What do I bring to the city?
I am active in all parts of city government including airport issues, housing issues and the state mandates for increased numbers of low and very low income units, accessory dwelling units, homeless issues, the General Plan update, election reform issues, Planning Commission and Zoning Administrator issues (which include not only residential requests, but also business requests for review and variances for construction) short term lodging issues, COVID and getting businesses “back to business” in our city, traffic issues, City finance issues, and neighborhood issues to name a few. I am at meetings 4 -6 times a week for all types of committees, Commission meetings and Council meetings. I have been doing this for the past few years. I feel like I have a comprehensive understanding of the community concerns and have a lot to offer as a representative of the community.
I am a planner by profession, I understand building codes and construction. I have held leadership positions since I was a Girl Scout patrol leader in 3rd grade, all the way through being president of the Senior Planning Board for the Girl Scout Council as a senior in high school. I am Informed, Involved and Independent. I am compassionate, a mother, and grandmother. I am straightforward and practical. I know how to collaborate, and I do not come to the council with a personal agenda. You won’t usually hear me speak unless I have something constructive to add to the conversation, or if I’m asking questions. I will not vote on an issue unless I feel I understand the facts and have an informed, balanced opinion. And that opinion will be based on what I believe is in the best interest residents and local businesses of Newport Beach. I have no Newport Beach business or investment conflicts which means I can cast a vote on anything that comes before the council.
Short Term Rentals or Short Term Lodging (STR’s or STL’s)
STR’s create several problems for the residents in our coastal neighborhoods. They contribute to the parking problems in areas where the streets are already narrow, they can be a noise problem, if the renters are not considerate of the neighbors, they reduce the housing stock when we are under pressure to add housing due to recent State mandates, and they can adversely affect the home values and salability of adjacent homes. The parking issues in some of our neighborhoods with narrow streets, can impede emergency services.
Rental homes have been a part of our beach community for decades, but with the advent of Airbnb and similar online services, these units are being rented for shorter periods of time, often for a single night, and for parties that many times are a nuisance to the residents of these neighborhoods.
The City narrowly passed an ordinance to add regulations to address some of these problems on October 27th. Portions of the ordinance must be approved by the Coastal Commission, so it will take some time before those portions can be enforced. We will need to apply pressure on the Council to maintain the current emergency restriction placed on the number of permits allowed until we receive Coastal Commission approval of the ordinance.
Also, there is currently a provision in the ordinance that allows the permit to be transferred to a new property owner upon the sale of the property or through inheritance if the property owner dies. This is very bad for Newport Beach residents because it will not allow any turnover of the permits unless the permit is revoked for infractions. The way enforcement is currently handled in our city, this could be a problem.
More work needs to be done to address this issue. The residents need to have a strong voice in how this ordinance is written and enforced.
Traffic and Enforcement
These issues are related. When schools are open, we have lots of traffic for short periods of time. At other times of day, the people who drive in the neighborhood do not obey the traffic laws (rolling stops or no stop at all for stop signs, texting on phones or distracted driving). Add to that formula, the new electric bikes, skateboards, and scooters that fly through stop signs at 30+ miles per hour, driven by adults, and kids without a license or knowledge of vehicle laws. The process for causing our police department to patrol in this neighborhood and actually enforce the laws by issuing citations, is for the City Council to instruct the City Manager, to instruct the Police Chief to enforce the laws. Currently, the Council majority does not have the stomach to do that, so there are very few patrol cars and weak enforcement. We have a bicycle master plan that was crafted in 2014 and has never been updated. Electric propulsion for skateboards, scooters and bicycles was not even contemplated when it was written. It must be updated soon and the current council majority is not even looking at this.
Housing and the State Mandates
State Mandated Housing Requirements and our General Plan Update are two of my biggest concerns. I am afraid that we will come out of this pandemic and realize that decisions were being made while we were in our “COVID fog”. Those decisions may not reflect our collective vision. While we are focused on COVID, the State has mandated that we zone for, roughly, 4834 housing units (single family homes, apartments, condos). Half of those must be low income or very low income. Developers can only make this work if they only build a small percentage of their projects as low and very low-income units. In order to meet the requirement for the 4834 residential units, it would require we plan for about 15,000 to 40,000 new units. Currently Newport Beach has approximately 45,000 residential units. Can you imagine doubling our housing? Where would we put those homes? The City staff and council majority are not even considering the impact on our schools, traffic, city services like water and trash and on and on. We need to fight back against the State mandates. The State housing requirements are unachievable, and the City is spending 1 ½ to 2 million dollars to look like we are trying to comply. We could focus our efforts on documenting the reasons the requirements are unreasonable, align ourselves with other coastal cities who are in the same boat and serve the problem back to the state with a price tag for what it will take in concessions to comply with the mandated housing.
If we fail to focus on our collective “Vision” for the City of Newport Beach, we will jeopardize the future of our city for ourselves and for generations to come. COVID has us looking the other way…. Between this and the General Plan, these two should be the biggest issues facing our city.
Increased and Transparent Representation/ Community Driven Decisions
I am a strong advocate for transparent and open representation. Residents do not have a voice at this point. We need a representative on the Council who will speak up for the community’s shared vision. I will work hard to ensure that the residents and local businesses have a voice that is heard by City Council.
Representation in District 2
We don’t have a voice at this point. District 2 has been the step-child for many years. We are faced with development on Mariner’s Mile that is not in touch with the community vision of what Mariner’s Mile should be or with the General Plan. The West Side of Newport is being explored (by the Housing Element Update Advisory Committee - HEUAC) for high-density, low-income housing. We need a representative on the Council who will speak up for the community’s shared vision. I will be a strong advocate for ensuring housing and community facilities are consistent with the Vision Statement of the General Plan and the Vision Statement for Mariner’s Mile.
I am opposed to Measure Z, not because I don’t agree with the concept, but the measure was written without any public input or review and it was presented to the Council in a way that discouraged public comments, so it was as if the authors didn’t want the public to review the language. I think it should be discussed openly and brought back in two years at the next election. The current Harbor Commission, even though it is not codified in the City Charter, is fulfilling all the responsibilities and duties needed to manage our harbor. No member of the council or candidates indicate any desire to unwind the duties of the Harbor Commission, so why rush? I don’t see any harm in waiting to have a full public review of the language of this measure to be sure it is written in a way that the public agrees with.
Newport Mesa Unified School District
I have been unhappy with the School District’s complete disregard for the concerns of the students, parents, staff, and residents for years. Our kids attended all three Newport Heights schools, elementary, junior high and high school from 2005 to 2013. The School Board was terrible the whole way through. This year there are three Trustee positions up for election. I am advocating for a strong relationship between the City and the School District (at the council level, not the staff level) that does not currently exist. This is critical because we are tied at the hip to NMUSD. If there is a problem on one of their campuses, Newport Beach Police and Fire are the ones who respond. They (our Police and Fire) will have to deal with whatever security fencing and exiting issues, the School district has caused by their security fence design. Although we have a Police officer that is dedicated to the schools, NMUSD didn’t ask for our input on the design of the new security fencing at any time in the design process. The new parking lot at Ensign does not appear to allow for a fire engine or Paramedic van to enter without running over the curb. Why didn’t the NMUSD seek fire department approval of their design? Because they don’t have to and have preferred acting without regard for simple things like this for years. Not to mention that the traffic (both vehicle and pedestrian) is the City’s problem. When the School District causes all students to enter and exit through a single location, it affects the traffic on our streets throughout the neighborhoods. There was no discussion with the city regarding how this would impact our streets and sidewalks in Newport Heights and at CdM. It demonstrates the School District’s arrogance and disregard for their constituents. Please visit their websites, email them, call them or view a forum. There have been two forums. One of them is available on YouTube. Information is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGUsB-zILZs
I believe several of these candidates will be open to a closer relationship with the City and are strong proponents of change at all levels of the district, from the temporary superintendent to the staff who railroaded the Ensign plans through to the unnecessary destruction of the trees. I was there that day, and I’m still mad about it.
You can learn about NMUSD candidates at the following websites:
Area 1 (now Snell)
Leah Ersoylu - https://www.leah4newportmesa.com/meet-leah
Vicki Snell (incumbent) - https://vickisnell.com
Area 3 (now Fluor)
Carol Crane - https://www.carol4nmusd.com
Charles Kent Booker – https://bookerbecause.com
Area 6 (now Black)
Xeno Ralf Muller II - https://www.xenoralfmullerii.com
Amy Peters - https://www.amypeters4schoolboard.com
Krista Weigand – https://www.krista4newportmesa.com
Alexis Zavouris - https://www.alexiszavouris.com
Please make an informed vote. The Newport Mesa Unified School District needs intelligent, reasonable trustees. We have a chance to influence a change for the first time in years to affect change in our local schools and improve the chances of productive communication between Newport Beach City Council and the NMUSD.