The Newport City Council Tuesday evening paid a pretty penny to better secure City Hall from being accidentally left unlocked at night. It’s not so much that city staff was leaving the doors unlocked at the end of the day. It was citizen groups that used City Hall and thought the doors were locked when they left. But they weren’t.
So the council Tuesday night ordered new doors and locks for the building. The $75,000 expenditure ensures that the doors are programmed to lock after the work day, and if there are any special events at City Hall after 5 or 6pm, the group holding the event has a one time passcode card that ensures they’re locked when the event is over. The new doors and locks are now on order.
City Council to pay closer attention to who gets on certain study committees
The City Council recently began trying to get their hands around the long festering issue of vacation rentals creating problems in various Newport neighborhoods. For a long time neighbors have complained about vacation rental owners, or their management companies, not being good neighbors themselves. Trash, noise and illegal parking always seems to top the list with either no one to call to lodge a complaint or that the complaints fell on deaf ears.
The council recently gave discretion to the city Planning Commission to appoint an “advisory committee,” made up of city citizens, to study the problems, make recommendations on how to handle them and to develop possible penalties for property owners or management companies if their response to complains is inadequate.
As it turned out the Planning Commission picked lawyers, vacation rental owners and management firms to sit on the advisory committee as well as a few “neutral” parties. Many neighbors and a number of council members felt that the membership was rather lopsided, some councilors were chagrined that complaints came in to City Hall that the foxes were guarding the henhouse.
The point wasn’t lost on the council. In their defense, the council left it up to the Planning Commission to select a variety of citizen viewpoints. But it obviously backfired. At least it appeared that it backfired.
As a result the council strongly recommended to the Planning Commission that they add three more members to the advisory committee that aren’t related to the VRD industry – either directly or indirectly. And the Planning Commission complied by appointing just those kinds of citizens.
Although “handing off” such a volatile issue to a mere “citizens committee” seemed to some as taking the heat off the council, the council maintains that they wanted good information and real comments from solid citizens.
As the discussion progressed, the council wound up approving a different tactic for creating future “advisory committees” – especially on hot-button issues. The council reserved the right to mandate specific criteria for those selected – that those most affected by a rule change be appointed to the committee, but also that “neutral” citizens are also well represented.
In the long reach of the public hearing process, by the time the advisory committee has made their findings and recommendations to the Planning Commission, and the Planning Commission settles on their recommendations to the City Council, the issue will have been honed and clarified so that the Council can hold a final public hearing and then make a thoroughly vetted decision.
Too much vegetation at some intersections dangerously blocks drivers’ view
Central Coast resident Cyndi Karp touched on a sore spot Tuesday night in front of the City Council. She said there are many intersections around Newport that have hedges, bushes or trees right up against the corner, making it very difficult to see oncoming traffic. She told the council that she’s come very close to being T-boned twice at the intersection of 15th and Nye because drivers stopped on 15th at the stop sign have to actually creep into the intersection to see if any traffic is coming.
The council sympathized with Ms. Karp and said they’ll have the public works department take a serious look at that intersection and report back to the council. Karp reiterated that there are many such intersections in Newport, as well as in other towns around Lincoln County, that need a hair cut.
Many trees, hedges and other obstructions around Lincoln County are, by definition, in the public right of way which extends a number of feet beyond the edge of the pavement. Therefore, those obstacles are trespassing on public land.