Council meets in old chambers for last time

Newport Beach officials say farewell to aging room on the Peninsula in anticipation of move to new Civic Center.

November 30, 2012|By Lauren Williams
  • Newport Beach's council chambers at the old City Hall, 3300 Newport Blvd.
Newport Beach's council chambers at the old City… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

Florescent lights dimmed, aged seats groaned beneath shifting bodies. Amplified voices weighing in on outsourcing trash services bounced off 27-year-old walls.

Tuesday's meeting marked the last time the Newport Beach City Council would meet for a regularly scheduled council meeting in the old City Hall at 3300 Newport Blvd. on the Balboa Peninsula.

The council will later this month begin gathering five miles away in new chambers at 100 Civic Center Drive — a building envisioned as a sleek steel-and-stone structure hugged by a fabric sail. Though the new Civic Center is not yet complete, council meetings will start taking place there, and officials paused this week to say goodbye to their cramped meeting room.

"It was useful in its day, but its day was a long time ago," Councilman-elect Tony Petros said of city hall, adding that in the old days during meetings, people had to stand because "you were meeting virtually in a closet."


The council's first meeting in the new location will also be his first as a councilman.

The glass and wood building on Newport Boulevard served as a patchwork of history over the span of about three decades — a time when the population increased by 24,390. A fading aerial shot of the city hangs on one side of Council Chambers. A "No Smoking" sign acts as a reminder of 1985, when the city banned lighting up in chambers.

Mayor Nancy Gardner said that the new chambers — which she has only glimpsed — appear cavernous, compared with the more modest older building, but remain unfinished. She doesn't expect an official unveiling until spring or summer.

"It seems huge," she said. "What you're used to is what's normal, and looking at it looks like we'll all be so far apart from each other."

While some residents have griped about the $131-million price tag, others are excited about the Civic Center.

"Everybody worked hard, and thank you for our new city hall and our new beginning," Newport Coast resident Dan Wampole told the council.

He later said he felt the move to a more central location in Newport Beach would leave the city less vulnerable in the event of a natural disaster, and will better serve residents on a day-to-day basis.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the Civic Center is in Corona del Mar. It is in Newport Beach.

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