By Grace Leung, City Manager of Newport Beach
Although there are encouraging signs that the surge in COVID-19 cases may be slowing, the number of cases remains high. As a result, we will extend the current city facility closures for an additional two weeks, through Friday, January 28.
Our top priority is to maintain staff so that services and service levels to the community continue during this time. All services will continue, with some sub-modified operations.
City Hall will remain temporarily closed to the public, with some in-person services available online and by phone only. Our permit counters continue to serve customers through drop-off bins placed outside of City Hall. Municipal libraries are open, but no in-person programs will take place at libraries until further notice. Bill payments and other revenue transactions are done online and over the phone. Recreational classes continue as planned; community centers are for program participants only.
We are carefully monitoring the COVID Omicron outbreak in consultation with Hoag Hospital and county health officials, and will adjust as necessary. If we can safely reopen the facilities before January 28, we will.
Council approves new waste and recycling contract
Last week, the city council approved a new eight-year waste collection and recycling contract that will meet new state mandates, including organic waste recycling.
Agreement with City Trash and Recycling Contractor, CR&R Environmental Services, Updates Newport Beach’s Residential Trash and Recycling Program to Respond to State Law Changes Going into Effect January 1st.
The new program will use three separate carts: one for solid waste, one for mixed recyclables and a third for recycling organic waste, which includes food waste and landscaping waste.
Starting in February, residents will begin receiving new green-top recycling containers for organic waste, an optional two-gallon bucket for kitchen scraps, and educational materials on how to properly recycle.
The contract includes provisions for new collection trucks with anti-collision safety technology. Residents’ bills will not increase under the new contract, as the majority of recycling costs are paid from the City’s general fund.
For more information on the new program, visit www.newportbeachca.gov/recycle.
Cases of COVID-19 in Newport Beach
As of January 13, the cumulative total number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 7,868, an increase of 1,105 cases since January 6. The total number of cases in Orange County as of January 13 was 422,418, an increase of 53,986 cases since January 6. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of January 13 was 314,541. These numbers are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
Orange County’s Latest COVID-19 Safety Recommendations
Orange County health officials strongly recommend the following steps to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 as cases of Omicron variants remain high.
- Get tested 24 hours before and 3-5 days after gathering or travel.
- Home and self-collected COVID-19 test kits are available free of charge to people who work or live in Orange County, and can be ordered online at ochealthinfo.com/covidtest.
- An email address is required for each person requesting a test kit.
- Each kit comes with a prepaid return shipping label and results are provided within 24-48 hours of receipt of sample.
People without symptoms, or who have mild symptoms and are at low risk of serious illness, should not go to the hospital or emergency room to get tested. Hospitals focus on people who are sick and in need of urgent care. Rapid tests are currently rare across the country; people who need faster test results are encouraged to check with their healthcare provider or local retail pharmacy for the availability of rapid tests.
Follow California’s mask mandate (extended through Feb. 15):
Follow COVID-19 safety precautions:
- Limit or avoid large gatherings, especially indoors
- Keep a safe distance from other people who may not be vaccinated
- Wash and sanitize your hands often and thoroughly
- Ensure good ventilation by keeping doors and windows open
- Regularly self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19; and
- Stay home if you are sick
Get vaccinated and boost:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued the following recommendations for administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine:
- As a booster dose in people aged 12 to 17 years
- As a booster dose 5 months after the primary vaccination, for people aged 12 and over
- As an additional third primary dose for moderately or severely immunocompromised children aged 5 to 11 years, 28 days after their second dose
The recommendations apply only to the Pfizer vaccine, not to Moderna or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines.
Vaccines continue to be widely available throughout Orange County for walk-in, same-day, and future appointments. People who are not yet vaccinated or boosted against COVID-19, or who are eligible for a third dose (due to immunosuppressed conditions) are encouraged to visit a local pharmacy or healthcare provider, or connect online to www.Vaccines.gov, www.MyTurn.ca.gov Where www.Othena.com, to schedule a vaccination appointment.
For more information on COVID-19 information and resources, including case counts, vaccination, and testing in Orange County, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/covid.
Harbor Commission reviews assessment of shore mooring rates
The city’s Harbor Commission received and reviewed an assessment report on shore berth permit fees this week. No action was taken and the Commission decided to investigate the matter further and invite further public comment.
Fair market rates for the use of public wetlands within the city’s jurisdiction, which includes the Port of Newport, are reassessed every five years. In August 2021, as required by law, the City conducted a competitive selection process for a qualified assessor to determine the fair market rate for shore berth permits. Previously, shore mooring rates were calculated as a percentage of offshore mooring rates. In this assessment, shore mooring rates were assessed separately, as the purpose and use of shore moorings has evolved over time. The surveyor’s report found that current shore mooring fees are below fair market rates and recommended an increase in rates.
After further review and public comment, the Harbor Commission will formulate and adopt a recommendation on appropriate rates for shore berth permits. Any recommendations from the Harbor Commission on rate changes would be submitted to City Council for a final decision.
Cliff Drive clubhouse rehabilitation underway
Work has begun to improve the Community Hall at Cliff Drive Park. This facility, also known as the “Boy Scout House”, is over 50 years old and needs updating to address maintenance needs and operational shortcomings. The project will replace rotting wood along the exterior of the building, reconfigure the sidewalks to meet ADA access code requirements, change light fixtures, replace the HVAC, and add much-needed insulation to the building. The immediate landscape area around the building will be improved. The project is expected to be completed in early March.
We have recently seen an increase in the number of homeless people in the city, due to the high demand for shelter places during the winter months. Our homeless coordinator, police liaison, and contractor, City Net, work diligently to find shelter for homeless people and match them with appropriate local, county, and state resources. In the coming weeks, we will launch our partnership with Be Well OC, a mobile mental health service, which will help reduce homelessness by providing treatment and offering links to long-term care.
- 19 people who were homeless in Newport Beach are now housed in the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter.
- City Net enrolled three people in its services and carried out housing assessments with them.
- City Net completed housing paperwork for two individuals and one family who secured housing opportunities through the county’s Coordinated Entry Care System. The Coordinated Entry System matches people with permanent housing options based on their needs and income.
- City Net completed an application with a client to have his birth certificate certified as identification for housing navigation.
- City Net ordered a Social Security award letter for a woman associated with an emergency housing bond to complete her paperwork.
To donate to those living homeless in Newport Beach, please visit our Good Giving Program webpage at https://newportbeachca.gov/trending/community-issues/homelessness/how-you-can-help.