Today at the council chambers in both the 4pm Study Session AND the 7pm Council Meeting, the city council will establish an official committee to begin pushing a General Plan Update in the City of Newport Beach. A General Plan Update is normally something that happens every 10-15 years, but this particular update is happening at a disturbing time and a disturbing pace. The General Plan Update outlines the areas of the city where commercial, residential, and any industrial may be. Moreover– a concern for many longtime Newport citizens– it outlines how high buildings can be, or how densely residential units can get in terms of occupancy per square foot.
First, let me be clear: I’ll probably agree with the outcome of the General Plan Update. I am pro-property rights and most of the council is also (aside from two members), but the Recall Scott Peotter people began their campaign by stating that they don’t agree with Peotter’s view of building in the city (specifically claiming that he supported high-rise development on our beaches).
With every other General Plan Update that I’m aware of, the timing estimations to start the process drag on and on, and they often happen years late. This one is somehow happening early. Either the City of Newport Beach suddenly began operating efficiently and spending taxpayer dollars wisely overnight (I must have missed that memo), or there is a specific reason why this is being pushed through with such incredible speed.
The Recall Scott Peotter people had routinely insisted that Peotter would have what they called “undue influence” on the General Plan Update, and the rest of the council– including Peotter– routinely insisted that there was no way that was happening, despite them simultaneously waiving building requirements for people to build 3-story units in District 1, a district known for its quaint beachfront homes. This early announcement of the General Plan Update is eerily strange government behavior, especially since we are less than 30 days away of finding out the results of the recall petition. A skeptical observer would say that someone is attempting to stack the deck using all the votes necessary. If that is true, one would need to ask who is pulling those strings– and why.
Again, the Update is likely going to be something that I agree with– but while I am a man of principles, I am also a man who believes in doing things above-board and in having government be completely transparent about their reasons for doing things– and something about this General Plan Update and its miraculous timing seems just a little bit fishy to me. We will definitely be keeping an eye on this one.