After working on the Mariners’ Mile Revitalization Master Plan for approximately one year, the city has backed off following public outcry.
In a notice sent out to the community on Tuesday, Newport Beach city staff explained that the draft plan for the stretch of Pacific Coast Highway between Newport Boulevard and Dover Drive was withdrawn from the Thursday agenda for the Planning Commission “based upon significant concerns expressed by the community.”
Staff believes this is not the appropriate time to pursue the adoption of the plan, said Makana Nova, associate planner for the city.
“The Mariners’ Mile Revitalization Master Plan was envisioned as a consensus building process to develop a vision for future improvement in the area based on the existing General Plan,” Nova wrote in an email on Wednesday. “To date, the plan has not yet achieved this consensus in the community.”
Most of the issues raised by residents centered around the potential widening of West Coast Highway, “which is an existing requirement of the General Plan and Regional Master Plan of Arterial Highways,” Nova explained.
The widening wasn’t a topic of the Mariners’ Mile plan, but a number of commenters “instead seek a reexamination of this existing widening requirement.”
The potential widening is actually part of the long-term plan for PCH, said Deputy Community Development Director Brenda Wisneski during a Corona del Mar Residents Association meeting on Thursday morning.
It got kind of “bogged down” with the question of whether Coast Highway should be four or six lanes, so the plan is “on hold” until staff “can figure out how to better communicate with the community about Coast Highway as a whole,” Wisneski said.
There has been some controversy around it, said Mayor Kevin Muldoon while speaking at the CdMRA meeting.
“There has been a lot of pushback… from residents who are essentially opposed to it,” Muldoon said.
He refrained from stating his own opinion on the matter since he hasn’t yet thoroughly reviewed enough information on the issue.
In 2011, the City Council designated Mariners’ Mile as one of six “revitalization areas” in Newport Beach. The Revitalization Master Plan for the area looked at parking management, layout and guidelines for future public and private improvements regarding design and streetscape.
The consultant contract with PlaceWorks, Inc., (entered with the city in May 2016) for the Mariners’ Mile Revitalization Master Plan is $206,922, Nova confirmed. The draft plan, community workshops, etc. were included in this contract.
Nova also pointed out that there were no grants or funding received for implementing the Mariners’ Mile Revitalization Master Plan.
The draft Master Plan may be considered again following the comprehensive General Plan update, scheduled to begin in late 2017, the notice reads. That may be best, Nova added, since at that time concerns such as the widening of West Coast Highway, development density/intensity limits, and height can be discussed on a broader scale.
The General Plan update may be a two to three year process, Nova explained. In particular, the highway widening issue may be a lengthy part of the update process since it’s a state facility maintained by CalTrans and an integral part of the Regional Master Plan of Arterial Highways, she added. Because of this, it’s difficult to estimate a specific date the city could re-examine the Mariners’ Mile plan.
“It is city staff’s hope that the community will be better prepared to discuss the contents of the draft Master Plan once the broader issues concerning Coast Highway, density/intensity, and height are discussed through the General Plan update process,” Nova noted. “The work to produce the draft Master Plan has been productive and will not go waste as the plan is refined in the future.”