NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA: A plan to transform a portion of the Balboa peninsula into a yacht marina and park has received the go-ahead, but the approval will not allow a 71′ lighthouse planned as the focal point.
The California Coastal Commission, which met in Huntington Beach, CA voted 6-6 to deny a request to remove a restriction on the project’s proposed lighthouse tower. Commission staff opposed the height of the tower, saying it was excessive and out of character for the surrounding area.
Commissioner Mark Stone said that allowing the tower to exceed height limitations would set a precedent for other projects. Other commission members said the lighthouse tower could serve as a landmark for sailors to find the marina.
“They need a landmark. I think this building will provide that,” Commissioner William Burke said.
The park features with a public marina with 23 visitor vessel slots for yachts and boats to dock in, a new 11,000-square-foot community center, a 13,000-square-foot sailing center, a restroom with a 35′ lighthouse aesthetic feature and park space. The site is located on a 10.4 acre portion of land on the bay side of the peninsula between 19th and 15th streets.
The park will also include 157 parking spaces and increased access to a portion of the bay, officials said. Councilman Michael Henn said the city is willing to spend close to $25 million on the project, and has already spent $13 million on water-quality-related aspects of the project.
The project will be built on a site now occupied by 57 mobile homes. The city and the residents have agreed on a settlement, so the homes can be removed when the project gets its final approval, officials said.
Many residents spoke out in favor of the project, including some residents of the mobile home park. Other residents expressed concerns that the project would increase traffic and slow emergency response times.
Don Schmitz, development consultant for the city, said there will have to be more discussions as to how the city wants to handle the commission’s denial of the lighthouse tower. The city can amend its Local Coastal Program, which includes a 35′ height limitation for structures in the proposed area.
Henn said he supports the tower. “We are confident that (the tower) is in complete character with our community,” he told the commission.
Additionally, the city had made plans to spend $650,000 to underground 12 utility poles and to remove a 55-foot tsunami warning siren that would be incorporated into the proposed tower.
“We are taking down all the other visual impediments,” Schmitz told the commission.
Commission staff said they were unaware of the plan to remove the tsunami warning tower and place it on the proposed tower, which could result in an even taller structure, they said. Another item on the Coastal Commissions agenda was the proposed Sunset Ridge Park project, which was postponed pending further talks on the item.
SOURCE: JOSH FRANCIS / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER