Balboa Marina project proceeds to Coastal Commission

Balboa Marina project proceeds to Coastal Commission

NEWPORT BEACH — The Newport Beach City Council adopted a resolution upholding the Planning Commission’s approval of Balboa Marina West project’s Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) at the Nov. 25 meeting.

The item returned to the council as a result of the Linda Isle Homeowners Association filing an appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of the MND in October.

In their appeal, the Linda Isle Homeowners Association requested the City Council “vacate the Planning Commission decision to approve the MND and re-circulate the MND.”

Issues raised in the appeal are that the MND violates CEQA by failing to analyze and mitigate the potential environmental impacts of the project together with the approved Back Bay Landing project; the MND has piecemealed its analysis of the project’s environmental effects by not adequately acknowledging the range and land uses and the MND must be revised and re-circulated.

City staff provided responses to the list of issues provided in the appeal.

Comments from Linda Isle residents included concerns about noise, that there was no community outreach from the Irvine company and boats and cars starting will be loud and disrupt residents.

“I can empathize with the concerns they have,” said Councilman Ed Selich. “It’s something I am concerned about but I believe that this is the first step in the process and when the building comes in and we have the site plan to review … as far as the scale and scope of the project this environmental document is accurate in my opinon.”

The construction of a new public dock, restaurant and marine commercial building may begin sometime in 2016. The Irvine Company’s plans include reconstructing the marina located on 151 and 201 East Coast Highway. The project will expand on the existing Balboa Marina and construct a 19,400-square-foot marine commercial building for a yacht brokerage office, public restrooms and a restaurant.

While the MND was approved for the waterside portion of the project, plans for land-side development have yet to be determined by the Irvine Company. The City Council and Planning Commission’s respective yes vote allows the waterside portion of the project to be processed while the land-side portion is being finalized, according to staff reports.

The joint project between the city of Newport Beach and the Irvine Company will transform the area where the Rueben E. Lee once floated. The vessel was removed in 2007 with the reconstruction of Balboa Marina completed in 2009 with a total of 105 boat slips including four transient slips.

The most recent project will expand the public and private boat slips in Newport Harbor by providing a new public dock, complete with a gangway and 12 boat slips including eight new slips and four slips that will be relocated from the public dock from the existing private Balboa marina. In the marina, 24 private boat slips and a new gangway are proposed to be built. A side tie dock will provide docking for two 60-foot boats.

The project will also feature a designated, lit pedestrian walkway that is separated from the marina and set back from residential uses. Dredging is required to accommodate the public and private docks and eelgrass mitigation is proposed on the site as the grass is present in the vicinity.

The Irvine Company will submit the waterside plan to the Coastal Commission in early 2015. The plan is expected to be completed by 2016.

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