Suggested modifications for Back Bay Landing adopted by Newport Beach City Council

NEWPORT BEACH — The bureaucratic shuffle continues for a coastal development project as the Newport Beach City Council unanimously approved a series of suggested modifications for the Back Bay Landing project on April 12.

Modifications to the Back Bay Landing plan were suggested by the California Coastal Commission in December 2015; Newport Beach’s Planning Commission supported the suggested modifications at its March 17 meeting.

Updated plans call for freestanding residential elements and a view tower to be eliminated. Newport Beach must also incorporate measures to protect Back Bay Landing from sea level rise. The project’s architectural theme will also be revised.

Perhaps the most significant modifications were the recommendations to change the residential zoning to a designation prohibiting ground floor residential and requiring the city do away with plans to build a 65-foot tall view tower.

Changing the residential zoning, Newport Beach Senior Planner Jaime Murillo told council members, would prioritize coastal-dependent uses. Any residential units within the new zoning would have to be included as part of a mixed-use project, meaning single-family residences or multi-unit buildings with only housing would not be allowed.

The modified plan would also enhance public coastal access by extending a proposed public bayfront promenade.

Murillo said portions of the Back Bay Landing area are underutilized.

“Ultimately the applicant desires to redevelop the landside portion of the project for future mixed-use and waterfront development that would include [residential units and a boat storage venue],” Murillo said.

The completed Back Bay Landing would also include visitor-serving retail and opportunities to pursue recreational activities.

City staff pointed out the Back Bay Landing project requires two stages of approvals: legislative and site development. Legislative approvals include amendments to the General Plan and Coastal Land Use Plan, while architectural review and permits would be included with site development approvals.

Newport Beach was required to either adopt the Coastal Commissions modifications or submit a new application for redevelopment.

Council member Marshall “Duffy” Duffield recused himself from the Back Bay Landing hearing, citing a potential business relationship caused a conflict of interest.

Final approval from the Coastal Commission, a site development review, and Coastal Development Permit are still required for the project to go forward.

Back Bay Landing is located in Upper Newport Bay, near the intersection of East Coast Highway and Bayside Drive.

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