EDITOR’S NOTE: Indy reporter Sara Hall compiled this look back at what made headlines in the Newport Beach Independent during 2018. This week, July through December. Last week covered the top news stories of the first half of the year.
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• Newport Beach Police Department gave a “voice” to Linda Ann O’Keefe, an 11-year-old girl who lived in Corona del Mar and whose 1973 murder is still unsolved, through re-telling her story on social media on July 6, the 45th anniversary of her abduction.
• Several Newport Beach residents joined together to file a lawsuit claiming the argument opposing a measure on the November ballot is misleading, the author is actually a supporter and opinion against the measure is just a ruse.
The woman’s injuries were not life-threatening and she was transported for medical attention.Following the incident, city officials announced that lifeguard personnel will be posted near the bridge through the summer.
At a later Harbor Commission meeting, city staff shared some stats that lifeguards have reported, including 231 code enforcement actions, or “contact made with potential or actual jumpers,” between July 26 and Aug. 7. They have had to call for police backup twice when some weren’t complying.
• On July 25, 10 Newport Beach Fire Department fire personnel were deployed as part of the California Mutual Aid System to assist with firefighting effort on the Cranston fire in Idyllwild in Riverside County.
After a few days of fighting the Cranston fire the teams were released and deployed to the Mendocino Complex Fire.An NB paramedic also headed up to the Carr Fire in Redding in Shasta County to act as a single resource Public Information Officer on July 27.
During a City Council study session and regular meeting on Aug. 14, Council members and residents criticized Bird’s implementation without authorization strategy, which appeared to be an attempt to sidestep complying with the local codes.
Council voted to take no action unless an operator comes up with an acceptable plan for a permit that works completely within the city’s current municipal codes, which would then head to the Planning Commission.
Council interviewed seven people, from the 72 applications received, on July 23. Rumors circulated that one of the finalists was Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson. Critics were calling Nelson a “political” choice without the appropriate experience for the job.
Remarks from the audience ranged from questioning the sudden move and the seemingly rushed process of finding a new city manager to urging the Council to hire someone who is appropriately qualified and has experience.
• The Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed an amended complaint on Aug. 2 with a hate crime sentencing enhancement against Samuel Woodward, 21, of Newport Beach for murdering 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein due to the victim’s sexual orientation.
Investigators found evidence that Woodward was in possession of “racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and anti-government.” texts and images that spewed hate toward almost every protected group, OCDA Tony Rackauckas explained.
• A handful of forums throughout September and a few in October kept most of the candidates busy answering questions from the public, addressing rumors, and explaining some of their previous comments.
The most contentious moments during the campaign included questions or debate about the business relationship between two incumbents, publicly posting candidates’ home addresses without their consent, angry criticism and rude comments, and who was notably absent from several forums.
• Newport Beach orthopedic surgeon and reality star Grant William Robicheaux, 38, and his girlfriend Cerissa Laura Riley, 31, of Brea, were charged on Sept. 11 with multiple felony sexual assault counts as even more victims were coming forward.
After announcing charges relating to two Jane Doe victims during a press conference Sept. 18, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said that they received more than 50 calls on the case and established about a dozen credible leads on potential victims.
Newport Beach Police Department held a joint-agency press conference Sept. 19, announcing that Peter Gregory Chadwick, 54, had been placed on the U.S. Marshals Service 15 most wanted list and that the reward was higher than ever.
Chadwick is accused of killing his wife, Quee Choo “Q.C.” on Oct. 10, 2012 and left her body in a dumpster in San Diego County. He was out of police custody after posting $1 million bail and made 13 court appearances before disappearing in 2015.
According to NB & Co., it booked 216,118 room nights into the city during its last fiscal year, a 16.8 percent increase over the prior year, and generated $102.5 million in overall economic impact to the city, a 9.08 percent increase from 2017.
The wheel, which aims to capture garbage flowing down San Diego Creek before it ends up in the bay, the harbor, and the ocean, previously got a unanimous nod of approval by Newport Beach City Council on Sept. 25.
Staff hopes to get the required permitting by summer of 2020. A more detailed design should be ready by winter 2020, with construction proposed to start around spring or summer of 2021. Construction should take about six to eight months.
• In a letter released on Oct. 30, the Fair Political Practices Commission rejected to pursue any enforcement related to the most recent complaint filed by a resident about the business relationship between Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield and Councilman Scott Peotter.
The FPPC cleared both Peotter and Duffield of several submitted complaints earlier in the year as well. The FPPC complaints contain numerous false claims and were being used as a “political weapon,” Peotter said.
City and state records show that Peotter represented Duffield and DC Developments before the city of Adelanto last year when Duffield requested to subdivide a parcel of land where his company, Duffy Boats, has a warehouse. Records also show that Peotter was paid more than $10,000 by DC Developments.
On Oct. 14, Duffield explained that the cannabis licensing was to increase the property value and make it more appealing as he moves his facilities to Utah. Peotter was not involved with any of the work regarding medicinal marijuana, Duffield confirmed.
Peotter explained that although the information in the most recent complaint was new to the public, it wasn’t new to the FPPC. The board had all of the details when they first investigated it, he noted. And they cleared both Peotter and Duffield knowing the full extent of their business relationship.
• The Nov. 6 Newport Beach City Council election resulted in challenger Joy Brenner unseating incumbent Scott Peotter for District 6, while incumbent Diane Dixon solidly beat out challenger Mike Glenn in District 1, and incumbent Kevin Muldoon firmly won the District 4 seat over challenger Roy Englebrecht.
The municipal code bans using public property for commercial purposes, but Senate Bill 946, which went into effect on Jan. 1, allows street vending activity, provided that it complies with local rules and regulations.
About 50 people attended the meeting, which launched out of Marina Park on the Balboa Peninsula.Commissioners discussed harbor-related topics as one of the Balboa Island ferries cruised approximately 6.7 nautical miles around Newport Harbor.
The Museum’s new facility, which officially opened to the public on Nov. 30, allows for expanded exhibits, new collections and other amenities including an interactive children’s area and space for community gatherings and events.
He introduced himself during the Harbor Commission meeting on Dec. 12.
He was “blown away” by his first week, the welcome he’s received, the passion for the harbor, the engaged residents, it’s been a great start, he said on Dec. 19.
Typically, the mayor pro tem is selected as the next mayor, but in an unusual move, Will O’Neill stepped aside and nominated Diane Dixon. Understanding the symbolism of the action, he called it an opportunity for reconciliation. Dixon nominated O’Neill for another year as mayor pro tem.
• Newport Beach’s annual holiday “postcard to the world,” the Christmas Boat Parade, kicked off its voyage on Dec. 19 with a firework display from the Newport Pier followed by a parade of elaborately decorated yachts, sailboats and small electric boats that circumnavigated Newport Harbor for several hours.