Insider's Guide

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City Council Agenda items and other items of interest to the City Manager

August 10, 2018 

A happy Friday to you. I’ll confess that I always want to write, “A good Friday to you,” but then that sounds weird except one Friday a year. So whatever, it’s Friday, and Fridays are largely good. Here is the “Insider’s Guide” for the Newport Beach City Council meeting of Tuesday, August 14, 2018. Staff has had three weeks between council meetings, so we’re tanned, rested, and ready.  

In this email, I do not summarize all of the items on the agenda – only the ones that seem of large importance to most folks in town. Please read the entire agenda if you wish.

The meeting starts at 3:30 p.m. with a routine business item known as the Public Facilities Corp (PFC), which is where the City Council sits as the Board of Directors of the PFC, and basically reviews and approves the financial statements for the PFC for the year.  The PFC itself is the body that formally would have approved various debt issuances, such as the 2010 Civic Center COPs. Obviously, no debt is planned at this meeting, but the financial statements must be reviewed annually.

Study Session
Then at about 3:45 p.m., we get back to business with some Study Session items. The ones that will generate the most discussion are the Newport Heights traffic study and our “ask” for Council direction on Bird Scooters and other shared-use mobility devices (“Lime” Bikes would be another thing like this). Shared-use devices are bookable by app, and are often one-way trips – like borrowing a bike or scooter and from Point A to Point B, leaving it at Point B to shop or dine or whatever, and then finding another one to take you from Point B back to Point A. It’s likely that the device you pick up at Point B is not the one you left there, as someone else may have already taken it to Point C. Anyway, the mild concern that we have is that these can be left in a manner that blocks sidewalks or street corners, and can also be ridden unsafely. Oftentimes, the company offering the rentals typically won’t have a permit to operate on the public right of way. At the Study Session, we’ll ask the Council what it would like to do into the future regarding this new trend.

Let me get back to the Newport Heights school-related traffic study now. It’s worth a read. The recommendations include additional crossing guards, improved crosswalks, changes to the configuration of the Newport Heights Elementary access and egress plan, and more. Part of the “more” is using Clay Street as an enhanced way to bike to and from school (including Ensign and NH El). This would involve new on-street parking limits on Clay on school days during certain hours (it would vary by direction). If you live in Newport Heights, please read the study whether you have kids or not. At the evening Session, we will ask Council to formalize any direction they might have for us as to implementing the study’s recommendations. Interested folks should definitely consider attending or watching the afternoon session though.   

Evening Session
During the evening session, a number of interesting things are up, including (potentially) both of the items discussed at Study Session. Remember that we don’t usually seek formal direction in the afternoon, so that’s why formal direction on the same two items is asked for at night. Other items are:

  • Some more big (and small) projects are all done. You know the Park Avenue Bridge is done (many moons ago), but so is the new Newport Elementary field (yay) and some improvements to Peninsula Point Park. Our good staff in Public Works has worked hard to get these and all projects completed, and you can imagine how tough it can be to squeeze them out between summer crowds, Christmas, Spring Break, school seasons, and more. This agenda includes the formal Notices of Completion on these projects. Well done, Public Works.
  • The effort to dredge the remainder of the Grand Canal (about 2/3 of the distance still needs to be dredged) ran into a hiccup, as the pricing was too high and well above our estimates. We will ask Council to reject all bids for this important project, and we’ll re-look at some of the constraints we put on it. Residents’ patience is appreciated there as we try again here.
  • Thanks to our long-time partnership with NMUSD, we will expand our PD presence at the middle and high schools, as we add one new police position to help improve school safety. The City Council approved this position in the budget adopted for July 1, 2018.  So we’ll go from one to two officers whose assignment includes the public middle and high schools.
  • In 2013, the City Council agreed to help the Crystal Cove Alliance with a small amount of revenue that could be pledged to help this non-profit group restore cottages at Crystal Cove State Park. Seventeen cottages remain to be historically restored, and the cost is pretty huge ($35 million, including infrastructure). The agreement ended this year, and the now-Conservancy has asked that we considering upping the dollar amount to $50,000 per year (from $20,000 per year) for another five years. This $250,000 pledge would assist the Conservancy in securing construction loans for the restoration.  Overall, the more cottages that are restored, the more hotel bed tax is generated from the project to the City.  And we all get more really fun places to stay near the coast. 
  • Our good Friends of the Newport Beach Public Library have come through yet again in $1 and $2 increments to provide $175,000 in support for library materials and programming. Thanks, Friends.
  • Under Current Business, the aforementioned Newport Heights Traffic Study and Shared-Use Mobility Devices comes back near the end of the meeting for any formal direction by the Council.
  • Lastly, the Council has an item on there for the appointment of a new City Manager. As I write this, I understand that this agenda item is likely to happen, implying that discussions with the top candidate have been successful. Phew. My term here ends on August 31, 2018, so it looks like the baton will be passed successfully from me to this person without my bobbling it. 

Some Notes:

  • We’re coming up on our second-to-last Concert on the Green for the summer, as sponsored by the City Arts Commission. It’s Sunday, August 12 starting at 6 p.m., and will be the well-loved local folks known as the Tijuana Dogs. Do I have to warn some of you not to imbibe and make a scene atop the parking structure? I’m sure I don’t.
  • I am pleased to announce the appointment of Deputy Public Works Director Mark Vukojevic as the new Director of our Utilities Department. Many of you know Mark via the complex projects he handles for Public Works, and now you will know him as the guy overseeing our water and wastewater systems, storm drains, and oil fields. Mark competed in an open recruitment with outside candidates, and did very well obviously. I am glad to have Mark in this new role and hope you almost never have to hear from him (because when a utility works well, you don’t have to think about it much).  I am very thankful to the good work of Interim Director Steffen Catron, who ably has run the Department since George Murdoch retired in December.
  • Speaking of The R-Word, there is some event honoring some guy who’s leaving at the end of the month (in <15 workdays!!!). The Guide was asked to promote the event, and it does so reluctantly. It’s Thursday afternoon, August 30, 2018 from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Civic Green, and is very informal (games, popcorn, silliness). Very informal. Did I say very? I meant very. Please come by and say hello, goodbye, “don’t let the screen door hitcha on the way out,” “hey, you never responded to that email,” “please tell us one last time the difference between the Pension Normal Cost and the Unfunded Liability,” whatever.
  • One more thought here about the Insider’s Guide. I will write one more time as the announcement of a new City Manager is made, so I won’t say goodbye yet. But I did tell the staff here that I think it might be perfectly appropriate for the new City Manager to create something (or nothing) different from this email. As a brief historical note, I started the Guide probably eight years ago when news coverage of local government (and the City) was a bit dicey. It was often well-intentioned, but key things were missed that I felt residents needed to know about. So we built an email list of nearly all of the city’s HOA contacts, the local press, and anyone else who wanted on the list – it wasn’t exclusive, but it was to provide an insider’s look at City Hall. My wish at the time was to make sure that our residents knew what was on the Council agenda, how it might affect their neighborhood, and to try to eliminate surprises. I could see retiring this Guide along with me. Coverage of local government by local sources is better now (I am very thankful for that), and maybe the need is different. Regardless, I think this is something that the new person should decide (it can be a bit time intensive to write, especially when one is verbose. Which I am not.  Not at all).

Thanks again for reading this and for your good feedback on many City issues.

Dave Kiff
City Manager

City Council Meeting Information

The Newport Beach City Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of most months (the exceptions are August and December). Typically, there is a Study Session that starts at 4 p.m. Study sessions are times for the Council to take a deeper look at a specific issue, or hear a presentation, that might eventually lead to a specific and more formal action. A closed session often follows the Study Session. Closed sessions are typically to address legal, personnel, and other matters where additional confidentiality is important. The Regular (evening) Session typically starts at 7 p.m., and often has a specific listing of 20-40 different items ready for formal votes. Items on the “Consent Calendar” are heard all at once, unless a Council member has removed (aka “pulled”) an item from the Consent Calendar for specific discussion and separate vote. If an item on the agenda is recommended to be “continued”, it means that the item won’t be heard nor voted on that evening, but will be pushed forward to another noticed meeting.    

Public Comment is welcomed at both the Study Session and the Regular Session. The public can comment on any item on the agenda. If you want to comment on a Consent Calendar item that was not pulled from the Consent Calendar by a Council Member, you will want to do so at the time listed on the agenda – right before the Council votes on the entire Consent Calendar (it’s Roman Numeral XIII on the posted agenda). If an item is pulled, the Mayor will offer that members of the public can comment as that specific item is heard separately. Additionally, there is a specific section of Public Comment for items not on the agenda, but on a subject of some relationship to the city government. If you cannot attend a meeting and/or want to communicate with the City Council directly, this e-mail gets to all of them: Please know that I get a copy of that e-mail, too, because in almost all cases it’s something that the City Manager follows-up on. It’s my head-start.   

The Council meets in the Council Chambers at 100 Civic Center Drive, off of Avocado between San Miguel and East Coast Highway. There is plenty of parking in the parking structure behind City Hall. You are always welcome to attend in person, but you can also watch on TV Time Warner/Spectrum 30 and Cox Channel 852 or stream it on your computer.

This Insider’s Guide is not an attempt to summarize every item on the Agenda – just the ones that seem of specific interest to Dave. I encourage you to read the full agenda if you wish.

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