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Newport neglects cheaper housing

City falls short in offering homes for those with little income. Official says most of city’s affordable places are for seniors.

December 06, 2007|By Brianna Bailey

Newport Beach is out of compliance with laws that require the city to address regional housing needs, according to state officials. Local affordable housing advocates say the city has done little to help the many low-income workers who work in fields like food service and housekeeping in the wealthy community.

“They’ve done virtually nothing to meet the needs of people with very low-incomes,” said Scott Darrell, executive director of the Kennedy Commission on Affordable Housing. “There are a lot of jobs in Newport Beach that are low-income — day-care providers, maids, certainly hospital workers. The city has not provided for the working families of their community.”

Bustling Fashion Island, with its many low-wage cashier and food service jobs, and Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian employ many workers who cannot afford to live in the same city where they work, Darrell said.

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“It would be unfair to compare Newport Beach to a place like Laguna Woods, which doesn’t have a regional shopping mall or hospital, but there are a few cities out there who are doing better,” he said.

Costa Mesa, a city of about 113,000 people, has 1,435 units of affordable housing, according to city officials. That’s more than three times the number of affordable units in Newport Beach. With a population of about 80,000, Newport Beach has 191 units of affordable housing, according to the city’s General Plan. The actual number of affordable units in Newport Beach today is about 345 units, according to David Lepo, city planning director.

State housing laws require every city to address regional housing needs, including a “fair share” of housing for people of all income levels.

Newport Beach is out of compliance with state laws that require cities to address regional housing needs in their general plan, according to the California Department of Housing and Community Development. In its general plan, Newport Beach suggested several sites that might be good places to build new housing, including near John Wayne Airport, Newport Center and Banning Ranch. But the city has not laid out a detailed and specific plan for developing housing on these sites, state officials say.

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