trying to take “a deeper dive” into the issue, I ventured to think of more complex reasons other than selfishness that would explain why people refuse to wear a mask, particularly in Newport Beach. Here are some possible theories I came up with: 1. Vanity: In Newport, an upper-class city known for glamour, vanity may play a very large role. 2. Leadership: Many of our national and local leaders showed disdain for COVID rules, particularly masks, and as such, many served as negative rather than positive role models. 3. Information: I read every bit of information I can find on the coronavirus. I read a daily newspaper and also constantly read articles from professional sources online. Each day it seems that something new comes out. Occasionally we get information that challenges previous information, but usually never about the importance of masking against infection. I started thinking last night that since Dr. Fauci says we might be wearing masks until 2022, that I better buy some more masks, perhaps slightly decorative ones. I am not the only one considering this because for the first time on Facebook, every fifth post was about selling masks. Many people who reject masks might be getting second or third-hand information, or none at all. They are not reading newspapers, nor searching information online. Neither are they watching informational TV. They are rehashing the same old information with friends and acquaintances, leaving no room for new scientific information. 4. Conformity: Newport Beach, with its glamour attracts wealthy people, some newly wealthy and some newly arrived who do not feel particularly secure about their status, and to belong they feel the need to conform. If others are not wearing masks on a particular occasion, they do not want to stand out by wearing a mask and drawing attention to themselves. If you think conformity does not play a role in Newport Beach, just look at the cars people drive. 5. Asymptomatic infection: This is perhaps the biggest reason for avoiding masks, especially by teenagers and young adults. According to Dr. Fauci, 40 percent of those who have COVID have asymptomatic infection, feeling no symptoms. Young people who get milder cases anyway, can count on having either mild or no symptoms. As Tom pointed out, Irvine with three times the population of Newport Beach, has the same amount of deaths to COVID. In Newport, getting residents to buy into the concept of community health has been our biggest challenge.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

No fan of Muldoon for Supervisor position, or any position as far as that goes

Newport Beach City Councilman Kevin Muldoon is running for OC Supervisor, but his actions in Newport Beach have been so egregious that he should never hold another elected office.

When he voted to allow an exception to Newport’s long-standing development plan and approve the high-rise Museum House tower, he also knew that residents would seek to qualify a referendum calling for a special election on the project. He very intentionally (seemed to) undermined our democratic right to challenge his vote by requiring that 3,700 unnecessary pages be added to each referendum petition, costing proponents $40,000 just to print the petitions. He fully expected this to stop the referendum in its tracks. The right to petition our government is a precious right, but (apparently) not to Mr. Muldoon. 

Ironically, Senator Moorlach later passed a law preventing future unethical city councils from repeating this travesty.

If you prefer a politician with a proven track record of ignoring democratic rights and throwing constituents under the bus, Mr. Muldoon just may be your guy.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Only one side of Island issue is being shared

The Balboa Island Improvement Association (BIIA) is an organization of volunteers, financed by “dues-paying” members – property owners, renters, local merchants and business owners on Balboa Island as well as non-resident well-wishers. It is a non-profit, tax-exempt, apolitical association. It is not a homeowner’s association. We can all agree that the dedicated volunteers of BIIA do an outstanding job of enhancing the quality of life on Balboa Island all through the year and are greatly appreciated.

Unfortunately, the Board of Directors of BIIA and President Terry Janssen have taken the unwise and possibly unlawful decision (under its charter) to spearhead and lend active support to the establishment of an Underground Utility District on the Island. Several past and present BIIA Board members are heading up the team that is pushing this highly divisive proposal that will impose tens of thousands of dollars in assessments on reluctant property owners.

BIIA has been providing material support to this initiative through fliers being enclosed with issues of The Island Bridge as well as periodic bulletins via electronic communication to its members, through Constant Contact. The information being fed to property owners is largely one-sided and, in some cases, highly misleading.

This is an issue that has a significant monetary impact on property owners of Balboa Island, not on renters, not on merchants, not on business owners or well-wishers. A large segment of property owners have organized and support the “Underground Opposition Group” (UOG). We are “dues paying” members of BIIA as well. We requested President Terry Janssen to allow UOG to use BIIA’s channels of communication to pass on the opposing view to all its members. This is what routinely happens in a voter’s guide on city and state propositions, where both sides of an issue are presented to the voters.

President Terry Janssen has summarily rejected this request from UOG to present both sides of this issue to all its members, without any explanation. This reckless and autocratic decision was made without input from its membership and without due consideration of its effect on the “non-profit, tax-exempt” status of BIIA. Nevertheless, UOG will continue to disseminate through its own resources, rebuttals to misleading statements by those doing a “sales job” on imposing a huge “TAX” on the property owners of Balboa Island. Our goal is to make sure that both sides of this highly divisive issue are presented to the property owners to facilitate an informed outcome.

If you have any questions or need more information on this issue, please contact me.

Bob McCaffrey

Balboa Island

Moorlach seems to be most qualified for Supervisor role

Interestingly, Katrina Foley is the mayor of perhaps the worst managed city in the county. Were it not for tax revenue from South Coast Plaza, it would be horrible. How could anyone consider her for a promotion to supervisor? 

We need management experience. (John) Moorlach had the position and did a fine job. Why would we not capitalize on his experience?

Jeff Morgan 

Corona del Mar

Residents should have taken the win and moved on

Some people just don’t know when to quit when they are winning. Two recent letters from residents living in Big Canyon chastised Councilmembers Will O’Neill and Noah Blom for voting to allow the owner of a Shell station to add an automated car wash to his underbuilt and underutilized property in order to stay competitive and profitable. Instead of winning graciously and counting their lucky stars that five other council members chose to disregard a 6-1 Planning Commission vote and a City Planning staff recommendation to approve the project, these residents decided to attack O’Neill and Blom for following our Zoning Code.

Does the Council really want to position itself as the decider of winners and losers in the free market? What happened to the ideas of free enterprise, capitalism and property rights? How quickly these American values go out the window when a group of vociferous residents complain about a business owner trying to compete in a changing business environment. Their solution is to disregard our Zoning Code because they made a choice to buy a home overlooking a service station at the intersection of Jamboree and San Joaquin Hills, two of the busiest streets in Newport Beach.

As Councilman O’Neill stated at the meeting, good governance demands that we follow the Zoning Code as it is written, not throw it out on a whim. Councilman Blom concluded, and I agree, doing anything else is “bad business.”

Joe Garrett

Corona del Mar

Letter to the Editor

District elections make for better representation

I did my research on district elections a little over a year ago and since that time, the idea of district elections in Newport Beach seems more relevant than ever. In the latest City Council election, we saw very few challengers to council seats (two to be exact) compared to surrounding cities which attracted significantly more.

We saw the indisputable role that outside money played in the election, leading to the loss of one incumbent and one challenger who in many opinions, were more in tune with community values than the winners. One need only examine the “Campaign Disclosure Statements” available through the City Clerk and online County Records, Forms 460 and 497, to see the money from developers and PACs taken in by the Team. These contributions from outside sources need to be mitigated to give more people the opportunity to run for office. To be truly competitive with these candidates, someone wanting to challenge an incumbent needs approximately $100,000, or if running against a Team member that drags other Team members along by their collective shirttails, perhaps even more.

The Planning Commission meeting that took place on February 18th which involved a development in the Mariner’s Mile area is another example of a disconnect between community aspirations and those of developers and commissioners. Contributions by the community in written and oral form are often discounted and not all are politely accepted, nor are residents’ written and oral questions frequently answered. City Council members who are sensitive to community concerns would in turn appoint Planning Commissioners of like mind.

Another reform that should take place in Newport Beach that would eliminate the cat and mouse games currently used by council members to appoint a new mayor and mayor pro tem would be to have residents directly elect the mayor, again giving residents more say in city government. 

What opportunities are available to city residents who want more input into city issues but cannot continue to afford the hefty price tags required for at-large elections? One solution that more than 100 of California’s cities (1/5th) currently have turned to is district elections. Once only common in larger cities like Los Angeles, San Diego and Long Beach, district voting has been gaining in popularity in middle and small-sized cities as well. Cities in Orange County such as Costa Mesa, Dana Point, Fullerton, Lake Forest, Placentia, Stanton and Buena Park now have district elections. It is expected that one-third of California cities will have switched to them in the near future. 

While some cities have changed from at-large to district elections because of lawsuits challenging at-large elections’ failure to represent all citizens and neighborhoods fairly, Newport Beach would benefit from district elections by empowering long-term residents to get better representation on the City Council. Generally speaking, the wealthy donors who back council members do not want the same thing for our cities that long-term residents do.

The most important change that district voting will make is to lower the main barrier to candidacy. Right now, it takes a candidate too much money to run for election. Also, a candidate in our at-large elections has to make themselves known in every single district. This is an exhausting effort that prohibits new candidates while incumbents, as witnessed in the last election, have much less work to do.

A candidate in a district election can go around door-to-door in a neighborhood and acquaint herself/himself with constituents. In our at-large elections, council members do represent districts but do not necessarily need to please voters in their district to get re-elected.

Our council’s intractability in addressing residents’ concerns and the council members’ failure to enact real election reform creates the desire to investigate district elections. They will require more accountability and bring about a more democratic government.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Strategically placed ADUs are the answer to RHNA requirements

Newport Beach is planning for 2021, so while we are considering our General Plan Update, we should be concerned specifically about the Housing Element and our Regional Housing Needs Assessment, referred to as RHNA. Newport Beach needs to zone for approximately 4,800 housing units in this RHNA cycle which is an eight-year cycle. Half of these units need to be in the low or very low-income category. 

The state Housing & Community Development Department (HCD) has issued guidelines for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). The California legislature has passed laws that allow nearly every single family or multifamily residence in the city (including apartments) to build an ADU or convert a portion of their home to a Junior ADU. 

Once homeowners realize they can build or modify their existing residences to include one of these, we will undoubtedly have many of them in our city. We probably have many “granny units” now, that aren’t permitted, that can easily be permitted to become an ADU. It will be a source of income for the homeowner and provide low-income housing for our children and grandchildren, and workforce housing for those with limited incomes who work in our city. 

It may not be a popular trend with many Newport Beach residents, but there is literally nothing any of us can do to prevent it. Homeowner’s associations throughout the state will be unable to stop their homeowners from building ADUs. Cities are very limited in what constraints they can put on these units.

HCD has issued a handbook that outlines what is required for an ADU to qualify for inclusion in our RHNA allocation. It does not limit the number of ADUs that we can count in our housing element. 

Because the trend is accelerating rapidly in cities throughout the state and we can’t limit the number of ADUs that will be built in Newport Beach, I believe that we should maximize the number of ADUs that we include in our RHNA allocation. 

According to HCD, in 2019, California permitted 9,000 ADUs; in 2020 we permitted 15,000 ADUs. This is happening without publicity or outreach, so many people were not aware that this is an available choice for them. 

With 35,000 residential units in Newport Beach, if only 10 percent of them added an ADU over the next eight years, we would have 3,500 ADUs; at a rate of 5 percent, we would have 1,750 ADUs. Whether we are happy about it or not, we are going to see a steep increase in the number of ADUs in our city. 

Because this is the reality, we should capture all of the possible ADUs to fulfill our low and very low-income RHNA allocation. We can estimate high on ADUs and monitor the rate of permits. We can adjust in a future year, which will allow us time to research and more thoughtfully plan for the alternative…high-density housing units, if it is required. 

High-density developments can only provide a low percentage of low-income units. If we zone for these high-density developments now, as a part of our housing element, we will be unable to reverse this zoning easily. I have heard developers say that if you zone for high-density developments in Newport Beach, they will be built. And…developers have at least eight years for the economy to gain momentum to make this type of high-density development pencil out. Developers are making plans for this right now! 

I believe the residents of Newport Beach, when faced with the choice of zoning for tens of thousands of housing units or for 2,400 ADUs, would prefer to have 2,400 ADUs, scattered throughout the city. It is a more “place based” strategy for housing, which is what the state and HCD have said is their goal. 

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

48,000 new apartments is not the answer to meet the state mandate of 2,400 low-income units

I would like to talk about the General Plan update and specifically the circulation and housing elements. First, the General Plan update has been hijacked by COVID-19 and my observation is that the circulation element is largely being advanced by a consultant and staff. 

As our new Mayor, I challenge Mr. Brad Avery to refocus this effort with real citizen involvement. All we hear at the few Zoom meetings for the circulation element is how West Coast Highway must be widened through Mariner’s Mile. Adding traffic lanes, building pedestrian bridges and removing pedestrian crosswalks to speed up traffic are not the answers that residents or local businesses are seeking. 

Another death, surely due to excessive speed on West Coast Highway, occurred just last week.

The housing element has a council-appointed committee that is solely focused on finding landowners who are willing to rezone their property for high-density housing where 95 percent are market rate apartments and 5 percent are very low-income apartments. Last Tuesday’s approval of the 4400 Von Karmen project proves this argument. Without government subsidy landowners can only make this work at this 5 percent ratio.

Newport Beach residents do not want 48,000 new apartments to meet the state mandate of 2,400 low to very low-income units. Yet that is the strategy being advanced. The 2,400 figure is roughly half the state requirement for 4,834 total but we can probably meet the higher income 2,400 number without changing anything. This should be the biggest issue in Newport Beach.

Unfortunately, everyone is focused on staying alive and getting their kids back to school. I understand.

Under previous laws the state is forcing cities to allow Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, and Junior Accessory Dwelling, or JADUs, on nearly every residential property in Newport Beach. The state laws that allow this have been in effect for only a few years. There is little permitted track record in Newport Beach, but they are taking off in many areas of the state. 

The former Coronado apartments at 880 Irvine Ave. between Sherington Place and 15th Street have 10 units permitted so far. And this is already a notoriously under-parked project.

I am not advocating for more ADUs, but I believe they are inevitable in many neighborhoods. According to the state Housing & Community Development Department ADU handbook dated September 2020, they are required to be considered to meet the Newport Beach RHNA allocation. Yet our city staff rejects the notion of using them to meet the bulk, if not all, of this mandate. 

Advantages of this approach include spreading the additional units all over the city, existing housing is already served by local services, residents and not outside developers will likely benefit from building these on their own property and getting credit towards our RHNA mandate for something that will happen anyway. And there won’t be 95 percent market rate apartments to support 5 percent affordable units. Staff continues to argue that this approach will not work but I cannot find any documentation from HCD supporting that argument. 

Mayor Avery and City Council, please direct staff to fully explore this approach. You may find some success following the current approach, but you will only comply by zoning for 48,000 new apartments in Newport Beach. That will get the residents’ attention. 

I urge you to write to the City Council and advocate this approach. This will be discussed at the February 9th City Council study Session.

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO


Hoag is now vaccinating at multiple community clinics 

Dear Neighbors,

As you may know, the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) has approved COVID-19 vaccinations for people ages 65+. Hoag is one of a number of sites in the county offering vaccination appointments for eligible individuals. 

To date, Hoag has vaccinated more than 8,000 people including Hoag staff, medical staff, community health care workers, and patients and community members who are 65 and over. 

We look forward to vaccinating all of our patients as soon as possible. We have organized several community vaccine clinics with a small number of appointments to date, due to our limited vaccine supply. Appointment availability can be viewed at Please continue to check this site for available appointments. 

Guest Column Robert Braithwaite

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

Robert T. Braithwaite, president and CEO, Hoag Hospital

We anticipate receiving more vaccines from the county over the next several weeks which will allow us to schedule additional appointments and meet more of the demand. Once we receive ample supply, we will be able to quickly operate larger vaccine clinics to serve more of our patients and community members. We have dedicated a team of Hoag staff to support our patients through this journey, and we look forward to being able to vaccinate many more of you soon. 

If you are a Hoag Medical Group patient and have not already activated your Hoag Connect MyChart account, please take a moment to do so at Those eligible to receive the vaccine will be able to schedule available appointments at Hoag directly through the website and MyChart app. If you need help with Hoag Connect MyChart, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We urge you to also explore vaccination opportunities through the Orange County Health Care Agency at one of their Super POD (Point-of-Dispensing) clinics. The county is encouraging eligible residents to register for notifications about these vaccine appointments at The sooner you can receive the vaccine, the better – so be sure to explore all options and take advantage of the first appointment you can get. 

Please continue wearing masks, staying home as much as possible, washing your hands frequently and practicing social distancing. We will get through this tough time together by exercising compassion and caution for our neighbors and loved ones.

We thank you for your continued support and partnership, and will update you as more information becomes available.

Letters to the Editor

Community desires a look at the eventual overall plan for Mariner’s Mile

Mariner’s Mile is an indispensable seaside center linking the Peninsula, Lido Island, Lido Marina Village, Mariner’s Mile, Balboa Island, and Corona del Mar villages and neighborhoods. Its significance and impact must not be undervalued. Scenic corridor views along Mariner’s Mile cannot be taken for granted. The full scope of all foreseeable development project proposals along Mariner’s Mile must meet Coastal Commission, community and environmental requirements before approval. Working together, let’s get it right – the City, the developers and the stakeholders.

The future of Mariner’s Mile will be determined within the framework of the interdependent actions of the developers, city staff, Planning Commission, City Council, Caltrans, business and property owners, local merchants and residents. Our community is stronger together, especially when stakeholders, developers and the City work together to support each other based upon a common consensus, understanding and purpose. Community stakeholders are asking the City to lay out all the Mariner’s Mile proposed and pending development projects together so we can study and understand how everything ties together.

The February 18 Planning Commission hearing should be postponed until the City’s Community Development Department holds a public outreach workshop meeting to inform and educate community stakeholders about 2510 W. Coast Hwy. (PA2019-249). This will allow stakeholders to provide their informed perspectives to the Planning Commission.

Will the City deliver transparency, good faith and public outreach?

Mariner’s Mile property owners, business owners and the abutting residential communities of Newport Heights/Cliff Haven, Bayshores and Lido Island desire to learn and be informed about the scope, design, benefits and impacts pertaining to this and all the foreseeable development projects along Mariner’s Mile. Community stakeholders have asked the City to explain land use controls, staff’s findings and answer stakeholders’ questions prior to the February 18th Planning Commission Hearing. The community is asking the City to lay out the project so we can study and understand how.

Respect, protect and preserve the residential, commercial and environmental qualities of our bayside town so everything proposed ties together. However, the City’s Community Development Department has denied residents’ request to outreach to community stakeholders in a public meeting to provide the details of their analysis and impending recommendation to the Planning Commission.

The February 2 community outreach Zoom meeting with the applicant team to discuss the proposed mixed-use development at 2510 W. Coast Hwy. (PA2019-249) was a positive step and provided the project’s scope and design. Yet too many stakeholders on the Zoom meeting were disappointed. They requested information pertaining to traffic and safety concerns regarding Avon and Tustin Avenues, and the property’s access when entering and leaving the premises on West Pacific Coast Highway. Also, insights into the nearby foreseeable development projects along Mariner’s Mile were not presented. This piecemeal approach to the rollout of the projects does not address substantial community concerns expressed during this Zoom meeting. Nor did the Zoom meeting present a vision for Mariner’s Mile.

In addition to 2510 W. Coast Hwy (PA2019-249), there are several proposed or pending nearby family-related development companies proposing projects. These include Newport Village and Back Bay Landing. The cumulative land use for all these developments represents over one-third of Mariner’s Mile and will forever determine the future destiny of this scenic corridor. Accordingly, all community stakeholders desire to learn and understand the full scope, size, significance, accumulated impacts and mitigation associated with all nearby foreseeable projects. This will also assure that the intent of the Greenlight Initiative and City’s General Plan vision, goals and objectives will be achieved and will hopefully prevent a long-lasting adverse impact.

Several unanswered questions that must be addressed for the 2510 W. Coast Hwy. (PA2019-249) project, as well as all nearby proposed and pending projects along Mariner’s Mile are below:

–How will the proposed and pending projects change the character and charm of Mariner’s Mile and Newport Beach?

–Are we at risk of losing our scenic corridor, the key element that connects Newport Beach’s iconic villages? Will it forever disallow the majority of residents and tourists to enjoy this scenic coastal location due to the desires of a few people who are invested in high-density development projects?

–What are the benefits and impacts on the Mariner’s Mile ecosystem, including quality of life, health, safety and traffic? What will be the cost to the residents in order to provide City services? How will police and fire be impacted?

–Are the variances and allowances given to the developer too high a consideration when comparing the full benefits and full impact of 2510 W. Coast Hwy (PA2019-249)? Is the 2510 W. Coast Hwy. (PA2019-249) project including three low-rent apartments too high a price to pay?

The Collation to Protect Mariner’s Mile (PMM) represents approximately 1,200 Newport Beach residents and stakeholders. We are involved with Mariner’s Mile and the protection of this 1.3-mile stretch along West Pacific Coast Highway. We envision transforming Mariner’s Mile into a thriving and sustainable coastal gateway destination in the City of Newport where residents and visitors can work, play, dine and shop in a relaxing and friendly environment. Our guiding principle is “Enhance Our Community’s Quality of Life and Do No Harm.”

PMM is pro-development and supports projects that are compatible with the abutting residential communities of Newport Heights/Cliff Haven, Bayshores and Lido Island. Lido Marina Village is an excellent example of what is possible.

James F Carlson, president 

Collation to Protect Mariner’s Mile

Newport Beach

Lost views and potential increases in police services a concern for Mariner’s Mile project(s)

The 2510 W. Coast Hwy. project is designed for 35 apartments (three of which will be designated for low-income at approximately $700.00 per month), at a height of 35 feet, which goes against the current height maximum allowed. According to the applicant, three low-income apartments will fabricate a reason to permanently obstruct public views from both John Wayne and Cliff Drive Parks. These public views will be lost forever, as well as have the potential to increase crime in Newport Heights.

On the City of Newport Beach website, they have what is referred to as a “heat map.” This map illustrates the “total calls” for service by the Newport Beach Police Department. The average call for service within a seven-day period is more than 1,000 calls. The “heat map” area is highly concentrated on the Peninsula and Mariner’s Mile along PCH. 

The City Staff report did not consider that apartments (and other high-density types) require more police services because they statistically have higher call volumes and crime rates, eventually increasing the need for more officers at the taxpayer’s expense. The applicant is “building out” more apartments than what is currently zoned for along Mariner’s Mile. In my opinion, the applicant and the City are clearly manipulating the system to allow for low-income units and obtaining a “density bonus,” while exceeding the current height limits. 

If the 2510 W. Coast Hwy. project is the precursor to the Newport Village Project, the residents of Newport Beach must take action, because Mariner’s Mile will soon turn into “Miami Mile” without the “walkability” factor or any amenities to service the actual project or the community. To further complicate this already disjointed project, no traffic study has ever been conducted, nor its impacts to the abutting communities. In fact, the proposed one-way entry and exit proposed for these apartments are via Avon Alley, making it extremely dangerous should an emergency occur there. In addition, Tustin and Ocean View streets are the only direct sources to get to that Avon Alley area, and they are virtually one-way streets as well. If a car is going down either street, another car going up the street has to pull over to give access to continue that vehicles’ drive down the street; and vice versa. Does that sound safe to you? In addition, any traffic coming out of the apartment complex will most likely make a right on Tustin Avenue to drive children to school, increasing the already high traffic on Tustin Avenue. 

In addition, the proposed limited parking in the apartment complex does NOT provide any guest parking. Thus, the only (free) guest parking available would be on Tustin or Ocean View, and all the closest parking is designated two-hour parking. Designated eight-hour parking on Tustin Avenue and Ocean View are already overrun with PCH restaurant employees.

The health, safety, welfare and livability of the community are of primary importance to the residents of Newport Beach. This focus offers the potential to have a powerful and positive impact. In addition, the City and residents of Newport Beach have stressed the importance of sustainability and “Living Within Our Resources.” 

The guiding principle must be to Enhance Our Community’s Quality of Life and Do No Harm. The 2510 W. Coast Hwy. project is detrimental to our surrounding neighbors and children of Bayshores, Lido Isle, Newport Heights and Cliff Haven.

The 2510 W. Coast Hwy. project hearing will be on February 18. Now is the time to let your voices be heard. Please protect our community!

Sue Leal 

Newport Beach (Tustin Avenue)

Concern that the Planning Commission has their mind made up on Mariner’s Mile

On January 21st, the Planning Commission was going to hear what is being referred to as the 2510 W. Coast Hwy. project, which consists of 35 apartments, (three low-income) and a luxury car showroom.

It was brought to our attention that City Staff was going to make a recommendation for approval without any public or community input. The applicant should have proceeded in good faith to explain his goals and objectives for the project. The City initially had issues posting this project on their website and Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so essentially this gave the public (three work days) to review and process the plans for the project.

Our concerns are simple:

1. City Staff appears to be a proponent of “pushing” this project through to the Planning Commission.

2. The project desecrates the public views from several public parks.

3. The community had little or no time to adequately study the project.

4. The applicant offered no community outreach or study session – which potentially could allow the residents to learn more about the project.

5. Newport has been gifted with the responsibility of the Local Coastal Program; however, this project clearly violates the LCP.

Only after receiving more than 60 letters from residents, did the PC postpone the 2510 W. Coast Hwy. meeting and ask the applicant to provide an outreach to the community, which (was) held via Zoom on February 2, 2021.

My point being, is...IF this is how the applicant and City Staff covertly move ahead with plans for Mariner’s Mile/Newport Village, they are both proceeding in bad faith.

Certainly three low-income apartments should not supersede the precious views from our public parks which have been cherished by all since the 1900s and should be protected for generations to come.

Solution, the City Council should consider altering policies that allow an individual or individual(s) to appeal a project without cost to the appellant; otherwise, the residents can forego the City Council and appeal straight to the California Coastal Commission at no cost to the appellant(s). This will keep the City from continuing to receive a “black eye” from the CCC and hopefully allow the developer to create a project that the community can eventually support.

The residents fought the Mariner’s Mile Revitalization Plan.

The residents fought AutoNation.

The residents fought Banning Ranch.

The residents fought the Museum House.

The residents fought the 215 Riverside Project (currently tied up with the CCC).

The residents were victorious in fighting the above projects.

In closing, the City’s guiding light is identified by the intent of the certified Local Coastal Program, “To ensure that any development in the coastal zone preserves and enhances coastal resources; protects and enhances coastal views.” This project clearly is in violation of the City’s LCP.

The residents again are prepared to fight but would rather work with the applicant and City Staff to develop a responsible and compatible project along Mariner’s Mile; however, we have been informed that the Planning Commission has already made up their minds to approve this project at the upcoming hearing on February 18, 2021.

Peggy V. Palmer 

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Votes to approve car wash are running on empty

On behalf of the Canyon Mesa community in Big Canyon, we would like to express our gratitude to Mayor Avery, Councilpersons Muldoon and Duffy, Councilpersons Dixon and Brenner for the courageous stance they took at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, in listening to the people and voting No on the proposed General Plan Amendment to allow a car wash to be added to the already over-utilized Shell Station at 1600 Jamboree Road. 

Mr. O’Neill tried his best three different times to intimidate the other members of the Council, by saying there was no basis to deny the application and that it complied with all zoning ordinances and that the applicant’s sound study proved there would be no noise impact from the car wash. 

The project doesn’t comply with all city ordinances in that it cannot fit on the property without a reduction of 50 percent in the required setback, which would mean building it 15 feet closer to our properties, which didn’t seem to even register with Mr. O’Neill or our newly elected Councilman in District 5, Mr. Blom. 

While I understand Councilperson Blom represents both the residents and businesses in his District, he did not serve the residents of Big Canyon well on his first vote in his district. 

Contrary to what Mr. Blom indicated in his comments Tuesday night, this project does not comply with all the City ordinances. Perhaps over time he will better learn the rules? 

I trust that in the future Councilperson Blom will be able to review the needs of the residents in his District with a greater perspective. 

Gerald A. Giannini 

Treasurer, Director

Big Canyon Community Association

Treasurer, Director 

Canyon Mesa Community Association

Shell site is overbuilt and not deserving of variance

For the past five years the owner of the Shell gas station on Jamboree and San Joaquin has fought to build a car wash on an already overbuilt site. This owner of 14 gas stations has sought variance after variance to expand his gas bays and mini market on an already overdeveloped corner. Now he wants a car wash.

Tuesday night, the majority of the City Council sided with the adversely impacted residents of a neighborhood 500 feet away. Kudos and thanks to Duffield, Brenner, Dixon, Avery and Muldoon who clearly understand the impact on our community.

As for O’Neill…he might as well have been carrying Rosansky’s jacket. Three separate times he informed the council that there was no basis for denial. Really? 

The gas station owner was requiring a 50 percent reduction in the setback and a change to the General Plan!

And Mr. Blom, new to the Council, met with the homeowners and was very sympathetic to their plight and then voted FOR the variance. Nice going Blom, but not a good way to impress your new constituents. 

O’Neill and Blom forget they are in Newport Beach and not in the swamp of D.C. Thanks to the Fab 5 on the City Council, residents are still heard in Newport.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer, ret.

Newport Beach

With patience, and some understanding, the Othena vaccination experience worked

We first heard about Othena several weeks ago. This was before we had heard (anything) about the app. We tried setting up accounts from separate iPads using Safari but were not able to. We then tried creating accounts on separate PCs by going to the Othena website using Microsoft Edge and were able to create accounts easily. However, we did not receive any confirmation email from this action.

A week or more later, I read about the Othena app on social media. We both downloaded the app to separate iPhones and iPads. Using a different email address for both of us, we created new accounts on the app. We each received confirmation emails to the second email addresses. 

More time went by with fruitless logins trying to set up an appointment without any luck. I was at a city meeting where Second District staff person Tim Whitacre spoke representing the County and he gave out a phone number to call for help. I called the number and got a person fairly quickly. The person said I would receive an email when my place in line was ready. They also suggested that I watch my junk email and if the app or online login asked to change the password that I do it. 

About 8:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, Charles, my partner, received an email to the first email address from Othena. It said he could log on and make an appointment. I was furious (ha, ha) with him for getting the email first. He logged in successfully from a PC and was given the choice of Disneyland or Soka University. He chose Disneyland at 10:30 a.m. the next day (Saturday, Jan. 23).

For the next 15 minutes his life was hell because I was fuming about being left out of the vaccination experience! Fifteen minutes later, at 8:45 p.m., I, too, received the same Othena email notification. I logged in and I was given the same venue choices and the first available time of 10:45 a.m., also for the next day. The household returned to normal.

Following that, our experience arriving, standing in the rain, and the procedure was great. By the time we left the waiting area, post vaccination, we both had email on our phones from Othena for a follow-up appointment for the second dose. 

If I were to guess I would say that the app took qualified folks in the order they signed up. 

I hope this helps give folks some hope. Othena seems to be a frustrating experience, but in our case, it worked out with a little patience, which is not easy to come by these days, at least for me. 

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Time to turn the corner and make our nation better

I appreciate your newsletter’s focus on local happenings, particularly the reports from City Hall and the notes on local history. I also respect your readers’ desire to keep the spotlight here at home, but in the light of the several letters published in Tuesday’s news I believe that someone who sees things differently needs to respond.

I know many people in Newport Beach are conservative Republicans who have supported Donald Trump, but there are a lot of us out here who have been alarmed by his actions and have tried to explain our point of view. It all started for me with the chants of “Lock her up” at his campaign rallies. This was not a criminal he was referring to, but a former First Lady, U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, someone who has never been indicted for a crime but has been demonized and reviled by Republicans for years. 

In addition to his delight in the adulation of his crowds, many of us have objected to his mishandling of the pandemic, his weakening of environmental standards, his cozying up to Putin (disputing our own intelligence services about Russia’s attempts to skew our elections), demonizing his enemies and the press, enacting sanctions against states that have opposed him – the list goes on and on. 

Trump takes everything personally and only is president to those who support him unconditionally. To claim that his election has always been disputed and that Democrats have tried to remove him from office since the beginning of his term is not true. Haven’t we had enough lies? See where they lead us? I hope there is no one left that thinks Trump really won the election. Courts in all contested states, even those with leaders that support Trump, have thrown out claims that the election was flawed. 

Joe Biden is the legitimate President-elect. Trump’s refusal to acknowledge that fact has and will lead to chaos in this country. You could say that those of us who have always been critical of him could see what was coming. 

Yes, Trump was impeached after he threatened the President of Ukraine that his country would lose U.S. support unless he dug up dirt on Joe Biden and his son. This is on tape, so we know it is true. We also know that Trump called Georgia authorities at least twice, urging them to find votes and declare him the winner. 

To claim that storming the Capitol and attempting to stop legislators from performing their legitimate duties is equivalent with Black Lives Matter protests is also a lie. Yes, there has been property damage, but nothing as dangerous and anti-American as threatening duly elected representatives in the seat of American government. These hooligans were carrying clubs and loaded weapons. What was their aim? President Trump asked them to win back the government for him. He promised to lead them up Pennsylvania Avenue, but that, too, was a lie.

Letters that make excuses for Trump and his radical supporters only serve to perpetuate the misinformation that led to Wednesday’s tragic events. Please, no more lies. Let’s turn the corner and do our best to make this nation a better place for all people. 

Barbara De Groot

Corona del Mar

Letters to the Editor

Ideas to change the world with COVID moving forward

Thoughts on moving forward in the time of COVID:

1) Test the population for immunity – many people have had it and don’t know. Why waste a vaccine on a person who does not need it? Why self-quarantine after exposure to a person who has COVID if you have immunity?

2) Test those given the vaccine to confirm immunity. 

3) Provide those with immunity with a proof of immunity verification.

4) Start allowing normal life for those who have immunity. I am tired of wearing a mask and eating outdoors, not having a social life or being able to enjoy leisure activities, not to mention the toll on our economy by keeping people home, out of work and not spending money in the world economy.

5) Companies should allow employees who can prove immunity to come back to work. Service workers who can prove immunity should be given a temporary pay raise subsidized by the U.S. Government. If we are paying people to not work, why not incentivize those who want to and who can safely work with the public? 

6) Colleges and K-12 should test for immunity and allow those students and teachers back in the classroom.

7) Open up leisure and vacation areas to people who can prove immunity. There are 94 million confirmed cases in the world, 35 million vaccinations administered worldwide – that is a lot of consumer spending that is untapped in the leisure and vacation market. What a way to spur the economy!

The U.S. Government health organizations, the media, etc. will not come out and say you cannot get reinfected, but there are only 33 known cases in the world of people who have been reinfected, out of 94 million confirmed cases. Need I say more? You can look at this data at the link here.

You can help people by donating blood, platelets and plasma with the Red Cross and as a bonus, the Red Cross will test your blood for COVID-19 and for immunity to COVID. It only costs your time for the blood donation and if you download the Red Cross application on your phone you will have verifiable proof of your immunity. You can schedule an appointment at or call 1.800.RED CROSSat 1.800.733.2767.

Lauri Preedge

Newport Beach

COVID vaccines at UCI move smoothly, but it doesn’t erase politicians’ lack of concern

Sunday afternoon and my wife and I have just returned from UCI’s Bren Events Center, where we received the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. It was a very well organized and orderly process. There was free parking in the nearby parking structure. As we exited our vehicle, I noticed a Muslim couple kneeling on their prayer rug next to their car – a solemn reminder that we all need to pray for the end of this plague. On the second level, lines had been set up and marked with appointment times every 10 minutes throughout the day. My guess is that there were perhaps 50 people in each line, suggesting that 2,000 to 3,000 people received vaccinations that day – a mixture of races and ages, some in wheelchairs. After verifying our appointment, checking our temperatures and affirming that we were voluntarily accepting the vaccination, we moved to one of many small tables where a medical technician quickly and painlessly administered the vaccine. 

From there, we went to an outdoor area for a 15-minute wait to ensure no allergic reaction. As far as we could tell, no one had any adverse effects. While waiting, we struck up a conversation with a student nurse named Shelby Lee. Shelby told me that all the student nurses (and there were dozens of them) were working as unpaid volunteers. They had received their own vaccinations about a week previously. All told, UCI had hundreds of staff working there to guide and otherwise assist all of the patients. Seeing the dedication of these young students donating their time on a weekend to help protect the elderly members of our community profoundly impressed me. 

It contrasted vividly with the sickness and death that has resulted from the neglect of our salaried political leaders, who prioritized their political beliefs and careers over the welfare of the constituents. There is no need to name the mayors, ex-mayors, county supervisors and others who sued the governor, fought against common sense restrictions, and refused to take any actions to encourage social distancing and wearing of masks in the community, all on the grounds that such actions would “infringe personal liberties.” These misguided policies have contributed to 3,000 cases of COVID-19 in Newport Beach, over 125 cases on the Peninsula alone, and nearly 40 deaths. 

This will be their legacy. We will remember them not for any good works they might have done in the city, but for the sickness and death they failed to address.

Craig B. Smith

Newport Beach

Concern for short notice on Mariner’s Mile project

 In my opinion, being a responsible developer also means being a good neighbor to the surrounding communities along the 1.3-mile scenic corridor known as Mariner’s Mile. This area is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Bayshores, Lido Isle, Newport Heights and Cliff Haven. Mariner’s Mile is the main street that connects all of these special villages.

To ensure transparency and to build relationships with community members, an open and honest dialogue needs to take place. Developers should start a conversation and strengthen community relations early in the process by integrating themselves into the neighborhood and seeking input from residents and community associations, community leaders and municipal government officials. Developers can leave a positive mark on the community. It involves connecting with local people, municipalities and neighboring businesses to add value to the area. 

The newly proposed 2510 PCH Development and its developer are proceeding in a haphazard manner with a disarray of apartments, car showroom, requesting height variances that will impact significant views from a public park, as well as giving less than a seven-day notification to the surrounding neighbors. 

It appears that City Staff has grossly been an enabler, as the 2510 PCH plans were not on the City’s website; eventually the project plans were obtained by a concerned citizen. The Planning Commission meeting notification was electronically emailed out Saturday at 6:30 a.m. on January 16 and with Monday being a holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., it means concerned citizens have less than 48 hours to repudiate this project, which will be heard this Thursday on January 21, at 6:30 p.m. 

Thirty-two apartments plus three low-income, for a total of 35 apartments, and one expensive car showroom whilst violating priceless public views, what could any responsible resident possibly wish for along this scenic corridor along Mariner’s Mile?

If this is a preview of how this particular developer and City Staff will covertly move forward with the upcoming Newport Village project, we as citizens must continue to be vigilant. These nonsensical projects will have the potential to alter our neighborhoods forever; it is obvious that we need to be very concerned about the process and further demand transparency from our elected officials. 

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach 

What’s the rush? Let’s work together and get it right

Notwithstanding the pandemic, why are Public Notice requirements not being properly followed prior to the January 21 Planning Commission Public Hearing for 2510 PCH Project?

A Limited Public Notice was sent out on January 16. Monday, Jan. 18 is the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, Wednesday, Jan. 20 is the Presidential Inauguration, Thursday is the Planning Commission hearing. The City Council and the Planning Commission must postpone the public hearing for 2510 PCH Project!

Mariner’s Mile is an indispensable seaside center linking the Peninsula, Lido Island, Lido Marina Village, Mariner’s Mile, Balboa Island and Corona del Mar villages and neighborhoods. Its significance and impact must not be undervalued. The full scope of the Newport Village Development Proposal, including the 2510 PCH Project, must meet community expectations and environmental requirements before approval. Working together, let’s get it right.

The full scope of the Newport Village Project’s land use represents about one-third of Mariner’s Mile and will forever determine the future destiny of Mariner’s Mile. The full size and significance of the Newport Village Development, including the 2510 PCH Project, demands a thorough evaluation and must follow the normal process with all the checks, balances and safeguards, and not be rushed through on a piecemeal basis.

Let’s slow down and do it right by allowing all stakeholders to provide their perspectives. This will assure that the City’s General Plan vision, goals and objectives will be achieved and will prevent a long-lasting adverse impact. What is now occurring is clearly unacceptable and inconsistent with the intent of the General Plan and the Newport Beach community’s expectations. Let’s work together to optimize the outcome and maximize the benefits.

Before such significant investments, the City’s stewardship must build a community consensus among stakeholders and a clear vision of what Mariner’s Mile can become to guide the transformation. For such a substantial and consequential development project, a wide and comprehensive public notice is the first step for developing a community consensus. The General Plan process is intended to facilitate and shape the future of Newport Beach and Mariner’s Mile. 

Patrick Gormley, Former President

Bayshores Community Association

Newport Beach

Candidate Foley brings an energy and list of accomplishments to her Supervisor run

In 2018, Orange County elected a group of leaders who brought a new positive people and goal-oriented philosophy to Congress and the California Assembly. 

Now those of us who live in District 2 are going to get the opportunity to elect a like-minded individual to the County Board of Supervisors. Katrina Foley, the first elected Mayor of Costa Mesa, is running for that position (that was vacated by Michelle Steel) against a field of three other candidates. 

Just as representatives Katie Porter, Gil Cisneros, Harley Rouda and Cottie Petrie-Norris brought fresh new ideas and enthusiasm to their newly elected positions in 2018 to counter the stale politics of “no new taxes” and Republican domination at all costs, Katrina is running to bring the same spirit to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

The negative role that the Board of Supervisors played during the pandemic should speak to those of us who disliked that they initially did nothing to help people and businesses in the County prepare for the devastating loss of lives and businesses.

Similarly, in other city councils surrounding Costa Mesa, rarely was the loss of lives to the pandemic ever emphasized. Katrina Foley, in contrast, sought to help the community by requiring masks and attempting to enforce the mask rule, which was a difficult task, when the surrounding cities and the BOS refused to do the same. The Board needs someone of Katrina’s positive philosophy to make it pertinent again.

Katrina had an amazing list of achievements even before she became Mayor. As a mother and practicing attorney, Katrina took time out of her busy life to serve on the Newport-Mesa School Board where she advocated for college affordability and job training. She also served on the boards of several local nonprofits and commissions. In law school she established the school’s first women’s law resource center.

Katrina’s list of awards is lengthy also, including being in the top 100 most influential leaders in the Orange County Register, Daily Pilot and LA Style Magazine, to name a few.

Although Harley Rouda and Gil Cisneros lost their seats in the 2020 election, most likely Harley will be back to champion the same causes as Katrina – Housing and Homelessness, Education and Job Training and the Environment and the Future.

Each time we elect one of these outstanding, energetic, people-oriented candidates, the closer we come to enlightening and aiding people and small businesses in Orange County.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO


Vaccine rollout approved for people aged 65+

Dear Neighbors, 

I am writing to let you know about an important update to the county’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. 

The Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) has now approved vaccinations for people aged 65+, which is an important milestone in the fight against COVID-19. 

Guest Column Robert Braithwaite

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

Robert T. Braithwaite

We are working quickly to establish dedicated locations to safely provide vaccines for our community, and to obtain the inventory needed to begin inviting eligible patients to schedule vaccine appointments. 

While we know some things such as vaccine inventory are out of our control, we are committed to keeping you informed and updated along the way as to when and how you and your family members can receive COVID-19 vaccinations from Hoag and other county resources. 

I encourage you to visit OCHCA’s Vaccine Distribution site for detailed information. 

In addition, you can visit Hoag’s COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for additional information and resources. 

The coming days and weeks will require patience from us all as we navigate this quickly evolving news. Through it all, we are here to serve as your partners and trusted resource. 

In the meantime, please continue wearing masks, staying home, washing hands and practicing social distancing. Your vigilant support helps lower cases in the community and allows us to better manage this devastating disease. 

We have been in this together from the beginning, and Hoag will be here with you until this chapter comes to an end.


Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer

Letters to the Editor

The rhetoric needs to be toned down on both sides

What happened in Washington D.C. on Wednesday was abhorrent and needs to be condemned by everyone in the strongest possible terms, as does the key role that President Trump played in stirring up the rioters to march on the nation’s Congressional building. What he did was inexcusable. But if that is all we take away from what happened on Wednesday, then I think we are missing the context in which this riot took place and the lessons that we might take away from this scary event in our nation’s Capitol.

Since the day that President Trump took office, the opposing political party has tried every conceivable way to remove him; therefore, is it any wonder that millions and millions of his supporters felt there was major fraud in the Presidential election? Consider for a moment that lawyers for the Democratic Party filed over 380 lawsuits against states in the last 18 months to remove voting safeguards that were in place to ensure honest elections (voter ID, signature verifications, timely mailed ballots, ballot harvesting, ballots mailed to every name on the election rolls, etc.). Combined with the huge push for people to vote by mail, this helped to set the stage for legitimate questions about the honesty of the elections in key states, some of which were very closely contested. 

Undoubtedly the disturbing general trend in the past few years of not holding people accountable for their illegal actions factored into the Washington D.C. events. Sanctuary sites allow people in this country illegally to commit crimes and then not be held accountable through prosecution or deportation. For months this summer there were illegal riots in many cities where police were attacked, police cars and government buildings were set on fire, public property was confiscated by rioters, private property was damaged or burned and law-abiding people attacked and hurt. After a few arrests, the rioters were back on the streets the next day. All the while, the media portrayed this thug behavior as understandable because it was done in the name of a good cause – social justice. 

The rhetoric from elected members of Congress, state and local governments from both parties just added stress to a nation seeking answers but getting division instead. Undoubtedly President Trump lighted the match that set off Wednesday’s riot, but there are lots of us guilty of contributing to building the bonfire piece by piece. I believe one of the lessons to be learned from all of this is that demonizing anyone, or any political party or those party’s followers adds to the “us versus them” mentality that is so destructive in political discourse, as in personal relationships. The media has a huge role to play here. Politicians are forever telling us that “we need to have a national discourse” on certain issues, but that never takes place because they themselves are unwilling to listen to the other side and try to see issues in the way that opposing viewers do. Open-minded political discourse seems to be dead among our politicians and our media outlets.

In conclusion, a big lesson to be learned is that many, many people contributed to set the stage for the riot on Wednesday on both sides of the political spectrum and unless we tone down the rhetoric and seek to find some commonality with each other and the other political party, things will just get worse in this country and we will be doomed to repeat this tragic and inexcusable blight on our nation. To paraphrase from a beautiful song, “Let there be political peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”

Homer Bludau

Former City Manager

City of Newport Beach

There are reasons why we’ve gotten to this point

I have been a lifelong Republican, conservative, capitalist and law-and-order person and a proud third generation native of Orange County. More importantly, my patriotism and love for the USA runs deep and is unwavering!

That said, I voted for Donald Trump, not because of his personality, but because of what he stood for. I no longer support him as a person, which was difficult to do in the first place, and his recent rhetoric and actions have certainly been deplorable and despicable, to say the least and I’m sure that most, if not all of previous Trump supporters are in the same “camp” after what happened the other day. I personally think that he should take the “high road,” if that’s possible for the man, and resign, NOW!

I want to be clear, voting for Trump was NOT a vote for the person, it was a vote for what he and the majority of the Republican Party stand for. To name a few of these: capitalism, free enterprise, law and order, control of our borders, honest and true reporting by the press and online media, and free, transparent and honest control of the voting machine by the States, respect for a person’s property and their businesses.

Conversely, it is deplorable and inexcusable that the Democratic Party never saw fit to condemn the rioting and civil unrest that happened this past summer and that continues to go on in our cities today, among other un-American activities, until just a few days ago. I guess it suits them now. What’s more, the tearing down of monuments to our history, the BLM movement, which actually should be renamed the ALM movement, as in All Lives Matter, and don’t they, is equally concerning and unnecessary. Why do we rarely hear of the killings of non-blacks or the killings of blacks by blacks? Where has the respect for our police gone? And the list of these things goes on and on and on.

With the results of the election behind us, I’m afraid that our beloved Country is more at risk of collapsing than since the Civil War and hopefully, we won’t have another one of those. Hopefully, we can find a way to turn the coming tide of socialism, liberalism and the loss of our freedoms, as in the second amendment, away!

Hopefully, Trump will be gone soon and hopefully, we can begin to rebuild the ideals of the Republican Party based upon law and order, conservatism, freedom and love of Country, all of which are now at risk!

God Bless!

Charlie Foss

Newport Beach

Now is the time to reflect back on four years

You have a great site, and it provides relevant news to our community. Part of the nation’s problem is that the media gives credibility to anonymous sources. People leaking information, false information and opinions disguised as fact are little people that hide behind others and won’t stand up for their cause. Stew has no name, therefore no value.

Many citizens of Newport Beach are older veterans that served and saw action. After this Presidential election they get to see half the population voting for a Democrat march toward socialism. They are not deplorable.

Four years of constant attack on President Trump is not a theory. Four years of Democrat focus on their power rather than serving the American people is self-serving behavior. Exposing our corrupt leaders is not an attack on the institutions of democracy.

Stew is correct about one important thing. Now is the time for all of us to reflect on the last four years and continue to fight against socialism and the nameless cowards that promote it.

Doug Robinson

Newport Beach

The deck has been stacked against our President for four years

Dear Stew,

This will be a political mess if we don’t recognize that a Pigeon’s personality calls for Loyal, Honest and Friendly, but in the same overview of a Pigeon it also says that Pigeons need Direction, Guidance and Instruction, so here is your first lesson on instruction along with a few other comments. 

Stay out of politics and go back to eating seeds, fruits and plants like all your other political nuts. Your insight is short-necked and liberal. For months, movements have raised hell, protested at the cost of American lives, looted with no regard for business owners’ hard work, caused millions of hardships and insightful destruction of the American fabric and constitution. Trump may not be a politician, nor does he have a filter, but he has opened the eyes of America in a way that squarely places the use of power in the eyesight of the Republican watch. For four years we have endured lies, deceit and attempts by every means possible to eliminate his movement and him but as sad as the D.C. event is, and the loss of life unforgivable, so is every other event that has been supported as “ok” because you’re black, white or some other color. 

Use of every event as a means to gain power is in itself disgusting. Not placing America first is disgusting. Standing as a politician and insisting like Maxine Waters that we should get in their faces, yell at them at dinner, make them feel uncomfortable, be loud, abrupt and mean, seems to go without any resistance yet when it happens to them (politicians on the left), they shutter and run like animals, hide behind the guns most of them hate and behave cowardly like scared rats. Her comments along with other liberal movie and music moguls should be held responsible for the many deaths that occurred. 

If they would have allowed those peaceful protestors to speak and if they were prepared for the movement that they knew was approaching, none of this would have happened. So, where are the movements for the people who were shot at the capitol? Why is it politically we want to be right instead of all of us disgusted with the directions of our country? Why do we support and pay other countries to not hurt us and by doing this we destroy ourselves? Why is everything free to others but not our own “legal” citizens? Trump saved lives through his policies and strength. No one recognizes his accomplishments, that in the face of adversity and his stupid tweets he secured our borders and stopped radical terrorism physically, financial and economically. For the first time I can remember, conservatives are crying out. Because he woke up the sleeping giant. Stay on your perch Stew…Don’t step in your own poop.

As long as we allow our leadership to continue to separate our American freedoms, we will not have peace within. As long as we allow ourselves to accept that direction, we will be forever indebted to others. As long as we teach that everything is free, we will always lack industrial growth. What kind of country do you want to fly around Pigeon? Everyone gets a trophy? Everyone gets a car? Everyone gets a house? Keep America high on pot and some day they will wake up and the world will be a real sight to see the real Reality. Happy New Year. Let’s hope and pray for calm.

Tom Iovenitti

Newport Beach

This is what WE remember…

The last 4+ years, the Democrats have scorched the earth.

You have salted the fields and now you want to grow crops.

The problem is we have memories longer than a hamster.

We remember the protests the day of/after inauguration.

We remember the four years of personal attacks.

We remember “not our president” and the “Resistance…”

We remember being called racist and evil.

We remember Maxine Walters telling followers to harass Trump supporters in department stores and gas stations.

We remember the President’s press secretary being chased out of a restaurant.

We remember hundreds of Trump supporters being physically attacked.

We remember Trump supporters getting Doxed and fired from jobs.

We remember riots, and looting.

We remember a liberal “comedian” holding up the President’s severed head.

We remember a play in Central Park paid with public funding, showing the killing of President Trump.

We remember Robert de Niro yelling “F**k Trump” at the Tony’s and getting a standing ovation.

We remember Trump being accused of being a Russian spy and the media going with it.

We remember Nancy Pelosi tearing up the State of the Union Address.

We remember how totally in the tank the mainstream media was in opposition.

We remember the non-stop and live fact checking on our President and his supporters.

We remember non-stop, in-your-face lies and open cover-ups from the media.

We remember the partisan impeachment.

We remember the President and his staff being spied on.

We remember a Republican congressman shot on a ball field.

We remember every so-called comedy show turn into nothing but a Trump hate fest.

We remember 95 percent negative coverage in the news.

We remember the state governors asking for and getting everything they wanted to address COVID then blaming Trump.

We remember leftists threatening outside the homes of prominent Republicans.

We remember the attempted destruction of Brett Kavanaugh.

We remember people pounding on the Supreme Court doors.

We remember that we were called every name in the book for supporting President Trump.

We remember that many in Hollywood said they would leave after Trump was elected, but they stayed anyway.

Ron Yeo

Newport Beach

That narcissist Stew needs to “Man Up”

Your Friday article speaks of a “voice” dubbed Stew Pigeon who wants to share his/her thoughts about the chaos in America. It further states they can’t write what they want to say, and to openly sign their name would cause too much backlash, he/she are too “prominent” in the community!

Really? And you are buying this load of crap? Trump, at his heart may well be a narcissist, self-centered and conceited. Hmmm…most successful businessmen I know fit that description as well. You have to possess a certain amount of these qualities to achieve lofty goals.

Tell Stew he is not so great or so renowned in this community that he/she will encounter that kind of backlash. He/she sounds arrogant, narcissistic and self-serving. Why should his/her opinion count more than any other Newport Beach resident?

And he/she has the gall to call Trump a narcissist? Tell him/her to “Man up.”

The best advice I ever received was “stand for your principles and your principles will stand for you.” 

Maybe good ole Stew can learn something from that.

My sense is that you are being used by a local gutless wonder who wants a platform and forum to say what he/she lacks the courage to say publicly.

Again, I say tell Stew to…Man Up!

Sign me,

Ina Stew (Their anonymous request)

Letters to the Editor

Who deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom?

On Monday, Donald Trump announced he will be awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Republican lawmakers Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan. Also on Monday, Orange County learned about Phillip Ingram, a Hoag Hospital janitor who dreamed up a unique fundraising idea. His story was so inspiring, KNBC-TV in Los Angles aired a segment about him Tuesday evening. 

If you ask me, Mr. Ingram deserves the medal more than these two members of Congress. His motive to help others is selfless; being elected officials, their motives typically are, shall I say, far more self-serving.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Editor’s note: The story on 38-year-old Ingram details a man who started from humble beginnings and who began collecting pennies from other people he came across in life. Those pennies totaled up to $1,400 which he then donated to the Boys & Girls Club.

His employer, Hoag Hospital, has now begun a payroll deduction plan for their 6,500 employees to further support Ingram’s efforts. The deductions begin at 50 cents and go up to $5.

2021 brings with it a feeling of hope

The “American Dream” was created by the hope and resiliency of hard-working people who persevered through the years with their blood, sweat and tears, determined to make a better life for themselves and their families.

We need to always remember not to lose our dream, as hope has no fear. It helps us to be strong when everything goes wrong. The year 2020 was tumultuous and devastating, to most everyone in the world, from our country to our community, most stricken with grief, strife and devastation. This new world is unknown to us and has created animosity, anxiety and unfamiliar sorrow amongst families and friends.

As we enter into the year 2021, perhaps hope is the gift of life and that we have a purpose to regenerate, reinvigorate as Americans; to always bear in mind the sacrifices and the lives that were lost protecting our freedom and that freedom is not free, nor will it ever be. 

This year should be a lesson to all of us, that life should not be taken for granted and that technology should not replace the human spirit and that good shall prevail. If we commit to memory where our ancestors came from and what they fought for in the beginning, we will comprehend and appreciate those small things that we may have overlooked in 2020.

It begins with each of us to be the best of what our country stands for and to educate and learn from our past. We need to recognize that each of us has an obligation to make our country and our community healthier. We must return to our core values and have a sense of trust, not in our government but in one another. 

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

Individual rights stop where another person’s rights begin 

After reading Tom Johnson’s Fair Game column about religious groups who are holding massive “maskless” rallies, in this case, specifically the ones of Sean Feucht’s who is coming to town at the end of the month, I felt motivated to write about this subject.

As an avid churchgoer in my youth and a believer in an omnipotent supreme power (and yes, I pray on a regular basis), I feel the necessity to disagree with those who would put others in harm’s way because of their purported personal religious beliefs. As a multicultural nation, we should not be allowing self-appointed religious groups to adopt practices that run counter to the established community health protocols currently in place for COVID or any other natural disaster. 

Thousands are dying, our nation is suffering economically, and we are arguing over the fact that we have to wear masks. It seems surreal. 

God gave us a brain to reason and to explore, not to stagnate and accept dogma from those who are anti-reason. The majority of people in America resent the mentality that questions the rational decisions of our health specialists and instead substitutes superstitious and selfish decisions that are causing innocent deaths and economic pain. And not only are some of the arguments that rebellious religious groups use anti-reason, but they may also be construed as anti-biblical as well.

I am not one to speak much about the Bible or any other religion in our non-sectarian culture, but if other people do, I like to be armed with factual information. In this case, the Bible has the following to say concerning what is construed as wise and foolish since these maskless groups are raising the issue. In the following verses you will find some biblical answers to the definition of wisdom: Proverbs 12:23, Proverbs 15:2 and Proverbs 15:7.

Not only are some people asserting what they believe are their religious rights over civil authority, at the expense of the majority, they are asserting what they believe are their basic first amendment rights as well. 

First of all, we do not have a pure democracy, we have a representative democracy. The only pure democracy that existed was in Greece, over 2,000 years ago. Because of the size of the U.S., we have a representative democracy or a republic. 

We have a plethora of personal rights, but our individual rights stop where another person’s rights begin. The classic example of this is the fact that you don’t have the right to yell fire in a crowded auditorium. But every day we are confronted with this concept of limited democracy when we drive, when we speak in front of an audience on our job, when we do not park in front of our neighbor’s driveway, when we do not park in a red zone, the list goes on and on. Some of these rights are explicit (such as seat belt use) and some are implied (parking in front of your neighbor’s walkway).

One of the roles of our government, both local and federal, is to ensure that no person be deprived of his/her freedom without just cause. Individuals who say they have a right to go “maskless” and not “social distance,” at the risk of infecting others with a deadly virus, are breaking not only a religious covenant but one with their fellow man. And they are making a mockery of religious freedom and democracy.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Michelle Steel

Orange County Board of Supervisors

2nd District

It Has Been a Pleasure Serving on the Orange County Board of Supervisors

Michelle Steel will be retiring from her seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors on January 3 to take office as the Representative for California’s 48th Congressional District. In her tenure representing the 2nd district at the Board of Supervisors, Chairwoman Steel has faced a number of challenges and implemented measures to better the lives of the people of the Orange County.

Insert Guest Letter Michelle Steel pic

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of the Office of Michelle Steel

Michelle Steel, Member-elect of the U.S. House of Representatives, California’s 48th District

The following is a farewell statement from Chairwoman Steel:

It has been an honor to serve the people of the Second District for the last six years on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. In that time, I have had the privilege of serving as Chairwoman in 2017 and 2020. In my six years on the board, I have been faced with many challenges and have always looked to seek solutions for the people of Orange County.   

Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic was likely the biggest challenge I had to face during my time on the board, but my colleagues and I realized the severity of this crisis early and declared a state of emergency in February, before the state did. We quickly and effectively distributed CARES Act funding to cities so that small businesses could be assisted and worked closely with the Orange County Health Care Agency to make sure that Orange County’s healthcare system had everything it needed to face the health crisis. I am proud to know that in my last weeks as Chairwoman, the first COVID-19 vaccines were distributed to Orange County’s frontline healthcare workers.    

I have been dedicated to easing the burden for taxpayers, especially since we live in such a high tax state. One of my proudest moments was introducing a County charter amendment that would require a two thirds majority for any future special tax proposals.    

Modernization of our infrastructure was also a top priority of mine. In my first year on the board, I was happy that my colleagues joined me in expanding the permit process to allow ridesharing services like Uber, Lyft and Wingz to operate at John Wayne Airport, offering passengers more free market options.    

Ensuring that our senior citizens are always well taken care of was another major issue I wanted to focus on. Among other measures, I joined my colleagues in implementing the Senior Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program, which provides transpiration to senior citizens for medical appointments and other health related trips.    

I also made it a priority to address the homelessness crisis in Orange County and voted for homeless assistance centers, such as the Yale Transitional Center in Santa Ana and the Cameron Lane Navigation Center in Huntington Beach.   

During my time on the board, I have also stood by law enforcement and opposing legislation that harms the safety of our communities. I led the county’s opposition to SB54, California’s “Sanctuary” law, and proposed a resolution to direct county counsel to take legal action against the state. During the anti-police riots in 2020, I introduced a law enforcement appreciation day and visited every police department in the second district to let them know that I stand with law enforcement, not violent looters.   

In the area of public health, I have always looked for ways to help the people of Orange County. One major accomplishment by the county that I was proud to be a part of was the Be Well OC mental services hub, which provides mental health support services to all Orange County residents.    

Veterans issues have also been a major priority of mine and I am proud to have been a part of expanding the Veteran’s Service Office, introduced the Disabled Veterans Business Enterprise and expanded the Veterans’ hiring preference policy, making Orange County the most veteran-friendly hiring county in California.    

I want to thank my colleagues, all the county departments, federal, state and local partners and of course, my hardworking staff, who, without them, I would not have been able to accomplish as much as I did. Thank you for these six wonderful years. I will miss the Board of Supervisors dearly, but my advocacy for the people of Orange County will continue to be my top priority as a Congresswoman. I wish you all a very Happy New Year. 

First elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2014, Michelle Steel represents the residents of the Second District, which includes Costa Mesa, Cypress, Huntington Beach, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, Stanton, the unincorporated area of Rossmoor, and portions of Buena Park and Fountain Valley.

Guest Letter

Jodi P. Bole


Balboa Island Preservation Association

City designated “Special Trees,” are they really special?

The City of Newport Beach has designated just under 1,000 trees as Special Trees (out of 32,000 city trees). The national standard for determining what constitutes a Special Tree is typically by age, protective species, or trees that have historic significance, contribute to and give character to a location or to an entire neighborhood. To underscore the importance of Special Trees in Newport Beach, the previous City Urban Forestry staff created the G1 Tree Policy in 1996. Their goal was “all Special Trees shall be retained…” and that every possible mitigation and treatment effort should be considered before the removal of a Special Tree. 

With so much attention put into this policy by previous City staff, why has this policy not been followed in the last several years, and why is the City currently proposing to revise the G1 policy in ways that make our Special Trees more vulnerable to removal than ever before? 

Specifically, one of the most concerning revisions in the G1 Policy is that a Special Tree can be petitioned for removal by ANY person for ANY reason, and its removal could simply be personal preference with no proof of a condition-based reason to remove it. To add insult to injury, in almost every other City with protected trees, a permit applicant or petitioner pays to confirm there is a problem that warrants the tree to be removed; if removal is approved, the petitioner pays for the removal. But the proposed revision doesn’t require that the taxpayers of Newport Beach receive any evidence of a problem, yet they must pay for the removal of the tree to satisfy someone’s personal preference or agenda.        

In addition, the ability to remove a designated Special Tree without any concrete evidence of an issue undermines industry best practices by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), and puts both the community and Special Trees in a contentious and ongoing battle. After all, Special Trees were designated for a reason and they have earned the right to be protected. So, shouldn’t the process meet typical industry practices and the tree removal be as certain as possible?

Another concern in the proposed revisions is a new process flow chart that indicates, after the removal petition is Approved or Denied by the City, the City may provide “assessment” of the tree. To make a valid decision, shouldn’t assessments be conducted before considering the removal of a Special Tree? 

As in the case of Marine Ave. Special Trees, a proposed redevelopment of the area included the removal of all trees on Marine Ave., and it was rumored by a few of the redevelopment petitioners that the trees were diseased and dangerous and needed to be removed. Due to the angst of Balboa Island residents, proof of disease and risk was requested and conducted, and Marine Ave. trees were found not to be high risk. In fact, all assessment tests came back that the Special Trees were healthy and solid – even an odd growth found below some of the trees turned out to be beneficial fungus! And factor in that the scientific-based tests actually cost significantly less than removing all the mature trees and planting replacement trees, not to mention how closing the street for weeks on end would have impacted struggling merchants on Marine Ave. To think, the character and historical significance of Marine Ave., and our Special Trees, would have been lost forever if testing had not been conducted. 

The G1 Tree Policy clearly states that the community is a major stakeholder of the Special Trees, yet our community had very little involvement or input regarding the recently proposed policy revisions. The residents of Newport Beach have continually demonstrated they value their Special Trees and the benefits they provide. If the simple process for removal of a Special Tree is permitted, the City will undermine recent progress made and lose the trust of the community. The proposed revisions clearly threaten the value of our Special Trees and sanctions their unsupported removal. 

The Balboa Island Preservation Association’s mission statement is to protect Balboa Island’s historical uniqueness and to maintain the integrity and character of Marine Avenue, Balboa Island’s iconic “main street.” The Balboa Island Preservation Association is a community-led organization that aims to achieve their preservation mission for the enjoyment and benefit of Balboa Island residents, merchants, visitors and for future generations.

Letters to the Editor

When will “team” include all?

Politics in Newport Beach has become so tiresome. As expected, the members of “Team Newport” closed ranks Tuesday night to keep their members who are running for higher office in high-profile seats. 

A (purported) backroom deal got Kevin Muldoon selected as mayor pro tem. Joy Brenner had the courage to stand up to the team and nominate herself but was brushed off.

In addition to having a young family and a full-time job, Muldoon is running for the Orange County board of supervisors. He’ll be campaigning for that seat seven days a week through the special election in March. If he wins, he’ll leave the council. If he loses, he’ll start campaigning for 2022. Either way, he won’t be able to offer the steady leadership and presence our city needs in what’s going to be a challenging year.

Muldoon also served as mayor pro tem in 2016 then mayor in 2017, despite just having moved to Newport a few years prior. 

By contrast, Joy Brenner is a full-time council member, and made clear Tuesday night that she’d devote all her time to the city as mayor pro tem. She’s been serving Newport in various capacities for decades. But on the council, she’s never even been allowed to chair a major committee. 

Brenner deserved to be mayor pro tem next year. And her district deserved to have its representative in that seat. It’s been too long. 

These kinds of shenanigans discourage residents from participating in civic life. Why write emails and speak at council meetings when we know everything’s negotiated behind closed doors? And why run for council if we know we’ll be kept on the backbench forever if we’re not a Team Newport player? 

Maybe Joy Brenner should stop showing up to council meetings altogether. There’s only so much disrespect a person can take. Her colleagues would probably be relieved not to have to listen to any more talk about the importance of upholding traditions and putting the interests of the city over council members’ political careers. 

Jennifer McDonald

Newport Beach

The impact of 285,000 COVID deaths

If you are having trouble assessing the impact of 285,000 COVID-19 deaths, then picture this:

It is the equivalent of wiping out the population of Newport and Huntington Beach residents combined or virtually everyone who lives in Irvine.

Another way of wrapping your arms around 285,000 fatalities is this:

If each death was represented by a piece of paper, the tower would stand more than 95 ft. in the air. That is 5 ft. taller than this year’s Christmas Tree at Fashion Island. 

One last perspective to think about:

From December 1941 until August 1945, 407,316 U.S. troops lost their lives during World War II. 487 of them were from Orange County. Today, we have exceeded more than 1,600 COVID-related deaths in OC in less than a year.   

While on the campaign trail, Donald Trump repeatedly told his supporters, “All I hear now is…‘COVID, COVID, COVID.’ By the way, on November 4, you won’t hear about it anymore.”

I didn’t believe the president then, and certainly don’t believe him now. 

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor

When the sign says “No Dogs,” it means no dogs

I have lived in CDM for over 30+ years. On Sunday, it was the worst I have ever experienced on the trail. Seven groups on this narrow trail brought their dogs! They all act like they never saw the “NO DOG” sign, and two stated a (purported) lie that their dog was an emotional support dog, which if so, does not give them the right to walk their animal in a “Wildlife Protection Area.” Not to mention what a disservice to owners, many Veterans that do need an emotional support animal. 

Can you imagine if the public ignored the “NO SMOKING” sign?

The reason for no dogs is the stress level that it causes wildlife, and these selfless people think they can ignore the rules. Not to mention the lovely gifts that the dogs leave, but again, it’s not the animal owner’s backyard.

This year I had to call the police on a Pitbull owner who threatened to release the dog on me. Good reminder, it’s not the dog breed. It’s the owners! 

Diane Vogt

Corona del Mar

In the memory of my friend Ralphie, sign up for the Fire Medic Program

When I lived on the peninsula, my next-door neighbor was a vibrant young professional who loved to do two things, surf and go to church. Ralphie had an indelible smile and had a laugh that would make us giggle so hard that we would snort!

We referred to our little community on 28th Street as “the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.” We took care of each other, we watched out for each other and we considered each other as family.

As the winters slowly turned into summers, Ralphie stopped surfing and was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (a type of cancer that forms in the bone marrow). We collectively took care of Ralphie and on several occasions we had to call the paramedics.

One sunny Saturday afternoon, I headed out for my walk, when I suddenly received a call from Ralphie. Picking up the phone, I could hear fear and panic in his voice. He cried, “Peggy hurry back home and take me to the hospital, I think that I have broken my arm.” 

I replied, “Ralphie, let me call the paramedics.” He begged, “Please no, I can’t afford it.” I did not understand at the time what he meant. Still, I was able to transport Ralphie in my car to Hoag where he underwent surgery to “pin” together his bones in his arm. 

As fall approached, we helped Ralphie return to Texas to be with his family, where he eventually succumbed to the disease.

Ironically, a paramedic moved into Ralphie’s little beach cottage. He informed me about the Fire Medic Program that is offered through the Newport Beach Fire Department. For a base fee of $60.00 per year, a membership will cover you and your family for unlimited paramedic services with no out-of-pocket expenses. There is also a Newport Beach Business Membership available too. 

I am appreciative that the Newport Beach Fire Department offers this service to its residents; I just wish I had known about it earlier for Ralphie. 

I encourage residents to learn more and to enroll in this program. Information on the Fire Medic Subscription Program can be found on the City’s website at or call 949.644.3383.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Hospitals across the state tell the story

For all those deniers out there who think that the coronavirus is nothing but a bad flu, I suggest a certain field trip that might serve as a reality check. I suggest that you visit all the hospitals that you can in Southern California, the county as well as private hospitals, large as well as small, and see for yourself what is happening...shortages of space and medical personnel, patients waiting in ambulances for 8 hours in order to get a bed, hallways stacked with beds of people waiting to be seen by overworked doctors and nurses, many of whom are working outside their specialties, shortages of PPE, medical personnel who have to wear the same one-day mask for a week, nurses and doctors breaking down in tears as a result of watching their patients die, dying patients unable to see any loved ones at the end because of fear of contagion, people with cancer and painful conditions having their surgeries postponed because of the need of COVID beds, and even soon if not already, the terrible decision that doctors may have to make in prioritizing urgency...the sure loss of patients who could be saved if the hospitals were not in dire straits.

Don’t stop at the Orange County line, visit Los Angeles and San Bernardino also, or even Ventura County and the Bay Area. Everywhere you go, you will pretty much find the same circumstances; it is just a matter of time. 

Unfortunately, it seems that some people lack the ability to empathize, and some of those people only learn to do so when they or a loved one experience the harsh reality of a situation, even if the situation is not directly related.

It doesn’t seem to be a function of intelligence either. I have seen it in my own family coming from people who are normally kind and considerate. The reality of the pandemic just seems to be beyond some people’s comprehension level. 

The key to it all is empathy. If only we could develop a vaccine for that.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Kobayashi & friends want Mayor O’Neill for another year

2020 has been a year like no other, as Newport Beach residents and business owners have endured isolation, loss of income, COVID illness and deaths, and an uncertain future. Throughout this year, so many have come to find Mayor O’Neill as a steady hand and inspirational voice of encouragement. 

2021 will continue to be a year of great challenge and uncertainty that requires stability and continuity in our leadership. While it is an unprecedented approach, during unprecedented challenges, the community is asking the City Council to vote to have Mayor O’Neill remain in his position for 2021. Newport Beach has become reliant on Mayor O’Neill to...

–Rally our citizens to shop and eat at local establishments.

–Support our City departments to provide a high level of service.

–Coordinate with Hoag Hospital to reach the community and provide medical expertise, guidance and assurance.

–Navigate stormy waters and support our first responders during a pandemic and civil unrest.

–Work with our City departments and our small business owners to help them survive the state mandated restrictions.

–Faithfully communicate to residents via social media to keep his much-needed leadership out in front each and every day.

–Encourage the community to keep going when the future looks bleak and unpredictable.

–Bring mental health to the forefront.

–Calm the fears of our citizenry.

–Provide leadership that instills confidence throughout the community.

We respect each and every member of our City Council. We do not make this request lightly, but we feel that it is critical to provide continuity and predictability to our community as we expect 2021 to be a challenging year, still reeling from a pandemic, but hopeful for a recovery.

Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi & Friends

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Reader offers thanks

Thank you, Tom, Lana, Shaena, Michael, Sean and Amy, and everyone at Stu News Newport.

I’d just like to thank all of you who publish, contribute and report at Stu News Newport for providing our community with smart, mindful and balanced reporting. You never fail to afford us with news that’s relevant to all of our citizens in a respectful and objective way. In doing so, you’ve made us all more aware and observant.

I hope you and your families have a wonderful Thanksgiving and just know that your efforts are appreciated and counted on as we move through both trying times and good. You are a breath of fresh air.

Thank you.

Carol Tomlinson

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Caution urged as COVID cases explode 

Newport Beach Councilmen Kevin Muldoon and Noah Blom led a protest against COVID restrictions as cases explode and overwhelm hospitals. I attended a virtual meeting this week discussing the planned protocols for allocating scarce medical resources, the most horrifying conversation of my medical career. If cases continue to climb, California will declare a state of medical emergency and hospitals will begin to triage who receives care. The more people blindly follow the likes of Mr. Muldoon and Mr. Blom, the more likely we will be to ration care. 

Choose wisely.

Susan Skinner, MD

Newport Beach

This is serious folks!

This is serious folks. The disease is real. Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths are at an all-time high nationally and in California. If you have been lucky enough not to have caught the coronavirus up until now, this is the time to buckle down and redouble and triple your efforts to follow the health guidelines set down by the state and county health departments. 

Stay home unless you need to be out because you are an essential worker, need supplies or are exercising. Scrupulously wear a mask at all times in public and physically distance as much as you can. Wash your hands regularly. Only socialize with members of your own household and limit the size of your gatherings with other people. If you are exposed to someone with coronavirus or you have symptoms, get tested so you can avoid spreading it to others. If you are sick, isolate in your home. When you are eligible to receive the vaccine, get one.

And no, no one can force you to do these things. Do it to protect yourself and your family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, neighbors and those essential workers who are leaving their homes every day to keep our economy going by providing essential goods and services. We all can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s not break down before we can all bask in that light.

Steven Rosansky, past mayor

City of Newport Beach

Whose rights should be protected first?

Recently, Superior Court Peter J. Wilson ordered a 50 percent reduction of the population in Orange County jails to protect incarcerated people from a COVID-19 outbreak. If the order stands, it could mean the release of more than 1,800 inmates. According to ACLU’s Daisy Ramirez, “This order recognizes that we must not forget the humanity of incarcerated people and they should not be put in mortal danger.”

Both Judge Wilson and the ACLU should consider that although prisoners do not have full constitutional rights, they are protected by the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and usual punishment and that testing “positive” should not lead to “panic” with a 98 percent survival rate. Perhaps both Wilson and Ramirez need to ask the question, “Is having flu-like symptoms more severe than the crime committed?” 

As Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes commented, “This order puts our community at substantial risk and does not take into account the impact on the victims of these crimes.”

American Civil Liberty Union President Susan Herman stated that the ACLU founders believed that everyone should have a right to liberty and justice. This should include the Saldana family who were innocently killed, while leaving their three children orphaned by the alleged murderer, Grace Coleman on December 9, 2020. Coleman’s first (alleged) offense was in August in Laguna Beach for a DUI that was still pending investigation by the Orange County District Attorney’s office at the time of her second offense.

Will the December 31st “New Year’s Eve” release of (possibly) Coleman, along with 1,799 potentially dangerous criminals, be made because we must protect those rights who have taken the rights of another person? 

Or shall the rights of convicted murderers, rapists and felons be restricted if they are outweighed by the interests of society?

We should collectively support our Sheriff, police and first responders, but most of all support the call for common sense.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach 

Tom Cruise had it right in yelling for masks

I have always spurned the advice and influence of Hollywood on cultural norms. But one actor in Hollywood, famously known for his independent behavior, seems to have found the perfect solution for communicating with COVID rules’ scofflaws. Tom Cruise recently had a “full-blown meltdown about crew members who were caught violating social distancing protocols” on the set of one of his movies. I have never been a fan of Tom Cruise or action movies, but after learning of his reaction, I am a “believer” if only in the context of this one outburst.

Efforts to get some people to follow these rules by repeating the same mantra over and over have so far not been effective. Our leaders, especially several of the local ones, are not only not trying to enforce these rules, but are instead flaunting their resistance to them to gain political capital. 

Tom Cruise got his workers to follow the rules by shouting at them. So because we are at a critical point in the pandemic, with each day’s contagion and mortality rates continuing to break barriers, shouldn’t we do as Tom Cruise did and yell at those who are not following the rules – if not physically then metaphorically?

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Thank you, time to get to work

It is an honor of a lifetime to have been elected as the “incoming” NMUSD Trustee for Area 3. A community is as strong as its engaged stakeholders and Area 3, with an astonishing 90 percent voter turnout rate, has resoundingly proven to be a community that is engaged and that prides itself in civic involvement. 

My campaign was inspired and guided by an African proverb that goes as follows, “If you want to go fast – go alone; if you want to go far – go together.” This is why for months, I met with parents, teachers, elected officials, candidates, coaches, leaders of bargaining units, district officials, community activists, homeowners association leaders, mental health professionals and Board trustees. I reconnected with former PTA colleagues and met new and upcoming leaders in the education industry. 

After listening to all of the stakeholders and hearing the needs of our schools, of our neighborhoods and of our district staff, I was energized at the possibilities of working together to provide our two cities the best education possible for our kids. 

I am extremely thankful to my family, my friends, my supporters and volunteers who helped me along the way. Their encouragement and energy provided me with the confidence and the stamina to carry my campaign across the finish line. 

As a trustee, I pledge to work tirelessly and to advocate for Newport Mesa’s students, teachers, staff and families. The campaign season was just the start and now the real work begins!

Carol Crane, Trustee-elect School Board Area 3

Newport-Mesa Unified School District

Letter to the Editor

Saddened by two campaign shortfalls

To hear once again of all Jeff Herdman’s accomplishments as he served his community on Balboa Island specifically, and Newport Beach in general, saddens me that he will no longer be on City Council. He had a very long list of achievements in the four years that he served us in Newport and for all the right reasons – because he loves the city which has been his home for many years and wanted to give back. And he is one of the rare few who was not serving simply to promote his own career. 

I was disappointed as well that we did not elect Nancy Scarbrough as she is the same type of person, one who wants to be on Council to make Newport Beach a better place to live. Her list of interests in her neighborhood and the city in general is evidenced by her constant involvement, unparalleled by others, in various meetings and committees. She promises to be back to give us a second chance to gain her spirit and dedication on Newport Beach City Council.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

“Bionic” Jim agrees, HOI is the Best of the Best

Some years ago I was an early patient of Hoag Orthopedic Institute, at their new hospital on Sand Canyon, in Irvine. My hip was replaced by the best “hip man” in the country (in my opinion), Robert Gorab.

A year later Bob replaced my other hip. The experience in both cases, at HOI, was fantastic. One night in the hospital, up walking just hours after the surgery, and a very fast recovery in both cases. 

Last year my knee was replaced by one of Dr. Gorab’s partners, Steve Barnett. Steve was so skilled that I actually had the replacement in the morning and went home that night! 

Finally, earlier this year, I had a pretty serious surgery, in which both a Laminectomy was done to relieve stenosis of the spine and at the same time, three discs in my lower back were fused. A tough one. Fourteen days in the hospital learning how to walk again. This surgery was performed at HOI by the incredible Dr. Jon White, a back specialist. 

So now I set off every alarm the TSA can imagine. But this team of surgeons at HOI are indeed the Best of the Best and I will be forever grateful for their efforts and their support.

Jim Donnell

Newport Beach

Why are we closing down everything when only a few are the problem?

Sacramento is shutting down counties. They should be shutting down cities and not the counties. Look at the cases in the OC, 278 of the 379 new cases are in five cities. By my count 39 relatively safe cities are being shut down because of these five. 

I commute between my homes in Riverside County and Orange County. I could give you the same type of statistics for Riverside County. A relative few cities and farming areas account for a Purple designation for Riverside County. People’s lives and businesses are being ruined over general statistics. 

Let’s not harm the citizens and businesses of non-hot spots anymore! I have not personally checked this, but I was informed that the state of New York and the city of New York did the same analysis and opened areas of NYC by Zip Code. We should do the same.

Stewart Thomson

Newport Beach

Governor and other legislators should do better

Sorry, but I won’t be modeling my behavior this Thanksgiving after Governor Hypocrite and the legislators who traveled to Hawaii on a likely-paid-for political junket. 

Apparently while I am limited to three households, to the outside (except for visits to inside frequently sanitized restrooms), to eating from single server disposable dishes, to no more than two hours, and to collecting the names and addresses of those attending, it’s OK for Mr. Newsom to eat, drink, and be merry with a dozen pals at Yountville’s French Laundry; and it’s fine for boondoggling politicos to eat, drink, and be merry at a Maui resort while lobbying with the Independent Voter Project.

Do as I say, not as I do – that’s the message from the privileged and powerful. 

Role models they ain’t, hypocrites they are.

Shame on you, Mr. Newsom and shame on those electeds in the midst of a pandemic surge.

Paul Watkins

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Happy and safe holidays from your friends at Hoag

Dear Neighbor, 

The holidays are, above all else, about the relationships we hold most dear. Speaking on behalf of the Hoag family, I wanted to let you know how much we treasure our relationship with this community – and how deeply we value each display of mutual responsibility we see. 

From the record number of people who have rushed out to get their flu shots, to the community members who are wearing masks and adhering to social distancing guidelines, each gesture is an act of love, appreciation and respect. And for that we are grateful. 

This year, the holidays will create unique challenges, and we are here to help. The resources and information found on this page will help you enjoy the holidays safely. 

Among the suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and our nationally recognized medical team, is the recommendation that everyone who can to please get a flu shot. This is important because influenza challenges the immune system, leaving a person vulnerable to other illnesses, including COVID-19. While vaccines aren’t 100 percent effective, they greatly reduce a person’s risk of getting sick and lower the severity of illness if someone does fall ill. 

To ensure that our community has access to the influenza vaccine, Hoag this year doubled our order of vaccinations. We offer the flu vaccine through our medical offices, Hoag Urgent Care facilities, and are even offering free flu shots at John Wayne Airport at our new Fly Well Clinic, the first of its kind in Orange County. If you haven’t yet received your flu shot, please reach out to your physician or our care providers to learn more. 

I am proud to share that Hoag is actively working with top researchers on a promising COVID-19 vaccine research study, which is showing great promise at the early stages, and additional vaccines are moving towards FDA approval and expected to be available for distribution soon. But we all have access to available, safe vaccine for the flu now. 

Continued focus on handwashing, social distancing and mask wearing will also help to reduce the risk of both the flu and COVID-19. Working together, we can lessen the impact and support a healthier Orange County. 

While this holiday season will not look like those in years past, it can still be grounded in togetherness. We are together in our hopes and prayers for good health, and together in our creative pursuits of low-risk holiday activities. Together, we will make this holiday season meaningful and safe. 

From the Hoag family to yours, we wish you a happy, healthy holiday season.


Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer


Guest Letters

Blom acknowledges victory and thanks the community

I am honored to be joining the Newport Beach City Council. The privilege and responsibility is not a task I take lightly. I thank the voters for their support and encouragement as we work to keep our city the jewel that it is.

I appreciate the work and knowledge that Council member Jeff Herdman has given to the city over these last four years. I look forward to putting the tumultuous nature of the election behind us for the strength and unity of our great city. We are a stronger Newport together.

To my wife and son, thank you for your strength and resilience throughout this contentious election. Politics, I have learned, is a full contact sport where even family and business are thrown into the arena. The support of my family and friends has been the guiding light during this process. Thank you for the love, dedication and work that has defined our campaign. Positivity and hard work have been the backbone of our home and our restaurants; we will look to lead the city with the same approach. Thank you to all of our staff and patrons, for keeping heads high and smiles bright. We build our future together.

We are in a time of external pressure and uncertainty as a city, from the pandemic and homelessness to state housing and forced regulatory agencies, and the list goes on. We must face these challenges with creativity and intelligence if we are to maintain the character and charm of our villages. Our strength will be in tackling our issues together.

My table is always open. I have and will always be open to meeting with anyone. Great discourse creates great ideas. I welcome both criticism and comment, advice and anecdote, as great knowledge comes from reflecting on our own lives and striving to be better. 

I love this city and will never stop working to keep Newport great. Thank you again for your support and love.

Noah Blom, Council-elect, District 5

Newport Beach

Our community cares about kids

As I have walked the District 6 sidewalks in my campaign for Newport-Mesa Unified School Board, I learned first-hand talking to my friends and neighbors. They are concerned for the 300 students in our district currently experiencing homelessness. They are worried our education system is not preparing our youth for 21st century careers. They see a need for a return to skills-based learning and Career Technical Education pathways that lead to fulfilling jobs. They know the isolation of the nationwide shutdown has impacted the emotional and physical health of our kids. 

Local charities like Project Hope Alliance and others continue to lift up the housing unstable with WiFi hotspots and access to technology to support distance learning. Mental health providers are working non-stop with full caseloads. High school and club coaches are fighting for the return of youth sports. Everyday acts of kindness from our neighbors remind us how much we have in common and how much love we have for each other.

Thank you to everyone who supported my campaign for NMUSD School Board Trustee Area 6. I am truly grateful and touched by your overwhelming dedication to my vision for a brighter future for our students.

I will continue to fight for our kids and know you will too. Our collective future depends on our commitment to each other and the children that depend on us. Please join me in challenging the NMUSD mistakes of the past to make education relevant for our kids and give them hope for the future.


Amy Peters

NMUSD Parent, Business Owner, Community Member

Letters to the Editor

Lack of council commitment to Herdman 

In a recent Letter to the Editor regarding the endorsement of Noah Blom for District 5 Council from Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill, Councilman Kevin Muldoon and Councilman Duffy Duffield, it was suggested by the author that the Council endorsement of Jeff’s Herdman’s competitor was because of some nefarious goal to keep Herdman from ever becoming Mayor. 

Is it just possible that the Council doesn’t find Herdman an effective leader and is tired of all the discord in his own district over the last three plus years?

After all, this question was even addressed to Herdman during the Newport Beach Chamber Candidate Forum on August 20, 2020 by the moderator, so it has to have some validity to it. This discord can be heard from his own constituents in the way he arrogantly presided over the JWA airport expansion as Chair of the Aviation Committee, naively sealing the fate of Newport Beach residents to one of the worst airport expansion deals in Newport Beach history, increasing the volume, jet pollution and noise for years to come. 

Is it possible that this discord is over Herdman’s habit in telling his community one thing and then behind their backs doing the complete opposite, such as his initiative promoting the redevelopment of Marine Avenue, while supporting ex-council members turned developer consultants Ed Selich, Don Webb and John Noyes for the overhaul of this historic main street on Balboa Island without one resident vote, spending residents money to demolish the very place they love and cherish?

Could it be that Herdman spends too much time designing “poop fairy” signs, pointing his finger at people walking the opposite way on the boardwalk and spending tax payers money on having someone “man” the bridge on little Balboa Island, rather than keeping his eye on the ball regarding more pressing issues such as our safety, quality of life and getting the merchants back to work? 

Maybe the discord is because many in the community are not happy with him trying to silence people and the groups formed to oppose his nontransparent redevelopment policies and committees. 

Could it be that the Council endorsement of Noah Blom is because they believe Noah is the right man for the job, and because they have found Jeff to be an ineffective leader, one that has just worn out his welcome to both Council members and the residents of Newport Beach alike? 

Maybe they support Noah Blom because like many of us they just don’t want to work with him, and they see Noah Blom as a fresh voice and someone who can be a positive contributor to Newport Beach and our city council.

Anita Rovsek

Balboa Island

Blom is what small business needs

Small businesses are struggling. If your favorite restaurant, coffee house, apparel store, or charming neighborhood shop hasn’t yet closed its doors for good, it may do so very soon. The coronavirus has decimated retail sales, and unlike chain stores, small businesses just do not have the resources to survive indefinitely.

On Balboa Island, where I have my store, it seems like every day I see a new “Going Out of Business” or “For Lease” sign on Marine Avenue.

Not only is the charm of our shopping districts at risk, small businesses employ 44.1 percent of all employees in this country, according to the Small Business Administration. And sales taxes generated by small business make up a large portion of the City’s budget.

So far, the City’s efforts to help small business have been, in my opinion, too little and too late. This can be seen in the continuing and accelerating permanent business closures.

The current City Council even voted down a proposed $20,000 marketing grant of mainly Federal funds to the merchants of Balboa Island. I am sure the Council had its reasons, but I think it is significant that no one on the Council operates a small store or restaurant. Most are lawyers or retired public employees.

A successful reopening of the City and its businesses after the coronavirus is crucial to the well-being of the City – both financially and culturally. A knowledgeable and practical approach to reopening small business will be essential.

Small business needs a champion on the City Council. I believe Noah Blom is that person.

I have met with Noah Blom and he is the only candidate running for City Council that took the time to meet with me and other merchants on the island. Not once, but twice. Noah is not a politician. He is an entrepreneur. He knows what it is to start a business, create jobs and to make payroll each month. He and his wife Marin founded and operate the Arc restaurants. As a leader in the hospitality industry, he worked closely with City officials to expedite approval of sidewalk dining and other regulatory changes to help struggling merchants survive the pandemic. 

Noah has a history of giving back to the community. He and Marin are active in anti-cancer charities (Noah’s mother died of that horrible disease), educational charities and, appropriately for a restaurateur, food banks. He is even endorsed by the Newport Beach Police Association and Firefighters Association.

Our City Council could use Noah’s entrepreneurial energy and in-depth business knowledge. Noah has a proven record of achievement and would make a great addition to the City Council. 

I urge you to vote for Noah Blom.

Matthew Pour, Founder “BIMA”

Jeff Herdman represents constituents, not special interests

I agree with Joy Brenner and others who have written in support of Jeff Herdman. I’ve talked with Jeff and know he is independent, hard-working and listens to constituents’ needs. 

I’m concerned that Noah Blom is influenced by outside developers and the “Team Newport” bloc on the Council instead of listening to the residents of Newport Beach. And, with nearly 1,200 cases and 26 deaths in Newport Beach, we don’t need a person on the City Council who thinks face coverings are unnecessary and businesses and schools should open up even as we face the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 infections. 

Jeff Herdman deserves our vote.

Nancy J. Smith

Newport Beach

Former Mayor says residents should be concerned

Newport Beach residents should be very concerned about what is going on in the upcoming city council election. Significant special interest contributions are flowing into the campaign of Noah Blom in order to oust independent council member Jeff Herdman. This is designed to ensure a majority in place as the city considers the general plan revision and other significant development issues.

You may not know Blom. In eleven years on the city council, I have no memory of having ever met him or having heard from him on any issue. Records show he failed to even vote in twelve elections since 2002 so we can say he is not exactly civic-minded.

Public service demands certain minimum standards of honesty, integrity and trustworthiness. Mr. Blom has filed personal bankruptcy. A court issued a bench warrant and contempt citation for nonpayment of child support. Prior to the pandemic, a court ordered him to pay to his restaurant vendors nearly $60,000 he had cheated them out of. Is this the kind of fiscal leadership we want on the city council with a more than $300 million budget?

During the COVID pandemic, city health officers in Costa Mesa cited him and shut down his restaurant for multiple and flagrant public safety violations. Is this the kind of example we need on council to keep our city safe?

When you look at his actual record, contrary to his campaign ads, he is not an involved civic leader, a successful businessman or a leader in responding to the pandemic.

What he is, is a candidate beholden to a small group of donors with very specific agendas at city hall.

In contrast, Jeff Herdman is a man of integrity, who works hard every day to improve the quality of life in Newport Beach and, in particular, to reduce the impacts of the airport on our neighborhoods. He is an independent voice on the city council, not a rubber stamp.

If you are concerned about the future of our city, join with me, former Mayors Nancy Gardner, Rush Hill, Mike Henn, Ed Selich, Evelyn Hart, Diane Dixon, John Heffernan and Don Webb. Former Mayor Pro Tems Jean Watt and Tony Petros. Senator John Moorlach and a bipartisan group of civic leaders and vote with us for Jeff Herdman.

Keith Curry, Former Mayor

Newport Beach

Herdman donations, malice is in the intent

Recent letters by Herdman supporters, including Councilmember Joy Brenner, speculated that there is “dark money” that competitor Noah Blom received from mysterious out of town developers. While Herdman tries to fend off his own record of taking developers’ money, both in 2016 and 2020, in which these same developers are currently buying and developing properties in Newport, Herdman completely misses the mark on Noah’s endorsements. 

First, Noah is a successful business owner of ARC and the Butcher and Baker, and through his businesses has an abundance of patrons and friends. If you have ever met Noah, you would understand why. He is upbeat, optimistic and an engaging communicator. Newport Beach is a town which is full of various developers, and many have frequented Noah’s restaurants over the years, and several patrons were excited to support a young and dynamic business leader running for office, as I am. 

Contributors of “dark money” noted by Herdman’s hit piece were Gino Canori and Gary Jabara. Interesting facts – the Canoris are an Orange County family that Noah went to school with at Santa Margarita and they continue to be close friends, and Gary Jabara frequents the Butcher and Baker to buy his employees gourmet lunch boxes each month. Not so dark after all. In contrast to Councilman Herdman, Noah has no history of development, nor has he partnered on any developments, yet Herdman’s campaign conveniently concocts hit pieces claiming Noah is a “special interest” candidate. Imagine that.

In contrast, sitting Councilman Herdman, who was supported by SPON, and other anti-development groups, has taken money from the California Real Estate PAC, Apartment Association of Orange County, the California Apartment Owners’ Association of Orange County, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, the Building Industry Association of California, and three companies associated with the high-density Shopoff projects along Jamboree.  Herdman even took thousands of dollars from the proponent of the Mariner’s Mile expansion project: mega-developer Manouch Moshayedi. That same developer now owns nine properties along the quaint blocks of historic Marine Avenue on Balboa Island, Herdman’s own district. Imagine that.

After recently being exposed with public records, Herdman changed his tune. Don’t worry he says, it’s a good thing to take all of that money because now the developers listen to his opinions about their projects. Is that really his defense? And on Nextdoor, Herdman said, “Manouch actually calls me when he is working on a new business or tenant to ask my opinion!” 

It’s an amazing thing when a Council member brags about backdoor meetings that change the character of Marine Avenue and Mariner’s Mile. Look at how the renovation of Hershey’s Market turned out before the residents of Balboa Island begged the new tenant to charm-up the white stucco box with steel doors, coined by residents as – “mini Costco.” In fact, at sundown the reflection off the stark white-washed exterior walls nearly blind patrons of Wilma’s Patio right across the street.

Seems to me that Herdman is the clear special interest candidate in this race given his close relationship with local mega-developers and advocates who have clear intentions to “white-wash” our charming beach communities.

Let’s not forget his “power alliance” with a former Mayor and developer advocate who created a plan to completely redevelop Marine Ave., including the removal of 40 majestic trees. 

Herdman needs to stop with the same old scare tactics that Noah will make every home a short-term rental and Newport Beach a high-rise City. Talk is cheap, but ACTIONS speak louder than words.

Rick Osborne

Little Balboa Island, Newport Beach

Follow the money

When you follow the money behind Noah Blom, it goes beyond Vacation Home operators and the Museum House developer. Campaign reports show that local developer and owner of Mobilitie Corporation Gary Jabara, and affiliated persons have given $4,800 to Blom. This includes a maximum $1,200 donation from Cameron Jabara who lists his occupation as “student”.

Residents of the Mariner’s Mile area will remember Jabara as the developer of the project containing the Mariner’s Mile post office. Residents in Newport Coast and other neighborhoods remember Mobilitie for their efforts to erect cell phone towers throughout the community.

Residents in all neighborhoods will remember this developer for his contempt for public input and working with the community. There can be no doubt that Noah Blom will be owned and operated by his contributors if elected.

If you are concerned about unlimited vacation homes in your neighborhood, if you are concerned about more high-rise, high-density developments, if you are concerned about the proliferation of cell phone towers throughout the city, and if you are concerned about the future of Mariner’s Mile, you should be very concerned about the big money propping up the campaign of Noah Blom.

I am voting for an independent council member who will stand up for residents. I am voting for Jeff Herdman for Newport Beach.

Lynn Swain 

Big Canyon

Is @DirtySexyHappiness a New Qualification to Serve on the Newport Beach’s City Council?

As I peruse mountains of candidate information, I feel compelled to share a couple of ideas that may not be obvious at first blush regarding the workings of our Newport Beach City Council members. As one who has campaigned for and worked alongside a series of great and not so great city leaders, I hold a unique insider’s perspective on the motives (both bad and good) that colonize Newport Beach’s City Hall chambers. 

Jeff Herdman is one of those leaders who stepped up to serve Newport Beach when others found serving on Council to be stressful and thankless. The airport, high-rise developments, and pensions have been issues on the docket. Most residents didn’t want responsibility for the long hours, tedious meetings, listening and acting as an advocate for both residents and local business interests that is required to successfully serve on the council.   

To show up to the numerous meetings and events required of the office is no easy task. You must have flexible time and be committed to serving various communities. It takes a special type of devotion to do the job right.

For those seeking higher office or who have been placed in office to satisfy outsiders’ agendas, the requirement is only that you turn a blind eye and have a willingness to approve “friendly favors and developer giveaways.”

For some elected officials the honor of serving and overwhelming responsibilities required for committed public servants is exchanged for a mind-numbing rubber stamp fueling developer cronyism. Those on their way somewhere else surround themselves with “yes” council members, forming a team, as they USE Newport Beach as a stepping stone to support future elections, gain influence and gather developer dollars. They leave in their wake poor planning, growing air traffic pollution and a mishmash of downright ugly projects that stand vacant long after all the costs have been absorbed by the city’s coffers. 

Ambitious council shills need money to get where they are going, and developers pay generously to streamline their projects. To get ahead politically takes money and lots of it. Great marriage for them, lousy for residents. 

That is where Noah Blom comes in, as a pawn to developer-focused council members Brad Avery, Kevin Muldoon, and Will O’Neill. Oh yeah, they say they’re for Newport but take a closer look and you will see their newest shill, Noah Blom is ill equipped to stand up to the challenges required for public service especially with the complex issues that percolate through our city. Anyone whose Instagram handle is @DirtySexyHappiness, runs two restaurants in Costa Mesa and has a teenage child is anything but available let alone remotely qualified.   

To me it’s just bizarre. Why is he running? I am pointing the finger at “the team” as they refer to themselves.  

Newport has incredibly pressing needs: maintain JWA curfews; regulate Airbnb short term rentals; curb traffic; and the ability to strike a fine balance between planned development and residential quality of life issues. Herdman has been a standing advocate for these and has taken on projects that are critically important when others lacked interest or the fortitude to tackle them. If Herdman had not stepped up many of these issues would have had vastly different outcomes irrevocably injuring our quality of life. Herdman has the time, the passion, the integrity, the stamina and character to continue his legacy work on behalf of the citizens of Newport Beach.

Please do not forget about Jeff’s numerous contributions. Let’s not lose him to the next “shiny object.”

Joan Andersen 

The Bluffs

Save independent Newport: no to Team Newport candidate Noah Blom

I am a third-generation Balboa Island resident who has spent two months researching the City Council race. I am deeply concerned that District 5 candidate Noah Blom is being recruited to give a voting majority to the real estate funded “Team Newport” bloc. After all, according to public filings, Mr. Blom has the same campaign treasurer as Team Newport Council members Will O’Neill, Kevin Muldoon and Marshall Duffield, and unsuccessful 2016 Team Newport candidate Lee Lowery. Not only is Mr. Blom endorsed by Team Newport’s Mr. O’Neill, Mr. Duffield, and Mr. Muldoon, but Mr. Blom donated the maximum allowable amount to Mr. O’Neill’s re-election campaign.

The overwhelming majority of Mr. Blom’s campaign contributions are from developers and real estate companies, and individuals associated with these industries. He’s also received funding from local and out-of-state short-term lodging operators. Looking through his Fair Political Practices Commission Form 460s, it is astonishing to see how few of Mr. Blom’s donations come from residents who do not work in real estate or an associated industry. 

The single biggest donor in this year’s City Council race is the real estate funded Atlas PAC, which gave $17,500 to “Residents for Reform Supporting Avery, Blom, and O’Neill,” a group funded exclusively by Atlas PAC and developer Robert (Bob) McCaffery. Atlas PAC, based near Sacramento, is funded by $50,000+ contributions from real estate companies, and was started with a loan from 2016 Team Newport candidate Lee Lowery. 

The second-biggest financial contributor to this year’s City Council race is Eagle Four Partners, a private equity group specializing in real estate investments. They donated $3,600 to Mr. O’Neill and $6,100 to Mr. Blom. 

In contrast, the vast majority of Jeff Herdman’s donations are from individual Newport residents. I found only three donations out of about 100 that appeared possibly linked to developers. While Mr. Blom’s average donation is in the amount of $690, Mr. Herdman’s average donation size is $305. 

There has been talk from supporters of Mr. Blom that Mr. Herdman is funded by the developer Manouch Moshayedi. Between 2016 and today, Mr. Moshayedi and his wife donated a total of $2,200 to Mr. Herdman. There is no evidence that they have contributed anything else, personally or via a PAC. 

There is speculation that Mr. Blom, Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Muldoon have political aspirations beyond Newport, which would make sense given their age. It’s certainly the case for Mr. Muldoon, who has already registered his “Muldoon for Supervisor 2022” committee. That would put Mr. Blom, Mr. O’Neill and Mr. Muldoon in a position of needing to please special interests who could fund their national campaigns. 

Council member Joy Brenner wrote in a letter to Stu News that she believes that Mr. Duffield, Mr. Muldoon and Mr. O’Neill, along with their backers, courted Mr. Blom to run with the goal of creating a pro-developer voting majority on City Council ( 

The real estate industry needs their voices heard at City Council. But Council members are supposed to work to create a balance between the often competing needs of developers and residents. Sadly, the evidence strongly suggests that Mr. Blom will join his friends Mr. O’Neill, Mr. Muldoon and Mr. Duffield in fighting for developers at the cost of residents.

Save independent Newport. Vote Jeff Herdman, District 5. 

Veronica Cassidy

Balboa Island

Blom in the kitchen is not what we need for council

I have been observing the Noah Blum phenomenon for several weeks now and it is with a bit of reticence that I attempt to describe my feelings about this young man.

I understand the attraction that he holds for many people now during these difficult times. Noah appears as a “free spirit” and who would not want to be that right now?

I witnessed Noah at the CdM public debates and have read every piece of literature I could find on him, including numerous letters from residents of Newport Beach. When Noah speaks, he is totally spontaneous, driven at times by hyperbole. And why not?

Noah is truly an artist, a conclusion I come to after having seen photos of his cooking online. His dishes are beautiful creations that take me back to when I was a young woman studying and living in Paris, spending much of my time in the Latin Quarter.

And from my personal interest in the culinary arts, I predict that someday Noah may become even more famous as a chef than he is now.

Unfortunately though, we are living in perilous times with a pandemic ravaging our country. Our only protection right now is to practice the few guidelines we have available. This is a time when “science” trumps “art” in providing us with the best possible defense against the pandemic. These simple little COVID rules seem foreign to us, but in desperation we need to hold onto them as they are the only ones we have.

And Noah, free spirit and artist that he is, cannot seem to find room for these “restrictions” in his philosophy, but more importantly in his work life. And because he is in a field which directly affects the public in one of the most invasive ways, it is extremely important that he embraces these COVID guidelines, in order to protect his customers’ health. In my opinion, he cannot morally or physically afford to impose his “free spirited” philosophy on his customers, particularly those innocently unaware of this free-wheeling style.  

In fact, a local well-known restaurant critic has also given Noah’s most famous local restaurant, the Arc, an “F” grade for failing to follow a list of COVID guidelines established by the CDC and the Health Department (or a list of objective COVID guidelines).

One of the greatest ironies that I see in Noah’s bid for Council member in the 5th District of Newport Beach is that he and his two slate partners, incumbents Brad Avery and Will O’Neill, are using their endorsement by the Associations of the Newport Beach Police and the Newport Firefighters, to announce on their fliers, “Elect the Leaders who Stand Up for Newport Beach Public Safety.” In my opinion, if you are not consistently advocating or adhering to COVID guidelines as a leader, you are not standing up for public safety.

If you look at many of the customer reviews in “The Butcher and the Baker,” Noah’s restaurant in Newport Beach, you will see that many customers rave about the food, but many also give the restaurant the lowest rating possible because of the failure to follow COVID guidelines. As a result, Noah should post the following sign at both of his restaurants, “Dine here at your own risk. We do not observe COVID guidelines.” But he is certainly not alone.

There is no job more demanding than running a gourmet restaurant, and Noah is running two. How could he ever find time to be a good Council member and run those two restaurants? He is running against an incumbent who is retired and devotes most of his time performing his many duties on Council.

To close on a semi-positive note, let me add that Noah is such a talented and gregarious artist, that once the pandemic threat has been removed, he will undoubtedly thrive as a chef. He certainly is earning fame with his current bid for Council member of District 5. But right now we have Jeff Herdman, one
of the hardest working, most articulate and productive Council members on the entire Newport Beach Council up for re-election in District 5 and he definitely deserves to be re-elected.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Your vote for Nancy is for “your city”

Welcome to election day. Well, I know you could have been voting by mail for some time! If you have not voted, I want to urge you to vote for Nancy Scarbrough for Newport Beach City Council. As you may have seen from her many endorsers, she is the real deal. All her support is from local voters. If you want to help take back control of your city, then Nancy deserves your vote.

I want to reflect on some observations I have made this election cycle. The first day to pull nomination papers was July 15th. Nancy returned her papers, and they were certified complete on July 28th. On July 26th someone who listed their name as anonymous turned in a freedom of information act request to the City Clerk asking for all correspondence and text messages between Nancy Scarbrough and the City Council, the Planning Commission, and the Community Development Department going back to 2018. 

Seeing this a month later, I too requested the same information. The amount of correspondence was voluminous. Nancy’s communication with the city over the last few years has been significant reflecting her involvement. The package was so large it had to be posted to a dropbox-like location for download. Whomever requested this must have hoped there would be some bombshell in there that could discredit Nancy. Apparently not. 

I want to thank Brad Avery for running a clean campaign against Nancy. I am sure he was encouraged by Team Newport, now Team Will camp of advisors, to attack. They were probably behind the request. As we have seen this election cycle, the facts do not matter when that starts. Thanks again Brad Avery.

I also want to address some statements made about police and fire support of the candidates. No member of the Police or Fire associations ever reached out to Nancy in any way to ask her questions or interview her. It was as if they were directed to support the candidates they did. Is this the type of politics you want for your city? They spent thousands of dollars on mailers and ads supporting the Team Will slate. 

All donations received by Nancy are from locals.

Nancy Scarbrough is Involved, Informed and Independent. Nancy is Team Local. See more at or @nancyfornewport on social media.

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach

Herdman responsible for JWA successes

As a longtime activist in Newport Beach, especially regarding John Wayne Airport, I am supporting Jeff Herdman for re-election to the Newport Beach City Council. A longtime resident of the City and Balboa Island, Jeff lives under the flight path, and he is chair of the Airport Committee, on which I serve.

Until Jeff was elected to the Council, the Airport Committee was a once-in-a-while meeting where residents came and vented. Now, complaining about the Airport is something in which I excel, so I certainly understood residents’ need to have a forum. But despite its psychological benefits, I became disgusted at the waste of time.

After Jeff Herdman was elected, he took charge of the Committee and ensured there was a representative from each council district and from each community organization that opposed airport expansion. Several members are pilots, former employees of aviation companies, managerial experts and people who have had experience working with airports. He has made the Committee, which is open to the public, an authentic committee that also sends recommendations to the Council.

For the first time, the Aviation Committee has several subcommittees, each meeting to explore one specific aspect of the Airport that bothers residents. For example, we have a Technical Subcommittee composed of pilots, consultants and other aviation experts exploring quieter departures. For obvious reasons, I am not on that subcommittee.

However, I am on a General Aviation subcommittee that meets weekly. We research how other communities near airports with business jets can encourage those jets and the FBOs to be cognizant of the community’s needs. More details of specific actions by the Committees will be forthcoming.

Jeff Herdman leads the City Aviation Committee, just like he did with the City Council and the community organizations when we all convinced the Board of Supervisors to leave a bigger place on the field for piston-driven planes. You know the pilots who fly twice a month instead of the jets that at least fly once a day.

Our goal on the Aviation Committee, and mine as the representative from SPON, was to get as good a deal as we could from the Supervisors. Two years ago, when JWA first introduced its plans for the new General Aviation Program to Newport Beach, the airport wanted three large FBOs, large hangers which would accommodate large private jet planes, and to get rid of as many small planes as they could. The airport tried to convince the Supervisors that small planes were obsolete, a relic of the past. 

That did not happen. The City led by Jeff Herdman, Diane Dixon and the organizations of SoCal Pilots, SPON, AWG, AirFair and CAANP compiled a list of requests. Did we get all of them? No, but we are still working. It is not over. The most important goal was to save the small planes. Why? The smaller piston-driven, eventually electric planes, you have on the field, the less room for large private jets. 

We also received commitments from the two FBOs, Clay Lacy and ACI Jet, to limit their hours of operation and the agreement bans the use of an FBO to allow commercial passengers to go through their terminal avoiding security.

Jeff Herdman works on many other issues for the City – a dedicated elected official.

Nancy Alston

Newport Beach

Herdman owes taxpayers an apology

A recent public records request unearthed a treasure trove of campaign activity coordinated using city resources. 

Current Councilmember Jeff Herdman was caught red handed (through public records requests) violating election law as he used his official email to talk his way into fundraisers and even coordinate a plan to harvest ballots to try to sway the November 3rd election. On top of all that, Herdman and his campaign cohorts went after solid Blom endorsements that Blom rightfully earned, with a politically heavy hand in order to retract endorsements from Blom. No different than accosting residents at their own home when they had his opponents’ sign on their private property and have already made their minds up. 

California election law clearly prohibits using government resources – funded by the taxpayer – to campaign. Doing so is a clear violation of the law, a disrespect to the office and another example of his lack of accountability and integrity to the people he is supposed to be serving in Newport Beach. 

A sitting city councilman should be able to run on his own record and support for community-driven policies, which is clearly lacking. Jeff Herdman’s campaign has been run on attacking his opponent’s family and business and supporters. The issues and his ineffective leadership are evident in his votes for the McMansion on Kings Road, eliminating the entire bluff. And Jeff’s lackluster performance for relief from airport pollution and noise, and as Chairman of the Aviation Committee, his void of commitment from the private airlines and Board of Supervisors for these general aviation planes to adhere to our noise abatement in the GAIP agreement. In addition, Jeff’s continued attack on Balboa Island’s Marine Avenue, and under his leadership, the division between the various organizations have been to say the least, disappointing. 

That’s why I am voting for Noah Blom – hoping for a Clean Slate for district 5.

Anita Rovsek

Balboa Island

Letters to the Editor

Establishment candidates. Are they really entitled to win?

If you’re like most of the nation, you can’t wait till this election year is over and you can get back to your pleasurable routines and civil discussions. Until then, both the national and local elections will continue to be like no other in our lifetime.   

You would have to be living under a rock not to notice that the local election between the City of Newport Beach Council incumbent Jeff Herdman and Newport Beach native Noah Blom has been one of the most heated elections our City has witnessed in a while. Herdman, who has been part of the public establishment for some time, working as a school administrator for most of his life and then City Councilman over the last 4 years, has certainly had an advantage over small business owner Noah Blom. Incumbents enjoy an overwhelming advantage in elections. They get to spend their term campaigning year-round, not just at election time. Incumbents get the honored place in the parade, the prime speaking position, the upper hand when it comes to raising money, usually ahead of time. 

Challengers have to fight for visibility and money. In fact, challengers are at a disadvantage at almost every point in a campaign. From building name recognition, to arranging meetings, to building credibility with editorial boards, donors and opinion leaders, they’re always trudging uphill. 

It’s not surprising that incumbents have a sense of entitlement when running for re-election, but incumbent Jeff Herdman has taken it to a whole new level. In recent encounters, Herdman has publicly chastised and scolded numerous residents in his district that chose to support someone else, as witnessed from a Balboa Island resident testimonial on Nextdoor who posted her more-than-uncomfortable encounter with Herdman in front of her own home. He has also been (accused of) ripping out his competitor’s campaign signs more than once, and dropping red colored notes off to neighbors while listing scandalous claims about his competitor, liken to the Scarlet Letter. 

Herdman’s establishment friends are all on board as well, such ex-councilmen turned re-development consultants/supporters Keith Curry, Ed Selich, John Noyes and Don Webb. They are casting unsubstantiated dark and mysterious stories about how Noah Blom, the restaurateur and small business owner, if elected, will change the character of Newport Beach forever. All the while these same individuals have been the architects of exactly this kind of change over the last decade! After all, Herdman promised Ed Selich he would re-develop Marine Ave. on Balboa Island, after Ed helped Herdman get elected, replacing Selich’s District 5 council seat in 2016. Even Lynn Lorenz, someone who claims not to be part of Herdman’s campaign, has helped Herdman by writing almost 50 letters to various editors this election cycle purporting, “Give Democracy a Chance!” 

Council members shouldn’t be elected just because they feel entitled to the position. Newport Beach city residents should look at the incumbent’s record and see exactly how they voted. Did they vote for issues and resolutions that residents deemed important and that they campaigned on? Voters should ask themselves, has significant progress been made in critical quality of life issues such as the John Wayne Airport expansion, traffic and the trend of “mansionizing” our City? And, finally, does the incumbent treat their constituents with respect and professionalism? If the answer is no, then maybe it’s time to elect a new voice and a new leader for District 5 Council. 

Jodi P. Bole,

Newport Beach

Weigand brings skill set to the forefront

Krista Weigand is the candidate in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) Area 6 that will move the district forward. As a former NMUSD parent, I’ve watched the local races closely. It’s a contentious time, filled with many challenges. In the school board landscape, many are spending a great deal of time complaining, but very few have stepped up with a fresh and constructive approach to leadership. We need new Board members who can assess what’s working and what’s not, who are bright and creative, and who truly understand healthy and effective governance.

Krista has the skills to work with budgets, the commitment to hold people accountable, and the insistence that the school district must function at the highest level. She will embrace our community with clear and frequent communication, and most importantly, she will make her decisions based solely on what is in the best interest of our students. 

Please join me in supporting Krista Weigand for NMUSD Area 6.

Ruth Sanchez Kobayashi

Newport Beach

Nancy is running because Newport needs her involvement

I write to you today about my partner Nancy Scarbrough. I have known Nancy for nearly twenty years, and I believe her experience as a woman small business owner, mother, grandmother and community activist make her ideally suited to be elected to the Newport Beach City Council.

When she became involved in city business a few years back it was with the desire to learn, help, and get off the sidelines. Increasingly residents and local business owners sought her opinion on things related to Newport Beach, and more recently the relationship between the Newport-Mesa Unified School District and the City.

Several months ago, some involved community members came to our home to urge Nancy to run for City Council. This was born out of frustration with the Team Newport, now Team Will, voting block that continuously voted against the desires of the residents and in favor of their large campaign donors. Nancy was reluctant as her community involvement was not for political gain. 

The Ensign tree mess was the final straw in her decision to run. When District 2 councilmember Avery and District 3 councilmember Duffield failed to show up or comment publicly about the debacle, Nancy was pushed over the line. Ensign straddles both districts. An involved councilmember would have been aware of what was unfolding. The residents and parents sure knew well in advance what was coming. 

Nancy and I have attended many City committee and related meetings over the last few years. Joy Brenner, Diane Dixon and Jeff Herdman are the few councilmembers who attend committee meetings that they are not on. This is important as a councilmember is elected at large and should have a broad understanding of issues facing the entire city. Without direct involvement a councilmember relies on whatever information the committee members choose to report. My experience has shown me that direct involvement provides a more accurate representation of what occurred. 

Nancy has been to these meetings and has more direct knowledge than the council majority on issues facing Newport residents and local businesses. I believe Nancy Scarbrough deserves your vote for City Council on November 3rd.  Please help take back Newport for the locals. 

Nancy Scarbrough is Involved, Informed and Independent. See more at: or @nancyfornewport on social media.

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach

Candidate’s actions make for questionable character

Recently one candidate running for re-election (seeking the District 5 City Council seat) was caught using the City of Newport Beach’s official logo in his online campaign materials. Only after this inappropriate conduct was brought to the attention of the Newport Beach City Attorney did this rogue candidate remove the official City logo from his online campaign materials. Ironically the candidate had the following quote appear over the City’s proprietary seal: “solid character will reflect in consistent behavior, while poor character will seek to hide behind deceptive words and actions.”

This same candidate was (reportedly) spotted by Island residents pulling up and removing an opponent’s political sign near the Balboa Island Bridge.

This misconduct is usually outsourced to high school students who are paid by the hour and frankly don’t know any better. Truth be told, it’s actually a serious offense to remove political signs – unless of course you are hired by the City to clean up the many signs found in medians and other green spaces around our villages during election season.

And most recently (despite prior warnings from the FPPC and the City) admonishing this candidate not to use City resources when campaigning for office, a recent public records request shows this candidate seeking to engage in the “dark arts” practice known as “ballot harvesting.” 

For those not familiar with the topic, while it may be October (Harvest Season), harvesting ballots is considered a big “no-no,” especially by candidates running for election. This practice is generally frowned upon and viewed as highly questionable because it involves outreach to voters who for whatever reason are unable to get to the polls, are undecided about how they intend to vote, or simply have not made it to the ballot box yet. Offering voters assistance in completing and returning their ballots carries with it a host of obvious risks and concerns which only further erodes our faith in the democratic process.  

Again, this would normally be something farmed out to the young and uninformed. But come to find a sitting council member seeking re-election, attempting to engage in this practice, using his official City e-mail address no less, well that is just down-right scary – even during Halloween!

For those unsure what to make of these rather questionable practices during election season – I will say: If you can’t trust a sitting council member to play by the rules, then he really should not be re-elected on that basis alone; never mind his poor record on airport noise (general aviation expansion), short-term lodging, boardwalk closures, the homeless, dueling merchant associations in his backyard, and a cozy relationship with developers whose sights seem set on redeveloping Marine Ave. and building McMansions in our quaint villages.

That is why I will be voting for NOAH this Fall.

Jim Moloney

Balboa Island 

Peters’ experience counts in this school board election

This is a school board election in which experience matters. Amy Peters is the candidate with the experience to help steer our district toward opening all grades in our district to offer our children the full educational experience that they deserve.

I met Amy Peters in 2004 when she was my oldest son’s first preschool teacher. She shepherded the children through their first year of early education with kindness and respect. 

I had no idea that she was a warrior for our children until Swun Math was introduced to our district. Amy and her husband Peter fought alongside other informed parents to hold Superintendent Navarro and the Board responsible for this disastrous math program. The Peters’ unrelenting focus on NMUSD’s math program led to the district dropping this program and adopting one that was more effective at teaching math.

Amy ran for school board in 2016, hoping to unseat the incumbent. Even though that run was unsuccessful, she continued to advocate for the students of our district, both on campuses and attending nearly every school board meeting over the past four years. She understands the responsibilities of the superintendent and his administration, and the role of the board in terms of guiding the district and being sure that the district administration is serving the students. She understands the enrollment trends, the finances of the district, the opportunities for additional federal and state funding programs that are available, and which our district has failed to utilize, and the politics of the district. She knows everyone at the district office on a first name basis and corresponds with most of them frequently. She also has close relationships with nearly everyone from principals to teachers to janitors on her local campuses and in this way is able to get accurate information on what is happening at the schools.

Our new school board representative will be stepping into a leadership role in a district that has been wagging the dog for the last decade. We need to elect someone who already understands the landscape and the immediate actionable steps that can be taken to expedite our children returning to the educational experience they deserve. 

We need to elect a board member who will hold the district administration accountable. We need experience. We need to elect Amy Peters.

Teryn Clarke MD

Newport Beach

Not the time to go back

We cannot afford to go back to the ways of Harley Rouda’s predecessor, Congressman (Dana) Rohrabacher, a “no action” representative. Harley’s opponent, Michelle Steel, is the same kind of “no action” politician. Her idea of a platform is to just say “no to taxes”. The Orange County Register says that she is too focused on Republican talking points to take on the many needs of the 48th District.

Harley Rouda is just the opposite. Since he was elected in 2018, he has been hustling all around his district to solve the many problems that years of inaction have created – climate change issues, small business help, and the restoration of state and local tax deductions that were eliminated by the federal government in 2017, to name a few. In the last year, he has fought tenaciously to alter the effect of the pandemic on small businesses. He was able to secure millions of dollars for local small businesses in Orange County. 

Not afraid to cross the aisle, Harley has worked with Republicans to get important legislation passed in Congress. His accomplishments are numerous. Harley has kept very close to his constituency, having interacted with more than 1,000 of his constituents in the 48th District. It would be difficult to find a congressional member who has worked harder than Harley. Once re-elected, his focus will be on helping to restore the economy of the 48th.  

He is quoted as saying, “The most important thing we can do to get our economy back on its feet is to help our local small businesses.” A business owner himself, he knows about the loss suffered by businesses during the pandemic. He has many additional problems left unresolved that he would like at least two more years to complete.

Dorothy Kraus

Newport Beach

Concern for the importance of this election

We are getting down to the wire...I have never been as concerned about elections as I am this year. Our choices, more than ever, will define who we are and what we envision for the future. I know many people feel as I do and are getting more involved as a result. Doing so gives citizens a more positive impression of democracy. While I was working, I only had the time and energy to get involved in presidential elections, but since retirement all levels have interested me.

In all honesty, I must say that I have great fear for our country if we make the wrong choices this year. I hope for a government with representatives that are optimistic about democracy, want to solve people-based problems, and do not put impediments in front of progress. I also want representatives who show concern for their constituents, have positive outlooks, and are honest about their actions. We have too many “me-first” candidates and naysayers at all levels.

The following candidates are bright, successful and hard working. For that reason at the local level, I am voting for Nancy Scarbrough. To cite an unusual parallel experience: if you are shopping for something of quality and you find a good deal to buy, is how you can look upon choosing to vote for Nancy. It is not often that you are going to find someone so right for the job of city council as Nancy.

As her longtime partner Charles remarked to me recently, “if people just get to meet and talk to Nancy, they will want to vote for her.”

Another person who just seems like a natural choice for city council is Jeff Herdman. With his familiarity of Newport Beach after spending most of his life here, his excellent education and verbal skills, Jeff just comes across as a natural fit for the job as well. Because he is retired, he is able to devote a lot of time to his district and the city in general. His list of accomplishments during his first term is extremely impressive. I am definitely voting for him.

Harley Rouda and Cottie Petrie-Norris became our representatives in Washington and Sacramento, respectively, in 2018. They both have done remarkable jobs of putting the 48th Congressional District and the 74th California Assembly District back in action. Harley’s dynamic personality and Cottie’s personable demeanor have made them very popular and, additionally, they are gifted problem solvers for their constituents. As former business people, they both are involved in helping the small businesses who have suffered so much during COVID. Also among many other issues, they are dealing with the problems that climate change has wrought in our coastal cities. 

I have worked substantially for the election and/or re-election of each of these four candidates because I feel that they possess those special qualities that we so need in leadership.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Coyote attacks dog in Bonita Canyon, owner gets lucky with “kick”

This morning (Tuesday, Oct. 27) at 7:30 a.m. I was in the front of our home in Bonita Canyon with our little two-year-old Maltese, Uma, on the lawn in front of the house. A medium to large sized coyote sprang from behind a parked car in the street and grabbed Uma in his/her jaws. I fortunately connected with a kick to its tail end and he dropped Uma and retreated, but just slightly, to the street, carefully scanning the opportunity. 

I brought Uma in, grabbed a handy golf club and ran out. The coyote was (now) on our lawn and, with the help of a kind young female neighbor, we chased the coyote back into the deep and lengthy heavy brush that runs along the 73 and borders Bonita Canyon on the east side. 

Clearly, this coyote was driven by the fires, was hungry and desperate. We haven’t seen a coyote in the neighborhood for quite some time and not one as bold and desperate as this. 

Thought it might help to notify all homeowners that the fires have driven and will drive wildlife out of their normal habitat and into the residential areas, and to take extra precautions with pets and small children.  

David C. Grant 

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Will O’Neill

Mayor, City of Newport Beach

I endorse Brad Avery because of his quiet leadership on Council

Will O'Neill

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of City of Newport Beach

Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill

Serving as Mayor of Newport Beach truly is the honor of a lifetime. This year has been without the pageantry that normally accompanies a Mayoral year. It has, in fact, been one of the toughest years in our city’s history. But as crises grew, I knew without question that I could rely on the steady and honorable leadership of Mayor Pro Tem Brad Avery.

I offered my endorsement to Brad for his re-election bid before he asked. It’s not because he and I see eye-to-eye on everything. There have, in fact, been a number of meetings in the past four years where we voted differently. 

I knew, though, that every vote Brad casts has been carefully considered. That his vote was based fully on what he thought was best for Newport Beach. That his heart for our city rings true and his humility avoids the flash that admittedly does help during elections.

For those who care about longevity in our city, he graduated from Newport Harbor High School and has served our community for approximately five decades.

For those who care about longevity of service, he has been Chair of the city’s Harbor Commission, Council member since 2016, a member of the Board of Advocates at OASIS Senior Center, and a member of the Board of Governors at Sherman Library and Gardens.

For those who care about expertise, there simply aren’t many people in our city with more experience and knowledge about our Harbor – the jewel of our city – than Brad Avery. He recently retired as Director of the Orange Coast College Sailing Center and is regularly out in the Harbor recreationally and professionally. 

Serving with Brad is to know someone who is a genuinely decent and honest person. I encourage you to join me in voting for Brad Avery for re-election to the Newport Beach City Council.

Mayor Will O’Neill

City of Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Scarbrough is authentic

It is not often that there is an authentic council candidate like Nancy Scarbrough to run for office in Newport Beach. By authentic, I mean one who has resided here for years, has raised children who have attended our school system, who has started/managed her own small business, all while attending basically every civic meeting in Newport Beach for many years. None of this was done for personal gain, but to acquire an understanding of citywide affairs, and to get involved in areas of concern where she might be able to help out.

Her intention was not to run for office. However, when several City leaders, impressed by her interest, knowledge and participation in civic matters, asked her to run for city council, she did not let them down.

Nancy possesses project management skills and business experiences which equip her with a valuable perspective and knowledge to tackle serious problems faced by the council. 

Not one to blurt out simple responses or “easy fixes,” Nancy’s serious and thoughtful nature belies someone who thinks carefully before she speaks, and someone who values independence from those who would try to influence her for their own gain.

Nancy will provide a good balance to the council, someone who will bring the interests of her citywide constituents to the table. Residents in the Heights and Cliffhaven who are familiar with her zest for representing citywide concerns look forward to having her on the council. 

VOTE for Nancy Scarbrough to advocate for all of Newport Beach.

Tom Baker

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Concerns about Blom’s candidacy

I have concerns regarding one candidate running for Newport Beach City Council and want to share them. Candidate (Noah) Blom has repeatedly implied that the Newport Beach police and firefighters are backing him. Even after it was pointed out to him, mailers continue to arrive every few days with the same implied message. I feel that some people will take this implied message without considering that it’s the foundations who are actually promoting Blom and two other candidates, who have hidden agendas that promote development and harbor interests and are not the views of all firefighters and police. These foundations also know that by bringing in Blom, they will again have a majority on the Council to vote for their agenda.

When watching the candidate nights that Blom participated in, I found two statements in particular that caused alarm. When asked about wearing masks during the pandemic, Blom stated that people should be able to do what they wanted and that masks weren’t necessarily needed. These kinds of statements continue to divide us rather than unite us in a common cause to address the problem. 

The other comment came up when asked how we could remediate the traffic problems especially going through Corona del Mar. Blom said he wasn’t in favor of alternative routes because he felt the more traffic the better. It would benefit local businesses. This type of perspective does not address the needs of all residents and the ever-expanding traffic problems.

There’s been a huge campaign against Jeff Herdman, and it seems like an awful lot of money has gone into getting him off the council and getting someone on that will vote with the pro-development group. When I watch the city council meetings it’s pretty obvious that often Jeff is one of the few council members that opposes this group. I value a more balanced council that isn’t prone to running their own agenda through.

It has really helped my perspective on candidates by watching them in action either at the council meetings or candidate nights.

Carol Tomlinson

Newport Beach

Are increases in short-term rentals and the Museum House on Blom’s agenda?

Newport Beach voters need to pay attention and follow the money supporting new council candidate Noah Blom.

After announcing his support for eliminating the cap on short-term vacation rentals and allowing these types of rental properties in every neighborhood of our city, Blom received a maximum donation of $1,200 on September 17th from Jeff Bosson. Bosson is the Mission Viejo-based owner of Sea Breeze Vacation Rentals, a company that specializes in the short-term rental business.   

On the same day, Blom received $500 from Newport Beach Vacation Properties. 

Clearly, these business interests are anticipating a strong return on their investment if Blom is elected and our short-term rental regulations are reduced to allow the massive expansion of vacation properties into your neighborhood.

One may also wonder why Gino Canori, an executive with Related Companies based in the Northern California town of Ross, gave Blom $500 on September 3rd. Perhaps it was because Blom had announced his support for bringing back the high-rise, high-density Museum House Tower. Concerned citizens remember that this project was sponsored by Related. 

Blom is the only candidate running on his support for this project which just shows how out of touch he is with Newport Beach residents. Over 14,000 people signed petitions in just two weeks to reject this high-density high-rise.

Blom claims to be a concerned and active citizen, but he has never been [to my knowledge] active on any neighborhood association, civic issue, or ballot measure. In fact, he has only voted four times in our local elections in the last 16 years.

He is just another empty suit, brought in by special interests to provide a vote for their economic interests.

We don’t need unlimited vacation rentals in every neighborhood, we don’t need the Museum House and we don’t need Noah Blom. Vote for Jeff Herdman, a council member who is independent and represents residents, not out-of-town business interests.

Lawrence Robinson

Newport Beach

Disappointed by lack of character support

I’ve spent the majority of my life in Newport Beach advocating for families and now for seniors. In all things, I know character counts, and that’s more than whether a person uses an occasional swear word. When it comes to local politics affecting our homes, families and communities, a person’s actions speak louder than words. 

I suppose I’ve grown used to being disappointed by Newport Beach politics in recent years but 2020 breaks all records. Why are Mayor Will O’Neill and councilmen Duffy Duffield and Kevin Muldoon supporting Noah Blom, who has had a bench warrant issued against him for nonpayment of child support? These are public officials and fathers who talk about family values. How can they rationalize this endorsement? Elected officials who campaign as examples for the community have no reason to hold up a deadbeat father as a model.   

I have cast my vote for Jeff Herdman because he’s a principled man who, as a former educator like myself, has been a strong advocate for families, residents and local businesses. I respect others’ right to support another candidate but am shocked that “family values” council members would set the bar so low.        

Scott Paulsen

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Negative campaigning doesn’t take away from Blom’s desire to serve

Two years ago, I won re-election onto our Newport Beach City Council despite months of malicious and bruising attacks. I ran on my record as a Council Member and was proud of the work that we had done. In contrast, hit pieces against me flooded mailboxes. Nextdoor became a cesspool of misinformation and outright lies. There was no line uncrossed.

I’m watching the same negative campaign by many of the same people being run against Noah Blom, whose sin is his desire to serve his community further. He already owns a successful restaurant called Arc that many people in our community frequent. 

He and his wife, Marin, are involved with numerous charities in our area, including CHOC, UCI’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, the March of Dimes, the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, OC Food Bank, the Newport Harbor Educational Foundation, and the CdM Foundation, to name a sample.

His stance on issues are laid out on his website, And if you aren’t sold yet, then I encourage you to speak directly to Noah. You will find out immediately that he has a heart for service and a rich familial history in our city. He is charismatic with a positive vision for the Newport Beach where he was raised. 

He is also humble in a way that I found refreshing. To experience that yourself, just read the letters to the editor this past week and contrast Noah’s substantive discussion with his opponent’s negative campaigning. 

Noah’s letter starts by acknowledging that he needed to add the words “associations” to be clear that our Newport Beach Police Association and Newport Beach Fire Association – representing around 200 of our frontline public safety personnel – endorsed him. He was contrite, apologized, and identified the concrete solution to the problem. He did not issue an excuse, even though his campaign manager had died suddenly after a cancer relapse. I am frankly impressed by any candidate these days willing to own mistakes, no matter how minor, and remedy them. That is the kind of person I want to represent me.

Finally, incumbents need to run on their own merits and accomplishments. If they are worth re-electing, then their record should be sufficient to contrast with an opponent. When an incumbent issues such a negative and aggressive release about his opponent, that says a lot more about the incumbent than the challenger.

I’m voting for Noah Blom and I hope that you will too. 

Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, District 3

Newport Beach City Council and former Mayor

Who is the real Noah Blom?

He says he’s a successful restaurateur:

–Court Records prove Blom owes thousands of dollars to         

vendors and suppliers. This was BEFORE COVID-19. (OCS30-2017-00918270)

–Then, he was fined by OC Health inspectors for ignoring capacity limits, [allegedly] refusing to allow employees to wear masks and ignoring social distancing in his restaurants. (CMPD 20-76047/2020-085284, Citation# 041264)

A Devoted Family Man:

–An OC Bench Warrant for his non-payment of child support was issued for non-appearance. (OCSC 12FL103065)

–Filed personal bankruptcy in 2008, not meeting his responsibilities to creditors who trusted him. (CAC 0812584)

Blom has cheated his suppliers, neglected his own responsibility to his child and placed his employees and customers at risk.

On top of that, he hasn’t voted in 14 years (OC Registrar of Voters). Yet, he has the audacity to ask for your vote! 

Blom’s behavior demonstrates a total lack of fiduciary responsibility, personal responsibility, and a reckless disregard for any responsibility!

Newport Beach deserves better representation. 

Newport Beach deserves a public servant with integrity.

Newport Beach residents should demand responsibility and accountability.

Noah Blom is not that man!

Who is Jeff Herdman and what has he been doing? 

–Representing Newport Beach against OC Airport expansion.

–Mediating the conflict over Marine Avenue.

–Reforming local campaign laws.

–Fighting against unrealistic growth like The Museum House.

–Fighting for a better Newport Beach

I am wholeheartedly supporting Jeff Herdman.

I am voting for Jeff Herdman.

I am asking that you do as well, to preserve our Newport Beach.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer, ret.

Newport Beach

Scarborough more than just a “nice guy”

Our current District 2 City Councilman, Brad Avery, is a very nice guy. However, Newport Beach is at a crossroads regarding the amount of development and traffic the city will permit, and in this case, “strong advocate” is better than “nice guy.” 

Nancy Scarborough is running against Mr. Avery and will be a passionate advocate of the things I value most for our city: our quality of life and holding back massive new development. She has been a regular at city meetings, standing up for residents and standing firm against overdevelopment. I hope readers will consider voting for her on November 3.

Susan Skinner 

Newport Beach

This is what Jeff has been doing

A new political action committee cropped up in Newport Beach last week, called “Where’s Jeff: No on Herdman for City Council 2020.” 

What a farce! 

As someone who’s very involved in our community, I can tell you exactly where Jeff has been for the past four years. 

–Fighting the expansion of JWA and turning the city’s aviation committee into an efficient and effective entity for the first time ever. 

–Helping promote a public-private partnership so Newport could have its very own animal shelter (FONBAS). 

–Working on water quality, the General Plan update and the homeless crisis, among other issues, and keeping his constituents informed with excellent newsletters.     

–Meeting with residents from across the city to discuss their concerns about development, traffic and the need to preserve the character of our neighborhoods.

One person I have not seen once in the many years I’ve been involved in city affairs is Jeff’s opponent, Noah Blom. I’ve never seen him at a city council or planning commission meeting, an aviation committee meeting, volunteering in any capacity, or attending any kind of citizen-led event. 

So I’d say a better question is, where has Noah been while Jeff was working to make our city better? 

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

Jeff Herdman is our guy

My husband and I are longtime Newport Beach residents (50+ years). As such we have watched city council members come and go and we have watched the council races get meaner and nastier. Sadly, that seems to apply to the current city council election. Rumor, innuendo and downright lies seem to be the way campaigns are conducted now.

I know Jeff Herdman as a neighbor, as a councilman and as a tireless advocate for improving the impact of John Wayne Airport on the lives of the citizens surrounding the airport. I formerly served as president of AirFair and I was part of the team that helped to negotiate the latest Settlement Agreement. When Jeff was elected to the Council in 2016 he immediately immersed himself in learning all he could about operations at the airport. In my opinion, Councilman Herdman is one of those largely responsible for the current good situation that has evolved at the airport – the recently approved General Aviation Improvement Program. As I learned in my negotiations regarding the Settlement Agreement, there is no such thing as “Winner Takes All” regarding John Wayne Airport – a compromise is always the best and only way. 

Both of us will be voting to re-elect Jeff Herdman to the Newport Beach City Council. We believe he has been an extremely hard-working, dedicated and effective representative.

Melinda & Hall Seely

Newport Beach

Why I am voting twice for our harbor

Prior to his election to city council, Mayor Pro Tem Brad Avery served five years on the city’s Harbor Commission. He has been active around our harbor for decades. He knows the water, the residents, the boaters, and the business owners. He knows the Harbor’s ebbs and flows. And he knows the direction we need to take for protecting and modernizing our Harbor.

Brad helped lead the City’s effort to take back the management of the harbor’s more than 1,000 moorings. Alongside “Duffy” Duffield, he helped lead the effort to create our own Harbor Department. He was also involved with the effort to update Title 17, which is our municipal code’s “rules of the road” for Harbor management. The language of Title 17 was outdated and needed a major revision to meet today’s harbor needs. 

This revision was performed largely by our Harbor Commission which is a group of citizen volunteers dedicated to protecting and maintaining our beautiful harbor.

Brad is the only candidate in his council race to support the language of Measure Z, which is on your ballot. Measure Z was created to safeguard the Harbor Commission under our City’s charter. This will prevent future threats to Newport Harbor from political maneuvering.

Brad knows that a commission of engaged local citizens can best keep Newport’s crown jewel sparkling for generations to come. I’m voting to re-elect Brad Avery. I’m also voting for Title 17. I hope you will too.

Seymour Beek, former Harbor Commissioner

Balboa Island

Some ideas for vetting future candidates

Welcome to politics of the Trump Era. Bravura and dissension on all fronts. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, so I get it. My heroes, however, were those who championed for the little guy, the forgotten, the helpless and those who faced discrimination. Many in my generation elected to go into professions that would serve others. We looked up to leaders who inspired love of country as well as compassion for the less fortunate in the world, just because we had it so good. 

We did not try to use others for our own gain. Much has changed in the world since the 70s and we have as many needy citizens in our country as in other large countries. We have a terrible pandemic, economic disaster and a paucity of leaders who are focused on a national and global rebirth that does not only bring back our economy but provides moral and ethical leadership that we can look up to, that reminds us that we are part of a larger picture, not just an island onto ourselves.

Since I have retired, I have had the opportunity to focus on local leadership as well as that of the state and national levels which have always interested me. For the most part, what I have seen of local leadership over the past 6 or 7 years has been very disappointing. There is a selfish and “me first” attitude that seems to prevail in the city and county. There is no expressed concern about those who are not only homeless but helpless. It did not seem a priority before the pandemic. There is the call by citizens to refuse to perform the simple gesture of wearing a mask, to help others who are more vulnerable. And there are government officials on all levels who encourage this independent but selfish act.

We, with some exceptions at the local level, are not attracting the type of leaders who believe in serving their constituents. They have fixed ideologies that they bring to city government. They focus only on the issues of the city’s prosperity, at the detriment of others such as the homeless, the helpless, traffic issues, zoning issues, etc.

How do we attract the right type of leaders? Number 1, we break up the slate candidates. Number 2, and most importantly right now, we institute a vetting process for those who want to run for public office. 

It is too late for those who are already in office. But, if we had a vetting process in place, we would not have all the problems we have now – the rumors of candidates and officials who by their personal and public actions, display behavior or personal qualities that would prevent them from running for public office. We cannot elect leaders on the cult of personality about whom we know very little. That would solve one problem. But sometimes when you solve one problem, the others fall in line.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Weigand and Crane are the choices we need

As the national election continues to steal the show, local residents of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa are faced with two very important races in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. Longtime incumbent Trustees Martha Fluor and Dana Black are not seeking re-election.

With the amount of experience these departing Trustees leave behind, it is important we elect two new board members who can hit the ground running. Carol Crane in District 3 and Krista Weigand in District 6 both fit this bill and would serve our Newport-Mesa communities well. I personally know them both and am confident they are well qualified.

Krista has an MBA, knows finances, budgets and balance sheets. She has children at our local elementary schools and has been at the forefront of mental health issues. Krista is “hands on” and is clearly the fresh vote for our future.

Carol’s commitment to student advocacy, community engagement and fiscal responsibility are a few of the many reasons why she is the trusted choice in District 3.

They are both strong leaders and parents who we can rely on and have lived in our community for many years. 

Our district needs communicators. Ones who are willing to put differences aside and work for the common good of our community, while bridging the gap between parents, teachers and the administrators – all to the benefit of our students.

Krista Weigand and Carol Crane deserve your vote this election. Please join me in supporting them.

Kate Malouf, Newport Harbor High School Parent

Newport Beach

The tiger is out in Newport Heights

Brad Avery is anything but a leader and responsible advocate for Newport Heights. He has failed to align his allegiance for any efforts protecting his District 2. 

He has failed to assert his Council influence to support his constituents. Rather, he rolls over and remains silent, ineffectual, and docile when it comes to standing up for his District. 

What we need is solid representation, a person who not only cares, but who also acts to protect Newport Heights. We don’t need a lamb on Council, we need a tiger! We don’t need a crony, but rather a bold leader. 

As a resident of Newport Heights for over 55 years, I have seen many strong leaders in the Heights, ones that speak out, rally, go door-to-door with the issues. Brad is the last on that list.

The biggest challenge is protecting Mariners Mile, absolutely hands down the most single impact, second only to the Airport.

Where does Brad sit on the issue of Newport Village? Who knows, but rest assured, he would never speak up or defend his neighborhood.

Nancy Scarbrough will.

So before you vote, pause and ask if Brad has done anything to deserve another term. Has he ever been to your door to talk to you, has he ever stood tall at Council protecting our neighborhood?

Brad obviously thinks that he has this election in the bag, as he has no campaign signs and he has made no effort to reach out.

Think long and hard before voting for Avery. 

We need a tiger. And now is the time as we will be facing massive challenges to protect Mariners Mile and many other issues coming up in our community of Newport Heights and West Newport.

Dan Boyd

Newport Heights

Beware “Cops Voter Guide” is crooked

Recently, a mailer went out to all of the residents in the City of Newport Beach that looked very official and was titled “Cops Voter Guide.” In addition to looking certified, the mailer showed that the Cops Voter Guide endorsed Newport Beach Councilman Jeff Herdman. This was very odd given that the City of Newport Beach Police Association had already endorsed Noah Blom for District 5 councilman. 

Like many residents in Newport Beach, I was confused by this mailer. After researching this so called Cops Voter Guide, which is intended to look like it represents law enforcement, it turns out this is a fraudulent political slate mailer in which candidates can pay up to $2,500 to get their name listed on the mailer in an attempt to cause pro-police voters to cast ballots contrary to the true stance of public safety professionals.

In fact, law enforcement organizations have been fighting this fraudulent crime for some time and those who continue to pay this organization, and with a little due diligence it’s hard to conclude is fraudulent, only exacerbates the crime. To quote the Sergeant of the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department, “to see someone print endorsements that are completely contradictory to what the profession believes is a slap in the face. This erroneous information has been sent to millions for profit and gives law enforcement a very bad name.” 

This mailer is an anti-police position, says Lolita Harper, a former detective, and promotes propositions that are actually anti-law enforcement. 

The “Cops Voters Guide” is printed by a campaign consultant who does not represent a single law enforcement agency or association.

Kelley Moran, whose name appears as the owner of Cops Voter Guide Inc., does not currently work for law enforcement, nor has he ever served in a sworn law enforcement capacity in his career.   

It is concerning that one of our own elected officials would [possibly] pay for such an endorsement and give Newport Beach a bad name by undermining the safety and the integrity of our first responders. If voters want to know the political views of their local law enforcement, look for the actual endorsements of the Newport Beach Police Association. Don’t fall prey to this crooked scheme.

Kevin Clark

Newport Beach     

Independent voices are what Newport Beach needs

I enjoyed Tom Johnson’s Fair Game column on Friday and as usual it offered food for thought. Our local elections are indeed getting dirtier every cycle. Many smart, good people I know would make fantastic council members, but they don’t dare run. It’s partly because of the mud that gets slung against candidates, and partly because of the outside money that pours in to support the “Team Newport” lineup – this year, Will O’Neill, Brad Avery and Noah Blom. 

Newport residents have received hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of mailers already: one from a Long Beach-based political action committee opposing Jeff Herdman (i.e. supporting Noah Blom); several from the police and fire unions supporting O’Neill, Avery and Blom; and one supporting that same trio from a statewide political action committee with major funding (meaning at least $50,000) from a Los Angeles billionaire. 

How on earth can we expect regular citizens seeking simply to give back to the community to go up against that kind of money and influence? As Tom notes, the pool of volunteers is very likely to keep shrinking. I have no doubt that is precisely the goal. 

Outside money and special interests can prop up candidates who don’t have the right skills for the job or who have legal issues which, if not glossed over, would cause voters to reject them. Those same forces can boost the reelection bids of candidates who aren’t effective councilmembers or don’t run serious campaigns since they can rely on others to make them look good. 

When special interests succeed in getting people elected who haven’t worked hard on their campaigns or won’t be fully committed to the council, our whole community loses. 

This year I am voting for Jeff Herdman and Nancy Scarbrough. Both are working overtime to get their message out to voters without the help of glossy mailers from outside groups. Herdman has a track record of listening to residents, working for the good of the city seven days a week, and getting things done. 

With Joy Brenner, she has been an independent voice on the council, and we need more of that, which is why I’m also supporting Scarbrough. She knows how the city works, what’s going well and what needs fixing. She’ll be ready to hit the ground running and I know she’ll work to represent Newport residents – not outside interests or any political team. 

Hopefully our city can have a discussion in the near future about ways to get some of this big money and outside influence out of our local politics. It’s hard enough to run for public office. I applaud those who have the courage to go up against a political machine and look forward to supporting more independent candidates in future elections. 

Jennifer McDonald

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Former principal rings endorsement of Crane

I had the privilege to work with Carol Crane for seven years during my tenure as Corona Del Mar High School principal. I knew her as an involved parent, an impactful PTA president and as an informed community member. 

Through our work together Carol’s priorities remained consistent and action-driven. Her number one priority was always focused on making decisions that supported students both academically and social-emotionally. She placed attention and resources on enhancing educational initiatives for teachers and championed parental involvement and collaboration to strengthen communication between the school and the community. 

Without a doubt, Carol has the vision, the knowledge and the work ethic to make a positive difference for Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

Kathy Scott

Former Corona Del Mar High School Principal, 2013-2020

Don’t let special interests sway your vote

Once again, Newport Beach voters will face a small group of special interests attempting to buy a seat on the city council.

For the past four years, Jeff Herdman has been an independent voice, working hard for residents and listening to all sides before making a decision. He has led on reducing the noise from John Wayne Airport, making our city safe, reducing traffic and protecting residents from poorly thought out development schemes. Most significantly, he has led in efforts for political reform to clean up our city after the California Fair Political Practices Commission found widespread violations of our campaign laws and contribution limits.

The same machine politicians who opposed Jeff’s efforts of reform, have found Noah Blom to run against Jeff in the November election. In nearly eleven years on the city council, I have never met Mr. Blom. [To my knowledge] He never attended a council meeting, community association meeting, civic event or in any other way demonstrated an interest in the city [that I know of] before running for office this year.

You know Mr. Blom is out of touch with our community by the positions he takes. During the September 9th Speak Up Newport candidates forum, he supported expanding short term vacation rentals to every neighborhood in our city. Not surprisingly, on September 17th, he received a maximum donation from an out of town vacation rental business.

Even more bizarre, Blom was the only candidate to support bringing back the high-rise, high-density Museum House project. Perhaps he failed to notice that nearly 14,000 Newport Beach residents signed a petition to oppose this project in a period of only two weeks. He is simply out of touch with our city values and priorities.

Don’t be misled by the well-financed special interest hit pieces that are sure to come. Vote for Jeff Herdman for an independent council member who will represent you, not special interests.

Keith Curry, former Mayor 

Newport Beach 

Being an educator is a plus

It is incomprehensible to me why someone would want to vote for a new candidate that few people know over one who is “tried and true.” I am speaking, of course, about voting for Jeff Herdman. To learn why he is such a valuable member of City Council, one need only go to to appreciate the amazing number of things that Herdman has achieved on Council. 

To imply that being involved in education (in Jeff’s case as an administrator) is a position that would not adequately prepare one for city government is an insult to those of us in education. In truth, there are few fields that could prepare one better for a leadership role than school administration. 

I taught at the secondary level for over 30 years and feel that it was the first half of my career teaching at the junior high level that prepared me most for an understanding of local politics such as I have witnessed since I retired.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Support our local police, fire and first responders…they deserve it

As election day nears, trying to keep track of who is endorsing which of the many candidates running for office this fall can be quite confusing. But one thing is certain in these challenging and uncertain times, and that is how important our fire, police and first responders are to protecting our country at large and our local communities. The dedicated men and women who serve us tirelessly day-in and day-out, protecting us from harm and peril at every turn, are really the modern-day unsung heroes of our childhood. You don’t appreciate who is there providing consistent and much-needed services until there is a crisis in our midst. And thus, it should come as no surprise we are seeing signs sprout up all around our neighborhoods proclaiming our uniform support and appreciation for their great service. 

As we have learned first-hand over the past six months, Newport Beach is not immune to the many challenges confronting our civil society today – the impact of the pandemic, business closures, smoke and ash covering our neighborhoods and blocking out the sun, casting an eerie orange glow over our neighborhoods, not to mention maintaining order during the mostly peaceful protests this summer that were occasionally interrupted by a stray gun-toting antagonist or driver who ran into a group of protestors standing in the middle of Balboa Boulevard on the Peninsula. These are but a few examples of the events transpiring in our midst that illustrate why support and praise of our fire, police and first responders is well-deserved. Hence, I was not surprised to see Council Member Dixon and a few others on City Council give their thanks to our fire, police and first responders at a recent City Council Meeting (viewed online). 

Clearly our local fire, police and first responders are doing a great job protecting us and our community. And while I find it somewhat disappointing to see reports in the news that some local residents are going around removing and discarding these blue and white signs, in some cases even damaging the signs by cutting them (as was done to a first responder sign hanging outside a cottage on Balboa Island), there is not much we can do, other than to continue showing our uniform strong support for our fire, police and first responders. 

That is why come this election day, I plan to support them by voting for those City Council candidates that “they” have endorsed. While I find it somewhat curious that they are not endorsing the standing District 5 incumbent, it is really not for me to question why they are endorsing a newcomer instead. They likely know something I do not. So come this fall, I will be showing my support for our local fire, police and first responders by voting for Noah Blom. Everything I have learned about Noah is authentic and above board. Please learn more for yourself and I think you will find the same.

Barbara Klinger

Balboa Island

I like Jeff’s “stand-up” character

Recently I read Jack Callahan’s and Keith Curry’s letters in the newspaper and want to say that I am also voting for Jeff Herdman because he is doing a “stand-up” job as a council member. I receive his newsletter and appreciate that he stays in close touch with his constituents on Balboa and the rest of Newport. 

The path of communication is always open with Jeff and he is candid in his dealings with the City. I may not always agree with his position on certain issues, but I know that if I ask about his decision or vote, he will get back to me.

I admire that Jeff appears to be more independent in his thinking than some of the other members on the council. We need council members who represent different viewpoints. I think some of the members tend to influence each other’s vote too frequently rather than represent the different viewpoints of the community. 

We need members with council experience as well as leadership experience. As a former school administrator and member of a leadership group on Balboa where he has lived for decades, Jeff brings that excellent experience to his job. He has been involved in many civic projects, most notably the John Wayne Airport committee which interests me most as a Newport Heights resident. Jeff greatly deserves to be re-elected to a second term to the Newport Beach City Council.

Tom Baker

Newport Beach 

Long for old Orange County

Once again I enjoyed Lynn Lorenz’s unbiased (ha ha) letter. I have just one quick comment. Ms. Lorenz quotes Dr. Fred Smoller from Chapman saying that the local leaders who denounced the governor’s beach closure speak for “the old Orange County of rugged individualism and making their own way” and added, “I think they speak for a fraction of OC that is diminishing in size.” I believe that many of us think that is what made our country/county unique. I long for the old Orange County.

Jerry Piersall

Costa Mesa

Nasty voices hurt opinion sharing

I had a most disturbing experience yesterday and this morning when I put a political opinion piece on Nextdoor in support of a candidate for city council. I was very much surprised by the personal nature of the verbal attack that I received from one gentleman (who was anything but). It was as if I had pushed a button that released a fountain of personal and venomous remarks focused on me and my candidate. 

While I would be one of the first to speak up about freedom of speech, I try to make my point publicly by talking about a candidate’s positive qualities, rather than the negative qualities of the opposition. When I find it impossible to make an important point in my argument without mentioning the opposing party, I try to speak in general terms as much as possible. If necessary, I will describe people’s actions that I believe are ill-conceived.   

I have been accused of “fawning” over politicians and of “thinking that they walk on water.” But I would much prefer those criticisms to ones accusing me of verbally assaulting someone, particularly a total stranger. 

I have spoken of my distrust of candidate slates and teams. I still hold that they are compromising what should be the democratic function of our city council. I know very little about the candidate running on the O’Neill, Avery slate. 

In addition to being distrustful of slates, I have followed Jeff Herdman on council for four years and while I don’t always agree with Jeff, I fully support him as I have in the past. My trust in Jeff has not wavered. He is not perfect, but nobody in public office is. 

As for the attacks that Jeff has taken money from developers, I would have to say that you would be hard-pressed to find candidates who do not. This practice was brought to my attention by a neighbor several months ago, and I was in disbelief that it was legal. When I expressed that it was wrong, I was told that while it may seem immoral, it is legal. Unfortunately, in races as expensive as Newport’s, only the wealthy would be able to run without donations, so one negative counteracts another.

I believe that there is a small, boisterous and sometimes malignant group of people who are after Jeff for one reason or another, some of which is personal, but that this group is also being encouraged to act out by some forces which will remain behind the scenes. They are trying to manipulate and use this small group of the opposition to discredit an honorable man, one who might be standing in their way. 

So I say to the public and those of you who have run across the angry and personal invective that I have seen on Nextdoor and elsewhere to not let these forces influence you and try to darken your opinion of an honorable man, much less of mankind in general.

It was my first foray into Nextdoor and I had been told from a former acquaintance that personal attacks were removed from the service. I decided to leave my post up so that people could view the emotionally charged negative attacks and try to understand the psychology of those who make them. But soon I will go off of Nextdoor and leave it to those who have the stomach for the type of communication I unfortunately found there.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Correct comments concerning lifeguard associations, but still no endorsements

I just read your election article on the Noah Blom statement on endorsements, as well as your statement about there being no lifeguard associations. I was hoping to share some info and correct both of those claims. There is in fact, two separate lifeguard associations. Neither of which are “lumped in” or associated with the PD or Fire, even though all lifeguard operations and lifeguard training fall under the “Fire” umbrella.

One association is the NBLMA – Newport Beach Lifeguard Management Association, comprised of 14 full-time lifeguard supervisors, officers and chiefs.

The other is ANBOL – Association of Newport Beach Ocean Lifeguards, also comprised of over 200 seasonal lifeguards strong.

Both associations remain neutral in politics and will not be endorsing any of the candidates. We are employees of this great city and want to provide the best service to its visitors and citizens alike. Getting into politics can definitely interfere with that main goal. Additionally, some employees are members of this city and some are not, so staying neutral provides individuals the ability to support their own positions. 

I do hope this sheds some light on the matter.

Gary Conwell, President

Newport Beach Lifeguard Management Association

Blom clarifies the endorsement record

I am Noah Blom and I am running for District 5 City Council. I would like to set the record straight with regard to Tom Johnson’s recent “Fair Game” editorial.

I apologize for any confusion on my website regarding my endorsement by the Newport Beach Police and Firefighter departments; City agencies do not make political endorsements. I am very proud that I have been endorsed by the rank and file through the Newport Beach Police and Firefighter Associations. I have adjusted my website to have the necessary language corrections and I want to thank Tom and Stu News for bringing this to my attention.

We face a lot of challenges and I don’t want minor points to distract from the major issues that together we must deal with to preserve the charm and character of our City. These issues include the airport, the homeless crisis, the reopening of our economy and the proposed mandate for the City to provide an additional 4,832 residences. We need to collectively fight this unrealistic mandate, and any eventual high-density housing that is mandated should be thoroughly vetted and located in an appropriate location, likely by the airport. I am opposed to new high density housing in our established and already built out neighborhoods and villages.

As a small business owner myself, I believe we must put our local merchants, salons, gyms, restaurants, hotels and other businesses that have been devastated by the pandemic back to work, which will become one of the greatest challenges to our quality of life and success in 2021.

I have a proven track record for successful negotiations and collaborative ideas. I will use my business experience to negotiate the best deals possible to maintain the strength and integrity of Newport Beach. We have to pass the torch to the next generation, to protect and preserve our villages, enhance and inspire our children and push forth the quality of life our community and families deserve.

I am a fighter, a hard worker, and 100 percent committed to the position I am running for – District 5 City Council.

Noah Blom 

Newport Beach

Disappointed with possible intentions of my fellow council members

Fundraising for a city council election reveals critical information about the candidate’s supporters. Unfortunately, fundraising is a requirement of the job, and it’s necessary in order to get your message out to the public, especially to those who are not directly involved in city issues. Most citizens don’t contribute the allowed $1,200 maximum per candidate, but those with a business interest frequently do.

Most of Noah Blom’s contributions are from out-of-town donors and/or those with ties to short-term rentals (his website lists an endorsement from “Newport Beach Short-Term Rentals Assn.”). I don’t see many small contributions from individual citizens, contrasting with Jeff Herdman’s list. (See the Newport Beach City Council website for complete lists of donors.)

Are Mr. Blom’s donors hoping the new council majority will overturn the short-term lodging ordinance, which if passed on October 13 will cap our number at 1,550? Jeff Herdman’s opponent has said he thinks we should have them all over town, allowing unlimited short-term rentals in every neighborhood in our city. Staff estimate that number could be as high as 10,000 units in Newport Beach if left unregulated. There is a difference between individual homeowners renting their property versus corporate interests. Perhaps we should change the city seal to say, “Hotel Newport Beach.”   

Why are three of my council colleagues endorsing an unknown candidate who has never shown any interest in local issues, has never attended a city council meeting [to my knowledge] or served on a board or commission or even a homeowners association?

If the three members who endorse Mr. Blom get their way, the four will have a majority vote. Furthermore, if Diane Dixon wins her race for an assembly seat, that majority bloc could appoint someone to fill her seat, giving them a super-majority.

Will this appointed council member represent the interests of the bloc that appointed him or her rather than the interests of the city and District 1, Lido and the Peninsula specifically? And will this super-majority gut any short-term lodging ordinance?

At that point it would not matter what the citizens of Newport Beach think, because the majority on the council would have the votes to do anything they want. I like all my colleagues as people but not as politicians. And I’m so disappointed that they have taken this endorsement action. They underestimate the ability of our citizens to see through it.

Joy Brenner, District 6

Newport Beach City Council

The time has come to vote, here’s some food for thought

Newport Beach City Council OK, folks….it’s time! Ballots arrive in the mail over the next couple of days, and if trends hold true, a good 70 percent of you will mark your ballot and mail it within two days of receipt. Several people have brought to my attention information about my opponent that I know Newport Beach voters will want to have before they complete their ballots, so please share the following information as you see fit.

My opponent’s name is Noah Blom. Consider the following verified facts: 

–He has only voted 4 times in our local elections between 2002 and 2018. He has no record of leadership responsibility, community service or involvement whatsoever.

–He has had two active judgements against him from creditors who he has done business with totaling close to $60,000, yet he claims to be an experienced and successful businessman and entrepreneur. With these types of business problems you have to wonder who is financing his campaign? Special interests, developers, and out-of-town donors have poured large sums into his treasury.   

–His places of business (ARC Restaurant, Butcher & Bakery) have been cited and closed twice for COVID-19 violations. His employees and patrons are not required to wear masks. 

–A judge once had to issue a bench warrant against him for the non-payment of child support.

–On his campaign website he [claimed] to be endorsed by the Newport Beach Police Department, the Newport Beach Fire Department, and the Newport Beach Lifeguards. If city council members want to lend their names and faces to the campaigns of their allies they of course have the right to do so, however no one should be allowed to drag city employees, and especially our public safety community, into the fray. City “departments” do not endorse candidates running for city council. His endorsement claims are false! 

–Twenty-seven (27) of his sixty-one (61) donations that total $37,150.00 have been made from developers, real estate investment companies, and short-term lodging companies. And he claims that I am a “special interest” candidate? 

Blom claims that the City has yet to come to the table with the airlines that fly out of JWA to address noise and pollution mitigation. Thanks to city staff, myself, Councilwoman Dixon and community groups such as AirFair, SPON, AWG and CAANP, we have had extremely productive talks with airlines flying out of JWA for the past two years! Blom has no knowledge of and has shown no interest in airport issues or related community concerns. 

I have spent the last four years working seven days a week on helping to solve some of our city’s most pressing problems including airport noise and pollution, water quality, transportation and traffic, development, housing requirements, the homeless, and now business recovery in the wake of COVID. 

I have made every effort to keep my constituents informed and up-to-date on matters that have a direct effect on them. I listen and engage; I am willing to change my mind. I have invested time, gained experience and knowledge, but I’ve got a lot more to do. I am committed and dedicated to my responsibilities. I am retired and have absolutely no restrictions on my time, or the time it takes to do this job the way it needs to be done.    

I wish Noah well. I was in the restaurant business myself for 13 years. It’s hard work. I encourage Noah to place his focus on his business, not on seeking a second full-time job as a city councilman. 

Be responsible and vote responsibly for the sake of our great City and its future.


Jeff Herdman, District 5

Newport Beach City Council

Scarbrough is the candidate we need

I am writing to tell you about an extraordinary woman who is running for City Council – Nancy Scarbrough. Nancy has been a proactive force in our Newport Heights community for over fifteen years...the Scarbrough children attended our three Newport Heights schools. 

Nancy has been actively involved in everything that is going on in her community, from SPON to Banning Ranch to the Homeless Task Force. In fact, there is scarcely an issue in our city government and in the Newport Heights area that she has not been aware of, and often involved in. She has participated in the Newport Heights Improvement Association and the Protect Mariners Mile Coalition.

She is very interested in the General Aviation Improvement Program, so she attends Board of Supervisors and Airport Commission meetings. Further, she attends City Council meetings and Councilors’ Town Hall meetings.

In contrast to her opponent, she is not beholden to developers and will be an independent thinker looking out exclusively for the resident’s best interests. Elect Nancy Scarbrough! 

Jeanne Fobes

Newport Beach

School Board election important to align with City moving forward

For years I have been unhappy with the school district’s complete disregard for the concerns of the students, parents, staff and residents. Our kids attended all three Newport Heights schools, elementary, junior high and high school from 2005 to 2013 and as a result, we had lots of experience with NMUSD. The school board was terrible the whole way through. 

This year there are three trustee positions up for election. I am advocating for a strong relationship between the City and the school district (at the council level, not the staff level) that does not currently exist. This is critical because we are closely aligned, “joined at the hip to NMUSD.” If there is a problem on one of the District’s Newport Beach campuses, Newport Beach Police and Fire are the ones who must respond. Our officers and paramedics will have to deal with the Ensign security fencing and exiting issues that will invariably be caused by the NMUSD’s security fence design. 

Although we have police officers that are dedicated to the schools, NMUSD didn’t ask for NB Police or Fire input on the design of the new security fencing at any time during the design process, not to mention that the traffic (both vehicle and pedestrian) is the City’s problem.

There was no discussion between the District and the City regarding how this new design would impact our streets and sidewalks in Newport Heights and in Corona del Mar. It demonstrates the school board’s historical arrogance and disregard for their constituents.

Please get involved. Visit the District’s website, email them, call them, or attend a forum.

There is one coming up on October 8th hosted by Harper Council PTA. Information is available at: http://bitly/hcpta2020.

During my City Council campaign, I have spoken to several of the School Board candidates. I believe some of the new candidates are open to a closer relationship with the City as they are strong proponents of change at all levels in the District, from the newly appointed Superintendent to the staff who railroaded the Ensign plans through that resulted in the unnecessary destruction of beautiful mature trees. I was there that week, and I am still angry about it. It is the one of the main reasons that I decided to run for Newport Beach City Council.

You can learn more about NMUSD candidates at the following websites:

Area 1 (now Snell)   


Leah Ersoylu -

Vicki Snell (incumbent) -

Area 3 (now Fluor)


Carol Crane -

Charles Kent Booker –

Area 6 (now Black) 


Xeno Ralf Muller II -

Amy Peters -

Krista Weigand –

Alexis Zavouris -

Please make an informed vote. The Newport Mesa Unified School District needs intelligent, reasonable trustees. For the first time in many years, we have an opportunity to influence what happens in our local schools and improve the chances of productive communication between Newport Beach City Council and Newport Mesa Unified School District.

I am Nancy Scarbrough, and I am running for Newport Beach City Council District 2.

Learn more at or @nancyfornewport on social media.

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

The question seems to be who’s best to oversee COVID-19 monitoring systems

In a Michelle Steel article this weekend, she argues that the COVID-19 monitoring system needs to allow for local control. We tried that approach once and failed dismally, Ms. Steel being one of the members of local government
who demonstrated just how fickle local control of a pandemic can be. 

Who can forget that meeting of the Supervisors where Steel and others sympathized with irrational anti-maskers? 

Or that summer weekend that some local beach City governments refused to follow state directives to close their beaches, some even going so far as to sue the representatives of state government? 

And how about the local businessmen and council member who pleaded with the Governor to reopen businesses at the very beginning of the pandemic? 

Finally, we have the most recent appeal by Supervisor (Donald) Wagner asking President Trump to bypass Sacramento and give COVID money directly to local governments. Even the President, it seems, ignored Supervisor Wagner.

Supervisor Steel, we are doing much better under Governor Newsom’s guidance. And since you are a local friend of President Trump, you and other local government officials who have been trying to wrestle control of the pandemic from Sacramento should appreciate that twice during the presidential debate, President Trump mentioned and seemed proud of the fact that he and the Governor got along very well. 

No, thank you Ms. Steel, but I think our fate is much better protected by Sacramento than by local politicians.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Clarifying Blom’s dwelling issues

During the September 9 Speak Up Biennial City Council Candidate Forum, Tom Johnson, the moderator and Publisher of Stu News asked a “Yes” or “No” question during the “lightening round,” it was question number five: The Museum House.

“Given that the City is required to provide 4,832 dwelling units in the housing element would you now be in favor of the Museum House Project residential project in Newport Center?” Obviously, suggesting that the Museum House represents high-density housing, however, the project was successfully defeated.

(According to Newport’s City Attorney Aaron Harp, “At this time there are no plans for a possible future project on the property site.” –2018) 

Approximately five minutes later in the forum came question number three, asked by the moderator, “With the State mandate on dwelling unit numbers that are going to be required, do you support adding over five-story high-rises/residential high-rises in the Newport Center? All four candidates answered “yes”, with explanations.

Noah Blom made it clear in his explanation, “We have some very specific areas of growth in our City and we have some very specific areas that we are not going to grow in our City. The villages are sacred and cherished and I think that we have an opportunity in Newport Center to find some really beautiful, well-proportioned development. I would love to see that we could mitigate the idea and keep focus on what our goal is to beautify Newport.”

At the most recent Corona del Mar Residents Association forum, hosted by moderators Riley Hayes and Alex Crawford, the question was asked again, “How can Newport Beach possibly accommodate almost 5,000 new dwellings?”

Noah Blom passionately replied, “The irony is that Newport can’t do it, so fighting is always my number one. I like to fight, I like to get excited, I like to really rebel rouse. The idea is that if we are not fighting for the town we believe in, if we are not pushing back against these ridiculous mandates, especially from Sacramento, then we should be. Now is the time to stand up as a City and say, ‘NO.’” 

At the end of the day, our job is still to fight. It is to fight against Sacramento for the town and City that we believe in.”

“It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.” –Rocky Balboa

Peggy V. Palmer 

Newport Beach Resident

Letters to the Editor

Candidate forum moderators need to be unbiased in presentation

I make a practice of watching the City Council meetings to personally see how council members lean in their votes and perspectives and I always look forward to the Candidate Night Forums to have an additional opportunity to observe incumbents and new candidates. I so appreciate Stu News Newport for keeping us aware of upcoming election forums and now that we can participate online, it makes it even easier to stay informed. 

I watched the Corona del Mar Residents Association Election Forum on Wednesday evening moderated by Alex Crawford and Riley Hayes of Good Morning Newport. The forum gave us an opportunity to view four of the candidates (Brad Avery, Jeff Herdman, Nancy Scarbrough and Noah Blom) for city council. 

For the most part I was able to get some perspective on the candidates, but I felt that the moderators leaned inappropriately when presenting questions.  Disparaging comments about our governor and state leadership when presenting questions was leading and lacked the objectivity desired when leading a public forum. This biased approach did not support the overall opinions of this community and should have been left out of the moderator’s role.

I hope the future candidate nights will have a more balanced approach to presenting questions and responding to candidates’ responses.

Thank you again for providing this most worthwhile source of community information.

Carol Tomlinson

Newport Beach

Parents want kids back in classroom and a change in teachers’ attitudes

Reopening our schools is imperative for our students and takes the “can do” attitude of students, parents, staff and teachers. Sadly, it appears that “can do” is not the theme of the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers (NMFT). In the past two weeks, the union has orchestrated letters to the local newspapers, garnered attention from TV news outlets, and organized a caravan through the school community to insist that the Newport-Mesa schools do not open until it is safe to do so. Now the NMFT seeks a legal injunction to force the schools to close back up.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) determined the timing and protocols for a safe reopening and published a Framework for K-12 Schools and “School Sector Reopening Guidelines” to guide the school reopening and mitigate risks for students and teachers. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommended in-person learning for students. Multiple experts have concluded that remote learning is not effective for most students, despite the Herculean efforts of teachers, administrators, and parents.

Sadly, this week, teachers from Corona Del Mar and Newport Harbor High Schools violated the trust of parents by using the school email system to ask parents to join them in “demanding the delay in reopening so that a better, safer, and more effective plan for your child’s education is developed.” No proposals for what a “safe” reopening should look like have been in any of their demands, despite the fact that the reopening plan is compliant with the state guidelines.

Included in the letter was an entire paragraph of NO’s and a laundry list of all the things the students and teachers won’t be able to do. They argue that the hybrid learning model with students being on campus part-time is worse than students not being on campus at all.

Does the union think of the teens who are crying out for in-person teaching, crying out to be part of their school community, and crying out against being on their screens all day? Does the union consider the uptick in depression and anxiety that sent at least three of our high school students to the hospital last month? What about the education gap for low-income and minority students that is widened with remote learning? Does the union claim that they know better than the CDPH, the CDC, and the AAP? Do they want virtual learning to continue until COVID is nothing but a bad memory?

As NMUSD parents who love our teachers and our students, we appeal to the very best in all of us...Let’s have our teachers, administrators and district staff work together with one goal in mind: Bring our students back to school. Let’s not focus on the NO, let’s focus on the YES! YES, it will be challenging. YES, it will be extra work, and YES, our students deserve to be with their beloved teachers at their school campuses.

To the Newport-Mesa Federation of Teachers – join us in working together to have a successful reopening of our middle and high schools on October 12th. YES!


Concerned Parents of Corona Del Mar High School and Newport Harbor High School

Guest Letter

Jeff Herdman

Diane Dixon

Act now – County Supervisors to approve General Aviation facility operator leases on September 15

Our final opportunity to ensure that community protections are included in John Wayne Airport’s (JWA) General Aviation Improvement Program comes on September 15. That’s the day the Orange County Board of Supervisors will review and likely approve leases with the private companies, known as fixed base operators (FBOs), that will build and then operate the airport’s new general aviation facilities for the next 35 years. We need to once again remind the Board members that their decisions will have a direct effect on our quality of life for decades to come.

Newport Beach has led a protracted fight to prevent this County project from increasing the presence of general aviation jets and private jet traffic at JWA. To date, our community’s collective voice has led to the elimination of an additional, full-service FBO to serve the private jet community as well as land use and lease restrictions that ensure that JWA preserves the majority of space available for smaller and quieter general aviation aircraft.

And now that the drafts of the County-FBO negotiated leases are publicly available, we see that the County heard our repeated requests to prohibit commercial airlines from operating out of FBO facilities. JetSuiteX should have never been allowed to operate in the general aviation area of the airport and we are pleased to see language included in the draft leases that ensures the County will change that practice effective January 1. 

We are very concerned, however, that the draft leases do not include the other provisions we have repeatedly asked County officials to include. Those provisions include: 

–Eliminate the ability of any lessee to construct and operate a General Aviation Facility (GAF). This is a space used for processing international passengers.

–Restrict the operational hours of the FBOs to match the hours of the commercial curfew at John Wayne Airport. 

–Require any future modifications to the terms pertaining to commercial use of an FBO, prohibiting a GAF, preserving the majority of the space for small general aviation, and restricting the FBOs’ operating hours to go before the Board of Supervisors for review and approval, after reasonable public notice.

These are reasonable requests that will provide important protections to our community and others. Please ask the Board to add these three provisions to the final lease agreements. 

The FBOs have all offered to work with us, but ultimately it is the County’s decision as to what is done at the airport and included in these lease agreements. We urge you to call or email (714.834.3100 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) the Board or to be present on September 15 at 9:30 a.m. Remind them of the tens of thousands of lives and property values impacted by JWA operations and ask them to include the above provisions in the final lease agreements. 

Jeff Herdman

City Council Member

Chair, Newport Beach Aviation Committee

Diane Dixon

City Council Member

Vice Chair, Newport Beach Aviation Committee

Letters to the Editor

Blom is what’s needed for City Council

I have met Council candidate Noah Blom several times since he announced his run for City Council. I am impressed with Noah’s youthful energy and fresh approach. Noah and his wife, Marin, are successful entrepreneurs – starting and operating successful local restaurants including ARC and ARC Butcher & Baker. They have deep ties to our community. Noah was born in Newport Beach and attended local schools. His father was a well-known photographer in Corona del Mar. Their son attends Corona del Mar High School. Noah and Marin are active in numerous charities, including Oceana, the Newport Aquatic Center, SOS and the March of Dimes. It is true what they say – it’s the busiest people who accomplish the most!

A goal of Noah’s is to enhance positive cooperation between the private sector and the public sector. As a leader in the hospitality industry, he has worked closely with City officials to expedite approval of sidewalk dining and other regulatory changes to help struggling merchants survive the pandemic crisis.

We all know the serious issues that continue to face Newport Beach, including the airport, the homeless crisis, the City’s several hundred million dollar pension shortfall and the important quality of life issues like noise, traffic, parking and petty crime. Noah’s opponent, the incumbent Councilman Herdman, is asking to be rehired for another four year term. Unfortunately, the City has very little to show for Mr. Herdman’s last four years, particularly his role as Chairman of the City’s beleaguered Aviation Committee. 

It’s time for new energy and a new approach. There are no independent small business owners on the City Council. Noah’s opponent, Mr. Herdman, was a career public employee before his retirement in 2005. Our City could use Noah’s business acumen, entrepreneurial energy and good-humored enthusiasm. We will benefit from someone on the City Council who knows what it is to start a business from scratch, create new jobs and have to make a payroll every month. Noah has a proven record of achievement and would make a fine addition to our City Council. I urge you to vote for Noah Blom.

Randy Black

Newport Beach

Poem supports Harley

We’re lucky to have Harley

If we don’t hold on

Someone will grab him

And he will move on

We deserve Harley

He’s earned his position

It’s doubtful a contender 

Offers serious opposition

There is no one like Harley

Voted best and encore

With awards, recognition

And legislation galore

Help for small business

Senior citizens and more

Pandemic help, a thousand meetings

And concern for the shore

He’s strong and he’s tough

No abuse gets him down

He fights for what’s right

And what’s fair for our town

We really need Harley

He’s the best that we’ve had

And if we should lose him

The 48th would be sad

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Jeff Herdman: The Special Interest Candidate

Keith Curry is endorsing Jeff Herdman for city council because he’s not a “special interest” candidate. Oh, really?

Let’s start with the proposed plan for the Mariners Mile expansion. The primary owner and proponent of the project is Manouch Moshayedi. Jeff Herdman took thousands of dollars from Mr. Moshayedi, his wife, and Keith Curry – all disclosed on the same campaign disclosure form.

Amazing what just a little research can yield – It doesn’t stop there...

Herdman has also taken hundreds of dollars from Tod Ridgeway, who led the effort to build housing on the car wash site in Fashion Island.

Herdman happily accepted a max-out donation from the California Real Estate PAC and took more money from the Apartment Association of Orange County, the California Apartment Owners’ Association of Orange County, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, a Political Action Committee called “Taxpayers and Residents United For Newport,” and the Building Industry Association of California.

Herdman has taken money from “Shopoff Land Fund II,” “TSG Parcel 1, LLC” and “Uptown Newport Jamboree.” All are companies associated with the high-density Shopoff project along Jamboree. 

Herdman has taken money from CAA Planning, Inc., who was the political consultant behind the failed Porsche dealer design along Mariner’s Mile.

So, Mr. Curry, who exactly is the special interest candidate? Here’s a hint: you just endorsed him. 

If you’re looking for independence unbeholden to actual special interests, your vote is simple. Vote for Noah Blom!

Jodi P. Bole, Chair

Balboa Island Preservation Association (BIPA) 

Blom brings young, charismatic energy to Council alternatives

I am a native of Newport Beach and my family has been here on Balboa Island since 1926. Never have I been more dismayed with our city leadership than I am now. I have watched helplessly as eight beautiful almost hundred year old Lemon-scented Gum trees were destroyed on Marine Avenue, then four more removed even after the Balboa Island Preservation Association (BIPA) got involved to try to slow down the carnage. To add insult to injury we were told by the City that the trees had to come down because they were diseased, which scientific testing has shown was categorically false. At the same time, prominently displayed on the City’s website was their vision of the future of Marine Avenue – which could best be described as Palm Springs on a bad day. All of this happened on Council member Jeff Herdman’s watch. Doesn’t he have any appreciation for the charm and character that makes Balboa Island special? How could he allow this to happen?

The Board of Supervisors just voted on the John Wayne Airport Initiative that will have a profound adverse effect on our quality of life. Newport Beach received no material concessions that will reduce airport noise. Jeff Herdman is chairman of our City’s airport committee. How could he allow this to happen on his watch? In a similar situation, the city of Lake Arrowhead sued the FAA for flightpath changes and won. Jeff Herdman could learn something from this little town in the mountains with nowhere near the resources of Newport Beach. 

Jeff Herdman says he laments the formation of grassroots organizations like the BIPA and the Balboa Island Merchants Association and doesn’t understand why they are needed. He should look in the mirror. They formed over the last four years because he stubbornly pursues an agenda the vast majority of his constituents don’t want. He claims that he is open to dissenting points of view, but you only have to spend a short time with him to dispel that notion. Any dissension created over the last four years happened on his watch. 

Now Jeff Herdman is running for reelection. I don’t believe he has earned another four-year watch. Fortunately, we have a great alternative. I met Noah Blom and his wife Marin at a recent get-together on Balboa Island. They are a young, charismatic couple with lots of energy. They are successful entrepreneurs – starting and operating many successful restaurants including ARC and ARC Butcher & Baker. Noah was born in Newport Beach and attended local schools. His father was John Blom, a well-known photographer in Corona del Mar. Noah and Marin’s son attends CdM High School. As an entrepreneur, Noah will bring a unique skill set and new vigor to tackle important issues like the Airport, the homeless crisis and the several hundred million dollar unfunded City pension liability. Noah has developed a lot of support all over the City including the endorsement of the Newport Beach Police, Firefighters and Lifeguards. We have a choice in November between a career bureaucrat and a young, dynamic entrepreneur. I will be voting for Noah Blom for City Council and look forward to the start of his watch.

Edward Black

Balboa Island

Schools are reopening except for NMUSD…what’s the hold up?

(Letter written to Mr. Hill, Dr. Gogel, Mr. Lee-Sung and NMUSD Board of Education)

I was reading today that FIVE Orange County school districts opened Tuesday, Sept 22. These school districts include: Fountain Valley Unified School District, Orange Unified School District, Cypress Elementary School District, Irvine Unified School District and Tustin Unified School District. I also know that Los Alamitos Unified School District opened middle schools on September 22 and is beginning in-person high school classes on Tuesday, September 29.

Orange County schools are now eligible for in-person instruction!

How can it be that the Newport-Mesa Unified School District cannot figure out a way to open the middle and high schools NOW?

My son attends CdM High School and he will not begin in-person classes until October 12. That is a full THREE WEEKS after we should have been able to make this transition. 

As a single mom who works FULL TIME, this delay is a slap in the face to all parents who have been dealing with the completely untenable situation of remote learning since March.

What exactly is the hold up? We all have been anticipating a return to school since before the last school year ended. What on earth still needs to be done that is keeping our kids from getting back to in-person school? (As an aside, if this delay is in any way related to construction at CdM High School, that would be absolute malpractice on the part of NMUSD and all other involved parties.)

We clearly have had enough time to prepare. Numerous other OC school districts are OPEN.

This delay is unacceptable, and I would like to hear the reasons for it.

I look forward to your response. Thank you.


Karen Davis

Newport Beach

It’s a sign of the times

The “cowboy capitalists” are at it again...

Yesterday on one of my errands, I saw a multitude of Michelle Steel signs planted in the cement and grassy divider between Newport Boulevard and the frontage road which runs parallel approaching 17th Street. Since I always put up flags where my election partner advises, daring to never break any sign rules, I was very cognizant of the possibility that this is one of those places where election campaign signs should not be. I am well aware that Ms. Steel may not be the person who planted signs there, but now that she is informed, I am assuming that, if illegally placed, they will be removed. I was going to counter with the placement of some Harley signs in the same location, citing that if the Steel signs were not removed, it must be okay to put signs there. The Head Supervisor of Orange County should know. But someone in Harley’s organization must know more than me, because when advised of the situation, I was told not to place any Harley signs there. Nice to know that they are trying to go by the rules in this tumultuous race.

On another front last week, Supervisor Wagner from Irvine asked President Trump to bypass the state and send future coronavirus relief money directly to the counties. He contends that counties have the right to come up with their own plans if they follow guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on topics such as physical distancing and masks.

Is he kidding? The BOS (Board of Supervisors) is the same body that, just a few months ago, sided with anti-maskers with conspiracy theories and in addition to not speaking up for the Health Officer who was getting death threats at her home from anti-maskers, they dropped the mask mandate. Supervisor Steel on tape sympathized with the anti-maskers. Fortunately, Governor Newsom quickly restored the mandate.

And isn’t the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) the agency which has lately become politicized by President Trump and corporate interests? As much as the City Council of Newport Beach and the Board of Supervisors have tried to make COVID a political issue, we are much better protected by rules that guide the rest of the state, while recognizing regional differences. 

This last spring some of the same local leaders of Orange County rebelled when they were told by the governor to close their beaches for safety reasons. Dr. Fred Smoller, an associate professor of political science at Chapman, said that elected officials like Wagner, O’Neill and Board Supervisor Steel who denounced the governor’s beach closure, speak for “the old Orange County of rugged individualism and making your own way,” and added, “I think they speak for a fraction of Orange County that is diminishing in size.”

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Potential ordinance is bad for business

There appears to be an underlying current at this Tuesday’s City Council meeting, as there is an emergency ordinance being considered for restaurants and bars to mandate wearing masks and implement a “one person, one seat” policy.

The restaurants and bars have been closed for months and are barely surviving serving people outside, as indoor dining is prohibited; yet, the City Council is now considering pounding yet another “nail in the coffin,” further punishing our local restaurants and bars.

Offenders of this emergency ordinance, if adopted, will be fined $100 and the fine for the second violation will be $200 and a third violation within a six-month period $500. Who is going to police this edict or should Newport Beach create another bureaucracy, perhaps, the “Bar and Bounty Stalkers?”

As of August 31, 2020, San Diego County has implemented a “safe re-opening” plan that includes restaurants, places of worship, movie theaters, museums, gyms and fitness centers, zoos and aquariums, hair salons and barbershops, nail salons and tattoo parlors. In some cases the guidance includes maximum capacity and they can still continue their outdoor operations. It is time for Orange County to follow suit. 

The government needs to stop regulating our freedoms by trusting and allowing the people to make their own best, informed, educated decisions. Trying to command and control us will only continue to crush the economy and the human spirit.

Interestingly enough, this proposed ordinance is just for restaurants and bars and ironically, one of the candidates running for City Council owns a restaurant and bar in Newport Beach. 

Ask yourself, if this is a true emergency or is it simply political power prevailing over common sense? 

Peggy V. Palmer 

Newport Beach 

Herdman gets the job done

Election season in Newport Beach has arrived, and with it comes the mud-slinging, discrediting and judgment passed on newly arrived candidates, as well as the incumbents. Nowhere is this truer than in a recent Letter to the Editor that appeared in two local newspapers about Councilman Jeff Herdman. As recent past president of the Balboa Island Improvement Association, I have had the direct experience of working with Jeff on a number of projects and all I know about Jeff are the facts, and here they are: 

He gets the job done. No grass grows under his feet. You can expect an immediate response from him if asked to follow up or get something done. He absolutely does not say one thing and then do another. 

He is highly organized, professional, and always has the good of the organization and those it represents as his top priority. What is best for the organization (or in his case, the City) is the basis for every decision he makes. 

On matters that come before the Council and require a vote, he is really good at checking in with his constituents for opinions which form the basis of his votes. Public comments are a very important part of his job. 

Communication is perhaps his strongest leadership skill. He has published 59 blogs/newsletters since taking office that serve to keep the over 1,000 subscribers well-informed on JWA Airport issues and mediation, council action, and happenings in his district and throughout the City. He holds regular Town Hall meetings and is a speaker at a variety of HOA meetings within his district. 

His reorganization and repurposing of the City’s Aviation Committee has added meaning to its work and has drawn in experts in the field of aviation from throughout the community. Jeff, along with community groups and City staff, are leading efforts to address quality of life issues resulting from JWA. I am sure the work currently going on with the FAA, the airport, airlines, and the Orange County Board of Supervisors will result in the best possible outcomes. 

There is no discord between the community and Councilman Herdman. What you have in Jeff is probably best said by his Council colleague, Joy Brenner, in a recent Facebook post where she says, “Both Diane Dixon and I support Jeff because he works full-time and more on City business, as do we.” I can certainly attest to that work ethic that Jeff continually displays. 

His level of commitment and dedication to his responsibilities as a city councilman has earned him the privilege of being re-elected for another four year term. 

Jack Callahan

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Advisory group approves of council’s decision to open discussions on COVID-19 related items

At their lastb meeting, the Newport Beach City Council voted to discuss the passage of a mask enforcement ordinance, as well as instituting a one person-one seat rule in bars and eating establishments, at a future meeting. Recover Newport, a group of former Newport Beach Mayors and Councilmembers, wishes to congratulate the current City Council on their decision to open these items for discussion as a way of preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus as many California cities have already done, including our neighboring communities of Costa Mesa and Irvine.

The constant change in State regulations is creating a yo-yo effect which causes confusion among both residents and businesses.

This group believes that having an open discussion at a City Council meeting will allow those for and against such regulations the ability to let the City Council know their feelings on the subject.

Hearing their constituents’ feelings and discussing the issue amongst themselves will assure all residents that the City Council has thoroughly vetted these issues no matter what decision they reach.

The City Council is to be commended for taking this proactive step and we encourage them to schedule this agenda item as soon as possible.

Edward Selich           Tony Petros 

Rush Hill                    Nancy Gardner

Steve Rosansky        Mike Henn 

Keith Curry               Don Webb

Recover Newport is a group of former Mayors and City Council members who are invested in safely restoring the economic and community health of the City of Newport Beach which has been damaged as a result of the novel COVID-19 pandemic. This group has been observing public health- and policy-related responses at the state and county level, focusing on the actions that would directly affect community sustainability and resilience in Newport Beach.

Our schools need to be open

(To Mr. Sung, NMUSD and respective BOE members)

In the wake of recent reopenings of many OC private and charter schools (for in-person instruction), I became very curious and frustrated with the situation. Why are my children (students at HVE) [Harbor View Elementary] at home struggling with remote learning while my neighbors’ kids go to school? It is well documented that distance learning has been a “failure” (by OC-BOE) and kids’ testing scores have fallen behind (by numerous sources).


We are literally in the midst of a real educational divide which grows every day our schools remain closed. The HAVES and the HAVE NOTS are more real than ever.


Once I learned of the waiver system introduced in August, I grew very upset it was put forth too late in the planning process (after OC BOE voted for full opening, only to be shut down by the Governor based on watch list status) and that the majority of schools granted waivers were private and charter, whom are more able to pivot, yet one OC elementary school district was able to obtain the wavier. 

State leadership has been poor (perhaps inexcusable and unconstitutional in closing of our schools) yet proactive measures and communication from the OC BOE, DOE, districts and schools have also been lacking. We have no clear idea when schools may actually reopen (only words such as “should be able to reopen as of” from Dr. Chau, County Health Officer) and no clear cut idea of what safety measures will be taken/have been taken in preparation of reopening.

Why haven’t more districts, specifically NMUSD taken steps to obtain the wavier especially as OC BOE voted for a total opening? Where is the gap analysis of what is needed for the waiver versus CDPH Industry Guidelines for school operations? What is the plan for the safe reopening in light of the CDPH paper published in August?

Can we really sit back and wait for OC to come off [the] “watch list” (now defunct) and stay off of it as the primary means for reopening? Waivers seem to offer the safest bet for K-6 to ensure continuity in operations. 


Approximately two weeks ago, I started an online petition for NMUSD district to pursue a waiver or provide reasons why they could not. The basis of this petition is to close the educational divide and provide for our students what other local schools are doing. After all, we live in the same environment and can take precautions for the kids and staff.

Since my petition started, our potential reopening date at some unknown capacity, Phase 2 (aimed for after Labor Day, September 8, as stated by Mr. Chau yet has never been communicated by our school, district or OC BOE/ DOE) has since been pushed back (by at least two weeks to September 22) due to the Governor’s new four-tiered, color-coded system. As suspected, the State’s system, previously the “watch list” and now color-based, is not reliable since the State keeps changing criteria, and local dynamics in OC may or may not meet the new criteria.

Yet what we DO know is waivers have been granted and continue to be granted allowing some students the advantage of in-person learning while many are not allowed to do so.


Our kids need to be in school. There are huge costs (educational, emotional, social, as well as economic to families) for kids to be in distance learning. (Those families that wish to elect distance should be able to do so, but the vast majority want their kids in school.)


In two weeks, we have collected more than 450 signatures for NMUSD Superintendent Mr. Sung to “waiver up” or answer why we cannot. The link to the petition is listed below and enclosed is the PDF file of the signers to date. I expect this list to grow in number over time as the petition will remain open at

I look forward to your discussion on September 2 at the BOE meeting (held via teleconference) and a response to this email/petition, specifically to all the concerned parents and community members who have signed it and remain keenly interested in having all kids back at school for in-person learning ASAP with proper safeguards. We deserve leadership, transparency and action.


Alicia Volkov

Corona del Mar

Cautionary Tales

Being a resident of Newport Beach has definite benefits for enjoying the magnificent scenery that surrounds us. We can take advantage of the beaches, parks, hiking trails and, most significantly, the Upper Newport Bay without traveling to another city or country.

More recently as a Newport Bay Conservancy volunteer and board member, I have become aware of just how important preserving and protecting this territory has become. There are many more people out recreating in the area, whether it be biking, hiking or kayaking. Most are cognizant of the fact of how precious this area is to the wildlife habitat. However, there are of late, many who are not aware of the preserve and protect guidelines that, over the years, have been implemented so that this estuary remains pristine for future generations.

Living in the Bluffs area affords me the luxury of being able to walk down to Big Canyon to observe and paint the beauty of the Back Bay from all angles and vantage points. Imagine my horror to find a woman in the mudflats claiming to be picking weeds! I was told that she has been doing this for years, but obviously didn’t realize that this was a protected area with vegetation for nesting endangered birds.

Then, while kayaking, I noticed there were many more kayakers and paddle boarders floating into channels that were clearly marked closed to any traffic, also for protection of wildlife (and endangered species). There is also no beaching of any crafts on any of the sand beaches (or islands) in the upper bay, and certainly no hiking in the designated habitat restoration areas that are clearly posted. We, as volunteers are only to advise, not to enforce, which can be quite a frustrating experience.

The icing on the cake this week, however, was a Duffy boat parked in the water off Big Canyon, where a boater dove into the water to cool off. As tempting as this might be, it is prohibited to boat past the Newport Aquatic Center (NAC) from the lower harbor with any motorized boat, including these electric flat bottomed boats. Luckily, they didn’t have to be towed out because getting stuck in the mud is a common occurrence even for kayaks if they get too close to shore…been there, done that!

I might give all the violators the benefit of the doubt, but it seems common sense went out of the window once COVID joined us. Please rethink any of these actions because they all have dangerous consequences. Habitat can be destroyed as well as long-lasting effects on the wildlife that reside in the Upper Newport Bay. Remember we are the guests on their turf, not the other way round. So if you are hiking with dogs, remember that Newport Beach has a leash law. If you have a kayak or paddle board, respect the channels that are closed to traffic. (Take advantage of the new buoy signs that show where you can go and what you might see.) If you own or rent a Duffy, please be aware that any boating past the NAC is strictly prohibited. Stay safe and sane in these trying times and in the future.

Sherry Marger

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Isn’t it time to give those that aren’t a part of a team a shot at mayor?

I enjoyed Tom Johnson’s Fair Game column on August 11 but have a different take on two points. 

First, regardless of whether Will O’Neill has or hasn’t done a good job as mayor, the fact that he’s running unopposed is not good news for our city. Competitive elections are healthy for democracy and encourage voter participation. It’s better to have choices on the ballot. 

Why will we have so few options on city council races this November? For one thing it’s incredibly expensive to run in Newport Beach as incumbents can build up war chests for four years between elections. And residents who might consider throwing their hat in the ring know that certain candidates are backed by some nasty actors who fight dirty to get their people elected. We saw this in 2014, 2016 and 2018, and I suspect we’ll see it again this year. Running for council should be a chance to serve the community, not a terrifying experience. Regular residents and local businesses lose when dirty politics win. But that’s where we are.     

Second, the fact that O’Neill, Kevin Muldoon and Duffy Duffield have endorsed Jeff Herdman’s opponent before the first debate isn’t just notable, it’s alarming. As Tom noted in his column, Herdman ran on his own against a slate of candidates in 2016 (“Team Newport” 2.0: O’Neill with Brad Avery and Lee Lowery). Duffy and Muldoon were part of the first Team Newport slate elected in 2014. 

For two years, until Joy Brenner was elected, Herdman was the only council member not associated with a slate. He has indeed been a strong and independent voice, on airport issues and many others. He works on city business seven days a week, is effective and always available for residents. What reason could his colleagues have for endorsing an opponent they presumably don’t know much about?

There are several possibilities, all of them political. Herdman’s willingness to think for himself and err on the side of transparency most likely has something to do with it. But it could also be about retaining control of the mayor and mayor pro tem seats, which are supposed to rotate, but have been jealously guarded by Team Newport since they were swept to power in 2014. These titles obviously give a boost to those who are running for higher office, which two Team Newport members are currently doing. We can probably assume that this game of musical chairs will continue if the same team, or some other iteration of it, keeps a majority on the council. 

Whatever the election results in November, I hope four people on the council will agree that the long-term residents who are not part of any team and not running for higher office should have a chance to serve their city as mayor and mayor pro tem. 

Jennifer McDonald

Newport Beach

Interviews for council members start now

Running for City Council should be compared to being interviewed for a new job, an occupation that should be taken seriously. One would expect that these representatives would have a proven track record and would continue to share these results after four years.

In Newport Beach, every resident can cast their vote across the board for an incumbent or a new candidate in our City. Together, we hold hands along our coastal gem to make certain that we make a better path for our children, move forward with smart and responsible growth, while maintaining the charm of our town.

Newport Heights and Cliff Haven are very unique areas in which 4,300 children travel to and from three schools: Newport Heights Elementary, Horace Ensign and Newport Harbor. The models of these dynamics are continuously changing with these schools during COVID; but nonetheless, we have an abundance of children, junior guards and families traveling throughout our neighborhoods and yet, safety still remains a major issue in our neighborhoods.

In my professional years, if I did not perform in four months, let alone four years, I would have been terminated and replaced by someone who could obtain those desired results. 

I have interviewed the new candidate and I will be hiring Nancy Scarbrough for District 2 to represent me in 2020.

As for the incumbent, a nice guy, but you know what they say about nice guys. We must begin to put people before politics. 

I encourage every citizen in Newport Beach to be an educated voter and attend the “Meet the Candidate Forum” on August 20 at 9 a.m. This meeting will be moderated by CEO Lucy Dunn of the Orange County Business Council. This is free and can also be attended via Zoom at

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

November propositions will impact real estate, be knowledgeable

This November 3rd, you will be asked to vote for three different propositions that will affect real estate, specifically, property taxes and rent control. We’ve seen variations of these propositions before and regardless of the outcome this November, we’re likely to continue to see more in the foreseeable future.

Proposition 15 relates to commercial and industrial real estate and how property taxes are computed. Proposition 19 takes the current Prop 60 and 90 to a new level regarding the ability of homeowners to transfer their current property tax rate to a new home. And Proposition 21 addresses rent control. Let’s take a look at each.

Proposition 15: A ‘Yes’ vote would change the current taxation rate on commercial and industrial buildings from the current Prop 13 rules which establishes property taxes based on the property sales price. The new valuation would be based on the property’s current market value. Like residential property, Prop 13 limits the commercial property taxation to 1 percent of the sales price with an annual adjustment limit of 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. A change from the purchase price to market value would be phased in beginning in fiscal year 2022-2023. Properties such as retail centers, whose occupants are 50 percent small business would be taxed based on market value beginning in fiscal year 2025-2026. There are a couple of exceptions to Prop 15, including properties whose owners have $3 million or less in holdings in California – these properties would continue to be taxed at the purchase price. You can imagine the impact of a new “market value taxation” on commercial property owners. It’s easy to say, “Well, they can afford it”, not necessarily and not a fair argument. I suspect that there will be a fight determining how often commercial and industrial buildings get reassessed and assessment valuation challenges will keep county assessors extraordinarily busy. I vote ‘No’.

Proposition 19: A ‘Yes’ vote on 19 will bring some much-needed relief, in my opinion, to our shortage of residential real estate inventory. You may recall that Prop 60 and Prop 90 were voted into law in 1986 and 1988 respectively. Prop 60 allowed homeowners who are at least 55 years of age to take their current property tax rate to a new purchase within the same county provided that the next home was of equal or lesser value. Both properties are required to be a primary residence. Prop 90 allowed Californians to transfer their property tax base between different California counties but, unfortunately, each county could opt out. Currently, only 10 counties allow such a transfer. Additionally, utilizing this tax advantage is a one-time deal. Proposition 19 would make the following changes: 1) The newly acquired property can be of any value (with a slight adjustment in taxes if the property is of higher value), 2) Eligible homeowners can transfer their property taxes to ANY county in California, 3) Eligible homeowners now also include persons with severe disabilities and victims displaced by a natural disaster, and 4) This tax provision can be used up to three times (except the natural disaster scenario). The number of folks taking advantage of these new rules would greatly increase real estate movement and certainly help with our continuing shortage of available homes for sale. This ballot measure is also gaining a lot of traction due to revenues and savings being directed to fire protection services. I vote ‘Yes’.

Proposition 21: A ‘Yes’ vote would allow local governments to implement rent controls. Rent control is always a hot topic. I get it as I am on both sides of the argument as a real estate practitioner and a landlord. Basically, this measure would replace the Costa-Hawkins Act, which was passed in 1995, limiting or eliminating government involvement. Prop 21 will allow local governments to adapt rent control measures (rent increase caps) on housing units, except on 1) Housing that was first occupied within the last 15 years and 2) Units owned by natural persons who own no more than two housing units with separate titles, such as single family houses, condos and some duplexes. Again, I get both sides of this argument but in the end, I prefer to let the market determine what is fair. I vote ‘No’.

Although I’ve given my inclination regarding how I’m voting on these propositions, this article is not intended to tell you how to vote. Please take the time to read more about these three propositions that will be on your ballot November 3rd. There are more details to each that are not discussed here. Another critical factor when determining how to vote on these propositions is to examine who, or what, revenues are meant to support. Most importantly, get out and vote!

Troy Davis

The Agency Realty

Newport Beach

Block voting undermines process

How voting consistently as a team or a bloc in a non-partisan Council can undermine democracy. (Subtitle: Why Costa Mesa has 12 “new” candidates running for City Council, while Newport Beach has only 2).

–If Council members rely on others to make their decisions, constituents are not being served by independent thinkers (thus independent voters).

–As a result, voting as a bloc can imply that your Council member is putting the opinion of other members above the consensus of his/her constituents.

–Voting as a bloc or team also suggests that there might be some outside influences putting pressure on the team to vote a certain way. 

–A community is less likely to get quality people to run for office because people can feel pressure running against the member of a team and because the cost becomes prohibitive.

–Members of a bloc do not always perform at an optimum level because they know they will be carried by their team members.

–A bloc is only as strong as its weakest link.

–The strongest member of a bloc can consistently dominate other members.

–A team that enjoys being the dominant force in a Council will usually resist change because they fear that new ideas and progress might weaken their power.

–Blocs can give members such a sense of security and power, that they can turn non-partisan issues into partisan ones.

–Blocs or team endorsements of a candidate especially in “at large” elections can make elections less democratic.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

When politicians err, people die

Besides beaches, what do New Zealand and Newport Beach have in common? Sadly it is COVID-19 deaths. New Zealand has 22, Newport Beach, 20. There, the similarity ends. New Zealand has a population of 5 million, Newport Beach, 87,180.

In March, California’s governor issued a “stay-at-home order” to limit the virus spread. New Zealand’s Prime Minister did likewise. New Zealanders endured for 7 weeks and stopped the spread of the virus.

In Newport, the Mayor and City Council sued the governor, then rushed ahead to ease restrictions. In the early days of March and April, Newport had around two new cases per day. After relaxing the restrictions and opening parking lots, piers and beaches, the number of cases shot up to 20 per day. Within weeks, deaths followed, at first one every five days, now one every 2.5 days.

Much of this could have been avoided. We deserve better from our elected officials.

Craig B. Smith

Newport Beach

Getting to know Nancy Scarbrough – femme extraordinaire!

If you have attended any civic meetings in the last several years, most likely you will have seen Nancy Scarbrough in attendance. There is hardly an issue involving city government that Nancy has not had on her radar, most often as an active participant. From her initial involvement in SPON (Still Protecting Our Newport) activities which focused on environmental issues such as the bay, Banning Ranch, short-term lodging, the SPON Policy and Budget Committees and the Good Neighbor Policy Committee, she has branched out to many different areas of concern in our community.

Those areas include Zoning Administrator meetings, community outreach meetings for the General Plan update, the Homeless Task Force, the public Election Reform meetings, the study sessions for Cottage Preservation and 3rd Floor Massing, the NMUSD Board meetings and the Heights’ community effort to save the Ensign trees. 

As a resident of Newport Heights, Nancy has also participated in the Newport Heights Improvement Association, and the Protect Mariner’s Mile Coalition.           

As if all this were not enough, Nancy has gotten very involved in the General Aviation Improvement Program by attending the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ meetings and the Orange County Airport Commission meetings, where she has spoken more than once. 

She regularly attends City Council meetings and has attended or viewed the live feed of most Planning Commission meetings. And, perhaps most impressively, she has attended every town hall meeting of Council members Joy Brenner, Diane Dixon and Jeff Herdman, even though they do not represent her district. She was also one of the three people who regularly attended the office hours of Will O’Neill, until they were postponed.

When asked about her biggest concern in dealing with civic matters, at the top of Nancy’s list is the Housing Element Update Advisory Committee (HEUAC) that had begun before the pandemic. But to her consternation, despite its urgency as an issue, no one is talking about it.

Where Nancy finds time to get involved in all of these civic activities and hold down a full-time job has everyone in awe. She has owned her own commercial design business for 35 years. 

She has also raised three sons here in Newport Heights and they attended all three schools – Newport Heights Elementary, Ensign Intermediate and Newport Harbor High. Her boys also participated in Junior Guards and Newport Aquatic Center programs.

What is definitely noteworthy is that Nancy Scarbrough did not do all these things to put on her resume. She was encouraged and then accepted to run for City Council only a few months ago. And, her neighbors and friends could not be happier. If you have ever met her, her serious and inquisitive nature tells you that she is “all business.” She is that “classic overachiever” who is interested in seeking perfection in all that is going on in her life and around her in the community. If that is not a refreshing description of her attributes as a future council member, I don’t know what is. 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Let’s give democracy a better chance in Newport Beach

We have an extremely important presidential election coming up soon, and its dramatic outcome will be felt in every city, county and state. 

At the same time, we have several notable local elections in those smaller arenas that also reflect what we are like as a community and what our aspirations for the future are. They can affect our way of life almost as profoundly as a national election. 

For those reasons we must consider all our votes very carefully.

For several years now, our City Council in Newport Beach has not been very democratic because of the existence of voting blocs or teams whose many disadvantages I have described in a previous letter. Whenever a single candidate has to fight against a slate of candidates, the slate obviously has an unfair advantage. 

Two of our candidates in the upcoming City Council election have either to run against an incumbent who is part of the team, or an incumbent who is running against a totally new candidate who, according to a colleague, had not even been involved in his first debate when he was endorsed by three members of the team or bloc. 

Without even considering names, qualifications, or accomplishments, two of our candidates, Nancy Scarbrough and Jeff Herdman, start the race with obvious unfair disadvantages. And this does not even take into consideration that new candidates must run against incumbents who have been building up “war chests” since before their first election.

The high cost of running for office against slates or teams discourages many good potential candidates from running. And it is the reason that Newport has far fewer candidates trying to seek election when compared to neighboring cities.

Given those large disadvantages promoted by the “Team” culture, Newport Beach is very lucky to have the two stellar independent candidates mentioned above, Nancy Scarbrough and Jeff Herdman. I would like to focus first on the qualifications of the incumbent and in a subsequent letter talk about how lucky we are that Nancy is running in District 2, my district.

Incumbent Jeff Herdman, as I pointed out most recently, is arguably the most qualified of all the Council members. He has excellent communication skills and is very conscientious. He is openly available to his constituents and, in addition to being the chairman of the very important Aviation Committee, he has a long list of accomplishments: completion of Bayside Drive traffic calming program, water main replacement, Park Avenue bridge completion, Grand Canal dredging, annual Island Beach sand replenishment, swim platform installation at Ruby Beach, Island seawall extension project, re-evaluation of Island flood zone, Big Canyon Habitat Restoration Project, Short Term Lodging Program ordinance revision, Cottage Preservation Ordinance creation, projects to protect and enhance Newport Harbor water quality, Trash Wheel project, Initial Election Reform Action Committee, and state funding for cultural arts and the sculpture garden in Civic Center. 

Jeff ran independently in 2016 against the slate of candidates of Team Newport consisting of Will O’Neill, Brad Avery and Lee Lowery, and won. 

Let’s vote for Jeff Herdman in 2020 and show the slate of council members, O’Neill, Muldoon and Duffield, who are supporting the brand new candidate, that we think that their blocs or teams are unfair. 

 And since Mayor O’Neill has declared this the year of the “helper” let’s tell him that he could provide a good personal example by breaking up “Team Newport,” thereby giving democracy a better chance in Newport Beach.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

The importance of a reliable water supply

In addition to Ms. Palmer’s letter to the editor pointing out the “here and now” problem of electrical supply limitations for mandated housing edicts coming out of Sacramento, let’s not forget a few years ago we were on severe mandatory water rationing across the state.

The variable cycle of a reliable water supply will never be resolved until we allocate and fund significantly more construction of water storage facilities statewide, to meet the current water demand, much less future statewide housing edicts from our short-term thinkers in Sacto.

Oh, and did the wise ones up north consider the impact of their premature closing of functional existing power plants’ electrical supply, thus blithely upsetting the grid’s reserve supply/demand capabilities we find ourselves in now?

Clean energy is an admirable goal, but you need to have backup energy ready to go for the inevitable rainy day.

Thanks for keeping Stu News alive and well. It’s vital to us all.

Denis LaBonge

Newport Coast

Letters to the Editor

Harley does not walk on water

Despite what Ms. Lorenz would have you believe in the Tuesday, July 28 edition of Stu News Newport, liberal Congressman Harley Rouda does not walk on water – far from it.

–Does someone who takes $4.3 million from billionaire Michael Bloomberg (and then – shock of all shocks – endorses Bloomberg for President) walk on water?

–Does someone who with great hubris proclaims on December 19, 2019, “Last night I cast my vote to defend the Constitution and impeach the President of the United States” in a phony baloney, contrived impeachment disaster walk on water?

–Does someone who participated at the University of Kentucky Delta Tau Delta “Mekong Delta” racist fraternity parties mocking hundreds of thousands of dead Vietnamese walk on water?

–Does someone who claims he’ll fight special interests but gladly accepts Bloomberg’s largess and votes with socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez 93 percent of the time walk on water?

–Does someone who neglects to disclose to his franchisees a $1.85 million settlement to a fired female cancer victim (as well as three other separate legal cases) and makes other unfulfilled promises to business franchisees walk on water?

–Does someone who was spotted on the Emerald Bay beach while the rest of us were forbidden from setting foot on a beach (and who denounced opening OC beaches as “reckless”) walk on water?

–Does someone who criticizes his opponent for wearing a face mask while a glut of PPE existed for essential workers walk on water?

Ms. Lorenz haughtily puts Mr. Rouda on a liberal pedestal and ends her piece with the inspirational words of JFK which quite rightly stir the reader’s emotions as to a liberal’s view of unchecked government. I see liberal tenets in a different light, a more realistic light, as perhaps rightly described in the following words:

“Liberals have created, and the minority leadership has exploited, a community of dependent people, unaware of the true route to prosperity and happiness: self-reliance and self-investment. Instead, people are told that America is unjust, unfair, and full of disadvantages. They are told that their only hope is for government to fix their problems. What has happened is that generations of people have bought into this nonsense and as a result have remained hopelessly mired in poverty and despair – because the promised solutions don’t work. And they never will work – they never have.” (Rush Limbaugh)

Paul Watkins

Newport Beach

Another young man loses his life, changes need to be made

There was a massive paddle out July 10 for an amazing young man, Johnny Von Der Ahe (14), who lost his life right by his house in Dover Shores. Struck by a woman [allegedly] speeding through the neighborhood. 

This is horrific. As everyone was enjoying the 4th of July, thousands of friends and family in Newport were mourning the loss of a wonderful child. Johnny was loved by so many in the community. I attended the paddle out by the Newport Pier. It was a touching event, and I could not possibly count the number of people in attendance. 

There is no official report in the public domain, but some of the circumstances around this unspeakable tragedy point to more work that needs to be done in our neighborhoods to protect our pedestrians, bikers, and skateboarders. Also, we all need to be careful when driving around our neighborhoods. There are tens of thousands of people who walk and ride around just Dover Shores and Newport Heights alone. 

I hope the City finds a way to make the necessary roadway changes in Dover Shores to mitigate the rampant speeding that residents see in their neighborhood daily. There are challenges though. There are policies that the City uses to vet and implement roadway changes, and these policies are rather onerous. For instance, they require 70 percent of people to petition for many permanent changes to be made. Volunteers in the community are required to do the legwork to gather the support. It is very difficult. 

At the same time it seems counter-productive. When it comes to safety, there should not be minimal debate or red tape. We need to recognize that cars, phones, and other aspects of our lives have changed, and our roads need to be made safer as a result. We cannot continue to pin people against our aged infrastructure and their need to move around the neighborhoods. Dover Shores, the Heights, and potentially other neighborhoods have issues and need fixes. 

The policies at the City have certain merits, one being that the desire of the few doesn’t create unnecessary problems for the many. However, when you are talking about the safety of pedestrians, bikers, and the like, you are talking about a majority of the people and therefore there should be no red tape. The time taken to push things through could be better used to spend time with our kids, walking our dogs, etc. 

Please drive safely and support the City to make our roads safer.    

Murphy McCann


Short Term Lodging is a Newport Beach tradition…let’s continue the legacy

After months of public debate, the City Council passed “Phase One” of the Short-term Lodging (STL) ordinance on July 14, 2020. This ordinance includes a few new good neighbor policies providing protection for the neighbors, encouraging owners and operators to screen STL guests to assure that they are neighborhood friendly.

The City Council recognizes the long tradition of STL in Newport Beach. STL has been part of the city’s landscape and economic engine for nearly 100 years beginning when Balboa was promoted as a holiday destination. This STL tradition continues in Newport Beach today generating income for the City, owners and businesses generated from rentals primarily on the Peninsula and Balboa Island.   

During the summer months 8 to 10 million people visit Newport Beach, most of them for day trips. During the summer, these day visitors strain City resources and take up most of the available street parking. At the same time, overnight STL guests contribute to the vibrancy of the neighborhood, frequent local businesses, restaurants, rent bikes, boogie boards, paddle boards, surfboards, Segway, canoes, Seadoos, jet skis, and buy mementos. STL guests generate millions of dollars, translating into sales tax and Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) for the City. 

The city Police Department and Lifeguards do a remarkable job of policing, navigating traffic, watching over beachgoers and people enjoying the ocean. Most residents who live on Balboa Island and the Peninsula beach community understand and know summer is a busy time and there are impacts on street parking. However, all STL properties must have at least one parking space on site.

Newport Beach is one of the most highly regulated cities in the country for STL. All STLs are licensed via a permit process and are mandated to pay TOT just like hotels. TOT collected by the city from STL exceeds $4,000,000. Most “rental home” owners hire management companies responsible for the balance between the visiting guests and residents; assuring owners that guests adhere to the noise ordinances and abide by policies stipulated in the contracts all visitors sign. Each visiting STL guest is given information including owner and management company contact information, city ordinances related to gatherings and noise, street sweeping schedules and other pertinent material. Guests can call a 24-hour emergency contact who will respond within 30 minutes. 

Residents and visitors have the same goal: to enjoy the beach, the Bay and all inherent recreational opportunities, while taking care to be good neighbors. 

Short Term Lodging continues to be a popular choice for generations of families as a way to include children, grandparents, aunts and uncles all together in one domicile to enjoy our Newport Beach Paradise.

Craig Batley

Owner of Burr White Realty


Reader encourages those naysayers to join in to find solutions

I have an idea for those in local government who have wanted to sue the Governor over beach closures, mask mandates and, now, school closures. Why don’t you do what other people do to get attention for their cause (because after all, that’s what you are seeking, isn’t it?)? Grab a sign and take to the streets in protest. 

 Do you know how effective it would be to see a bunch of suits and high-heels protesting on Jamboree Road and MacArthur Blvd. or South Coast Plaza?

Although you may certainly have followers among some people, many of us in Orange County are embarrassed and tired of the hypocritical, anti-humanist and anti-science gestures of some of the members of local government bodies.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that protests and lawsuits play an important role in a democratic society. But right now we have a seemingly insurmountable enemy on which to focus our combined attention. 

So, if your cause is not going to help solve the calamitous effects of the pandemic, why don’t you save your legitimate, as well as petty complaints and political posturing, until this tragedy has passed and devote your time and energy to abating it.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Campaigns should focus on one’s accomplishments

Several people have been writing or talking about Harley Rouda’s many accomplishments in the two short years he has been in Congress. Usually I would say that the most respected way of running a campaign is to do just that – talk about your accomplishments in office. 

If you are new to public service, talk about your background and your goals. In that way you can keep it positive rather than turning to the denigration of other candidates. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to point out issues in the public’s interest that affect an election that are not positive. 

When you run into a unique candidate like Donald Trump, and now President Trump, for instance, you have to throw some of the traditional rules out the window.

That takes us to Michelle Steel, who is running against Harley in the 48th Congressional District. Coincidentally, at least one of her accomplishments has been tied to President Trump. In 2019 he appointed her as co-chair to one of his advisory commissions.   

In addition to that, her name has been in the news lately in connection with JWA and facial masks for COVID-19 in her role as Chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. 

Her political career, however, started in the early 2000s; therefore, there must be a considerable list of positive accomplishments that her associates and followers can tout. So, if they want to promote Steel’s candidacy, let them talk of those accomplishments rather than attacking Harley’s.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Thanks to candidate Weigand for speaking up

Kudos to NMUSD candidate Krista Weigand for taking a stance on the district’s ridiculous 4x4 learning plan for the upcoming school year. The majority of our current board has failed time and time again to listen to students, teachers and members of the community. I appreciate Ms. Weigand’s candor and thoughtful response. 

New leadership is needed now more than ever, and I am proud to lend my support to Ms. Weigand. We thank those who have served the board in the past, but I couldn’t be happier to see new people step up and answer the call to service. Ms. Weigand will be a fresh face and hopefully the change needed to return our board to one that listens to the community at large.

Kate Malouf 

Parent at Newport Harbor High School 

Newport Beach 

Reader urges elected representatives to get involved in NMUSD issue

(The following is a letter penned to the offices of our elected officials nationally and in California regarding the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.)

I am writing as a representative of the community surrounding Ensign Intermediate School, part of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. We are baffled by the District’s lack of transparency and unwillingness to work with the local community and even with the City of Newport Beach. The City has tried in every way possible to be part of the solution but even they have been ignored by the District.

We are hoping that you as our higher level elected representatives may have some ability to intervene. 

The community has come together through our local Still Protecting Our Newport organization or SPON as it is called. We have been trying to get the NMUSD School Board, Administration, and Project Manager to work with the community and the City to create the safest and most environmentally friendly improvements for the school, which NMUSD calls the School Safety Fence Project. 

Transparency and accountability have been almost completely lacking in the process. Through SPON we engaged an attorney and [the] following is our plan to file a Declaratory Relief Action against the school district. It does not ask for damages or any type of monetary reward and it does not infringe on any party’s free speech rights (crafting the pleading in this manner avoids potential liability or attack from an anti-SLAPP motion).

The declaratory relief action will be based on an allegation that the District has denied SPON, its members and the community at large its due process rights by limiting and/or denying participation in the planning process whereby the construction plans were discussed and ultimately approved. The Board is obligated, pursuant to the Education Code and the Government Code to seek out and encourage public participation in any and all projects of this nature.

The factual basis for this allegation is rooted in how the District did, and did not, publicize the hearings regarding the plan, how the district [in our opinion] manipulated information and the little community input that they did receive, how the District has failed to secure the appropriate city construction permits, how the District has failed to take into account environmental and safety concerns, how the upcoming changes on both the Board and with the Superintendent can and will impact the project and the District’s willingness and ability to move forward, and the impact the coronavirus will have on the new school year and other health and safety concerns.

SPON, its members and the community has been and will be irreparably damaged if the project is allowed to go forward unabated.

–Defying the Migratory Bird Act and they mutilated and destroyed 13 mature Tipuana trees when they were notified our attorney was filing for an injunction.

–Nine other trees…have been damaged and may not live.

–In order to justify their actions, the District [allegedly] lied about 14 accidents around the school that never happened, per the Newport Beach Police Department.

–Multiple permit issues with the contractor, needing City intervention.

–They misrepresented the quality of the new safety fence that makes the school look like a prison instead of the black fence that would have made the fencing look better.

–They have not watered any of the existing trees and grass.

–Front fencing…within 10’ of the classrooms which have 11 doors, 35 students per classroom, and students going in and out on a hourly basis.

–Their banana lot and 21 parking spaces directly impact the air quality of the hundreds of students utilizing the adjacent classrooms.

–The City of Newport Beach devised a more-simple plan for the drop off and pick up of the students and the Board totally ignored the City plan. This plan would have saved trees and made the environment safer for children.

–Contamination because of buried tanks necessitated a $192,000 change order but the community was never informed of these actions.

WE NEED HELP. We believe CEQA and the Migratory Bird Act were ignored. Anything you can do would be greatly appreciated. 

Thank you for your time in advance,

Nancy Barfield

Newport Beach

When being “liberal” is a good thing

I have noticed some letter writers lately have labeled Harley Rouda as a liberal, saying that he has been misrepresented as a moderate. If liberal is characterized as someone who introduces and gets three bills signed into law his freshman year of Congress, while introducing six additional bills and 50 legislative measures, who wins the Healthy Seniors Award for his work to ensure Medicare coverage for seniors to be treated at home during the COVID crisis, and ensuring that they continue to have access to medication for chronic diseases, who wrote a bi-partisan bill to provide $25,000 to small businesses to update their PPE (personal protective equipment) during the coronavirus pandemic, to bring $554 million dollars back to Orange County to help fight the coronavirus, and return $2 million directly to his constituents in the 48th Congressional district, and over $40 million to Orange County businesses, then gift us with such a liberal any day. 

Despite the upcoming election, Rouda is ready to introduce his newest bill, the California Coastal Communities Act to fund research and resiliency measures to protect people on the coast, which will address flooding as one of its components. To his greatest credit, Harley Rouda stopped his campaign when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and asked businesses around Orange County to donate PPE to Orange Coast Medical Center. 

Currently he is also working on a bill to reduce airplane emissions and improve water quality. 

If being the most active Congressman in his freshman class makes him a liberal, I would have to say that “liberal” takes on a very positive connotation when describing Rouda.

To keep this on a positive note, I will not talk about the contributions of Harley’s predecessors nor argue about semantics regarding conservative, moderate, liberal, democratic-socialist, fascist (words often thrown around indiscriminately)…because when you have a super active candidate such as Harley who has done so much for his district, his constituents, and ultimately for the state, he really defies definition.    

But since the word “liberal” has been brought up, I will give you this from John Fitzgerald Kennedy, from September 14, 1960:

“If by a ‘liberal’ they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind,

Someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions,

Someone who cares about the welfare of the people –

Their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs,

Their civil rights, and their civil liberties – someone who believes

We can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in

Our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a ‘liberal’,


Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Commission of Bad Planning?

Last night (July 9), the Planning Commission granted yet another approval to the Shell Service Station located at 1600 Jamboree Rd., City of Newport Beach, immediately adjacent to the Community of Big Canyon. This time the approval was to add a car wash to an already overcrowded site that has previously received approval to add a mini-mart, which produced noise and traffic, a hydrogen storage facility which was unsightly and had lights that shone right into the Big Canyon Community, and an approval to expand the mini-mart which added more noise and more traffic. 

The Commissioners somehow disregarded the “cumulative effects” of their previous approvals, despite a law requiring they do, and found adding a car wash while having to violate their own setback requirements to make it fit on the property was in the public’s best interest and constituted good planning. 

Despite overwhelming opposition from those present and no one to speak in favor of the project except the owner’s paid representative, and despite no proven need for a car wash in this location, the Commission found (with Commissioner Koetting voting no) that the “Operation of the use at the location proposed would not be detrimental to the harmonious and orderly growth of the City, or endanger, jeopardize, or otherwise constitute a hazard to the public convenience, health, interest, safety, or general welfare of persons residing or working in the neighborhood of the proposed use.” 

How is that possible?

David B. Kuhn Jr.

Newport Beach

A Vote for Peace

While political discussions with friends and family have become heated and best avoided at all costs, discussions with my new political junkie best friend have proved the exception. Rather than bewildered, I find myself enlightened, curious even to hear another viewpoint. Red or Blue, it matters not. What does matter is the connection we have forged, so vitally important during these strange and isolating times.

And where did I find this gem, this fellow political junkie with whom I share an affinity for all things political? Practicing my civic duty, working as a poll worker at (an assisted living facility) in Corona del Mar. A longtime poll worker expecting to encounter the usual poll worker crowd of senior citizens, I am momentarily stunned as I walk in and take my seat. And there he was, that most-holiest of holy grails, a poll worker under the age of 70! And a cute guy, to boot!

So, I encourage everyone, rather than banging your head in frustration, open your mind, put aside your opinions. Learn to listen, “agree to disagree,” look at this as an opportunity not to hate but rather to “hear,” hear what the other side is saying. And maybe, just maybe – Imagine, as John Lennon famously suggested, all the people living life in peace.

Suzi Scallon

Laguna Beach

What kind of world are we living in?

Do we really want to live in a society where we don’t even acknowledge that (a large percentage) of the population in convalescent homes have died in the last four months, where children and teachers are being called back to the classroom in the midst of a coronavirus surge, and where a larger percentage of people than we want to admit are intent on living their life to the fullest, devoid of concern for those around them?

It’s hard to explain this all away by myopic leadership. This is ultimately a democracy and we can make decisions that move us forward toward a better society or we can choose to opt out and only concern ourselves with our own immediate world. Some are lacking the resources, the knowledge and have too many constraints to be able to contribute to the world outside their limits, but the vast majority of us can make decisions that will make this world a better place by moving toward a collective conscience.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Hysteria over COVID is taking away our liberties 

I enjoy reading your news on the reporting of COVID. First, I do not like the political tyranny from Newsom (in everything he does). This includes the COVID shutdown and his self-imposed power to determine who is and who is not essential. Are not we all essential and equal? 

Especially important is getting kids physically back in school. To not do so is an unfounded action that ignores the importance of education, socialization, nutrition, family structure, and the avoidance of depression. Zoom is not a substitute for learning with the necessary human interaction. 

There is a direct correlation with a healthy economy and public health, and these draconian mandates are destroying both. We should not underestimate COVID, but we should not overreact by creating hysteria by taking away our liberties. It is not a hoax, but the media has turned it into a political circus. 

To minimize the hysteria a more relevant reporting of cases and deaths should be on a per capita bases including the age bracket. Then compare that to recovery. There is no way to decipher the misdiagnosis and false reporting, but it does exist.

Those who have developed this radical fear of living, also have the liberty to self-impose their own stay at home policy. I understand the caution and compromise in the wearing of masks and social distancing. We can manage risk, but we cannot eliminate risk. There is no reason to force others into captivity to lessen their fears.

Thank you, 

Jeff Morgan

Corona del Mar

Letters to the Editor

Unhappy with school district’s deceit in tree cutting

NMUSD = Arrogance. This is the institution responsible for educating future generations. This is the example set: Don’t let the issue be resolved in a civilized way, i.e. the courts. Sneak in and destroy.

Dennis Baker

Corona del Mar

School Board correctly chose safety over trees

I am writing this letter in support of the Cliff Drive encroachment permit issued to NMUSD for Ensign. It seems much of the controversy about this permit centers around many in the community believing the school board errored in not moving forward the Newport Beach drop-off alternative. They viewed this alternative as a “silver bullet” since it would simultaneously save the trees and provide quality student security and safety. The Newport Beach drop-off alternative may have inadvertently fooled them. Either you save the trees, or you provide top-notch student security and safety. But, you can’t do both. Therefore, the school district made the correct decision at Ensign and their permit should stand.

The Newport Beach drop-off alternative shouldn’t be material in any decision by the city council.

A few comments in the ThoughtExchange reference the state of California’s drop-off building regulations for schools. Using Google with the ThoughtExchange verbiage, we found drop-off building regulations online at the state of California’s Department of Education website.

After reviewing the state’s rules and examples covering drop-off regulations, it seems that the Newport Beach drop-off alternative might not fulfill state regulations. I called Jim Houlihan, a city engineer, with my reservations. He said he did not know if the alternative fulfills the state regulations and said such a determination would require an outside expert opinion.

Furthermore, after my discussion with Houlihan, I came away with the impression that it is unknown if the Newport Beach alternative could support as many cars as the school district’s banana lot.

The school district’s banana lot was designed by an architect who is proficient in school design, school building regulation and security protocols. The banana lot is a standard approach that is shovel-ready. In contrast, the Newport Beach alternative is just a rough sketch that likely could not provide the same level of efficiency or safety and may not be allowed under state build regulations for schools.

Many in the community thought they had a silver bullet.

Since the Newport Beach drop-off alternative came from a city engineer, some community members incorrectly assumed the alternative was fully vetted and shovel-ready even though the city never presented it that way. Community members voraciously supported the city’s alternative to the school board and other community members as the “silver bullet” that would save the trees and provide student safety and security. In hindsight, if the city had known their rough sketch would be misread as fully vetted and shovel-ready they would have put a warning on the drawing. Even better, the city could have hid their alternative unless it survived a deeper analysis. The city council could cool off tensions in the community if they would explain this to the public at Thursday’s hearing (yesterday).

NMUSD opted for the safety and security of students over the preservation of trees.

Removing the Newport Beach drop-off alternative from the running only leaves the banana lot alternative. After two years in the public forum, no other viable alternative has been presented by anyone. Since the banana lot drop-off alternative was designed by architects proficient with state regulations and security protocols, it should provide abundant student safety and security.

Unfortunately, this leaves the community with the age old problem of selecting the lesser of two evils. Do we save the trees while we compromise student safety and security? Do we remove and replace the trees so we can keep the students safe and secure? To me the answer is clear. Student safety and security is utmost, so the trees have to be removed and replaced. I think the school board was presented with a tough decision and sided on behalf of student safety and security. This was the right decision. The city council should support their decision and let the permit stand.

Jim Kociuba

Newport Beach

SPON gets injunction against District

OC Superior Court Judge Robert Moss granted SPON a Temporary Restraining Order on June 23, 2020 to prevent the further removal of any trees that still remain on Ensign Intermediate School property. The Rehearing is scheduled for OC Superior Court Department 13 on June 29 at 1:30 p.m.

The Declaratory Relief Action filed by SPON against the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) sought a definition of the rights and obligations of the parties involved regarding the planned removal of trees and reconfiguration of the parking lot at Ensign Intermediate School located in the Newport Beach Cliff Haven neighborhood.

The action alleges that NMUSD has denied SPON, its members and the community at large their due process rights by limiting and/or denying participation in the planning process which included the review, discussion and ultimate approval of the construction plans. The NMUSD is obligated by code to seek out and encourage public participation in any and all projects of this nature. 

For more information about this issue, please visit 

Bruce Bartram, President 

SPON, Still Protecting Our Newport

Newport Beach

Nearby resident wants brakes applied to W. Coast Highway widening

I request the City Council send this item (Old Newport Blvd. and West Coast Highway Modifications) back to the Planning Department with instructions to delay further consideration until the ongoing General Plan Update is completed. It appears the planning staff is attempting to piecemeal the widening of Coast Highway into small parts in order to get the entire roadway to three lanes without completing the General Plan Update. This is poor timing because while the Newport Beach community is continuing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, only virtual meetings are occurring. Also, stakeholders may feel potentially controversial items are being placed on the agenda when the City Council is unable to hear firsthand community concern.

The origins of this project go back at least seven years and include the widening of West Pacific Coast Highway in front of the A Restaurant to three lanes and provide a dedicated right turn lane and bike lane. 

A key concern of Mariner’s Mile stakeholders is the expansion of West Pacific Coast Highway. This concern dates back to the early 1970s by a group called the “Freeway Fighters” and included the father of one of our current council members. Since then updates to the General Plan have discouraged the widening of WPCH. For instance, this concern is most evident in the Mariner’s Mile Strategic Vision and Design Framework dated October 4, 2000, that set forth a strategy “to discourage the policy of widening WPCH through Mariner’s Mile.” The City has also recognized that Pacific Coast Highway and the proposed expansion of PCH require further evaluation. A speedway through the heart of our town is not safe for our children or community. 

Further, evolving transportation trends and the coronavirus pandemic impact of working at home are materially changing how businesses, residents, and the City will operate and use the existing transportation system. 

[I] request my comments be part of the June 23, 2020, City Council Meeting record and please acknowledge receipt of these email comments.

Be well and stay safe,

Patrick Gormley

Former Bayshores Community Association President 

Member of the Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile

Newport Beach

Make masks your new fashion accessory

 It’s official now. We are finally seeing our male political leaders from California wearing face masks. The Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, was the first one to do it. Now we are also seeing Governor Newsom, Congressman Rouda and Mayor O’Neill in basic black, as I recall. And, if you scrolled too quickly past the beginning of Stu News Newport, you may have missed Tom Johnson’s colorful mask. So our “savvy” leaders have shown that a face mask does not compromise your masculinity. To the contrary, it enhances it, showing how “secure” and confident you are. 

Let’s put on those face masks before it is too late!

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

There are changes our school district needs to make, now

Laurie Smith is a retired Newport-Mesa Unified School District teacher, grandparent of a Newport-Mesa student and member of the student advocacy group Newport-Mesa Community for Students. She is an activist in the District and a strong voice. She directed this letter to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Education.

Dear Members of the Board,

We are now three months into the COVID pandemic and distance learning. Its June, budget time, and summer plans and reopening are upon us. At this time of greatest need for our students and families, please reassess your leadership and consider the following decisions: 

–Approve a budget focused on compassion correcting inequities. Do this by adding (yes…adding) professional counselors, community facilitators and nurses. COVID should not be an excuse for maintaining our deficient status quo in meeting the social and emotional needs of students. We have reserves. Use them.

–Technology support for low-income students: Have you made sure ALL our students have WiFi and Chromebooks? Have you made sure staff has identified these students by checking in with teachers, using facilitators to check on at-risk students and filling in the gaps? What has been done for those hard to reach families? Home visits can be made with masks and social distancing if not by staff, by use of known community partners and volunteers. Compassion should drive you to find solutions. 

–Have you created a summer school plan in collaboration with teachers? Is it flexible enough to move from distance learning to the classroom and been communicated to parents? 

–Defund your army of attorneys. You won’t need them if you ask our leaders to come out of hiding, start listening to the community of parents and staff and develop relationships.

–End expensive consultant fees. Our capable current staff knows our students and can fill the need. Believe in them. Trust them and their leaders who have direct connections to the classroom.

–Eliminate District leadership of fear and control that has stifled staff and students from reaching their full potential. Sadly, it has become more unresponsive, untrusting and insular behind the cover of COVID and Zoom. 

There has never been a more urgent time for change in the District’s leadership culture: for compassionate, confident, flexible, and humble leaders who share power and lead by listening, building community relationships, and embracing change.

You are our elected leaders. You must make the change we need to see. 

Laurie Smith

Newport Beach

Bluebirds bring joy to this neighbor

Background information: I became neighbors, then friends, with a couple in the Heights who had similar interests to my own. The wife is an avid birdwatcher and has made it her goal to increase the bluebird population in the Heights’ area. 

About four years ago, she talked me into putting one of her bird houses in my backyard tree. It was an interesting, joyful, but also heart-wrenching experience. Watching the maturity process was infatuating because the beautiful babies had unique personalities. 

However, at the end of my experience, after raising three clutches one season, I was saddened that the local birds of prey left only one baby to survive and mature. Evidently, this is common. The survival rate is not very great due to the vulnerability of the small birds. As a result, the ones who survive are remarkable, sometimes living as long as ten years. 

I wrote this poem about that experience.


I learned from bluebirds in my tree

How little they have of certainty

Guarded by parents when they are small

Their chance of survival is barely at all

And yet they sing and give us joy

Their beauty starkly hued

They know not any night or day

They may be lost to birds of prey

So should we be like bluebirds too

Embracing beauty and delight

Not knowing when at any time

We must enter that good night

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Lack of required masks brings with it potential risks

I am outraged that the Board of Supervisors did not strongly back Dr. Quick and the edict to require masks at all times in public. As a result of last week’s decision by the new Health Officer who succumbed to the pressure of the Board, masks now are only “strongly recommended.” 

People in Orange County can now walk around in public and in business establishments without masks as if there were not a pandemic raging out there. And they can selfishly spread their germs around, oblivious to the health and safety of others. What does it take for us as a society to realize how dangerous these actions are? The week before last we had 1,179 new cases in Orange County, a weekly record in the course of the pandemic! Hospital loads have also increased by 34 percent.

There will be financial repercussions with this new ruling as well. Yesterday when I went to the grocery store where I normally shop because it was all set up for physical distancing and required masks, I asked if masks were still required and their response was “only strongly recommended.” I had spent at least a thousand dollars during the pandemic in that Newport Beach store. But knowing that Costa Mesa still required masks (the only city in Orange County to do so), I went down the street to do my shopping, spending $200.

For those people who are at “high risk,” it is imperative that they be in a “masked environment” in public. So I imagine that many people who live in Newport Beach are going to have to start shopping in Costa Mesa.

Imagine the loss of revenue for businesses in Newport Beach and the bad health conditions for the essential workers who are exposed to other peoples’ germs on a daily basis. The Board of Supervisors and our Council are putting these people at risk now that masks are only “strongly recommended.” 

Why does Newport Beach share in the culpability along with the Board of Supervisors? Because individual cities can pass laws that are stronger than the Board’s, but not weaker. So businesses and individuals should keep in mind that if there is a significant loss in revenue and if it is obvious that people are going elsewhere to shop, not to mention a significant increase in cases of COVID-19, that the Newport Beach Council can do something about it. 

I, for one, regrettably will not be doing business with any indoor environment that does not require masks and I urge others to do the same for their protection. And when you vote in November, remember that the current Board of Supervisors is at the very least, compromising your health by the decision that they have just made.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Defending the name of John Wayne for the airport

He’s been dead 41 years. But leave it to the OC Dems to engage in more overreaction and victimhood with respect to John Wayne Airport and the statue that greets Orange County visitors. 

I wonder if any of us (including Chair Briceno) who may live in glass houses are worthy to throw stones.

Yes, the Minneapolis tragedy is just that, but, sadly, justified reaction has morphed into overreaction, including the OC Dems’ wrongheaded resolution to change the name of our airport and remove the statue.

Let Mr. Wayne and his memory rest in peace.

Paul Watkins

Newport Beach

Someday we can look back on today’s pandemic days

Despite the tragic horror of the pandemic, the uncertainty and the isolation from your friends and family, the constant cleansing and the binding masks, to name just a few low points, there might be some things that we can look back upon when this all passes.

Some of those might be things such as hanging around the house in your pajamas and robe until two in the afternoon, not worrying about the extra pounds you put on because the one thing about never seeing anyone is that you get to eat treats like ice cream and packaged pudding (that you ate as a child). You can indulge in reading really long books, ones that displease your book club friends. 

Friends give you gifts of disinfectant and handmade masks, you get to let your hair and roots grow, and you pull out old things to wear that you should have thrown away years ago. You also get weekly phone calls from your siblings, which are extra special because they know how much we all hate talking on the telephone. 

You also get check-up calls from your sweet aunt who never really has figured out how to use her cellphone or her computer, but uses them anyway, and if you are lucky like me, you find a kind, but talkative walking partner who, despite wearing a mask, talks your leg off anyway. And he constantly directs you away from traffic because he thinks that you can’t hear or see it, but he is ten years older. 

You sit 12 feet apart on your back deck afterward (extra careful social distancing) and converse quite loudly back and forth so that your poor neighbors will be celebrating when social distancing is over, and they don’t have to learn everything about you. 

You get to complete picture puzzles that are so popular now, that Amazon is running out of them, and my personal favorite – you get to Zoom at least two or three times a week with your book club, family and friends and be the only one who doesn’t have technical difficulties despite using a 6-year-old iPad.


Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Went to the protest expecting worst, found the best

After what we had seen on TV, I was extremely distressed and afraid when I heard we were having protests in Newport...afraid for our citizens, our businesses and our police and other emergency personnel. But on that day, I decided I had a responsibility to do whatever I could and decided to put on my mask and walk down to see how our CdM business owners were preparing. 

I ended up five miles later, on the periphery of two of the protests, talking with our business people and others, including young families. I represent ALL the people and almost all I saw were NB residents. I was prepared to stand in front of our businesses and try to talk to anyone who wanted to cause trouble, but fortunately it wasn’t necessary. All I saw were respectful and I was so proud of our citizens, our NBPD and almost everyone. 

I’m in a great position of serving my time on council and being able to do the right thing without worrying about being elected or re-elected. I am donating these years of my life to serving the community I love, and I sleep very well at night. People say this is a “thankless job.” I disagree because people thank me continually. It is almost overwhelming, and is conveyed in person, in emails, in gifts at my door, comments on social media and cards mailed. They almost always say “thank you for being the voice of reason.” 

Sometimes those with a particular point of view think I’m not liberal enough or conservative enough. In my opinion, there is ALWAYS some truth on all sides and the challenge is trying to still be able to hear that and use it even when it comes from people who may be critical. 

Anyone who tells you these are simple problems with simple “just vote for my party solutions” probably has an ulterior motive. That’s why I vote with all different members of the council at times, because solutions require compromise and delving into each issue on its own merit. Politics plays to people’s desire to have easy answers and there aren’t many of those in this complex world. Being a moderate who looks at all sides of every issue is the way I have chosen to serve and I’m confident in my position. 

I pray that we will someday come together to solve problems rather than polarizing and blaming each other, which only benefits politicians. There are good people on all sides of each issue, and we have a lot to learn from each other if our hearts and minds are open. 

Joy Brenner, District 6

Can I be pro-black and pro-police at the same time?

City Council, Newport Beach – Like many Americans, I’ve struggled to find the words to describe how I feel about the George Floyd protests, riots and looting.

We are a nation in pain and each of us is trying to find an outlet to express complicated, and often conflicting, emotions. Hundreds are taking to the streets to protest, dozens are rioting, and a handful are looting. However, a significant number of Americans, myself included, are taking time to watch, observe, listen, learn, read, contemplate and process everything that is happening.

Many of my friends have turned to social media to voice their anger and frustration. “IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND BLACK LIVES MATTER THEN YOU CAN UNFRIEND ME NOW,” read one of my acquaintance’s posts. “ARREST AND CHARGE ALL COPS WHO KILL BLACK PEOPLE,” read a protest sign of a close friend. 

I’ve hesitated to share my thoughts, particularly publicly and especially online. The digital sphere has become a warzone of pointed words, shouting matches and ultimatums. We’ve become a nation divided with people being silenced and abused online and in the streets. Like many, I’m scared to speak up and to speak out. 

But I cannot stay silent anymore.

I was born in America and am red, white and blue through and through. I love our country and everything it stands for. What made (and makes) our nation great is our diversity and our freedom. But when we can no longer ask questions, listen with empathy, talk without fear, then what have we become? 

Can I be pro-black and pro-police at the same time? Can I express my conflicting feelings without fear of being judged or attacked? Can I choose to not express my opinions on social media without being called a racist? Can I both agree and disagree with Black Lives Matter? Can I support my police while simultaneously advocating against the use of excessive force and racial profiling? Can I condemn rioting and looting while acknowledging the wide economic inequality gap, desperation and lack of faith these individuals have in our country? Can I see our need for systemic change while believing cops are good people? Just like I believe looters and rioters are not bad people? Can I believe we are all inherently good and want the same thing: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

Systematic change is slow, uncomfortable and often painful. Technology and social media have increased awareness of flaws and inadequacies in our institutions, while a generation of young people demanding change are swiftly mobilizing across our nation.

I will continue to support our police and those who are demanding justice and equality. That is my opinion. That is my stance. I refuse to lose faith in our country or in the goodness of people. And I hope you won’t either.

Michelle Mar


Letter to the Editor

Flatterer of Governor Newsom ill-informed

Ms. Lynn Lorenz (“Author”) has fawned over Governor Newsom in her recent letters to local media extolling how the Governor has saved the health of California by his “quick and resourceful actions” regarding the COVID-19 response. The Author is ill-informed and simply wrong. Here are some of those “quick and resourceful actions” by Governor Newsom:

–His March 18, 2020 letter to President Trump stating that 25.5 million Californians will be infected with COVID-19 over an eight-week period.

–His proposed “bold and big” expenditure of nearly $1 billion taxpayer dollars (including half up front) for face masks with a secretive Chinese company.

–His plan for $75 million taxpayer dollars for stimulus payments to illegal immigrants.

–His politically-driven, “ready, shoot, aim” myopic (literally) decision on April 30, 2020 to hard close all Orange County beaches with inaccurate and misleading telephoto evidentiary support resulting in justified lawsuits by local cities.

–His commandeering St. Vincent Hospital and the old Sacramento ARCO Arena for the misjudged never-to-appear COVID-19 tsunami.

–His gross miscalculation in the appropriation of 16,000 hotel/motel rooms for our homeless population.

–His joining four governors in the delusional request of Congress that it fund $1 trillion in pandemic relief for poorly managed state and local governments.

Despite the Author’s blind adulation, it is clear that the Governor’s “quick and resourceful actions” have been anything but.

Paul Watkins

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Is the lack of social distancing going to cause us problems moving forward?

Is anyone else concerned about the lack of social distancing in the coastal areas of Southern California? If you are keeping your eye on the statistics as well as the residents, you will see that both the number of new cases of COVID-19, as well as the death rate, are continuing to rise dramatically in Orange County.    

Is this trend occurring because many of our local leaders are not strongly enforcing social distancing for fear of being unpopular or is it that they simply lack determination and/or direction? Maybe the state sanctions have been withdrawn too quickly and local leaders need more support? Whatever it is, at our current rate, it seems like we will never be back to “normal.” And for all the gestures that many local leaders made to prove that they were ready to take back control of the reopening, you would think that the lack of social distancing would be much less visible. 

After all, the one strong leader in the state, the governor, who arose to the occasion by imposing sheltering in place and its resultant protocol, has been criticized by some leaders in Orange County. One even went so far as to call his leadership autocratic.   

Even if some locals want to focus exclusively on the economy of the county, they must realize that until the numbers start going down instead of up (as they have been doing lately), many of the customers that local businesses rely on will not be leaving the shelter of their home. So local leaders and businesses need to do something to make us feel safe, if the economy is to come back. 

Your younger clientele may be coming out, but as we have learned from news sources, more than half of all cases are among residents between the ages of 25 and 54, and another 18 percent are among youth 18 and under. So that means that almost 70 percent of the coronavirus cases in Orange County are among people 54 and younger. Seniors account for only 19 percent of Orange County infections. So while younger victims are getting less severe symptoms for the most part, it is still not exclusively an old person’s disease. The most reliable predictor at this point as to the severity of the illness is the underlying health of the victim. So although it seems like quite a large portion of the youth are acting as if it were immune to the disease, the statistics say otherwise. And everyone knows that as the statistics rise among our youth, they will rise for all because of the contagious factor of the disease.

And those aged 54 and under should not discount the virus because it is deadlier among seniors, because younger people can die too. Subtracting out those who died in senior care homes, those 54 and under account for almost 20 percent of the deaths in Orange County. Leaving senior care homes in the formula means that 14 percent of the deaths are among 54 and younger. But in today’s world, 55 to 64 is still relatively young and their deaths count for another 12 percent. So that means almost one third of the known deaths in Orange County have been among people 64 and younger. 

Another factor to take into consideration because of the lack of sophisticated testing, and testing in general, is that many of the cases of coronavirus that are attributed to inland areas might represent individuals who contracted the virus while they were in the beach/tourist areas of Orange County. This is a possibility because of the long gestation period of the virus, as well as for the fact that some virus victims do not experience any symptoms and thus become “silent carriers” of the disease. Particularly since the first warm weekend at the end of April, this factor needs to be considered in the coronavirus statistics.

Still another consideration for younger people, as well as seniors, is that the long-term effects of the disease are not yet fully known. According to, a respected medical digest, 80 percent of the cases are not severe and full recovery is expected. However, there will be people who will suffer long-term effects such as respiratory problems, dangerous immune system and blood clotting responses, as well as possible digestive system, heart, and kidney problems among others.

Finally, a startling article appeared in the LA Times on May 19th, in which it was revealed that a condition referred to as both MIS-C and PIMS, which is similar to Kawasaki disease, has become an “alarming part of the coronavirus medical response because it affects children.” Four children have been diagnosed with the disease and LA County is investigating 21 other possible cases.

To say that people should be able to decide their behavior for themselves, without government interference, in face of a pandemic, is dangerous, selfish and faulty reasoning. A pandemic requires strong leadership above all. Orange County has proven lately that without strong leadership there is no strong community cooperation. 

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

The Covid Bunch

Here’s the story of a city council

Who needed to find out quickly what they should do

Corona virus was causing public problems

Keep the beach, shut it down, who knew?

It’s the story of Mayor O’Neill,

Who set a meeting for Newport residents to call

To give their comments, and vent their anger,

Or manage not to do the remote call-in process at all! (Hello…?)

So on that day, the phone calls flooded,

And it was almost more than council folk could bear,

Joy Brenner, D Dixon, Muldoon and Herdman listened

To the endless feedback (Grace and Duffy too were there!)

When the meeting ended, they’d all decided

To keep the beaches open – with some rules

They hoped that’s what Newport Beach mostly wanted

Then Governor Newsom stepped in with his overrule!

The Covid Bunch, the Covid Bunch

That’s when Newport City Council became the Covid Bunch!

Catherine Shannon

Laguna Hill

(To the tune of the Brady Bunch theme)

Letters to the Editor

Hindsight is 20/20

I’m noticing that our Newport mayor and others have taken an anti-governor stance on the coronavirus. The new publication from the mayor states all the statistics of why the total lockdown wasn’t needed. Of course, this was 20/20 hindsight or Monday morning quarterbacking. 

If you remember back to the beginning of March, everyone was terrified of this unknown dangerous pandemic. In fact, at that time our city leaders could only tell us to follow the guidelines from the Orange County Health Department while fighting the mandating of wearing masks and closing the beaches. 

There is a Columbia University study and model out today saying that half the lives lost so far to this pandemic would have been saved by mandating “stay at home” two weeks earlier. 

So, which 20/20 hindsight do we believe? And do we continue to look at the world with partisan-colored glasses or take care of ourselves the best we can until we have real knowledge of this virus and the treatments or vaccine to save us? The virus does attack us all. 

And let’s elect the non-partisans or the candidates with open minds this next November. City governments are meant to be non-partisan for a reason.

Linda Watkins

Newport Resident

Truth or Consequences

We are victims of a selfish few
Whose decisions we oft abhor
They hold our welfare in their hands
But count their futures more

When many fall ill in few days time
Those numbers should cause shame
But who can prove whose fault it is
When bad decisions reign

We all should know it’s time to change
When power does us harm
And votes can go to gilded hands
Whose goal it is to charm

Let’s look ahead to better days
That make our wishes soar
And put behind us once for all
What cuts us to the core

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

School District needs to get their head out of the sand and let the students walk

I’ve been reading several well-written communications from our seniors at Newport-Mesa Unified School District (NMUSD) high schools and felt a huge sense of empathy and frustration for them and their classmates. 

As a graduate of Newport Harbor High School (1997), I look back and remember a senior year full of memories. Sure, I wasn’t the best student and most of my time spent at NHHS was more often in the Vice Principal’s office than the classroom. However, during my final year of school, I was fortunate enough to find a date to prom, graduate (barely) and attend grad-night – something I volunteered at for the first time last year. 

These graduating seniors followed the rules in the fallout of COVID-19, respected their fellow citizens by social distancing, sacrificed the remainder of the classes by taking online instruction and even lowered their standards to accept that 50 percent is simply enough to get you a C grade.

NMUSD should be ashamed at themselves for abandoning their students by easily throwing in the towel by not conducting an in-person graduation ceremony. 

The third week in June is nearly a month away. How does a school district, whose mission states that their goal is to graduate students who will enrich our society, simply walk away from those who have committed four years of their life pursuing?

NMUSD has spent countless hours and resources developing a flawed “banana parking lot” at Ensign, with the intent to remove 27 trees – including one that honors the military sacrifice of a NHHS graduate who gave up his life in Iraq. But they can’t inventively come up with a game plan to hold a graduation ceremony?

The school district has been causing a lot of residents in our community to shake their heads recently. Perhaps it’s time to start listening to the public, which includes your students.       

Many campuses across the nation are holding in-person graduation ceremonies while following social distancing practices. The OC Register recently reported that several school districts are looking to late summer or possibly Thanksgiving break (when most students are back home for the first time since leaving for college) to hold ceremonies. 

NMUSD – please get your head out of the sand and stand together with the graduating class of 2020 to find a solution.   

Erik Weigand 

Newport Beach 

Struck a Nerve

Well, it seems I struck a nerve with my last letter. I know from my experience of Mr. Zak on the planning commission, that he has a certain mindset which [in my opinion] leans toward the individual freedom side as opposed to the common good side but I wouldn’t insult him by calling him names. I do agree with him about being mindful with elected officials, all elected officials. I hope he now sees that he undermined his own argument and supported mine. Be vigilant about the governor but not about the mayor? I prefer words like being mindful, conscious and aware when dealing with government these days. 

My letters to Stu News have made a case for medical facts, such little as we have, like all of us wearing masks and staying socially distant. These don’t seem partisan to me or childish. Looking at the images of citizens around the country this holiday weekend, I wish Mr. Zak luck with his view that we all are adults and can make good decisions for ourselves. Unfortunately, they also with their lack of adult responsibility made decisions for others. The only fact we seem to have gleaned from this pandemic so far is that we get the virus if we are in close proximity to others for a period of time without protective covering, like in nursing homes or crowds at the beach for a day. 

Having spent my career and life in the field of leadership and leadership development and both taught and conducted dialogues in university classes and business organizations, to correct Mr. Zak, Will was not [in my opinion] “seeking an actual dialogue”, he was using statistics to support his mindset, in other words, presenting his side of the debate or argument. True city leadership would not have been fighting state government in the midst of a once in our lifetime crisis. It would have been leading the whole community to collaborate with all government, confront the danger and truly dialogue about innovative and creative solutions for the future. We live in a time with wicked problems of all kinds. I, for one, would love to hear actual public policies that advance the whole public, health or planning and development, even the economy. 

It strains credulity to think that an elected California Democrat, Republican (or Independent like me) would deliberately want to destroy our way of life or economy unless Mr. Zak thinks we should also be constantly vigilant probing the reasons our mayor makes the decisions he does. I do think this argument about autocracy and freedom in regard to beaches and masks in the middle of a pandemic is childish. Talk about fear based! If I have my current history correct, it was the mayor of San Francisco who shut her city down first as the governor was resisting doing so. Lastly, to Mr. Zak, if I were any more adult, I’m afraid I’d be in assisted living right now.   

Linda Watkins

Newport Resident

Takeaways from NB Democratic Women’s Club virtual meeting

I was fortunate to be able to attend a virtual reality meeting which hosted the participation of Congressman Harley Rouda of the 48th District and Congresswoman Katie Porter from the 45th. It was about the fifth time that I had attended an event for Harley and the second time for Katie Porter, who in addition to being a Congresswoman, is also a professor at UCI. I have also seen both of them on television.

After listening to other local political speakers, I always come away in awe of being represented by such stellar candidates as Rouda and Porter. They speak without notes on the several occasions that I have seen them and they can speak at length about virtually any topic that is pertinent to the County.

Last night Congresswoman Porter spoke about COVID-19 testing, how Orange County is behind in that area when compared to a similarly sized County such as San Diego. She talked also about the upcoming election and the challenges of voting during the coronavirus quarantine.

Congressman Harley entertained questions from the 70 attendees at the virtual meeting. He answered so many different questions with so much ease, that it was difficult to keep up. A more charismatic and intelligent duo, it would be difficult to find. They are also refreshing because unlike many other politicians, they do not spew ideological rhetoric. Their eyes are on the constantly shifting issues before the American people, and they speak assertively and knowingly about these issues, not just as citizens of Orange County, but of the United States. Since that meeting Congressman Rouda has received  a “2020 Champion of Patient Access” award for his leadership in protecting patient access during the COVID-19 pandemic, and his work on “keeping drug costs affordable while promoting innovation to protect seniors.” I am sincerely proud of this “new breed” of politicians who have stepped forward to represent us so professionally.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Mayor’s “deep dive” seems to be misinterpreted by some

First, we had quarantine shaming where people posted pictures on social media of people whose action did not live up to the exacting standards of the non-medical Nexdoor Karens.

Now we have people who early on demanded that public policy be run based on data and science but are infuriated when data and science are discussed in ways that do not fit their shutdown narrative. An example of this new type of lockdown advocacy came in response to our Mayor’s recent deep dive into data.

Stu News ran a copy of Mayor Will O’Neill’s email sent through his personal account where he conducted a deep dive on the statistics of Orange County’s case counts, hospitalizations, and mortalities. They highlight what we all could intuitively sense: a broad economic shutdown is no longer warranted and hasn’t been warranted for weeks. Hospitalizations have been no higher than 4.2 percent of available beds. ICUs have been steady. Case counts have increased as testing has, but positive rates have decreased as the increased testing occurred. These are good trends.

And Mayor O’Neill’s deep dive even presciently highlighted the real threat in our communities: skilled nursing facilities (“SNFs”). Whereas SNFs represent only 11 percent of the positive cases in Orange County, they now represent 40 percent of Orange County’s deaths. Those disproportionate statistics indicate a need for targeted lockdowns and resource allocation, not one-size-fits-all lockdowns like we’ve seen.

Rather than taking this information and directing it toward actual public policies that advance the whole community health (physical and economic), there are people like (recent letter writer) Linda Watkins who attack the Mayor and others who seek an actual dialog and attempt to discuss data that leads to outcomes other than fear-based conclusions. Stu News also ran Ms. Watkins’ letter to the editor claiming that the Mayor’s discussion of statistics is “partisan,” “anti-governor,” and wasn’t sufficiently “open-minded.” She even went so far as to say that “the mayor states all the statistics of why the total lockdown wasn’t needed.” But did he say that?

No, he didn’t. He actually said: “Clearly the stay-at-home order and the economic shutdown played roles that ensured that the early projections were incredibly wrong. Showing our current statistics is not meant to spike the football on how wrong those projections were because we are still in the midst of a serious virus that we need to take seriously. But we have to be constantly vigilant probing the reasons that our Governor issued the stay-at-home order statewide.”

Nuance can be lost on people who want our government to be our parents and treat us like children. But the Mayor’s comments are straightforward and reasonable. So, for those of you who call yourselves adults, let me simply say the following: I’m with YOU. I trust you can both hold thoughts in your head acknowledging that this is serious and make your own risk assessments. I trust that you know what’s right for you more than our Governor does. More than the Mayor does. More than I do. As adults, you and I should be treated with the same respect that our Mayor treats us with when he empowers us with data and specific details. 

It’s time to push back against people who demand blind allegiance to government proclamations. It’s time to listen and act with the facts.

Peter Zak

Newport Beach

Governor’s handling of coronavirus issue should be commended

If you are alive and well in California, you can pretty much thank the Governor in large part for his quick reaction to the coronavirus threat. While far from being out of danger as many indicators will attest, our relatively successful battle with the virus so far has been a result of the Governor’s quick and resourceful actions. A large majority of Californians give Governor Newsom a 79 percent approval rate for his handling of the pandemic. Now that the first (and hopefully only) surge of cases has quieted down in most parts of the state, he is wisely turning to local leaders for their help and input in opening up to Phase 2.

Nowhere and at no time has the Governor tried to tie his success to his political party affiliation. That is why I find it so distasteful that two of our local leaders had articles this last week which are critically implying that the Governor has overreacted to the virus. I think that I could make a pretty good case for under-reaction to this grave threat by most local leaders, but I do not want to stoop to their level. To make use of a major catastrophe for political purposes, one that is responsible for 3,500 deaths in California and over 5,000 cases in Orange County, not only demeans the authors, but in my opinion, minimizes the suffering of the victims.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Experts seem to disagree on spike cause following “beach crowding” weekend

There seems to be some discussion as to what has caused the large spike in coronavirus cases reported in Orange County since the weekend of April 25th and 26th, when, coincidentally, large crowds descended on the beaches. In the week that ended on April 26, there were 441 new COVID-19 cases in Orange County. The following week that figure jumped to 664 new cases reported and the week after that 787 cases.

Experts need to make further investigations to determine specifically the cause of these large spikes in coronavirus cases which could be explained partially by factors such as increased testing. 

Dr. George Rutherford, a UC San Francisco epidemiologist and infectious disease expert who was also a former epidemic intelligence officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was interviewed by a regional newspaper (LA Times), and the local paper, as well, this week, and said that he noticed a steep rise in Orange County’s cases in the days following the weekend of April 25 and 26, after which Governor Newsom ordered the beaches closed. In addition to the stats, the Governor pointed to photos of Orange County beaches showing little social distancing among the crowds. Also, although not required on Orange County beaches, there were no examples of beach goers wearing masks.

The crowds that gathered in protest after the beach closures definitely defied the health officials’ contention that such lack of social distancing and face masks also constituted risky behavior and could have increased the statistics.

Dr. Rutherford leaves the door open for other possible causes of the large spikes in Orange County, but nonetheless, is quoted in two articles as saying, “But you know, just looking at it, there was a big jump in Orange County that was temporally consistent with possible transmission from that crowd event,” referring to the large crowd on the beaches on April 25-26.

Another health expert, Dr. Grant Colfax, the director of public health for San Francisco, is also quoted as saying, “We are seeing spikes in infections in Southern California commensurate with when the beaches became crowded. We have seen spikes of infections when people have gone to large gatherings at churches or birthday parties. We must be vigilant.”

Dr. Nichole Quick, Orange County’s health officer, said there’s no evidence at this time that crowded beaches were a factor in the increase in cases. She said, “As of now, that is not something we are pointing to as a cause of cases.” Since the County started ramping up its daily screening activity around April 28th, Quick points out, “As we test more, we’re likely to pick up more cases.”

On a similar theme, as Los Angeles begins to open up its beaches this week, a new protocol has been put in order: L.A. Mayor Garcetti announced this week that all Angelenos would be required to wear face coverings outside. If the infection rate in Orange County continues to rise, maybe the County Health Department or the mayors in Orange County will also wisely call for this protection.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Is there a war going on in politics with COVID-19?

There would probably be more sympathy for “open” beach protesters if there were essentially not a war going on – the war against COVID-19. In that sense, it is best to think of (Governor) Newsom as the general whose main goal is to protect us from this grave threat. Those local leaders who feel like they should have been consulted before taking action, should ask themselves if a general who perceived an emergency situation, would stop and ask his lieutenants for permission to act. 

I live in Newport Beach and along with many of my peers (in keeping with the battle metaphor), salute Governor Newsom for the noteworthy job that he is doing. And personally, I am embarrassed by the lack of gratitude of the protesters and some of the leaders in Orange County. Most of us who get out of this alive will most likely be crediting Newsom for having been one of the main factors in lowering the coronavirus infection levels. Not just Californians, but residents of other states as well are benefiting from his knowledge and strategies in dealing with this grave threat. 

A poll just published Saturday (May 2) in the LA Times (UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies) finds that 70 percent of California voters approve of Governor Newsom’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis and “large majorities want to go slow on ending stay-at-home orders.” Finally, “7 in 10 voters fear the possibility of getting sick with COVID-19.”

Instead of complaining about missing a few beach days, we should be more focused on how to better protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors. Despite the fact that face masks have been highly recommended by most health leaders, Newport Beach does not fully mandate face masks. So, in the photos of beach attendance last weekend, there were few if any masks in sight. Many would agree that an absence of face masks, along with compromised social distancing on the beach, made for one precarious situation. I am sure that we all hope that no one becomes a victim of what some might perceive as capricious activity.

Interestingly, as beach-goers and some vocal city and county leaders protested Newsom’s actions, on Friday California recorded the most COVID-19 deaths in a single day in over a week. Most of the new cases and deaths reported were in Southern California, including Orange County. Local protesters also often fail to point out that when beaches are open in Newport Beach, they are open for everyone, including Los Angeles residents because their beaches are closed. So beach-goers in Newport Beach are not just being exposed to contagion from Orange County residents, but from residents in other cities who have closed beaches or have no beaches.

Perhaps the leaders from Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Dana Point might want to emulate Costa Mesa who has less than half the cases of Newport Beach with a significantly larger population; one large factor is that they have mandated facial masks since April 13th for residents and businesses.

Finally, there is an ominous statistic to acknowledge from WHO: “The U.S. recorded on Friday its highest daily death toll as almost 20 states were easing their lockdown restrictions.”

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Disagreements over direction of our residents

Our privileged population in Newport Beach seems to have spawned a group of confident individuals who think that they not only have their own answers about science, government, health, business and city development issues, but they have the answers for all the rest of us, too.

A depressing number of our residents who do not really represent the silent majority, feel no need for protecting the overall health of society. Thus they flock to the beaches at their first opportunity to enjoy the sun, sand and surf. And, most refuse to wear facial masks that would protect their neighbors. 

These residents wrote in when the Council had their three-pronged meeting this last Tuesday. Several wrote about individual rights to enjoy the natural environment. Another large group of articulate locals also wrote lengthy letters, pleading with the Council to not open the beaches because of health concerns. Some chastised them for going against the guidelines of the state. 

Unfortunately, as concerned residents, we fall for that trick every time, don’t we? The Council provides the opportunity for residents to give them input on a key issue; they then conclude their supposedly open discussion with a predictable outcome – the ubiquitous 5 to 2 vote.

But beachgoers are not the only would be experts on running the city in this time of crisis; there were several business people who, shunning any authority of the state, wanted to advise local government on how to reopen the economy. They were offering their leadership and services. Even one of our Council people got involved, waxing on about individual rights. Neither group offered any specific guidelines themselves.

This rebellious spirit in Newport Beach is further evidenced by the Planning Commission and again the City Council, who repeatedly allow exceptions to zoning and development guidelines. Our Council seems to think that it has all the answers to so many questions. They continuously start work on various issues – but it is rare that we see “the fruits of their labor.” Maybe they should just stick to enforcement of the guidelines that have been established for them by past councils and keep their nose out of state and federal business.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Was closing the Balboa Island Bay Front the wrong decision?

Closing the Balboa Island Bay Front [may have] increased the chance of COVID transmission. But the underlying danger may be worse.

The city of Newport Beach has fallen victim to the Big Government Policy of Control for Control’s Sake. One example of this stands out like a sore thumb, and I cannot quietly acquiesce to such dangerous precedents. 

Without examination, closing the Balboa Island Bay Front to pedestrian traffic might have seemed consistent with current COVID guidelines. But consider this: It was one-way traffic, 10’ wide, social distancing was being meticulously adhered to, and the amount of foot traffic was less than typical and less than many other places in the city. 

So they closed the Bay Front for what reason? Unknown, and unanswered, after multiple written attempts to find out. What is the obvious and demonstrable result? Forcing face-to-face pedestrian traffic onto more crowded and narrower sidewalks. Placing pedestrians into alleys and streets in conflict with existing bike and car traffic. Generally, not only [possibly] increasing the chance of COVID transmission, but increasing the chances of traffic accidents to boot.

Maybe it was intellectual error, i.e. a group-think decision that resulted as such decisions usually do. Or maybe there is a more selfish, or even sinister reason. All we know is that the public is now more in danger [in my opinion], than before this decision was made. But one might worry, does this set a future precedent that endangers more than just the health of our citizenry?

Matt Clabaugh

Newport Beach

Open letter to the OC Board of Supervisors

We write today as entrepreneurs, small business owners, restaurateurs and residents of Orange County to express our grave concern for the County’s economic predicament as a result of the “shelter in” and “non-essential” business shutdown orders from the State and County. 

The predicate for the initial “shelter in” and business shutdowns was the need to “flatten the curve” of infections in order to assure that our health care system would not be overwhelmed. However, with each passing day it becomes more evident that the original statistical models driving these drastic measures were flawed and dramatically overstated the risks. 

Hoag Hospital was the first hospital to treat a COVID-19 patient. During an April 15 video update, Dr. Brant-Zawadzki, Senior Physician Executive at Hoag Hospital, explained, “the numbers are now stabilizing and going down [in fact], it’s not that the curve has flattened – we’re on the other side of the curve and heading down.” Dr. Martin Fee, Chief Clinical Officer and Head of Infection Control at Hoag Hospital, also added, “definitely in Orange County it has [flattened].” Orange County’s daily COVID-19 infections peaked on April 1 at 104 and have averaged 57 per day through April 19. This successful slowing of the spread of COVID-19 can be largely attributed to the actions of the State and Orange County Board of Supervisors. We thank the OC Board of Supervisors for its hard work and leadership to protect our community during this crisis. 

But it has become clear that the status quo is not economically or socially sustainable, even in the short term. The stress of economic devastation and curtailed civil liberties could one day soon become untenable. 

State unemployment claims exceed 2.7 million while Orange County claims are in the tens of thousands. As long as we remain in lockdown, these numbers are projected to climb to catastrophic levels. 

It is time for the Orange County Supervisors to lead the County and State in economic recovery.

We understand that the Board of Supervisors is forming a task force to formulate a safe and responsible plan for reopening the Orange County economy and urge the Board to move with the greatest urgency and develop this plan in no more than 10 days. We expect the Board will work with the State where possible, but where necessary we urge you to move faster and more broadly as our County statistics dictate. We understand these decisions are not without health and political risks but believe the business community and the citizens of the County will offer broad and sustained support.

We believe it is possible to protect the health and safety of our communities without bankrupting them as well. If we act now and put together an aggressive plan to restart the OC economy as well as minimize health risks, then businesses can begin the process of contacting vendors, employees, customers and preparing to smoothly transition and reopen. 

We are facing an economic meltdown due to the shutdown. The citizens of Orange County are prepared to continue practicing social distancing and rigorous hygiene protocols. Our residents are smart, industrious and responsible. 

We urge you to act now for the thousands in Orange County and millions across our state who’ve lost their jobs. 

Orange County must get back to work. And the Orange County Supervisors can and must lead the way. You have our unqualified support. 



Questions and concerns still remain with Ensign school construction

I believe that the meeting (NMUSD Board Meeting) should be postponed, as there still have not been illustrations posted at the school of the proposed “banana” parking lot. The NMUSD should have given at least another option, which they never did; [it seems] they felt like we would forget about this and go away. Well, complacency is not who we are as a community in Newport Heights and Cliff Haven.

We realize that there are alternatives that have been suggested by traffic engineers (one example is taking out the chokers along Cliff and shortening the ingress and egress for vehicles).

If the NMUSD proceeds with this project and removes the noble and mature trees, I am afraid this decision will have irreparable damage to the children’s psyche; [to me] this is simply irresponsible and is an example of reckless disregard to the children and to the entire community. 

This is not the time to destroy what gives us’s Earth Day (this week) for God’s Sake!

Thank you,

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

We need to follow the Governor’s six-stage plan

I knew it was only a matter of time before the businessmen (excuse me, two women, thirty-three men) in Orange County joined together to try to push the Board of Supervisors to come up with a plan to reopen Orange County’s economy more quickly than other counties. I notice in their manifesto that they are not suggesting going through the proper channels by communicating with the Governor, because at this point they know, he would turn them down. In fact, in their document, they did not mention the Governor of California one time. 

That is quite an omission, since most Californians, regardless of political party, acknowledge that Governor Newsom is seen as the head of a small group of heroes who were the first to issue “social distancing” and “stay at home” orders. He is the one who saved thousands of lives in California by creating successful measures that were used as guidelines in other states. Most people know at least, to give credit where credit is due.

This group of 35 professionals, as far as I can ascertain, consists of only one concierge doctor from Newport Beach. They are appealing to the Board of Supervisors to be the sole decision makers as to when the County can declare an end to quarantine. They say it will be done very carefully. Seemingly, they are attempting subversion of the six-stage plan developed by Governor Newsom with the help of health care leaders and specialists. (There is no mention of it in their letter.) Newsom has promised to work with local leaders as they follow the process for coming slowly out of quarantine. He will be using the six criteria developed by health leaders and epidemiologists. Not one of these criterion has been met yet by Orange County.

One of the rationale this group uses is that the pandemic did not turn out as badly as predicted. Ironically, that is only because of Governor Newsom’s leadership and quick action, which saved thousands of lives in California and elsewhere. 

So we are supposed to turn our fate over to a gaggle of businessmen who have no background in epidemiology and whose experience in handling epidemics is zero and turn our back on the Governor who has saved thousands of lives by his skilled leadership? We are just supposed to trust these men and the County Supervisors to step in and take over without our or the Governor’s blessing? 

Yes, our economy has suffered drastically, but I would be willing to bet that this group, along with most leaders and businesspeople in Orange County are at the very least, millionaires. As millionaires, we should not be the ones making decisions that will affect our county’s health or wealth for that matter, unless we are doctors, health care workers, or scientists working in conjunction with skilled leadership both from the State and the County. Having lots of money does not qualify us. We can bring the economy back but not the friends and family members we could lose by trying to end quarantine too early. Life-death decisions at this point should not be made solely by politicians.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Please, please consider the City’s alternative plan for Ensign

Letter to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District Board of Trustees

We have recently found out that all of you were presented with an alternative project by the City of Newport Beach; however, [it seems] you blatantly lied to the community and stated that you never had seen any other plan, when your staff met with Newport Beach city staff all along.

The NMUSD also was not forthcoming with the project, ONLY presenting a graphic of the project in front of the school that DOES NOT include the proposed “Banana” parking lot.

I am providing all of you with the proof and the alternative illustration with the changes saving the 50-year-old trees along Cliff Drive that was presented to NMUSD by the City of Newport Beach to NMUSD.

[I believe] You also were not truthful with not allowing any community outreach meeting and the survey that was sent out [in my opinion] was devious and deceptive.

The idea of destroying these trees is equivalent to killing 23-27 live beings; that is the realistic image that the children are experiencing. 

At your last meeting, (you) gloated about having crisis counselors on site when the children were killed in the helicopter; let’s not bring out any more crisis counselors at this time during COVID-19. The children are all out playing with their families in the neighborhood and they will be devastated if you remove these trees. The City of Newport Beach has provided to you a SAFE alternative plan for Ensign.

If you do not listen to the residents’ pleas, you will be hearing the children’s cries. Stop and change this course of the project – utilize the City’s plan on Tuesday, April 28.

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Let’s rely on medical science and not on politics

Our Newport mayor, Will O’Neill, tends to put forth his city leadership on Twitter. So, if you want to know what he is thinking, follow his tweets. His latest is: “Enforcement of these prohibitions is not in the public’s interest. These orders are an abuse of power that infringe on basic civil liberties and defy common sense while putting the health of the public and enforcement officers at risk.” (

I believe he is referring to the COVID-19 rules in place such as wearing masks and closing beaches and places where people unsafely gather until it is again safe to gather. 

This sounds to me like a political statement instead of one backed by medical science and we need leadership in Newport to follow medical science on this and help us all get tested so we feel and hopefully are safe again. It is a public safety issue not a political philosophy issue. 

Linda Watkins

Newport Beach

Where are the mask requirements for Newport Beach?

This last week both Costa Mesa and Laguna Beach, our neighboring cities, began their mandate on the wearing of facial masks in public. That means that there will be an influx of “mask-less” people into Newport Beach where the wearing of masks in public is not required. How Newport Beach can justify their refusal to require masks is beyond me. Perhaps the city government could explain their reasoning to the 89 Newport Beach residents who have contracted the disease. Or to the general public, which must be wondering why.

As I told our Mayor and City Manager, there is nothing in the Constitution about the right to NOT wear masks but in the Declaration of Independence, it does entitle us to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” And, I think we all would be a lot happier if we didn’t have to worry about contracting the coronavirus in public because someone in our proximity refused to wear a mask.

I certainly don’t expect our venerated Newport Beach Police to issue tickets or even approach a “non-mask” wearer. They are trained to deal with the public and can issue polite reminders to businesses and the public without issuing citations. It would also be helpful if businesses posted signs to remind the public to wear masks and stand six feet from their closest neighbor. The Newport Beach public is, for the most part, compliant and will need only gentle reminders.

This weekend several people sent emails to Mr. (Will) O’Neill and Ms. (Grace) Leung to urge them to follow the paths of neighboring cities by using every means possible to protect their citizens. We are not yet “flattening out” or on a downward arc. In fact, America has lost more citizens, 42,000 to the coronavirus, than any other country and last week was a record week for the number of overall deaths in our country. 

We are nowhere near the end of this crisis. If someone asked me to sing “America the Beautiful” in public to help save lives, I would do it. But better yet, let’s stand out on our doorstep every night at 8 p.m. to “clap and cheer for all the healthcare and essential workers” as Tom Johnson suggests in Stu News.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Dixon calls on governor to suspend AB5

Like many of you, I have been working from home on both my campaign and Newport Beach City Council responsibilities. When the stay-at-home restrictions have finally ended, the provisions of Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) will still be in place, making it more difficult for millions of independent contractors to get back to work. 

Therefore, last week I sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom asking him to suspend AB5 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on independent workers in California. This bill, which Newsom signed into law last year, restricts employers’ ability to hire independent contractors. This includes thousands of hospital workers all across the state.

Governor Newsom alone holds the authority to waive such regulatory statutes. That is why I am calling upon him now to do the right thing and suspend AB5. California’s economy does not need to endure more strain and pressure beyond the current health crisis.

I would like to take this opportunity to share my letter to the Governor with you.

Dear Governor Gavin Newsom, 

As you well know, the State Emergency created by the COVID-19 virus has not only created a medical crisis, it has and will continue to have long lasting economic impacts beyond the medical crisis. As a member of the Newport Beach City Council, I appreciate your efforts in handling this crisis. 

Given this crisis, I’m asking you to take swift action to reverse statutory legislation that you signed last year that restricts employers’ ability to hire independent contractors also known as Assembly Bill 5 (AB5). 

Even the best projections by medical experts illustrate California has yet to experience the peak of the COVID-19 virus impact. Soon our hospitals and economy will be feeling the immense pressure of this virus. Thus, we must act immediately, as the virus spreads the effect on California worsens. 

Before AB5, thousands of hospital workers, including emergency room physicians, were classified as independent contractors. These hospital workers are needed more than ever, and government should not stand in the way of allowing hospitals and hospital workers to engage in a mutually beneficial financial arrangement to bring these desperately needed workers to aid fellow Californians. 

Further, AB5’s impact isn’t only to the medical industry, there are thousands of other California industries and jobs that have been affected. We must do everything we can to bring relief to these workers by freeing them to work to lessen the economic impact to California. 

I believe you alone under the California Emergency Services Act are empowered to suspend any regulatory statute where you determine that compliance with the order would hinder or delay the mitigation of the emergency. 

I’m asking you to review and act using these authoritative powers granted to you by the voters of California to suspend AB5 immediately to help California’s workers and the economy.

Best Regards, 

Diane Dixon 

Candidate, 74th Assembly District

Newport Beach

This reader believes there’s more to the story than what’s being reported

This COVID-19 thing has me losing faith in our leaders to protect and defend the constitution. Part of that loss of faith has to do in large part to reporting by news agencies, sadly to report, yours included.

Key preliminary findings from review of the first 17 deaths due to COVID-19 include:

–10 patients (59 percent) male, 7 patients (41 percent) female.

–Age range 31-93 with average age of 67.

Complete data on comorbidities is available for 15 of the 17: All 15 with complete data had medical comorbidities (e.g. DM, CVD, CKD, HTN, immunosuppression, obesity, others).

–2 patients (both in the age group of 75+) did not have any identified medical comorbidities but lacked data on BMI.

–10 of the15 with known comorbidities had two or more conditions identified.


–Average age of hospitalized cases is 59, and average age of deaths is 67.

–Male predominance in both hospitalized cases and deaths.

–Presence of comorbidities, especially multiple comorbidities, is high in both hospitalized cases and in deaths.

The highlighted (italicized) data is significantly more valuable to the residents of Newport (and the county) and having an understanding of COVID-19 than the “score” per city.

Part of keeping the county safe, and responsible reporting, involves keeping the residents informed, which I think you’re doing a great job at. I also think that a broader scope of the data, since you have access to it, is critical in sharing. As a citizen, I’m witnessing what I will call “unhealthy” behavior when it comes to social distancing (which should be reclassified as physical distancing). That is today, the mental health of our citizens is in jeopardy due to the amount of fear, uncertainty and misunderstanding surrounding COVID-19 and its associated risks to mortality. Not to mention our constitutional rights being forfeited. Reporting by all media should show all the data, not just what is fantastic, scary, impressive, etc. 

Here are some stats that you should share: Two-thirds of the deaths as of this data being published were people who had more than two indicated comorbidity factors. 100 percent of those with complete data had a comorbidity factor. (My editorial 2 cents on the two who didn’t have complete reports? If I were a gambling man, I’d say that their BMI was >40). This is important information that is not being disseminated in any thoughtful way by any media source that I can find.

I just think if people had a general understanding of who is dying as a result of COVID-19, it might have a more positive impact on how we deal with it moving forward. Remember, we are flattening the curve with social distancing, not eliminating it. Everyone under that curve is always susceptible to infection unless a vaccination is found. We are prolonging the inevitable with a hope to not stress our healthcare system, which at the moment in Newport and the rest of the county is actually suffering budget shortfalls from under-utilization.

Thank you for all you do to keep our county informed and I hope that you will take my recommendations to heart and share them with the community along with the other data provided.

David Clarke

Costa Mesa

Masks just make people safer

Yesterday when I was in a part of Newport that has some small active shops, I was surprised to see that many people congregating there were not wearing masks. Although it has not been mandated by the Governor, it has been highly suggested that in order to drive the number of COVID-19 cases in a downward trend, that everyone should wear masks. My observation was that younger people were less likely to wear them. However, most people 40 and older were wearing them.

Masks are not very comfortable, and I can understand the reticence to wear them. However, if it means saving lives and moving us closer to “normalcy,” it is not a big sacrifice. There is quite a bit of literature that suggests that masks are worn to protect other people. Not wearing them in public when you come into contact with other people is thus seen as a selfish gesture. Most people are probably not motivated by selfishness, they just need to be educated about how wearing masks in public can protect other people and most likely themselves.

I am not even sure that they have encouraged them, but I stand to be corrected and look forward to their acknowledgement of this important issue.

Mayor Garcetti has made masks mandatory in Los Angeles. I hope that we will follow suit to help lower our relatively high number of coronavirus cases in Newport Beach. It is better to overreact in situations like this than to underreact, if it means that lives can be saved.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Hearing on 215 Riverside Project should be delayed until City Hall “re-opens”

Working together, let’s imagine the possibilities of building a community coastal city for people to enjoy now and in the future.

Stewardship: Together all of us are expected to be good stewards, caretakers, or custodians of our neighborhoods and the greater Newport Beach community. Community involvement and citizen input is a prerequisite for the City of Newport to fulfill its primary responsibility of stewardship.

The City of Newport Beach has essentially shut down the City due to COVID-19, until at least May 3, 2020.

Recently, the City of Newport Beach has decided to hear the appeal from the developers of the 215 Riverside Project this Tuesday (today), April 14, 2020. This development project consists of a rooftop restaurant and an open parking structure that would abut up to the community of Newport Heights. There is no urgency with regard to this project. The residents need to be able to understand this project and its cumulative impacts to the community.

Community Concern: This parking structure is right in the heart of Newport Heights, where 4,300 children attend three different schools in the Heights and more than 1,500 Junior Lifeguards travel to and from the beach on this route on Riverside Drive and Avon Ave. The dangers of the ingress and egress of bicyclists, pedestrians and children commuting to and from Newport Heights has not been studied nor made available to the public.

According to the City’s Mariner’s Mile Strategic Vision Plan, a parking structure should not be allowed to abut against nor be in a residential neighborhood.

The resident caretakers and custodians of the surrounding neighborhoods (1) cannot physically attend this meeting due to the COVID-19 pandemic; (2) will only be allowed to live stream the meeting and (3) will only be able to express their concerns and comments telephonically and not provide supporting evidence.

Due to the magnitude of this project a