Newport Beach city officials have embarked on updating laws governing tattoo parlors and short-term rentals, among other topics, in a sweeping effort to bring their municipal code up to date with current standards and to adopt new ones.

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The council, in April, recommended that the Planning Commission also draft changes to the existing laws impacting food and alcohol production in industrial zones and denser developments in town. In a process spanning several months and a few public hearings, the commission will send changes to the laws back to the council for final approval.

Of the four areas for change considered by the council, the modification of laws governing the sale and consumption of food and alcohol proved contentious because a tasting room is already open within an industrial zone.

Here is how and why the city is looking at changing laws in the four areas:

Tattoo Parlors

Recent 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decisions on two cases — Andersen v City of Hermosa Beach and Real v City of Long Beachdeemed tattooing a protected free speech under the First Amendment. Newport Beach aims to update the codes regarding parlor operations and permit request processes.

Recommendations being requested are related to the time, place, and manner of operation. City Attorney Aaron Harp clarified that while this request for modification is mainly to adjust for the new case decisions, “we are taking a comprehensive look” at the current regulations.

The item was unanimously moved for Planning Commission consideration.

Density Bonuses

As California continues to struggle with housing affordability and increasing homelessness, density bonuses are incentives for developers to set aside more units for the low-income population. Such bonuses allow a developer to increase the unit density for a property if a specific percentage of affordable housing units is met. The city is seeking to either update the code to current state guidelines or to create an approval process by which each proposed development is considered with the up-to-date state required minimum percentage of affordable units.

The item was unanimously approved for commission recommendation.

Short-term rentals

According to Seimone Jurjis, the city’s community development director, this item includes deliberating on an imposition “of a cap of short-term lodging up to 1,500, requiring one parking space, more restrictive occupancy standards, and establishing a minimum night stay.” Jurjis estimated that these amendments would likely reach the council in about four to six weeks after receiving approval of both the Planning Commission and Coastal Advisory Committee.

The item was unanimously moved for Planning Commission consideration.

The city has previously re-formed its ad-hoc committee to further consider changes to short-term rental regulations.

Food & Alcohol in Industrial Zones

Newport Beach currently only permits the manufacturing of food and alcohol within industrial zones. No sales are permitted. Council member Kevin Muldoon explained a wine tasting room currently operates in an industrial zone. According to council member Diane Dixon, this wine tasting establishment had been discussed in a previous council meeting, in which amendments to the code in its support were voted down unanimously.

The recommended changes suggested by Muldoon included restricted hours that are not in conflict with any schools, a general occupancy code, and limiting alcohol service to beer and wine. He insisted that this item is not “spot serving” the tasting room and while changes would currently affect the one establishment, it would apply to all industrial zones.

The item was moved 4-3 for Planning Commission consideration with council members Dixon, Will O’Neill, and Brad Avery dissenting.

According to the Community Development Department, the Planning Commission is looking to first tackle short-term lodging and food and alcohol in industrial zones within the next three months. Tattoo parlor operations and density bonus recommendations will be developed over the rest of the year.

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