From the Police Log: Residential Burglary, Purse Snatching

posted: July 24th, 2014 06:11 pm | 0No Comments

A burglar broke into a Corona del Mar home earlier this week, stealing $15,000 worth of items, according to a police report.

The burglary with forced entry occurred between 9 a.m. Monday and 5:15 p.m. Wednesday in the 2700 block of Windward Drive, the report said. Information about what was taken was not available.

“The house was broken into while it was being fumigated for termites,” said Lt. Jeff Brouwer.

Police also took a report of a grand theft from a person, or a purse snatching incident, in the 1000 block of Newport Center Drive at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. The theft, with a loss of $1,655, was reported Wednesday.

“The purse was stolen from a stroller while the mother was attending to a child,” Brouwer said.


Former Harbor View Teacher Killed in Solo Car Crash

posted: July 24th, 2014 02:39 pm | 0No Comments

A woman involved in a solo vehicle crash Wednesday on Newport Coast Drive has died, police said.

Karine A. Bondra, 46, of Irvine, died at 6:50 p.m. at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo, according to the Orange County coroner’s webpage.

A witness called 911 to report a single vehicle collision at 11:24 a.m. on Newport Coast Drive just north of Pelican Hill Road South, police said. Bondra was traveling southbound on Newport Coast Drive when her silver Honda left the road and crossed the center median. She was ejected from the vehicle and suffered critical injuries, according to a police news release. Newport Beach Fire Department paramedics transported her to the hospital, where she later died.

She was the only occupant of the vehicle.

Bondra taught fifth grade at Harbor View Elementary School, when she was known as Kari Laveaud.

Laura Boss, a Newport-Mesa Unified School District spokeswoman, said in an email that she had been currently employed by the district and most recently taught at Harbor View and Woodland elementary schools.

“This is a tragic event and our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time,” Boss wrote.

“It is so sad and tragic,” said Harbor View Principal Todd Schmidt. “Although at Harbor View for a short time, once a Viking, always a Viking. She will be greatly missed, and her family is in our thoughts and prayers.”

Schmidt said he sent emails to Harbor View staff members and families to inform them of the news.

Police continue to investigate the collision and ask that anyone with information call Investigator Scott Grecco at (949) 644-3747.


“CdM Bypass” Details Begin to Emerge

posted: July 24th, 2014 11:31 am | 1Comment

A Corona del Mar bypass plan would incorporate real-time driving information and electronic signs, a city councilman told members of the CdM Business Improvement District at a meeting today.

The bypass plan was a last-minute addition to the proposed amendment to the land-use element of the city’s General Plan, which the City Council approved on Tuesday. The amendment will be on the Nov. 4 ballot; read our earlier story here.

Supporters say voters should have the right to decide on whether to approve the amendment, which would add 500,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of retail and 500 new residential units in Newport Center. Opponents say the development will worsen already bad traffic in the Corona del Mar area, although supporters say the new plan will result in nearly 3,000 fewer “average daily car trips” from what the 2006 General Plan would have allowed.

At a meeting earlier this month, Mayor Pro Tem Ed Selich suggested adding the Corona del Mar bypass plan as a way to ease traffic concerns. Originally, he proposed requiring the bypass plan before development was allowed, but the version the Council passed this week requires only “consideration” of the plan.

The goal would be to divert traffic off East Coast Highway through the village by urging motorists to take Newport Coast Drive, the 73 toll road, San Joaquin Hills or other roads if they were trying to pass the village.

According to a city staff report, the plan “shall, among other things, identify traffic measures that divert traffic on surface streets, such as new signage,” but very few details were provided.

At today’s B.I.D. meeting, however, Selich said that he envisioned using sensors on roadways to measure traffic, then use that data to provide real-time driving estimates. Signs would be placed near Newport Coast Drive and East Coast Highway for motorists heading from the Laguna Beach area, and near Bonita Canyon and MacArthur Boulevard for motorists heading from the airport area.

The city could work with officials at the 73 toll road to reduce or eliminate tolls between Bonita Canyon and Newport Coast Drive — a plan many B.I.D. board members said would improve their own driving habits and help with Corona del Mar congestion.

“It’s a very high hurdle to achieve, a very high bar,” Selich said. “That would be the ultimate solution.”

B.I.D. Chairman Bernie Svalstad said the group would have liked more time to discuss the bypass plan before the Council vote.

“That would have been nice,” Selich said. “It’s the way the process worked out.”

The board members also discussed whether diverting traffic from Corona del Mar would be good or bad for business owners. New board member Shawn Lim, owner of Rose Bakery Cafe, said he had new customers every day, so more people driving by the restaurant meant more possible customers.

But others said that heavy traffic discouraged locals from heading into the business district to spend money.

“I do think that congestion is a negative thing for the village,” said Jim Walker, owner of the Bungalow restaurant.

It was not clear whether the bypass plan would be developed even if the amendment failed to pass in November. In any case, Selich said that the plan would need more study before being implemented.

“It needs some vetting,” he said. “I think it’s a worthwhile thing to go ahead with.”


CdM Chamber Mixer Scheduled for July 29

posted: July 24th, 2014 05:31 am | 0No Comments

The Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce will host a Sunset Mixer from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday July 29 at Sherman Library & Gardens in the library building, according to an emailed invitation.

The event is free for members at $20 for guests and will include live music, networking opportunities, appetizers and refreshments and a docent-led tour of the gardens.

Sherman Library & Gardens is located at 2647 East Coast Highway. Free parking will be available behind Sherman Library & Gardens.


Passengers, Dog Rescued After Boat Catches Fire and Sinks off Crystal Cove

posted: July 23rd, 2014 04:56 pm | 1Comment

A 24-foot long boat caught fire 3 1/2 miles off Crystal Cove this afternoon, a Orange County Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol official said.

The fire occurred about 3:30 p.m., and two passengers and their dog were rescued by another boat passing by, said Sgt. Fritz Von Rettberg.

“The boat was fully engulfed” when Harbor Patrol boats reached it, he said. “We put it out, and the boat sank after that.”

No one was injured in the incident. Smoke could be seen from Corona del Mar as well as from Crystal Cove, he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Von Rettberg said. The value of the boat was not immediately known.

Photo courtesy of Corona del Mar Today reader Sarah Drislane.


Woman Critically Injured in Solo Crash

posted: July 23rd, 2014 04:47 pm | 0No Comments

A Laguna Beach woman was critically injured when her car crashed on Newport Coast Drive earlier today, according to a police news release.

The 46-year-old woman was driving southbound on Newport Coast Drive when her vehicle left the roadway and crossed the center median just north of Pelican Hill Road South about 11:24 a.m. She was the only person in the car, police said, and no other vehicles were involved.

The woman was ejected from the vehicle and sustained critical injuries, the release said, and Newport Beach Fire Department paramedics transported her to Mission Hospital.

The crash is under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to call Investigator Scott Grecco at (949) 644-3747.

Police issued a Nixle alert after the crash, advising motorists to avoid the area.


Police Urge Motorists to Avoid Newport Coast Drive Near Coast Highway

posted: July 23rd, 2014 11:58 am | 0No Comments

The Newport Beach Police Department has issued an alert, warning motorists to avoid both directions of Newport Coast Drive between East Coast Highway and Pelican Hill Road North because of a traffic accident.

The alert was issued at 11:56 a.m.

No other details about the incident were immediately available. The alert is in effect “until further notice,” it said.


Goldenrod Footbridge Will Be Added to NB Historic List

posted: July 23rd, 2014 11:32 am | 1Comment

The Newport Beach City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to add the Goldenrod Footbridge to the city’s list of sites of historic significance.

A staff report had suggested ways of pursuing a state historic designation for the bridge, which was built in 1928 over what is now Bayside Drive. But that plan would have taken years, cost as much as $10,000 and possibly created problems in the future if repair work needed to be done on or near the bridge; read our earlier story here.

At Tuesday’s meeting, City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner said the residents who asked for her assistance in having the bridge listed as historic wanted local recognition, and that the city’s K-2 policy would be appropriate.

City Councilman Ed Selich said, “I’m not sure what the benefits would be to get the state assignation, but I could see a lot of pitfalls.”

Corona del Mar resident Ron Yeo, who led the effort to have the bridge recognized, said that the K-2 policy was appropriate, particularly under the criterion that describes “(u)nique structures or places that act as focal or pivotal points important as a key to the character or visual quality of an area.”

The vote was 6-0.

The Council also agreed Tuesday to lease city land at the Big Canyon Reservoir site to Harbor Day School for a parking lot, which would be used during school drop off, pick up and for special events. The 25-year lease agreement would charge $11,440 per year in rent.

Read our earlier story here.

In other Council news, Councilwoman Gardner asked that city staff see if there is park space anywhere in the city to create a second dog park. The city’s first dog park opened last year within the new Civic Center park.

“There are a lot of dogs,” she said.


Voters Will Decide on Land Use Amendment

posted: July 23rd, 2014 09:52 am | 0No Comments

The Newport Beach City Council voted 4-1 at Tuesday’s meeting to approve an amendment to the city’s land-use portion of its General Plan and to put the item on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The vote came after about an hour of public testimony, most of it from residents who said the amendment would worsen traffic congestion in the Newport Center and Corona del Mar area.

“It benefits no one but T.I.C. — The Irvine Company,” said Corona del Mar resident Barry Allen. “They are leaving you to take the blame. No — better yet, hell no — to this badly flawed plan that benefits only one entity.”

The amendment would allow 500,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of retail and 500 new residential units in Newport Center and remove entitlements of not-yet-built hotel and dwelling units in Newport Coast and 58,000 square feet of not-yet built shopping centers “across town,” according to City Manager Dave Kiff. The number of average daily car trips from the changes would be a reduction of 2,922 trips from the 2006 General Plan’s “buildable entitlement,” he said.

The Council first considered the amendment at a meeting earlier this month but delayed a vote, in part because City Councilman Ed Selich suggested adding a “Corona del Mar Bypass Plan” that would divert traffic off East Coast Highway through Corona del Mar.

“The by-pass plan shall, among other things, identify traffic measures that divert traffic on surface streets, such as new signage,” according to a memo included in a city staff report.

City Councilman Nancy Gardner of Corona del Mar, who was the only dissenting vote on the matter, expressed concern that the original language — which would require the bypass to be implemented before development was approved — had been changed to having the bypass merely be analyzed and considered.

“If we only have to consider it….If this is the language that you want to approve, I can’t…I can’t,” she said.

A few residents spoke in support of letting voters decide on the amendment in November, but most expressed concern about increased traffic in the Newport Center area, particularly how it will affect already congested Corona del Mar.

“It’s packed,” said Dennis Baker. “I have to see what I believe with my eyes.”

Allan Beek said residents were not complaining about a lack of shopping centers and office towers.

“Is anyone here suffering from lack of enough traffic?” he asked the Council “That is what the amendment offers.”

Resident Jean Ardell said a Corona del Mar bypass should have been implemented 20 years ago.

“I think it’s unconscionable to tie the Corona del Mar bypass to new development,” she said. “It should have been alleviating our traffic right now.”

Gardner asked that the Council continue the item to work out the details rather than push it to a vote that could divide the city.

“It just seems to me that we have so many questions,” she said.

Selich said there was “no such thing as a perfect land-use plan” and the Council should move ahead.

Mayor Rush Hill agreed, stating that there had been 26 meetings and 13 public hearings on the subject.

“I can’t see throwing away the staff time we have invested,” he said. “I’d like to hear from all of the public at the polls.”

The Council then formally voted to add the item to the November ballot, which drew more criticism from Gardner and members of the public who said the language would be confusing.

“It’s not saying yes for no,” said Newport Beach Resident Jim Mosher. “It’s saying somehow that ‘Yes’ will reduce traffic,” said Jim Mosher, a Newport Beach resident. “This is just utterly misleading, confusing and deceptive.”

“We’ve got traffic today on the road that does not disappear,” said Karen Tringali, Corona del Mar Residents Association President Karen Tringali, after the meeting. “It may be less more, but it will be more.”

She added that city staff created a temporary Corona del Mar bypass last summer during a water main construction project, but local streets were jammed despite signs and other outreach efforts. During the meeting, Gardner expressed concern that the plan might not divert traffic, and that adding signs might require approval from other government agencies. The Council discussed whether the 73 toll road might handle more motorists if the tolls were eliminated or reduced from Newport Coast Drive to Bonita Canyon Road — but that decision is not a Newport Beach City Council decision.

“This is a disappointing day for Corona del Mar,” Tringali said.

Council members Mike Henn and Leslie Daigle had excused absences and did not vote on the amendment, although Daigle arrived in time to vote in support of adding the item to the November ballot.


Music Program At CdM Library Thursday Afternoon

posted: July 23rd, 2014 05:15 am | 0No Comments

The Corona del Mar library branch will host One World Rhythm, an interactive music program, from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursday, according to the library’s website.

The program will let everyone play instruments including drums, the website states. Children must be accompanied by adult, and the event is first-come, first-served with space limited by room size.

The library is located at 420 Marigold Ave.