Newport Beach Project Overview
CNU-CA ANNUAL BY-DESIGN CHARRETTE
The CNU-CA hosts an annual CNU-By-Design charrette program that provides educational and membership outreach opportunities statewide. The Charrette is designed to advise a city that requests our assistance in visualizing the opportunities that CNU’s principles and processes provide a sponsor city. Our board’s selection of the annual charrette project is based upon the request’s relevance to CNU initiatives and expertise and the potential to have a significant positive impact. The Project fits the following Congress for the New Urbanism national initiatives:
1. Highways to Boulevards (http://www.cnu.org/highways)
2. Sprawl Retrofit (http://ww.cnu.org/sprawlretrofit)
All analyses are high-level, based on rule of thumb ranges of past research, and we recommend that a full traffic study by a qualified firm should be commissioned to work out the details before the physical changes are implemented.
Our team was tasked with the following deliverables:
1. A schematic-level Master Plan and illustrative graphics;
2. A Highways-to-Boulevards retrofit with a “complete streets” approach
to connectivity and place-making;
3. Street plans and sections for key corridors and intersections;
4. Schematic plans and elevations for key infill sites;
5. Resource conservation/access strategies and measures
6. Implementation strategies with catalytic potential.
MARINERS’ MILE STUDY AREA
The study area was the 1.3-mile-long Mariners’ Mile section of Pacific Coast Highway (“Coast Highway”) in the City of Newport Beach. The Charrette’s focus was to reframe the dialog, manage expectations, and educate the citizens, local stakeholders, and the City on the issues and possible solutions related to improving the planning area.
The scope is organized by a three-step process beginning with a 3-month PreCharrette data/information gathering phase, the comprehensive 5-day Charrette event phase, and the approximately 2-month Post-Charrette final report delivery phase. Engagement consisted of pre-charrette and charrette stakeholder Education and Dialog events. This report concludes the process by providing the City and the public with CNU-CA’s final recommendations.
In collaboration with the city’s Community Development Department, our team was asked to share our professional new urbanist views on how to improve Mariners’ Mile. We were asked to balance the functional and safety needs of pedestrians and bicyclist with improved traffic flow. Connecting to the waterfront was of equal importance.
Importantly, we understood that traffic flow improvements ideally should decrease travel times through the area (or at least delay or prevent further increases). We understood that enhancing the pedestrian experience included improvements along Coast Highway that might cause increased travel times through the area as well. So, we focused on how to solve all four issues within a 3-dimensional, interconnected manner. Waterfront access was key to pedestrian experience and to north/south crossing of the Coast Highway safely. Admittedly, this was not an easy task, which is why we were asked to take a look at this important place from our perspective.
What We Heard
Our team met with the following stakeholders prior to and during the public charrette to gather background information, memories and expectations for the area:
• Community Development Staff
• Public Works
• Traffic Engineer
• Planning Commission
• Balboa Bay Resort
• Harbor Commission
• Current and Former City Council Members and Mayors
• Property owners and community leaders
This list reflects what we clearly heard most often with Coast Highway and the harbor being paramount to any discussion. We then understood that we could not separate these issues; solving for one often negatively impacted the other. Our challenge was to create solutions to benefit both.
Our empirical and analytical observations are:
Prior to Charrette
Vehicular and walking tours of the study area in conjunction with multiple meetings with key stakeholders in the City and in the study area by local CNUCA representatives Matt Shannon and Mario Suarez, along with Nori Jabba. The information collected was shared with the team and placed into a pre-charrette report for volunteers’ reference. Importantly, the themes of traffic issues, safety and waterfront access were heard along with memories of a working harbor harbor front contrasting with the current auto dealerships and restaurants. Hopes were high for the identification of a workable, “win-win” solution, but there was some skepticism that this could be accomplished due to the myriad challenges.
What we saw was learned in the following ways: Stakeholder input from individual meetings and pin-up reviews; Review of conditions, constraints, issues and opportunities; Initial ideas and potential solutions; Community input from multiple public event and open charrette opportunities; Development of plan and approach alternatives; Finalization of ideas, alternatives and potential solutions; and City staff participation throughout.