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Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Should Newport Beach City Council support the successful acquisition of Banning Ranch?

This week the Costa Mesa City Council passed a resolution to endorse the purchase of Banning Ranch to remain as open space. They cite 17 solid reasons that Costa Mesa should support the acquisition of Banning Ranch for open space. Among the reasons for their resolution, which can be found here (Text of Resolution), they reference the need to provide open park space for residents of their city and neighboring cities, the importance of maintaining the largest undeveloped private piece of land on the California coast between Ventura and the Mexico border, and the need to protect federal and state listed species and rare plants and animals. They further recognize that by restoring and reintroducing tidal flow to the degraded salt marshes within Banning Ranch this would address and mitigate anticipated sea-level rise along the coast. 

The Trust for Public Lands (TPL) has worked tirelessly for four years to negotiate the purchase of Banning Ranch with the property owner and to raise funds for the purchase. Environmental groups such as Still Protecting Our Newport (SPON) and Orange Coast River Park have supported the Banning Ranch Conservancy’s decades long efforts to save Banning Ranch from development of its wetlands, coastal bluffs and coastal open space for the enjoyment of the residents of Orange County and throughout California.   

TPL has raised $83 million toward the purchase price of $97 million. The momentum for this was initiated by a $50 million gift from Newport Beach residents Frank and Joann Randall. 

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris was able to secure an additional $8 million from the state.

TPL and the Banning Ranch Conservancy are so close that it appears to be possible that this goal could be achieved by the deadline of June 2022. TPL has applied for grants that would cover a large portion of the $14 million delta. The approval of those grants will hopefully be revealed in the coming months. 

Costa Mesa is the first city in Orange County to approve a resolution supporting Banning Ranch which would help secure the additional grants needed to complete the purchase.   

My question is, why hasn’t Newport Beach done the same? 

Banning Ranch is within our “Sphere of Influence”; our General Plan Vision Statement affirms that “We preserve our open space resources. We maintain access to and visibility of our beaches, parks, preserves, harbor and estuaries.”

All Newport Beach residents would benefit from an open space park for recreation and relaxation. 

Shouldn’t we encourage our City Council to be the second city in Orange County to pass a Resolution in support of the acquisition and preservation of Banning Ranch as open space for the enjoyment of our residents and all of Orange County?   

We really owe this to the next generation; our children and grandchildren deserve to have open recreational space. And what a great way to support our coastal residents! 

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

There’s no Joy in boys town

There was a letter in this morning’s paper that so inspired me that, with “a little help from my friends,” to quote a Beatles’ song, I want to put an assortment of thoughts on the table regarding mayors and city government in Newport Beach. 

First of all, the author of the letter, Lenard Davis, told the story of how the first woman to be elected mayor in Orange County came about in 1954, in Newport Beach before Newport Beach was a charter city. And guess what? She was elected mayor on “a platform to get rid of the corruption in City Hall.” 

Do you see where this is going?

Lenard Davis was, in turn, responding to a letter written by Janet Clarke who was “bemoaning the ol’ boys’ network” which passed over Joy Brenner recently for both mayor and mayor pro tempore. We know that many residents thought that the choice was extremely unfair and that the talents of Joy are far superior to the newly elected mayor pro-tempore, not to mention her greater experience in office.

Well, those who support Joy, who are many, and those who are opposed to electing a mayor, who are many as well, may be able to turn a loss into a gain (if necessary) by talking Joy into running for mayor. Hopefully, the idea of electing a mayor will not come to fruition and that Joy will get her rightful opportunity to serve as mayor and mayor pro tempore when she gets re-elected to Council.

Many of us believe that Joy was not selected for the two positions of leadership because of her failure “to play ball.” Most of the good ol’ boys, however, will be termed out by then and we hope that voters elect councilmembers who serve the community rather than themselves.

Getting back to electing a mayor, there are so many reasons not to and they have been well expressed. The most obvious reason is that as far as anyone knows, despite Will O’Neill seemingly expressing at one time or another that his proposal was “carefully vetted,” no one seems to know the particulars. So, at this point, unless told otherwise, we can only assume that Will is the author. Shouldn’t that be something that we need to know for certain before voting on the proposal to elect a mayor?

The measure that has been placed on the June ballot by the Council in a 4-3 vote is exactly what Will posted on Stu News on September 3rd. This measure is a major change to the Charter, amending eight different sections, deleting roughly 123 existing words and adding roughly 647 new ones! You could compare those major changes to the mere four words in just one section that could change the city to “district” voting but that would have meant that the elected mayor would have to share too much power with the Council.

Pretty presumptuous isn’t it for a man who “rode into town” just a little over eight years ago!

For further information about the charter proposal to elect a mayor, you can refer to

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

John (Jeb) Brown, M.D.

Chair of the Robotics Committee


Hoag performs 20,000th robotic-assisted surgery

Hospital among only 10 nationally to reach this milestone, improving patient outcomes, reducing pain, easing recoveries, and lowering health-care costs along the way.

Robotic-assisted surgery first became available in the late 1990s, with a handful of specially trained surgeons venturing into a futuristic field that held significant promise for patient care.

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian recently crossed the threshold of our 20,000th robotic-assisted surgery. Only 10 other medical centers in the United States have reached this milestone. Today, Hoag performs the highest volume of robotic surgical procedures of any hospital in California and is 18th in volume nationally. Hoag ranks 15th in the country in the volume of gynecologic and gynecologic oncology procedures, and was also the first hospital in California to be designated a Center of Excellence in Robotic Surgery by the Surgical Review Corporation.

Guest Letter Hoag Robotics

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Hoag Hospital

 Hoag Robotics Support Staff

We have been able to achieve this milestone due to the vision shared by Hoag’s executive leadership and surgeons. We performed the first gynecologic robotic surgery in August 2006 and our President and CEO Robert T. Braithwaite made it clear at that time that he shared our desire to use robotic surgery to improve the care of our patients. Hoag’s administration subsequently dedicated the resources for us to build a world-class program.

The data shows that, in many procedures, minimally invasive surgery is better for patients than open surgery. It is associated with less pain, decreased blood loss and fewer complications. Robotic-assisted surgery has extended the boundaries of minimally invasive surgery, allowing us to offer these procedures to patients who previously had no option except to undergo open surgery.

Hysterectomy is a good example of a procedure that has been improved significantly by robotic surgery. In the past, the traditional open surgery patient was in the hospital for three to four days and recovery took six to eight weeks. Today, approximately 80% of patients undergoing a robotic hysterectomy at Hoag go home the same day. Some only take over-the-counter medications for pain relief and many return to near-normal activity in three to four weeks. This has profoundly transformed the care of our patients.

Hoag’s robotic-assisted surgery program would not be where it is today without the support and dedication of the almost 70 nurses and surgical technicians who staff our operating room. We have grown from five surgeons in three specialties to 47 surgeons in 12 specialties:


–Gynecologic Oncology



–Urologic Oncology

–Cardiovascular Surgery

–Thoracic Surgery

–Colorectal Surgery

–Head & Neck Surgery

–Bariatric Surgery

–Hepato-pancreato-biliary (HPB) Surgery

–General Surgery

Hoag’s commitment to the robotic surgery program has allowed us to join an elite group of institutions in the country. Beyond reaching the 20,000-procedure milestone, the recent delivery of the da Vinci® SP Robot to our Newport Beach campus represents the ninth robot at our Newport Beach and Irvine campuses. However, it’s the tremendous health care benefits our robotic surgery program brings to our patients that gives us the greatest pride.

Letters to the Editor

Assemblywoman applauds Hoag-Providence separation

Earlier this week, the announcement was made that Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian and Providence Health were ending their long affiliation. Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris published the following statement on her social media sites.

Today is a great day for reproductive freedom! I want to make sure that you saw the news that Hoag Hospital has reached an agreement to end its 10-year affiliation with Providence Health. 

The separation of Hoag from Providence frees Hoag patients from religious restrictions on healthcare and expands access to vital reproductive healthcare services. I have been a staunch advocate for this separation and I will continue fighting to protect reproductive healthcare, here in Orange County and all across California. 

In May 2020, Hoag took legal action to dissolve its relationship with the Providence St. Joseph Health system. For years, community advocates like you raised the alarm that the affiliation between Hoag Memorial Presbyterian and Providence St. Joseph’s Health System imposed religious restrictions on healthcare, including women’s reproductive healthcare, LGBTQ care and end-of-life care. Vital services, including abortion care, miscarriage management, tubal ligation and contraception have been denied to Hoag patients, in direct violation of two Consent Decrees the parties signed in 2013 and 2014. Hoag doctors have detailed numerous instances in which they said Providence applied the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care to Hoag limiting care.

Over the past year, I have worked with Hoag’s doctors and leadership to resolve this issue, as well as former Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Rob Bonta, to ensure they thoroughly investigated this matter and pushed for an expedited hearing to dissolve the affiliation. 

As part of the settlement agreement, the Attorney General’s Office noted Hoag will expand its reproductive and women’s healthcare offerings, including creation of a program focusing on family planning, contraception and management of high-risk pregnancies and pregnancy termination in Hoag hospital-owned facilities. 

This is a big victory – and it would not have been possible without your engagement and advocacy. With reproductive freedom under assault across the country and here in our own backyard, (yesterday’s) announcement is a powerful testament to your advocacy and hard work. 

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or my team if you have any questions or are in need of assistance with state-related issues.

Yours faithfully, 

Cottie Petrie-Norris

Assemblywoman, District 74

This Council is not listening to their constituents and that’s wrong

It is evident that some members on City Council require a basic lesson on how Represented Democracy is supposed to function. Some Councilmembers have a misguided idea of their role on the elected Council. Councilmembers are elected to formulate policy and to carry out the will of the citizens, and to listen to residents’ concerns. Their votes and actions should not be based on their own self-importance! Why does the City Council ignore residents’ concerns? Many times, Council’s actions consider public comment as an annoyance. They are not interested in what active citizens have to say. Why?

A prime example of the pompous working by Council (Will O’Neill) was the appointment of Noah Blom, as Mayor Pro Tem. There was a complete disregard and disrespect of the electorate that spoke to the Council on this subject. It was blatantly obvious that the deed was a fait accompli! This is democracy at its low point. 

The picture now becomes vividly clear as to the type of “game” that Will O’Neill is attempting to foist on the citizens of Newport Beach. His game plan of taking control requires a stable of minions, such as Blom, to do his bidding. Perhaps changing the approved/suggested council districts are next? This is not how democracy is to function and has no place in Newport Beach. 

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

Letters to the Editor

In honor of my friend “Al” who also had questions about “Elect our Mayor”

My friend of over forty (40) years passed away shortly after Christmas. I will call my friend “Al”. Al was elderly. Ill health for several years. Smart guy – one of the smartest I’ve known. Longtime Newport resident. We talked about all things Newport. Mostly by phone as Al’s health declined.

Several of our discussions involved the upcoming June 7 primary in which the direct election of the Newport Beach Mayor will be on the ballot.

At first, Al and I agreed that “Elect Our Mayor” had a nice ring – yes, democracy in action.

But as our discussions continued this fall and as we studied the issues, chinks in the armor of the catchphrase “Elect Our Mayor” began to appear. 

Al asked:

–A desire to obtain/retain power? Power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely?

–Why was the signature gathering effort terminated, i.e., a conventional democratic means of gauging electorate interest and publicly looking at the pluses and minuses?

–What problem are we trying to solve, i.e., if it ain’t broke, …? 

–It’s great for the Mayor’s “District,” but maybe not-so-great for the other Districts.

Isn’t it possible that after serving eight (8) years as a councilmember, the successful mayor candidate may be able to add on another eight (8) years as mayor for a total of sixteen (16) years on the council?

–Have we in the past provided one person with the right in that person’s “sole discretion” to (i) set City Council agendas and (ii) change the order of business on the agendas?

–Will the other Council folks be able to continue to add value or will the consolidation of authority result in less effective leadership for our other Districts?

–Is a “strong mayor” model best for our City where it is possible that he/she may lack appropriate training, education, and experience in municipal administration and finance? Is it possible that this model may tend to result in ill-advised decisions on hiring/firing of key positions? Will we be able to attract/retain accomplished municipal executives under this model?

–Is it an improvement to have one person’s judgment in place of the collective wisdom of seven?

Perhaps with additional study/research and changes to the text of this measure, some of the ideas expressed may be worthwhile.

But as we turn the page to the chapter entitled “2022,” my late friend, Al, has raised a number of legitimate questions about the “Elect Our Mayor” campaign. I am inclined to agree with Al that the City Charter on this issue has served us well for nearly seventy (70) years. The changes as presently proposed are not needed. I urge a “NO” vote on June 7.

Paul K. Watkins

Newport Beach

It seems as though Council doesn’t hear or care what residents think

Amy Senk’s observation about the manner in which the City Council seems to ignore residents’ concerns strikes a familiar note with me. In Council meetings it often appears as if there is a magic screen between the Council and the audience preventing the Council from hearing what is being said by the speakers in the crowd. 

An interactive atmosphere at meetings where there is an exchange of ideas between the audience and the Councilmembers would be much more conducive to a setting in which residents feel like their opinions are valued or at least acknowledged.

In the same vein, an acknowledgement of correspondence from residents would be appreciated. I have frequently sent emails to Councilmembers and at least half of the members have never acknowledged one of my emails. Perhaps it would be helpful if the Council were reminded of their job description as some seem to have lost sight of just what that is. By the same token, I appreciate those who do answer mail even if I don’t always like their answers. 

The issue of whether members serve the city at large first or the residents from their district, seems to be confusing to some. Representation, in reality, should be a balance between what the councilmember’s district wants, what the residents of the city at large want and what the councilmember thinks is best for the city. At no time should the desires of outside entities take precedence over the desires of the city’s stakeholders. 

When the Council makes a decision, such as the appointment of Noah Blom as Mayor Pro Tem, which ignores the wishes of both the residents of the district
as well as the city at large, it is a breach of trust with the community. And as one recent writer to Stu News acknowledged, the honorable thing to do would have been for Mr. Blom to refuse to take the appointment.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Blom had a chance 

Noah Blom has a lot more time left on the city council and Joy Brenner has served with distinction for several years. It’s a shame that Noah Blom could not bring himself to do the honorable and gentlemanly thing, and the right thing, by backing Joy Brenner for Mayor Pro Tem. 

Barbara Peckenpaugh 

Newport Beach

There’s lots of discussion going on in and around the City…What does it all mean?

Fall has been an eventful and stressful period for City Council and the residents of Newport Beach. First came the vote on the charter amendment to Elect the Mayor and, secondly, the decision over the selection of the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. Both events elicited a considerable number of opinions expressed in the local news sources and on the City’s Public Portal.

The City Council’s two votes were a mirror reflection of each other, both ending in a tally of 4-3. For the selection of leaders there is no “redo,” while the election of the mayoral issue will be decided by the votes of the residents in 2022.

Regarding the expression of opinion on these two issues, I learned something interesting which may not be new to those who are active in city government. In previous years when I attended council meetings the letters of the residents were often printed in a packet that one could pick up at the entrance to the evening meeting. Not so now. 

When I talked to the City Clerk about the printing of my letter, she said that because of the vast number of opinion letters, the letters were printed only on the Public Portal the day of the meeting and were accessible to the public as well as the Council.

My first wish was that the Council would read those letters carefully, because I learned a lot when I perused those of the October 26th meeting. The first surprising thing that I learned was that you don’t have to live in the city to express your written opinion on the Portal, nor do you have to be to speak at City Council meetings. I thought back to those Council meetings where I saw myriad people line up to express opinions. I wonder now how many did not live in Newport Beach.

The same is true of the Portal. Councilmember Diane Dixon came to the same conclusion as I after scanning those letters when she stated at the beginning of her prepared speech at the October 26th meeting, that the letters written in favor of the election of the mayor consisted of formulaic letters written over and over, while the letters in opposition were written, for the most part, with thoughtful ideas which contained deep knowledge of the subject matter. (Her speech is available on YouTube.)

I found upon reading the support letters that many did follow formulaic structures. There were about 3 or 4 letter formats which were repeated over and over, sometimes as many as 25 times. There were also at least 25 copies of a preprinted petition and a final batch of letters with gargantuan type designed perhaps to take up space.

Many of the letters from both sides were very short; there were some long
detailed and thoughtful letters however, written in opposition to electing the mayor.
    In conclusion, I would say that the letters and speeches showed that this topic is very much on people’s minds. But when it comes to voting, only the residents’ opinions will count.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Who really won? 

As far as I am concerned Joy is my mayor. She sets the best example of what it is to be a leader. These men, Duffy, Muldoon, O’Neil and Blom can never do what she does and will never have the respect she has. They can steal the title and manipulate the system but they can’t earn our respect. They do not deserve it.

Jennifer Irani

Newport Beach

Brenner’s omission lends to hints of inequities and gender bias

I was one of many residents who either attended or watched the December 14 City Council meeting. That evening, many NB residents made public comments highly supportive of the election of Joy Brenner – as well as the spoken endorsements of both members Dixon and Mayor Avery. NB social media sites were also highly active in their support of Joy. It was also acknowledged that evening that CdM has not had Mayor/Mayor Pro Tem representation since 2012.

As a fairly new resident of Newport Beach (District 5), I have become interested in observing and supporting the success of our city. But it was difficult to watch when member Duffield nominated Blom with the remaining male majority falling quickly in line.

What many residents are still reacting to is the inequity and gender bias of that election. Ms. Brenner has been an active, committed and highly involved NB citizen – but who has not been voted in as Mayor or Mayor Pro Tem during her elected term. Mr. Blom, a freshman Council member, has managed to bring bad press to NB with drinking from the dais – as well as other reported personal issues and having little civic involvement.

Council members, Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem are paid City employees who I assume must comply with both Appendix A (City of Newport Beach Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy) and CA Fair Employment and Housing Act. I am unaware of any City Charter provision which addresses selection criteria when council votes for leadership. 

So, what we ended up with that evening is gender bias, discrimination and ignorance of experience worthy of a promotion vote. As a female who worked in our Orange County business community for decades, I was both disturbed and offended. That type of behavior would not be tolerated in any of our respective businesses. Assuming that you all invite residents to become involved in our City, that vote is being seen by many as a political misstep.

Kathe Morgan

Villa Point

Letters to the Editor

My thoughts on Noah Blom being elected to Mayor Pro Tem

I recently witnessed Noah Blom in action at the city council meeting for the remodel of the gas station/mini mart vote.

Two or three times he chose to lecture the residents in attendance on what was best for the city and this project. 

It is my understanding this time is for the residents of the city to express their concerns and thoughts to the council on items that are going on in our city, up for vote or coming up for vote. 

I thought he was arrogant and condescending to the attending residents in the council chambers. 

As far as drinking at the council meeting. Noah Blom was voted to the city council to represent his constituents. It is a privilege to be voted in as a city councilmember. Noah Blom’s job is to represent the community, to engage with the community, encourage community participation and protect our city. 

This is a critical job for the future of Newport Beach. I do not know any responsible employer that allows their employees to drink on the job. Even if it’s not illegal, judges, doctors and a lot of other professional occupations, including councilmembers, should not drink on the job. In this case, it shows how little Noah Blom respects or cares about the residents and their issues that need to be addressed.

This is unacceptable!

Please do not elect Noah Blom as Mayor Pro Tem!!!

Anonymity requested

Corona del Mar

Letters to the Editor

Ballot initiative to restore local control

SB9 was passed and signed into law in October. It allows any single-family lot to be subdivided into two lots and then allows a duplex to be built on each of the lots. SB10 was also signed into law in October. With the approval of a future  City Council, SB10 would allow any single-family lot to have a 10-unit apartment built on it. None of these housing units are required, or likely to be, affordable. There are no provisions for infrastructure (water, sewers, streets or public services like police and fire). There are no public hearings and the City is required to approve plans with very few restrictions. You can use your imagination to think what Newport Beach will look like in 5 years....

There is a ballot initiative that would reverse these recent State mandated housing laws like SB9 and SB10 (and several other State housing laws) that threaten our single-family neighborhoods. This initiative would restore the City’s control over our local Land Use and Zoning! The City Council voted to support this initiative at their November 30th Council meeting. 

You can read the text of the initiative here:

This initiative will amend the California Constitution and reverse SB9 and SB10. If enough signatures are gathered, it will appear on the November 2022 ballot as the “Tripartisan Land Use Initiative” (The State Attorney General has the responsibility of assigning the name, so the fact that it is vague was not by the author’s choice.).

Within the State of California, we need to gather 1 million signatures in the next 150 days. Any registered voter in California can sign the petition. There is an active group of concerned citizens who are organizing groups of resident signature gatherers to circulate the petitions. We are looking for volunteers to talk to their neighbors and walk in their neighborhoods to provide information and petitions to their neighbors. If you are interested in helping with this effort, you can sign up at:

You can also email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I will make sure that you get petitions, information on SB9 and other state mandates and instructions on how to gather the signatures.   

If we can get enough signatures from friends and neighbors, we can make a significant contribution to getting this on the November 2022 ballot!   

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach

Joy Brenner for Mayor Pro Tem

Let me start by saying that I have confidence that Council knows what is best for the city and each individual Council member will do what they feel is in the best interests of the city. They are the most informed in the city and this important decision belongs with their capable leadership.

About two years ago, I became interested in city government after learning that a local issue was best resolved by the City Council. It started with inquiring whether anything could be done with massive amounts of local construction on Newport Island. The noise, traffic congestion and parking problems were becoming unbearable. I soon learned that was unsolvable but also learned that the growth in Short Term Rentals was exasperating the problem. I knew that, left unchecked, the Island would no longer be the safe, quiet, and peaceful community it once was. Construction issues would come and go, but STR problems would increase.

After reaching out to city staff, I contacted Diane Dixon who is the Council member for Newport Island and Mayor at that time. She helped to direct me to what would be needed to facilitate change. That expanded to addressing the City Council as well as the Planning Commission and city staff. 

What I soon learned was that city staff is capable, sympathetic and helpful. Knowing that working with City Council was imperative, I increased my participation by attending City Council meetings and communicating with City Council members. We received solid support from our district representative, Diane Dixon. We would not have received the needed relief without Mayor Avery, Council members Dixon, ‘Duffy’ Duffield and Joy Brenner, all of whom supported the concerns of the residents. Although she was not our district representative, Council member Brenner went the extra mile to inform, educate and support Newport Island residents’ efforts to address our growing STR issues.

Sure, I was a bit naïve. Naturally, I perceived the function of the Council was to represent the best interests of most residents in the city. No government touches residents quicker and closer than city government. As I observed that city government also represented city business concerns, I understood a balance was needed but I still believed that representing residents should be the primary function of city government.

The actions of Joy Brenner have resonated with me that she shares the same beliefs regarding protecting the rights of citizens. Perhaps more importantly, after observing her service for the city, she truly has the best interests of the city in her vision. She listens to all sides, is respectful to everyone, has an open mind, asks pointed questions, does her homework and casts her votes as an independent. In the years of watching the Council in action, I know of no controversy surrounding her, and her character and integrity are without reproach. 

I have learned about the rotating process of electing the Mayor and how Mayor Pro Tem typically is next in line. It is a good process, especially if time served on the council is taken into consideration. It seems to me that a certain skill set is needed and much of that skill set is ‘on the job’ training. 

I do think the Mayor Brad Avery has done a great job and personally I would give him another year, but I understand the process. I strongly advocate for Joy Brenner to serve as Mayor Pro Tem. She checks all the boxes and a vote for her is in the best interests of the residents in Newport Beach. It is also the right thing to do.

Gary Cruz

Newport Beach

For a lot of reasons, now is not Noah’s time

I am not alone in saying that I am absolutely disgusted by Noah’s behavior and his arrogant, flippant attitude. Would someone mind explaining what “results” Noah has ushered through at council?

He offers no new insights other than to back whatever vote Mr. O’Neill puts forth. He has stated he is not a politician and knows nothing about how our city works.

He can’t do anything for the people on Balboa Island because he has too many conflicts of interests to do them any good, so please explain the “results” Noah has accomplished.

Noah is a renter and not a stakeholder, so therefore he pays NO taxes to our City.

Noah took paycheck protection money that got forgiven. Wasn’t his restaurant open the entire time?

How do ANY of you justify not making Joy Brenner, the senior councilwoman, Mayor Pro Tem next week? Is it because she’s a woman? Shame on you!

Noah will have his turn; it just shouldn’t be now.

If Blom has any integrity being that he’s “cut from another cloth,” he will hand off the Mayor Pro Tem to Joy Brenner. 

I won’t hold my breath!

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

The question is, who makes the “grade” for the City’s top positions?

Although nothing quite surprises me when it comes to the actions of our City Council, I must say that the latest information that I have learned probably heads the list of inappropriate behavior and backroom politics with no consideration for their effect on the reputation and well-being of the city. I hesitate to use the term “inappropriate behavior” because it pegs me as the schoolteacher that I was and it most likely colors my perception. 

Joy Brenner is articulate, extremely professional, and popular in the community. She deserves an A and an O. 

These attributes seem not to merit the appreciation of a competitive group of members who put their own political future ahead of the well-being of our community. Anything other than her selection as Mayor or Mayor Pro Tem is a poor choice because every other member of council has had his/her turn, some several turns. 

Only jealousy of Joy’s excellent standing in the community would motivate one not to champion her selection.

(I believe that there are among the council those who know what is fair to Joy and right for our city, and I hope that they will speak up.)

Secondly, the suggestion that Councilman Blom be considered as Mayor Pro Tem is not only most unfair to Joy Brenner but more importantly, to the city of Newport Beach. He is at the beginning of his first term as Councilman. 

I opposed his candidacy as I had done research on his professional credentials. Before the COVID vaccination was available, Noah Blum’s reputation for flouting safe COVID protocol in his restaurants merited him an F grade by a well-known food critic in an Orange County newspaper…A for food, F for community ethics

Next, Noah replaced an extremely articulate, professional councilmember
whose knowledge and leadership skills on Council are sorely missed by those of us who want to look up to Councilmembers, not down on political jealousies, maneuvering and unprofessional behavior. 

Having heard others whom, I trust speak of Noah’s unprofessional behavior and trying to personally follow the logic of his public speeches and political stances on personal freedom, I can only question the motives of those councilmembers who champion his selection.

I hope that our council will do the right thing: Vote for Joy as Mayor or at the very least, Mayor Pro Tem.

Lynn Lorenz 

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Today is Pearl Harbor Day

Early on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese fighter pilots attacked U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t just the beginning of World War II for America, it was, as President Roosevelt solemnly told Congress the next day, “a date which will live in infamy.”

The war lasted more than four years. In the end, 407,316 U.S. troops fought and died so that future generations, like mine, could live in peace and freedom. Ironically, Col. Edward Shames, the last remaining officer of the historic WW II parachute infantry regiment, known as Easy Company, died a few days ago at age 99. So did Bob Dole. On Sunday, the 1996 Republican nominee for president, passed away at age 98. I’m sure Shames, this proud member of the Band of Brothers, and Dole, the former U.S. Senator, would have wanted us to remember Pearl Harbor Day.

Today, we are fighting several wars simultaneously. First, the war on international terrorism; second, the war against COVID; and third, the war against each other. After fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for 20 years, we owe it to the more than 7,000 U.S. troops who died there to continue guarding against threats to America. The same is true when it comes to the memory of the more than 750,000 moms, dads, brothers and sisters, who have been felled by the coronavirus. If you ask me, the sooner tens of millions of our neighbors get vaccinated, the sooner we can resume our pre-pandemic lives. 

And then there is the war Americans are fighting on street corners and in Congress. Except for places like Charlottesville, where Neo-Nazis marched in 2017, and the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where rioters tried to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power last January, today’s war is mostly vile, disgusting words. My fear is, if left unchecked, these words easily could escalate to hand-to-hand combat here at home. And that, my friends, is not what Col. Shames, Bob Dole – or the millions of U.S. soldiers who marched off to war in the 1940s – fought to protect.

Yes, Dec. 7, 1941 was a date which will live in infamy. For the sake of our nation’s future, I hope and pray we never see another one.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach   

A father’s eyes see no wrong

Mr. John Blom claims his son “thinks out of the box.” If a father will not hold his son accountable then why would his son accept responsibility for his poor choices? 

Unfortunately, Noah Blom chose to drink on the dais at a City Council meeting. He made that decision all on his own. He is mature enough to know what is expected of him. And he still made a poor choice. 

I’m all for new ideas and innovative ways to solve problems but Noah Blom’s behavior does not convince me he is capable of that. For every minute we have wasted on Noah Blom’s poor choices the Council could have spent on useful and meaningful issues. That is a form of theft. Time is valuable. Instead of contributing he has taken valuable time from all of us.

Jennifer Irani

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Maybe fingers are being pointed in the wrong direction

Mr. Johnson, concerning your wine investigation, I am always suspicious when I hear “The Pot calling the Kettle Black.” You should be more concerned about council members who come to meetings ill prepared because they haven’t taken the time to read staff reports and then wasting every one’s time having matters explained to them. To me that is a huge problem for an elected official and a huge disgrace. 

Never once has Noah attended a meeting of the council or any other citizen gathering without obtaining the knowledge that might be needed to make knowledgeable decisions. He has participated in Zoom meetings while being on a family vacation and attending his son’s rowing regattas, while some council members just don’t show up during vacations and personal activities. 

Dedication and diligence vs. a glass of wine? New ideas and “thinking out of the box” vs. pettiness and old guard mentality? Maybe the Pot needs to stop looking in trash cans and start seeing what really counts.

John Blom

Newport Beach

Alcohol consumption raises other issues for council

 I feel sympathy for Noah, knowing that he must have felt pressure the night that he gave his speech on personal freedom. I was not surprised, however, after listening to that rather lengthy speech that I personally could not follow, that alcohol was most likely involved. 

The extent to which his drinking is a problem, however, as much as we might feel sympathy for him, is a serious issue for our City Council. 

Also, the evening that his alcohol consumption was revealed is the evening that our Council made one of the most important decisions in its history. So, we really have several issues:

–One of our leaders has admitted to drinking on the dais. The extent to which the Council acknowledges and deals with the gravity of this problem, will reveal the quality of their leadership.

–The fact that he was drinking the night that an important vote was taken should invalidate the results of the vote in which he was involved.

–Not only should this issue be dealt with in a professional manner, but Noah should also, at the very least, not be appointed to a role of leadership on the Council.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Should we be concerned? Concealed consumption sometimes can mask other issues

Regarding certain members of Council imbibing during meetings, I note the following: knowing one or more of Council’s personalities, I am not surprised. What surprises me more than the act is the voiced approval by a number of supposedly rational citizens.   

Concealed alcohol consumption is a clear indication of a deeper affliction of alcoholism. We have a long-time friend who lost his executive position in a major corporation due to alcoholism. 

We were mystified, as for over two decades we saw only consumption of Sprite or 7Up as he was “sensitive to caffeine.” Lo and behold, when the curtain was pulled back, he was caught filling his Sprite can with…you guessed it, with wine! Sound familiar?

The one published supporter said that an operator of a local restaurant could not have an alcohol problem. Are you kidding me? Lots of small businesses are constrained by the albatross of owner alcoholism, especially in restaurants where the wine consumed is a write-off as a business expense. 

Dick Weaver

Castle Rock, CO

Letters to the Editor

The question remains, WHY?

Now that Newport Beach City Councilman Will O’Neill has gotten his wish and convinced three of his council buddies to vote and put the “Elect Our Mayor” initiative on a June ballot for voters to decide if Newport Beach needs a full time Mayor, and all the new expenses that it brings, it begs the question…WHY?

Let me be perfectly clear here. It isn’t like we had incompetent City Managers over the years…NO. Or incompetent City Councilmembers over the years…NO. Or the City of Newport Beach is in such dire straits that it’s crying out for help…NO.

What we have just witnessed is a blatant political power grab from people who want nothing more than to advance their own political careers at the expense of a city, plain and simple. And if they deny it, as I said at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, “they have peaked in high school.”

I sincerely thank Councilmembers Joy Brenner, Brad Avery and Diane Dixon, who showed their love and respect for the city and its history, by dissenting.

Roy Englebrecht

Newport Beach 

Stu News encourages Letters to the Editor and they should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Deadlines for submission are Monday noon, for Tuesday publication and Thursday noon, for Friday publication. Stu News reserves the right to approve and/or edit all letters.

Letters to the Editor

Council can lead by giving voters the choice

On Tuesday night, the City Council has a pretty simple question to answer. Do they trust voters to make a decision about electing the mayor? 

Only the voters can change the charter. Only voters can choose whether they want to elect their mayor. And so, it’s time for the same people who rely on voters to occupy their positions on the city council to trust the voters again with this important decision.

Without question, we want to Elect Our Mayor. Many people agree with that basic statement and agree that the system proposed makes a whole lot of sense. Some people have disagreed with that basic statement. But we won’t know how many are on either side without an election. 

No one on the City Council could possibly speak for the “community” by voting against giving the community the choice.

In an era when governments across the board are taking away choices, Newport Beach’s City Council can be the light shining through as one that gives its residents the ability to take the power of electing the mayor back. 

We encourage the City Council to support voter choice by placing the Elect Our Mayor initiative on the ballot.

Michelle and John Somers

Newport Beach

The people’s power grab

Only the City Council currently has the power to select the mayor. We, the voters, don’t choose the mayor. We choose the city councilmembers who might become mayor. But we don’t choose the mayor directly.

Next week, the City Council can vote to do something pretty courageous. It can offer the people of Newport Beach the chance to take back power. To take back the ability to choose our mayor.

It would place the power in the hands of the entire city, not just a few. Maybe the community will want that power. Maybe not. We won’t know unless the issue is placed on the ballot.

Some opponents of this measure don’t even want to find out whether the people want this power to choose and are asking the City Council to insert themselves yet again between the voting public and choosing the mayor. Some opponents have even claimed that this is a power grab by a handful of people, which just doesn’t make any sense at all.

Any person who wants to become mayor in the new system would have to go through the gauntlet of public elections. Debates, fundraising and asking for votes. We get the say in that situation. We, the voting public, have the power in that situation. 

Let’s take that power back. Let’s Elect Our Mayor

Jeanine Bashore

Newport Beach

Tabling mayor decision for comprehensive study would allow for informed discussion

Over the years, I have had the privilege of participating in a number of the most significant political lawsuits emerging from our county. They range from restructuring how votes are recounted (Supervisor, now Assemblywoman Janet Nguyen) to First Amendment issues (Senator Pat Bates) to question of home rule in the appointment of individuals to vacant government positions (Supervisor/Senator Bill Campbell and Assemblyman/Supervisor/District Attorney Todd Spitzer). Then there are the numerous recounts and other political challenges that I have been involved in.

I bring these matters up not to toot my own horn but to establish that political and election law are one of the few areas where I actually do know what I am talking about. Furthermore, it is not my purpose here to advocate either for or against the proposal. My intent is to simply point out some significant flaws in how this matter is being processed and what might be done to make it a more coherent matter for voters to understand and determine.

Section 400 of the current and proposed charters defines the city council as the mayor and the members. The section goes on to state that any changes proposed or made that are “contrary to the intent and context of other such provisions” are invalid. The direct election of a mayor would allow for one person to serve on the city council, in one capacity or another, for a total of 16 years. This is directly in contradiction to the intent and context of the term limit provision passed by the voters.

Furthermore, the initiative envisions a process whereby the elected mayor will ascend from the ranks of the City Council. However, it does nothing to prevent an individual from being elected mayor for two terms and then running for city council, thus, again, circumventing the intention of the voters.

By any standard, the language is vague and ambitious, and perhaps contradictory, and thus subject to challenge.

At Section 404(b) of the proposed initiative, all power regarding agenda items and, essentially, all issues to be determined by the city government, are in the hands of the elected mayor. Thus, individual members of the City Council, and by extension their district constituents, are prevented from bringing issues to the council that might only impact a specific district, again barring voters access to the legislative process. This subjects both city policy and even the ability to raise city issues to the subjective, arbitrary and capricious whims of the elected mayor.

With regard to the nominating process, Section 1004 requires that a specific number of signatures be gathered on a nominating petition. Unlike City Council candidates who are required to secure signatures from the district that they want to represent, there is nothing in the mayoral requirements that discusses where the signatures must come from. As such, an individual can secure the entirety of the signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot from a single district, or specific portion of that district. This provision again denies the average voter his due process rights since he has no say in who is nominated.

Reducing the number of districts from seven to six further disenfranchises voters and dilutes their votes, in direct violation of the California Voting Rights Act. As an aside, I have litigated several voting rights actions and, frankly, the bar for making the argument regarding disenfranchisement, and thus forcing all districts to be redrawn, is quite low.

Additionally, there is no analysis of how these substantive changes in our city charter will fiscally impact the city and its operations. This omission is in direct contradiction to the mandates of California Elections Code Section 9005. Additionally, the proposed initiative does not provide an impartial analysis by either the City Attorney or the City Manager as prescribed in California Elections Code Section 9008. It is impossible for the City Council, much less the general public, to make an informed decision as to whether or not the question should even be on the ballot until they are fully informed as to the potential consequences that will be realized.

The City Council is seeking to make substantive changes to how our city operates and how we choose the people who will represent us. This should not be a rash rush to an end that may not be justified or necessary.

It is respectfully requested that the City Council table this proposal for 90 days so that significant public input can be secured, a comprehensive study of the impact and ramifications of the issues presented can be conducted and, then, with an understanding of where we are potentially going, the City Council and the public can have an informed discussion about whether or not it makes sense to directly elect our mayor.

Phillip B Greer

Newport Beach

Undermining term limits is one of the many objectional things that this Elect Our Mayor proposal does

Barbara Eusey’s letter in Tuesday’s Stu News practically defines ‘people unclear on the concept’ when she claims that the elected mayor proposal “doesn’t change city council term limits.” 

In fact, undermining term limits is one of the many objectional things that this proposal does. In 1992, 83% of Newport voters passed an initiative enacting a two-term limit for our City Council. The elected mayor proposal would allow a politician to serve eight years as a city councilmember and then another eight years as an elected mayor, for a total of 16 consecutive years.   

How is that not changing our term limit requirement? The odd thing about this initiative is that a city councilmember can run for mayor, but a mayor cannot subsequently run for City Council. The logic of this is completely obtuse, but since the whole proposal is poorly thought out, I guess I’m not surprised. 

I certainly do agree with Ms. Eusey that everyone should read this initiative thoroughly because anyone who wants good governance will immediately recognize that this proposal is fatally flawed and should not be supported.

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

Letters to the Editor

Elected mayor is just not right for Newport Beach for so many reasons

I am a resident of Newport Beach; my family moved here in 1972; and my parents were honored a few years back as “Citizens of the Year” in Newport Beach. 

I am writing to urge you to vote NO on the proposal for direct election of the mayor.

The key argument for the proposed change is that the “people of Newport Beach should elect their mayor.” But it is not quite right to say that the people of Newport Beach do not select their mayor. The citizens elect seven members of the city council and the council members select (each year) one of their number to serve as mayor for a one-year term. Given the small size of the city council, and the four-year terms of the members, and the frequency of second terms, most people who are elected to city council serve as mayor for at least one year. The people thus select their mayor indirectly, by electing a city council whose duties include selecting one of their members to serve as mayor each year.

Many other important positions in our governments are filled in a similar indirect manner. The people do not elect the Speaker of the US House of Representatives; the members of the House select the Speaker every two years. The people do not elect the federal attorney general, or indeed any other member of the Executive Branch; they elect a president (through another indirect mechanism, the Electoral College) who appoints (with the advice and consent of the Senate) the key members of the Executive.

The current system effectively ensures that mayors have experience in our city government. If you look at the men and women who have been mayor since 2001, all but one of them served at least one year as mayor pro tem and another year as city council member before becoming mayor. The only exception was John Heffernan, who was elected as mayor midyear in 2005, after serving eighteen months on the city council, to fill the vacancy created by the mid-year resignation of Steven Bromberg. 

Nothing prohibits the city council members from selecting, in December, a member who has just been elected in November, but they have not done so in more than twenty years, for good reason. There is a de facto requirement of at least two years of city council experience to become mayor of Newport Beach. 

Under the proposed system, there is no guarantee that the person elected mayor will have any prior experience on the city council or indeed in our city government at all. 

If you look at other cities in California, some of them have directly elected mayors (including Los Angeles and San Diego) but far more of them have city councils (like ours) that select a short- term mayor from among their number. The pattern is clear: cities with large populations almost always have a directly elected mayor, and cities with smaller populations almost always have mayors selected by the city council. 

Newport Beach is not a large city; the population according to the 2020 census is only 85,239 people. In a ranking of California cities by population, Newport Beach is (just barely) among the hundred largest cities. 

If you look at cities in Orange County with about the same population as Newport Beach, in other words 80-100,000 people, only one of them, Westminster, elects its mayor directly. Five cities in this population bracket, including Mission Viejo and Lake Forest, both with larger populations than Newport Beach, use the same system as Newport Beach, that is indirect election. 

And there are even larger cities, including Fullerton and Huntington Beach, that use indirect rather than direct elections to choose their mayors.

There is only one city in Orange County with a population smaller than Newport Beach that elects its mayor directly: Stanton. 

The current system of selecting the Newport Beach mayor from among the council members for a one-year term and limiting the mayor’s role to presiding over the council meetings, works well. The system encourages collegiality among the members of the council, for each member either has served or is likely to serve soon as mayor. The system encourages the city staff to treat each member of the council with respect, not to defer to the powerful mayor and to slight the weaker council members. 

To put the point another way, if we shift to the directly elected, more-powerful mayor envisaged by the proposal, the city manager would be demoted to something like chief-of-staff for the mayor. That would impede our ability to attract and retain a talented and dedicated city manager.

The current Newport Beach term limits ensure that no person serves on the city council for more than eight years. The proposed system would allow a person to serve on the city council for eight years and then serve another eight years as mayor. We should not create even the possibility of a single person having that length of tenure, that degree of control, over Newport Beach city government. 

The proposal would make another key change in the city charter; it would give the mayor “sole discretion to set city council agendas” unless three out of the six other members of the city council vote to place an item on the agenda. It might appear that this is not much of a change, because at present the support of three council members is required to put an item on the agenda. In practice, however, this is a major change, because it gives the mayor sole power to set the agenda unless three of his colleagues disagree—something not likely to happen often. Moreover, under the current system, a council member can often get an item on the agenda indirectly, through the city manager. The proposed system would take away the power the city manager currently has to put items on the agenda—another diminution of her role. 

The current system for selecting the mayor of Newport Beach has been in place for more than seventy years and has worked well. The advocates of the change have not pointed to any problem in the current system that needs to be fixed. They simply say that “the people should elect the mayor” without noticing that there are many other mayors who are not directly elected. Why does Newport Beach need a directly elected mayor when so many other cities do so well with indirectly selected mayors?

The proponents of the changes to the charter have not cited any social science evidence that directly elected mayors “do better” than indirectly elected mayors. 

It may be tempting for the city council, at the forthcoming meeting on October 26, to say “some people favor the proposal, some oppose the proposal, let us put the issue on the ballot and let the people decide.” That would be a mistake. We elect the city council to make some difficult decisions for us, including decisions on whether to place measures on the ballot. Not every measure that attracts some support (and I would note that we do not know how many people have signed the petition in favor of the change) deserves a place on the ballot. We already know enough to know that this measure would harm, rather than help, Newport Beach.

For all these reasons, I urge you to vote NO on the proposed city charter change. 

Walter B. Stahr 

Newport Beach

Electing a mayor or not electing a mayor, it’s about what’s best for Newport Beach

On Tuesday Oct. 26, the Newport Beach City Council will be voting on the possibility of putting an elect the mayor (directly) initiative on the June or November 2022 ballot. This idea has apparently been crafted by Councilmember Will O’Neill, as he is the only councilmember openly promoting it. On its face it sounds swell. Who doesn’t want to elect the mayor? 

However, the plan, as currently written and without any citizen or council involvement, is a clear consolidation of power. Currently seven councilmembers share an equal vote in our council/manager form of government. This proposal, in its current form, would give an elected mayor extra power over the rest of the council and preclude future councilmembers from serving in the largely ceremonial post as mayor.

In the 2020 election, Mr. O’Neill got a record number of votes to retain his seat on the council. He is very popular, especially with young folks and those that get their news from a mobile device. My guess is that if this is passed on the 2022 ballot, come 2024 when Mr. O’Neill is termed out on council, he would run for mayor. The folks that supported his Elect Our Mayor idea would be happy and likely vote for him as mayor. Maybe he even gets elected to a second term for a total of 16 years on council. Eventually he would be termed out and we would be voting for a new mayor.

Also, in the last election Tito Ortiz got the most votes ever in the Huntington Beach City Council election. A popular person like Mr. Ortiz, or any zealot with a following and financial support could move to town and get elected mayor. Come to think about it, that’s how Team Newport was created! That person could have four and possibly eight years to destroy the city for the special interests that got them elected. One person should not have that much power in our city.

The idea of an elected mayor in Newport Beach is not about how popular Will O’Neill is. It’s about what’s best for Newport Beach. Seven councilmembers with an equal vote works.

Please attend the City Council meeting on October 26th and let your voice be heard.

Charles Klobe

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO


Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


COVID-19 booster shot eligibility

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, M.D., FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

In our ongoing efforts to protect our community against COVID-19, we are pleased to update you about changes to booster shot eligibility. While we continue to provide booster shots to older adults and high-risk individuals who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, we are now able to provide booster shots to eligible adults who received the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines as well.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have authorized booster shots of any available COVID-19 vaccine to eligible individuals who completed primary vaccination with either the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson inoculations, a strategy referred to as “mix and match.” This includes:

–Eligible individuals who received the Moderna vaccine for their primary series at least 6 months ago, and who are 65 years or older, or 18-64 years and at high-risk, can receive a booster vaccine.

–Eligible individuals who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for their primary vaccine dose at least 2 months ago, and who are 18 years or older, can receive a booster vaccine.

Hoag is offering the Pfizer vaccine at two convenient Hoag locations in Newport Beach and Irvine to eligible individuals ages 12 years and older. For information about appointments and to schedule a visit, go to Our Fly Well Clinic at John Wayne Airport continues to provide the Johnson & Johnson dose to eligible adults as well. 

“Third doses” are recommended at least four weeks after a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine for people with weakened immune systems. This is not considered a booster. Instead, it is part of the recommended immunization schedule for people whose compromised immune systems inhibit them from generating a robust immune response after just two shots. 

Talk with your doctor if you believe this applies to you.

If you would like to receive the Moderna vaccine, visit Vaccine Finder to view available locations near you.

We continue to applaud our medical workers who have guided us from a pandemic to an endemic situation. We are deeply grateful for their skill, professionalism and enduring dedication. 

We are also grateful to each of our community members who have received the vaccine and helped to slow the spread of the disease. Your actions continue to protect yourself, your family and our community. If you have not yet received your first dose of the vaccine, now is the time to take action. 

As we have from the very beginning, Hoag is here to be your source of information, care and protection from COVID-19. As this situation evolves, we will continue to reach out and update our community about ways in which you can protect yourselves and those around you. 

Thank you for your continued support.


Robert T. Braithwaite

President and Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Letters to the Editor

Trust the voters to Elect Our Mayor

I respect the difficult decision it must take to run for City Council. Fundraising, knocking on doors, going to debate after debate and taking a beating sometimes on social media. So even when I disagree with the candidate, I respect the effort.

None of that effort exists, though, to become Mayor of Newport Beach. Once a person becomes a City Councilmember, they become one of only seven people eligible to become Mayor. 

Voters are trusted to choose City Councilmembers. We should be trusted to Elect Our Mayor. 

The initiative to do that is exactly right. Voters get to choose. Candidates would have to convince us, not just a few of their colleagues. 

Accountability, transparency and trust will all be improved if we can Elect Our Mayor.

Brandi Bagley

Corona del Mar 

Don’t like the idea of the Elect The Mayor proposal being possibly agendized by council

It was rumored that a sizable number of proponents were going to attend Tuesday’s, Oct. 12th City Council meeting to support Councilmember Will O’Neill’s Elect a Mayor plan. However, the supporters never materialized, leaving instead an audience primarily of opponents. It was not unusually large, but sufficient in size to chasten the council members for considering putting the mayoral plan on the discussion calendar for a future date. (O’Neill [reportedly] had abandoned the route of gathering signatures when he realized that doing so was a lengthy and expensive process.)

Not one person in the audience spoke in favor of electing a mayor. Instead, in measured and intelligent speeches, seven community leaders spoke against the proposal citing the fact that electing a mayor should be one vetted by the whole community not just the council before going on the ballot. This, said one speaker, would allow for more careful consideration of the proposal. 

The failure of the proposal to meet the term limits of the city charter, thus allowing the mayor to serve 16 uninterrupted years in leadership instead of eight years, sets an unbelievably long period of control by one person. This long period of leadership coupled with the expanded power that the new proposal would give the mayor in relationship to the council could easily lead to authoritarian rule. 

When it came time to vote, it appeared that Mr. O’Neill had already persuaded the council to support bringing the proposal up for discussion at a future date. My observations of the council members’ faces and gestures indicated to me that they were not overly enthusiastic about their votes or their role. In fact, not one council person commented or spoke to issues brought forth by the audience. 

Giving the council the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they thought that putting the plan on a future agenda would allow them to discuss the proposal at length. Unfortunately, this has not been a successful route in the past for opponents of an issue because public discussion will occur in only one meeting consisting of comments to the council. It excludes the public from any meaningful discussion regarding whether this major attempt to restructure our city government should even make it as far as the ballot.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

No shortcuts should be used in getting the ballot initiative Elect Our Mayor on the ballot

I am opposed to Councilman Will O’Neill’s initiative to Elect Our Mayor in Newport Beach but that’s only my opinion and some people feel differently. Perhaps our citizens should make sure they fully understand all the underlying facts involved in electing the mayor, but most importantly how Will O’Neill is trying to circumvent the system to get this item airlifted onto a future ballot in the next few weeks. 

Has anyone on the council asked for a thorough financial analysis of what impact this move will have on our city? Adding another layer of government, staffing this layer, adding in retirement costs and benefits all need to be analyzed with costs being projected out over several years. 

Also, this initiative would create a second class of councilmember with less ability to represent his/her constituents because of redistricting which creates a larger number of people to represent and diminishes the importance of neighborhoods, villages and businesses within each district.   

Newport Beach voters approved a term limit of eight years for councilpersons, including the mayor, for a very good reason. Councilman O’Neill’s initiative would allow a councilperson who has served his eight years to then run for mayor, where he could potentially also serve two terms, i.e., another eight years! The councilmembers have term limits, but the proposed elected mayor will serve without term limits.

Mr. O’Neill had 180 days from the date his amendment was certified to obtain 9,000 signatures to put this on the ballot for our citizens to vote on. Apparently, he’s finding that’s not such an easy task. 

I can confirm that it’s not, from my experience getting signatures for the Museum House initiative. It’s a very difficult labor-intensive task but a large group of residents prevailed, and all worked hard together to get it done. It was a community effort.

Mr. O’Neill has now decided to circumvent the system by trying to “persuade” a majority of our City Council to vote yes to put his initiative on the ballot, instead of him getting the necessary 9,000 signatures required. Is that legal? Yes. But does it reflect the will of the people? I don’t think so.   

Whether or not this proposed agenda item appears on the ballot will depend on four votes being received from our City Council. It is also rumored that Will O’Neil has ensured this “on the fence” councilmember that if he votes in favor of this proposed initiative being on a future agenda, he can be assured that his goals for the harbor will be met. 

Mr. O’Neill has a way of getting what he wants with little or no resistance from councilmembers, but please I am pleading with you our elected city councilmembers, to put this item on the ballot only after a thorough and complete public vetting of the reasons for and against this important change to our form of government. Do not let this item be thrown into your laps, our elected City Council in exchange for future favors. 

Why don’t we bring all of this to the community in the form of a series of Study Sessions, or just an old fashion Town Hall. Why not really listen to the community on this issue, rather than basing your decision on one person’s idea of what our form of government should be – without any debate on the issues that are of critical importance to how our city is governed. This decision should not be based on promises and favors. 

In my mind, this should not happen this way. Will O’Neill is trying to arrange things to facilitate long-term control of our city without the messy process of debates and give and take and consent of the people. Yes, democracy is messy but it’s better than the alternative (per Winston Churchill).

Please let’s do this for the people and by the people!

Lynn Swain

Big Canyon

Letters to the Editor

New mayor initiative “would have stricter term limits,” just read between the lines

I’ll say it up front: I want to be able to Elect Our Mayor. I also like term limits. So, when people dissenting from the initiative claimed that the term limits were going to be changed, I took another look. 

The proposed initiative doesn’t change city council term limits. In fact, the proposal says specifically: “This section is not intended to change the limit on consecutive terms for a member of the city council enacted by voters in November 1992.”

Subsequently, in the “Implementation” language, it says: “The enactment of this measure shall not be interpreted or applied to reset or extend the limit on consecutive terms applicable to any person holding office as a member of the city council at the time this measure is approved by voters.”

Any fair reading of the Elect Our Mayor initiative would conclude that 1) the city council term limits remain the same and 2) the current city councilmembers aren’t gaming the system with this change.

The proposed new position of a directly elected mayor would have stricter term limits than city council. The proposed new position would have lifetime term limits, which the city council positions don’t have.

I encourage people to read the language for themselves. It’s amazing what a little education can do to counter false narratives.

Barbara Eusey 

Balboa Island 

What should be done with our pier area? Here are some ideas

My first question is: How is the pier structure holding up? Has an engineer given it a physical and, if not, should this be done to determine this structure’s viability? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It doesn’t make sense or dollars to destroy something that still has plenty of life left. 

Should the building at the end be torn down? Probably. Should it be replaced? If so, why? Aren’t there enough restaurants and stores already? 

Also, what is wrong with the Plaza? As a resident who frequents it regularly, I like the design. Could it use a little refurbishing? Yes, and so could the public bathrooms. 

Would all this work cost $20 million? Not even close. This area, as pointed out by resident George Leslie, is already brimming with visitors, so there will probably be minimal financial gain for our city. 

If you are planning long term, how about investing in electric police and lifeguard vehicles? We all know this area has abundant sunlight. How about installing solar on city property where feasible? 

We all love the look of green grass, but it uses so much water to maintain it and this area is often in a drought. Today, there are pleasing options that require no water. 

I believe that Newport Beach can be a leader in these areas as it has in the past, rather than behind the curve.

Victor Paglia

Newport Beach

We know who trusts the voters

On Tuesday [tonight], the Newport Beach City Council gets to decide whether voters will have a choice. It’s a vote to let the people choose whether we want to directly Elect Our Mayor or leave it in the hands of the City Council to choose this important decision.

This is, of course, the same City Council comprised of people who ran for election and trusted us to make decisions whether they would be good at their current positions.

It’s the same City Council that voted to place a Charter amendment to add the Harbor Commission to the charter in 2020, which passed by 11%.

It’s the same City Council that voted to place a Charter amendment to require voter approval prior to certain debt obligations in 2018, which passed by 60 percentage points.

It’s the same City Council that voted to place a Charter amendment to require five of seven votes of the City Council to propose taxes in 2016, which was passed by 62%.

When voters ask to be trusted – to be involved in the process – we mean it. The only city councilmember who opposed two of the last three charter amendments lost a re-election bid by 20 percentage points. Voters clearly reward those who trust the voters.

Let’s move forward together here. Let’s Elect Our Mayor.

Nanette Vodra

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Will O’Neill 

City Council member, District 7

Newport Beach’s financial rebound

Guest Letter Will O'Neill

Courtesy City of NB

Will O’Neill

I will never forget our city’s March 12, 2020 Finance Committee meeting. The Minutes state that our Finance Director “reported COVID-19 has changed the budget strategy.” That turned out to be an understatement.

Our city’s Finance Committee and City Council took swift action. We had three months left in our 2019/20 fiscal year and reduced our general fund budget’s expectation from $231.4 million to $217.9 million. This revenue reduction needed expenditure reduction too, which we quickly adopted.

The pandemic hit right as we were ramping up our budget planning for our 2020/2021 fiscal year too. As “two weeks to flatten the curve” stretched longer, we drastically reduced our budget expectations. 

Fortunately, our budget relies heavily on property taxes. This fairly consistent revenue source does not yo-yo like other taxes thanks to the stability built into the system by Prop 13. Sales tax and the hotel bed tax (“TOT”) are the most reactive to system shocks. A city like Anaheim, for example, was always going to take a harder fiscal hit due to its reliance on tourism at Disneyland and the convention center. 

Despite approximately half our budget relying on the consistent revenue source, we still reduced our revenue expectations from $231.4 million to $199.6 million; a nearly 14 percent reduction.

Which meant that we needed to close the revenue and expenditure gap. Giving credit to our City Manager and Finance Director, the Finance Committee recommended that the City Council adopt a “tiered” short-term budget reduction strategy that required quarterly review to move up or down the tiers depending on city revenues.

We prioritized public safety and never defunded any portion of our police, fire, or lifeguard departments.

We had also accumulated surplus funds from fiscal years 2018/19 and 2019/20 of $24.1 million (typically used to pay for one-time neighborhood enhancements and pay down long-term liabilities) in addition to the $52.6 million reserve to ward against this kind of “black swan” event. Thanks to this accumulation, we needed to use only a small fraction of the reserve to balance our budget, which we re-filled before the 20/21 fiscal year was out.

Throughout the 20/21 fiscal year, we carefully monitored our tax and fee collection. As the economy lifted up, so too did our sales taxes and TOT. The stronger-than-expected revenues allowed us to put $15.9 million back into the city’s capital program and roll back some of the service cuts.

Yesterday (Oct. 14), the city’s Finance Committee met to discuss how we ended the 2020/21 fiscal year. The tone was markedly different than our meeting from nearly nineteen months ago.

Our expenditures remained well below the pre-COVID budget figures and solidly below our revised budget, resulting in savings of $7 million. With better-than-expected revenues, too, our budget surplus coming out of the unstable fiscal year 2020/21 is projected to be an eye-popping $31 million.

Now, a few caveats must be explained. First, this is really three years of accumulated budget surplus. Only $7 million of that is from this past year, while the remaining $24 million is from prior years’ surpluses that we held as a backstop to the pandemic economy. Second, we did not rely on any of this money to balance our 2021/22 budget. Third, this is one-time money. Which means that as a matter of policy we should not use this to add recurring costs to our city.

Instead, we can and should use this money to further pay down long-term liabilities (pension obligations and future facilities replacement costs) and fund our future investments in capital improvement projects and neighborhood enhancements. This approach will remain consistent with our City Council policies.

I thank everyone in our community whose resilience through this past year has placed us and our business community in better footing going forward. I thank our City Council and Finance Committee for their efforts to monitor and adopt proactive and reactive budgeting processes. And, I thank our City Manager and staff for their diligence throughout last year.

We are indeed a resilient city built on firm foundations of community bonds. #NewportStrong

Will O’Neill is the Chair of the Newport Beach Finance Committee, a current City Council Member, and was Mayor of Newport Beach in 2020.

Letters to the Editor

Initiative gives too much power to elected mayor

City Councilman Will O’Neill has announced that he is collecting signatures for a voter initiative to make the Mayor of Newport Beach an elected position. However, this initiative does much more than just establish an elected mayor. It establishes an elected mayor with immense power and that is just wrong.

Hidden in the initiative is Section 404(b), which states, “Except as provided in Section 405, the Mayor shall have the sole discretion to set City Council agendas and to change the order of business on the agenda.” Section 405 does allow adding items on the agenda if half of the remaining council members agree, but this is quite a high standard to meet and effectively excludes the rest of the council from readily bringing issues forward. Instead, the initiative will give the mayor near total control of what may be brought in front of the council. If an unpopular issue is to be discussed and a crowd is expected for an agenda item at 8 p.m., the mayor can arbitrarily move the item to an earlier hour and bypass all that pesky input.

Now imagine if the mayor is beholden to special interests. If those special interests do or don’t want something inconvenient to their purposes on the agenda, the mayor can make that happen. As an example, many of us feel that Team Newport’s campaign consultant Dave Ellis exerts that power over his successful candidates. Remember the Museum House condo approved by the City Council over the objections of literally thousands of residents? The developer told me that Mr. Ellis was a consultant on the project because “that is how it is done.”

If a majority of the City Council supported this initiative, they could vote to put it on the ballot, but this has not occurred. Mr. O’Neill’s efforts to gather signatures appears to be a solitary quest unsupported by his fellow council members. Maybe they feel, as I do, that we should not give that much power to one person. The residents of Newport Beach deserve to have their elected City Councilpersons have an equal say in the running of our city. Electing an abnormally powerful mayor is exactly the wrong thing to do and I sincerely hope that citizens think twice before signing this misguided initiative.

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach

Electing our mayor enhances accountability

The basic function of the Newport Beach City Council is setting public policy. The sole ability for the City Council to accomplish this basic function is through agendas set well in advance of a meeting pursuant to “The Brown Act.” In other words, the only way for a Council to actually accomplish its core responsibility is through the meeting agenda. 

But as it currently stands, the Council has delegated that authority to the City Manager. No matter how good a City Manager is (and ours is great), the City Manager is accountable only to the City Council and not directly to the people of the City of Newport Beach.

The Elect Our Mayor initiative would ensure that the power to hold public policy makers accountable rests in the hands of the people. 

As proposed, a directly elected mayor would be able to set the agenda and be directly accountable to both the people and the City Council too. Plus, City Council members themselves could place items on the agenda if three members voted to do so (similar to the current policy). 

If a mayor didn’t want to place an item on the agenda and three other Council Members couldn’t be found to want an item on the agenda, why in the world would that item be worthy of staff time and consideration?

This process is helpfully discussed on the website under the FAQ section. Which is why I was a puzzled when I read Susan Skinner’s comment that the agenda-setting function was “hidden” in the initiative language. It wasn’t even hidden from Will O’Neill’s original op-ed published in the Newport Beach Indy and Stu News Newport

But more to the point, Dr. Skinner’s main concern appears to be that a mayor could move items around on the agenda to avoid frustrated crowds. This may surprise Dr. Skinner, but the mayor currently has the “discretion to change the order of business” as part of our city’s agenda-setting policy. 

Though uncommonly used, the most common use of that discretion is not to avoid crowds, but instead is used to ensure that a crowd doesn’t need to sit through an entire agenda if their item is at the back of the calendar. 

I encourage residents to read more about the Elect Our Mayor petition at the website where concerns are helpfully answered. If you would like to sign up to volunteer or find out where petitions are available to sign, please visit our site for that too:

Noah Blom 

Newport Beach City Council, District 5

Newport Beach

Elected mayor, just a bad idea

An elected mayor? This is just a bad idea, and it is not what is best for Newport Beach; rather, it is what’s best for a few power-hungry individuals. If we could be guaranteed that persons who would run for mayor were completely honest, transparent, had impeccable integrity, and would always be elected by a well-informed citizenry, then I’d be all for it. But what are the chances of that happening now and in the future? And why would the people of Newport Beach change our City Charter to support something that is riddled with so many potential problems?

Take for instance that section of this proposal that gives the elected mayor sole discretion on the agenda for each council meeting, and to change the order of business on the agenda at his/her discretion. And consider how difficult it would be for a particular council member to get an item on the agenda that has been asked for by his/her constituents with the requirement that half of the council must agree to agendize. This clearly shoots holes in the concept of “representation.” 

Eight years is just too long, as well. And when you add to this the ability to have complete control over each council meeting agenda…you are giving absolute power to the mayor. Look to neighboring cities to see how well that has worked out! It just isn’t necessary. There is nothing wrong with our current system. 

Although my tenure on council was cut short, and I was not able to experience the honor of being mayor, one of the attractive features of serving on council is the potential of being selected to serve as mayor. This is a current feature of our City Charter that serves to attract people to run for city council. 

The current proposal would eliminate that feature. Moreover, who would really want to experience the frustration of serving on a council where the City Charter provides the mayor with absolute authority and power, and places an individual council member in the position of not being able to represent the constituents of his or her district? 

Here are a few other reasons for not supporting this initiative:

–Do we really want carpetbaggers moving to our city, establishing the required residency, and then running for mayor? Individuals who have no longevity in or a history of service to our city?

–A mayoral bid is going to be expensive, and the influence of campaign donors would likely be concentrated behind a single person or group in the City. Ordinary citizen concerns could be less a consideration if the elected mayor has an allegiance to a donor or group making large donations in order to insure re-election, and to elections beyond that of Newport Beach Mayor. 

–Our City would have to go through redistricting (from 7 to 6), with each district having one council representative except for the district that the newly elected mayor lives in. Could this be a potential problem? Double representation?

If this idea of an elected mayor is such a good idea for Newport Beach, then why isn’t the current council not approving this as an item on the ballot for the next election and foregoing the signature gathering process? Why is it just the effort of only one current council member? Again, this is just a bad overall idea!

Jeff Herdman

Former City Council Member (2016-2020)

Newport Beach

More power checks needed for elected mayor

I am in total agreement with Susan Skinner, a lifelong and highly respected member of Newport Beach, who has an excellent understanding of everything that pertains to Newport Beach and to city government.

I was so surprised to learn that all of a sudden out of nowhere comes the idea from seemingly one single City Council member to make the mayoral position of Newport Beach an elected office. And although it has not been stated, nor do we know for certain, it is most likely that this new position is being created for the person who originated the petition. This seems like an extremely opportunistic move, especially since it does not seem to be supported by other council members.

If the petitioner or another council member, with the exception of one position, were to run, it would mean that he/she would serve for 16 uninterrupted years as a leader.

Also, many of the council members have already had the opportunity to serve as mayor. This is way too long of a period for one person to be in office, particularly if during the last eight years that person serves a stint as a mayor with incredible, nearly unchecked power over the council and the residents of Newport Beach.

The idea of an elected mayor in and of itself is not necessarily a bad idea
as long as there were more power checks on that position and no current council
member could run, meaning that one person could not serve 16 uninterrupted
years. There is no good reason to support at this time what could well be the pursuit of one person.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Will O’Neill

Elect Our Mayor

Guest Letter Will O'Neill

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of the City of Newport Beach

Former Mayor and current City Councilmember Will O’Neill

Are you aware that you don’t elect your Mayor?

Would you like to?

I have asked those two simple questions a lot lately. While I have received different responses to the first question, the answer to the second question has been a resounding and universal “yes.”

Which, of course, makes sense. Voters, not politicians, should choose who is Mayor of Newport Beach. 

As it currently stands, we elect our City Council members who then choose amongst themselves who will fill the role as Mayor for a year. While residents can voice their opinion, the Mayor is chosen by a simple majority of seven people in a city with more than 87,000 residents.

This current system is, at best, a minor league system for a major league city.

Changing our system to a directly elected Mayor requires amending our City Charter. To that end, I will be filing an intention to start a petition process today at City Hall. Once approved, petitions will be available for signatures.

If passed, voters would start directly electing our Mayor at the general election in 2024 for a four-year term with a two-term limit. The Mayor would have a vote on the City Council along with six City Council members (whose method of being elected is not changed). The Mayor would set the City Council agendas with an ability for Council members to add agenda items, too. Term limits for current City Council members would not be reset.

Putting this commonsense measure on the ballot in 2022 will require over 9,000 signatures. I will be rolling out endorsements in the coming weeks and asking friends, colleagues and our residents to pitch in because the end result is worth the effort.

We ought to have candidates for Mayor talking to all Newport Beach about their priorities to win office and be accountable to all of us. We deserve a strong, united voice in good times and in crisis.

So, would you like to directly elect our Mayor? If so, join the cause. 

Learn more and sign up at or email the campaign at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The following is the draft language of the Charter Amendment being filed today, September 3, 2021, by Newport Beach City Councilmember Will O’Neill.

Initiative proposed pursuant to Article 3 of Chapter 3 of Division 9 of the California Elections Code, to amend the Charter of the City of Newport Beach


The Charter of the City of Newport Beach is hereby amended as follows, with text to be inserted indicated in underline type, text to be deleted indicated in strikethrough type, and text in standard type represents the current Charter and is not amended by this initiative.

Section 400. Elective Officers.

The elective officers of the City shall consist of a City Council of six seven members and a Mayor. The term “City Council,” “legislative body,” or other similar terms as used in this Charter or any other provision of law shall be deemed to refer to the collective body composed of the Mayor and City Council members unless such other provision of this Charter or other provision of law expressly provides to the contrary or unless such interpretation would be clearly contrary to the intent and context of such other provision.

(a) Candidates for City Council shall be nominated from and by the electors of each of the six seven districts referred to in Article X of this Charter and one shall be elected from each of such districts by the voters of the City at large at the times and in the manner provided in this Charter. Ties in voting among candidates for City Council office shall be settled by the casting of lots.

Alternatively, and successively, two four four-year terms (Districts 2 and 5) shall be filled at one the general municipal election occurring in each even-numbered year that is evenly divisible by four and four three four-year terms (Districts 1, 3, 4, and 6) shall be filled at the next such general municipal election occurring in each even-numbered year that is not evenly divisible by four, consistent with the sequence of terms of Council members existing on the effective date of this amendment.

The term of office shall be four years. The term of each City Council member shall commence on the date of the City Council meeting, following his or her election, at which the council receives the certification of election results from the City Clerk.

(b) Candidates for Mayor shall be nominated from and by the electors of the City and elected by the voters of the City at-large at the times and in the manner provided in this Charter. Ties in voting among candidates for Mayor shall be settled by the casting of lots.

The office of Mayor shall be filled at the general municipal election occurring in each even-numbered year that is evenly divisible by four. 

The term of office shall be four years. The term of Mayor shall commence on the date of the City Council meeting, following his or her election, at which the Council receives the certification of election results from the City Clerk.

Section 401. Eligibility.

(a) No person shall be eligible to hold office as a member of the City Council unless he or she is, and shall have been for at least thirty (30) days immediately preceding his or her nomination or appointment, a registered elector of the district from which he or she is nominated or appointed, and for at least thirty (30) days immediately preceding his or her election or appointment, a registered elector of the City. No person shall be eligible to hold office as a member of the City Council for a term of office that immediately follows a term to which the person was elected Mayor.

Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 400, no person shall be or remain eligible to hold office as a member of the City Council for more than two (2) consecutive four (4) year terms. Members of the City Council who have served one or more terms prior to their current term shall be entitled to complete such term, but shall not be eligible for re-election except as provided below. Members of the City Council who are serving their first term as of the effective date of this amendment shall be eligible to hold office during a second four-year term when the current term expires.

This section is not intended to change the limit on consecutive terms for a member of the City Council enacted by voters in November 1992 prevent persons from serving more than two (2) consecutive terms, and shall not be construed to render ineligible any person who would not, by virtue of his or her election, serve more than two consecutive terms.

(b) No person shall be eligible to hold the office of Mayor unless he or she is, and shall have been for at least thirty (30) days immediately preceding his or her nomination or appointment, a registered elector of the City, and for at least thirty (30) days immediately preceding his or her election or appointment, a registered elector of the City.

Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 400, no person shall be or remain eligible to hold the office of Mayor for more than two (2) four (4) year terms. 

This section is intended to prevent persons from serving more than two (2) terms in the office of Mayor, and shall not be construed to render ineligible any person who may have served as a member of the City Council.

Section 403. Vacancies.

A vacancy in the City Council from whatever cause arising, shall be filled by appointment by the City Council of a qualified person from the district in which the vacancy has occurred, such appointee to hold office until the first Tuesday following the next general municipal election and until his or her successor qualifies. At the next general municipal election following any vacancy, a Councilmember shall be elected from the district in which the vacancy exists to serve for the remainder of the unexpired term.

A vacancy in the office of Mayor from whatever cause arising, shall be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term by a special election called by the City Council to be held not less than 88 days nor more than 103 days after the effective date of the vacancy, except the special election may be conducted within 180 days of the effective date of the vacancy in order to consolidate with the City’s general municipal election. An election shall not be ordered, and the office of Mayor shall remain vacant, if the term expires within the timeframe for holding a special election.

If a member of the City Council or the Mayor absents himself or herself from all regular meetings of the City Council for a period of sixty days consecutively from and after the last regular City Council meeting attended by such member, unless by permission of the City Council expressed in its official minutes, or is convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude, or ceases to be a qualified elector of his or her district, his or her office shall become vacant and shall be so declared by the City Council.

In the event the City Council shall fail to fill a vacancy by appointment within thirty days after such office shall have been so declared vacant, it shall forthwith cause an election to be held to fill such vacancy from the proper district. 

Section 404. The Mayor. Mayor Pro Tempore.

On the date of any meeting of the City Council at which time the Council receives the certification of the results of any general or special municipal election at which any member of Council is elected, the City Council shall, after swearing and qualifying any newly elected member, elect one of its members as its presiding officer, who shall have the title of Mayor. 

(a) The Mayor shall preside at meetings and be a voting member of the City Council, and shall have a voice and vote in all its proceedings.

(b) Except as provided in Section 405, the Mayor shall have sole discretion to set City Council agendas and to change the order of business on the agendas.

(c) The Mayor shall have the primary but not exclusive responsibility for interpreting the policies, programs and needs of the City government to the people, and, as occasion requires, the Mayor may inform the people of any change in policy or program. 

(d) The Mayor shall be the official head of the City for ceremonial purposes, and shall perform such other duties consistent with the office as may be prescribed by this Charter or as may be imposed by the City Council. The Mayor shall serve in such capacity at the pleasure of the City Council.

(e) The City Council shall at the same time the Mayor is elected also designate one of its members as Mayor Pro Tempore, who shall serve in such capacity at the pleasure of the City Council. The Mayor Pro Tempore shall perform the duties of the Mayor during the Mayor’s absence or disability.

Section 405. Powers Vested in the City Council.

All powers of the City shall be vested in the City Council except as otherwise provided in this Charter. With the concurrence of at least three members of the City Council at any public meeting, an item may be added to a future City Council agenda.

Section 410. Quorum. Proceedings.

A majority of the members of the City Council shall constitute a quorum to do business but a less number may adjourn from time to time. For purposes of quorum, the Mayor shall be counted as a member of the City Council. In the absence of all the members of the Council from any regular meeting or adjourned regular meeting, the City Clerk may declare the same adjourned to a stated day and hour. Notice of a meeting adjourned by less than a quorum or by the Clerk shall be given by the Clerk or may be waived by consent in the same manner as specified in this Charter for the giving or waiving of notice of special meetings of the City Council; but need not specify the matters to be acted upon. The City Council shall judge the qualifications of its members as set forth by the Charter. It shall judge all election returns. It may establish rules for the conduct of its proceedings and evict or prosecute any member or other person for disorderly conduct at any of its meetings.

Each member of the City Council and the Mayor shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations in any investigation or proceeding pending before the City Council. The City Council shall have the power and authority to compel the attendance of witnesses, to examine them under oath and to compel the production of evidence before it. Subpoenas shall be issued in the name of the City and be attested by the City Clerk. Disobedience of such subpoenas, or the refusal to testify (upon other than constitutional grounds), shall constitute a misdemeanor, and shall be punishable in the same manner as violations of this Charter are punishable.

At the demand of any member, the City Clerk shall call the roll and shall cause the ayes and nays taken on an issue which is the subject of the demand to be entered in the minutes of the meeting.

Section 1004. Voters Signing Nomination Petitions.

The voters signing any petition for the nomination of any person to the office of Councilmember shall be residents and registered voters of the district from which such person is to be nominated.

The voters signing any petition for the nomination of any person to the office of Mayor shall be residents and registered voters of the City.

Section 1005. Districts.

The City is hereby divided into six seven districts, the names and respective boundaries of which shall be as established by ordinance. No ordinance changing and redefining the boundaries of any district shall be enacted within six months prior to any regular Councilmanic election.

Following the national census and each tenth year thereafter the City Council shall appoint a committee to study and report to the City Council on the advisability of redistricting the City. Upon receipt of any such committee report, and at any other time deemed necessary or desirable in order that the district boundaries be fair and logical, the City Council may by ordinance change and redefine the boundaries of any or all of the six seven districts herein established. The boundaries so defined shall be established in such manner that the districts shall, as nearly as practicable, constitute natural areas of contiguous and compact territory and provide fair representation on the City Council. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 401, no redistricting shall disqualify any Councilmember from serving as Councilmember from the district from which he or her was nominated or appointed for the remainder of his or her term, if elected, or until the next general municipal election, if appointed. Any territory hereafter annexed to or consolidated with the City shall, at the time of such annexation or consolidation, be added by ordinance of the City Council to an adjacent district or districts.


A. The members of the City Council in office at the time these Charter provisions take effect shall continue in office until the expiration of their respective terms and until their successors are elected and qualified.

B. The City Council shall, no later than six (6) months prior to the next general municipal election held after the year in which these Charter provisions take effect, adopt an ordinance to establish the respective boundaries of the six (6) council districts.

C. The enactment of this measure shall not be interpreted or applied to reset or extend the limit on consecutive terms applicable to any person holding office as a member of the City Council at the time this measure is approved by voters.

D. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this ballot measure is, for any reason, held to be invalid or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect the validity or constitutionality of the remaining portions of this ballot measure. The voters hereby declare that they would have passed this ballot measure, and each section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase hereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, sentences, clauses or phrases be declared invalid or unconstitutional.

Letters to the Editor

I vote for a vote for a directly elected Mayor

I have been fortunate to see our City government up close as a parent advocate in our school district, as a Newport Beach Foundation Distinguished Citizen graduate, and as a current Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commissioner. 

This is an incredible City. We rely heavily on volunteers and altruism to make our community, villages, and neighborhoods better places for us all.

2020 was rough for everyone, but the silver linings were there. For example, I saw for the first time a citywide interest in public policy. A desire to improve our city led a lot of people to learn more about how our City Council works and interacts with our residents and regional governments.

One consistent surprise I heard from friends was: “why are we not allowed or able to directly elect our Mayor?”

That’s a fair question without a great answer. This is a city full of smart, dedicated people who should be trusted to choose their Mayor.

I agree fully with Will O’Neill’s comment that Newport Beach is a major league city with a minor league system for choosing its Mayor.

Let’s Elect Our Mayor.

Kate Malouf

Newport Beach 

Does neighboring City’s results say it’s wrong?

Me thinks Councilmember Will O’Neill wants to be the Larry Agran of Newport Beach. Check with Irvine and see how elected mayor has worked out for them.

Dennis Baker

Newport Beach

Thanks to the school district for doing the right thing

So glad someone had the balls and guts to stand up for our flag. Seems like there is more pandering to fringe factions at the expense of core values these days. Hail NMUSD!

Angela Cortright

Newport Beach

Take it from an insider, the City needs an elected Mayor

I have a unique perspective on why we need to support the Elect Our Mayor campaign. 

As a Newport Beach Harbor Commissioner, I know that we can pretty well chart the growing international appeal of our City by simply looking out on the water. I would have loved to have seen John Wayne atop The Wild Goose in the 1960s when Newport Beach was still a growing city with the recently shuttered buffalo ranch. Today, we see mega-yachts from around the world passing by residents and tourists on Duffy boats and SUPs.

While our city has maintained much of its charm through village atmospheres, there is no question that we are a modern city with complex issues.

In our Harbor alone, we interact with the California Coastal Commission, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Orange County Sheriffs, the California Air Resources Board and so many more governmental agencies.

This doesn’t even account for Caltrans on PCH, the FAA at the airport, Housing & Community Development for the state’s housing mandates, etc.

Oftentimes we need help from these agencies. Sometimes in the form of regulatory easing. Sometimes in funding support.

For example, we are indebted to former Mayor Duffy Duffield for his repeated efforts in Washington, D.C., seeking dredging money. He will be the first to tell you that the efforts were helped greatly by his relationships forged through years of work.

But frankly, it shouldn’t have been that hard to get the dredging money. Our city is a piggybank for Washington and Sacramento politicians. We remain a donor community in both politics and taxes. And because we have a rotating Mayor system, there is no longevity of relationships between our City’s leadership and governmental agencies that affect our daily lives.

A system that worked in the 60s is no longer appropriate in today’s world. With more and more cities moving to a directly elected mayor in Orange County, it’s time that we do the same. 

I’m supporting the Elect Our Mayor campaign and hope that you will too.

Gary Williams Jr. 

Newport Beach Harbor Commissioner

Newport Beach

What I like about Newport Beach?

Hold on to your hats, folks. For those who happen to read some of my letters, and heaven knows, they are many in number, you might be surprised at my topic for today – What I like about Newport Beach?

There may be those who think that I am a misanthrope, critical and unyielding. But that is only half the story. There is a side to me that is not political, and like most people, that is my happier, friendlier side.

Maybe I feel guilty sometimes for living in such a beautiful place, while many are fighting for survival. But admit it, I must: Newport Beach is a beautiful place to live. And I am so lucky that I do live here.

I love to walk around my neighborhood in the Heights and see the unique quality of each house, no two alike. I love the fact that I have great neighbors. Although I have lived here more than 40 years, I have never heard so much as one complaint or unkind word from a neighbor. We don’t all socialize together, but we are respectful of each other’s boundaries. 

I love that many people walk their dogs down my street because there is less traffic. And people are so much friendlier when they are outdoors, especially when they are walking a pet. (Otherwise, Newport Beach reminds me a bit of France, where it is an unspoken rule not to smile at strangers.) So, I can live with that; but maybe everyone should go out and get a dog, so we see more smiles.

The natural beauty of Newport Beach is enhanced by some of the architectural structures. When I am unhappy or lonely, like during the dark days of COVID, I head straight to Fashion Island, which is the equivalent of going to Disneyland when I was a child. I love to shop, if only window shop. They have built so many fountains, outdoor seating areas and beautiful vistas that Fashion Island is becoming a big tourist draw. 

Newport is also getting more and more good restaurants with the accent on quality dining. Competition is responsible for that, competition and Newport’s natural attributes like great weather, transcendent views and outdoor dining. 

We have several newspapers and e-papers that serve the area. And because I love to write, I appreciate the availability of those sources. I appreciate Tom Johnson and his literary family. I can visualize Tom shaking his head or rolling his eyes when he reads some of my letters. Perhaps a laugh or two might follow some of the things I have written over the last few years. But he prints exactly what people write and we are lucky to have that opportunity to express our thoughts. 

So, despite the difficult years of the pandemic, and the divisiveness that those years have brought, let’s take time to appreciate how lucky we are to be in such a spectacular place and let’s do everything we can to keep it that way.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Mandates, mandates, mandates

In response to (a previous) letter, I would like to say that yes, I am in favor of mandates. In the very beginning of the pandemic, as far back as the spring of 2020, I was pestering our City Council in Newport Beach to put mask mandates in place. 

It never ceases to amaze me that a noisy minority has been trying to steer our country toward a course of no mandates, one that has proven disastrous to many. In response, my first impulse is to say that a national mandate is the best way to respond to this seemingly insurmountable problem.

But while I think that a national mandate for vaccinations and masks is and always has been the best solution and that we may ultimately get there, it doesn’t seem to be happening at the pace that we would want. And in the meantime, many more innocent lives will be lost.

Those who are adamantly opposed to vaccinations and masks are not listening to science and common sense but moreover to some political leaders and other spokespeople, among which are conspiracy theorists, who protest against being inoculated. 

Because it is probably impossible both physically and politically at this point to pull off a blanket public mandate, I think that the mandates will need to be put in place layer-by-layer. And that has already started to happen. Recent polls show that two out of three people in the country support their state or local government to have mask mandates for public buildings (Washington Post).

The federal administration is starting out by requiring nursing homes that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funding to mandate vaccinations for all staff members. And legal action is going to be taken through the Department of Defense against governors that attempt to prevent school districts in their states from enacting mask mandates.

Even closer to home is the courageous response of the Newport-Mesa School Board President this week, to a strong and noisy contingent of parents who showed up to protest mask mandates in local schools: “I know some people don’t agree with certain things, but I think we need to keep our eyes focused on what we want and that’s to keep schools open.”

Among private companies, more and more are requiring vaccination and mask mandates as well as tests. I walked by the Apple Store yesterday which limits the number of occupants in their buildings as well as requires masks. The most surprising group of all to require vaccinations to play is the NFL. So, things are beginning to happen if not at the pace that many would like. Unfortunately, the more time that passes, the more opportunity there is for the coronavirus to mutate and come up with a strain that will be impervious to the current vaccine. So, until mandates speed up, we are basically being held hostage by the coronavirus as well as the defiantly unvaccinated among us.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

It’s easy when you agree, how about when you don’t?

Ms. Lorenz likes mandates on things she agrees with. Would she be agreeable to mandates on things she doesn’t? I think not. A lot of us prefer to not have a biased media and politicians with their own agenda make all our decisions for us. Freedom of choice is truly the American way.

Jerry Piersall

Costa Mesa

Letters to the Editor

Unvaccinated are a concern for all of us

I want to thank Lynn Lorenz for her August 10 letter entitled, “Mandates are the call needed now for the new COVID strain.” While she focused several of her comments about CHOC admissions and schools reopening, my perspective is a little broader. Here are my thoughts about vaccination mandates:

I wish I could stop worrying about the unvaccinated, but I can’t. When it is easier to persuade half the nation to see a proctologist than it is to convince them to get a COVID shot, something is terribly wrong in America. 

At first, I thought corporate incentives, like discounts at malls or half-price tickets to baseball games, would encourage millions of unvaccinated to roll up their sleeves. It worked for some but not that many. 

Next, I turned my attention to the most vocal of opponents – Republicans who still support Donald Trump. I believed the Number One GOP influencer could and should go public with a series of public service ads. If I’m not mistaken, the former president did one. 

To be certain, on any given day you can see more PSAs to save sick and hungry animals than you can commercials to convince the unvaccinated to get their shots. Which brings me to today. 

Unless we quickly inoculate tens of millions of reluctant Americans, the Delta variant is destined to mutate into another, more deadly virus. Those of us who have been vaccinated have done our part in the war against COVID. In my opinion, we simply can’t wait any longer for 100 million of our neighbors to eventually do theirs.

With this last thought in mind, it’s time to admit the obvious: We need a national directive requiring people to roll up their sleeves. If they do, we can win the fight against the virus. If they don’t, then here is what they should expect: First, they will be refused entry to their local grocery store; second, they cannot buy gasoline at their local gas station; and third, their bank no longer will cash their checks or cover their online purchases. In other words, the unvaccinated will be cut off from life’s necessities. 

In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, my parents and two older brothers did what every other patriotic family was expected to do. They turned out the lights during the night and rationed their groceries, all with a sense of pride knowing they were doing their part during WWII.

Literary license aside, today we are facing WWIII. If you ever suffer a heart attack or a broken leg, who would you call? Certainly not Mayor Brad Avery or Rep. Michelle Steel. Why anyone would take the word of a politician over a physician is beyond me, but isn’t this what’s happening now? 

I’m guessing letter writer Lynn Lorenz would agree we need an all-hands-on-deck response to the war against COVID. Americans have risen to the challenge before and must do it again now. I am tired of worrying about the unvaccinated.

Aren’t you?

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Concerned stakeholders deserve a seat at the table to help craft Mariners’ Mile plan

(The following is a letter from Patrick Gormley addressed to the members of the Newport Beach City Council discussing the recent approval of 2510 W. Coast Highway.)

Those who live in Newport Beach share a common interest – to sustain and preserve the character and charm of our unique neighborhoods, villages and beachfront community. It follows that we clearly deserve to have a say about major development issues that will affect us all and impact our safety and quality of life. In this case, this means having input to a Mariners’ Mile “Village” design that is in harmony with our community’s character and core values without adversely impacting the surrounding area.

As our representatives, City Council should listen to the people who live here and want to preserve and enhance their quality of life, and not simply acquiesce to the financial interest of the developers. We need to formalize community consensus in the form of a clear vision consistent with the City’s General Plan to guide the responsible development of Newport Beach in general, and Mariners’ Mile corridor in this instance. Mariners’ Mile has been studied, evaluated, discussed and debated for decades – and still no official consensus has emerged.

However, there is agreement about the need for an overall strategy of responsible development to avoid the chaotic and piecemeal “Santa Monicazation” of our City. The Planning Commission wisely acknowledged the need for a Mariners’ Mile Master Plan on February 18, 2021, during the hearing for 2510 West Coast Highway. Also, during the April 27, 2021, City Council Review Session, Mayor Brad Avery stated, “We could do a better job from the very beginning of the planning process.” 

We agree.

The process of City-sponsored outreach workshops that resulted in the development of Lido Marina Village and Lido Village are good examples of what is possible when the City, developers and stakeholders work together. This proven model can be successfully duplicated for Mariners’ Mile. This idea was presented by community members during the last City Council meeting.

Developer Initiative and Continuing Concerns

On July 27, 2021, during the City Council Review Session, the developer was complimented by the City Council, the Planning Department and members of the Newport Beach community for the architectural redesign and orientation of 2510 W. Coast Highway to resemble Lido House and Lido Marina Village. The developer’s attorney said the changes were made in response to the Council and community comments made at the April 27, 2021, City Council Review Session.

The redesign of the project blends into the expected Mariners’ Mile village atmosphere, but many important concerns remain unanswered. However, despite the important remaining unresolved questions concerning high density, traffic and views, the Council approved the project as presented. 

The project is at cross purposes with Newport Beach’s quality of life by overriding scenic corridor, safety, noise, pollution, and Coastal Commission mandates and the Green Light Initiative. Many of us feel that this decision was wrong and sets a bad precedent for the future of Newport Beach.

Anyone with a passing knowledge of the area knows that there are valid significant concerns about increased traffic resulting from the addition of 36 residential dwelling units and a 5,096-square-foot office in a space bounded by high traffic and limited access to Pacific Coast Highway and the stunted and awkward Avon Street that was never designed for the type of traffic congestion and street parking problems that will inevitably follow from this development. The lion’s share of the resulting traffic will be shunted directly to the adjacent 100 percent family residential area. 

This development cries out for the need of a formal traffic study. To do otherwise is irresponsible and thus the City Council’s decision should be revisited.

The Path Forward 

The exchange of ideas and conversations during the July 27th City Council Session (excerpted below) shows a clear path forward. The public discussion between City Council members and the City Planning Department outlined ideas about the time and effort that would be required to develop a community consensus on a Master Plan for Mariners’ Mile.

Mayor Brad Avery asked James Campbell, Director, Community Development: “To enable us to look at the whole thing, the whole project now, the whole site, if you will of all the Moshayedis’ properties, what latitude do we have to go in to create a village with less density, less height and all the rest of it?”

James Campbell’s response: “What would have to happen there, we would have the community come together and develop a different vision for Mariners’ Mile and then start the process to update the General Plan and then the zoning that would follow. The City has always moved forward with projects consistent with the General Plan. We have never stopped the process of a project consistent with the General Plan. If the community wants to change the vision clearly (they need to use) the amendment process.”

Councilmember Joy Brenner asked James Campbell: “Can the City require the Mariners’ Mile Master Plan be in place before further development occurs there?”

James Campbell’s response: “I think it would involve developing that plan and approving that plan and then holding all development proposals at bay while that process goes forward. That would likely involve some sort of moratorium. I suppose the Council could consider that, but previous councils have not considered any type of moratorium when we’ve been doing significant master plan development.”

Joy Brenner: “How long will it take to get a master plan approved for Mariners’ Mile?”

James Campbell: “That is hard to say. I would likely envision needing at least a year to come up with something like that. Several years ago, the city did endeavor to put forward what we call the Revitalization Plan. Some preliminary work has been done. That project was tabled. It was not adopted by the City Council at that time. We can use that as a starting point for going forward.”

Councilmember Diane Dixon: “I am disappointed and sorry to hear that there has been only one community meeting in February. We as a community have a very informed and active community of interested parties whatever the issue. I think one meeting with the community is really not enough. Our residents deserve and demand more. The outcomes can still be a positive outcome for all concerned. I think it tarnishes this whole process, there was not enough community involvement and that disappoints me.”

These and similar exchanges indicate an emerging consensus of next steps that should be taken:

1. All property development proposals in this corridor should be considered in light of a logical strategy for development, including road safety, road widening and other infrastructure projects.

2. City Council should require a traffic and safety study of the area at Tustin Ave., Avon, Riverside, W. Coast Highway and the surrounding neighborhoods.

3. City Planning Department should immediately develop a comprehensive master plan for Mariners’ Mile “Village.” 

4. City Planning Department should form a Mariners’ Mile Steering Committee composed of stakeholders to responsibly plan the future of Mariners’ Mile as a Newport style “Village” – e.g., CalTrans, property owners, local merchants and residents.

5. Community Outreach Workshops should be offered for future development proposals along Mariners’ Mile. Each community outreach workshop should include the criteria used and underlying details showing compliance with governing laws and regulations in support of the City Staff’s findings and recommendations.

6. In cases of a single developer planning the development of multiple parcels in a single area (as in the present case), an analysis of the total land use and scope of all proposed development projects should be considered in total. This would show how the whole project fits together – identifying benefits and potential adverse impacts upon the community’s ecosystem, including quality of life, health, safety and cost of city services, especially police and fire.

Now is the time for the City Council, the Planning Department, the developer and community stakeholders to work together to assure the above steps are started immediately.

Patrick Gormley

Newport Beach

As numbers increase, masks appear to be the answer 

The big press had some somewhat definitive news for Los Angeles and Orange County yesterday (Aug. 12). The good news is that both Los Angeles and Orange County have similar vaccination rates, with Orange County’s being slightly higher (64.2 to 63.1 percent) and while they are not stellar, they are moving in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the other telling statistic is the test positivity rate, and that shows LA County’s going down impressively to 4.4 percent while Orange County’s is rising to 8.9 percent.

Although these statistics are for the neediest areas of the county, professionals anticipate that the positivity rate will rise in every ZIP code in Orange County. And usually, more positivity means more community spread. The Orange County deputy health officer said improvements are particularly needed in San Clemente, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. Officials are also concerned about the trajectory of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Orange County, California’s third most populous county, where 90 percent of COVID-19 hospital patients are not vaccinated.

I have been complaining about Orange County’s, particularly the coastal cities’, resistance to mask wearing now for well over a year. Limited mask wearing as well as vaccination hesitancy are responsible for the comparatively disappointing test positivity rate for the county.

In Los Angeles, the lowered test positivity rate is the direct result of the Los Angeles County health officials’ requirement for masks in indoor public settings. Los Angeles is one of the few counties in Southern California to do this. If Orange County were to follow suit, the rate would go down here as well.
       Recently one of my cousins used the “Patrick Henry response” on one of my Facebook posts where I talked about the importance of mask wearing. The problem with his “give me liberty or give me death” response to donning masks, is that he might be taking some other innocent victims down with him.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

Newport Beach residents should be extremely concerned about State Senate bills that will alter our neighborhoods

State legislators are attempting to address housing shortfalls by introducing bills that usurp local decision-making authority and that could be very detrimental to communities. 

Senate Bills SB 9 and SB 10 have passed the California State Senate and will be heard in the Assembly as early as next week. These bills will mean the end of single-family zoned neighborhoods throughout California. They permit developers and real estate investors to build (with ADUs) six units of market-rate housing (SB 9) or 14 units (SB 10), and no affordable housing is required. 

Taxpayers will bear the costs of increased demand on schools, parks, water, sewers, power grids and public safety personnel.

SB 9 is mandatory, so unless you act NOW, you will lose your right to object to the structure being built next door to you, after SB 9 is passed.

I urge you to read these state bills ASAP and if you don’t want them to pass, please contact your state assembly representative and your local council members NOW.

California Cities for Local Control, a grassroots organization, believes that bringing like-minded elected officials together around a common mission establishes a strong unified statement to our state legislators and all those involved in state bill making process. More information is available at the website

City Councilmember Joy Brenner is recommending two sites for more information, and

I personally don’t want other state representatives, that don’t live here, making decisions that tie the hands of our local city council members.

Beverley “BJ” Johnson

Corona del Mar

A thank you for protecting our streets

I want to thank the city and Newport Beach Police Department for their program to stop the street racing and loud cars with modified exhaust systems. Newport Coast Drive and San Joaquin Hills Road have become the racetrack of choice for these knuckleheads. They belong at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, not on our city streets.

Dave Ellis

Newport Coast

Mandates are the call needed now for new COVID strain

Children are increasingly getting infected by COVID, the highly infectious Delta strain. CHOC confirmed 219 positive coronavirus tests compared to 48 in June. 44 children with COVID were hospitalized during those two months.

Mandates will prevent this. Once again, the concern for whether to re-open schools will be a big issue because children under 12 cannot be vaccinated and the Delta strain is much more infectious than the strain last year. Mandates will prevent this.
      Evidence has shown that unvaccinated people are the most likely not to wear a mask and social distance. Mandates will prevent this. COVID-infected patients are taking up much hospital space and equipment that should be available to patients with other grave health issues. Important surgeries are being delayed.

Opening and closing businesses takes a huge toll on the economy. Mandates will prevent these practices from occurring.

The number of cases of coronavirus has been increasing rapidly since July because of the strength of the Delta strain. Mandates will prevent more deaths and protect the economy.

While indoor masking and quarantine and isolation of cases and close contacts are effective strategies for reducing transmission, the quickest way to slow the spread is to increase vaccination coverage. For children this is not immediately possible, meaning that masks and the other strategies must protect them. The majority of adults in Newport Beach have chosen vaccinations.

Vaccinations of adults is the mandate of choice and should eventually eliminate the need for masking in schools and elsewhere, but time is of the essence.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

Letters to the Editor

It’s time for City Council to step up

This last Tuesday the City Council approved the 2510 West Coast Highway project in the Mariners’ Mile area. The project has 36 apartments, three of which are affordable and 33 which are market rate. The City of Newport Beach has a state-mandated requirement to plan for 1,918 additional low and very low-income apartments during the next housing cycle. You’ve probably heard it referred to as RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allocation). A housing cycle is eight years. The 1,918 number does not include a few projects that are in the pipeline or are already planned from the last housing cycle.   

We can lop off 1,000 units if we can develop 1,000 new Accessory Dwelling Units (granny flats), either by homeowners building new ones or by bringing some of the hundreds we have existing in the City into compliance with current building codes. 

That leaves 918 low and very low-income apartments needed to meet our RHNA allocation. Any sixth grader can do the math, 918 units minus three units in the 2510 West Coast Highway project, leaves 915 units. Meanwhile, we have added another 33 market rate units to get the three affordable units.    

The formula that is used for the Housing Element gets complicated. There are Density Bonuses that developers get based on a sliding scale, so the more affordable units they include in their projects, the more units they can build at market rate, but in the simplest terms, we need to add 10,000+ apartments. By the way, for context, we currently have about 45,000 residential units in Newport Beach. That’s nearly impossible to imagine! 

The State does allow cities to have an “Inclusionary Ordinance.” Many cities around us have them. An Inclusionary Ordinance requires a developer to include a certain percentage of affordable units in their project. This is less profitable than including 5 percent or 10 percent but is still common. For example, a 30 percent Inclusionary Ordinance would mean that in a project with 100 apartments, a developer would be required to include 30 affordable units and 70 units would be allowed at market rate. The rent charged for the market rate apartments helps to offset the loss that the developer has on the reduced rate affordable units. 

I think everyone can see that we need to have some amount of affordable housing in our city for our seniors, or our young adult children, as well as our restaurant, hospitality and health care workers who are not yet able to afford housing in our city. It is to our benefit to let these folks live near the places they work. 

But that’s not my point. My point is, that the City Council could develop and approve an Inclusionary Ordinance in pretty short order, maybe within a few months. Instead, they spent a lot of time in the City Council meeting this week, saying that they were helpless and blaming it on the State for the new housing laws that tied their hands. It is true that there are a lot of recent housing laws that restrict or remove a City’s right to control its zoning. However, given that there is SOMETHING, ANYTHING, that they can do to help reduce the overall massive numbers of residential units that are required to comply with our RHNA allocation, you would think that they would get to work on an Inclusionary Ordinance immediately. Instead, the Council majority has kicked the can down the road for a year. I think it’s time they get to work on this instead of muttering about being handcuffed and helpless. 

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach 

Speed bumps are the answer

Congratulations to city officials for finally addressing the issue of speeding cars in the Baycrest neighborhood. Speed bumps have been placed in three areas of the neighborhood. On my morning dog walk I cross Santiago Drive and Tradewinds on my way to the Back Bay entrance. In the past it was usual to see cars exceeding 45 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone…I can attest that this no longer occurs. The speed bumps are to be commended. 

Now let’s get more in place. 

Jim Padden

Newport Beach

Letter to the Editor

Board of Supervisors accused of Brown Act violations regarding Buck Johns’ property discussion

(The following letter was sent to Orange County Board of Supervisor Chairman Andrew Do and the other members of the Board of Supervisors. The letter is in reference to County property that abuts Buck Johns’ property in the Upper Back Bay.)

This letter is to call your attention to multiple Brown Act violations that occurred during the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on July 13, 2021.

It appears that during this meeting, the Board voted on action regarding pending litigation threatened by Mr. Buck Johns regarding parcel APN 439-051-14. Mr. Johns’ attorney had demanded that the illegal fence he had erected surrounding this public property be allowed to stay or he would initiate litigation. In a letter addressed to Mr. Johns on July 14, 2021, OC Chief Real Estate Officer Thomas Miller states that “county staff has had the opportunity to discuss the Subject Property with the Board of Supervisors and has received direction with regard to this matter.” Since this is a decision by the Board of Supervisors, one must conclude that this was discussed during the July 13, 2021, board meeting, although nothing is stated regarding this on the agenda.

Working on the assumption that this was discussed by the Board (since making a decision that is NOT discussed at a Board meeting is a major violation of the Brown Act), the only item on the agenda that might refer to this is item SCS6, “CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL - ANTICIPATED LITIGATION - SIGNIFICANT EXPOSURE TO LITIGATION pursuant to Government Code section 54956.9(d)(2). Number of Cases: One Case.” County Counsel may have mistakenly assumed that notice, which provides no indication of what anticipated litigation might be discussed, complied with the “safe harbor” provisions of Govt Code Sec. 54954.5(c). It does not.

Assuming that this was regarding the Buck Johns threat of litigation, the correct code would have been Govt Code section 54956.9(d)(2)(e)(5). As Govt Code Sec. 54954.5(c) explains, the safe harbor description in that case requires additional information, and as the California Court of Appeals has recently decided, it requires the letter threatening litigation to be included in the agenda packet posted for public review. 

Govt Code section 54956.9(e)(5) describes a subclass of anticipated litigation defined in pertinent part as:

“(5) A statement threatening litigation made by a person outside an open and public meeting on a specific matter within the responsibility of the legislative body so long as the official or employee of the local agency receiving knowledge of the threat makes a contemporaneous or other record of the statement prior to the meeting, which record shall be available for public inspection pursuant to Section 54957.5.” [emphasis added]

I also refer the county to Fowler v. City of Lafayette, 46 Cal. App. 5th 360, which includes an extensive discussion of closed sessions addressing threatened litigation. According to Fowler v. City of Lafayette: 

“On its face, section 54956.9, subdivision (e)(2) appears to apply to events that might themselves give rise to litigation, such as “an accident” or “disaster,” or a “transactional occurrence that might result in litigation.” But even assuming this language could be stretched to include a threat of litigation based on a pending application, we must bear in mind the well-established rule of statutory construction that “‘“[a] specific provision relating to a particular subject will govern in respect to that subject, as against a general provision, although the latter, standing alone, would be broad enough to include the subject to which the more particular provision relates.”’”(Miller v. Superior Court (1999) 21 Cal.4th 883, 895 [89 Cal.Rptr.2d 834, 986 P.2d 170]; accord, Elliott v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (2010) 182 Cal.App.4th 355, 365 [105 Cal.Rptr.3d 760].) Subdivision (e)(5) of section 54956.9 specifically addresses a public agency’s obligations when a person has threatened litigation outside a public meeting.”

In other words, the general provision cannot be used if a more specific code provision exists. Clearly, the correct code section is (e)(5), but this is not what was used for the closed session. Fowler v. City of Lafayette also goes on to address the need to make the record of the statement threatening litigation available for public inspection. The court found [emphasis added]: 

“Where litigation has been threatened outside a public meeting, it may be discussed in closed session under section 54956.9, subdivision (e)(5) only if a record of the threat is made before the meeting, which record must be made available for public inspection pursuant to section 54957.5. (§ 54956.9, subd. (e)(5).) The clear import of section 54957.5 is that agendas and other writings that the legislative body receives in connection with a meeting should be available to the public upon request. Mostly, these are documents relating to agenda items for the open session of the meeting (e.g., § 54957.5, subd. (b)(1)), but section 54956.9, subdivision (e)(5) requires the same for documented threats associated with an agenda item for the closed session as well. The only reasonable inference is that a record of a litigation threat to be discussed in closed session must be included in the agenda packet made available upon request before a meeting. (See Citizens for a Green San Mateo v. San Mateo County Community College Dist. (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1572, 1596 & fn. 5[173 Cal.Rptr.3d 47] [ § 54957.5 requires agenda packet to be made available to the public].)’

“We reiterate that the Brown Act is intended to “facilitate public participation in all phases of local government decision making” (Golightly v. Molina, supra. 229 Cal.App.4th at p. 1511), and that we must construe it liberally to accomplish its purpose (Olson. Supra. 33 Cal.App.5th at p. 525). Members of the public are entitled to rely on the agenda and packet made available upon request (see § 54957.5, subd. (a))”

The Board of Supervisors’ agenda packet for July 13, 2021, failed to provide the public with a copy of the letter threatening litigation that was be discussed in closed session, in violation of the Brown Act as construed by the California Court of Appeals in the Fowler decision, let alone disclose that a specific letter had even been received. The failure to provide proper notice in advance of a regularly scheduled meeting is a violation of Govt Code Sec. 54954.2.

The failure to provide any of the additional information required in this instance by Sec. 54954.5 prevents the County from claiming “substantial compliance” with the “safe harbor” noticing option. 

Additionally, the Board is required to report the results of any vote or decision, including who voted for and against the decision. This did not occur, another violation of the Brown Act, in this case Sec. 54953(c). 

Through these failures, the County deprived the public of its California Constitutional right (Article I, Sec. 3) to present views to the Board that may differ from those of the County Counsel with whom the Board was about to meet in private.

That seems particularly important in this case, since at a previous meeting the Board was presented with 1,321 signed paper petitions requesting Mr. Johns’ private fence be removed from public park land. The failure to properly agendize the Board’s discussion of the letter from Mr. Johns’ attorney denied those petitioners their opportunity to respond to the letter prior to the Board making a decision about it. 

It should be noted that a letter from one of us (Susan Skinner) regarding the threatened litigation was emailed to the Clerk of the Board, County Counsel and individual supervisors two days prior to the Board of Supervisors meeting. This letter should have been included in the comments regarding this item but was not. Had the item been noticed properly, the letter would have been specifically identified as being associated with that agenda item and thus included in the board packet. Since the letter contained a rebuttal to Mr. Johns’ legally ridiculous arguments, the outcome of the subsequent vote might have been different had this letter been included in the board deliberations.

Not only was the public denied their chance to comment, but the absence of a proper announcement deprived the press of an opportunity to properly cover an evolving story. Paragraph 11 of a July 23, 2021, article by Stu News reporter Sara Hall recounts this frustration:

“An added closed session item on the board’s Tuesday agenda noted a conference with legal counsel regarding anticipated or significant exposure to litigation, but the county representatives did not disclose any information on whether the matter could possibly be related to the Upper Newport Bay property. Stu News Newport could not confirm what the anticipated litigation was related to prior to publication.” 

Note that ten days after the closed session the press could not verify if the “direction” from the Board referred to in Mr. Miller’s July 14 letter was given at the July 13 closed session, let alone which Supervisors voted for or against giving him the direction he describes.

This is not the open government contemplated by the Brown Act and the California Constitution.

I therefore request that this action be considered void and this agenda item be reconsidered using the correct Govt Code subsections, that the letter threatening litigation be included in the agenda, that a safe harbor description of the item be included in the agenda and that a full report out of any vote taken occur at the end of the closed session. 

As provided by Govt Code section 54960.1, you have 30 days from the receipt of this demand to cure and correct the challenged action or inform me of your decision not to do so. 

I will add that this entire episode reeks of special privilege, which is another way of saying political corruption. I will be submitting a complaint about this issue to the Orange County Grand Jury and advise County Counsel to retain records regarding the potential sale to Mr. Johns and subsequent county actions. 

Susan Skinner MD

Newport Beach

Jim Mosher

Newport Beach

CC:  Leon Page, County Council

Letters to the Editor

Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile is pro-development, we just want the right projects

The Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile is “pro-development” and continues to support projects that are compatible with the abutting communities of Newport Heights, Bayshores, Cliff Haven and Lido Isle. We envision transforming Mariner’s Mile into a thriving economically productive destination where residents and visitors can work, play, dine and shop in a relaxing and friendly environment. 

The health, safety, welfare and livability of the community are the primary importance to the residents of Newport Beach. We envision a “walkable” family-friendly corridor that serves a purpose for everyone. We believe that we are better off if our decisions about our future revolve not around the car, but around the human being.

We will continue to promote slowing traffic, enhancing safety, widening sidewalks and bike lanes, while implementing a variety of changes that encourage pedestrian activity with the overall connectivity of future developments along Mariner’s Mile. 

The 2510 W. Pacific Coast Highway Project that was originally presented to the City Council would take advantage of the State’s density bonus laws, while forfeiting the foundation of the City’s 2006 General Plan and Newport’s current municipal codes. 

Both Mr. Bob Olson (Lido House) and Mr. Rick Caruso (Palisades Village), have been able to create a vision and deliver a quality product, and we believe development along Mariner’s Mile can follow suit.

Our guiding principle continues to be to Enhance Our Community’s Quality of Life and Do No Harm. The 2510 W. PCH Project, in its current state, unfortunately creates more harm than good. 

The City Council hearing for this project is currently scheduled for July 27 at the City Hall. We encourage ALL concerned residents to come and let your voices be heard.

Sue Leal

Newport Heights

Buck Johns’ demands could lead to OC Grand Jury actions

Thank you for Sara Hall’s comprehensive article about Buck Johns’ continuing quest to buy and control park land in the Back Bay.

Your readers might be interested to know that the narrative that the land was taken from Mr. Johns by eminent domain is completely fictional. The land in question was sold to the Irvine Company prior to Mr. Johns’ purchase of the adjacent property in 1977 and was subsequently donated to the county as a park in a so-called “irrevocable dedication” in 1990.

There is a fence encircling the property that completely closes out public use of the land and Mr. Johns is fighting hard to keep this illegal fence in place to maintain control of the land. The letter from his lawyer demanding this right is legally ridiculous but gave the county an opportunity to grant a politically influential Republican his wish. 

This is special privilege, otherwise known as political corruption, at its most flagrant. None of us would be given the opportunity to purchase 1/3 acre of bay view property for $13,000. No one without insider connections would be allowed to fence in county land for their private use.   

I will be submitting a complaint about this whole sordid episode to the OC Grand Jury in the hope that an ethical higher authority can right this wrong and I sincerely hope that county officials will be held responsible for their actions.

Susan Skinner MD

Newport Beach

City needs to work together to find common consensus on 2510 W. Coast Highway

The future of Mariner’s Mile will be determined within the framework of the interaction of the impossible State affordable housing requirements (between) 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 infrastructure and pending development projects together so we can study and understand how everything ties together. 

As elected representatives, the City Council has the responsibility to independently assess the facts before significant investments are made by developers, the City and the Newport Beach community.

The City Council and City Attorney must push back on all development projects using Affordable Housing Laws that are inconsistent with both the City of Newport Beach’s zoning ordinance and general plan land use designation as specified in any element of the general plan as it existed on the date the specific application is deemed complete.

On April 30, 2021, I sent the enclosed email to the City Council in the hope the Council would act to facilitate a win-win environment and outcome where the City, developer and community stakeholders work together with the common purpose to enhance our community’s quality of life, safety, health and welfare. 

During this City Council hearing, the Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile asked the City Council to sponsor a community outreach workshop to build a community-wide consensus prior to any decision on 2510 West Coast Highway. The purpose of the workshop would be for the City to explain land use controls, staff’s findings and recommendations, and to answer questions from the public.

The presentation must include (1) the detail bases of the City’s determination and justification for the project’s Coastal Development Permit, and (2) the details of any finding that supports a recommendation to approve where the development project is inconsistent with both the City of Newport Beach’s zoning ordinance and general plan land use designation, as specified in any element of the general plan as it existed on the date the specific application is deemed complete.

An unusually large number of correspondence (was) sent to the City Council prior to the April 27th City Council review and the presentations by community stakeholders during the hearing were overwhelmingly against the proposed 2510 West Coast Highway Development Project’s high density, enormous, oversized structure for the lot, and the incompatibility of the design and configuration. At the meeting, other than the developer’s team, not a single comment was in favor of the proposed development.

Unfortunately, since April 27th not a single step has been taken to build a community consensus. While the developer has redesigned the outward appearance of the building, the essential character, size and high density of the project with its potential adverse impact upon the surrounding communities remain. 

To illustrate, community issues and concerns yet to be addressed:

–Scenic corridor views along Mariner’s Mile cannot be taken for granted. At the hearing the community asked for story poles to be erected for all to assess whether the project will forever block resident and tourist scenic coastal corridor views from parks and the Newport Bay. 

–An indispensable general plan goal is to enhance vitality for residents and visitors, yet traffic conflicts among vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians continue to plague traveling conditions along the Mariner’s Mile portion of Orange County’s Pacific Coast Highway according to a published transportation study. Serious life-threatening and life-ending accidents on West Coast Highway along Mariner’s Mile are increasing and effective traffic calming measures are required. 

–A traffic safety and circulation analysis of the impact of the project upon the surrounding communities of Newport Heights, Cliff Haven, Bayshores and Lido Island that includes safeguards for children traveling on bicycles to various activities such as schools, junior lifeguards and sea scouts.

2510 West Coast Highway sets a precedent for the design, character, size and density of future projects being proposed along Mariner’s Mile. Until material facts are disclosed to community stakeholders in a City Council-sponsored community outreach workshop that includes the criteria used and underlying details showing compliance with governing laws and regulations in support of the City staff’s findings and recommendations, the City Council cannot make an informed decision whether to approve or disapprove the project.

Patrick Gormley 

Newport Beach

Guest Letter

Robert T. Braithwaite

President & CEO


Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research


Community needs to remain vigilant against new spread of COVID-19

Guest Letter Robert Braithwaite Guest Letter Robinson

Click on photos for larger images

Photos courtesy of Hoag Hospital

(L-R) Robert Braithwaite, Hoag president and CEO and Philip Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Dear Neighbors,

As we continue to enjoy the reopening of businesses and the reunions of friends and families, we want to remind you of the importance of remaining vigilant against the spread of COVID-19. If you have not yet received your COVID-19 vaccine, please do not wait any longer.

After a promising downward trend in cases, the highly transmissible Delta variant is clearly gaining a foothold in our community. The California Department of Public Health found that the variant accounted for 36 percent of COVID cases in June, up from less than 6 percent in May. 

Nationally, Delta is now the predominant strain of COVID-19, and hospital cases – both locally and statewide – are ticking back up again. This is not the trend we want to see, and it is up to all of us to prevent a resurgence. 

The most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community from this highly contagious strain of COVID-19 is to get vaccinated. Almost all the hospitalized cases that we are seeing at Hoag involve patients who did not receive the vaccine. This includes pregnant women, whose COVID illness complicated the course of their pregnancies and their deliveries, and otherwise healthy individuals who have had to cancel summer travel plans and long-awaited wedding celebrations due to an unexpected hospitalization. 

COVID-19 vaccines are readily available at pharmacies, urgent care clinics and doctors’ offices throughout the community. Appointments can be scheduled at two convenient Hoag locations in Newport Beach and Irvine, and no appointments are needed to be vaccinated at our community clinics at the Irvine Spectrum Center and the Hoag Fly Well Clinic at John Wayne Airport. Learn more by visiting

Being vaccinated not only protects you and those around you, but it also helps limit the virus’s reach in our community, which reduces the chances that new variants will emerge. Misconceptions seem to be as difficult to root out as the disease itself. To lay a few myths to rest, please know:

–Healthy young people can and do get severely ill from COVID-19 and would benefit from the vaccine. Everyone 12 years of age and older is eligible to be vaccinated.

–There is no evidence that any vaccines including COVID-19 cause infertility.

–The vaccine does not alter a person’s DNA or leave lasting traces of the virus’s DNA in a person’s body.

–The vaccine does not give you COVID-19.

Other ways you can help prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 and other viruses are to stay home and away from others if you are feeling sick and to continue to practice good hand hygiene. Resuming your regular medical check-ups, treating chronic conditions and staying on top of your other vaccines are important ways to maintain your overall health, and we want to remind you that Hoag is here for you.

Thank you for your continued support and trust in us. We believe that the worst is behind us, but we ask that you remain vigilant – and get vaccinated – to protect your health and the health of all those around you.


Robert T. Braithwaite

President & Chief Executive Officer

Philip A. Robinson, MD, FIDSA

Medical Director of Infection Prevention

Principal Investigator of Infectious Disease Research

Letters to the Editor

Novice boaters ruining the harbor

Please, City of NB, get on the job! In a continuing drift that started a few years ago when the city replaced the Sheriff’s Department, conditions on the bay are worsening. Amidst the boaters ignoring “no wake” zones there are fallen SUPers, numerous and dangerous violations of navigation rules, abrasive arguments between seasoned sailors and the newly entitled, and all too often the distinctive waft of weed coinciding with idiocy at the helm. 

Making matters worse are the Harbor Patrol boats racing through the bay to imagined emergencies. Yes, I’ve watched through binoculars as the speeding sirens make their strategic turns around corners and suddenly, huh, nothing to see here folks, move along. 

Property damage to docks and boats and shoreline from wake turbulence is at an all-time high. Just try to get Swift Slip to do a repair, they’re three months out if they even answer your call. 

Multiple calls and photos to the City of NB, Harbor Patrol, and/or lifeguards are met with indifference. The Sheriff rightly says it’s not their jurisdiction anymore. I’ve lived my life on the bay, and this is not a typical seasonal trend, it’s a gathering storm. 

Please, City of NB, bring back the bay.

Matt Clabaugh

Newport Beach

The “other side” of the undergrounding story that’s “not being told”

An archaic 1913 Municipal Act, meant as a vehicle for beneficial community development in the pre-World War One era has silently morphed into a stealth, “under the radar” strategy to levy tens of millions of dollars in property taxes without the normal rigid safeguards and procedures for voter approval. 

The City of Newport Beach has mastered the use of this Municipal Act specifically to underground utilities over the past 20+ years. The strategy is to divvy up each project as a small Assessment District affecting several hundred property owners at a time without attracting too much unwanted attention. To date, per the data available on the City’s website, it has been accomplished over 60 times. Due to its impact on a small number of properties at any one time, it gets scant attention from the public at large and protests by the scattered opposition are ignored by the City or drowned out in the cacophony of absurdities spouted on Nextdoor.

One such project, Assessment District 124, is scheduled for a so-called vote on July 27. Unlike the others, this is an unusually large $32,815,700 project affecting 966 properties on Balboa Island. The average cost (a property tax euphemistically called an assessment) amounts to a staggering $34,000 per parcel, if paid as a lump sum. However, if paid over 20 years the total payment could be as high as $54,000 depending on the bond interest rate in 2023 or 2024, a fact that is cleverly hidden in the fine print. 

Now to the upcoming so-called vote on July 27: the ballots, mailed out around June 10, are 100 percent by mail; the ballot roster, of questionable accuracy, is managed by a contractor hired by the City who may have follow-up contracts awarded, if AD124 is approved. The City does not seem to recognize a conflict of interest here. Four weeks after the mailing, by happenstance or by design, a significant number of voters have not yet received their ballots and may not even be aware of the huge tax assessment about to befall them. This has been a recurring pattern on past such ballots – as little as 70 percent voter participation in many cases – leading to passage with way less than 50 percent of affected property owners approving. 

Furthermore, the City has no methodology for checking signatures on the mail-in ballots, relying solely on the penalty of perjury. The vote, by design and I am told by statute, is a matter of public record subjecting participants to intimidation and peer pressure.

The City has provided several informational attachments along with the ballots. Missing in the attachments are the customary pleadings, for and against the initiative from each of the two camps, so that the voters can make an informed choice. No opposing view has been provided with the ballots. 

There have been no hearings or informational meetings held by the City on this huge four-years-long project. We have been told by the City that this obvious lack of transparency and ballot integrity is sanctioned by the archaic Municipal Act of 1913. But the City continues to present itself as an independent, honest arbiter in an unpleasant feud of its own making, between dueling neighbors.

It is high time for the City to step in and protect the residents. But will it do so? Highly unlikely given the creative approach (having property owners seemingly opt into higher taxes voluntarily) provides them with a convenient and healthy subsidy to what are in essence city and utility infrastructure projects.

Jamshed Dastur

Balboa Island

Letter to the Editor

Water issues are before us again, shouldn’t we be focused on creating more recapturing programs?

The governor has asked us to cut water consumption by 15 percent. As a number of experts have pointed out, we are already saving. Since the “conclusion” of the last drought, most of us have continued to minimize our water usage, meaning there’s not a lot of room for cutbacks. 

At the same time, we face a state mandate to produce hundreds of thousands of new dwelling units. At the very least the residents of these new units will bathe and flush toilets, increasing the amount of water used, and yet there was not a word of this in the governor’s announcement. 

If there is this wonderful budget surplus, the state should be focused on creating more groundwater replenishment and other recapture programs to ensure an adequate water supply rather than creating more demands on a system that is once again in trouble. 

Nancy Gardner

Corona del Mar

Letters to the Editor

The passing of UCLA’s Terry Donahue

As a proud USC graduate, it was beyond excruciating watching the Bruins beat the Trojans five times under Terry Donahue. Despite the cross-town rivalry, I have to say he really was a terrific coach. Here’s an 8-clap salute to UCLA’s former coach.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach 

With no Ham radio communication connection, is the City prepared to handle a major disaster?

Stu News Newport received the letter below from a member of the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service program, who wished to remain anonymous, while questioning the City’s decisions relating to potential disaster communication.

We forwarded those concerns on to the City and provide their response further below.

I am hoping you can let the public know that the Newport Beach Police Department canceled its Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) program in May 2021. The NB Fire Department canceled its CERT Comm emergency communicators program in 2017.

This leaves the City of NB with no official Ham radio communications within the city, or to surrounding cities for Mutual Aid in the case of a major disaster.

The City had spent a great deal of money on repeaters, as well as antennas on the NBPD HQ and antennas on the City Hall, which connect to the new and expensive Emergency Operations Center in the basement. 

The response we have gotten is that the City prefers to use a new internet-based emergency comms system, which will be useless if the internet goes down as it did on 9/11. We are not sure how much this new system cost, or why it was installed in the first place since Ham radio is the “gold standard” in emergencies.

Taxpayers paid for the repeaters, the antennas and the new EOC, and yet, we do not have use of any of it. Worse yet, the residents and visitors of Newport Beach are exposed to the danger of not being able to communicate with each other or with first responders since the repeaters were turned off! 

Can you please shed the light of public awareness on this bad decision, and help us to get these two groups restored so that residents and visitors can once again be safe? 

RACES member & concerned resident 

Newport Beach

Technological advances in communication systems no longer justify old system 

As COVID-19 restrictions were being lifted at the beginning of the year, which would allow the Newport Beach Police Department to invite back volunteers to our various programs, we did a needs assessment. On March 19, 2021, the Newport Beach Police Department officially ended their RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services) Program. Prior to sending out our formal notice, the lieutenant managing the program personally contacted and thanked each RACES member by telephone and invited them to volunteer in a different capacity.

Since the City of Newport Beach now utilizes a more technologically advanced communication systems, the RACES Program is no longer justified. Moreover, the RACES Program has required oversight consisting of training, equipment and drills for RACES members. This oversight requires time and resources from the city and its employees. Although we appreciate the commitment of our RACES members, the Police Department must allocate resources to support those volunteer programs that are most beneficial to our city and residents.

For background, the Police Department was responsible for managing the RACES Program for over 40 years. As you can imagine, a great deal of technological advances took place during this time. The city has built and enhanced a wide array of redundant emergency communication upgrades over the last decade, designed to back up one system should another fail. These advances have ensured the City of Newport Beach is prepared for any emergency operation, including natural or man-made events.

The following upgrades have been completed and are currently operational within our emergency communications systems:

–In 2019, the County of Orange re-banding of the 800 MHz radio system provides more local capabilities and a backup communication system within the county. 

–In 2016, the City of Newport Beach purchased a backup repeater system to be utilized if the Orange County 800 MHz system should fail. The backup repeater can operate independently of the county and provide communication coverage within the city.

–The Cal Fire Statewide Bendix King Radio Trunking System can be utilized if the County 800 MHZ system fails. All Fire Department apparatus’ have Bendix King radios.

–The Wireless Alert System (WEA) now provides quick communications to all community members and first responders via their mobile phones.

–The AlertOC Mass Notification System can recall City of Newport Beach employees and communicate directly to the public.

–Finally, backup generators have been installed at City of Newport Beach facilities to support the Voice Over Internet Protocol System (VoIP) for phones.

We have enjoyed a very positive relationship with the RACES Program and its volunteers. As mentioned previously, a member of police management communicated individually with each RACES member to inform them of this decision and to encourage them to participate in the County of Orange RACES Program should they wish to continue to volunteer in that capacity. Alternatively, members could join the Newport Beach Police Department’s Volunteers in Policing Program (VIP) if they wish to volunteer within the police department in a different capacity.

Since the dissolution of the RACES Program, there is a lot of misinformation being circulated in the community regarding our backup repeater being shut off. The backup repeater was created and purchased to assist Police, Fire and other city departments in the event the County 800MHz system goes down. We have backup radios that operate on this backup repeater’s frequencies that we can issue to our first responders and city personnel in an emergency. The backup repeater was never meant for HOAs and community members to have access. In fact, now it appears someone programmed some of the RACES and CERT members’ radios to use those frequencies without authorization.

This is a problem because public safety will be in competition with community members for essential radio traffic if we need to utilize the redundant system in an emergency. As a result, the city tower was turned off temporarily so that we can reprogram the backup repeater with new frequencies once issued by the FCC. As a reminder, the whole advantage behind citizen HAM radio operators’ efforts in an emergency is that that they maintain an independent system and are not reliant on public safety/government infrastructure for their communications. To put any community concerns at ease, it is standard protocol for our police officers to conduct “windshield surveys” or active patrols for damage to our critical infrastructure as well as safety checks of neighborhoods within the community in the unlikely event our 9-1-1 system ever goes down.

With that said, the City of Newport Beach has a robust and resilient infrastructure supporting our dispatch center and we encourage all community members to call or text 9-1-1 during an emergency or disaster to reach the Police and Fire Departments. By calling or texting 9-1-1, we can appropriately document, prioritize and dispatch appropriate Police and Fire personnel for the community in times of an emergency; this is a streamlined process that has been tried and tested during many emergencies over the years. 


Deputy Chief Steve Rasmussen | Patrol and Traffic Divisions 

Newport Beach Police Department

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Elected mayor should be discussed in larger venue before voting takes place

Since when does one person get to decide major policy changes for the whole city? That is what is occurring with the push to elect our mayor. Right now, the role of mayor is a one-year term and rotates among the current council. There have been no committees considering this. No discussions about the pros and cons of having an elected mayor have surfaced. Even the existing City Council isn’t a big fan of doing this, perhaps because it is driven by only one person without apparent consideration of any other viewpoints.    

Initiatives have a long life since they can only be changed by another election. Shouldn’t we at least discuss this in a larger venue before it comes up for a vote or are we just stuck with one man’s opinion of what the role of mayor should be?

Tom Baker

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

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

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

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

It’s time for City Council to step up

This last Tuesday the City Council approved the 2510 West Coast Highway project in the Mariners’ Mile area. The project has 36 apartments, three of which are affordable and 33 which are market rate. The City of Newport Beach has a state-mandated requirement to plan for 1,918 additional low and very low-income apartments during the next housing cycle. You’ve probably heard it referred to as RHNA (Regional Housing Needs Allocation). A housing cycle is eight years. The 1,918 number does not include a few projects that are in the pipeline or are already planned from the last housing cycle.   

We can lop off 1,000 units if we can develop 1,000 new Accessory Dwelling Units (granny flats), either by homeowners building new ones or by bringing some of the hundreds we have existing in the City into compliance with current building codes. 

That leaves 918 low and very low-income apartments needed to meet our RHNA allocation. Any sixth grader can do the math, 918 units minus three units in the 2510 West Coast Highway project, leaves 915 units. Meanwhile, we have added another 33 market rate units to get the three affordable units.    

The formula that is used for the Housing Element gets complicated. There are Density Bonuses that developers get based on a sliding scale, so the more affordable units they include in their projects, the more units they can build at market rate, but in the simplest terms, we need to add 10,000+ apartments. By the way, for context, we currently have about 45,000 residential units in Newport Beach. That’s nearly impossible to imagine! 

The State does allow cities to have an “Inclusionary Ordinance.” Many cities around us have them. An Inclusionary Ordinance requires a developer to include a certain percentage of affordable units in their project. This is less profitable than including 5 percent or 10 percent but is still common. For example, a 30 percent Inclusionary Ordinance would mean that in a project with 100 apartments, a developer would be required to include 30 affordable units and 70 units would be allowed at market rate. The rent charged for the market rate apartments helps to offset the loss that the developer has on the reduced rate affordable units. 

I think everyone can see that we need to have some amount of affordable housing in our city for our seniors, or our young adult children, as well as our restaurant, hospitality and health care workers who are not yet able to afford housing in our city. It is to our benefit to let these folks live near the places they work. 

But that’s not my point. My point is, that the City Council could develop and approve an Inclusionary Ordinance in pretty short order, maybe within a few months. Instead, they spent a lot of time in the City Council meeting this week, saying that they were helpless and blaming it on the State for the new housing laws that tied their hands. It is true that there are a lot of recent housing laws that restrict or remove a City’s right to control its zoning. However, given that there is SOMETHING, ANYTHING, that they can do to help reduce the overall massive numbers of residential units that are required to comply with our RHNA allocation, you would think that they would get to work on an Inclusionary Ordinance immediately. Instead, the Council majority has kicked the can down the road for a year. I think it’s time they get to work on this instead of muttering about being handcuffed and helpless. 

Nancy Scarbrough

Newport Beach 

Speed bumps are the answer

Congratulations to city officials for finally addressing the issue of speeding cars in the Baycrest neighborhood. Speed bumps have been placed in three areas of the neighborhood. On my morning dog walk I cross Santiago Drive and Tradewinds on my way to the Back Bay entrance. In the past it was usual to see cars exceeding 45 miles per hour in a 25-mph zone…I can attest that this no longer occurs. The speed bumps are to be commended. 

Now let’s get more in place. 

Jim Padden

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

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

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

Resident and neighbor hopes that major issues will be considered for Mariners’ Mile project

Please consider the failures of the project and not just the fact that it “looks better.” Looks are great but consider how traffic will impact Newport Heights, how the project will affect the view from the beloved park above, how it will impact our bicyclists and kids riding bikes to the beach and to junior guards, where and how their overflow parking for visitors will be and how it will impact the above neighborhoods, as well as other points in the below list.

From what we have been able to gather from our limited exposure to information from the City, by previous concerted efforts – there has been marked improvements in architectural style but not one major issue asked by residents has been addressed!

–Failure to erect story poles to determine and analyze the project’s visual impacts from John Wayne Park.

–Denied access for survey to confirm Coastal Commission appeal zone.

–Failure to prepare a traffic/circulation and safety analysis for the surrounding neighborhood.

–Failure to address impacts to kids on bicycles using the 3’ ultimate width sidewalk on WCH. 

–Failure to discuss the future of WCH, the signal at Tustin Ave. (to be removed).

–Failure to analyze off-site parking impacts.

–Failure to provide a consistency analysis with the Local Coastal Program (a requirement of the Coastal Development Permit application).

–Failure to require CEQA environmental review or to evaluate environmental impacts to coastal resources (the second is a Coastal Development Permit requirement).

Personally, Mariners’ Mile is not the place for multi-unit housing as it is already maxed out on traffic and there is much overflow from the highway cutting through the heights to get to Westcliff and the Costa Mesa 17th Street shops.

This historic mile has always been the place for restaurants, small businesses and boat businesses including Viking Port since 1938. 

Please consider that the view from the above John Wayne Park overlooks the bay and the boats in the harbor. The park has always been a place for people to gather and, in most residents’ opinion, is the most valued perk of living in the Newport Heights and Cliff Haven neighborhoods. No one will put value on looking at the top of an apartment building.

Thank you for considering the local neighbors’ points of view.

Nancy Pedersen

Newport Beach

This local argues that not expanding Coast Highway will lead to more traffic in the neighborhoods

Protect Mariners’ Mile’s main focus is to remove traffic from PCH, which is a state highway. To achieve their goal, they want the city to narrow travel lanes and install traffic calming devices on PCH. The downside to their plan is many thousands of cars and trucks would be shifted from PCH to Newport Heights and Cliffhaven residential streets. 

Jim Kociuba

Newport Beach

Bottom line: more studying and collaborating to make proper 2510 W. Coast Highway decision

Residents and homeowners throughout Newport Beach share a common interest – to sustain and preserve the character and charm of our unique neighborhoods, villages and beachfront community. Two principles for guiding our neighborhoods and villages should be to enhance our community’s quality of life and do no harm. As stakeholders, we should be involved in the decisions that impact our quality of life, safety, health and welfare – in this case a Mariners’ Mile “Village” design in harmony with our community’s character and core values without adversely impacting the surrounding area.

Mariners’ Mile’s significance and impact must not be underestimated. Mariners’ Mile is a gateway destination along Newport Bay and the heart of our charming coastal community. It is a vital corridor providing access to the bay, beaches, schools, neighborhoods, business districts, hospital buildings and post offices. Mariners’ Mile is endowed with a waterfront that houses a large number of private boats, providing the physical and visual presence of a vibrant waterfront village, with unique opportunities for marina-oriented businesses, offering public and private access for all to enjoy.

A foundational responsibility of the City Council as elected representatives of the citizens of Newport Beach is to listen to the citizens, not just the demands and desires of developers – to build a community consensus with a clear vision to guide the responsible development of Newport Beach. Mariners’ Mile has been studied, evaluated, discussed and debated for decades – and still no consensus has emerged.

On February 18, 2021, during the hearing for 2510 West Coast Highway, the Planning Commission acknowledged the need for a Mariners’ Mile Master Plan. Also, during the April 27, 2021, City Council Review Session, Mayor Brad Avery stated, “We could do a better job from the very beginning of the planning process.” I agree.

Mark Moshayedi sponsored a community outreach Zoom meeting (on February 2) to discuss the proposed mixed-use development at 2510 W. Coast Hwy. (PA2019-249). This event was viewed by some as a positive step, as it provided some understanding of the project’s scope and design. Yet, many meeting attendees were deeply disappointed with the piecemeal consideration of only 2510 W. Coast Hwy., desiring insight into ALL the Moshayedi family’s proposed projects along Mariners’ Mile.

Considering the scope and significance of this proposed high-density project, a request was made to the City’s Community Development Department to host a public outreach workshop prior to the February 18th Planning Commission meeting. The purpose of the meeting would be to explain land use controls, staff’s findings and recommendations, and to answer questions from the public. Inexplicably, the City denied this request.

I described emerging trends, common ground and areas where agreement exists, presenting a vision, a course of action and a proven path forward for developing a Newport-style Mariners’ Mile “Village” in a letter sent to the City Council dated April 21, 2021. 

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 a proven model, one that can be successfully duplicated for Mariners’ Mile, thereby preserving and enhancing the character and charm of the surrounding villages on Newport Beach Bay.

The majority of correspondences sent to the City Council prior to the April 27th City Council Review, as well as the presentations by community stakeholders during the hearing, were overwhelmingly against the proposed 2510 W. Coast Hwy Development Project – objecting to the high-density structure, oversized for the lot, and the incompatibility of the design and configuration. At the meeting, other than the developer’s team, not a single comment was in favor of the proposed development.

It is impossible to overstate the profound change 2510 W. Coast Hwy. and ALL proposed Moshayedi family development projects and future infrastructure changes will have on Mariners’ Mile. The cumulative land use for ALL the Moshayedi family future developments represents over one-third of Mariners’ Mile and will forever determine the future destiny of this scenic corridor.

2510 W. Coast Hwy. sets a precedent for the design, character, size and density of future projects being proposed along Mariners’ Mile. Since the April 27, 2021, City Council Review Session, Mark Moshayedi responded by modifying the outward appearance of the 2510 structure to be similar in design to buildings located in Lido Marina Village. The essential character, size and high density of the project with its potential adverse impact upon the surrounding communities remain. Thoughtful development is welcome – high density, heavy traffic and a walled-in bay front are not what the community wants.

A decision on 2510 W. Coast Hwy. is premature and must be postponed. An analysis of the total land use and scope of ALL the Moshayedi family proposed development projects on Mariners’ Mile must be made available to the community for consideration and discussion. Show how the whole thing works – identify benefits and potential adverse impacts upon the community’s ecosystem, including quality of life, health, safety and cost of city services, especially police and fire.

The Greenlight Initiative and the General Plan were the result of community consensus, and the intent of both should be adhered to along Mariners’ Mile and applied to the combined scope of all proposed and foreseeable future developments before any single project is approved. The expectations of the community in passing the Greenlight Initiative were lower density, reduced traffic and improved safety, thereby enhancing our community’s quality of life.

What is urgently needed is an analysis of the total land use and scope of ALL Moshayedi family proposed development, as well as ALL future infrastructure projects on Mariners’ Mile, as a prerequisite to the approval of any single piece of the total development. 2510 W. Coast Hwy. sets a precedent for the design, character, size and density of future projects being proposed along Mariners’ Mile.

City Council cannot make an informed decision whether to approve or disapprove the project until material facts are disclosed in City Council-sponsored community outreach workshops that include the criteria used, and underlying details showing compliance with governing laws and regulations in support of the City Staff’s findings and recommendations.

The City Council fought to establish a Harbor Commission. Lido Village was reborn and revitalized by the city with City Council support. The City Council has previously recognized the necessity of a comprehensive revitalization Master Plan for Mariners’ Mile “Village” but has thus far failed to follow through on its already agreed upon plans. How many members of the City Council will now proactively fight for the future of Mariners’ Mile? A comprehensive plan is a proven way for the city to establish framework necessary to identify and preserve the desired look and feel. Newport Beach community stakeholders need the City Council’s help and support.


–Postpone the decision on 2510 W. Coast Hwy. until the aggregate of all property development proposals, including road safety, road widening and infrastructure projects along West Coast Highway are evaluated as a whole, and definitely before a single project is approved.

–Establish a Mariners’ Mile Steering Committee, composed of stakeholders (Caltrans, property owners, local merchants and residents), to shape the future of Mariners’ Mile as a Newport-style “Village.”

–The City Council, Planning Commission and city staff must assure residents and business owners that the proposed use of 2510 W. Coast Hwy. and ALL Mariners’ Mile property development projects will be of Newport-style “Village” design that enhances the character and charm of the surrounding villages on Newport Beach, bay and harbor.

We earnestly request the development and enforcement of a comprehensive Mariners’ Mile “Village” plan, one in harmony with our community’s character, community norms and core values, to create and preserve the desired look, character, feel and density.

Specifically and urgently, please postpone a final decision on 2510 W. Coast Highway until all related property development proposals in this corridor are considered together – including road safety, road widening and other infrastructure projects – and ensure that the proposals comply with the master plan.

Patrick Gormley 

Newport Beach

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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.