The Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce held its first Government Affairs Committee meeting of 2021 on January 21. The meeting highlighted local political and legislative issues impacting business and the community as a whole.
Newly-elected District 5 Councilmember Noah Blom was the special guest during a segment hosted by Chamber President Steve Rosansky and former Newport Beach Mayor Rush Hill.
Blom was sworn in as the new District 5 Representative on December 8, 2020. Councilman Blom is proud to be known as an accomplished chef, small businessman and the owner of several restaurants, including Arc Food & Libations in Costa Mesa and Arc Butcher & Bakery in Newport Beach.
Blom has called Newport Beach home for most of his life, having been born at Hoag hospital. He spent a number of years working in restaurants around the world until returning to his roots here in Newport. He currently resides in Big Canyon with his wife and children.
Blom talked his motivation for entering city politics, noting that as a city council member, “we are the board that gets to help the city and really be the conduit between the residents and the government. For my part, I am here to represent the business community.”
Blom admitted that since being elected, it’s been a “feet to the fire environment as I familiarize myself with things and find ways to spur the recovery—I want to see businesses survive and thrive. That has bene my focus from the beginning, not just giving them money but making it easier for them to be able to run their business and be wonderful members of the community.”
“We like our small business in Newport, it’s what defines us,” he said. “We’re not known for huge amounts of chains or big box stores, we’re known for eclectic mom and pops that have survived and thrived.”
Blom has been appointed to the City Council’s Aviation Committee, replacing Jeff Herdman whom Blom defeated in last November’s election. Blom said he wants to shift focus to have John Wayne Airport be better neighbors and find ways to quiet the airport traffic and not necessarily just flying a specific take-off pattern.
For the city as a whole, Blom said he wants to see the city understood as “independent villages” that are part of the whole city, and each village needs to be treated differently.
Blom also noted that “my goal is to get as much information and knowledge as possible. There has been a lot on the table so far with the airport area and an uptown hub, with new business opportunities, that opens up what we have the ability to do in the city. And Newport Center has new projects on the table—take some of the older buildings and transform them into beautiful new projects. Growth does not mean skyscrapers.”
“One of our hardest points is the massive loss of offices, that’s tough,” added Blom. “It shuts down a section of our economy, from restaurants to coffee shops. I want to see Newport Center return to its vibrancy.”
“One last thing,” said Blom. “What always drives me in the business world is that we don’t get anywhere by fighting. We have discussions. We can agree to disagree and make a deal. We can meet in the middle.”
“Marketing is a big part of business,” said Hill. “Have you had the chance to meet with Newport Beach and Company, and do you have any reactions?”
“Yes, I have met with them,” replied Blom. “Whether it’s the T-BID (Tourism Business Improvement District) or the Restaurant BID—my wife is on the Restaurant BID board. We have some great propositions, and we need to find better revenue sources and more community involvement. They have their finger on the pulse of the city, and our success is their success.”
Hill asked if Blom had an opinion on the future of Banning Ranch, a 401-acre area of wetlands and coastal bluffs in West Newport Beach and one of the largest parcels of unprotected coastal open space in Southern California.
“Banning Ranch—when are we going to do that?” mused Blom. “It’s one of the most beautiful pieces of property we have.” Blom suggested that people will not go if it remains just open space. It needs “parks and trails and recreational elements.”
Blom said there are various issues that need to be worked through for Banning Ranch, and more community input is needed, and added that “I am pro-growth. We need more development in West Newport, but development means a new senior center or other facilities. We are looking to what West Newport can be. It does not need to be rebuilt, just improved upon.”
Blom also said he loves to hear from residents. “Tell me your ideas, what you like and don’t like.”