Living in the greatest city is a tough job, but someone has to do it – don’t they? Ever since the Annexation of the prestigious Newport Coast and the smaller but lovely Santa Ana Heights……geographically, Newport Beach has become a real city. The small beach town of seven little villages, all with there own special venues and special ambience has made Newport Beach home to celebrities and movie stars for over 80 years. When you think of the days of rock quarries and salt mines and beautiful unobstructed view planes….your thoughts go back to the days before the Downey Savings building on Jamboree Blvd. and of course the huge Promontory Point Residential Collection which wiped out arguably the most beautiful coastal view in all of America by the 1960’s.
Oh well, today we are home to mega-stars like Kobe Bryant, Bob Costas and Maime Van Doran. The once invincible Balboa Bay Club was home to luminaries so prestigious they might have choked the proverbial horse. How about the entire Barry Goldwater clan….just as a start. How about Edgar Bergen and his most beautiful daughter Candice? You can’t really name drop enough and there are plenty of books about Newport Beach and all about John Wayne, his converted MineSweeper “The Wildgoose”, Lauren Bacall and her Humphrey Bogart……speeding around in speedboats right in the middle of Newport Harbor. Everyone loves to point out the days when 60’s racing boats pulled water skiers around the Back Bay at speeds above 70 MPH. They even had Circle Racing Boats try putting on Races in the main harbor….until all those crotchety old wooden boat sailors all got up in arms about the waves created that ruined their boats by banging against their high dollar docks.
Well, waxing poetic about the old days in Newport Beach is really a never ending endeavor. Everyone you meet has a Newport Beach story about Tri-Cycle Races, Train rides to Catalina and a variety of Gentlemen Clubs with outrageous activities. Newport Beach had a wonderful location next to the entry of Balboa Island called “The Villa Marina”. It’s highlight performer who was there nearly 365 days a year, was a Magician named Shawn Masters. He could even make your 2nd or 3rd wife disappear…..but only for a short time…of course.
In 2012, Newport Beach had a few issues on its plate. There was this huge debate about the location and placement and cost of a new City Hall. They had a vote and chose to rather than improve the present site….they would move the whole kit and kaboodle up to Fashion Island (lovingly known as Fascist Island – over the years). The initial cost estimate started at about $42 million dollars. Well, after considerable study and recapitulation the final number is now more like $145 Million dollars. Not to worry, the powers that be assure us that this is one of those special investment vehicles……that of course has a very low interest rate and that the bill will be paid without raising taxes. Also last year there were other troubling issues which included some guy in Corona del Mar that wanted to raise chickens in his back yard. Another guy, wanted to build a 70 foot Vintage Sailboat in his back yard. Who knows what else people were wanting to do in their back yards? So, as you might expect; Everyone got to do whatever they wanted. The guy with the sailboat suffering from health problems finally has had to say….he will move his Vintage Boat….because he can’t finish it in the next three years.
OK, but all these vital issues pale in comparison to other very important issues: Fire rings and a Tax on Docks. Who would have imagined that when the City Council voted to remove the fire rings from City Beaches that the Fire Alarm would sound so quickly. People going to the beach during the summer had experienced a variety of very bad smells….including dirty diapers and dog feces in blue baggies being burned in the fire rings. The EPA however had not heard about this until the issue was overturned by the California Coastal Commission who considered Fire Rings as Free Access to the Beaches of California. The EPA finally is now taking a stand and the whole issue of Fire Rings, Pits and the like may be banned either Regionally or perhaps Statewide before the flap is over. Smoke gets in your eyes……sometimes!
Meanwhile, the richy rich boat owners of Newport Beach seem to have taken exception to the fact that City needs to raise the fees and annual rents of folks with Docks, Whispers and Cans that tie up their boats. The group headed by a Balboa Island resident named Bob McCafferty has filed suit and their is very little chance of these irate Boat Owners and Dock Property Owners backing down. The future for the richy rich….is yet to be decided. Tough duty for all. Of course, the issue of yearly Dredging continues without stop, ever since Congressman Chris Cox left office. Maybe our new Congressman Dana Rohrabacher will be able to handle that duty as well…..we can only hope. We can also be grateful for our great police and fire departments that keep us safe. Our Trash guys are awesome and General Services tends to business in a very professional way. For these things, indeed……are a blessing!
Meanwhile, our New City Hall is destined to officially open on May 4th, 2013. We have no clue as to whether or not our suggestions for a security center and enhanced electronic camera system will be in place by that time – but we are hopeful. Fire Rings, Dock Taxes……and oh yes, perhaps the most important issue of all: The JWA Settlement Agreement which is scheduled to expire in the next couple of years. Whew, where are those noise sensors now that we need them? Mayor Curry has assured all that this will be no problem. Curry is aiming to make the new Settlement Agreement run through 2035. As we take apart some of the numbers and when the primary group for positive input Air Fair seems missing in action and now that John Wayne Airport now has an actual International Customs for travelers to and from Mexico and Canada- it seems doubtful that the current 10.8 million passenger cap – will surely be exceeding the 12 million dollar number in the next agreement. What seems telling is that the number of flights per day will move from 89 to 99 as a max of Commercial and Cargo Flights per day. What about what the FAA wants to do about another expansion of the JWA facilities? You know, from runways to repair facilities? Maybe another Tower on the Northwest Side of the airport? Who knows….we will all have to stay tuned.
Meanwhile, Pelican Hills Golf Course and facilities are now being ranked as the best in the United States. Either number one or definitely in the Top 10. Although pricey, we suggest everyone get over there and see what true excellence is. The food is great and the employees top notch. OK, but wait…….one more thing on the Newport Beach agenda for 2013 – Cruise Ships! That’s right……someone in their own minds have come up with a plan to bring Cruise Ship passengers to Newport Beach. They want to anchor outside the breakwater less than half a mile away and use shore boats to take passengers to the Balboa Pavilion. How do they come up with these ideas? Every winter we find some sailboat aground on Corona del Mar Big Beach! Imagine if the next Concordia Carnival Line…..forget to drop the stern anchor and back down? Whoa….a little dicey promotion idea, but hey – this is Newport Beach….we can think out of the box. Well, can’t we?
Two last issues which are rather odd ball really. The first one was our last election cycle for City Council. There were three open seats and two incumbents. Guess what happened? All three open seats had candidates that ran unopposed. We won’t bother to go into the history of elected office in Newport Beach over the last 14 years….but let’s just say….it has been all rather unusual, if you were to compare it to other cities of just over 79,000 souls. In fact, that is another story and another article. The final issue is an unexpected change to the Charter in the last election and by pure happenstance the concept that City Council members should get a raise, 20 plus other changes and now many city services that the council wants to considered for “outsourcing”.
For those that visit our fair town and enjoy all the great shopping, restaurants and beautiful beach ambience……you probably wouldn’t have even noticed any of the things mentioned in this article. We must say however, all of us should keep our senses about us – at all times. Government can get away from you very quickly unless you continue to pay serious attention to it. We still don’t know what happened to that guy with the chickens….but maybe he thinks the sky is falling?
Spotlight on Newport Beach? Heck, after being here since 1952 who should be surprised about anything? We do have Term Limits in NB, so how bad can it be? – yet somehow, everyone elected or selected; seems to get at least 12 to 14 years in office. Maybe that is why they call it: Working the System!