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Letters to the Editor

There are lots of questions with road closures leading through the Heights

It is disconcerting when the Council grants special favors to individuals in a neighborhood which can impinge on the rights of fellow neighbors. Just as the Council should not grant these special favors, individuals should not request them as it tears apart the fabric of the community.

The question that was to be decided at this last Tuesday’s council meeting (June 28) was whether lower Tustin in the Newport Heights area should remain closed off to through traffic? The City Traffic Engineer, Tony Brine provided residents with some very useful information, particularly a map showing the differences in traffic flow which was developed as a result of the closure.

Additional statistics which I requested through the Public Information Act, and were provided by the Newport Beach Police Department, helped paint a picture of traffic flow and traffic safety in the Heights. I asked for the accident reports from the last 10 years for the areas affected by the closure. 

The area that was closed off from the rest of the Heights, lower Tustin and Oceanview saw a total of five accidents over the 10-year period. 

With the closure of Tustin, the number of cars on Tustin decreased from 834 to 276 daily while Oceanview saw an increase from 169 to 255.

However, with this closure, traffic increased on other streets. Cliff Drive saw the largest traffic increase, with 323 additional cars daily. I used the 2400 through the 2600 blocks that looked to me to be the area that was most affected. This area also had the largest number of accidents (other than Riverside) from 2012 through 2022 with 19 accidents.

The next area which bears the brunt of the traffic from the closure is Riverside Drive which had an increase of 1,200 cars weekly. They experienced six accidents in the 400-500 block in the last 10 years before the closure.

However, if you look at all of Riverside from Pacific Coast Highway to 15th St., which will become the single most popular thoroughfare through the Heights, it is not too unrealistic to look at what could happen in the future. Drivers will anticipate the closure of Tustin and will very likely get used to the idea of taking the Riverside thoroughfare exclusively to cut through the Heights. 

Imagine the accident count then. In the last 10 years there were 126 accidents on this thoroughfare (meaning from PCH through to 15th Street). Riverside would become the poor stepchild of the Newport Heights.

Upper Tustin had an increase of four cars daily, which doesn’t seem like much until you look at its statistics. Upper Tustin, one of the most beleaguered streets in the Heights, sees a total of 2,513 cars daily. It had a relatively high accident rate of 14 cars (more than twice that of Redlands and the 400-500 blocks of Riverside.)

Upper Tustin, Cliff Drive and Riverside have big traffic problems even without the closure of lower Tustin. These problems will only increase with the anticipated development on Pacific Coast Highway. We should be solving their traffic problems, too, instead of focusing on just one small area.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach

(The Newport Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to direct staff to remove the barricade at Tustin and come back in the Fall with an engineering drawing of various options that could be considered in the future, such as adding sidewalks, widening lower Tustin or closing off the bottom rather than the top of Tustin).


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