This month, I had the pleasure of being the invited speaker at our weekly Men’s Breakfast, St. Andrews Church, Newport Beach (my church!). I addressed two current topics that continue to take up the majority of my time and that of our city staff. Below is a quick update on the topics of the General Aviation Improvement Program at John Wayne Airport and the Council’s actions to address homelessness within our City.
Special Meeting on Homelessness
On September 4, 2019, the City Council held a special meeting to discuss homelessness and whether to initiate negotiations on potential private sites for a homeless shelter within the City. Due to the changing legal landscape, the City needs to have shelter beds available in order to enforce our anti-camping ordinance. To address this need, the City Council has tasked staff with evaluating public and private sites for a shelter facility and pursuing partnerships with neighboring cities. This meeting allowed the City Council to provide direction on three private properties and receive community input. The City Council voted unanimously, 7-0, to remove the site of the former Pine Knot Motel from consideration as a shelter facility due to its location in the Coastal Zone. The City Council also provided direction to initiate negotiations for the property at 4200 Campus Drive and to take no further action on 825 W. 16th Street unless directed to do so by the Council. Any future action on 825 W. 16th Street would require Council direction at a noticed public meeting. In addition, Council directed staff to evaluate the City-owned Municipal Yard on Superior Avenue for a homeless shelter for cost analysis purposes, and continue discussions with neighboring cities for regional partnerships. Moving forward on this Council direction is top priority for staff.
Throughout the evaluation process, the safety and security of residents, staff, and visitors are paramount in driving the planning and implementation of a shelter facility. Any shelter facility under consideration would require a reservation-only intake process, 24/7 on-site security, and a buffer zone of code enforcement responsibilities to ensure safe and orderly access. The reservation process involves partnering with law enforcement, clearing background checks, and processing intake assessments with City Net. City Net is the City’s contracted social service provider.
In addition to evaluating shelter options, the City Council and staff continue to pursue a multifaceted approach to solve issues resulting from homelessness. City staff is working closely with OCTA and the Irvine Company to address the concerns at the OCTA Transportation Center. Last week, OCTA provided authorization for the Newport Beach Police Department to enforce trespassing violations at the Transportation Center when the center is closed at night which will happen by virtue of a fence with locked gate being erected around the transportation center. Following posting of additional signage, we anticipate enforcement to occur in the coming days. The Homeless Task Force, which includes three Council members and seven members of the community, is working on long-term strategies and a comprehensive community plan for addressing homelessness.
John Wayne Airport and the General Aviation Improvement Program
This month, the County Board of Supervisors moved forward with a Request for Proposal (RFP) for Full and Limited Service Fixed Base Operators (FBO) at John Wayne Airport. The RFP approved by the Board of Supervisors includes the land use restrictions that will guarantee light aviation will be present on a significant portion of the airport.
The biggest issue that was decided by the Board was whether to include additional specificity in the RFP regarding what structures will be built at the airport. The Board struggled with this issue; however, based on their discussion, it appears many of the Supervisors want to maintain the current mix of general aviation (jets, small jets, piston engines, for example) at the airport.
While the City of Newport Beach asked for more specificity in the RFP to provide clear direction to potential lessees, the Board felt constrained by the law from setting forth the precise facilities and mix of structures that would be built at the airport. The City has examined the legal issues and believes its request for more detail was appropriate and well within the law.
While we’re disappointed that our requested details did not get included in the RFP, we do believe the Supervisors understand the needs and desires of the communities surrounding the airport.
Now that the RFP is finalized, our work is clearly not over. We will work directly with the potential FBO operators who will be submitting bids, and we will continue to communicate with the County. Our position remains one of opposing any proposal that does not support our community’s best interests.