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Newport survey reveals few surprises

February 23, 2000

Noaki Schwartz

NEWPORT BEACH -- Promoting the reuse of the military base at El Toro and

keeping limits on John Wayne Airport are residents' biggest concerns,

according to a recent city survey.

The so-called "seven-minute" questionnaire, which has been in the works

for a year, was a preliminary effort to find out what community members

think about their city.

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Mayor John Noyes, who spearheaded the project, wants to use it as a

springboard for a much larger phone survey that would include at least

600 residents.

Council members hope to use the results to more adequately fulfill their

constituents' "vision" of Newport Beach's future.

"People said they really appreciated being asked," said Deputy City

Manager Dave Kiff, who drafted the questionnaire.

The survey had been available at City Hall for some time, but only 60

residents took the "seven minutes" to fill it out. And while a wider

survey might produce varying results, the 60 concerned citizens had some

rather surprising opinions.

Although the traffic-inspired Greenlight initiative has been a hot city

issue, survey results indicated that residents polled are more concerned

about promoting El Toro, protecting the Upper Newport Bay and stopping

overdevelopment. Traffic concerns ranked fourth out of 11 choices.

"Overdevelopment goes to what we're pushing," said Phil Arst, spokesman

for Greenlight, the group that drafted the measure. "I think the other

Greenlight members would agree that El Toro and John Wayne are No. 1 and

overdevelopment is No. 2. Overdevelopment is the cause of traffic."

On how the council should spend money, residents again said promoting El

Toro, preventing the expansion of John Wayne Airport and cleaning the bay

were the highest priorities. Improving traffic flow ranked fifth out of

14 choices.

In addition, residents polled were split when it came to limited growth

or no growth in the city's residential and business community. Most said

they would prefer housing development over more businesses.

Another surprising point was that community members would like the

council to spend less money on library resources, arts and cultural

activities and parking.

Noyes said the library received perfect 10 out of 10 in overall resident

satisfaction, indicating that perhaps community members are completely

satisfied with the resources at city's four libraries.

As to cultural activities, proponents of the $12-million Arts and

Education Center said residents should not be concerned about city funds

going into the proposal.

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