Newport Beach City Manager Update: Annual Budget, Human Lift, Laguna Niguel Fire

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Grace Leung

By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager

The proposed annual budget for Fiscal Year 2022-23 is now online for public review. The proposed budget is balanced with a strong projected surplus of revenues over expenses, enhances funding for building replacement and maintenance, and increases the speed of the City’s paydown of unfunded liabilities.

The total operating budget is expected to be $331 million, with a record additional $71 million of funding for capital improvement projects included in the capital budget.

Highlights of the proposed budget include:

  • A General Fund budget of $276 million, which reflects a full rebound from the pandemic and a return to the City’s historical trendline of revenue growth.
  • $71 million in proposed spending for capital projects, a figure that includes $26 million from the Fiscal Year 2020-21 year-end surplus and $10 million of America Rescue Plan Act funds from the Federal Government. These funds will be utilized to fully fund several significant projects, including the Library Lecture Hall, Junior Lifeguard Building, and phase one of the Balboa Island drainage improvement project.
  • Increased property tax revenue, which is projected to grow by 6.4% to a record $131 million, primarily driven by median home prices now exceeding $3 million and higher assessed values as homes are sold.
  • Stronger sales tax revenue, projected to grow by 5.3% to a record $45 million, primarily driven by auto sales, and record revenues from retail stores and restaurants.
  • A rebound in hotel tax revenue, which is projected to grow by 8.7% to a record $27.8 million, reflecting higher rates and occupancy levels in hotels and short-term residential rentals.
  • An increase in the budgeted payment toward the City’s unfunded pension liability from $35 million to $40 million. This puts the City on track to eliminate the liability in 6 years.
  • The budget also funds a continuation of the Be Well OC mobile mental health services, body-worn cameras for the Police Department, new alerting and vehicle ventilation systems for the Fire Department, sand management equipment for City beaches, and additional funding for building maintenance.

The City Council will discuss the budget, along with possible uses for unallocated surplus funds, at its May 24 meeting, prior to adoption in June.

See the full budget proposal:

City Installs Newport Harbor’s First ‘Human Lift’ for Disabled Boaters at Marina Park

Newport Harbor’s first human lift, designed to expand access for disabled boaters, is now operational at the Marina Park public docks, 1600 W. Balboa Blvd. City officials gathered informally on Thursday, May 12 to view a demonstration of the lift and commemorate the project launch.

The equipment installation was completed in April and is now available for public use upon request, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. To request use of the lift, visitors can call the Harbor Department at (949) 270-8159 or email [email protected].

The lift can be used for transferring someone from the dock at the base of the gangway at Marina Park to a variety of marine craft including a small sailboat (less than 22’), a small powerboat, or kayak. The equipment can lower or raise someone from the dock down to the water level. Click here for more information:

NBFD Provides Mutual Aid in Laguna Niguel Fire

This week the Newport Beach Fire Department assisted with the Coastal Fire in Laguna Niguel. On Wednesday, May 11 in the late afternoon, the NBFD sent five fire engines to assist with the growing wildland fire and protect structures. Fire crews from several other Orange County cities backfilled Newport Beach fire stations until off-duty City firefighters could arrive.

One NBFD engine crew was removed from the incident Wednesday after a firefighter was injured; fortunately the firefighter was released the next day from Hoag Hospital and is doing well. As of Friday, the fire was 25 percent contained after consuming 200 acres, destroying 20 homes and damaging 11 others. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

To help fight the Coastal Fire, the NBFD deployed one of two new fire engines that had just been put into service on Monday, May 9. These new engines are serving the community from the Lido Station No. 2 and the Fashion Island Station No. 3.

Drought Watch: Recycled Water To Irrigate Jamboree Rd. Median

As part of the City’s ongoing effort to conserve water amid the California drought, recycled water will soon be used to irrigate the Jamboree Road median between Santa Barbara Drive and Back Bay Drive. As part of a larger paving and concrete replacement project, the existing potable irrigation system will be removed and a new recycled water irrigation system will be installed. The project is now underway and is expected to be completed by August.

The City will re-landscape the median with various types of drought-tolerant plants (shown in photo), which were selected to match the existing median landscaping between East Coast Highway and Back Bay Drive. The City is preparing to undertake additional projects in the coming months to beautify our community and save water as drought conditions worsen throughout California.

Treasury Report Available for Public Review

The March 2022 Treasury Report is available on the City’s website at:

As of March, the City’s portfolio totaled about $344.8 million. Approximately $45.5 million of the portfolio was invested in very liquid investments available for day-to-day operations and major construction expenditures.

The short-term portfolio ($266.3 million) had a weighted average effective maturity of 1.78 years. The trailing 12 months’ total return was -2.57 percent. Our benchmark for the same period, the ICE B of A 1-3 Year Treasury index, returned -2.84 percent. The income-return on the portfolio, a better measure of income earned from the portfolio, was 1.31 percent..

Rotary, City Team up for Arroyo Park Planting

On April 30, the City partnered with the Newport-Irvine Rotary Club for a planting event at Arroyo Park. Over 60 volunteers and City staff planted approximately 450 California native plants and trees along the trailhead running along Bonita Creek to Old Ford Road. More than half of the plant material was donated by Shadetree Nursery.

City staff helped prepare for the event by removing invasive plants and weeds in the area and extending the Parks irrigation system. This project is sure to put a smile on the faces of the many hikers and mountain bikers who use the trail and park daily.

Public Works Prepares for the Grunion Run

In addition to getting Newport Beach ready for an influx of summer visitors, the City Public Works crews are also preparing for the return of another seasonal visitor — the grunion.

Grunion, a species of marine fish, come up on the beaches along the peninsula to lay their eggs at the highest tide line. The grunion season will run until September 1.

Our maintenance vehicles and grooming equipment operators stay away from the intertidal area as grunion eggs may be present under the sand.

It is early in the season and grunion may run on any of the nights in our beach. Keep your eyes and hands open, as grunion may be picked up with bare hands only – no gear. A fishing license is required to gather grunion for anyone 16 years or older. More information can be found at

Additionally, as we are switching gears from winter to summer beach area operations, a tremendous amount of time and energy is spent throughout the Public Works Department on proactive efforts to identify and address issues and potential problems ahead of time, order needed supplies and equipment, hire and add additional part-time staff, and more, in an effort to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for our residents and visitors alike.

During the summer months, Public Works and our contractors greatly increase the level of services such as the cleaning of all our public restrooms, the frequency of scheduled trash can service, litter pickup on the beaches, street and parking lots, cleaning of sidewalks, signs and street furniture, and more.

Routine inspections are conducted including checking for overall cleanliness, clearing sinks and floor drains, and ensuring toilets and amenities are functioning properly. There is also an increase in the volume of customer calls related to summer activities, and a corresponding increase in the amount of time and staff dedicated to responding to summer issues that arise.

Reduce Water Use Through These Simple Tips

In response to continued drought conditions, we are continuing to ask residents and businesses to reduce water wherever possible.

Future mandated drought water restrictions are very likely and we are awaiting further information from the state.

In the meantime, the City suggests that you review your outdoor water use for landscaping.

  • Do you see water running down the gutter after your sprinklers go on?
  • Are your sprinklers over-spraying onto your driveway and sidewalk?
  • Do you hear a “squish” sound when you walk on your grass after watering?
  • Have you talked to your gardener about reducing your water use?
  • Did you know if you reduce your outdoor watering time by 1 min on a 5 min watering cycle, you’ll use 20 percent less water?

For water saving programs and rebates visit If you would like a free inspection or review from our Utilities Department staff regarding your water use, please feel free to contact us at (949) 644-3011.

Be Well Mobile Crisis Response Update

The Be Well mobile crisis response team is now operating in Newport Beach 12 hours a day, seven days a week to respond to mental and behavioral health crises. The mobile unit is staffed with mental health specialists and EMTs, and works closely with the City’s police and fire departments.

This week the Be Well team:

  • Transported two people to the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter.
  • Transported a person to a crisis stabilization unit for treatment.
  • Provided First Aid to three people experiencing homelessness.
  • Conducted 44 outreach interactions with residents and people experiencing homelessness.

Homelessness In Newport Beach

The City of Newport Beach provides a comprehensive response to address homelessness through a coordinated effort by City staff, contractors, partner agencies and nonprofit groups.

This week the City’s homeless outreach and response teams:

  • Reunified a woman with her family in Arizona.
  • Secured permanent housing for two women who experienced homelessness in Newport Beach. One had been homeless for 7 years; the other for 5 years.
  • Transported two unsheltered people to the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter for temporary housing and services. As of this week, 18 people who had been experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach are now sheltered in the facility.
  • Assisted five clients matched to Emergency Housing Vouchers with housing applications.

To donate to those experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach, please visit our Good Giving Program web page at

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