Rush Hill announced last week several ideas he wants to implement during his mayoral year.
Among those ideas was a new mooring system, water taxi, golf course and building permit fee reductions.
About 400 people attended the 33rd Mayor’s Dinner, hosted by Speak Up Newport, at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel on Feb. 7.
There were 12 former mayors in attendance, all of whom gathered on stage about midway through the event for a group photo.
The evening also included former mayor Evelyn Hart and city manager Dave Kiff presenting the SUNshine Award to retired state Senator, Marian Bergeson.
“The award is given in recognition for the recipient’s long-term positive impact on the community for volunteer service over and above professional accomplishments,” according to SUN’s website.
The main event of the night was Hill’s “State of the City” speech, during which he announced his initiatives.
Hill also discussed the city’s quality of life and the finances behind it, celebrating Newport Beach’s success and continuing the momentum.
The city “is truly being run more like a business with entrepreneurial energy,” he said.
“Now, with all the good news we can’t lose sight of the need to constantly protect, and further enhance, our quality of life,” Hill said. “And for this reason, I’m afraid we can’t rest.”
His first initiative is to provide “more recreational access to our clean, world-class harbor.”
He plans on asking the council to consider a new mooring system, he announced.
It would be a pilot program, he explained, that would use floating docks where water and power are available.
“My goal is to provide more service than is currently available to mooring holders at the same price that they currently pay,” Hill said.
A benefit of the new mooring system would be “generating a need for shore boat activity to and from the floating dock communities that will help achieve a higher year round demand for a successful Newport Harbor water taxi service.”
“Yes, we’ve tried this before and we failed, but there are four new, important factors present now that did not exist before,” he continued.
Those new factors are: A higher demand for access to floating docks; the Harbor Commission’s recommendation of an increase of public docks; new technology; and the marketing capability of Newport Beach & Company.
Hill also suggested that the taxis could be electric.
His second idea was a new public golf course at the old Coyote Canyon Landfill site.
Hill envisions a “high quality regulation course” with “an affordable fee for locals and a market rate fee for non-residents.”
The county-owned land is already zoned for a golf course, he explained, which would be built and managed by the private sector on a long-term lease. The landfill was closed and sealed so that trees and landscape would be allowed.
He is confident about the process and noted that the current budget allocations are adequate to cover the cost of planning that would occur.
The third initiative announced by Hill was an idea called the “Newport Dividend.”
It would be a reduction of building permit fees for the rest of 2014 for remodels of single family homes and duplexes.
“This would encourage home improvement, trickle down to the benefits for those in real estate, construction, home furnishings, lending markets, and more,” Hill said. “It would also have the effect of raising residential property values.”
The reserves, the highest in Newport Beach’s history, are about $130 million at the close of the last fiscal year, he explained.
“To this extent,” Hill said, “I am suggesting, at this point in time, we are in a position where we can invest more in you.”
For more information, visit newportbeachca.gov or call the mayor’s office at (949) 644-3004.