SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT
It has been my distinct honor and pleasure to represent the 1st District on the Newport Beach City Council these past four years. The opportunity to meet and talk with the great residents of our great city, and to have an impact on maintaining and improving our wonderful quality of life, has been a great gift in my life.
Of course, politics being what it is, there’s also been criticism, confrontation and sometimes-heated debate. This is all part of the process and I am fine with it. I am a big believer in everybody getting to air their views, because that leads to better decisions.
What I’m not fine with is people using gross distortions and lies to stir up anger and fear to get themselves elected. So I have to call out my opponent on this score.
Mike Glenn has been passing out a flier and other materials with a breathtaking array of falsehoods intended to incite anger and mistrust, which he thinks will work to his benefit.
Many of his distortions are variations on a basic theme: That I, personally, took actions that amount to backroom sweetheart deals or sellouts, when in fact they were actions by the entire City Council, often unanimous or near-unanimous, taken after weeks or months of staff study, public hearings and input, and open Council discussion and voting.
Others are just clumsy and untrue attempts to push voters’ buttons. He says I raised taxes. Neither I nor the City Council have voted to raise any tax. He says I increased the city’s debt. Neither I nor the City Council have voted any action to raise our debt. He says I attack property rights. I have consistently supported property rights for residents and business owners.
I respect honest disagreement, which we’ve been hearing from other candidates this year. And occasionally people go overboard in an election year and that’s somewhat understandable. But consistently dishonest distortions and outright lies right across the board really should be called out. They have no place in our great city’s politics. Please reject Mr. Glenn’s attempts to play you when you vote Nov. 6.
November 2, 2018
SEPARATING FACT FROM FANTASY
Sometimes in an election it is difficult to separate fact from fantasy. Out of fairness to candidates challenging incumbents, if they are novices unfamiliar with the workings of City government, it is easy to misunderstand how complex decisions are reached. While we’d each like to take credit for every positive accomplishment the City makes, the reality is more complicated. For any significant development or policy, it takes a minimum of four Council persons to approve a measure. So you can’t really say that “so and so did this, or didn’t do that.” Whatever the decision, and whoever initiated a particular measure, a majority of the Council had to agree.
Following are some questions that have been raised during the past few weeks concerning Council actions and my record in particular. I hope that having the FACTS will be helpful to you.
Has the city raised taxes on Newport Beach residents since you’ve been on the Council?
Fact: No. First of all, the vast majority of taxes you pay are not controlled in any way by the City Council. Income, property, gas and sales taxes are all set by the federal, state or county governments. The city government has absolutely no say in any of these.
Of course, this being an election year, some challengers end up making wild statements, either through carelessness or because they haven’t done their homework. A small parking meter rate increase in a limited area and the deal to have a developer pay for the street, sewer and water line construction associated with its new project have both been cited with horror by some as “tax increases.”
The parking meter money – which is paid mostly by visitors rather than city residents – is to help fund a private-public initiative to improve sidewalks and landscaping in the Balboa Village commercial area. It applies only to meters in one parking lot. It was requested and fully supported by the business community.
The Newport airport area developer elected the option of creating a special assessment district for future homeowners in that development to pay for the city-built roads and sewer and water lines that will serve the new homes. This method of paying for the public improvements is specifically allowed in state law and is used throughout California and was authorized by the prior council in 2014. The alternative for the developer would be to add the costs directly into the purchase price of the homes, which would result in higher property taxes for the new homeowners and cost them more in the long run.
What happened with the “dock tax”?
Fact: First, it’s a state-mandated fee, not a “tax.” Before the 2014 election, the prior City Council voted to sharply raise the fee the city administers for private docks to [that] encroach on the public tidelands (i.e. the waters of Newport Harbor). After I and three of my fellow council members were elected in 2014, we took another look at the issue, decided the prior council had gone too far, and dialed the fee back. It is important to understand the City is obligated by the State to collect tidelands money for harbor maintenance.
What is happening with the city’s debt?
Fact: When I became a council member after the 2014 election, the city’s debt was skyrocketing, primarily because of vastly over-generous pension arrangements included in city employee contracts.
Since 2014, the City Council has continued and accelerated efforts to rein in the rate of growth of the debt, with new contracts having employees pay an increased share of their pensions. The Council also has aggressively increased our payments to reduce our “unfunded pension balance,” or the difference between the funds currently in the city’s pension account and what it is projected to pay out in pensions over the next 40 years.
Because of these efforts and the city’s overall excellent fiscal management, Newport Beach is one of a small handful of California cities with the highest AAA debt ratings from the big three national rating services.
What is the status of the Balboa Theatre?
Fact: After a long process that was marked by intense public interest and input and city transparency, the Balboa Village Theatre was sold to a private group for renovation into a modern entertainment venue while retaining the iconic architectural character of the Theater. Other potential buyers of the site offered more, but wanted to change the zoning on the site from community use (an entertainment venue) to mixed-use residential. The Council agreed with the many residents of the Peninsula, and indeed the entire city, who urged that the community use be retained on the venerable site.
The new owner is now developing specific plans for the site’s renovation and will be bringing those before the city for approval.
What is the story of the Balboa Trolley?
Fact: In response to repeated suggestions from the local business community, the city in 2015 began studying what a possible trolley service for the Balboa Peninsula might look like. During the same period, a private on-demand car service then in operation approached the city about a possible subsidy, as they were not able to make their model of an on-demand point-to-point service driven by ad revenue work on its own.
The city staff ended up recommending a fixed-route scheduled service, in part because it would not be in direct competition with the existing struggling private service and in part because it was seen as most cost-effective in terms of the city’s goal of reducing traffic and parking pressures on the Peninsula because of the millions of visitors who visit our beaches. (The city’s plan actually cost less than the subsidy requested by the private service.)
The Balboa Trolley began service in the summer of 2017 and has proved very popular with visitors, residents and businesses.
What was your position on Measure Y in 2014?
Fact: My personal opinion was that Measure Y was on balance a good idea for the city, and I voted for it, but it was not a priority for me. During the campaign, I expressed my opinion if asked, but I did not proactively campaign for it nor contribute to the campaign. I respect the will of the people.
Why did the new fire station site on the Peninsula cost more than the appraised value?
Fact: The former McDonald’s site at 28th Street and Balboa Boulevard was appraised at $3.5 million and purchased for $4 million. The reason it sold for more than appraisal was that the property had a deed restriction on the property prohibiting a food service establishment which reduced its market value.
The Fire Department reported that the site would be far superior to the current antiquated 32nd Street site, with much easier entry and exit, sufficient space for a modern facility, space for employee parking and virtually identical response times. The estimated project cost for rebuilding on the current site was $8.6 million plus lease costs for re-locating the fire station during construction estimated an additional $600,000. The estimate for a far more adequate facility on the new site is $9.2 million – approximately the same cost for an improved site.
The entire Council agreed with the Fire Department that the McDonald’s site is a better long-term deal for the city.
Thank you for your support. I will continue to be an advocate for transparency and to restore civility and respect within our city government.