Bicyclist Sustains Minor Injuries in East Coast Highway Collision

posted: September 2nd, 2015 04:40 pm | 0No Comments

A motorist making a left turn from East Coast Highway onto Narcissus Avenue this morning collided with a bicyclist, causing minor injuries to his knees, police said.

The collision was reported at 8:16 a.m., according to online logs for the Newport Beach Police Department.

Department spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella said the collision involved a white Volkswagen Jetta turning left from eastbound Coast Highway onto northbound Narcissus. The bicyclist was traveling westbound on East Coast Highway.

The Jetta’s driver, a woman, was not injured. The cyclist complained of pain in his knees and was taken to a local hospital as a precautionary measure, Manzella said, but his injuries were minor.


For Harbor View Teachers, the New School Year is a Blank Canvas

posted: September 2nd, 2015 03:36 pm | 0No Comments

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At Harbor View Elementary School, teachers and staff prepared for the new school year by gazing into blank canvases as part of a team-building exercise designed to inspire creativity and hopefulness.

“The new school year is like a blank canvas,” said Principal Todd Schmidt. “We are given opportunities, and we’re willing to take chances.”

About 30 teachers and staff gathered Tuesday morning in the school’s multipurpose room for their annual team- building exercise. In the past, Schmidt organized a Corona del Mar scavenger hunt and a zip lining adventure. This year, he has an artist visit the school for an art lesson.

Each participant sat in front of a blank white square, with a palette of paints, brushes and an apron. The instructor had them begin by painting a circle of orange, then they added blue waves and a palm tree.

“It’s very relaxing,” said Jackie Giltz, an administrative assistant. “I can barely draw a stick figure.”

Schmidt said he wanted the school year’s theme to be Creating Unlimited Possibilities, and having a creative group activity before the first staff meeting seemed like a perfect kickoff.

“It just goes with the message,” he said. “It’s a reminder of the importance of being creative, taking risks and working through the process. The idea is to take a blank canvas, whether it’s your students or your lessons, and make something beautiful. You can make a mistake, you can see something someone else is doing better…I wanted to have an opportunity for them to be creative.”

The team-building exercise began with everyone offering their thoughts on what a blank canvas represents. “Anything can happen,” “A fresh start” and “endless possibilities ahead” were some of the responses.

The finished pieces will be displayed in the front office and in classrooms.

The school’s first staff meeting will take place Wednesday, and students return to campus on Sept. 8.


Doomed Poppy Avenue Trees to Be Marked With Xs; Neighborhood Will Be Forever Changed, Some Say

posted: September 2nd, 2015 03:20 pm | 0No Comments

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Poppy Avenue residents received letters today from the city manager, explaining why 36 Desert Gum Eucalyptus trees will be marked with Xs and then removed because they have been determined to be unsafe.

City Manager Dave Kiff said the decision to remove the trees was painful.

“I know these are well-loved trees, and I know that this news is heartbreaking to many,” his letter said. “I don’t make this decision lightly. We always look for second opinions, other options, and ways to avoid removing a tree – we did that here. But age and declining health dictate that these trees need to come down before they come down on their own and at random, likely harming life and property.”

The letter referred to an incident in 2011, when a woman was killed when a Blue Gum eucalyptus fell on her car at Irvine Avenue.

That incident, he said, occurred “on a clear, windless, late summer afternoon in September.”

“With Santa Ana wind season pending, a possible El Nino winter, and layering on the drought’s impacts on all of our trees, I never want to be in that place again,” he said.

The trees to be removed are on Poppy, Ocean Avenue and East Coast Highway, he said. The 80-year-old trees are some of the city’s oldest and most revered, he wrote, but they can’t be saved and community discussion about their removal is not on the table.

“(T)here is no alternative that I can offer at that meeting except removal,” he wrote. “I certainly share your sadness and mine that this has to occur, and lament the fact that trees don’t live forever.”

The trees to be removed will be marked with an X, he said, and removal should be complete in about three weeks. After that, he said, residents will be asked to discuss reforestation, as well as possible changes to the configuration of Poppy Avenue, its sidewalks and its pavement. Those discussions will occur in October, he said.

Neighbors, including a representative of Five Crowns and SideDoor restaurants, expressed sadness today at the fate of the trees.

Tracey Funke and her family have lived in the 200 block of Poppy Avenue for the past four years, when they moved from a nearby Flower Street because they loved the eucalyptus trees and their tall canopy that frames an ocean view.

“That’s the whole look of the street,” she said. “That’s what gives it it’s feel. You can’t replace 80 years of growth with a sapling.”

Funke wondered if removing the trees was an overly cautious decision.

“I think it’s so alarmist,” she said. “They are just finding excuses. What about the electrical wires hanging over everyone’s garages? Could those be a fire hazard? Should they go into all the parks and take all the trees down just as a precaution? This is extreme, and I wonder if it’s an informed decision.”

Former Councilwoman Gardner, who lives in Corona del Mar and has championed the Poppy trees, said that the trees were victim of uninformed decisions made decades ago.

“Unfortunately, all those years ago when so many of the trees were planted, there was no idea of the ultimate size or suitability for the site,” she said. “That’s why we need a long-term plan to slowly replace some mature trees so that we have trees of different ages on each block. Meanwhile, despite the tradition of one type of tree on each street we now have several choices, so that when a disease occurs we don’t end up with nothing but tiny trees on a block.”

Corona del Mar resident Ron Yeo, who has worked on the CdM Residents Association’s Reforestation Committee, said the news was a shock.

“I have been told that the Public Works Department staff and their consultants were working on preparing short and long range goals and implementation on how to treat this Historical tree lined street,” he said. “It will be difficult to replace this tree scape with anything significant. Quite a loss for our Village.”

Read our earlier story here.


Poppy Ave. to Lose “Remarkable” Eucalyptus Trees

posted: September 1st, 2015 09:56 pm | 8Comments

As many as 35 of Poppy Avenue’s beloved eucalyptus trees have been slated for immediate removal because of the danger they pose to the public, City Manager Dave Kiff told the Newport Beach Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commissioners at a meeting tonight.

“I know they are well-loved trees,” Kiff said in an interview after the meeting. “It’s obviously a big deal to take them down.”

The removal of the 30 to 35 trees will begin within three weeks, Kiff said. The removal of the trees, all south of East Coast Highway and many in the 300 block of Poppy Avenue, will be complete in five days.

For years the trees have been inspected regularly, particularly after a neighbor complained about them in 2013, expressing worries that the roots had uprooted the sidewalks and that skateboarders were using them for dangerous stunts. That summer, the PB&R Commission voted to remove one tree and level the sidewalks, but former City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner appealed that decision.

“This is a remarkable street with remarkable trees,” she said at the time. “If this is a special tree, let’s do something special about it.”

The trees, about 70 or 80 years old, give Poppy Avenue a shaded and distinctive look on the blocks between Five Crowns Restaurant and Ocean Boulevard, and many neighbors urged city staff to try to preserve the trees.

However, concerns were raised this summer when a pine tree in Pasadena fell outside a museum, injuring eight children, two critically. The tree had been drought damaged, and Kiff said he worried about the California drought’s effect on Corona del Mar’s trees as well.

In July, he said, a private consultant inspected the trees and found them to be in dangerous condition. With drought damage, El Nino rains and Santa Ana winds in the forecast, Kiff said, he did not want to waste time in removing the potentially dangerous trees.

“It made us start to get really nervous about getting too close to a fall,” he said.

Kiff called for the removal of the trees using his authority as City Manager, which means that the commissioners did not need to vote to approve the plan, nor does the City Council need to vote. Park commissioners thanked Kiff for letting them know of his plans during the public comment section of the meeting, although Commissioner Kathy Hamilton of Corona del Mar predicted that some residents would be upset.

Kiff said he did not want to take any chances on the trees causing injury after an incident in 2011, when a woman was killed when a Blue Gum eucalyptus fell on her car at Irvine Avenue. A month later, another eucalyptus tree fell in Corona del Mar, causing property damage and narrowly missing the time when children were due to leave the nearby Harbor View Elementary School. After those incidents, Kiff also used his authority as City Manager to order the removal of dozens of trees along Irvine Avenue and Fourth Avenue in Corona del Mar.

A letter will be hand-delivered to residents explaining the situation, Kiff said, and city staff will actively seek community input regarding reforestation.

The arched sidewalks will be smoothed after the trees are removed, Kiff said, but plans are not complete for how the sidewalks and parkways will be rebuilt. Replacement trees may have to fit into a smaller parkway because of city rules that have changed since the trees were planted as saplings decades ago, he said.

There are 55 eucalyptus trees lining Poppy Avenue, and losing more than half the trees will definitely change the look and feel of the neighborhood, Kiff said.

“If you picture it without trees, it’s just not the same,” he said.


From the Police Log: Vandalism Report, Theft

posted: September 1st, 2015 11:57 am | 0No Comments

Newport Beach police took a report of vandalism on Monday at Seaview and Orchid avenues, according to a report. The incident occurred at 4:03 p.m. and involved misdemeanor defacing of property, and no damage amount was listed on the report.

Officers also took a report of a theft by use of access card on Monday in the 900 block of Newport Center Drive. That theft occurred from noon Aug. 24 to noon Monday, and no loss was listed on the report.


New Business to Open in Former Andrea’s Couture Space

posted: September 1st, 2015 04:47 am | 1Comment

IMG_6450A new business will open soon in the space formerly occupied by Andrea’s Couture, according to a sign in the window.

Les Douceurs de Paris will be opening soon at 3034 East Coast Highway, the sign states. Information about the new business was not immediately available, and no city business license records could be located online.

The shop would replace Andrea’s Couture dress shop, which closed earlier this year after a December 2011 grand opening. Previously, the Phoenician Stone business occupied that space and adjacent properties.


From the Police Log: Battery Reports, Theft Reports

posted: August 31st, 2015 12:59 pm | 0No Comments

Newport Beach police took a report of a grand theft from buildings in the 500 block of Newport Center Drive on Saturday. The loss was $3,435, a report said. Officers also took a report of a grand theft from buildings on Saturday in the 22700 block of Pelican Hill Road South. That theft, which occurred between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Friday, had a loss of $11,400.

Police took two reports of battery this weekend. One incident occurred at 3:25 p.m. Saturday in the 400 block of Newport Center Drive, and the other occurred at 11:09 a.m. Friday in the 400 block of Poinsettia Avenue.

Police also arrested a 24-year-old La Habra woman at 3:24 a.m. Sunday at MacArthur Boulevard and East Coast Highway on suspicion of DUI; her bail was $2,500.


CdM Utility Box Gets British-Flavored Makeover

posted: August 31st, 2015 06:50 am | 0No Comments

IMG_6441IMG_5750Corona del Mar’s English-style telephone booth at Five Crowns Restaurant has a counterpart across town in the form of a painted utility box.

The box, located in the 2700 block of East Coast Highway, was transformed last week from a plain metal box into a small faux English telephone box. The property owner arranged for the painting, a retail business owner said.

The Laguna Beach County Water District owns the box, which is a control structure that includes an antenna on top.

“It’s supply line connects to the Municipal Water District’s line which ends at Fernleaf and Coast Highway,” said Mary Locey, a Newport Beach city spokeswoman. “No permit is required for painting the box.”

The newly painted box is located near the newly opened menswear store Heron Haberdashery; read our earlier story here.


CdM Today Poll of the Week

posted: August 31st, 2015 04:56 am | 0No Comments


Police Investigate Fatal Accident

posted: August 30th, 2015 12:28 pm | 0No Comments

A San Francisco man was killed about 11:45 p.m. Saturday while crossing MacArthur Boulevard outside a crosswalk south of Corinthian Way.

The Orange County coroner’s office webpage identified the man as Mohamad Abdelwahhab, 36.

A police news release said the department received a 911 call about a collision involving a pedestrian and a silver Toyota Yaris at 11:45 p.m. Saturday. The collision was on MacArthur Boulevard just north of the Von Karman Avenue intersection.

“At the time of the collision, the pedestrian was crossing MacArthur Boulevard outside of a crosswalk and the vehicle was travelling northbound on MacArthur Boulevard,” the release said. The pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Toyota driver, a woman, remained on the scene and was cooperative with investigators, the release said. She did not require medical attention. Drugs and alcohol do not appear to be a factor in the collision, the release said.

Police ask that anyone with information call Investigator Scott Grecco at (949) 644-3747.