By Hon. Joe Stapleton, Newport Beach Councilmember
In the nearly two decades that I have been a resident of Newport Beach, I have seen many positive changes. We are rightfully proud of our collective efforts to preserve our city’s quality of life. Visitors and new residents alike regularly marvel at the safety of our neighborhoods, the vibrancy of our schools, the quality of our water and open spaces, and the sophisticated – but still family-friendly – small-town feel.
Constantly improving isn’t without its difficulties.
City Council District 1, where I live, covers Balboa Peninsula, Lido, and Newport Shores. This is the oldest section of our city and portions were dubbed “the war zone” due to disorderly behavior and crime, typically during peak summer season.
In recent years, the City of Newport Beach has worked hard to reduce that element in our community and make the peninsula a safe, family-friendly environment.
The city council’s decision to build Marina Park in 2015 was an example of an overall adjustment to the image of the peninsula from that of a party scene every summer to one where families can enjoy recreation in a safe atmosphere.
The ongoing construction at Sunset Ridge Park will further complement these improvements. This is a proud moment for residents on the west side to see continued investment on our side of town.
Having some of the best law enforcement personnel in the country certainly helps too. With property crime rising around the state and here locally, our Newport Beach Police Department has implemented a crime suppression unit that is seeing solid results. Along the boardwalk, Newport Beach previously invested in an ambassador program, where these civilian personnel would focus on quality-of-life issues, boardwalk safety, and homeless concerns. Upon taking office, I was instrumental in reallocating the $200,000 annual budget for this program towards the NBPD Peninsula Enforcement Team because, unlike the civilian ambassadors, these officers can actually enforce the law.
Our historic bars, restaurants, and visitor-serving businesses have always been a staple of the peninsula’s identity, where anyone can come to enjoy a drink and the beach. Still, we can’t let that be an excuse for bad actors to take advantage of the neighborhoods and families that call this community home.
Newport Beach has worked hard to make itself one of the best communities to raise a family, run a business and retire. We pride ourselves on being a city of permanent long-term residents with a vested interest in keeping Newport the epitome of suburban America. In partnership with members of our peninsula community, our City Council unanimously voted to regulate “fractional homeownership” as a timeshare in April of this year.
This is consistent with prior approaches that pushed against the commercialization of residential communities. While we have benefited from significant investments from local leaders in our hospitality community, and I am eager to continue that theme with our short-term rental operators, we need to focus on re-imagining our short-term rental market across the city and on policy where we no longer permit bad behavior when it comes to code enforcement violations.
Focusing on a proactive approach to short-term rentals, as opposed to reacting when bad behavior occurs, is something the city needs to consider. In these neighborhoods, people carry out their lives, raise families, build long standing friendships, and invest in their community.
I thank my colleagues, staff, and – most importantly – the Newport Beach residents who have voiced their thoughts in productive and constructive ways in my first months on City Council. Together we will continue to ensure the vibrancy, safety, and resiliency of Newport Beach.
Hon. Joe Stapleton is a member of the Newport Beach City Council. First elected in 2022, he represents District 1.