NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—The city of Newport Beach recently received an unexpected letter from the California Coastal Commission addressing the council’s approval of a controversial mixed-use development at 2510 W. Coast Highway on July 27.
The letter said that commission staff had received an email on July 28 from David Tanner, a concerned citizen, requesting to appeal the city-approved development to the Coastal Commission.
Local residents and business owners have previously voiced their opposition to the development, which is planned along a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway called the Mariner’s Mile.
The letter went on to say that during a July 29 phone call, Tanner had requested that the commission’s executive director review the city’s determination of non-appealability. The next day, Tanner followed up by email with written information and another request for a review of the city’s determination.
The letter was sent on July 30 from Coastal Commission Executive Director Jack Ainsworth and District Supervisor Zach Rehm, to Seimone Jurjis, Newport Beach Community Development director.
The city council approved the project 5–0, with councilmen Duffy Duffield absent and Noah Blom recusing. Mayor Brad Avery pointed out that the council felt they had no choice but to approve the project, submitted by landowner Mark Moshayedi, under the auspices of the state’s Housing Accountability Act. The 1982 law limits local government’s ability to deny housing development projects.
“We’ve lost our ability to work with residents, deliver for residents; so much of it is out of our hands,” Avery said during the council meeting.
Opponents of the development have claimed that the city couldn’t give approval, since a small portion is located near the high tide line, thus requiring Coastal Commission approval.
The letter from the Coastal Commission to the city states: “The Coastal Commission’s Executive Director has reviewed the Notice of Final Action, site plans for the development, the post-certification map for the Newport Beach Local Coastal Program (LCP), 2 and information submitted by interested members of the public including Mr. Tanner and others who have submitted emails and phone communication.
“Consistent with LCP (Implementation Plan) Section 21.50.050(B)(3), the Executive Director’s determination is that part of the city-approved development is within the appealable area identified in the LCP because it is within 300 feet of the mean high tide line. Coastal Act Section 30603(a) provides the criteria for development that may be appealed to the Coastal Commission.”
Newport Beach Deputy Community Development Director Jim Campbell told The Epoch Times that the city has sent a response to the commission.
“The city has already responded and has submitted to the Coastal Commission a revised notice of final action, consistent with their determination that a portion of the project site is subject to appeal to the Coastal Commission,” he said.
Campbell said that once the Coastal Commission receives the city’s mailed response, a 10-day appeal period will begin that will allow any “aggrieved person” (as defined by the Coastal Act) to submit an appeal.
The land in question is approximately 10- to 20-feet long, located in the project’s southerly portion, which includes a driveway, sidewalk, and landscaping.
“The city is not disputing the Coastal Commission’s determination,” Campbell stated.
He pointed out that the project isn’t within the larger coastal zone, but that there are appeal areas that fall under city-issued coastal development permits that can be appealed to the Coastal Commission.
Campbell said that if an appeal is filed after the Coastal Commission acknowledges receipt of the city’s mailed response, it will hold a hearing within 49 days. If the commission determines the appeal is substantial enough, the coastal staff will evaluate the appeal area and make its recommendation.
Depending on the staff recommendation, the commission will either allow the project to move forward as approved or decide to hold a public hearing to look at the entire project.