At the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce luncheon this week, Mayor Ed Selich offered a preview of his “State of the City” speech he’ll deliver at the Mayor’s dinner on Feb. 5, and outlined the important issues that he believes the City Council will tackle this year.
In a packed room at Five Crowns Restaurant, Selich discussed the CdM bypass plan, the tidelands fund, the city’s pension program, the annual budget, capital improvements, and other timely topics.
Before Selich took the podium, someone in the audience asked Councilmember Scott Peotter, whose district includes Corona del Mar, “What’s going on?”
“What’s not going on?” replied Peotter. “I enjoyed a bonfire on the beach last Sunday. We’ve got some interesting things with this year’s budget. I’m looking forward to working with the existing council.”
CdM Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Linda Leonhard then introduced Selich, who is on his third term as mayor of Newport Beach, as “a huge supporter of Corona del Mar for many years. He knows all the issues in the city. Between Scott and Ed, we’re in a good place for this year.”
Before reviewing city issues, Selich offered a thumbnail background sketch: he’s a 35 year resident of Newport Beach and raised two daughters in the city who attended local schools. This year marks his 20th year in city government, first as a planning commissioner and then as a city council member. He is termed out in 2016 and said he has no plans to continue in politics, although he’ll stay active in city affairs.
“We had an interesting fall campaign—it was very energetic, and we had Measure Y,” began Selich. “It’s also the first time in over years where we have four new council members. It is a drastic change, but I look forward to the new blood on the city council. I believe in change, it invigorates me. I look forward to have new ideas. It’s a good time to take their new ideas and blend them with established ideas. Newport has always had good, smooth transitions. We don’t have revolution, we have evolution. Everyone’s goal is always to make the city a better place. My goal is to oversee a harmonious transition of the city council. One of the things we want to do is set new goals and priorities, and maintain the high quality of life we’re blessed to enjoy.”
Selich noted that he felt fortunate to be selected as mayor again, and joked that he hoped it was because he was good, and not because the council hoped that he might get it right the third time.
“We had our first real council meeting last week and had a number of things on the agenda that were discussed during the campaign,” said Selich. “First was how much the civic center cost. We also talked about the tidelands fund. We’re restructuring our finance committee and appointing three council members to the committee, and adding four citizens to the committee, which will give us more openness and communication.”
Selich noted that the council voted to bring back wood to the fire rings, but that the final decision is out of the city’s hands because it will be determined by the Coastal Commission.
“We want to get it in front of them and get it resolved,” said Selich. “It’s been going on too long.”
Selich said an important event coming up on January 31 is a goal setting session, to be held in the morning in the Community Room at the Civic Center.
“I encourage anyone to come to the goal setting session,” he said. “During the year we get complaints that people did not know about this or that. This goal setting session is very important, it’s when the council sets what it wants to do for the coming year, so if you don’t tell us what you think, we’re left to guessing or get input by other means. It’s a two way street, so I’m looking forward to hearing from you.”
One of the big issues during last year’s campaign was finance, so Selich said the council will get an overall update of city finances.
“We’ll review the 2014-2015 budget. We’re halfway through the budget year, so we want to see how the revenues are stacking up, are we beating projections, how ae expenditures looking. It’s an opportunity to take a look at where we stand from a revenue and expenditure standpoint.”
Most important, said Selich, is to have the entire council decide what changes they want to look at in the coming months and set priorities.
“Prior goals were set around beautification, and we did a big push for bicycle and pedestrian safety and adopted a bicycle master plan,” said Selich. “One of our goals was to improve pavement conditions. We also have the tidelands master plan, and all the things we’ve talked about doing in the harbor—dredging, public piers, possibly water taxis, floating docks.”
Selich noted that the city is nearing completion of Marina Park on Balboa Peninsula, which will have a sailing center, community center, visitor’s marina, and a park—the first park in the city to be located along the Newport harbor.
He mentioned the completion of Sunset Ridge Park, the need to rebuild Park Avenue bridge, and possibly adding a community center on the east side of the city.
He said the council is about ready to make a decision on the Balboa Theater property, and that there have been requests for more dog parks in the city.
“People have been asking about Mariner’s Mile improvements, and I’m not talking about the current construction improvements, because that’s not an improvement. We do have a lot of construction going on around town, which helps the tax base and keeps property values up. We’re a very active town from a construction standpoint.”
Selich then discussed topics specific to Corona del Mar.
“I had suggested the Corona del Mar bypass plan, which is an interactive real time messaging system to direct people around Corona del Mar during peak morning and evening hours when traffic is jammed up going thru Corona del Mar,” explained Selich. “I lived in Cameo Shores when Newport Coast Drive was built. My office was in Newport Center. Traffic would back up to Laguna Beach. When Newport Coast Drive opened, all that traffic went away and I could zip back and forth. When the toll road was built and they put a toll on Newport Coast Drive, a substantial amount of traffic came back.”
Selich said the Bypass Plan will be on the council’s agenda next week so the council can decide if it wants to make the Bypass Plan a priority this year.
“The last thing is the Corona del Mar entry project at MacArthur and Coast Highway,” said Selich. “It’s currently in our approved budget, but we wanted to study and resolve the parking before we have more discussion on funding.”
Selich concluded his remarks by stating that “I’ve enjoyed being on the city council, I enjoy serving the people of this community, and I’m really proud to be your mayor for 2015.”