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More Back Bay hijinks

Strangely, you can't to this point by car. Maybe the Newport Beach City Council can fix this oversight?
Strangely, you can't to this point by car. Maybe the Newport Beach City Council can fix this oversight?

Aside from stellar scenery and maybe the highest per-capita number of fine luxury automobiles, Newport Beach is also famous for an annual weeklong roast "honoring" the last collegian drafted by the National Football League. Or, as the winner is officially dubbed, "Mr. Irrelevant."

It's quite a party. The honoree and his family…

…are invited to spend a week in Newport Beach, California, where they enjoy a golf tournament, a regatta, a roast giving advice to the new draftee, and a ceremony awarding him the Lowsman Trophy. The trophy mimics the Heisman, but depicts a player fumbling a football.

Apparently elements of the Newport Beach City Council have borrowed the idea, and in a far less ingenuous way.

If you've been following the drama over who should be able to use Back Bay Drive, which was initiated by a letter to the Council from the Newport Bay Conservancy, you're aware that a Citizen's sub committee tied to the Newport Beach Bicycle Master Plan has been tasked with providing a reasoned response to the Conservancy's Four Options. The sub committee and a host of vounteers have had meetings, spent a morning on Back Bay Drive assessing who does what to whom on a busy Saturday before Easter, and is meeting tomorrow night (Wednesday, April 30) at the Newport Beach city center to finalize a draft of recommendations for presentation to the elected officials and other members of the Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee.

So far the members of the sub committee have been pretty coy about what they plan to recommend, but sources preferring to remain anonymous have hinted that there may be some accord with some of what the Conservancy is advancing. Specifically, there just might be common ground to make Back Bay Drive a Mixed Use Trail, and mixed-use trails are apparently closed to cars and motorized traffic.

But, then again, this is speculation, as the sub committee has not met yet or advanced their findings. And a recent development appears to make their research and finding, well, to personify it, "Mr. Irrelevant."

On Tuesday, April 29, Newport Beach City Councilman and Bicycle Master Plan Committee Chair Mr. Tony Petros published an op-ed piece in the Daily Pilot, stating:

Our Bicycle Master Plan Committee recently created a working group to investigate Back Bay Drive and recommend ways to improve safety. We look forward to the results of that review.

Back Bay Drive has many users, including motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, bird-watchers and joggers. All share a road that is limited in size. Caution and respect are mandatory here.

The Upper Newport Bay belongs to all of us and should be enjoyed regardless of how a person gets there. For many residents and visitors, an automobile is the only way to access Back Bay Drive.

The city will be reviewing all possible safety improvements for all modes of travel. However, no one should be denied the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the Upper Bay without overwhelming evidence that others would be harmed by their presence.

In my read of the entire piece (which deserves a careful reading), I would conclude that in military terms Mr. Petros has fired a pre-emptive nuclear response. It's curious why he would do so. Given that all he had to do was accept the findings and then forget where he put them, this sure seems like he's thumbing his nose at the problem while, to quote the venerable Raymond Chandler, "…emitting the succulent raspberry."

Also, is "access to Back Bay Drive" necessarily equate to access to the Back Bay? You can't drive everywhere in Yosemite, right? But you can access trails from points where you park.

To say that the sub committee members were stunned is a gross understatement. As an interested party familiar with the process pointedly observed:

For an elected official to make up his mind before a public hearing presenting evidence on the topic…[and] to overlook the efforts of a specially designated subcommittee of appointed officials, smacks of disrespect and poor leadership.

The community deserves better!

We all deserve better. The process of making the Back Bay a better and safer places does too.

Oh...speaking of irrelevant. Since Mr. Petros has so perfectly "fumbled the football" can we nominate him for the Lowsman Trophy?

He has my vote. Not that a vote matters.

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