Business Friendly or NIMBY?

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OK, time for a pop quiz.

As a Newport Beach resident, try and guess what the City Council will allow, and keep in mind that Councilman Steve Rosansky is a restaurant expert (he owns a TOGO in Orange).

Restaurant #1 – A restaurant has many locations in and around Newport Beach.  They serve really inexpensive, but very good, Mexican food with an extra flair.  Their windows are covered with stickers and they promote an Action Sports lifestyle, sponsoring surfers, skateboarders, and such.  They serve beer and wine at ALL of their locations.  They are interested in moving to a larger location within the same very busy shopping center in Newport Beach, close to residential neighborhoods, close to other bars and nightclubs, and close to where many, many children are constantly present.  And they want to open this newly re-located location with a fully stocked bar            serving Margaritas and Bloody Marys.

Restaurant #2 – A restaurant has many locations in and around Newport Beach, including in Corona del Mar and in Westcliff Plaza.  They serve really inexpensive, but very good, Mexican food with an extra flair.  Their windows are covered with stickers and they promote an Action Sports lifestyle, sponsoring surfers, skateboards, and such.  They serve beer and wine at a handful of their locations, but none are located in Newport Beach.  They are interested in moving to a larger location within the same somewhat busy shopping center in Newport Beach, close to residential neighborhoods, close to other bars (but no nightclubs), and close to where very few children are constantly present.  And they want to open this newly re-located location to expand their dining room and serve beer only, no Margaritas or Bloody Marys.

For which restaurant do you think the City Council will overturn the restrictive Planning Commission and allow to proceed?

And which restaurant do you think the City Council will chastise and kick to the curb for having too many stickers on its windows?

If you don’t know, Restaurant #1 is one of my son’s favorite restaurants.  We go to Wahoo’s almost every weekend and will probably go to their newly re-located Fashion Island location, at which, as of yesterday, you can enjoy that aforementioned Margarita and Bloody Mary, in addition to anything else in their FULLY STOCKED BAR.  Having personally seen Councilman Rosansky at the Wahoo’s in Costa Mesa on Placentia and at the Fashion Island location, I know that he also enjoys their wonderful Mexican food with that extra flair, within an ambiance of brightly colored stickers, beer and big-screen TVs.

Restaurant #2, however, is a pariah.  Chronic Taco’s small Balboa Peninsula location wanted to expand to the empty retail spot next door in 2009.  A retail spot which is still EMPTY AS OF TWO YEARS LATER.   They, at first wanted to serve beer, but after public outrage at the possibility of having another booze swilling restaurant in Newport Beach (see Planning Commissioner Robert Hawkins’ reaction to Pizzeria Mozza), Chronic Tacos WITHDREW THE BEER PERMIT, and just wanted to expand to accommodate more dining tables.  At the City Council meetings, a local resident complained about “the criminal activity at other Chronic Taco locations” (like Westcliff Plaza and CDM?), while others complained about the over-concentration of alcohol establishments, throwing out statistics on how many booze restaurants per capita Newport Beach has…after Chronic Tacos had WITHDRAWN ITS BEER PERMIT.  Councilman Rosansky even chastised Chronic Tacos for having stickers on its windows, but the City Council ultimately used parking as the reason for denying expansion.

The story here?  A fully stocked bar at Wahoo’s Fish Tacos with an expanded dining room GOOD.  An expanded dining room at Chronic Tacos, with no booze at all, BAD.

Confused?  Me too.  But this is how the City of Newport Beach operates.

Does the City need to revitalize the Fashion Island area?  Does the Fashion Island area have lots of residential around it?  Does Fashion Island have lots of young children walking around?  But the best question, does Fashion Island have lots of FULLY STOCKED BARS AND RESTAURANTS within ONE MILE of their shopping center?  Yup, and as of Thursday the 17th, they will have another…with lots of parking available.

Yet, not one peep from residents, not one peep from the City Council, and not one peep from Liquor License Hawk (no pun intended) Commissioner Robert Hawkins.

But where Chronic Tacos wanted to expand?  The City is trying to revitalize the Balboa Peninsula.  Yes, there is lots of residential around it, and yes there are many young adults living in the area, and yes there are lots of fully stocked bars and restaurants within one mile of the shopping center, and yes, the parking lot is pretty tight, but this was just going to be a restaurant that didn’t even serve beer at minimum, and they were rejected primarily based on reputation alone.

And the spot they wanted to expand to is STILL VACANT.

Sure … Newport Beach is very business friendly … but only in the bustling areas of the City and not where it is needed the most.

 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Well Jack…I’ve held back until now, I’m not sure what kind of response you are trying to elicit but for someone who professes to live on the Peninsula, as you do? How could you possibly compare one restaurant to another?.
    To gloss over the problems Chronic Taco presented in this area and the documented criminal activity that same restaurant brought to another one of their shops…to the point that they shut it down? Is flat out irresponsible.

    Residents that spoke against the opening of Chronic Taco had all of their documentation (some that had come directly from the Police Dept.) The rest, knowing full well what another alcohol establishment would bring to that strip mall.

    I can’t say I’m surprised, I stopped replying to your articles a couple of years ago because of your veiled threat after an anonymous post that you didn’t agree with. Telling a commenter “I know your I.P. Address” was a clear case of stifling free speech…and it worked. I have no interest in being bullied but I will not stay silent while you disparage the Planning Commission, City Council and residents for trying to protect their neighborhoods.

  2. Jack-your shoddy journalism only continues to be an embarrassment to both this paper and to the community. You continue to fail to research and understand ANY of the issues at hand but you continue to disparage community leaders and residents who actually DO the RIGHT thing. Let’s see Jack if you had ACTUALLY done your homework, you would have seen that there is NO comparing Wahoos with the Chronic Taco application. Problems with the Chronic application included:
    1. A grossly underparked shopping center that already has TWO other parking variances. A requested parking waiver for 18 parking spaces for the center in addition to 22 previously given to the center for a total of 40 waived parking spaces for the center. Really Jack? Waiving an ADDITIONAL 18 spaces is not “revitalizing” the Peninsula.
    2. Adding to an already over-concentrated of ABC establishments on the Peninsula of which create the most problems and police calls for service throughout the whole city.
    3. Excessive police calls for service and crime related to this center.
    4. This applicant has a very disturbing operating record within the City of Upland and their permit was revoked in April 2009.
    5. Chronic DID NOT withdraw their request for alcohol. August 6, 2009 the Daily Pilot does a story on the Chronic Tacos appeal to City Council and in that article the owner states that he wants to scale back the plans and ONLY serve bottles of beer with the tacos.
    6. Jack, did you mention the hours of operation?

    City leaders include Commissioner Hawkins and Councilman Rosansky should be applauded for understanding the issues and the impacts in order to PROPERLY revitalize the Newport Peninsula.

    • Well Said JB,

      I had forgotten about the crime issue in the center itself…along with Chronic’s problems with keeping their permit due to crime in another one of their establishments.

      You are also correct regarding the parking issues, not least of which? We were unable to enter or exit our cars after parking in some of the spaces.
      As I understand it, that has been corrected to some degree since the public brought it to the Council’s attention…yet this parking lot is at more than capacity at all hours to this day.

      I join you in applauding both Commissioner Hawkins and Councilman Rosanky in their thoughtful consideration regarding what should be allowed in this over concentrated center.