Blue stripes painted across Seashore Drive should be the first clue to residents that the traditional Fourth of July parties in West Newport will be different this year.
The stripes were painted last week at five spots along Seashore Drive between 32rd and 56th streets, where city officials plan to erect six-foot chain-link fences on the July 4 weekend to discourage foot traffic and block cars. Each fence will be manned by police officers.
"We don't want to stop the parties," said Jan Debay, who represents west Newport on the City Council. "What we want to do is to make it no fun to create trouble."
Also on that day, officials plan to close three city-owned parking lots after 2 p.m., block off Seashore Drive and Balboa Boulevard and forbid curbside parking in the neighborhood which has for many years hosted tens of thousands of revelers. By limiting parking, officials hope many revelers will be deterred by the long walk.
"There is terrific crowding and . . . an excess of drinking that gets out of hand," Debay said. "The fences will break up the stretch of Seashore Drive" so that people cannot crash parties so easily.
Many homes in west Newport are rented out on a weekly basis during the summer and have patios and decks that are well-suited for parties. Historically, people celebrate by wandering from party to party, dropping water balloons on each other and, in some cases, hurling live fireworks into crowds.
Last year, Newport Beach spent more than $100,000 to put a full police contingent on the streets and made 229 arrests, mostly for alcohol-related offenses, acting Police Chief Jim Jacobs said.
City officials and police met with residents Tuesday night to explain the new measures and let them know where barriers will be placed so they can plan accordingly. City staff will also go door to door this weekend to further explain the situation to residents.
"We wanted to give people an idea of where the barriers will go in and how best to circulate, so that people can still go to the beach easily," Debay said.
A contingent of 140 police officers, 10 Orange County Sheriff's deputies, 34 California Highway Patrol officers and numerous plainclothes officers will monitor traffic, control parties and patrol the rest of the city, Jacobs said.
Police officers this year also will be enforcing the new 10 p.m. beach curfew and a new ordinance that carries a $150 fine for residents who play stereos too loud.
In addition, fireworks are illegal in Newport Beach.