City Manager Update: Olympics, Junior Lifeguards, Drought

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Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager

By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager

Congratulations to all the Team USA athletes who represented our country so well in the Tokyo Olympics – and particularly Newport Beach’s hometown competitors!

I’m very pleased that the City Council has decided to recognize the Team USA athletes who either live in Newport Beach or have a close connection to our city. Mayor Brad Avery will be awarding City proclamations at the August 24 Council meeting to:

  • Two-time Olympian and Newport Beach resident Charlie Buckingham (Sailing), who was born and raised in Newport Beach, is a member of Newport Harbor Yacht Club and graduated from Newport Harbor High School.
  • Two-time Olympian, two-time gold medalist and Newport Beach resident Kaleigh Gilchrist (Water Polo), who was born and raised in Newport Beach, graduated from Newport Harbor High School, and is a graduate of the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard Program.
  • First-time Olympian and Olympic gold medalist Stephania Haralabidis (Water Polo), who graduated from Corona del Mar High School.
  • Three-time Olympian and Newport Beach resident Sam Mikulak (Gymnastics), who was born and raised in Newport Beach and graduated from Corona del Mar High School.
  • Two-time Olympian and two-time Olympic gold medalist Maddie Musselman (Water Polo), who was born in and resides in Newport Beach, and is a graduate of the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard Program.
  • First-time Olympian and Newport Beach resident Coryn Rivera (Cycling), who earned a seventh-place finish in the 2020 Olympics Road Racing event.
  • Three-time Olympian and three-time Olympic medalist April Ross (Beach Volleyball), who graduated from Newport Harbor High School.
  • First-time Olympian and Olympic gold medalist Alys Williams (Water Polo), who graduated from the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard program and whose father, Robert Williams, served with the Newport Beach Fire Department as Lifeguard Operations Assistant Chief.

COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach

As of August 19, the total cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 4,515, an increase of 123 from August 13. The total number of cases in Orange County as of August 13 was 278,417, an increase of 5,503 cases from August 13. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of August 19 was 256,640. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.

Record-Setting 2021 Junior Lifeguard Summer Program Concludes

The 2021 Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard Program saw record enrollment, with about 1,650 junior lifeguards this year. While some activities were modified to accommodate evolving COVID-19 safety protocols, the energy and excitement were high as junior lifeguards participated in a more normal summer schedule.

In 2021 we were able to return to a full seven-week program based at the Balboa Pier and Newport Pier locations. We also saw the return of the Regionals Competition, Junior Lifeguard Open House, and the much-anticipated Monster Mile event, during which junior lifeguards run a mile and swim a mile.

Special thank you to Lifeguard Training Captain Mike Ure, Lifeguard Officer Andy Matsuyama, and Recreation Coordinator Cynthia Haritatos for their leadership and overall program management. Thank you also to our lifeguard instructors and group leaders who guided and shaped another wonderful summer for these kids.

Residents Urged to Conserve Water as Drought Conditions Worsen

More than 95 percent of the state of California is now experiencing severe drought conditions, and 47 percent of the state is in “exceptional drought” status, the worst category in the national drought monitoring system.

So far during this water year (measured from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30), rainfall in Orange County is 5.7 inches, only 45 percent of normal. Northern California is at 47 percent of normal.

To combat the drought, Governor Newsom has declared a Drought Emergency in 50 northern and central California counties, which includes mandatory reductions in water use. In July, Newsom signed an executive order asking all California residents to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15 percent compared to 2020 levels.

State officials recommend simple actions such as reducing landscape irrigation, running dishwashers and washing machines only when full, finding and fixing leaks, installing water-efficient showerheads, and taking shorter showers.

Southern California has so far avoided mandatory water restrictions thanks to adequate groundwater and reservoir reserves. The groundwater basin managed by Orange County Water District, which supplies 75 to 95 percent of Newport Beach’s water, is currently at, or just below, recommended operating levels. The remaining 5 to 25 percent of Newport Beach’s water supply comes from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which has reassured local agencies that the region has enough supply in reservoirs for the coming year.

However, another dry water year with higher temperatures could quickly put Newport Beach and other Orange County cities in a declared drought similar to the one in 2015-2017. At this time Newport Beach has not enacted any water restrictions beyond the state’s voluntary 15 percent reduction. We encourage all residents to do their part to conserve water and meet the 15 percent voluntary reduction goal. For ways to cut back your household water usage, please visit our water conservation webpage at

Housing and Circulation Elements Update EIR Scoping Meeting and Comment Period

The City held an in-person scoping meeting to seek public and interested agency comments on what environmental impacts should be studied in the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for updating the Housing and Circulation Elements. About 16 people attended the meeting and commented on potential impacts on infrastructure, aesthetics/views, schools, and traffic, as well as increased demand on recreational opportunities.

If you could not make it to the meeting, written comments on the scope will also be accepted until 5 p.m. on September 9, 2021. To provide your comments, please email Senior Planner Benjamin Zdeba at [email protected].

To view the Notice of Preparation (NOP) for the draft EIR, please visit or check out

Homelessness Update

  • City Net completed Emergency Housing Voucher application packets with two clients. The Emergency Housing Vouchers are funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and allow people to pay affordable rent based on their fixed incomes. Six people experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach have been awarded vouchers so far and are working with a housing navigator to locate apartments. The voucher program is being administered by the Orange County Housing Authority.
  • The City’s Homeless Liaison Officer delivered a new bicycle, purchased with generous donations to the City’s Good Giving program, to a recently housed man. The man experienced homelessness for 12 years before entering the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter this summer. The shelter staff prepared a housing plan for the man and he now resides in his own apartment in Tustin. The bicycle will help the man commute to his new job.
  • 14 people who had been experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach are now sheltered in the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter.
  • Five people experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach were enrolled into City Net services. City Net case managers ordered identifying documents for them, such as birth certificates and Social Security cards.
  • City Net transported a client to a Telecare appointment. Telecare provides several programs to assist people with serious mental health conditions.
  • Staff continues to provide food gift cards, support, and case management to a person sheltering in a motel while she awaits placement into permanent, supportive housing.

For a comprehensive look at the City’s ongoing efforts to address homelessness, please visit our web site at

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