By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager
After a few months of relative stability, COVID-19 cases have surged throughout California.
In response, Governor Newsom took a series of steps this week to tighten restrictions:
The first was an emergency action announced Monday that places 28 counties, including Orange County, into the most restrictive (purple) tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The directive went into effect Tuesday.
The purple tier status reduces indoor retail capacities and prohibits indoor dining and fitness centers. For more information on the activities and industries permitted in this and other tiers, visit https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.
In a second action, Newsom on Thursday announced a limited stay-at-home order that prohibits non-essential business and gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. from November 21 through Dec. 21. Visit https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/limited-stay-at-home-order.aspx to read the order.
In addition to the statewide increase, Orange County has also seen an increase in its average daily case numbers, which are now at 10.8 cases per 100,000 residents. The County’s test positivity rate has climbed to 4.6 percent, as only the health equity metric remained stable, at 5.5 percent.
As Orange County returns to the purple tier, all essential services in the City of Newport Beach will continue uninterrupted, as they have throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to emphasize education when it comes to maintaining the critical behaviors necessary to effectively combat the virus during these upcoming winter months.
The health of our community is our top priority. We ask everyone to stay vigilant, continue to wear face coverings and wash hands frequently, and limit contact with those outside your household during the Thanksgiving holiday.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of November 19, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 1,367 and the total cases in Orange County was 67,167. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of November 19 was 57,326. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
CDD Third Quarter Report (July – September 2020)
The Community Development Department (CDD) Third Quarter Activity Report is now available at www.newportbeachca.gov/cdd. The report compiles operational statistics to illustrate the volume of business activity that the department handles on a quarterly basis. In this past quarter, CDD continued to face operational challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis. In spite of this, CDD has maintained service levels that meet the high demand of the development community.
Mobility and Transportation Virtual Workshop
On Monday, November 23 at 6 p.m., the City will host its first virtual workshop related to updating the General Plan Circulation Element. As you probably know by now, the City is undergoing a focused update of the community’s General Plan, a long-range planning document that guides the future of the city. The current update efforts are limited to the Housing Element and the Circulation Element, as well as incorporating environmental justice policies for compliance with State law.
Monday’s virtual workshop will provide an opportunity for community members to learn about the Circulation Element Update process as it kicks off and provide important feedback right from the beginning! Join us for a “Circulation Element” 101 and learn about the important considerations that will go into the update.
This workshop is an important primer for follow-up workshops happening December 15 and December 16. All workshops are purposed with informing, engaging and interacting with the public on matters related to the Circulation Element. Your feedback and input is very valuable and necessary to ensure the updated document embodies the voices of the community.
For more information, please visit www.NewportTogether.com.
The September 2020 Treasury Report is available on the City’s website at www.newportbeachca.gov/treasury.
As of September, the City’s portfolio totaled just over $279 million. Approximately $66 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 1.82 years. The trailing twelve months’ total return was 3.82 percent. Our benchmark for the same period, the ICE BofA 1-3 Year Treasury index, returned 3.58 percent. The income return on the portfolio, a better measure of income earned from the portfolio, was 2.18 percent.
Santa Ana River
Friday November 20 ended the lower Santa Ana River flood control project that started in late September.
This project is a joint effort between the County of Orange, Newport Beach Public Works Department and the Fire Department’s Lifeguard Division. The purpose is flood control for the lower Santa Ana River. The secondary benefit is adding more high-quality sand to nourish the mid jetties and provide protection from erosion. The lifeguards will continue to monitor the deposit areas through the end of the year, to satisfy Coastal Commission guidelines.
Newport Beach – 30 Years as Tree City USA
Newport Beach has been recognized as a Tree City USA for its 30th consecutive year by the Arbor Day Foundation, a nonprofit conservation and education organization. The Tree City USA program provides communities the nationwide framework necessary to manage and expand their urban forest.
To achieve the status of Tree City USA, the City must continue to meet the core standards: Tree Committee, Tree Ordinance, Budget for Trees related to Population, and Observation of Arbor Day. In addition to meeting Arbor Day criteria, the City has gone above and beyond in its tree program by increasing the frequency of trimming in its contract with Great Scott Tree Services, expanding its tree planting efforts, providing added public outreach, and creating tree-related volunteer opportunities.
A recent review of our tree maintenance data shows the following: Street tree pruning has increased over 36 percent from 17,525 in 2015 to 23,919 in 2019, which is over 60 percent of the City’s tree inventory.
City trees are on a grid schedule for pruning, where the majority of city trees are on a two-year cycle, and some trees require annual pruning. Palms, Corals, Ficus, and many of the Eucalyptus trees are on an annual pruning schedule in order to increase safety. In contrast, Pines are trimmed during the cooler months to decrease the amount of sap that drips from the cuts.
Proper pruning allows for trees to grow new, strong limbs, which increases safety during wind storms. Pruning involves the removal of dead wood; or crossed, split or storm damaged limbs from the trees to allow the crown of the tree to open and reducing the number of competing limbs.
In addition to pruning, staff continues to inspect City trees for pests and diseases, and coordinates the removal of trees when necessary, as well as finding locations suitable for new tree plantings.
The Good News is that street tree plantings have out-paced removals over the past two years. In 2019, we planted 556 trees, and removed 482 trees. So far in 2020, we have planted 215 trees, and removed 164 trees. As a result of our maintenance and outreach efforts, the City tree inventory has grown from 33,736 in 2014 to 34,277 this year. We continue to engage the community to take part in our efforts to care for and grow our urban forest. With the community’s help, we can look forward to a flourishing urban forest.
Storm Season Preparations
Public Works staff are once again prepared to hand out filled sandbags for Newport Beach residents. Filled and unfilled sandbags are available for pick up at the Corporation Yard at 592 Superior Ave. on Fridays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., from now until April. Additionally, sandbags will also be available to Newport Beach residents between 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the day before and the day of a storm event. Sandbags are limited to 10 per resident, with proof of Newport Beach residency only.
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.
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, the Homeless Coordinator, and the City Net team assisted a young couple staying by the Newport Pier who lost their jobs due to COVID-19. The man now works for a yachting company in Newport Beach and the woman started a retail job. Both were hired for second jobs to boost their income. The Homeless Liaison Officer helped to shelter them in a motel to facilitate their employment. The couple moved into their new apartment this week. City Net is assisting with providing housing navigation resources and ongoing counseling services.
- A mother and son living in their car were enrolled into City Net services. Staff secured a motel room for the pair and continue to provide housing navigation resources to locate permanent housing.
- Two people in Newport Beach who are living in their cars 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.
- A man staying near Channel Place Park was enrolled into City Net services and is awaiting a referral to a shelter. He plans to enter a sobriety counseling program.
- City Net staff continues to provide support and case management to several people sheltering in motels while they await placement into permanent, supportive housing.