Mayor’s Message: Planning for Housing, Newport Beach’s Future

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A screen shot of the new General Plan Update website, newporttogether.com

It’s time for the City of Newport Beach to update its General Plan, the document that provides the framework for decision-making regarding the future management and growth of our community.

The completed plan will have a shelf-life of 20 years, so it’s essential that the document accurately captures the community’s vision for the future of our city. That’s why, before the City even begins the General Plan Update process, we’ve embarked upon a community engagement effort to hear what Newport Beach citizens like about their city and what they want would want to change.

Mayor Diane Dixon.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Called “Newport, Together,” the outreach program is designed to bring together people with varying perspectives, to facilitate dialogue, uncover shared values, and translate those values into the building blocks for the future General Plan Update. We have a series of interactive workshops planned during November and December and will offer additional events, workshops, meetings in the new year. The schedule of activities can be found at NewportTogether.com and I strongly encourage you to participate in this process.

A key component of any General Plan is something called the Housing Element. This section of the plan includes an analysis of the community’s housing needs for all household types and income levels, and provides strategies for addressing those housing needs. Under State law, the Housing Element must also identify adequate sites that are zoned and available within the seven-year housing cycle to meet the city’s fair share of regional housing needs. It’s important to note that the law doesn’t require the City to build new housing, but it does require us to plan and zone for Newport Beach’s share of the region’s housing needs.

Our community’s fair share of the region’s housing needs is determined by the State through the Regional Housing Needs Allocation and is then allocated through a process overseen by the Southern California Association of Governments. With California in short supply of housing, particularly affordable housing, we expected Newport Beach’s RHNA allocation to increase and it did.

Residents place legos on a map of Newport Beach to represent potential areas to add housing during the city’s first “Newport, Together” listen and learn workshop on Nov. 12.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Then, late last week, our housing allocation numbers increased even further. On Nov. 7, SCAG’s Regional Council met to review and approve a final draft RHNA allocation methodology. A new, alternative methodology submitted by the County of Riverside garnered support and was approved by the Regional Council. This alternative methodology redistributes regional housing units from inland to coastal areas, and results in an increase for Newport Beach’s allocation from the SCAG staff recommended allocation of 2,751 units to 4,832 units.

We are not alone. Most Orange County cities will have a significant increase in units under this new alternative methodology. SCAG will now send the approved methodology back to the California Department of Housing and Community Development for its review and comments. Once HCD makes a final decision on the methodology, there will be an opportunity to appeal.

What does all this mean? Newport Beach will need to start reviewing and updating its current Housing Element in advance of the comprehensive General Plan Update. Under State law, the City’s Housing Element must be updated by mid-October 2021 and we are concerned that planning for an increased housing allocation of 4,832 units will necessitate changes to the other aspects of the General Plan, including the Land Use and Circulation elements.

We have some important decisions ahead and community involvement is needed. Resident involvement and input is essential. This is your general plan in the making. Your voice is important. Watch for regular communications of general plan community meetings in each Council district.

 

Best wishes for a lovely Thanksgiving,

Mayor, Council Member
District 1

Diane Dixon joined Newport Beach City Council in 2014. This is her second tenure as mayor, first stepping into the role in 2016. Reach her at [email protected]

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