In summary

Since 2013, Newport Beach has permitted 95 very low- and low-income affordable units, and construction of 78 low-income units is expected soon.

By Brad Avery, Newport Beach

Brad Avery is mayor of the city of Newport Beach.

Re “Newport Beach was supposed to build 2 affordable units in 8 years — why so little?”; California Divide, Dec. 28, 2020

It would have been understandable if this article had been aimed at criticizing the state’s allocation of affordable housing units in the Southern California region. But it did not take into account the total amount of affordable housing units actually built in Newport Beach.

Just one project alone – funded by the city – added 12 affordable housing units for homeless veterans and low-income seniors. And that project was one of several that have added new affordable housing units in recent years. 

Since 2013, the city of Newport Beach has approved, and developers constructed, 1,738 new housing units. The city has added 275 new assisted-living units, which provide needed housing for seniors. The city has permitted 95 very low- and low-income affordable units since 2013, and construction of an additional 78 low-income units is expected soon.

The city also approved the conversion of an existing market rate apartment building that created 105 moderate-income units for workforce housing. And Newport Beach recently approved a housing development near the John Wayne Airport that will include a minimum of 16 very-low affordable units.

Aside from these issues, it is impossible to extrapolate the experiences of Newport Beach to the rest of the state, because more than half of Newport Beach falls under the jurisdiction of the California Coastal Commission.

More than 60% of Newport Beach is subject to Coastal Commission oversight, and nearly 400 acres have residential development restrictions because of their proximity to the John Wayne Airport. 

Newport Beach is not averse to new housing construction. As the article noted, Newport Beach approved 1,375 units at Banning Ranch, which was then rejected by the California Coastal Commission. Newport Beach can hardly be faulted for lower housing stock when a state agency strikes down housing approval.

The reason Newport Beach is appealing a regional distribution of housing requirements is that it would add a near-impossible level of development – more than 4,834 units in the next decade – without consideration for Newport Beach’s location in the coastal zone, environmental sensitive areas, limited available land and challenges with developing residential housing near an airport.

Despite our objections, Newport Beach is working toward compliance with the new housing allocation. In December, Newport Beach held several virtual workshops with the community on the future of housing, transportation and mobility, to address this challenge. 

Our city always has been committed to complying with affordable housing laws and will continue to support the housing needs of the community. 

We want to hear from you

Want to submit a guest commentary or reaction to an article we wrote? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact CalMatters with any commentary questions: