By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager
While there are encouraging signs that the surge in COVID-19 cases may be slowing, the case numbers remain high. Therefore, we will be extending the current City facility closures for an additional two weeks, through Friday, January 28.
Our highest priority is to maintain staffing so that services and service levels to the community continue during this time. All services will continue, with some under modified operations.
City Hall will remain temporarily closed to the public, with some in-person services available online and by phone only. Our permit counters continue to serve customers through drop-off bins placed outside City Hall. City libraries are open, but no in-person programs will take place at libraries until further notice. Bill paying and other revenue operations are being conducted online and by phone. Recreation classes continue as scheduled; community centers are limited to program participants only.
We are carefully monitoring the COVID Omicron outbreak in consultation with Hoag Hospital and County health officials, and will adjust as necessary. If we can safely reopen facilities before January 28, we will do so.
Council Approves New Waste, Recycling Contract
Last week the City Council approved a new, eight-year waste and recycling collection contract that will meet new state mandates, including organic waste recycling.
The agreement with the City’s trash and recycling contractor, CR&R Environmental Services, updates Newport Beach’s residential waste and recycling program to meet changes in state law that took effect January 1.
The new program will utilize three separate carts: one for solid waste, one for mixed recyclables, and a third for organic waste recycling, which includes food waste and landscaping waste items.
Beginning in February, residents will begin receiving new, green- top recycling containers for organic waste, an optional two-gallon bucket for kitchen scraps, and educational materials on how to recycle properly.
The contract includes provisions for newer collection trucks with anti-collision safety technology. Residents’ bills will not increase under the new contract, as the majority of recycling costs are paid from the City’s General Fund.
For more information on the new program visit www.newportbeachca.gov/recycle.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of January 13, the total cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 7,868, an increase of 1,105 cases since January 6. The total number of cases in Orange County as of January 13 was 422,418, an increase of 53,986 cases since January 6. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of January 13 was 314,541. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
Latest Orange County COVID-19 Safety Recommendations
Orange County health officials are strongly recommending the following steps to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 as the Omicron variant cases remain high.
- Get tested 24 hours before and 3-5 days after gathering or traveling.
- Self-collection, at-home COVID-19 Test Kits are available at no cost to people who work or live in Orange County, and can be ordered online at ochealthinfo.com/covidtest.
- An email address is required for each individual requesting a test kit.
- Each kit comes with a prepaid shipping return label and results are provided within 24-48 hours upon receipt of the specimen.
People without symptoms, or who have mild symptoms and are at low risk of severe disease, should not go to the hospital or emergency room to obtain screening testing. Hospitals are focused on people who are sick and need urgent care. Rapid tests are currently in short supply nationwide; people who are in need of quicker test results are encouraged to check with their healthcare provider or local retail pharmacy for availability of rapid tests.
Follow California’s mask mandate (extended to February 15):
- According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), universal masking indoors is now required through February 15, 2022 to slow the spread of COVID-19.
- For full guidance on effective masks as well as guidance for improved fit and protection, click here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Get-the-Most-out-of-Masking.aspx.
- For additional frequently asked questions about the State’s universal masking mandate, click here: https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Face-Coverings-QA.aspx.
Follow COVID-19 safety precautions:
- Limit or avoid large gatherings, especially indoors
- Keep a safe distance from others who may be unvaccinated
- Wash and sanitize your hands often and thoroughly
- Ensure good ventilation by keeping doors and windows open
- Regularly self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; and
- Stay home if you are sick
Get Vaccinated and Boosted:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued the following recommendations for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be administered:
- As a booster dose in individuals ages 12-17
- As a booster dose 5 months after primary vaccination, for individuals age 12 and older
- As a third additional primary dose for moderately or severely immunocompromised children ages 5-11, 28 days after their second dose
The recommendations apply only to the Pfizer vaccine, not to the Moderna or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines.
Vaccines continue to be widely available throughout Orange County for walk-in, same day and future appointments. Individuals who are not yet vaccinated or boosted against COVID-19, or are eligible for a third dose (due to immunocompromise conditions) are encouraged to visit a local pharmacy or healthcare provider, or go online to www.Vaccines.gov, www.MyTurn.ca.gov or www.Othena.com, to schedule a vaccination appointment.
For more information on COVID-19 information and resources, including case counts, vaccination and testing in Orange County, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/covid.
Harbor Commission Reviews Onshore Mooring Rate Appraisal
The City’s Harbor Commission this week received and reviewed an appraisal report on rates for onshore mooring permits. No action was taken, and the Commission decided to review the issue further and invite additional public input.
Fair market rates for use of public tidelands that fall under the City’s jurisdiction, which includes Newport Harbor, are reevaluated every five years. In August 2021, as required by law, the City conducted a competitive selection process for a qualified appraiser to determine the fair market rate for onshore mooring permits. Previously, onshore mooring rates were calculated as a percentage of the rates for offshore moorings. In this appraisal, onshore mooring rates were evaluated separately, as the purpose and utilization of the onshore moorings have evolved over time. The appraiser’s report found that the current onshore mooring charges are below fair market rates, and recommended a rate increase.
After further review and public input, the Harbor Commission will formulate and adopt a recommendation on appropriate rates for onshore mooring permits. Any Harbor Commission recommendation on rate changes would go before the City Council for a final decision.
Cliff Drive Clubhouse Rehabilitation Underway
Work has begun to improve the community room at Cliff Drive Park. This facility, also known as the “Boy Scout House,” is more than 50 years old and in need of rehabilitation to address maintenance needs and operational shortcomings. The project will replace the rotten wood along the outside of the building, reconfigure the sidewalks to meet code requirements for ADA access, change the light fixtures, replace the HVAC, and add much-needed insulation to the building. The immediate landscape area around the building will be upgraded. The project is expected to be completed in early March.
We have observed an increase in the City’s homeless population recently, due to high demand for shelter space during the winter months. Our homeless coordinator, police liaison and our contractor, City Net, are working diligently to find shelter for those experiencing homelessness and match them with appropriate local, county and state resources. In the coming weeks we will be launching our partnership with Be Well OC, a mobile mental health service, which will help reduce the number of homeless individuals by providing treatment and providing connections to longer-term care.
- 19 people who had been experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach are now sheltered in the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter.
- City Net enrolled three people into their services and completed housing assessments with them.
- City Net completed housing paperwork for two people and one family who obtained housing opportunities through the County’s Coordinated Entry System of care. The Coordinated Entry System matches people with permanent housing opportunities based on their needs and income.
- City Net completed an application with a client to obtain his certified birth certificate as an identifying document for housing navigation.
- City Net ordered a Social Security Award Letter for a woman matched to an Emergency Housing Voucher to complete her paperwork packet.
To donate to those experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach, please visit our Good Giving Program web page at https://newportbeachca.gov/trending/community-issues/homelessness/how-you-can-help.