Op/Ed: A Productive Year in Review

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Lauren Kleiman, Newport Beach City Council, District 6

By Lauren Kleiman, Newport Beach City Council Member

2023 was a busy and productive year for the City of Newport Beach, thanks to strong leadership and our extremely professional staff.

We have been working diligently to increase public safety, address quality-of-life issues, and make strategic investments to further improve our great city.

Here’s a look at some of our 2023 successes:

Quality-of-Life Issues

  • The Council adopted a new policy and ordinance relating to the City’s approach to addressing homelessness, focusing on street exits and allowing for encampment resolution.
  • New Fractional ownership properties are now prohibited in all residential zones throughout the City after the Council incorporated the use into the existing time share ordinance, and the Coastal Commission approved the change.
  • Newport Beach initiated an audit request of sober living homes licensed by the State to operate in residential neighborhoods. The State’s Joint Legislative Audit Committee accepted the request and anticipates the audit to be completed by the summer of 2024.
  • Following Council approval, all public restrooms will now be closed nightly, consistent with the policies of all other Orange County cities, to increase safety and security for all users.
  • The City revamped its data dashboards to provide easier access for residents to view information on police and fire calls for service, building permits, airport flight activity, code enforcement cases and more at www.newportbeachca.gov/gis.
  • New technological innovations were introduced to further service to the community, including a new online portal, Civic Virtual Connect, for plan checks and other development services at www.newportbeachca.gov/civic. A new smartphone application at www.nbca.gov/queue allows customers to monitor Permit Center activity remotely.

New Facilities and Infrastructure Improvements

  • The new Junior Lifeguard Building will be finished in spring 2024, in time for the summer season. It will also be available for community rentals and recreational programs when the Junior Guards are not in session.
  • The Superior Avenue Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge will create safer access to Sunset Ridge Park along with an expanded parking lot and park improvements, upon its completion in Spring 2024.
  • For the first time in Newport Beach’s history, the City has a permanent municipal animal shelter. The shelter, funded entirely with private donations and donated to the City to operate, opened this year.
  • CdM’s iconic Goldenrod Footbridge received about $160,000 worth of upgrades from the City, including replacement of the wooden planters, lighting, arches, irrigation and electrical systems.
  • The Council allocated $3.4-million to update older, deteriorated water mains on Balboa Island, replace a section of water main on Evening Canyon Road, and build two new water pressure regulating stations in the Shore Cliffs and Cameo Shores area.

Public Safety

  • A Peninsula enforcement team of additional police and parking control officers has replaced the Boardwalk Ambassador program on the Oceanfront Boardwalk. Officers continue to provide outreach and education, but are also taking enforcement actions, including citations and arrests.
  • As part of the current fiscal year budget, the Council approved a new ambulance and six additional firefighter/paramedic positions to meet increased demand for emergency ambulance services.
  • The City purchased a 3.59-acre property at 1210 Dove Street to replace the current NBPD headquarters, which does not meet current needs or standards. The City will manage and receive income from office rentals for about 10 years before constructing a new building to replace the current facility.

Budget and Finance

  • The rating agency Fitch reaffirmed the City’s AAA credit rating, reflecting the City’s strong financial position, prudent fiscal management and robust local economy.
  • The City achieved a General Fund operating budget surplus of $11.6 million for FY 2022-23, $3.8 million higher than anticipated. The funds will be used to reduce long-term debt obligation and invest in infrastructure and neighborhood improvement projects.
  • Newport Beach continues to aggressively pay down long-term pension liabilities to ease the burden on future budgets, allocating $40 million from the 2022-23 adopted budget and an additional $5 million from the surplus.

Environment

  • Construction began in September on the Newport Bay Trash Interceptor, a sustainably powered system to collect floating trash before it enters the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve. The $5.5 million system, which will capture 80 percent of the floating trash and debris from the San Diego Creek, is expected to be operational by December 2024.
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers replenished beach sand from Seal Beach to Newport Beach in a long-overdue $23-million project. Crews deposited about 1.2 million cubic yards of sand in the Sunset Beach area, which will move south over the next few years through natural wave and tidal flow.
  • The City deployed new technologies in Newport Harbor to further maintain and improve water quality. Two state-of-the-art water quality sensing buoys now transmit real-time data to Harbor staff, and will soon be joined by two mobile trash-collection rovers to remove litter and clean pollutants.

I look forward to keeping you informed on all City Council initiatives in 2024.

Lauren Kleiman / Newport Beach Council Member, District 6

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