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City leaders finalizing general plan

May 08, 2006|By Alicia Robinson

After three years of working on an update of the city's general plan, Newport Beach officials are now down to the nitty-gritty: reducing the expected number of future car trips by paring down the development that's allowed.

City Council members began public hearings on the proposed update April 25 and will hold six more hearings. The planning commission also is discussing the general plan at several upcoming meetings.

The general plan will guide development in the city for the next 20 years. It outlines what kinds of development and how much of it will be allowed in each area of the city. The plan last had a major review in 1988.

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Highlights of the update include allowing 3,300 residential units near John Wayne Airport, another anchor store at Fashion Island, mixed-use developments including retail and housing in Mariner's Mile, more parking in Corona del Mar, and improved traffic flow throughout the city.

As proposed, the plan would permit 30,397 more car trips in Newport Beach than the existing plan ? but that's only if everything allowed by the plans were built.

Even if that much development is unlikely, council members are concerned about the added trips because traffic is generally residents' No. 1 complaint.

If everything allowed by the old general plan were built, that development plus what exists now would generate an estimated 965,711 traffic trips. The council took up the plan at its last meeting intending to keep the new plan at the same number of trips or fewer.

"It's going to be hard," Councilman Steve Rosansky said. "It affects property owners. The amount of development and the amount of entitlement that we give them directly relates to the value of property, so there's some resistance to cutting back."

He wants to see trips reduced in the airport area, and that means reducing the allowed number of housing units.

Fashion Island is a prime place to cut car trips, and that can be done by trimming the square footage of commercial space that's permitted, Councilman Tod Ridgeway said.

At their last meeting, council members talked about reducing the number of residential units allowed in Newport Center from 600 to 450 units, eliminating about 40,000 square feet of space for office expansions and trimming at least 25,000 square feet from the retail space that's allowed.

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