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Measure on city hall will stand, court rules

Local activist’s appeal is rejected by Fourth Appellate District Court. Newport Beach moves onward with plans for a new city hall and park, which could cost up to $100 million.

June 24, 2009|By Brianna Bailey

A California court of appeals has upheld Measure B, the 2008 ballot measure that requires Newport Beach to build its next city hall on 12 acres next to the central library in Newport Center.

Newport Beach voters passed Measure B in February 2008 by a 53% margin.

Local activist Allan Beek first sued Newport and City Clerk LaVonne Harkless over the legality of Measure B. The City Council later voted unanimously to support the measure after voters passed the initiative. The City Council vote reconciled its earlier 3-4 split on the issue.

Beek’s lawsuit claimed that only the council may decide city hall’s next location, making the results of Measure B invalid.

Beek then filed a second lawsuit claiming the council’s vote violated the California Environmental Quality Act and the city’s general plan. He alleged the council’s vote to support Measure B was illegal because the city already dedicated the land as open space.

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The man who tried to fight city hall said Wednesday that he anticipated losing the court battle.

“It was sort of to be expected,” Beek said. “It seemed like the most likely thing. That kind of puts an end to it.”

In a 12-page ruling issued Tuesday, the California Fourth Appellate District Court upheld the voters’ right to decide where to put the city hall. The panel of three judges unanimously upheld Measure B and rejected all of Beek’s claims.

“It doesn’t give even an inch to any of Allan Beek’s arguments, not even an inch. From top to bottom, the ruling gives complete vindication of the validity of the measure,” said attorney James Lacy, who wrote the text of Measure B.

“There is absolutely nothing for Beek to hang his hat on in this ruling, so hopefully, this will end it,” Lacy said.

Meanwhile, the city has moved ahead with plans for building a city hall and park on the Newport Center site overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The project could cost as much as $100 million, according to early estimates. Preliminary plans for the project include a bird-watching area, children’s gardens, walking trails and a cafe.

City officials hope to break ground on the project in 2010 and move into the new facility in 2012.

Timeline

October 2007: The group Parks Are Priceless gathers enough signatures to place Measure B on a local ballot

November 2007: Activist Allan Beek files a lawsuit to try to keep Measure B off the ballot

February 2008: Measure B passes with 53% of the vote

June 2009: A California court of appeals upholds Measure B

2010: City officials hope to break ground on the new city hall

2012: The city plans to move its operations into the new complex


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