By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager
Newport Harbor and our City beaches fully reopened this week following the October 2 oil spill closures. Fortunately, the amount of oil and tar washing ashore is diminishing day-by-day.
Newport Harbor reopened October 8 after it was determined that the oil slick was unlikely to pose a threat to harbor waters. On order of the U.S. Coast Guard, the containment booms protecting the harbor were removed and vessel traffic resumed.
That same day, City staff collected water samples at 10 locations along the ocean-facing beaches, from the Santa Ana River to Corona del Mar. We received the results on Monday, October 11 and were able reopen beaches based on those test results.
The tests did not show unhealthful levels of petroleum-related toxins at any of the testing locations. Only two locations, the Wedge and Balboa Pier, showed some remaining oil at low, non-toxic levels.
Cleanup crews will continue to survey the beaches and clean any additional oil and tar that washes up on the shoreline.
While most oil has been removed or dissipated in the open ocean, you may still see oiled materials and tar balls continue to wash up on the beach. Please use care in the tidal zone to avoid stepping in residual tar.
Please do not handle or collect any oiled materials. If you do see oil or tar balls on the beach, contact the beach clean-up teams at [email protected] The numbers of injured wildlife, thankfully, have been minimal. But if you do see any oiled wildlife, please call (877) 823-6926.
We will continue to monitor the water quality of its ocean beaches on a regular basis for the next several weeks. For more information and updates, please visit Newport Beach’s web site at www.newportbeachca.gov/oilspill and the official incident response website at www.socalspillresponse.com.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of October 14, the total cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 5,008, an increase of 28 cases from October 7. The total number of cases in Orange County as of October 14 was 300,944, an increase of 1,610 cases from October 7. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of October 14 was 288,961. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health. The County’s daily, weekday update of COVID-19 case information is available at this link: https://ochca.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/cc4859c8c522496b9f21c451de2fedae. Those seeking vaccination options can visit the HCA page at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-channels by the California Department of Public Health.
Community Meeting on Group Residential Facilities
The City hosted a community meeting on sober living homes, group homes, and state-licensed residential care facilities on Monday, October 11. The meeting was attended by residents from different Newport Beach neighborhoods, and the Santa Ana Heights / Upper Newport Bay area was the most well represented. The residents expressed concerns about the number of facilities in their neighborhood and the way in which certain facilities are being operated.
The meeting brought together residents and elected officials from the City, County and State to discuss current laws and regulations pertaining to the different types of group residential facilities. The discussion largely focused on two categories of facilities: those that are licensed and regulated by the State; and those that the City can permit and regulate under an ordinance passed in 2008.
The residents and elected officials discussed other jurisdictions’ ordinances, as well as code enforcement, regulatory and legislative needs and proposals designed to help address the community’s concerns. All agreed more discussion and collective work is needed.
To that end, at its October 26 meeting, the Newport Beach City Council will consider forming an Ad Hoc committee, comprised of several Council members supported by City staff, to focus on this issue. The City will continue to communicate and work closely with the community members and our State, County and Federal representatives on identifying and implementing solutions.
More information about group residential uses can be found on the City website at https://www.newportbeachca.gov/trending/projects-issues/other-important-issues/group-homes.
Clean up Projects Begin with Trellis International
Last month, City Council awarded a grant to Trellis International, a non-profit organization based in Costa Mesa, to provide clean up services within the City of Newport Beach.
Trellis, through their Community Impact Team (CIT), works with volunteers who are currently, or at risk of experiencing homelessness, to develop the job skills necessary to successfully re-enter the job market.
CIT has already completed three projects over the past two weeks. Volunteers filled a total of 16 50-gallon trash bags with trash and debris. Each project included a four-person volunteer team working for four hours.
This is a great start to the program and it is already making a difference in addressing areas within the City not serviced by City staff or contractors. The three project locations included MacArthur Blvd between Pacific Coast Highway and Bison Ave, along with the Dog Park and Civic Center Park; Arroyo Park and trail; and Jamboree Road between Ford Road and Bristol Street. CIT focused their efforts along the sidewalks, landscape areas, and trails. Items collected include dog waste, bottles, cans, containers, broken parts, and signage.
- 18 people who had been experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach are now sheltered in the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter.
- City Net, the City’s contract homeless services agency, ordered Social Security award letters for several clients matched to Emergency Housing Vouchers. The first person from Newport Beach has been matched to a voucher and has started touring apartments. Emergency Housing Vouchers are funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and allow people to pay affordable rent based on their fixed incomes. Nine people experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach have been awarded vouchers so far and are working with a housing navigator to locate apartments. The voucher program is being administered by the Orange County Housing Authority.
- City Net facilitated an intake at a women’s shelter. The staff coordinated the phone interview and transported the client to the shelter.
- City Net assisted a couple with obtaining EBT cards and re-enrolling them into a sober living home.
- City Net ordered identifying documents (including a photo ID, birth certificate, and Social Security card) for several people enrolled in their services.
- City Net enrolled a client into Telecare to continue her mental health treatment plan.
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.