By Grace Leung | Newport Beach City Manager
This week’s COVID-19 case numbers crept higher in Orange County, which will likely remain in the red (“substantial risk”) tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy at least a few more weeks.
The Blueprint system tracks two key COVID-19 metrics: average daily case rates per 100,000 population and the percentage of positive tests, known as the positivity rate.
As of this week, Orange County has 5.3 average daily cases (up from 4.4 last week) and a 3.2 percent positivity rate, just slightly higher than last week.
The State has also introduced an additional measurement, the Equity Metric, to address large gaps in the infection rates between more and less-advantaged neighborhoods. The Equity Metric will affect counties where there is a significant difference in case and positivity rates among low-income, Black, Latino, Pacific Islander, and essential workers, who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 in terms of higher rates of infection, hospitalizations, and deaths.
For more on the status of Orange County and others, visit http://www.COVID19.ca.gov.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of October 8, the number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 1,161 and the total cases in Orange County was 55,183. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of October 8 was 49,485. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
The Blueprint for a Safer Economy is the state’s four- tiered, color-coded system for re-opening California’s businesses. Counties move through each of the four tiers based on two key metrics: case rates and the percentage of positive tests. Moving from tier to tier requires a 21-day wait time and counties will be required to meet the metrics for the next tier for two weeks in a row.
The County of Orange COVID-19 data and information can be found at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc.
The County of Orange Healthcare Agency’s COVID-19 Hotline can be reached at (714) 834-2000, or by email at [email protected]
County staff monitors the hotline and email box and answers questions about industry reopening and activity resumption, current guidance and more.
The County maintains a list of FDA-approved testing sites for County residents at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-testing-and-screening for testing information. The SOS Health Center in Newport Beach is an approved community testing site. Call (949) 270-2100 for an appointment.
Housing Element Update Advisory Committee (HEUAC) Meeting Recap
On Wednesday, October 7, 2020, the City’s Housing Element Update Advisory Committee (HEAUC) held a meeting in the City Council Chambers.
The HEUAC began the business portion of the meeting by receiving updates from the Sites Subcommittee, referencing an attachment to the agenda with various potential housing opportunity sites called out and noting their potential feasibility for redevelopment as housing.
While this is not a final determination on which sites to include in the State-required Housing Opportunity Sites Inventory, it is a step towards identifying which sites should be considered. As the process moves forward, the HEUAC will work with staff, the consultant team, and the community to further vet the candidate sites.
The HEUAC then moved the discussion into how to best solicit public input on those candidate sites and received an overview of updates to the outreach plan. The City’s consultant Kimley- Horn presented a draft graphic depiction of the process for updating the Housing Element and Circulation Element concurrently, including outreach components along the way. While it was not available at this meeting, the consultant will be bringing back an updated project schedule that is more detailed at or before the next meeting.
It was also mentioned that the first virtual workshop on housing will be held on October 20, 2020. at 6 p.m. via Zoom. Staff indicated the format and narrative accompanying the content of that workshop is still being created and that it would be shared with the Outreach Subcommittee prior to finalizing.
After these items, the HEUAC received a presentation on the meaning of “affordability” as it relates to housing. The HEUAC then discussed some of the challenges the City will face in working towards meeting the affordability aspect of the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation. Later, staff will bring back more information on working towards compliance with planning for housing for all income types.
The HEUAC finished the meeting with an informational item regarding the City Council’s consideration of authorizing the filing of an appeal of the final draft RHNA allocation.
The next meeting is scheduled for October 21, 2020, where it is anticipated the HEUAC will dive deeper into the specific candidate sites being considered for the inventory, as part of the Housing Element Update.
For more information on the HEUAC, please check out its webpage at https://www.newportbeachca.gov/government/data-hub/agendas-minutes/housing-element-update-advisory-committee.
Community Invited to October 20 Online Housing Workshop
As touched on above, the City will be seeking input from the community on the future of housing in Newport Beach at an interactive, virtual workshop on October 20, 2020, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
The workshop, “Envisioning the Future of Housing,” is the first in a series of community forums that will help update the housing and the circulation (transportation and mobility) portions of Newport Beach’s General Plan.
Participants can register for the virtual workshop, hosted on Zoom, at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJYqc-yuqTMiG9MoS5A5lv7Euvax2q6c2SyP.
Community Invited to October 19 Online Zoning Amendment Workshop
The City will be seeking input from the community on a proposed zoning amendment in the Industrial (IG) Zoning District at an interactive, virtual workshop on Monday, October 19, 2020, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
The proposed zoning amendment would allow wine tasting with limited food service to operate in the IG Zoning District, with some limitations. These types of uses are not currently allowed in that area. The IG Zoning District is located in the West Newport Mesa area of Newport Beach.
Participants can register for the virtual workshop, hosted on Zoom, at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_kHf1cXYTToS97XiYY3YxRQ.
Council to Consider Additional Short-Term Rental Reforms
The City Council on Tuesday, October 13 will consider additional reforms aimed at further reducing community impacts from short-term rental lodging in Newport Beach.
If approved, the proposed regulations would:
- Require a 3-night minimum stay for all short-term lodging rentals.
- Limit the total number of short-term rental permits to 1,550 and create a waiting list for new permits once the cap is reached.
- Prohibit short-term rentals to anyone under 25 years of age.
- Hold property owners responsible for parking violations by tenants that occur at the rental property or in close proximity to the property.
- Allow the transfer of short-term lodging permits to immediate family upon the death of a permit holder, and to new owners upon the sale of the property.
The Council in July adopted an initial set of regulations on short-term rentals. These were prompted by growth in short-term rental housing in recent years and a subsequent increase in community impacts. The July action placed occupancy limits, required that property owners list their permit numbers in all advertising to help prevent illegal rentals, and set a minimum rental age of 21 years.
The Council discussed additional proposals at a Sept. 8 study session and directed staff to draft municipal code amendments for potential adoption.
The Council will meet at 4:30 p.m. on October 13 at the Council Chambers, 100 Civic Center Dr. The public is encouraged to view the meeting live, online at https://newportbeachca.gov/government/departments/public-information-office/nbtv/nbtv-live.
Comments can be submitted live by phone, by email at [email protected], or in person from the Community Room adjacent to the Council Chambers.
For more information, visit the City’s short-term rental information page at https://www.newportbeachca.gov/government/departments/finance/revenue-division/short-term-rentals.
Free Shredding and E-Waste Disposal Event October 17
Newport Beach residents are invited to bring documents and electronic waste for free shredding and disposal on Saturday, October 17 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Harbor Day School parking lot, 3443 Pacific View Dr.
Please bring an ID, as residency will be verified for this event.
Newport Beach residents can bring up to ten (10) standard file boxes for shredding. Acceptable items for shredding include:
- Bank and financial statements
- Credit card statements or pre-approved credit card offers
- Old IRS tax forms, checks or bills
- Old credit cards and plastic/paper membership cards
- Junk mail, of any size and color
- Document can be bound with staples or paper clips
Unfortunately, the shredder cannot accommodate x-rays or larger plastic items such as binders. Material is shredded on site.
Acceptable items for e-waste collection include:
- Camcorders, CD, DVD and VCR players
- Cell phones, telephones & answering machines
- Computer monitors (CRTs & flat screens), Computers/CPUs/laptops
- Printer/scanner/fax/copiers (desktop)
- Radios of all types
- Televisions (CRTs and flat screens), video game consoles and accessories Please make sure that all data has been removed from electronic items.
All other household hazardous waste will NOT be accepted.
Household hazardous waste materials can be taken to Orange County’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facilities for disposal. Facility information can be found at www.oclandfills.com.
Fire Prevention Week – October 4 through 10, 2020
The National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) 2020 Fire Prevention Week ended on Saturday, October 10. This annual event focuses on community education to raise awareness of having working smoke detectors and reducing fires at home.
The NFPA theme this year is “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!” and offers the below tips everyone can use while cooking.
- Stay Focused – Unattended cooking can lead to kitchen fires.
- Prevent Burns – Use oven mitts when checking or removing food from the oven, stove or microwave.
- Put a Lid on It – Always keep a lid nearby when cooking.
- Keep Cooking Areas Clear – Clutter, loose clothing, children and pets near the stove increases the chance of a fire.
- Watch What You Microwave – Use microwave safe dishes and follow heating instructions.
- Get Grounded in Electrical Safety – Appliances, gadgets, cords, outlets, heat and water can lead to hazardous conditions.
- Check Your Smoke Detector – Test and change the batteries of your smoke detector, which is an important lifesaving device.
Normally, the Fire Department’s open house takes place in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week. This year, in lieu of the open house event, the department has a limited supply of safety materials available for residents. Interested parties can request a Fire Prevention Week package by emailing Debbie Alcaraz at [email protected]
New Audio-Visual System in Civic Center Community Room
The City has completed an upgrade to the Audio-Visual system in the Civic Center Community Room. The project installed a new video wall on the display wall to replace the existing roll down screen and projector. The controls and inputs were also upgraded for ease of use and reliability. The system is composed of nine 55-inch specialty video monitors that provide for a combined 165-inch display. The new video wall is much brighter and offers a better viewing experience. The new upgrade will allow for a better viewing experience for all Community Room users.
Addressing homelessness continues to be a priority in the City’s ongoing COVID-19 response, working closely with contractor City Net and regional partners throughout the county and state. For the past several months, people in Newport Beach experiencing homelessness have been placed in motels through Project Roomkey, a state initiative to provide shelter during COVID-19. Although Project Roomkey is winding down, Newport Beach staff and City Net staff continue to collaborate with the Illumination Foundation, a local non-profit agency working with the state to facilitate Project Roomkey.
- Throughout the month of September, 21 military veterans and their families have been housed through the County’s Coordinated Entry System. The Coordinated Entry System manages a roster of eligible veterans and works with service providers, such as City Net, to match veterans with housing opportunities. Most of the veterans were placed into the new Placentia Veterans Village, which offers 50 units of permanent, supportive housing with on-site resident services.
- One man experiencing a mental health crisis was placed into the County care system. The City’s Homeless Liaison Officer worked with the County’s Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT). PERT conducts risk assessments, initiates involuntary hospitalizations when necessary, and provides resources and education.
- City Net case managers helped obtain a birth certificate from Tennessee that will allow a woman to access housing through a voucher system. The woman, who has experienced homelessness in Newport Beach for 15 years, received a housing voucher through the Orange County Housing Authority’s Mainstream Voucher Program. City Net staff is providing housing navigation services to locate and certify an apartment for her to utilize the voucher. The Orange County Housing Authority, in partnership with the Orange County Healthcare Agency, was awarded funding through the Housing and Urban Development department (HUD) to provide rental assistance to non-elderly people experiencing homelessness with disabilities.
- Three people in Newport Beach experiencing homelessness were enrolled into City Net services. City Net staff completed Vulnerability Index Intake Assessments for each. The assessments are used to screen clients to determine proper placement in the County’s Continuum of Care system. Some assessment factors include age, health issues, and length of time being unsheltered. Case managers will follow up with the clients to provide housing assessments and prepare documentation for housing.
- The City’s Homeless Liaison Officer, Homeless Coordinator, and City Net staff are assisting a previously homeless elderly woman who was recently placed in a motel. The woman received a new photo ID, Electronic Transfer Benefit (EBT) card, a health screening and postal services.
- City Net staff continues to provide support and case management to several elderly people sheltering in motels while they await placement into permanent, supportive housing.
The City Net hotline number is (714) 451-6198. Those who call the hotline may leave a detailed voicemail message for themselves or others in need and City Net staff will respond within 48 hours. For immediate assistance call the County’s Crisis Prevention Hotline at (877) 7-CRISIS or (877) 727-4747.