I attended the annual SPON (Stop Polluting our Newport) meeting this month. This is a community based group of people who have been involved since 1974 protecting, preserving, and informing local citizens about how we can best preserve the charm and beauty of our city.
It all started in 1974 after a torrential rainstorm filled the Newport Bay with every variety of debris that was clogging the bay, affecting wildlife, and making our bay unsafe for swimmers and boaters.
Claudia Hirsch and Jean Watt decided something had to be done to stop the mess from cascading down during the rainy season, causing years more of damage before it was too late to correct.
And so SPON was born and has since expanded their influence and focus to the whole community.
Who belongs to SPON and how do they help our city? SPON members are a group of environmentally concerned citizens who support issues like limits on air flights, passenger numbers, noise, and pollution from planes, height limits of buildings, keeping the Upper Bay an undeveloped and natural estuary, requiring housing developers to dedicate land for public parks, keeping beaches clean, and providing adequate numbers of pump-out stations for boats.
They are local citizens from all walks of life who give up their time to attend meetings at the city and county and give input and suggestions, as well as collaborate with many other citizen groups like Newport Bay Conservancy, Banning Ranch Conservancy, Environmental Nature Center, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, and Airfair.
Their Board includes many prominent citizens such as Iryyne Black, Howard Hall, Don Harvey Andrea Lingle, Elaine Linhoff, Bobby Howell, Allan Beek, Marko Popovich, Jeanne Price, Melinda Seely, Nancy and Jack Skinner, Jean Watt, Don Krotee, Portia Weiss, Dennis Baker, and Terry Welsh.
This group has been effective in getting changes and concerns on the table with local leaders, developers, and our city leaders. They work cooperatively and collaboratively in garnering and establishing guidelines for all things environmental.
Their job is not only to bring awareness of issues to the public but also to inform and suggest alternatives to important land and water management issues. They do their homework, are well informed, and stand up for all citizens in the fight to keep our city from becoming an over grown, over developed mass of high density housing and businesses that could overshadow the natural beauty of the city and bay.
Councilmember Tony Petros was the guest speaker at this year’s breakfast. Mr. Petros spoke about “Planning for Newport’s Future.” Mr. Petros discussed a plan for providing opportunities for people to get out of their cars through safer, better, well planned bicycle paths. Tony is also a cyclist. He also discussed the landscaping the city is planning that will be taking place on the Peninsula and plans to improve landscaping by the old City Hall and near the Lido Bridge. He answered questions from the audience and framed his answers in the context of sustainability of a better quality of life for generations to enjoy this community.
Working closely with city leaders is an example of the many positive ways that SPON utilizes to promote change. I urge you to get involved in citizen’s groups and do your part to support a high quality of life now and for years to come.
It also provides an example for your children and grandchildren to get involved in caring for the environment and to take their place one day as adults in giving back to their community.
We are all busy and have limited resources. Figure out the resource you can share and get involved.
Some I can only contribute money, some I can give time, and others by writing about them like today.
That is my Take
Gloria J. Alkire
For more information, visit spon-newportbeach.org.