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Op/Ed: Summing Up a Productive Year for the Newport Beach City Council

By Joe Stapleton, Mayor Pro Tem of Newport Beach

It’s been a rewarding and productive first year as your representative on the Newport Beach City Council. To cap it off, I was just selected by my fellow council members to serve as Mayor Pro Tem for the 2024 calendar year. It is an honor and privilege to be chosen by my colleagues to serve in this role, and I look forward to carrying out the roles and responsibilities of this position on behalf of the people of Newport Beach.

My Council colleagues and I have addressed several challenges, made progress on others, and launched new projects to further improve our great city.

Here are a few highlights from 2023 that I’d like to share with you as we close out the year:

  • Homeless Response: My Council colleagues and I adopted a new City ordinance to address homelessness, augmenting Newport Beach’s already comprehensive approach. The new law bans tents and other structures set up as living accommodations and prohibits blocking access to certain facilities, among other provisions. In addition, Newport Beach increased the number of shelter beds available in the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter and launched a new partnership to convert a Costa Mesa hotel into permanent, supportive housing. A special thank you to Councilmembers Kleiman, Grant and Blom for their dedicated efforts on our homelessness committee.
  • Boardwalk Safety: The City launched a program to deploy additional police and parking control officers to the Oceanfront Boardwalk, replacing the Boardwalk Ambassador program. Officers continue to provide outreach and education, as the Ambassadors did, but take enforcement actions, including citations and arrests, when necessary.
  • Fractional Homeownership. The City Council passed a new ordinance effectively regulating fractional homeownership, which was approved by the California Coastal Commission. As our city’s statement said in the wake of the Commission’s approval, it reinforces the importance of local control over critical housing issues that impact our community. Many of our residents have expressed concerns about noise, parking, high turnover, and other adverse neighborhood impacts that often arise with short-term stays. Thankfully, the Coastal Commission recognized the negative impacts that arise from fractional ownership and sided with the residents of Newport Beach to help preserve the quality of life and neighborhood character in our coastal residential areas.
  • Gateway Park renovations: The City completed $540,000 worth of improvements for Gateway Park in 2023, creating a more welcoming entrance to Lido and the Peninsula. The project included new landscaping, lighting, repairs, painting, and a new park sign.
  • Newport Bay Trash Interceptor: Construction began this year on the Newport Bay Trash Interceptor, a sustainably powered system to collect floating trash before it enters the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve. The $5.5 million system, which will capture 80 percent of the floating trash and debris from San Diego Creek, is expected to be operational by December 2024.
  • Superior Avenue Bicycle and Pedestrian Bridge. Construction of the new pedestrian and bicycle bridge began in early 2023 and is now well underway at PCH and Superior Avenue. The project includes an expanded parking lot and improvements to Sunset Ridge Park. The new bridge, parking lot, and park improvements are expected to be completed in Spring 2024.
  • Public Safety: Public safety is the highest priority for our Council, and we continue to further improve the world-class Newport Beach Police Department. In 2023, the city named a new Chief of Police, Joe Cartwright, to succeed outgoing Chief Jon Lewis. The city also made preparations for the eventual relocation of the Police Department headquarters, purchasing a 2.59-acre parcel of land on Dove Street. Also, in our current fiscal year budget, the Council allocated funding for a new ambulance and six additional firefighter/paramedic positions to meet increased community demand for ambulance services.
  • Lifeguards: I very much enjoyed participating in the Centennial Anniversary celebrations this year for the excellent institution that is our Newport Beach Lifeguards. More good news: the new Junior Lifeguard Building is expected to open this spring and be fully operational for next year’s summer program.
  • Sand Replenishment: In November, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began replenishing beach sand from Seal Beach to Newport Beach in a long-overdue, $23-million project. Crews deposited about 1.2 million cubic yards of sand in the Sunset Beach area, which will move south over the next few years through natural wave and tidal flow. As part of the project, the Army Corps moved 100,000 cubic yards of sand from the Santa Ana River area to replenish beaches between 52nd and 36th streets.
  • Advocating for Stricter Oversight of Group Sober-Living Homes. The city strongly advocated for more oversight from the State of California over group homes licensed by the State. Some progress came in the form of an audit, approved by a State Legislature committee, into the management and oversight of State-licensed sober living homes.
  • Reducing Power Outages. I worked closely with Southern California Edison on plans to improve power reliability to Lido and other West Newport neighborhoods. While the City of Newport Beach is not a power supplier, I have engaged in discussions with SCE about potential solutions to pursue in the future. SCE has committed to short-term, mid-range, and long-term solutions to improve reliability and reduce outages.

I look forward to keeping you informed of developments on these and other exciting projects and initiatives in 2024. As always, I welcome your suggestions and concerns. Please feel free to reach out to me directly by email at jstapleton@newportbeachca.gov or by phone at (949) 644-3004. Follow on social media: @NewportStapleton.

The post Op/Ed: Summing Up a Productive Year for the Newport Beach City Council appeared first on Newport Beach News.


Source: Newport Beach Independent

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