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Mailbag: Balboa Island was poorly planned from the start

May 06, 2013

I read with interest the story "Flood risk: Bane of Balboa's existence," (May 5). About a century ago, a fast talking, fly-by-night entrepreneur named William Collins dredged up a swamp and sold tiny plots of land to buyers who didn't know what they were getting into. He used cheap cement to build shoddy bulkheads and barely dredged up enough sand to put the island even with the high-tide level.

Today, residents are paying the price for Collins' poorly executed engineering project. I noted with interest the accompanying "Flood Insurance Rate Map," which shows much of the land surrounding Newport Harbor and how it is impacted by occasional flood risk. Balboa Island appears to be completely underwater.

Compare that to the foresight shown by W.K. Parkinson, who developed Lido Isle a decade or so later. Lido was sensibly built about 10 feet above the high-tide level (and with no unsightly above-ground power lines, either) and it stands out on the map as the one place to live in the harbor that is more or less immune to flood risk.

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The developers of Lido Isle apparently learned quite a few lessons about how not to build an island from the example of Collins and Balboa Island. Perhaps the mayor of Newport Beach a century ago put it best when he famously said, "Balboa Island was sold by a lot of damn crooks to a lot of damn fools." History has proven him right, it seems.

Lenard Davis

Newport Beach

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New City Hall

Wow! I am at a loss for words to describe the new City Hall and its environs. There may be some legitimate debate about the wisdom of spending the money that was spent, but there is no doubt in my mind that we, the proud citizens of Newport Beach, got full value for our money.

It is something we can all treasure and be proud of — now and for decades to come. It is a bit late in the game to be lamenting the process, or lack thereof, that permitted our elected officials to spend taxpayer money so lavishly. The money is spent, so let us all come together, enjoy and derive benefit from the beautiful library, the expansive park, the community hall and all the other amenities. And once again, wow!

Jamshed Dastur

Balboa Island

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Fire ring fight

The furor over the fire rings just gets to me. Several years ago, a group of us went to the rings at Balboa Pier about twice a week to play volleyball and then to stay later at one of the rings. We also went to CdM several times. To date, all of us are still alive and kicking with no lung problems. It's the NIMBYs who are complaining that it is unhealthy and want the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) to outlaw them. They bought there and fully knew that the rings were there, so live with them.

Jim Mahaffy

Costa Mesa

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