The city of Newport Beach recently launched a new community engagement effort called “Newport, Together” and is hosting a series of interactive workshops to involve citizens in discussions on community values and the city’s future General Plan Update.
The Newport, Together “listen and learn” process kicked off this week in district 2 with the very first workshop.
Councilman Brad Avery, who represents district 2, which covers Newport Heights, West Cliff, Newport Shores, and West Newport, said it was an honor to take the lead with the first of seven Council district workshops.
“You’re here…because you want more information on the General Plan,” and care about the community, Avery told the crowd of about 60 people at the 16th Street Recreation Center on Tuesday.
Jenna Tourje, from the city’s consultant Kearns & West, led the meeting.
Tourje outlined what the General Plan is and what the process will be as the program moves forward.
“Newport, Together is an opportunity for the city to listen and learn from the Newport Beach community as the first step toward the General Plan update,” she explained.
The workshop included several interactive activities, including a few live polling events, smaller group brainstorming session, and a visual representation of potential development in the city through legos placed on a map of Newport Beach.
The first poll asked the audience members to share one word they would use to describe their community. In the word cloud created by the answers, a few stuck out. Beautiful and ignored were the largest words in the group. There were several positive words, like unique, friendly, special, thriving, and safe. And a few words of concern, including crowded, sneaky, needy, confusing, and lies.
The General Plan is the “aspirational blueprint” for the future of Newport Beach, Tourje commented. It’s the framework for decision-making about the management and growth of the city.
The last comprehensive update to the GP was in 2006, Tourje confirmed.
The Newport Beach General Plan incorporates the seven state-mandated elements: Land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open space, noise, and safety; as well as natural resources, harbor and bay, historical resources, recreation, and arts and culture.
In another live poll, Tourje asked the group what element stood out the most. Land use was the most popular, with housing and safety tied for second.
The plan is to start with a vision statement and three foundational elements: Land use, housing, and circulation.
The next activity of the night broke the audience into smaller groups of four to 10 and asked them to discuss and list their top five values.
Safety was a top value among all six groups. Others included: Property values, ocean/outdoor activities, views, cleanliness (of streets, environment, etc.), traffic, undeveloped open space, homelessness, community, government responsiveness to voters, and quality of life.
The final activity tasked the attendees to place legos on a map of Newport Beach of where they think future housing should go. Most groups stacked their legos in the airport area, a few said near Fashion Island, and several sent a couple to “our friends in Newport Coast.” Each table was required to place some in their own district, which several residents said was difficult because district 2 is cramped already.
Although not much time during the busy meeting, there were some opportunities for residents to ask questions.
City Associate Planner Ben Zdeba also explained housing requirements and the Regional Housing Needs Assessment and more.
The District 3 meeting was held Thursday at the Back Bay Science Center.
Other meetings scheduled: Nov. 20 in District 7, at Newport Coast Community Center, 6401 San Joaquin Hills Rd.; Nov. 21 in District 6, at OASIS Senior Center, 801 Narcissus Ave.; Dec. 3 in District 5, at Central Library’s Friends Room, 1000 Avocado Ave.; Dec. 11 in District 4, at Bonita Creek Community Center, 3010 La Vida; and Dec. 12 in District 1, at Marina Park Community Center, 1600 W. Balboa Blvd.
All workshops will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The meetings are open to all community members and citizens are welcome to attend a workshop in a district other than their own if a different date better fits their schedules. A map of the Council districts can be found on the city’s website at newportbeachca.gov/government/city-council/find-your-council-district.
For more information, visit NewportTogether.com.