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EDUCATING OUR COMMUNITY
Facts About Mariner’s Mile
- Mariner’s Mile is the section of Pacific Coast Highway between Newport Boulevard and Dover Drive in Newport Beach. Beginning in the early 1950s, it has been the subject of intermittent management and improvement plans by the City. In the face of recent plans by the City to “revitalize” this area, The Coalition to Protect Mariner’s Mile has been formed by business district stakeholders and nearby homeowners who want to preserve the character of this unique area by ensuring that any changes include their input.
- The current “revitalization” plan being promoted by the City, along with a separate but integral proposal to widen PCH to a six-lane artery, is the latest and potentially greatest threat to Mariner’s Mile. While paying lip service to previous documents such as the 2000 Mariner’s Mile Strategic Vision and Design Framework, which pointedly recommends against PCH going to six lanes, the new plan would rob Mariner’s Mile of its unique character forever.
- The City has employed an outside consulting firm, PlaceWorks (the same firm that produced the infamous “Measure Y” in 2014), to develop the Draft Mariners’ Mile Revitalization Master Plan, which purportedly grew out of several community meetings. Residents expected their input to be heard. Instead, the PlaceWorks consultant repeatedly presented the same plan, without considering strong community opposition to key components.
- The areas of Mariner’s Mile that the City and PlaceWorks judged to be “underperforming” are targeted for redevelopment in the new Master Plan. These areas include the commercial corridor along the foot of the bluff near Dover Drive and the area on the north side of PCH between Riverside and Tustin, where the City proposes something it calls Avon Village.
- A recent example of City approval, and its attempts at “revitalization,” is the Mariner’s Pointe building at the corner of PCH and Dover Drive. It was built with three variances, completely overwhelms the bluff, and continues to underperform economically. Even more recently, City staff recommended approval of a massive over-sized, over-height car dealership next to that (fortunately rejected by the Planning Commission and later withdrawn by the applicant).
- In the proposed Avon Village, the City staff is recommending a multi-story parking structure, and although PlaceWorks assured residents that all building heights would be regulated by the historic 35-foot Shoreline Height Limitation, the north side of Avon does not appear to be subject to that limit.
- The City is pushing ahead with its insistence that PCH needs to be widened to six lanes throughout Mariner’s Mile, citing a need to improve traffic flow through this area. The widening is being touted as a separate issue from land use improvements, but at the same time the City states that circulation follows land use. Erik Weigand, Planning Commissioner, stated at the end of the April 20 Study Session on Mariner’s Mile, that the widening should be considered together with land use, and that the City’s plan is “not ready for prime time.” Commissioner Brad Hillgren submitted a written opinion that “the expansion of PCH is in direct conflict with the goal of recreating Mariner’s Mile into a village experience.”
- The City still needs to acquire 40% of the property necessary to widen PCH. Owners of parcels on the north side of the highway are being required by the City to dedicate 12’ of frontage to the widening effort when they seek discretionary approvals to redevelop. Dedication or purchase from a willing seller is referred to by the City as “friendly acquisition,” and is the preferred method of obtaining the needed property. However, through its “police powers,” the City can, if it wishes, use Eminent Domain to force a sale by an unwilling owner.
Mariner’s Mile Strategic Vision & Design Framework
The idea and initiative for creating a Design Framework for Mariner’s Mile was recommended by the Mariner’s Mile Business and Citizens Advisory Committee in their Study Recommendations dated April 2, 1997. Formed on August 26, 1996 by the Newport Beach City Council, this committee brought both residents and business concerns together to address the perception of negative change along Mariner’s Mile.
Specific issues motivating the Committee at the time of its formation were: decreasing real estate values as exhibited by pockets of vacant properties, a general decline in the quality of the physical
environment, specific examples of abandonment and neglect, and the recent introduction of fast food franchises and marginal business activities, such as pawn shops in Mariner’s Mile. Participants included members of the business community, local residents and design professionals, who met in a series of workshops over a period of nine months to discuss issues, examine the forces currently influencing Mariner’s Mile and explore possible strategies to improve its prospects for the future.
After months of collaborative meetings and discussions, the committee issued their findings as a series of “Goals and Recommendations for the Entire Study Area.” The Committee outlined its recommendations for a Development Framework as follows: “The City should use a land planning consultant to assist in developing policies to enable new development/redevelopment throughout the study area to meet the following goals:
- Encourage lot consolidation.
- Encourage parking consolidation.
- Coordinate site design relative to adjacent properties, without establishing a design “theme”
- Upgrade onsite landscaping and fences
- Unify streetscape (lights, trees, paving materials, and fences)
- Update sign standards to encourage signage practices and promote a higher quality image
- Develop public sign program to unify image and identify parking areas and points of interest
- Enhance pedestrian access to businesses
- Upgrade entry monuments
- Reduce the number of curb cuts along Pacific Coast Highway
- Consider impacts on and goals of Mariner’s Mile as individual parcels develop
- Include provision for public views of and access to the Bayfront, except where adequate public access already exists or where public access is inconsistent with public safety”
Mariner’s Mile Revitalization Master Plan
The City of Newport Beach has completed the draft Mariners’ Mile Revitalization Master Plan, which is available for public review and comment beginning April 11, 2017. Copies of the document are available for review in the Community Development Department, 100 Civic Center Drive, Bay B, Newport Beach, CA 92660 between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on Friday. Click here to download a digital version.
Project Overview and Additional Information
Mariners’ Mile has been identified as an area needing revitalization. With completion of the study evaluating roadway capacity requirements for West Coast Highway, the City will be evaluating existing land use policies and regulations, which may inhibit revitalization of the area. The Mariners’ Mile Revitalization Master Plan is intended to identify potential refinements or barriers to revitalizing the area. The City contracted with PlaceWorks in May of 2016 to assist in these efforts.