If there was ever a project that should go to a public vote, the Museum House condominium tower has to be it. It represents all the issues that just beg for a good public discussion.
On the one hand, it is touted to be a beautiful, iconic structure the likes of which can be found in places like Century City and big cities around the world.
On the other hand, it is an increase in the density of Newport Center and an extension of the wall of high-rise buildings.
Is Newport Beach wanting to be more like Century City?
On the one hand it will bring $7,100,000 in developer fees which can be used at the discretion of the City Council for things like extra payoff of the City’s pension liabilities or a new West Newport Community Center – or whatever.
On the other hand, is the City in such financial despair that it needs to sell itself off to developers?
On the one hand, it is said to fulfill a need for luxury condominiums in our City.
On the other hand, such housing can be found in many other places such as Marina del Rey –probably San Diego and other big cities with coastal views included. If we really need more housing, isn’t it likely that the price should be more modest?
On the one hand, it offers the Orange County Museum of Art the opportunity to raise lots of money and move to Costa Mesa.
On the other hand, the OCMA could stay and grow here and let Newport share some of the cultural benefits that were the intent of Irvine Company’s gift in the first place.
On the one hand, it is said that many of us are obsolete in our thinking about Newport Beach’s character and atmosphere.
On the other hand, such character and atmosphere have been consistently described and repeated in the early and current General Plans.
These are at least five reasons why this project deserves the exposure of a public vote. By our calculations, it should be put to a vote under the Greenlight law but the City disagrees. Aside from that consideration, it is one residential unit short of needing to go to a public vote under the Greenlight law.
The City Council has the discretion to put this project to a vote and we hope they see fit to do so. The residents of the community also have the discretion to put the project to a vote by gathering the requisite signatures.
Either way, I remain of the belief that this project is worthy of a broad public discussion and a vote to once again help steer the City’s vision and future.