By Grace Leung | Newport Beach City Manager
We reached an important milestone on Wednesday, August 19. That was the first day that Orange County was below all of the State’s COVID-19 data monitoring thresholds. If the downward trend continues for three consecutive days, our county could be removed from the monitoring list on August 22. This would initiate a 14-day countdown until schools could reopen their classrooms, at the discretion of each school district. That could occur as soon as September 6.
What we don’t yet know, however, is how Orange County’s removal from the State’s watchlist will affect other sectors as the State’s July 13 health order remains in effect until it is modified. The Governor is expected to issue updated guidelines for certain sectors with a staged approach to reopening those businesses.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of August 20, the number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 974 and the total cases in Orange County was 44,936. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of August 20 was 36,596. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
COVID-19 News and Resources
The State’s “COVID-19 Employer Playbook” includes guidance for workplace safety, best practices for an outbreak, testing information for employees, and more. The document, available at https://files.covid19.ca.gov/pdf/employer-playbook-for-safe-reopening–en.pdf, provides useful information for business and industry to slow the transmission of COVID-19 and prepare for cases among employees.
The County of Orange continues to add new COVID-19 data and information to its website 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 also maintains a growing list of FDA-approved testing sites for County residents who are showing symptoms of COVID-19. If you are showing symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider for testing information first. If you do not have a healthcare provider, visit 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.
Please visit www.newportbeachca.gov/covid19 for the latest City news and useful web resources, including information about the federal, state, and county resources available to help small businesses and workers that have been financially impacted. We also have a page of free resources available through the Newport Beach Public Library and local organizations like SCORE, including online learning and business databases. You can also follow the City on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and look for alerts from our City staff on Nextdoor.
Accessory Dwelling Unit Website Update
On January 1, 2020, new State law became effective amending Government Code sections 65852.2 and 65852.22 by imposing new limits on the City’s ability to regulate accessory dwelling units (ADUs) and junior accessory dwelling units (JADUs). On March 24, 2020, the City Council adopted revisions to the City’s Zoning Code updating its regulations for compliance with State law and authorized staff to submit an amendment to the Implementation Plan of the Local Coastal Program (LCP) to the California Coastal Commission (CCC). The LCP Amendment would revise regulations for properties located within the Coastal Zone and is currently under review by the CCC. To provide guidance to the public regarding these new regulations and increased allowances for ADU and JADU construction, the City has created a website accessible at www.newportbeachca.gov/ADU.
The website includes background, public meeting documents, a summary of the changes, processing information for properties in the Coastal Zone, and a user friendly reference table that summarizes the regulations by type of ADU/JADU.
Senate Bill 330 (Housing Crisis Act of 2019) Webpage Update
On October 9, 2019, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 into law, commonly known as Senate Bill 330 (Chapter 654, Statutes of 2019) to respond to the California housing crisis. Effective January 1, 2020, SB330 aims to increase residential unit development, protect existing housing inventory, and expedite permit processing. This new law makes a number of modifications to existing legislation, such as the Permit Streamlining Act and the Housing Accountability Act and institutes the Housing Crisis Act of 2019. Many of the changes proposed last for a five-year period and sunset on January 1, 2025.
Under this legislation, the City is restricted in ordinances and policies that can be applied to residential development. The revised definition of “Housing Development” now contains residential projects of two or more units, mixed-use projects (with two-thirds of the floor area designated for residential use), transitional, supportive, and emergency housing projects.
To provide guidance to the public regarding these new regulations, the City has created a website accessible at www.newportbeachca.gov/sb330 that provides additional background, Q&A overview of the law, and a Residential Development Flowchart to assist in navigating these new complex regulations.
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.
Recently, people in Newport Beach experiencing homelessness have been placed in motels through Project Roomkey, a state initiative to provide shelter during COVID-19. Newport Beach staff and City Net staff are collaborating with the Illumination Foundation, a local non-profit agency working with the state to facilitate Project Roomkey.
- A longtime Newport Beach resident who has experienced homelessness for more than 10 years was placed into a motel room using Federal COVID-19 relief funds. City Net staff helped her obtain a State-issued Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card and a new, valid ID. Her ongoing case management is a collaborative effort between the Newport Beach Police Department’s Homeless Liaison Officer, the City’s Homeless Coordinator, and the City Net case managers.
- The City’s Homeless Liaison Officer established contact with the family of a man, originally from South Carolina, who has been homeless in Newport Beach for several months. The Homeless Liaison Officer helped the family locate the man in a local hospital. The family coordinated travel for him to return to South Carolina.
- City Net staff completed a Vulnerability Index Intake Assessment with a man staying by the Newport Pier and placed him into a motel through Project Roomkey. The Vulnerability Index is 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 will follow up with the man to provide housing assessments and prepare documentation for housing.
- City Net staff referred two people to the Santa Ana Armory and coordinated transportation. A third man who is staying at the Armory started a new full-time job and plans to find stable housing soon. The Orange County Emergency Shelters, located in Santa Ana and Fullerton, are operated by Mercy House. Mercy House, established in Orange County in 1987, provides comprehensive services for people experiencing homelessness.
- City Net staff placed a mother and her teenage son into a motel for several weeks. The pair fled a domestic violence situation and lived in their car before reaching out to the OASIS Senior Center for assistance. The mother has cancer and needed a stable place to regroup and transition into a better living arrangement. The OASIS staff connected the woman to City Net for case management and the motel placement.
- City Net staff continues to provide support and case management to several elderly people sheltering in motels while they await placement into permanent, supportive housing.
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. To enroll in Project Roomkey, call (714) 834-3000.
The Newport Beach Public Library Board of Library Trustees is pleased to announce that the Corona del Mar Library was selected as a showcased library in American Libraries magazine’s 2020 Library Design Showcase.
American Libraries’ annual celebration of new and renovated libraries features the year’s most impressive new and renovated libraries. The magazine looks for “shining examples of innovative library architecture that address patrons’ needs in unique, interesting, and effective ways.”
The Corona del Mar Library was featured as a unique “shared space” library, highlighting the innovative joining of the Corona del Mar Library and Fire Station No. 5. The article also makes note of the library’s “colorful children’s area, reading spaces for teens and adults, stroller parking and the outdoor porch for year-round use by the seaside community.”
The Corona del Mar Library, located at 410 Marigold Avenue in Corona del Mar, is one of four libraries in the Newport Beach Public Library system, which includes the Central Library, Crean Mariners Branch Library and Balboa Branch Library. The 10,314 square-foot Corona del Mar Library and Fire Station No. 5 was designed by WLC Architects to replace two aging adjacent buildings in order to maximize interior space, energy efficiency and parking areas. The joint-use facility opened in September 2019.
Youth Summer Camps Wrap Up
The Recreation & Senior Services Department worked hand in hand with our instructors to get summer camps up and running this year. Our instructors and staff replaced original summer plans and pivoted to adapt to State and County guidelines to ensure we were offering the safest version of our camps.
From art, sports and dance to bodyboarding, surfing, paddle camp, and more, we ran 115 in-person outdoor camps and 11 online camps for approximately 2,400 participants during the course of 10 weeks. Staff worked with instructors on creative ways to modify programs to shift outdoors. In addition to City offerings, Staff coordinated with eight Newport Beach youth sports organizations to offer over 1,350 hours of additional summer camp programs on City fields for kids.
Perseverance was key this summer, as group games were creatively adapted to focus on individualized skills and instructors redesigned activities to make sure kids were safe while still having the opportunity to socialize, be active, and get outside for some good ole fashioned fun.
Tsunami Warning System
As part of the City’s Emergency Management Plan, the City has a Tsunami warning system which will alert the community should there be a tsunami warning. There are currently three sirens located at West Newport Park, Marina Park and West Jetty View Park. The City recently replaced the system as it was old and no longer functioning properly, with a new system that included enhanced features such as voice announcement capability.
The three new sirens for the system are tested every month and are working properly. During the monthly testing, staff has noticed that there are some gaps where parts of the community may not be able to hear the warning. There is a balance to ensure that everyone can hear the warnings, and at the same time not be so loud that it affects individuals close to the sirens negatively.
Staff is in the process of evaluating additional sites in order to fill the gaps in audibility. This process will take some additional time to evaluate, fund and install the sites. We anticipate that within the next year to 18 months we will be able to provide and install viable solutions.
This is not the only mechanism by which residents can be warned of a tsunami or other emergency. We recommend that all residents sign up for Nixel, e-notifications, and AlertOC through the County of Orange.