8:14 PM PST, January 4, 2013
The California Coastal Commission is expected to give itself more time to review a proposed rule change that would allow a 73-foot faux lighthouse to be built at Newport Beach's planned Marina Park.
The city needs the commission's approval to make an exception in its Shoreline Height Limitation Zone, which limits structures in that area to 35 feet.
If approved at its Jan. 11 meeting, the commission's deadline for action on the matter would move to February 2014, but according to a commission staff report, the group would likely decide on the issue in March.
Plans for the park, which will be a new Balboa Peninsula community center, have generated some controversy on a few fronts. The park will displace residents living in almost 60 mobile homes on the city-owned property, and some residents have argued against the lighthouse, saying it sets a bad precedent.
In July, the city voted to change its own land-use plan to allow for the structure, and in October, the city submitted a request to the commission to make the change.
That application was rejected as incomplete. In November, the city submitted a revised request, which was accepted.
City spokeswoman Tara Finnigan wrote in an email that city staff involved in the project would be "in agreement" with the commission's anticipated decision to extend the review period. They hope it will give the city ample time to garner the commission's support for the proposal, she wrote.