Town Hall, stock photo
Town Hall, stock photo

City Council to Hold Vote on Roving License Plate Readers, Increasing Taxes, and Decreasing Parking

Tonight the Newport Beach City Council is set to hold a vote on “Balboa Parking”– so what’s the big deal?

Well, currently in Balboa (as with 99% of the rest of the city) you can park on the road.  This is particularly important for an area of town where garages were built to house Ford Model T’s, as those garages are simply not accommodating to modern-sized vehicles.

The City of Newport has been pushing for years to dedicate streets to resident parking– sounds great for residents on Balboa, right?  Well, it’s not.  Because now they are going to be taxing us for the privilege of parking on the exact same roads we’ve been parking on for years.  There is not even a testing period proposed to see if it works properly and THEN to vote on it– In a standard government move, they simply presume it will be perfect on their first attempt.

So what will that do to the parking situation?  Well, it will essentially forbid tourists from parking from beyond 4pm without a permit.  But is it even necessary?  A brief (unscientific) survey I conducted showed approximately 1 non-resident car per block during non-summertime.  That means all this hubub is in regards to one car per block, and we are going to vanquish visitors from the entire street the street, this would still only affect approximately one car per block.  Is all this effort really worth it?

Besides, you ask, how will they know who is a resident and who isn’t?

As of yesterday evening, that is officially “yet to be determined”– but city staff documents seem to indicate that they will be asking everyone to register their driving households (or at least the ones who want to park) so that the city can know who lives in what house, how many people are there, and what they drive.  Currently, this information is broadly available to the State of California through the DMV, but this will put the information directly in the hands of local government.

So how will they enforce it?  Once again, staff documents indicate that they plan on using roving license plate scanners to comb the streets of Newport for people in violation of their central database.

So how can this happen?  Don’t we have protections against this?  Can’t we vote on it?

Yes.  According to Municipal code Chapter 12.68— which governs permit parking– “the majority of the residents adjacent to the proposed zone must desire, agree to, or request preferential parking privileges”.  Last summer, the city conducted a poorly run survey, flyering peoples cars during the summertime.  Naturally, most of these people were tourists, and some contemptible residents went around and stole the flyers, voting multiple times.  After realizing the major flaw in this idea, the city sent out letters to each household– not each person.  This means that in a household with 2 drivers, only one of them got to vote– clearly not in accordance with our city charter, and disenfranchising votes from half of the local population.

Just as was the case with the car flyers, when mail was sent out, mail was stolen and used to vote multiple times.  On Tuesday, March 24th in open council session, I let the city council and staff know that I myself had not received this ballot, and was concerned that my vote was not being counted and that I was being disenfranchised.  I also reminded them that we already have a process in place to vote: Putting it on the ballot.  Do you know how quickly they contacted me to correct their error?  They never did.  I never got to vote on this, despite bringing it to their attention in a timely manner.

Rewinding to February 24th, 2015
At a this town hall meeting addressing the resident permit parking program planned for a seven block area of Balboa Peninsula,  a resident asked the moderator how many residents there are in the affected area.  Everyone was astonished when citizens were told that nobody knew.

Newport Beach Municipal code requires that a majority of residents – 50% plus one – sign a petition requesting parking permits if they want them.  The code also says all residents have to be counted —not residential units.  At the same meeting, another moderator said that those who voted at the town hall meeting would not receive a mailed ballot.  Yet my neighbor voted at the town hall and also received a mailed ballot.  Funny how that works.

Needless to say, I am extremely concerned about the haphazard way residents votes are being counted (or in my case, not counted).  I am also concerned about transparency — that residents are not being told the whole story about the programs pros and cons.

With this directly affecting approximately 660 households and 43 mooring permits, this equivocates to over 703 units requiring parking in the area– assuming that we share an average density of 2.58 people per household (according to the US Census) , that is 1,813 people.  The city received affirmative replies from 249 people, or less than 14%– not the 59.1% support that they are claiming.

Furthermore, this vote would treat residents of Balboa substantially differently than other residents of the city, which is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment.

The city stands to make over a quarter million dollars on this project each year, so it is easy to see why they would want to extract that money from local resident populations regardless of its legality.

Given all of this I suggest:
1. This entire ballot, which is already compromised, be scrapped.
2. That an independent licensed agency administer the ballot process.
3. That an accurate count of residents be established and communicated to the public.
4. That a new ballot be mailed to all residents –including myself —  with all the pros and cons listed.

This will be discussed at the Newport Beach City Hall meeting TONIGHT at 7pm, at 100 Civic Center Dr, Newport Beach, CA 92660.  I hope to see you there.

Newport resident Marianne Zippi contributed heavily to this report.



About Mike Glenn

Mike is the founder and publisher of Save Newport and Chair of Government Relations for the Elks Lodge. He writes, shoots photos, and edits, but much of the time, he's just "the IT guy". He can be reached at: Google+, Facebook, or via email, at