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Civic Center costs mulled

Latest cost estimate puts price tag for project at $82 million to $140 million.

October 27, 2009|By Brianna Bailey

Plans to build a new Newport Beach city hall, 16-acre park and central library expansion could cost the city anywhere from $82 million to $140 million, City Manager Dave Kiff said at a City Council study session Tuesday.

In April, city officials said that the whole project could cost as much as $100 million.

The latest vision for the Civic Center project, at 1100 Avocado Ave. in Newport Center, includes a walkway over San Miguel Drive; a 4,000 square-foot emergency operations center; an up to 17,000-square-foot library expansion and a 450-space parking structure. The council weighed options to keep costs for the project down.

Ideas ranged from eliminating the emergency operations center in favor of putting the facility in the basement of City Hall to phasing in park amenities like a San Miguel Drive footbridge and a dog park.

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The council also pondered doing away with a public meeting room in favor of combining it with the new council chambers. Newport Beach also could look at pursuing private donations to pay for some items in the park, or for the library expansion.

The council almost immediately rejected the idea of moving forward with plans to build a city hall and phasing in improvements to the park at a later date.

“I just want to go on record that there will be a park built with the city hall — that was the promise,” Councilman Steve Rosansky said. “I don’t see anyone going back on that.”

In other business, the council voted to allow the Newport Beach-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation home Pacific Shores Recovery to remain open, as long as it scales back operations and shows proof that it is in compliance with fire codes, among other conditions.

A city-commissioned hearing officer earlier this year ordered Pacific Shores, at 492 and 492½ Orange Ave. and 3309 Clay St., to close after hearing complaints from residents about second-hand smoke, noise and crime.

The sober living home asked the council Tuesday to overturn the hearing officer’s decision. Pacific Shores also scaled back its request for permission to house 50 recovering addicts in the city to 30 recovering addicts.

Several local residents at the meeting asked the council to uphold the hearing officer’s earlier decision.

“This entire situation is nothing more than a ruthless pursuit of profit at the expense of our community,” said Newport Heights resident David Obbage, who lives near Pacific Shores.

The embattled drug and alcohol recovery home Newport Coast also was slated make its case before the council Tuesday to remain open.

City officials learned hours before the hearing that Newport Coast had abruptly closed last week.

Newport Coast has moved its operation to Costa Mesa, City Atty. David Hunt said at the meeting.

The sober living home came under fire after the mothers of two underage boys, who went in for treatment at the center, testified at a public hearing in July that the boys were not supervised or given adequate care.

Newport Coast and Pacific Shores, along with a third Newport Beach sober living home, Yellowstone Recovery, are suing Newport Beach in federal court, claiming a city ordinance that the council passed in 2008 discriminates against recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.

Aimed at curbing a growing number of sober-living homes, the ordinance requires most homes to go through a public hearing process and obtain permits to remain open.


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