Summer Shuttle System Studied

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A shuttle bus system is being discussed for the Balboa Peninsula, similar to this OC Cruiser or the Laguna Beach trolley service. — NB Indy Photo ©
A shuttle bus system is being discussed for the Balboa Peninsula, similar to this OC Cruiser or the Laguna Beach trolley service.
— NB Indy Photo ©

Could a shuttle system similar to the one in Laguna Beach be successful on the Balboa Peninsula?

That was one of the main topics of discussion at this month’s Balboa Village Advisory Committee meeting.

Dan Boyle, president of Dan Boyle & Associates, explained the details of their proposal to bring a shuttle system to the peninsula.

The study was initiated by the Balboa Village Advisory Committee at its last meeting as part of the revitalization program for Balboa Village. Its focus is initiating shuttles during the peak summer tourist season.

Residents who spoke at the meeting were concerned that focusing simply on a summer schedule is misguided and that events such as the Christmas Boat Parade and spring break also bring large crowds. Committee member Ralph Rodheim agreed that winter holidays in Newport Beach have a lot of activities to warrant a shuttle system during that time.

In response, Boyle commented their first objective is to get somebody to fund it.

“We want to establish the first year in the best possible light at proving productivity,” he said. Whether it is private funding or a city initiative, they’ll want to see that there is a market for shuttles.

Boyle agreed that people will be using the shuttles, but “setting up a system that establishes the most riders will show this is really a worthwhile venture.”

Boyle’s experience with the Laguna Beach Summer Festival Shuttle Service proved that focusing on a specific market was critical in establishing the trolleys as an iconic element of summer in Laguna Beach.

Routes and schedules mark the crux of the analytical work to be done on the peninsula study. Length of the route and frequency of service are the two major factors in determining cost. A turnaround location on the peninsula and off-site parking will also be identified.

The proposed budget for conducting the study is $10,000.

Also at the advisory meeting, the Residential Parking Permit Program (RP3) advisory ballot finally received a majority count.

According to the city’s website, residents of the Balboa Peninsula have historically experienced parking shortfalls, particularly in Balboa Village, so residents from this area have proposed, and the Balboa Village Advisory Committee supports, the creation of an overnight Residential Parking Permit Program (RP3) to eliminate “spillover” commercial parking onto the nearby residential streets. If enacted, overnight parking on specified streets would require a permit. The purpose of the program is to require overnight visitors to the Balboa Village area to park within the commercial village where parking is more plentiful thereby freeing up some spaces for residents and their guests.

Ballots were sent to local businesses and resident for their feedback. A total of 742 ballots were returned, which puts the response rate over the 50 percent level requested by city council. Of those, 51.8 percent of residents support the initiative, with 48.2 percent opposed.

City staff member Jim Campbell provided a map that showed greater support for the program was in the eastern portion of the area surveyed and more opposition to the west.

Campbell pointed out the response received could be enough for the city council to move forward in deciding whether or not to go ahead with the RP3 program per recommendation from the committee. He also mentioned they could do further studies and maybe identify a smaller area and calculate the approval rates. The results could be summarized based upon any particular geography.

Committee member Jim Stratton observed, “When this program was originally put together the expectation for people closer to the village would be more impact with overflow parking.” Residential areas further away would not be. His recommendation is to conduct a further breakdown of the area’s approval ratings using different boundaries.

Councilman Tony Petros reminded everyone the overall goal is to re-invigorate the downtown village area through these series of initiatives. He points out, “One [initiative] was to look at parking and be more creative on how to handle the supply and demand.” It is a way to prevent a problem and protect the residents from parking issues. “If [residents] don’t want to do it, we don’t have to do it at all. But know that the risk goes up for parking intrusion on the streets.”

For more information on BVAC, visit newportbeachca.gov.

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