Council Studies Possible Plan for Residential Construction Parking

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Cars parked on Balboa Island while a home is under construction.
— Google Maps image

City Council discussed a number of options last week about how to deal with on-street parking in residential areas during construction.

During a study session on April 23, Council members gave direction to staff on several ideas to address the issue.

There was unanimous agreement on the dais to direct city staff to return with a proposal to consider adding one seasonal AmeriPark enforcement officer.

Council members were mixed about the idea of a Saturday ban on construction, but a majority supported directing staff to study it further and return with suggestions.

Nearly all Council members agreed to direct staff to confine the rules to high-density communities, like Balboa Peninsula, Corona del Mar, and Balboa Island, and other neighborhoods, as defined by staff.

Last week’s study session was a continuation of the Feb. 26 Council meeting discussion on the same topic, explained Community Development Director Seimone Jurjis.

In February, city staff presented an ordinance addressing parking impacts due to residential construction. They presented four ideas: Restricting Saturday construction, requiring a parking management plan, requiring informational signage, and limiting length of time allowed for construction.

At the time, Council directed staff to “go back and rework” some of the ideas presented and conduct more community outreach, Jurjis noted.

Last week’s study session was meant to share the community feedback, present staff recommendations and get some direction from Council members so they can work on putting together another ordinance proposal.

At both meetings, the differences between the various communities in Newport Beach was a key point.

Following up on his earlier comments, Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill said last week that there are substantial parts of the city where “no one is asking for any of this,” including Newport Coast in his district. The suggested requirements might also be unnecessary in other areas as well, like Spyglass Hill, the Port streets, One Ford Road, and Big Canyon.

“There are a lot of places that would want it, but there are a lot of places that don’t,” O’Neill commented. “We need to be pretty clear about this.”

A number of HOAs already have similar rules in place that help prevent most or all of the problems mentioned from residents elsewhere in the city, he explained.

He’d vote against it if the ordinance was proposed as a citywide effort, O’Neill noted. He would understand the reasoning if it was proposed to apply to areas specifically impacted and/or requesting it, he added, like Balboa Island, Corona del Mar, and Lido Isle, a suggestion many of his Council colleagues agreed with and ultimately directed city staff to incorporate into the forthcoming proposal.

Differentiating between the various neighborhoods in the city is a must, Councilwoman Joy Brenner said.

“We have to do that,” she commented.

Another key point emphasized was the need for better enforcement, an issue that several residents raised during public comment last week.

Newport Island resident Gary Crews pointed out that parking is already slim and construction crews get to the site early.

“I don’t fault the construction people, they just have no place to park,” and it comes down to them parking illegally and it’s not enforced, Crews said.

Enforcement is a big part of the problem, agreed Corona del Mar resident Vicki Swanson.

There needs to be better enforcement of vehicles parked in red zones and construction vehicles parking in the driveway apron, she said. Some construction crews believe “if the space is open, it’s fair game,” whether or not it’s someone’s private property, she added.

“We live in these tight areas where there’s not a lot of room,” Swanson said.

Following the February meeting, staff had numerous conversations with residents during the last month, noted Community Development Deputy Director Samir Ghosn.

Residents seemed to support ideas about informational signage (providing city and construction contact information) and increasing parking enforcement, Ghosn explained.

“We hear consistently that the community is looking for more enforcement,” Jurjis said.

Staff heard less support by the community for the parking management plan requirement and limiting Saturday construction, Ghosn continued.

Considering Council’s adoption of the time limits on construction, which will automatically shrink the timeline to complete projects, staff didn’t see the need to limit Saturday construction, Ghosn explained.

“We think limiting construction on Saturdays is problematic,” Jurjis added, especially with the three-year time limit Council approved later during the meeting.

Brenner pointed out that during their discussion in February, staff reported that many of the contractors they spoke with indicated that a Saturday ban would not dramatically change their project timeline.

“We can go ahead and make that Saturday ban effective because it does really impact our community,” Brenner said.

For some communities, no work on Saturday would be nice, added Councilman Marshall “Duffy” Duffield.

While gathering community feedback, there were also requests to limit the number of vehicles at short term lodging units and require commercial vehicle identification (as required by state law).

A few residents also spoke about short term rentals last week, one Balboa Peninsula resident noted that they “destroy” the peace and quiet of the neighborhood.

Short term lodging is a bigger issue than the scope of this item, several agreed. Limiting vehicles needs to considered in a broader scale regarding STL units, and they need to look at a number of other issues as well, Brenner noted.

Limiting construction time was separated as its own proposal, which went before Council later in the night on April 23 on the consent calendar and was approved. It was the second reading of an ordinance introduced on April 9, setting a time limit of three years to complete construction for any work that requires a building permit, except for special circumstances where an extension may be granted by a hearing officer or City Council. The time limit restriction only applies to a one-unit or two-unit dwelling that are not part of a tract development that is five units or more.

Overall, this was an issue a number of residents felt needed to be addressed.

A longtime Lido Isle resident said there are a number of homes under construction in his neighborhood.

Large construction trucks often block their street, there is not adequate signage, and workers often park in red zones, he added.

“Something needs to be done to mitigate the impact of construction parking in our neighborhood,” he said. “Our quality of life is significantly and negatively affected… I know we can do better than this.”

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