With very limited parking and a very steep staircase to climb, (at what appeared to be a non ADA compliant location), the residents of Newport Beach did not disappoint to fill the Newport Beach Sea Base Yacht room to attend a Public Workshop for the Mariners’ Mile Revitalization Master Plan. This was presented by the City’s newly appointed consultant, Placeworks.
The Placeworks Professional Service Agreement that was signed by the City on May 12, 2016 states that Placeworks will review the Newport Beach General Plan and document its descriptive visualizations for the future of Mariners’ Mile. This would include conceptual drawings, templates and outline Mariners’ Mile Vision and Design Framework.
The consultant from Placeworks, Woodie Tescher, was at the podium. It appeared that Mr. Tescher was startled at the amount of people that had arrived. This really shouldn’t have stunned him, as he acknowledged on his Placeworks website, that his “Favorite Sport” is: Raucous, loud, hostile public meetings. Tescher also states that his “Embarrassing Moments” are: Attempting to moderate raucous, loud, hostile public meetings. Needless to say, Mr. Tescher succumbed to both his “Favorite Sport” and “Embarrassing Moments” in one night.
Placeworks has prepared a series of conceptual drawings that depict the potential land use, residential housing, streetscape conditions, mobility and connectivity of the roads that will include a “Highway-Oriented Corridor.”
None of this information was shared with the participants of this workshop in any capacity.
In fact, Cal Trans has been working with the City to insure that PCH will become a six lane highway in the very near future.
According to the City, PCH is carrying approximately 44,000 cars trips a day. The 14 massive projects that have been approved and/or are near completion will, by the most conservative estimate, likely generate an approximate 100,000 car trips daily on PCH.
The workshop consisted of a “pop-quiz” in which one of the questions was, ”How Do You Spell Mariners’ Mile?”
There were vague and incomplete aerial maps of Mariners’ Mile placed on each of the six tables with blue, green and red round stickers. Then each group was given a black marker to list the challenges, opportunities and dreams for Mariners’ Mile.
This is when the meeting ended for the consultant and where it began for the residents. It was evident that the maps, stickers and charts were all a juvenile and futile attempt for the residents to believe that they had a say in this project.
It wasn’t lost on the residents that after two and a half months Placeworks and the City of Newport Beach must have a vision of the 1.5 mile area. The residents wanted to know what that vision was and pleaded for transparency. Why wasn’t their vision presented at this meeting?
The citizens of Newport Beach vision is clear, they do not want to replicate Huntington Beach or Marina Del Rey.
What was apparent was that there will be impacts of the “view-shed” along PCH and the bluffs to the Harbor frontage.
What is the definition of “view-shed” and what does this mean for all of Newport Beach and especially for Newport Heights?
The concerns were apparent and these impacts were not addressed at the workshop:
- Newport Beach/Lido/Newport Heights Property Values
- PCH – Increased Six lane Highway (bottle necking at the Arches Bridge)
- Impact of Traffic for Corona Del Mar, West Newport and Newport Heights
- Light Pollution
- Water – Newport Beach continues to regulate a mandatory 15 percent reduction, unlike the surrounding cities and the rest of California?
- Project commencement date and project completion date
There are two more workshops that are scheduled. These meetings need to be held at the City Hall for convenience of parking, pedestrian and handicap access.
A friendly reminder to PlaceWorks and the City of Newport Beach: please bring the Master-Plan with the conceptual drawings to the next workshop, as you can be assured that the Newport Beach residents will bring the rest.
Peggy V. Palmer