CELEBRATING OVER FORTY YEARS OF RESPONSIBLE COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP
SPON’S NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENTS INCLUDE:
- The first SPON newsletter was published, announcing the creation of SPON and inviting membership. Later, SPON hand delivered quarterly newsletters to 20,000 residents.
- SPON began actively supporting the Friends of the Newport Coast to save the coast between Newport and Laguna from development.
1975 SPON organized Bay Beautiful Week, and the first clean-up campaign was held.
1976 Requested that the City form the Citizen’s Advisory Harbor Water Quality Committee.
- Began gathering signatures for a Traffic Phasing Initiative
- The City enacted a Traffic Phasing Ordinance before it appeared on the ballot
- A Park Ordinance was established by Dr. Gene Atherton. It requires 5 acres of park per thousand new residents
1980 SPON became an intervener in the City’s airport lawsuit against the OC’s Master Plan.
- SPON spun off the Airport Working Group to focus on a single cause: to contain the growth of the airport
- Initiated a referendum to repeal expansion plans for Newport Center. The City Council subsequently repealed the plan because a negative vote was imminent
1984 To prevent bay contamination, SPON worked to require holding tanks on all boats with heads, increase the number of pump-out stations in the harbor, require onshore bathrooms for all marinas, limit live-aboards on moorings, and educate the public on pollution prevention
1985 SPON, the City, the County, and Airport Working Group entered into a Settlement Agreement that resolved litigation related to JWA. The agreement will expire in 2015
- Initiated a second referendum to repeal expansion of Newport Center and surrounding areas. The matter was put on the ballot and the repeal was upheld by the voters.
- Jack and Nancy Skinner hiked San Diego Creek from the Bay to the headwaters to search for the source of nitrates that were causing huge algae blooms. They discovered and reported that large nurseries were draining fertilizer into the creek. Nurseries then began to recycle their runoff. A win for both the nurseries and the Bay.
- SPON sued the City for their vote to expand Newport Center. The Irvine Company negotiated with SPON and the result was the dedication of 80 acres of the Upper Bay that now surrounds the Muth Interpretive Center.
- Began a campaign to preserve Castaways, Newporter North and Bayview Landing as open space. Gathered enough signatures to place Measure A on the ballot.
- Formed Touch of Green Committee to save Cliff Drive Park and the Avon St. wetlands.
- Opposed the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor through pristine open space.
- SPON formed the Newport Conservancy to to obtain and preserve open space.
- Organized “A Walk on the Wild Side” in an effort to protect and preserve Castaways and Newporter North as open space.
1993 Measure A, SPON’s initiative to purchase Castaways, Newporter North, and Bayview Landing qualifies for the ballot. Although it was a close vote, the measure failed to receive a needed 2/3 majority. However, the Irvine Company set aside Castaways Park and gave it to the City in exchange for development rights.
1998 SPON supported Defend the Bay’s opposition to the Irvine Ranch Water District’s plan to release treated wastewater into Newport Bay.
- SPON began organized opposition to a hotel at Newport Dunes because of added traffic.
- Joined the Friends of the Foothills in opposition to a new toll road through open space.
- Signature gathering was begun to place the Greenlight Traffic Initiative on the ballot.
- Greenlight won the election and the traffic ordinance was adopted by the city.
- SPON began actively supporting the Banning Ranch Conservancy’s fight to preserve the ranch as open space.
- AirFair PAC formed to bring together a broad base of citizens focused on JWA.
- Supported the use of native vegetation in Upper Newport Bay View Park.
- Fought against the removal of the Ficus trees on Main Street, Balboa.
2004 Gathered signatures to oppose Measure L, which would have approved a hotel at Marina Park. The measure was defeated and an aquatic park was born.
- Supported the opposition to Aerie, a large condominium project in Corona del Mar.
- Opposed the building of the Poseidon Desalinization Plant in Huntington Beach.
- The Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks began the Green Vision Project, a coalition of ten Orange County environmental groups to preserve open space.
2006 Made significant comments to the Coastal Commission on our Local Coastal Plan.
2009 Jan’s Wildflower Meadow was planted to honor the memory of Dr. Jan Vandersloot.
- SPON, the City, and AWG began negotiations to extend the airport settlement agreement which expires in 2015.
- SPONsored a boat and entered the annual Duffy Boat Scavenger Hunt to raise funds for the Environmental Nature Center.
- Asked questions and commented on a presentation from the developers of the proposed Back Bay Landing project.
- SPON, the City, and AWG successfully completed negotiations to extend the airport settlement agreement which will now expire in 2030.
- Successfully campaigned to defeat, by a 70/30 margin, Measure Y — which would have allowed over one million square feet of new office, retail, commercial and high-density residential development in the Newport Center and Airport areas, adding more than 9,000 average daily trips by car in areas already suffering from traffic congestion. The campaign was supported by a new political action committee, “Newport Votes NO,” now known as “Line in the Sand” (LITS).
- Line in the Sand Political Action Committee (LITS) – SPON worked to inform the public of the activities of this independent political action committee working to maintain and improve our City’s residential and environmental quality. SPON (Stop Polluting Our Newport) itself remains a 501(c)(3) tax exempt educational organization.
- Back Bay Landing – SPON advocated for continued “Marine Commercial” use of this back bay shoreline, rather than the proposed large residential development that would block views of the Bay from PCH. The project is eventually approved, but only after significant modification.
- Banning Ranch – SPON provided two matching grants to help inform the public about preserving this last open space along the Orange County coast. The California Coastal Commission ultimately rejects even a scaled-down version of the development previously approved by the City Council.
- 150 Newport Center Drive – Formerly called “Newport Villas.” SPON advocated reducing the size of this development that was proposed to replace the car wash at Newport Center. As a “planned community,” it would have been permitted to exceed guidelines set down in our City’s General Plan. The proposal was ultimately withdrawn by the applicant.
- Televising Planning Commission meetings – After refusal by the City Council to record and televise Planning Commission meetings, SPON took it upon itself, at SPON’s expense, to video record each meeting and post it on the internet.
- Video Recording public meetings – SPON also took it upon itself to create and post video recordings of other important quality of life related meetings that the City does not otherwise record, starting with a series of Mariners Mile Revitalization workshops.
- Residences at Newport Place – SPON commented on the environmental assessment for this proposal to replace a shopping center with high density housing. The proposal is ultimately rejected by the City Council.
- AutoNation – SPON supportsed Newport Heights and Bayshores residents’ efforts to defeat a proposal for a massive new, oversize auto dealership cutting into the bluffs along Mariners Mile.
- Museum House Tower – SPON commented strongly against a proposal for a 295 foot tall residential tower to replace the current one story Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Center/Fashion Island. Following initial Council approval, LITS picked up the ball leading a successful referendum (petition) drive against it.
- Televising Planning Commission meetings – In February, after more than a year of SPON efforts and reminders, the City Council finally conceded the value of keeping a publicly accessible video archive of Planning Commission meetings, and voted unanimously to take over the responsibility of recording and posting them.
- Museum Tower approvals rescinded – At its February meetings, in response to the LITS referendum petition, the City Council rescinded its earlier approvals of the Museum House Tower.
- Koll Center Residences – SPON commented on the Environmental Impact Report being prepared for this 260-unit high-rise residential condominium project proposed to replace surface level parking in an Airport Area office complex.
- Spirit of Newport Beach – SPON completed a contest, open to all, to capture the spirit of Newport Beach in concise words and images.
- Mariners Mile Revitalization – The City shelved an effort to create a new plan for Mariners Mile after SPON and other citizens/business people’s groups recommended it be deferred until a more comprehensive update of the entire General Plan can be considered.
- General Plan Update – SPON recommended a review of the City’s General Plan and formed its own General Plan Advisory Committee of interested citizens volunteering to study the existing plan and make recommendations.
- Community Engagement – SPON spearheaded public information campaigns highlighting potential projects that could violate the spirit or guidelines of our existing General Plan, including:
- Newport Beach Tennis Club
- Newport Crossings
- Koll Center Residences luxury high-rise condo towers
- Big-box single-family homes in Corona del Mar Village
- Environmental Engagement – SPON monitored and responded to several environmentally sensitive projects, including:
- Management Plan for the Western Snowy Plover
- Renovation Plan for lower Big Canyon
- General Plan Update - SPON’s General Plan Advisory Committee scheduled numerous meetings with planning experts and leaders from other Orange County cities to review current growth management issues and tools to achieve a more thoughtful planning process. SPON also successfully advocates for resident appointments to the city’s General Plan Update Steering Committee to ensure a balance of viewpoints and experience.
- John Wayne Airport – SPON participated in hearings regarding JWA’s General Aviation Improvement Project (GAIP) which could potentially allow for an increase in private jet services and businesses which fall outside our existing Settlement Agreement.
- Member/Supporter Outreach: SPON maintained a robust website, posted frequently to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and sent timely, topical email newsletters. Our website readership grew from 5,900 visitors in 2019 to over 7,200 visitors in 2019. Our email subscribers grew from 1,611 in 2018 to nearly 1,800 by end of 2019. And SPON received an “ALL STAR AWARD” from Constant Contact because we have an exceptional “readership” record compared to other non-profit organizations (40% vs. 20% industry average).
- General Plan Update – SPON members actively participated in the City of Newport Beach General Plan Steering Committee meetings and in its Community Outreach Workshops.
- John Wayne Airport – SPON participated as a member of the City of Newport Beach’s Aviation Committee, and continued to support AirFair in ensuring that all terms of the Settlement Agreement are being met. It also monitored the ongoing General Aviation Improvement Program at the airport.
- 1113 Kings Road – SPON (unsuccessfully) appealed to the City Council the Planning Commission’s approval of a massive bluff-face residence fronting Mariners Mile.
- Orange County Parks/Sheriff’s Department Harbor Facility – SPON members investigated alleged reduced public access at the OC Parks/Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol Facility in the City of Newport Beach.
- RHNA Resolution – SPON prepared a resolution sent to the City of Newport Beach City Council endorsed by 439 Newport Beach residents objecting to the Southern California Association of Government’s (SCAG) Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) revised allocation methodology authorizing 4832 units in Newport Beach.
- General Plan Update – SPON members actively participated in the City of Newport Beach’s General Plan Update including its Housing Element Update Advisory Committee meetings and in its Community Outreach Workshops.
- John Wayne Airport – SPON participated as a member of the City of Newport Beach’s Aviation Committee to track airport operations to ensure that all terms of the Settlement Agreement are being met; also actively lobbied the County of Orange regarding the ongoing General Aviation Improvement Program at the airport.
- Ensign Middle School Tree Removal – SPON sought an injunction to pause the removal of mature, landmark trees on School District property along Cliff Drive until a more adequate environmental review could be conducted. Unfortunately, the District removed the trees before the court could act.
- Private Encroachments – SPON voiced support to the California Coastal Commission for removal of illegal private encroachments on Balboa Peninsula public beaches.
- Residential Design Standards – SPON alerted the public to a Planning Commission hearing to review residential design standards involving 3rd floor massing and setbacks. The most controversial item was the proposed application of R-1 standards to single-family homes when they are built in areas with multi-family zoning.
- Committees – In an effort to improve effective response to emerging issues, the SPON Board has begun forming committees to make recommendations in specific areas. The first was a Policy Committee to suggest SPON policy positions in areas of ongoing concern.
- COVID-19 – For the first time in its 46-year history, SPON had to postpone its annual meeting due to state orders prohibiting public gatherings during the global pandemic.
2021 and Beyond
SPON will continue to monitor and inform the public about various Newport Beach projects and issues including: Banning Ranch, General Plan Updates, Bayside Family Resort Hotel, Newport Village (Mariners Mile Project), Orange County Parks/Sheriff’s Department Harbor Facility, John Wayne Airport General Aviation Improvement Program and the Local Coastal Program Amendments by the City of Newport Beach.
- Committees – The SPON Board added Aviation and Community Outreach Committees.