"There are a lot of questions even I have about this," Heffernan
said. "And if people are going to be voting on it, they need to
understand what they're voting on."
Among the questions floating in Heffernan and others' minds: What,
exactly, will people be voting on? When and how will it be determined
how much developer Sutherland Talla Hospitality will pay to lease the
city-owned property? Will a vote of the people to approve the project
mean that city officials can't later change their mind about the
developer or the plans? Will there still be public hearings on the
Assistant City Manager Sharon Wood will present the answers to the
council on Tuesday.
Most notable among the details she will report is that, contrary
to popular belief, the project will still require a public hearing at
the Planning Commission.
The question that will be put to voters, likely in November, is
whether the city should amend its general plan to allow a hotel at
the site of what is now a mobile home park. But amending the general
plan is just one part of the process, Wood said.
A draft environmental report should be available for public review
in April on the resort slated to be built at the site of the
Marinapark mobile home park on the Balboa Peninsula adjacent to the
American Legion Hall.
The project will still require a use permit, which the Planning
Commission must grant. Planning Commission meetings will probably
take place in June or July. The Coastal Commission will also have to
approve the project in a public meeting sometime after the Planning
Commission hearings. Then, the City Council will decide in a public
meeting, likely in July, whether to put the matter on the November
Lease negotiations with the developer will take place in closed
session, but details will be made public afterward.
During this process, a lot of details about the project will come
to light, Wood said. For example, a fiscal analysis being done by
consultants will give voters an estimate of how much money the
project will bring to the city. The developer has submitted revenue
estimates to the city, but the city uses outside consultants to come
up with official figures. Also, Wood said, a yes vote by the people
will not compel the council to see the project through to completion.
The vote will only be to amend the general plan, not to authorize the
The rooms will bring in about $1.1 million a year in tax revenue
to the city, according to documents filed by Sutherland Talla. The
project's restaurant and meeting hall rentals will bring in another
$714,000 a year, the developer estimated. No estimates yet exist on
how much rent the developer might pay to the city.
More information about the project, including a site plan, are
available on the city's website, http://www.city.newport-beach.ca.us.