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Council to consider code amendments for short-term lodging, lecture hall MOU committee, lease agreement with lawn bowling association

By SARA HALL

Newport Beach City Council has an interesting agenda tonight.

At the Tuesday (Nov. 28) study session and regular meeting, council will consider: Amendments to the city code and Local Coastal Program related to short-term lodging; establishing the Library Lecture Hall MOU City Council Ad Hoc Committee; a lease agreement with Newport Harbor Lawn Bowling Association for a portion of San Joaquin Hills Park; new salary range for the city clerk and an appointment to fill an unscheduled vacancy on the Board of Library Trustees.

In the only public hearing of the night, council will consider city code and Local Coastal Program amendments related to short-term lodging.

Council initiated the amendments at their May 23 meeting and directed the Planning Commission to identify opportunities to modify Titles 20 and 21 of the municipal code to facilitate new visitor-serving accommodation opportunities within the MU-W2 (Mixed-Use Water) and MU-CV/15th Street (Mixed-Use Cannery Village and 15th Street) zoning districts. Council asked the commission to consider: Applicability to multi-unit residential developments with 20 or more residential units under common ownership; requirement for professional management; requirement for project amenities and where there are no parking impacts that could reduce the availability of parking in residential neighborhoods.

Commissioners discussed the idea at their June 22 meeting and focused on what uses are currently allowed with a conditional use permit and what other uses are permitted. They asked staff to return at a future meeting with recommendations. At the October 19 Planning Commission meeting, city staff presented the proposed amendments to allow short-term rentals in specified mixed-use zones (not currently allowed). Some commissioners were not supportive of a proposed permit criterion requiring a permit holder to own 20 or more eligible properties, according to the staff report for tonight’s item. Ultimately a majority of commissioners approved the item with the removal of the ownership. According to the minutes of the meeting, they also directed to change the unit count to a minimum of one unit.

Council to consider code amendments zoning map

Click on photo for a larger image

Rendering courtesy of City of Newport Beach

A map showing where short-term lodging would be an allowable use within the MU-W2 and MU-CV/15th Street zoning districts

If approved tonight, the proposed amendments would reinstate short-term lodging as an allowable use within the MU-W2 and MU-CV/15th Street zoning districts, subject to existing short-term lodging regulations and additional eligibility criteria identified by the council at the May 23 meeting.

The amendment would not increase the total number of permits (1,550 allowed citywide), but it would allow up to 75 permits in the MU-W2 and MU-CV/15th Street zoning districts and 1,475 permits in residential districts.

“This would maintain the total allowance for this type of visitor accommodations in the city without altering existing regulations on short-term lodging previously adopted that protect residential neighborhoods,” the staff report reads.

According to the staff report, there are currently 546 applicants on the citywide waiting list. With the proposed change to create two separate maximum caps, each maximum cap would maintain a separate waiting list.

To be eligible for a new STL permit in these zones, the amendment proposes that it be required of the applicant to: Employ professional management to ensure code requirements are met and to increase accountability; and create a management plan that ensures, among other things, that on-site amenities are provided to guests, and no parking impacts are created in surrounding residential zones.

Council to consider code amendments lecture hall

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Courtesy of RCA/City of Newport Beach

The exterior of conceptual design for the planned library lecture hall

Earlier in the meeting, on the consent calendar (items considered routine and usually voted in one motion without discussion unless a councilmember pulls the item), council will consider establishing an ad hoc committee for the Library Lecture Hall memorandum of agreement between the city and the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation.

At the November 14 study session, the council voted 4-3 to move forward with the lecture hall project. Councilmembers reviewed the project and discussed the recent construction bids for the proposed Library Lecture Hall. The final plans call for a 9,814-square-foot building with 299 seats.

The city received three bids on October 12 and the lowest qualified bid was from AMG & Associates for a base bid of about $19.07 million. The updated total all-in project cost is projected at approximately $23.44 million. The current memorandum of understanding with the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation commits the city to a 50-50 split on funding the project.

In a straw vote, Mayor Noah Blom and Councilmembers Robyn Grant, Brad Avery and Erik Weigand raised their hands in support of moving forward with the lowest bid and direct the Library Foundation to reach out to the community to find pathways to incorporate the different elements of arts, business and culture as additional uses for the facility.

The new MOU is slated to be brought before the council at a meeting in January. If approved, tonight’s item will establish the ad hoc committee to negotiate the amended MOU with the foundation and ultimately make a recommendation to the full council. The action will appoint three councilmembers to the group, recommended to be Blom and councilmembers Lauren Kleiman and Joe Stapleton.

Also on the consent calendar, council will consider a lease agreement with Newport Harbor Lawn Bowling Association for a portion of San Joaquin Hills Park located at 1550 Crown Drive North.

The city owns the park and has leased a portion of the property to the nonprofit to operate lawn bowling since 1973. According to the staff report for this item, the most recent lease agreement expires in November and a new agreement is needed to allow the association to continue use of the property. Staff is recommending a new five-year term with options, updated terms and conditions, and a waiver of council policy F-7 (related to income and other property).

With the latest lease set to expire, city staff contacted the association earlier this year to discuss its current use of the property and interest in a new lease.

“The association has made measurable strides in increasing its overall and Newport Beach resident membership numbers, and expanding its community programming and outreach efforts since lease negotiations began 10 months ago,” the staff report reads. “Staff recommends a shorter term than prior leases, to allow the association time to update its public programming to be more consistent with the requirements placed on similar nonprofit organizations utilizing city-owned property for no rent.”

The proposed terms of the lease are:

–The initial term is five years, with a two-year option term, and three, one-year annual extension options, for a total possible term of 10 years, unless terminated earlier as provided by the lease.

–Rent shall be set at $1 per year.

–Additional consideration under the lease includes the association’s agreement to provide membership activities and limited public recreation classes and events related to lawn bowling. The premises shall also be available for use as a community center, when not in use by the association.

–The association will be responsible for payment of all utilities furnished to or serving the premises, including reimbursing the city for its pro rata share of water used at the property.

–The association will accept the premises in its current as-is condition. All landscaping, buildings and improvements on the premises will be maintained and repaired by the association at its expense.

–Annually, the city and association will jointly walk and inspect the premises to determine what maintenance and repairs are needed in the upcoming year.

–Additionally, the association will provide the city a written report each year detailing the maintenance performed, and information on the membership and programming and tax returns for the prior year.

–The association shall obtain, maintain and provide certificates of insurance during the term of the lease to the satisfaction of the city’s risk manager, naming the city as additional insured.

During regular business, council will consider adopting a new salary range and adjusting base salary for the city clerk.

According to the staff report, from time to time, the council and incumbents may renegotiate terms of employment, including adjustments to compensation and/or benefits. During the closed session on November 14, the council reviewed the performance of the city clerk and considered compensation and/or benefit changes.

Leilani Brown has served as the city clerk since Nov. 22, 2008. Her restated employment agreement was approved by the council for the period of May 24, 2022 through May 24, 2026. The proposed amendment provides for a 5% base salary increase effective December 2, if approved.

Council will also consider an appointment to the Board of Library Trustees to fill an unscheduled vacancy.

Douglas Coulter resigned from his position on October 16 and left an empty seat on the board with an unexpired term that ends on June 30, 2025.

After posting a notice of vacancy, the city received several applications. An ad hoc committee (comprised of the mayor and mayor pro tem) reviewed and confirmed the nominations for Fiona Ivey, Chase Rief and Jenny Williams.

The council agenda is available online here. There is no study session or closed session. The regular meeting starts at 4 p.m.

The meeting can be watched live on the local NBTV channel (Spectrum 3 or Cox 852) or on the city’s website here.

Members of the public may speak in person in council chambers (there is not a remote or online option to participate).

Questions and comments can be submitted in writing for City Council consideration by sending them to the city clerk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To give the council adequate time to review comments, written comments were submitted by 5 p.m. on Nov. 27 (the day before the City Council meeting). Correspondence received by this deadline were uploaded to the agenda packet by Nov. 27 at 5:30 p.m. and can be viewed here.

Material received after the deadline and prior to 2 p.m. today (the day of the meeting) will be provided to the council in hard copy and will be available to the public at the meeting.

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Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.

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