By Grace Leung | Newport Beach City Manager
Orange County remains in the red (“substantial risk”) tier of the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. While there were signs that the County might be able to move into the less restrictive orange (“moderate risk”) tier last week, the current case numbers will keep us in the red tier for a while longer.
Fortunately, though, the red tier allows most businesses to provide some indoor operations with limited capacity.
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 4.4 average daily cases and a 3.1 percent positivity rate. To reach the orange tier, the County will have to record less than 4 average daily cases and maintain a positivity rate under 4.9 percent.
We will get there, as long as we all stay vigilant. As our mayor and 33 other Orange County mayors promoted in a video message, “Mask Up to Open up OC!”
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 2, the number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach is 1,129 and the total cases in Orange County is 53,909. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of October 2 is 48,548. 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.
City Hall Reopens to the Public
Newport Beach City Hall reopened to the public on Monday, Oct. 5, with mandatory face covering and social distancing requirements. City Hall will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday and from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays.
The City Hall reopening follows the successful Sept. 21 reopening of the Central Library. In the next few weeks, community centers will reopen for classes and the Oasis fitness center will reopen with reduced capacities and enhanced COVID-19 protocols. (Community centers will remain closed for event rentals).
Since June, building permit application and plan check customers have used designated drop boxes outside City Hall. Beginning Monday, those services will be handled indoors.
The public is still encouraged to utilize phone, email and web services whenever possible to limit exposure as Orange County moves toward expanded indoor operations. City Council and commission meetings will continue to be streamed live. The public can comment live by phone and/or by email on specific agenda items.
Short-Term Rental Complaint Hotline Now Live
Residents of Newport Beach have a new way to resolve complaints and non-emergency issues related to short-term rental housing: A live answering service available 24 hours a day, every day. The service can be reached at (949) 718-3443.
Answering service operators will communicate complaints to the property owner or a designee as soon as they are received. The service will also help the City track the volume and types of short- term rental issues that impact neighborhoods.
Residents are encouraged to call the answering service for any non-emergency issue that occurs on a short-term rental property, such as loud parties, noise, parking, trash concerns, and occupancy limit violations. All emergency calls should still be placed to 911.
Under new regulations adopted by the City Council in July, short-term rental operators are required to provide a local contact person, either the property owner or a designee, who can immediately respond to complaints.
When calls are placed to the answering service, operators will then call the local contact person, who is required to respond to the complaint within 30 minutes. However, if the local contact person cannot be reached, the answering service operators will contact the Newport Beach Police Department for disturbance, noise and parking issues, and Code Enforcement for all other matters.
The answering service is part of a package of short-term rental reforms approved by the City Council in recent months. These include a prohibition on rentals to anyone under 21 years of age, occupancy limits that align with building and fire codes, and a requirement that property owners list their permit numbers in all advertising.
The new regulations were prompted by a growth in short-term rental housing in recent years through websites such as Airbnb, and a subsequent increase in community impacts.
Property owners with questions about the service are encouraged to call the City of Newport Beach’s Revenue Division at (949) 718-1997, or e-mail [email protected] For more, please visit the City’s short-term rental information page at https://www.newportbeachca.gov/government/departments/finance/revenue-division/short-term-rentals.
Housing Element Update Advisory Committee Meeting on October 7
On Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at 6 p.m., the City’s Housing Element Update Advisory Committee (HEAUC) will hold a meeting in the City Council Chambers. With a packed agenda, the HEUAC is anticipated to do the following:
- Hear updates from the Site Subcommittees, Outreach Subcommittee and Affordable Housing Subcommittee, as appropriate.
- Discuss the approach for engaging the public and property owners of sites that may be included on the Housing Opportunity Sites Inventory.
- Receive an overview of the overall outreach plan for the Housing Element and Circulation Element updates, including upcoming workshop dates for both elements.
- Review the City’s appeal letter of its final draft regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) allocation.
- Hear about new requirements in State Housing Element Law related to affordable housing and how that translates into the sites inventory. Discuss how compliance may be achieved.
The agenda for this meeting will be posted online at https://www.newportbeachca.gov/Pln/Housing_Element_Update_Advisory_Committee/current_agenda.pdf.
This is only the beginning of a longstanding update process. The public is welcomed and encouraged to participate either in person or remotely.
The HEUAC is scheduled to meet the first and third Wednesdays of each month on an as-needed basis. 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.
You can also check out www.newporttogether.com to help stay informed.
The August 2020 Treasury Report is available on the City’s website at: www.newportbeachca.gov/treasury.
As of August, the City’s portfolio totaled just over $288 million. Approximately $73 million of the portfolio was invested in very liquid investments available for day-to-day operations and major construction expenditures.
The short-term portfolio ($210 million) had a weighted average effective maturity of 1.81 years. The trailing twelve months’ total return was 3.69 percent. Our benchmark for the same period, the ICE BofA 1-3 Year Treasury index, returned 3.43%. The income yield on the portfolio, a better measure of income earned from the portfolio, was 2.19 percent.
Sculpture Photo Contest
To encourage the public awareness of the Sculpture Exhibition in Civic Center Park, the City Arts Commission is sponsoring a photography contest. Visitors to the sculpture garden are asked to submit photographs of the works on display. Winners will be selected by the City Arts Commission.
For entry guidelines, please visit https://www.newportbeachca.gov/government/departments/library-services/cultural-arts/photo-contest.
Cultural Arts will accept submissions from October 1 through December 1.
Newport Beach Park Annual Playground Project
As of September 25, 2020, the annual playground project was substantially completed. This year’s project rehabilitated playgrounds at Bob Henry, Mariners and Newport Shores Parks. The work included repairing and replacing play equipment/components, rubber surfacing and play sand. The community can now enjoy these facilities… safely, of course.
The State of California Department of Public Health released guidance on Outdoor Playgrounds and Recreation Facilities on September 28. Playgrounds are open with protocols in place:
- Wear a mask
- Maintain social distancing
- Wash hands before and after use