Revitalization is the theme that is drawing residents and business owners to town hall meetings on Balboa Peninsula held by Mayor Pro Tem Diane Dixon, where they can participate in the discussions of improvements to District 1, which includes the Balboa Peninsula and Lido Isle.
Projects such as Sunset Ridge Park, Balboa Blvd. landscaping and major maintenance to harbor and ocean piers are just a few of the completed projects that make up the many layers involved to bring economic vitality to the area.
The challenge actually feeds Dixon’s love of solving problems. “Listen” and “act” are key ideas she utilizes to make things happen.
And listen we did when the Newport Bach Indy sat down with Dixon to learn about the listening she’s been doing, and what’s coming down the pipeline.
NB Indy: You recently sent a survey out to residents and business owners in your district asking what issues are most important to them. Have you received the results yet?
Dixon: Just preliminary ones at the moment. The full results will be out by May 4. But so far the fire rings, with maintaining its footprint, seems to be an important issue. Residents have accepted the compliance mandated by the California Coastal Commission but feel strongly about keeping the original locations. Those that had no fire pit by their home oppose having one placed nearby, which are a consequence from regulations the city must follow. The 60 fire rings need to be placed 100 feet apart, a distance further apart than they were originally.
Indy: So traffic and parking were not as important as fir rings?
Dixon: It is important. But it’s such a fundamental part of living at the peninsula, whereas the fire rings actually bring a change to many residents. Boardwalk congestion and quality of life also ranked high. The safety of people brings concern when motorized vehicles such as electric bikes run through crowds on the boardwalk. And the quality of life issue needs to be brought up to speed between restaurants and residents. We are making a lot of progress in that area with our peninsula peace talks.
Indy: What kind of progress?
Dixon: We’ve gained great support in our efforts to bring business owners, residents, police and the city all together, opening lines of communication. We have dialogs about business practices, security, employee training, and operating procedures on how to better handle nuisance crimes related to alcohol. It’s very new to the restaurant owners, to share information among each other with coordinated efforts. For instance, communication can take the form of texting, one security to another, warning that service was refused to a person who might be coming their way. We appreciate their partnership and good work in helping with improving the quality of life in the peninsula.
Indy: All this ties into your main objective, to bring economic vitality to District 1. But how does it positively affect the residents without adding more congestion?
Dixon: A thriving economy is essential to the city life, not a blighted one. When businesses are successful, strong economics takes place with increased revenue from sales tax and increases in property values. And it’s true, there are other layers to consider and we are addressing the increase of traffic and parking that is bound to happen. We have measures in place such as establishing more parking areas in several locations. And we are gathering information on implementing a shuttle system similar to the ones operating in Laguna Beach and Dana Point.
Indy: What is at the heart of your efforts?
Dixon: I’ve spent my whole career engaging people, listening to what’s going on, learning and working through policies. When people come together whether it is at a town hall meeting or through answering a survey, they make a difference. I know I can – I am. I’m a resident too. And I know there is a lot of work still to do. But it’s getting done, one step at a time.