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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. 

Transparency

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