Letter to the Editor: General Plan Update Steering Committee Options

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The city of Newport Beach is working on a General Plan update.
— Art courtesy city of Newport Beach

On Tuesday, the City Council will finalize the appointments to the General Plan Steering Committee. Mr. Ed Selich and Mr. Larry Tucker are recommended to be appointed to this committee.

If the General Plan update adds additional development, as I expect that it will, the Land Use Element of the General Plan will require a vote of the people to be implemented. After the Measure Y debacle in 2014, this is likely to be a difficult task as I believe that many residents still remember the duplicitous way that the city presented the last General Plan. Recall that 69% of the residents voted against the General Plan after it became widely know that the promise of improving traffic and density was a false promise.

Because of this, the appointments to the GP Steering Committee are especially important. Many people, myself included, have a deep skepticism that this process will proceed in a trustworthy and transparent manner. Multiple requests to the council to commit to a ballot statement that delineates added growth have been ignored, raising my concern level substantially that another end run around the voters is imminent If enough of us feel that the process is flawed or weighted against us, the General Plan will fail again at the ballot box. You may recall that in 2014, social media posts and viral Emails readily trumped all the consultant money spent to pass this plan. These platforms are more powerful than ever. The recommendation of a trusted neighbor will almost always carry more weight than the glossy fliers in the mailbox and our residents are far more educated and aware politically than they were in 2014.

In this context, the appointment of Ed Selich and to a lessor degree Larry Tucker are incomprehensible. I cannot imagine how you could subvert this process any more effectively than by appointing these two men. We need to build trust, not undermine it.

Mr. Selich and Mr. Tucker were instrumental in preparing the 2014 General Plan update and were front and center in repeating the mantra that it would reduce traffic and density. Mr. Selich wrote that “it is virtually impossible for the average voter to understand Measure Y” without reading every document he was reading, adding “unfortunately, most residents do not have the time to do so and must defer to those they trust to interpret this information.” Mr. Tucker claimed that the opponents were misrepresenting the impacts of Measure Y and but then touted the money that the city would get from the upcoming development agreements he anticipated coming out of Measure Y. To my knowledge, neither man has acknowledged that the voters knew exactly what they wanted.

Character matters in this world. When Mr. Selich very purposefully added 3700 pages to the Museum House petition, he undermined both our democracy and the very people he had sworn to serve. It was one of the most unethical political actions I have ever witnessed. To include Mr. Selich on the Steering Committee is an absolute slap in the face to those of us who were hoping for a process that we could support.

You will make the decision that you feel is best. I will do the same.

Susan Skinner
Newport Beach

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