Evelyn Hart served two terms as mayor during her 16 years on the City Council, is a former Parks, Beach and Recreation commissioner, a city Woman of the year, and was named Citizen of the Year in 2007. She remains involved in several community organizations, most notably the Friends of Oasis, with whom she was instrumental in working with the city and raising funds for the new Oasis Senior Center. She is also active in AirFair, which is fighting expansion of John Wayne Airport. She took time out from all this to answer 10 Questions from Newport Beach Indy Editor Roger Bloom.
1. The new Oasis Senior Center opened this week (see coverage on page 5). Tell us about the genesis of that project.
When the City Council requested that we raise $10 million from the community to complement the city’s $10 million to rebuild the center I was in shock. Dr. Gwyn Parry, Hoag Hospital and I put together a great committee and we went to work, the bids came in low, the City Council extracted (is that the word?) from the Irvine Company park fees of $5.6 million and then we accomplished our final goal of raising $4.5 million. Good job guys! Hoag has been wonderful. Even if you are not a senior you should go see the center, it is an award-winning building.
2. How did you feel about the controversy around naming the new Oasis Senior Center after you?
Funny how a few people can cause controversy. I always get concerned when I am in the middle of issues, but we all know there are two sides and not necessarily right or wrong. Taking sides puts pressure on people, and I would have preferred that not happen. But I am very happy that the Events Center is being named after me.
3. What was your proudest accomplishment as mayor and councilwoman?
Open space and view corridors that complement our city’s beautiful resources, especially PCH at Jamboree, looking at the snow-capped mountains; Harbor View at Marguerite, looking at the ocean; Castaways, which is splendid; and a number of other views, so that even driving through the city you know what city you are in.
4. Looking back on your years in office, is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes. I would have been tougher in negotiations to limit expansion of John Wayne Airport.
5. What is your all-time favorite TV show?
Oh I always really enjoyed Carol Burnett. And I loved “The Addams Family,” it really cracked me up.
6. This is a council election year. Have city elections changed since you ran?
I stepped down from the City Council in 1994, and the issues are similar today: JWA expansion, dogs on the beach, tree trimming, dredging the Bay, traffic, and how much larger should the homes be. But elections are now expensive, and professionals seem to be hired to run them, as opposed to grassroots elections.
7. Any endorsements you want to announce?
I think the City Council is doing a good job and I always vote for someone who has a track record, so I have an idea how that person will vote on serious issues. I have endorsed Rush Hill and Leslie Daigle.
8. We know about your work on Oasis and on the John Wayne Airport noise issue. What else have you been up to lately?
I serve on a number of non-profit boards of directors that I care about. Lucky me, I have best friends, and a family that is fun to be with, boating, reading, and I am chair of the Friends of OASIS Gala on Nov. 12.
9. What is your earliest memory of Newport Beach?
Oh, fun question. I was attending Pomona High School, drove to the beach. I’m in a bathing suit, in Balboa, learning to sail a Snowbird – young love and all that jazz. Never wanted to leave.
10. What is your favorite dessert?
Ice cream cone. Any creamy flavor.