By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager
On Wednesday, March 31, Orange County entered the Orange Tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which further loosens restrictions on activities and business operations. Notably, restaurants are now able to expand indoor dining capacity to 50%, and bars that do not serve food can now offer outdoor service. Please see this chart for details: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/CDPH%20Document%20Library/COVID-19/Dimmer-Framework-September_2020.pdf.
Meanwhile, the County’s COVID-19 metrics continue to improve each week, bringing us closer to the least restrictive Yellow Tier.
This week, Orange County’s seven-day average daily case number decreased from 3.5 to 2.8, which is still in the Orange Tier. However, once the State reaches four million vaccinations to the most vulnerable communities, which the State estimates to reach within the next week, two cases or fewer are needed to reach Yellow Tier status.
The test positivity rate (the percentage of positive tests among those tested) dropped from 2.1 percent to 1.7 percent, which is within the Yellow Tier range. The health equity metric decreased from 3.2 percent to 2.6 percent (less than 2.2 percent will be needed for Yellow Tier). Once the County numbers are low enough to qualify for a new tier, they must hold steady for two weeks to allow us to enter that tier.
State and local vaccine efforts continue to gain momentum. This week the County opened an additional vaccine super site at the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa, with an initial goal of 2,000 doses per day. This is the closest location to Newport Beach of the County’s four Super POD sites. Depending on availability, you can choose a location through the County’s Othena platform at https://www.othena.com.
The Fairgrounds site opening coincides with a major expansion of vaccine eligibility under state guidelines. As of April 1, all those 50 and older are eligible to be vaccinated, and beginning April 15, eligibility will expand to all those 16 and older.
So far more than 1.5 million people in Orange County have received at least one dose of the COVID- 19 vaccine, and the statewide number is approaching 19 million.
Here is additional vaccine information and resources as of April 2:
- Vaccine eligibility, under State guidelines, currently includes Phases 1A and 1B, all those ages 50 and older, and people ages 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions and/or disabilities. As noted above, this will expand to all those 16 and above on April 15.
- Even if you do not currently qualify for vaccination, you are encouraged to register now at Othena.com to be placed in the virtual waiting room to be notified when it is your turn.
- There are several vaccination options. Even if you are registered with the County’s Othena platform, you can also register with the state’s “My Turn” system, administered by Blue Shield, at https://www.blueshieldca.com/bsca/bsc/wcm/connect/sites/sites_content_en/coronavirus/vaccine-locations.
- Orange County has developed a similar vaccine resource web page at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-channels.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of April 1, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 3,760 and the total cases in Orange County was 250,764. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of April 1 was 243,032. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
Recreation Summer Camp Registration Opens April 6
With nearly 400 camps, Camp Newport is ready to help your kids find some fun in Newport Beach this summer! We’re partnering with your favorite instructors to offer virtual and in-person camps, with half day and full day options in a variety of activities. From surf, sailing, and bodyboarding to science, art, sports and more, we’ll help campers find ways to enjoy the summer, make memories, and connect with others in a safe environment. Registration opens Tuesday, April 6 at 8 a.m. at www.campnewport.com. Sign up by May 31 and receive a 10 percent or more discount!
Take the Pledge to Conserve Water
If you are looking for ways to be more environmentally sustainable during the month of April (Earth Month), please join Newport Beach Mayor Brad Avery and the Wyland Foundation and participate in the 2021 Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation. By taking a short pledge to save water (it takes less than a minute), you can help Newport Beach win the title of the “Most Water Wise” city in the nation. And, if Newport Beach wins, you will be eligible to win prizes.
Please watch this short video from Mayor Avery at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwolsV7sLtk, and then take the pledge at www.mywaterpledge.com indicating how you would like to conserve water during the month of April.
Free Document Shredding and E-waste Event April 24
Mark your calendars for a free document shredding and electronic waste disposal event on Saturday, April 24, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Harbor Day School parking lot, 3343 Pacific View Drive.
Newport Beach residents are invited to bring documents (up to 10 standard-size file boxes) and household electronic waste items for free shredding and disposal. Residency will be verified, so please bring identification.
For more information visit www.newportbeachca.gov.shred.
The February 2021 Treasury Report is available on the City’s website at: www.newportbeachca.gov/treasury.
As of February, the City’s portfolio totaled about $310.6 million. Approximately $81.1 million of the portfolio was invested in very liquid investments available for day-to-day operations and major construction expenditures.
The short-term portfolio ($216.9 million) had a weighted average effective maturity of 1.86 years. The trailing twelve months’ total return was 1.89 percent. Our benchmark for the same period, the ICE BofA 1-3 Year Treasury index, returned 1.60 perdent. The income return on the portfolio, a better measure of income earned from the portfolio, was 2.04 percent.
Civic Center Park Pathway Renovation
Starting on Monday, April 5, a City contractor will be removing and replacing the deteriorated pathway that winds through the Civic Center Park. Work on the pathway is expected to be completed by the end of May. Pedestrian access through the Park will be maintained but detours are required during construction. The new pathway material is made of decomposed granite modified with a concrete binder for additional strength and longevity.
Housing Element Update Advisory Committee (HEUAC) March 31 Meeting Report
On Wednesday, March 31, 2021, the City’s Housing Element Update Advisory Committee (HEAUC) held a meeting via Zoom.
The HEUAC began the meeting by discussing two final memoranda prepared by the “Remainder of Town” Sites Subcommittee and the West Newport Mesa Sites Subcommittee. All final memoranda will be uploaded soon to the City’s webpage for the HEUAC at https://www.newportbeachca.gov/government/data-hub/agendas-minutes/housing-element-update-advisory-committee.
The HEUAC then moved into a discussion on the initial draft of the Housing Element. Committee members and the public provided feedback to staff. Comments suggested a review of the sites inventory assumptions to potentially reduce surplus units buffer, developing future rezone or overlays to respect the view plane ordinance, considering site suitability in the sites inventory, making sure the densities are appropriate for redevelopment potential, using overlays as tools to allow the development of housing units only to meet the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation and not beyond, and implications of a potential inclusionary housing requirement to ensure future affordable housing production.
The HEUAC finished the meeting with an informational item regarding the upcoming schedule for the update.
As a reminder, the initial draft of the Housing Element is posted and available for review at: www.newportbeachca.gov/DraftHEUpdate. Please submit any comments by April 30, 2021, to ensure their review in the initial draft to [email protected].
The Planning Commission will review the initial draft at its April 8, 2021, meeting. The City Council is scheduled to review the draft at a study session on April 27, 2021. The plan is to submit an updated draft to the State Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) by mid-May for a mandatory 60-day review. Once that review is completed, HCD’s findings will be reviewed with the Community prior to a final update scheduled for adoption by the City on October of this year. Please stay tuned, the City appreciates the community’s continued participation and feedback!
Addressing homelessness continues to be a priority in the City’s ongoing COVID-19 response, and City staff works closely with our contractor City Net, and our regional partners throughout the county and state. The City Net hotline number is (714) 451-6198. Those who call the hotline may leave a detailed voicemail message for themselves or others in need and City Net staff will respond within 48 hours. For immediate assistance, call the County’s Crisis Prevention Hotline at (877) 7-CRISIS or (877) 727- 4747.
The City discourages panhandling in favor of targeted assistance through the Good Giving Program. Donations received through the program enable staff to purchase items such as bicycles, work boots, and small household items for newly housed people. All donations are tax deductible. If you would like more information, or to donate, please visit our Good Giving Program web page.
- City Net placed a 76-year-old woman into a permanent, supportive housing unit in Stanton. The woman had been sheltered in a motel since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, she had stayed at the Newport Transportation Center for 3 years after her husband died and she could not afford rent. The renovated motel provides 60 units of housing for seniors and medically vulnerable people with on-site resident services. The City of Stanton secured funding through Project Homekey to convert two motels into 132 units of housing. Project Homekey, administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, provides
- $600 million in grants to local public entities to convert buildings into housing. American Family Housing, founded in Santa Ana in 1985, provides an array of on-site services at the two properties.
- City Net placed a woman into Grandma’s House of Hope after she entered the Yale Transitional Center several weeks ago. Grandma’s House of Hope, established in Santa Ana in 2004, provides care for survivors of domestic abuse, human trafficking, and homelessness. The facility also operates a children’s meal program for unhoused families staying in motels throughout Orange County.
- County case managers continue to assist 16 people recently placed into the new Yale Transitional Center in Santa Ana. Many of those people had been staying by the Newport Pier. The Yale center provides shelter for as many as 425 people experiencing homelessness and provides case managers who locate appropriate housing, assist with job searches, and provide other on-site services.
- City Net staff and the Homeless Liaison Officer are assisting two elderly people staying in a motel with an upcoming transition into a new motel in early April due to a change in motel ownership. City Net staff continues to provide food gift cards, support, and case management to several people sheltering in motels while they await placement into permanent, supportive housing.
- Five people in Newport Beach experiencing homelessness were enrolled into City Net services. City Net staff completed Vulnerability Index Intake Assessments for each person. The assessments are used to screen clients to determine proper placement in the County’s Continuum of Care system. Some assessment factors include age, health issues, and length of time being unsheltered. Case managers will follow up with the clients to provide housing assessments and prepare documentation for housing.
- The Homeless Liaison Officer and City Net staff secured temporary motel housing for a woman while she awaits placement into a medical detoxification program.
Community Invited to April 5 Online Circulation Element Workshop
The City is inviting and encouraging the community to provide input on the future of mobility and transportation in Newport Beach.
An interactive, virtual workshop will be hosted on Monday, April 5, 2021, at 6 p.m. via Zoom. This workshop will provide an overview on what to expect when reviewing the draft Circulation Element and how to navigate it. The City is requesting comments on the draft by April 30, 2021, and the draft is available at the City’s website here: https://www.newportbeachca.gov/government/departments/community-development/planning-division/general-plan-codes-and-regulations/general-plan-update/draft-circulation-element-march-12-2021.
To register for the workshop, please visit www.NewportTogether.com.
Over this summer, a complete traffic analysis will be prepared as part of the review and update of both the Housing and Circulation Element updates. The analysis will examine the effects of including housing units anticipated to be planned for by the draft Housing Element. Along with the Circulation Element update, City staff and its consultant team will be working on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) over the coming months, which will provide for additional public input opportunities.
This is the very first draft of the document. There will be plenty of opportunities to help shape it before its adoption by City Council later this year. The entire community is encouraged to review the document and participate in this workshop and at future meetings.