Letter to the Editor: Why I Support Measure Y

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I am in my 20th year of service to Newport Beach, 10 years on the Planning Commission and 10 years on the City Council.

During that time I have strived to maintain the highest level of providing municipal services and to protect and improve the quality of life for all Newport Beach Residents.

As a City Council member I voted to approve Measure Y and place it on the ballot. There is no way I would do so if I did not believe our quality of life would improve and that future traffic growth would be reduced.

It is virtually impossible for the average voter to understand Measure Y unless one takes the time to pour through reams of reports and studies. Unfortunately, most residents do not have the time to do so and must defer to those that they trust to interpret this information.

I am writing this letter to try to present Measure Y in a factual manner.

I am trained as a professional urban planner and the impacts of the proposed Measure Y General Plan amendments are clear to me; there are significant long term benefits to Newport Beach residents.

Before I get into Measure Y itself let me address claims that the ballot language is deceptive. It is not. The ballot statement is the same as used in 2006 except that the currently proposed numbers are used. The language is no more or less deceptive than what the voters approved in 2006.

At the risk of oversimplifying Measure Y I will try to explain it and the benefits to our city.

  • First, the plan retains the 2006 General Plan policies that place residents first.
  • Second, it adds new policies promoting environmental sustainability through means such as energy and water conservation.                                   .
  • Third, it eliminates any proposed changes in the Airport Area that would add any additional traffic.
  • Fourth, the plan takes already authorized hotel rooms, commercial sq ft and residential units from all over the city, but mostly in Newport Coast, and condenses it into Newport Center.

It is the third and fourth items above that the opponents of Measure Y are focusing on.

Airport Area: The plan does not increase traffic in the airport area. No residential units or office or commercial square footage are added. One office site is changed to congregate care. Elderly congregate care residents do not drive automobiles.

Newport Center: The Measure Y opponents claim that the 9120 trips that will be added to Newport Center will cause all the surrounding streets and Coast Highway, especially through Corona Del Mar, to be congested because of the land use changes. They completely mischaracterize the effect of removing hotel rooms, commercial sq ft and residential units from other parts of the city and in Newport Coast, reducing that amount of development, and moving it into Newport Center.

The opponent’s basic premise is that Measure Y increases traffic. This is flawed. There will be an increase in traffic even if Measure Y is defeated due to under-built or un-built properties in the city and growth in the region. Measure Y reduces the growth in future ADT (Average Daily Traffic) citywide. There will be some slight decreases and some slight increases but overall the traffic will be reduced and redirected from over capacity streets to those that have sufficient capacity.

What are the benefits of Measure Y and why should residents vote for it? Here are my reasons:

  • It will reduce future development in Newport Coast, pre-approved by the County and Coastal Commission. The City will have no control over it, not be able to mitigate it, and receive no development impact fees. It preserves the low intensity character of Newport Coast.
  • Future development in Newport Coast is replaced with a smaller amount of development in Newport Center that the City can regulate, mitigate and obtain development impact fees. The opponents claim that the Newport Coast development will never be built. Pre-approved development in the Coastal Zone is valuable and most assuredly this will be built if Measure Y does not pass.
  • The City will receive development fees of $40M -$50M or more to mitigate traffic and use for other civic improvements that will increase our quality of life and improve property values.
  • Average Daily Traffic (ADT) is reduced through Corona del Mar.
  • The additional office and commercial development in Newport Center is less than 9 percent of the office and commercial sq ft that exists today and will be visually imperceptible. Newport Center has good surrounding arterial roadway systems capable of managing traffic flows.
  • Newport Center will be an improved vibrant part of our City where all can go to shop, dine, be entertained and experience the arts and cultural events while keeping the rest of the City decidedly residential.

When I look at the benefits of Measure Y, as both a resident and professional urban planner, my conclusion is to support Measure Y.

To me living in a city that is predominantly low density residential surrounded by a vibrant town center is ideal. I will be voting yes on Measure Y and encourage you to do the same.

Edward Selich

Newport Beach Mayor Pro Tem

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