By Grace Leung | Newport Beach City Manager
We are cautiously optimistic that Orange County will see additional business sectors reopening as soon as September 8 under the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy (https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/), the new, four-tiered, color-coded system for re-opening California’s businesses.
The Blueprint went into effect August 31 and is designed to reopen businesses more gradually than the State’s previous process.
Orange County is on track to move into the red tier on September 8, providing that our COVID-19 metrics (case rates and the percentage of positive tests) continue to meet the conditions for that tier. There would then be a 14-day wait for all K-12 schools in the County to be eligible for re-opening for in-person education, which could happen as soon as September 22.
In the purple tier (our current level), Orange County hair salons have been allowed to reopen for indoor operations with modifications, and shopping malls have opened with reduced capacity.
In the red tier, Orange County restaurants, gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters and places of worship would be allowed to re-open indoors with reduced capacity, varying depending on the type of business.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of September 5, the number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 1,060 and the total cases in Orange County was 49,258. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of September 5 was 43,005. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
COVID-19 News and Resources
Last week, State officials unveiled the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, a new, four- tiered, color-coded system for re-opening California’s businesses.
The Blueprint, went into effect on August 31, replaces the County Data Monitoring List. It includes revised criteria and timelines and is designed to reopen businesses more gradually than the State’s previous process.
Counties will move through each of the four tiers based on two key metrics: case rates and the percentage of positive tests. Moving from tier to tier will require a 21-day wait time and counties will be required to meet the metrics for the next tier for two weeks in a row.
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 a, [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.
Connect SoCal and Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) Update
On September 3, 2020, the Regional Council of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) took action to approve the 2020-2045 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (Connect SoCal Plan).
Connect SoCal is a long-range vision that builds upon and expands land use and transportation strategies established over several planning cycles to increase mobility options and achieve a more sustainable growth pattern within the counties of Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura.
SCAG’s adopted Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) Allocation Methodology relies upon the final Connect SoCal Plan data. As a result of some minor revisions to the Connect SoCal Plan, the City’s Draft RHNA Allocation increased slightly from prior estimates of 4,832 to 4,834 housing units that Newport Beach will have to plan for in the upcoming 6th Cycle Housing Element Update (2021-2029 Planning Period).
As previously reported, the City of Newport Beach is preparing to appeal this large allocation in hopes of receiving a more realistic and obtainable housing target. The RHNA appeals process will begin on September 11 with the deadline for filing an appeal concluding on October 26, at 5 p.m.
After the submission deadline, SCAG will notify affected jurisdictions and make all appeals available for a 45-day review and comment period. SCAG will then hold public hearings on each appeal. Any housing units resulting from successful appeals will then be reallocated back to other jurisdictions in the SCAG region based on a formula. For additional information regarding the RHNA Appeals Procedure, please visit http://scag.ca.gov/programs/Documents/RHNA/RHNA-Adopted-Appeals-Procedures.pdf.
National Flood Insurance Program Rating
The City of Newport Beach participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by maintaining and improving flood mitigation measures, on City properties, and newly constructed or substantially improved private properties located within a Special Flood Hazard Area. The City recently completed its annual Community Rating System recertification within the NFIP and maintained a class rating of 7. This rating enables Newport Beach residents to receive a 15 percent discount in flood insurance premiums.
Junior Lifeguard Program
The 2020 Newport Beach Junior Lifeguard Program (NBJG) just completed its 36th year. Led by Lifeguard Training Captain, Mike Ure with support from 64 seasonal lifeguards and staff, the 2020 NBJG Program hosted 1,176 participants across Newport’s eight miles of beaches.
The oldest age group (ages 14 and 15) engaged in the full 7-week program from June 23 through August 6 at the Newport Pier. Over the 7-week period, the 123 participants ran over 80 miles on land and swam over 20 miles in the ocean.
The other 1,053 Junior Lifeguards (ages 9 to 13) participated in a shorter 5-week program from July 14 through August 13. Thanks to the Recreation & Senior Services Department for graciously hosting the 12 and 13 year-old division, we were able to create smaller groups and spread the program out between the Junior Lifeguard Headquarters location and Marina Park. These Junior Lifeguards developed their water skills and ocean confidence and emerged with stronger capabilities for having a safe, fun time at the beach.
Following the program, numerous JG families expressed appreciation to the Lifeguards and City leadership for holding the program under these challenging circumstances.
Big Canyon Habitat Restoration Update
The City of Newport Beach has kicked off a new phase of the Big Canyon Restoration Project that will, among other benefits, remove invasive, non-native trees and shrubs and replace them with a diverse array of native species to create a thriving, natural wildlife habitat.
The current phase addresses 11.2 acres of the 60-acre Big Canyon Nature Park, and focuses on restoring native habitat in an area degraded by invasive, non-native species. It is expected to take about four months to complete.
Big Canyon RestorationThe work in this phase includes:
- Removing and clearing non-native Brazilian pepper trees, including the root systems, from a 6-acre area.
- Selectively removing pepper trees and other non-native species from a 2.4-acre area that also contains native species (which will be preserved).
- Grading and stabilizing parts of Big Canyon Creek to improve water flow and the connection to Upper Newport Bay.
- Restoring a small pond that typically holds stagnant water and creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The pond will be connected to Big Canyon Creek to improve water flow and eliminate stagnation.
- Establishing a mosaic of coastal, native plant communities. This includes coastal riparian, alkali meadow and upland transitional scrub habitats.
The project has been carefully designed to avoid impacts to native habitat in the area, including federally protected wetlands. However, there will be a substantial amount of construction activity to clear the pepper trees and other non-native plants and remove the root systems to prevent regrowth.
The Big Canyon restoration effort has taken many years to design and fund, in partnership with such groups as the Newport Bay Conservancy, Ocean Protection Council, California State Coastal Conservancy, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, and US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Bonita Canyon Drive / Ford Road Pavement Rehabilitation
The Bonita Canyon Drive and Ford Road Pavement Rehabilitation project is substantially complete. The City’s contractor, R.J. Noble Company, finished repaving the roadway in August 2020, which includes Ford Road from Jamboree Road to MacArthur Boulevard, and Bonita Canyon Drive from MacArthur Boulevard to State Route 73. Since finishing the paving operation,
R.J. Noble Company has been completing other auxiliary items of work, such as installing new traffic signing and fresh traffic striping. This project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. The unusually light traffic volume (due to the COVID-19 pandemic) allowed the contractor to complete this project with minimal traffic delays. The Public Works Department greatly appreciates the public’s patience during construction and hopes everyone is enjoying the new smooth and quiet asphalt concrete pavement.
Twice the Fall Fun!
Fall program registration opened on September 1, with 700 participants enrolled in the first two days! Recreation and Senior Services is offering over a 100 in-person outdoor programs and online classes for families of all ages and interests. The community’s response has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic about this season’s variety of program offerings in a safe and fun environment.
Some trending favorites include surfing, adult and youth tennis, preschool classes, karate and theatre. And new this fall is “Rec Recess” which was created for students to take a break from distance learning with in-person recreation programs. We have a variety of classes in the area of athletics, art, dance, language, science and water sports to keep your kids having fun all week long.
To find out more information and to register, visit www.newportbeachca.gov/recreation. Don’t delay as programs are filling quickly. Let’s have some fun Newport Beach!
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.
- In August, 22 military veterans and their families were housed through the County’s Coordinated Entry System. The Coordinated Entry System manages a roster of eligible veterans and confers with service providers, such as City Net, to match veterans with housing opportunities.
- Staff helped a woman who has experienced homelessness in Newport Beach for 15 years obtain a housing voucher through the Orange County Housing Authority’s Mainstream Voucher Program. City Net staff is providing housing navigation services to locate and certify an apartment for her to utilize the voucher. The Orange County Housing Authority, in partnership with the Orange County Healthcare Agency, was awarded funding through the Housing and Urban Development department (HUD) to provide rental assistance to non-elderly people experiencing homelessness with disabilities.
- City Net staff collaborated with American Family Housing to obtain a housing voucher for a woman staying by the Newport Pier. The Orange County Housing Authority appointed a case manager from American Family Housing to guide the woman through the voucher and housing process. American Family Housing, established in Santa Ana in 1985, assists low-income and homeless people in Southern California with accessing housing, food, and clothing.
- The Homeless Liaison Officer and City Net staff collaborated with the County’s Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) last week to engage with people with mental health issues. PERT staff are mental health clinicians who ride along with assigned law enforcement officers to address mental health related calls in the assigned city. PERT conducts risk assessments, initiates involuntary hospitalizations when necessary, and provides resources and education. The program also provides outreach and follow-up services to ensure linkage to ongoing services. The PERT hotline is (866) 830-6011. PERT may be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round. Services are provided in several languages.
- Five people in Newport Beach 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. Case managers will follow up with the clients to provide housing assessments and prepare documentation for housing. One of the people received a referral to a substance abuse treatment facility.
- The Homeless Liaison Officer and City Net staff assisted a woman with obtaining a new photo ID at the DMV, which will allow her to access County and State services in the future.
- City Net staff placed a man staying by the Newport Transportation Center into Project Roomkey and coordinated transportation to the motel. Staff continues to provide him with housing assistance and case management.
- 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.