Last week, we asked for your support in helping the Village Inn to keep its business alive with modern times and put a porch out to enjoy the fresh Newport Beach air. When we got to the meeting, a strange vibe was in the air. It appeared that out of the blue, a compromise had been suggested. Here’s where the problems occurred:
First, there is a neighbor to the VI named Mike Sullivan. He has been a troublemaker for the NBPD (he called on warrantless complaints for the VI nearly every other week, never once was a citation merited). He acted as the ringleader for the group in opposition to the project. First, he said that it was due to sound. After multiple reports and no citations, his complaints were eventually fielded by sending undercover agents out at taxpayer expense to find the problems first-hand. Not one single problem was ever found to have any citation-worthy merit. He then said the reason was because the project allowed for the VI to use the sidewalks, but once a proposal was given to use the other side of the street, he jumped all over it. This is a man who chose to live beside a bar, and now is upset that he lives beside a restaurant (to those who haven’t been in a while, the VI has undergone some very significant changes. You can’t even smoke cigars inside anymore in their hyperbaric chamber!).
Now, this may sound all great, but it’s got some strange ties. First, the person who came up with this compromise is so-called property rights advocate Scott Peotter. You may remember that Peotter had much of his money raised by Team Newport contributors, closely linked with Bob McCaffrey. Bob McCaffrey is friends with Mike Sullivan. The feeling in the air was that the vote would have been a cointoss, and the owner made the decision to exchange the views of the bay and Marine Ave for Park Ave. The sun-lit patio will now be shaded by the building– however, he does receive about 75ft of patio space instead of the 50ft originally proposed. This, though, presents even more of a conundrum for councilmembers moving forward: If they vote on something entirely different than what was proposed– isn’t that a violation of the Brown Act? If the council said that they were going to vote on whether or not to farm potatoes in the median, but instead voted to increase gas taxes– wouldn’t that be a bit of a stretch? Where is the line on this? It seems a “yes” or “no” vote should be sufficient, and that anything else needs to go up for a vote from scratch.
But none of that was even the most shocking thing proposed. As the compromise was reached, Sullivan restrained himself on what he indicated was a prepared character assassination on the Village Inn and its owner. He said that if a compromise was reached, he did not want to read off the rest of his paperwork. As it became clear that a compromise was, in-fact, being reached, Diane Dixon chimed in, grilling Sullivan to attempt to get him to aire his concerns about the Village Inn for all to hear. Let me be really clear on this: Two neighbors were making up and agreeing to a truce, publicly, and Dixon was egging on one of them to insult the other one from a podium. She insisted three times, and to Sullivan’s credit, he refused each time.
As a property-rights activist (a real one, unlike some others who proclaim the same) I may have a bone to pick with Sullivan for being a NIMBY and not following through with his real concerns or even being honest about them, but I’d never ask the VI to join in by bashing their neighbor. That’s just instigating, and it’s incredibly unbecoming of former mayor Dixon.
But all and all, I guess I can’t be too upset about something that makes the person happy whose property it is! Despite the compromise, The Village Inn seemed to be pleased– so congratulations to them!!!