By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager
Orange County’s COVID-19 numbers mostly held steady this week, continuing the trend we’ve seen over the past several weeks. In Orange County, the seven-day average daily case number decreased slightly, from 2.8 to 2.6, while the test positivity rate (the percentage of positive tests among those tested) stayed at 1.4 percent. The health equity metric increased slightly, from 1.7 percent to 1.9 percent.
This means Orange County will remain in the Orange Tier for a bit longer. By June 15, though, the state will resume full business operations if hospitalizations stay low and vaccine supply remains constant.
Here is additional vaccine information and resources as of April 29:
- As of Thursday, April 29, the County will make Johnson & Johnson vaccination appointments available through the Othena platform and the OC COVID-19 Hotline at (714) 834- 2000.
- The Disneyland drive-through POD site will close its operation at the end of the day on Friday, April 30. Those requiring an ADA-compliant in-car vaccination should schedule an appointment at the Soka University, OC Fair & Event Center or Santa Ana College POD sites.
- Everyone aged 16 and older is now eligible to be vaccinated. You can make appointments for all eligible ages through Orange County’s Othena platform and the state’s My Turn registration platform, as well as many hospitals and pharmacies. For a detailed list of options, please see Orange County’s vaccine resource page at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-channels.
- Parental consent is required for minors to receive the vaccine, and those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian during their appointment.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of April 29, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 3,868 and the total cases in Orange County was 253,780. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of April 29 was 246,331. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
City Permit Fees for Accessory Dwelling Units Waived Through 2022
The City Council approved a temporary program to waive all City permit fees for accessory dwelling units (ADUs) through the end of 2022. The temporary fee waiver is designed to encourage additional development of new ADUs, and prompt homeowners to seek permits for existing ADUs that are currently unauthorized but meet City codes.
ADUs are secondary houses or apartments located on the same lots as primary residences, with their own kitchens, dining areas and entrances. They include attached or stand-alone guest houses, converted garages, and apartments above garages. ADUs and their smaller counterparts, junior ADUs (JADUs), are a key part of the City’s effort to meet state housing mandates that require Newport Beach to plan for the development of 4,845 new housing units over the next eight years. Also, ADUs tend to be small and more affordable, which helps the City meet the state’s lower-income housing goals.
For more information on the waiver program, visit https://www.newportbeachca.gov/Home/Components/News/News/39267/2720. If you are interested in developing an ADU or permitting an existing unit, please call the Community Development Department at 949-644-3200.
Fire Department Updates
The Newport Beach Fire Department (NBFD) hosted its very first vaccination clinic without assistance from the County or other agencies. It was the first fire department in the State of California to obtain vaccination doses directly from the federal government and given the ability to distribute them. NBFD was able to give 113 Moderna doses to people aged 18 and older in our Civic Center Community room.
On April 12, 2021, NBFD placed paramedics on two more fire engines. We now have a paramedic riding on all eight fire engines spread throughout the entire City of Newport Beach. This has been a goal of the NBFD since 2013. We have slowly transitioned Firefighter positions to Firefighter/Paramedic positions thus giving us quicker paramedic response times and an increased level of life saving capabilities. We are very excited and proud of this upgrade in service levels to our community. Staffing has not increased, just the level of training of existing positions.
City Accepting Applications for Community, Special Events Grants
The City is now accepting applications from organizations that provide community programs available to Newport Beach residents, and from qualified event organizers seeking financial support for Newport Beach-based events.
The application deadline for both grant programs is Thursday, May 13, at 5 p.m. To apply for the community grants, visit newportbeachca.gov/grants.
For special event grant information and application, go to https://www.newportbeachca.gov/government/departments/recreation-senior-services/grants.
Notice of Vacancies
The City of Newport Beach City Clerk’s office welcomes and encourages residents to apply for the following upcoming vacancies on City Boards and Commissions:
- Board of Library Trustees (one seat)
- Building and Fire Board of Appeals (two seats)
- City Arts Commission (three seats)
- Civil Service Board (one seat)
- Harbor Commission (two seats)
- Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission (two seats)
- Planning Commission (two seats)
All terms are for four years, expiring June 30, 2025. All applicants must be qualified electors of the City, none of whom shall hold any paid office or employment in City government (Section 702 of the City Charter).
The deadline for filing applications is noon on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. The application can be found at http://www.newportbeachca.gov/vacancy.
Information regarding the Boards and Commissions can be accessed at http://www.newportbeachca.gov/bcc.
Residences at Newport Center: Study Session and Availability of Draft EIR
On Thursday, April 29, 2021, the Community Development Department released a Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (Draft EIR) for the Residences at Newport Center Project (PA2020-020). The proposed Project is located at 150 Newport Center Drive and consists of the demolition of an existing carwash and construction of 28 condominium units and common space areas over a two-level below grade parking garage. A detailed project description is available in the Notice of Availability (NOA) and Draft EIR (linked below).
The NOA includes an invitation for the public, agencies, and interested parties to provide comments on the Draft EIR. The 45-day public comment period runs from April 29, 2021 through June 14, 2021. An electronic copy of the NOA and Draft EIR are available online: www.newportbeachca.gov/ceqa and hard copies are available to view at City Hall and the Central Library. All comments or other responses to this notice should be submitted in writing either via mail to: Liz Westmoreland, Associate Planner, City of Newport Beach, Community Development Department, 100 Civic Center Drive, First Floor Bay B, Newport Beach, California 92660, or via email to [email protected], 949-644- 3234.
The City will also conduct a Study Session with the Planning Commission at the City Council Chambers on Thursday, May 6, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. The purpose of the study session is to introduce the project and provide the Planning Commission and public with the opportunity to learn about the project and request specific information prior to the public hearing. No action on either the project or Draft EIR will be taken by the Planning Commission at the study session.
Bay Bridge Pump Station Update
The Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) will be doing some work at its Bay Bridge Pump Station located on Pacific Coast Highway near Bayside Drive starting in May. On the night of May 4, traffic control will be installed for a single lane closure of the northbound PCH curb lane and sidewalk. The closure will remain in place for a few weeks but will be removed before the Memorial Day holiday.
If residents have any questions about the work, they may contact the OCSD Construction Hotline at (714) 378-2965 or email [email protected] Residents may also visit www.ocsan.gov/BayBridge for more information about the Bay Bridge Pump Station.
Civic Center Pathway Replacement Update
The contractor replacing the deteriorated paths through the Civic Center Park has completed the removal of the first half of the pathway. For the safety of the public during the coming removal operations, all pedestrian traffic will be detoured to the sidewalk on Avocado Avenue or Macarthur Boulevard. Pathways through the park will be opened as new surfacing is completed and pedestrian access considered safe. The full project is scheduled for completion by the end of May.
April 24, 2021 Shredding and E-Waste Disposal Event
Public Works Department held a shredding and E-waste collection event at the Harbor Day School parking lot located at 3443 Pacific View Drive on Saturday, April 24. The event took place from 8 a.m. until noon. City and ERI crews unloaded boxes and bags of documents for shredding and electronic wastes from 348 vehicles. A total of 5,000 lbs. of paper was collected for on-site shredding services and 5992 lbs. of electronic waste was collected for proper disposal/recycling. The next shredding and e-waste disposal event be held on October 16, 2021.
Arbor Day 2021
Arbor Day began on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska as a day set aside for planting and calling attention to trees as the newly formed territory was a land almost entirely devoid of trees. And while Nebraska City, NE, is the official birthplace of the Arbor Day holiday, communities around the globe gather every year to celebrate trees and plant for a greener tomorrow.
In Newport Beach, the City partnered with Stanbridge University to celebrate at West Newport Park. City staff and volunteers planted a total of seven trees of various varieties throughout the Park. First graders from Newport Elementary School provided some fantastic coloring pages that were displayed at the planting event. The City is also proud to be recognized by the National Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA for the 31st consecutive year. This year, due to our tremendous planting efforts and with over 35,000 City trees, Newport Beach achieved the Tree City USA Growth Award for the 18th year!
While most holidays celebrate something that has already happened and is worth remembering, Arbor Day represents a hope for the future. The simple act of planting trees represents a belief that the tree will grow to provide us with clean air and water, cooling shade, habitat for wildlife, healthier communities, and endless natural beauty all for a better tomorrow
Balboa Boulevard Project Progress Update
On January 4, Balboa Boulevard was closed to allow the undergrounding project work to proceed towards Newport Pier. The promise was that the road would be back open by May 1. We are happy to report that goal has been accomplished to the day. Periodic closures during the work week will continue through late May or early June but staff will keep a close eye on traffic (cars, bikes and pedestrians) as we approach summer.
Work on the alleys in the area will continue through much of the summer with the work hopefully completed by September. The final phase of the work near McFadden Plaza and the Court Street area will be done after the summer rush.
Should you have any questions or concerns please don’t hesitate to contact Michael Sinacori at (949) 644-3342 or email him at [email protected] The goal is to complete this complicated project with the minimal amount of impacts as possible to the public.
Beginning in May, those experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach can find temporary shelter and support services in the new Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter. Through a partnership agreement with Costa Mesa, the new shelter at 3175 Airway Avenue provides up to 72 beds for individuals experiencing homelessness in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. The shelter is operated by Mercy House, which provides case management to locate appropriate permanent housing, assist with job searches, and provide other on-site services.
The City discourages panhandling in favor of targeted assistance through the Good Giving Program. Donations received through the program enable staff to purchase items such as bicycles, work boots, and small household items for newly housed people. All donations are tax deductible. If you would like more information, or to donate, please visit our Good Giving Program web page at https://newportbeachca.gov/trending/community-issues/homelessness/how-you-can-help.
City staff works closely with our contractor City Net, and our regional partners throughout the county and state, to address homelessness. 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.
- The Homeless Liaison Officer and City Net staff assisted a woman who recently became homeless in Newport Beach. Staff helped the woman move her belongings into a storage unit as she makes arrangements to relocate to Texas.
- City Net staff completed Vulnerability Index Intake Assessment for one person staying in his car. 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 prepare a housing assessment and documentation for permanent, supportive housing.
- City Net staff enrolled a veteran into the State-issued Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card program. The Homeless Liaison Officer and City Net staff also toured potential housing units with the veteran.
- City Net enrolled two veterans into their services and provided referrals to OC4Vets. OC4Vets is a behavioral health program operated through the Orange County Healthcare Agency to serve the 130,000 veterans and their families residing in Orange County. OC4Vets may be reached at (714) 480-6476 for services and more information.
- County case managers continue to assist 16 people recently placed into the new Yale Transitional Center in Santa Ana. Many of those people had been staying by the Newport Pier. The Yale center provides shelter for as many as 425 people experiencing homelessness and provides case managers who locate appropriate housing, assist with job searches, and provide other on-site services.
- City Net staff assisted a 62-year-old man with budgeting for an appropriate room rental. He now receives Social Security payments and works full-time. The man has been sheltered in a motel for several weeks as he visited potential housing options. Prior to staying in the motel, the man experienced homelessness in Newport Beach for four years after becoming unemployed.
- City Net staff continues to provide food gift cards, support, and case management to several people sheltering in motels while they await placement into permanent, supportive housing.