Back Bay Landing project approved with modifications

MONTEREY — A plan to replace a recreational vehicle (RV) park with a 7-acre waterfront village was approved, with minor revisions, by the California Coastal Commission on Dec. 10.

Coastal commissioners unanimously approved a revised Newport Beach Conditional Land Use Plan (CLUP) for Back Bay Landing, where a developer plans to build a mixed-use project boasting 49 residences, 60,000 square feet of commercial space and an enclosed boat storage.

Specific plans are still being developed, according to Newport Beach city staff.

Council member Ed Selich delivered a video comment of how the Back Bay Landing plan would benefit Newport Beach.

“The City Council unanimously supported this project as an opportunity to redevelop and reactivate an underutilized bayfront site in the city,” said Selich, who made his comments during his tenure as Newport Beach mayor.

Selich, now a council member, added the redeveloped Back Bay Landing would benefit boaters, residents and visitors.

“I think this plan is a huge asset for the area,” Commissioner Mary Schallenberger stated.

The Back Bay Landing project is a planned waterfront development at Coast Highway and Bayside Drive. The project’s boating, commercial and residential elements would be adjacent to Back Bay Landing’s mobile home park, Bayside Village. Plans also include a new bayfront walkway connecting boaters, residents and visitors to the Newport Dunes recreational area. The Pearson’s Port floating seafood market will also be retained.

Commissioners, city officials and Back Bay Landing representatives agreed to remove a 65-foot view tower from plans and study the potential impacts of erosion and sea-level rise as part of a shoreline management plan. 

“From the beginning we wanted this project to be a win for all the stakeholders – residents, the city, the environmental community and the Coastal Commission,” said Michael Gelfand, the project’s developer. “The Back Bay Landing plan has undergone many revisions and modifications as a result of ongoing discussions with the interested parties. We believe the land-use plan amendment … addressed the Coastal Commission’s concerns.”

Gelfand told The Log, in an interview prior to the Dec. 10 Coastal Commission hearing, Back Bay Landing is currently being underutilized and the revitalization plans would maximize boater- and visitor-serving uses.

Terra Vista Management, the real estate firm managing the mobile home park and marina at Back Bay Landing, now has the green light to move forward with its redevelopment plans.

If realized the redeveloped waterfront project will give boaters and local residents access to new restaurants, retail ships, public plazas, a bayfront promenade, and enclosed dry stack boat storage for up to 140-boats. Waterside designs are still being developed but a small number of boat slips and a launch ramp might be built.

Selich said Back Bay Landing currently offers minimal services, such as a kayak rental and the floating seafood market.

“The proposed amendment language shows the future mixed-use provides a high quality coastal dependent and marine-serving destination adjacent to the bay, above and beyond what might be achieved with the current land-use designation,” Selich said. “Much needed boat storage and a boat launch is required on the site.”

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