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Venezia: SPON spawns new mission

April 12, 2014|By Barbara Venezia
  • Barbara Venezia, a columnist for the Daily Pilot.
Barbara Venezia, a columnist for the Daily Pilot. (Photo by Damion…)

Opening my mail the end of March I found a 10-page foldout piece from the city titled "Newport Beach General Plan – a progress report on the general plan use element amendment."

The title itself is mind numbing, but residents in Newport should be paying close attention to what's bubbling up here.

First off, this is probably one of the most poorly produced public information pieces I think I've ever seen.

I'm sure someone thought it was really artsy and cool, but it was hardly legible in places.

The paper color was dark blue with gray, smoky-looking smudges that fanned to lighter shades. It almost looked as if it had been run over by truck tires.

Annoyingly difficult to read, the thing was tossed in the trash. I only retrieved it after a neighbor came by to discuss it.

This amendment, which residents will be asked to vote on come November, makes way for some big changes.

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And like all change, some is good, some not so much.

One thing this new plan opens the door for is high-density projects. That has one organization in the community, SPON, quite concerned.

The acronym SPON, Stop Polluting our Newport, which formed in 1974, now stands for Still Protecting Our Newport.

"SPON is very concerned about the potential impacts said development would have on Newport Beach's quality of life," SPON President Marko Popovich tells me.

The group is questioning the city's environmental impact and traffic reports relating to this general plan update.

Popovich says members of the group also take exception to the piecemeal way in which the city is going about the update.

"The city is trying to erode our general plan by 1,000 little cuts. What we're asking for is we think they need to reconvene the General Plan Advisory Committee," he said.

On March 20, SPON sent a letter to the Newport Beach Land Use Amendment Advisory Committee and its chairman, Councilman Ed Selich, outlining its concerns.

"This General Plan Amendment proposes significant changes from the existing land-use plans for Newport Center and the Airport Area," the SPON letter states. "It is claimed that the trips generated will be offset by trips included in the General Plan what will not occur.

"This may be a way to plan on paper, but on the raid it means many more car trips. And those car trips will continue to increase from the many projects yet to be built including Banning Ranch, the Dunes Hotel, and Mariner's Mile to name a few."

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