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Frog House faces closure

A 2008 ordinance requires Newport Beach take action against four non-conforming properties.

October 01, 2010|By Joanna Clay, joanna.clay@latimes.com

The Frog House surf shop, the second-oldest surf shop in Orange County, might have to close its doors because of residential zoning laws.

The shop has been at its Newport Shores location since 1962. A few years later, in the 1970s, the land was zoned for residential-use only.

Because the business was already on the land, it was deemed a legal non-conforming use, City Atty. David Hunt said, meaning that they were openly using residential land for commercial use but the city did not pursue removal.

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In 2006, Newport Beach was updating its general plan, which included taking action on zoning restrictions. Two years later, an ordinance passed that required the city to take action on Frog House and three other nonconforming properties in residential areas.

"[In 2008] the choice was that the commercial uses in residential uses have a year to abate or apply for appropriate modifications or permits, or they would have to leave their location," Hunt said.

Although the public has had access to the ordinance since 2008, Hunt said that the city did not contact Frog House directly when the change happened.

But, Hunt said, there are options for Frog House that wouldn't result in closing.

"They can seek an extension of the abatement period, which is a temporary extension determined by a hearing officer, or they can ask the City Council to amend the zoning," he said.

The Frog House has been serving surfers for almost 50 years. The building with a bright green frog mural sprawled across the side prides itself on being a "real surf shop," as written on its website. It's known for carrying just about anything a devoted surfer would need.

"Here is a shop that smells like wax, has real beach sand on the floors and enjoys three generations of customers that return time and again," the website states.

"TK" Brimer, the owner since the beginning, is revered as a veteran in the Newport-Mesa surf community for his dedication to surfers and surf retailers.

Councilman Steve Rosansky believes there is hope for Frog House.

"The street is basically a commercial street if you look at the businesses along that stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway," Rosansky said. "I personally wouldn't have a problem if they wanted to rezone and make it commercial.

"I think if they follow the city procedures then they have a good chance of getting the zoning that would allow them to stay. The status quo is not going to work. Either they will have to move or we'll have to put them in the proper zoning category."

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