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City Hall reuse on the agenda

Newport council will also tackle stand-up paddleboarding, establishment of an arts fund and a new mobile app, myNB.

March 22, 2013|By Jill Cowan

The reuse of Newport Beach's old City Hall will be up for discussion Tuesday night, as the City Council considers moving ahead with a spate of changes that will transition the Balboa Peninsula site out of public use.

The city has already solicited development proposals from six companies. Three would use the area for a boutique hotel and three would build a mixed-use residential complex.

While the city won't make a decision on which use would be best, the resolutions up for a possible vote would get the ball rolling on California Environmental Quality Act-required studies and move the site's rezoning process forward.

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Art Items

Also on the agenda is an item that would set aside money for a Public Art and Cultural Facilities Fund aimed at making the city a more culturally engaging place.

Mayor Keith Curry floated the idea of a special arts and culture fund in his State of the City speech in February.

The council, if it chooses to adopt a policy proposed in a staff report, would designate 2% of unallocated public benefit fees for the arts fund. Public benefit fees are money that developers pay to the city to help offset the effects of their projects.

Right now, according to a staff report, that would amount to roughly $954,000 going to the fund. The policy would also make provisions to keep the fund afloat into the future.

The money would be spent at the council's discretion based on recommendations by the City Arts Commission.

And to kick off what Curry said he hoped would be a renewed commitment to the arts, the council will consider leasing a 7-foot-long stainless steel and bronze kelp sculpture from artist Sarah A. Wilkinson to be placed outside the new council chambers.

The city would pay $750 to lease the sculpture, called "Uprooted II," with the possibility that that money could go toward buying the piece for $25,000.

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Paddleboarding Report

In other business, the council will hear a Harbor Commission report about stand-up paddleboarding.

Last year, the council asked the commission to look at possibilities for regulating paddleboarding traffic in Newport Harbor, after some residents complained about paddleboarders criss-crossing the water in a potentially unsafe way. Others, however, thought such regulations would be overkill.

According to the report, the commission found that laws already governing the use of the harbor were sufficient to resolve any stand-up paddleboarding-related issues.

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There's an app

At an early study session before next week's meeting, residents can get a lesson on using the city's new mobile app, myNB.

Curry announced at the State of the City speech that the app, available through Apple and Google, was in the works.

The application allows residents to report problems, submit forms and access information from their mobile devices.

The council will also look at a possible reconfiguration of four of the city's five Business Improvement Districts.

The move, City Manager Dave Kiff said earlier this month, would be aimed at phasing out some of the city's involvement in managing the BIDs, which he said would save staff time and streamline processes for businesses.

The council will meet in its new chambers, near the library at 100 Civic Center Drive, at 3:30 p.m. for the study session, then reconvene at 7 p.m. for the regular meeting.

jill.cowan@latimes.com

Twitter: @jillcowan

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