You be the judge. Newport Beach voters have a chance to decide: car wash or another hotel? Height limits or no height limits?

This issue is raised in the planned July 8 City Council vote on a new General Plan amendment that will allow more-intense development and traffic in major commercial areas of the city. Along with increases in Newport Center and the airport area are what can be called "free riders." One free rider can be described as follows:

•Council-authorized planning for a general plan land use amendment;

•The amendment calls for increased development in several areas, predominantly Newport Center and the airport;

•When a general plan amendment is proposed, property owners can jump on the bandwagon and get their project included, sort of like a free rider;

•This time one of the riders is the property in Newport Center currently operating as a carwash — which, by the way, serves a large eastern swath of Newport Beach as well as Corona del Mar;

•The proposal is to change the car wash into a 125 room hotel;

•One problem is that the description of a hotel with 125 rooms also includes "ancillary" facilities, which can be restaurants, spas, meeting rooms, ballrooms, you name it — so we don't know how big it will really be;

•Another problem is that the amendment calls for an undefined increase in height where there is a two-story height limit that protects views of the ocean and Catalina.

We aren't told anywhere in the amendment how high it will be. Six stories? Eight stories? Go to the area where Muldoon's is and look across the carwash to get a perspective on the view issue.

Most voters are busy with their lives and have to rely on the city's planners and elected officials to do the right thing. But can they? You be the judge.

This rider will be hidden in the ballot language in November unless the council denies the amendment July 8. Go to the Stop Polluting Our Newport (SPON) website,, or the city's website, for more information. Let the council know what you think. Car wash or hotel? Height limits or no height limits?

Jean Watt

Newport Beach


Save the Neighborhood Center

Is the Neighborhood Community Center fully used? During a recent City Council meeting, Mayor Jim Righeimer proposed to convert the Neighborhood Community Center to a new central library, partly because the NCC was lightly used! In a May 28 Daily Pilot commentary, he reported that this (conversion from the NCC) is currently being planned.

Is the NCC actually seldom used?

The "Neighborhood Community Center Group Rental Information 2013" full-year usage report shows the NCC Large Room was used 340 days! The many small meeting rooms were used 379 times, for a total of 719 days of rental usage of the facility in 2013. Forty-two different users of the NCC were listed in the report, in which the Newport-Mesa Unified School District was listed only once.

The latter, with its several campuses, used the large room 141 times. I note that the main room may be separately used day and evening, but the frequently required set-up and later close down/clean-up times may limit much of any potential twice-daily usage.