Newport Beach delays sea wall decision

Article Tab: Part of the sea wall surrounding the Balboa Islands. This portion is on the corner of Little Balboa Island at the mouth of the canal that separates it from the larger Balboa Island.
Part of the sea wall surrounding the Balboa Islands. This portion is on the corner of Little Balboa Island at the mouth of the canal that separates it from the larger Balboa Island.
NEWPORT BEACH – A vote on a $1.32 million agreement for design, environmental and permitting work on a proposed sea wall around Balboa Island and its accompanying smaller islands was postponed by the City Council on Tuesday while city leaders await answers to some remaining questions.

The wall, estimated to cost $45 million to $60 million, would replace the more than 70-year-old sea walls that shield the islands from high tide and storm surges. The walls have experienced cracking and deterioration and officials say they are nearing the end of their lives.

"I would ask that when it comes back we have some engineering experts in place," Councilwoman Leslie Daigle said. "Recognizing that my colleagues in the tidelands committee probably have a lot of expertise and are up to speed on all these sea level rise issues, I'm not as familiar with the issues myself."

Councilman Ed Selich, who requested a decision be delayed, said it would be on the agenda again Sept. 11. He also asked Balboa residents, some of whom were at Tuesday's meeting, to forward him any questions they had so he could bring them up in further discussions with staff.

In April 2011, the city commissioned a report that evaluated the condition of the sea walls and the risks of flooding on the islands, according to city officials

The report said the walls needed to be replaced by 2025 and be 9.8 feet high with a design that would allow for an additional 4-foot increase because tide levels are expected to rise 1 foot by 2050.

"In other words, (we would) design and build them as if they were like Lego blocks," City Manager Dave Kiff said Friday.

If the project is approved it would be a long-term project taking anywhere from 20 to 40 years to complete, Kiff said.

On Tuesday the council also:
  • Approved the Banning Ranch development, which would convert one-fourth of a 401-acre property into a 1,375-home residential and commercial project. The plan received a first approval at the previous council meeting.
  • Approved a resolution to continue conformance with the Ralph M. Brown Act. The mandate, which cost the state roughly $96 million, was temporarily suspended in June after budget legislation was passed by the state Legislature. Newport and a host of other Orange County cities have recently reaffirmed their conformance to the act despite the state suspension. The Brown Act guarantees the public's right to attend and participate in local government meetings.
  • Approved a deal with the Newport Beach Fire Management Association that will save the city $15,000. In May, the city approved a contract with the city's firefighters union, saving an estimated $325,000 over the previous contract.
  • Approved a law exempting complimentary hotel rooms from the city's transient occupancy tax and visitors service fee.
  • Approved a school resource officer agreement that would provide two officers for the city's two high schools and two middle schools. The agreement's $180,000 price tag will be split by the city (Police Department budget) and the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.
  • Approved a resolution that will allow the designation of a "city manager pro-tempore" in case of the city manager's temporary absence or disability. The resolution lists this as the line of succession to the city manager in this order: assistant city manager, public works director or municipal operations director, police chief or fire chief, finance director, community development director, human resources director, library director or recreation and senior services director. | By JOSH FRANCIS / FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER