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New parkland measures due

November 04, 2004

Alicia Robinson

The failure of Measure L at the polls Tuesday means a hotel plan is

off the table, and residents are likely to get the public input

they've been clamoring for on how to develop the Marinapark property.

Measure L is a controversial ballot issue that would have changed

the city's general plan to allow development of a luxury resort on

city-owned property on the Balboa Peninsula.

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Final election results showed 20,995 Newport Beach voters, or

66.6%, casting ballots against Measure L and a little more than half

that number -- 10,522 voters, or 33.4% -- supporting it.

The City Council will decide the fate of the property, and it will

likely involve either the public at large or one of two existing

committees -- the general plan update committee or a Marinapark ad

hoc committee of council members and staff.

Council members said the next step for Marinapark is to find out

what community members want on the property now that it's clear they

don't want a hotel.

"I think that one of our tasks is to look at what will be allowed

within the existing general-plan limits as far as recreation and open

space and go through a public planning process that will give the

citizens an opportunity to help plan the future of this site," said

Councilman Don Webb, who opposed Measure L.

Options for the property should be included in the general plan

update that's now underway and will probably be finished in 2006,

Councilman Steve Bromberg said. Bromberg supported Measure L, but now

that a hotel is out of the question, he'd like to see a water-related

use for the property, he said.

Protect Our Parks, a citizens' group that fought Measure L, has

suggested public-park uses for the land, but group spokesman Tom

Billings said he's avoided espousing a specific plan.

"Basically, the majority of the community felt very passionate and

strong that it was intrinsically wrong to give away public parkland

for commercial development," he said. "The next logical step, we've

been saying all along, is a community planning process with the

residents to work out the park design and plan.... That will occur as

soon as possible."

It's not clear whether the council would again request development

proposals, the process that led to the choice of hotel designer

Stephen Sutherland to develop a commercial project for Marinapark.

Mayor Tod Ridgeway said that's still a possibility.

"If it was up to me, singularly, I would ask for more commercial

proposals, [but] it's not," he said.

A mobile-home park occupies the property, but Ridgeway said it is

unlikely to remain. Officials have been waiting for direction from

the state on how much of the property is tidelands, which aren't

supposed to be used for private residences.

"I don't think there's any political will via the council or the

voters to let it remain a mobile-home park," Ridgeway said.

Some kind of public park may now be closer to reality, with

Measure L opponents pushing for it and Marinapark residents unlikely

to dig in their heels.

"This is the city's land, and they have the right to do what they

want," said John Rettberg, a former mobile-home park resident who

still owns a home there.

While some residents didn't think the hotel was right for the

property, he said, "We're not against the park or public usage if

that's what they want to do."

* ALICIA ROBINSON covers business, politics and the environment.

She may be reached at (714) 966-4626 or by e-mail at

alicia.robinson@latimes.com.

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