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He's walking the walk

Councilman who said he'd trek 500 miles around Newport Beach is on track to finishing his goal on time, maybe even ahead of schedule.

June 22, 2010|Sarah Peters, sarah.peters@latimes.com
  • Newport Beach Councilman Don Webb strolls past Santa Ana street on Clay in Newport Beach as he aims to complete a 500 walk of the city's streets.
Newport Beach Councilman Don Webb strolls past Santa… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

The name "Walking" Don Webb is familiar to many in Newport Beach, especially to those at home during the late-morning hours who have witnessed the straw-capped figure coasting by their property.

What many people are not familiar with, however, is that the 71-year-old Georgia native and Newport city councilman is on his fifth circuit walking every street in Newport Beach — an estimated 500 miles.

"I was a little lazy in the past," Webb said of his citywide explorations, which began in 1990.

The walks usually take Webb up to two and a half years to complete, he explained.

"For 2010, I wanted to logically organize the walk with my last year on City Council," he said.

Webb announced in December 2009 that he would walk every street in the city before the end of his eighth year on the City Council at the end of this year.

Although not many people are around to talk to in the late morning hours — and Webb wishes there were more — one rare pedestrian did stop Webb on Tuesday to ask the big question on most people's minds when they hear of "Walking" Don.

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"Why? To walk every street in the city," Webb said simply and with obvious delight.

The former Newport mayor walks an average of three miles a day, five days a week, he said.

With a color-coded map in his hand, a camera and a pedometer, Webb set out along Santa Ana Avenue in Newport Beach this week; he is already well ahead of his one-year deadline.

By the end of June, Webb said, he will have completed more than 400 miles in his journey, which he believes may finish at around 550 miles. That estimated total includes backtracking in certain neighborhoods.

Although he's had trouble walking into gated communities about town, he applauded their security measures.

Webb worked as a civil and city engineer in the city Public Works Department for more than 33 years, eventually becoming the department's director in 1994.

Webb walks to check in with past projects he's had a hand in, such as the Arches Interchange Project —which can be seen from the top of the hill on Santa Ana Avenue — and the city's 35-mile bike trail system, or to report any damaged or potentially dangerous street conditions.

"It's a little easier for me because I generally know who to call after having worked in Public Works for so long," Webb said. "Of course, sometimes I just call the general services number."

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