Big Wave Photo Gallery By John Hollenbeck

posted: August 27th, 2014 06:21 pm | 0No Comments


Sig Alert Declared for Balboa Peninsula

posted: August 27th, 2014 01:06 pm | 0No Comments

The Newport Beach City website has been updated throughout the day today with information related to high surf conditions, including a 12:10 p.m. update that says a sig alert has been declared for the Balboa Peninsula.

“A sig alert has been issued for the Balboa Peninsula with traffic coming to a virtual gridlock along Newport Boulevard and Balboa Boulevard,” the website states. “It is estimated that traveling down the peninsula is taking up to an hour and there is no available parking – vehicles are simply circling the area.”

Anyone not already in the area is encouraged not to try to do so, the website states.

“If you do take the time to sit in the traffic, there is a good chance that you will not find a place to park,” the website states.

Police are monitoring and controlling the traffic, the alert states, and there are no drop-off locations. Police are trying to keep traffic flowing and maintaining access for emergency vehicles.
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Earlier today, the website said that lifeguards estimated the surf at 10 feet with sets up to 20 feet, with several thousand people on the beach in the Wedge Area and 500 people at the Point. Extra lifeguards are on duty to handle the waves and crowds.

At 7:45 a.m., a missing swimmer report was made at 10th Street, but lifeguard contacted the swimmers who safely returned to the beach. Just after 9 a.m., a body surfer in the water at the Wedge sustained a minor injury.

“Four lifeguards assisted the swimmer to an awaiting rescue boat where initial treatment was performed,” the website states. “The lifeguards transported the swimmer to Newport Beach Paramedics inside the harbor.”

At 10:30 a.m., a stand up paddler/surfer went through the Newport Pier with the current, but his board went on one side of the piling and he went on the otherside, trapping him in a strong current where he was unable to free himself from his board/leash, the website states.

“Lifeguards from the beach and a rescue boat assisted the indivudual by removing his leash and freeing him from a dangerous situation,” the website states. “Lifeguards brought the individual and the board back to shore.”

The City’s Municipal Operations Department created a sand berm in anticipation of the high surf, the website states, but some waves have breached the berm and caused some areas of minor flooding.

“In addition, some beach spectators have been hit by these waves as they come up the beach,” the website states.


From the Police Log: Burglary, Theft Reports

posted: August 27th, 2014 12:53 pm | 0No Comments

Newport Beach police took a report of a commercial burglary Monday in the 600 block of Newport Center Drive, a police report said. The burglary, which involved fraud or forgery, occurred at 4:24 p.m., the report said. No loss was given.

An arrest report indicates that a 25-year-old Lancaster woman was arrested at 4:16 p.m. Monday at the same location on suspicion of commercial burglary/fraud, and her bail was $20,000.

Officers also took a report of a commercial burglary with no forced entry on Monday in the 900 block of Avocado Avenue, a report said. The burglary, with a $500 loss, occurred between 5 and 5:55 p.m. Police also took a report of a petty theft from a motor vehicle in the 2000 block of Sabrina Terrace on Tuesday. The petty theft, with a $220 loss, occurred between 8 and 11:30 p.m. Monday, the report said.

Police took a report of someone taking an auto without the owner’s consent in the 3300 block of Ocean Boulevard on Tuesday. The incident occurred between 8 p.m. Monday and 10 a.m. Tuesday, a report said. Officers took a report of identity theft in the 600 block of Newport Center Drive on Tuesday. The incident occurred between midnight June 22 and midnight June 29.


25-Foot Waves Draw Crowds To Newport Beach

posted: August 27th, 2014 08:46 am | 0No Comments

By 6 a.m. today, crowds had gathered at Peninsula Point to watch 25-foot and higher waves generated by Hurricane Marie off Mexico. Smaller crowds also gathered in Corona del Mar at Lookout Point and Inspiration Point, where they could watch waves crash over the jetties as well as see television news crews parked across the harbor entrance near the Wedge.

The waves are expected to peak today and gradually diminish Thursday and Friday, according to the City of Newport Beach’s website.

On Tuesday, Newport Beach city officials said the waves would draw large crowds and that visitors should expect parking and traffic congestion. Earlier this morning, Newport Beach police issued an alert for motorists to avoid the Peninsula Point area because there is no parking.

Lifeguard Capt. Rob Williams also discounted a media report that two swimmers were rescued at the Wedge.

“We had a report of two swimmers in distress at 10th Street,” he said in an email. “Upon arrival, we found two swimmers body surfer that were experienced and enjoying the waves. The reporting party was nervous that they were in trouble, but both body surfers exited the water fine with no assistance.”

Bottom photo by Ron Yeo


Coastal Commission: City’s Charcoal Plan Application Incomplete

posted: August 27th, 2014 05:02 am | 0No Comments

In a letter with nearly two dozen questions and other demands for more information, the California Coastal Commission staff has informed the City of Newport Beach that its permit application for a pilot program to require charcoal only in beach fire rings is incomplete.

The City submitted its 50-page application on July 17. In an Aug. 15 letter, the Coastal Commission staff said the application was incomplete and requested information ranging from the dates of the proposed pilot program to details about charcoal availability and more.

City spokeswoman Tara Finnigan said in an email that the Coastal Commission staff had requested “a significant amount of additional information.”

“Community Development staff is in the process of reviewing the request and deciding how best to respond,” she wrote. It is unclear when the application will be resubmitted, she said.

The Coastal Commission’s three-page letter listed six areas of concerns, including information on charcoal availability “as funds permit” during the pilot program. The City website was updated last week to include the letter.

“How much money has been allocated to providing free charcoal?” the letter asks. “What is the estimated quantity (number of bags) that will be made available? Over what time period? How many free bags of charcoal would be given out at each location per night? Where are the free charcoal locations, how are they staffed, and how is the public informed of the availability and location of free charcoal? During what hours is free charcoal available? Is there a limit to the number of bags given out per ring or per person? What type of charcoal has been and will be given away (lump or briquettes)? To expand the City’s ability to provide free charcoal, have you considered approaching charcoal companies about donating charcoal for purposes of this pilot program? Will the City make charcoal available for purchase at Corona del Mar State Beach and in the Balboa Pier area? If the City does make charcoal available for purchase on-site, will there be a limit on the price charged?”

The letter also asks that the City provide information about current compliance with charcoal-only rules, and if any surveys of users are available, as well as if information is available about whether fire rings’ users’ experiences with charcoal are comparable to wood fires.

Health effects of charcoal also were raised as a missing piece of data.

“Did the City assess the potential air quality and health impacts associated with use of charcoal (both lump and briquettes) and starter products, including lighter fluid, compared to use of wood?” the letter states. “If so, please provide copies of any scientific studies reviewed or staff presentations prepared on this topic.”

The letter also includes an eight-step monitoring program, which includes possible assessing the duration of use of charcoal-only fire rings and at a control site where wood burning is allowed; documenting use of lighter fluid at charcoal-only fire rings to understand whether lighter fluid is only used to start charcoal or is being used to maintain flames to approximate a wood fire; documenting the average number of bags of charcoal used at fire rings and the average duration of use; counting the number of people leaving the beach areas after learning about the charcoal-only rule; and more.

“Please do not limit your submittal to the above mentioned items,” the letter states. “You may submit any information which you feel may help Commission staff gain a clear understanding of the scope of your project. Upon receipt of the requested materials we will proceed with determining the completeness of your application.”

The City implemented the charcoal-only rule in March in order to comply with South Coast Air Quality Management District rule amendments on beach fire rings. Opponents of wood in beach fire rings have said they think the rule has resulted in cleaner air, but wood fire supporters have said the beach bonfire experience is diminished with charcoal-only rules.

Read our earlier stories here and here.


NB Warns That Big Waves Could Bring Big Traffic, Parking Problems

posted: August 26th, 2014 07:09 pm | 0No Comments

Newport Beach city officials are warning residents and visitors that Hurricane Marie’s big waves — which could be 25 feet at the Wedge — could lead to serious parking and traffic problems.

“A National Weather Service advisory warns that Hurricane Marie, currently located off of the coast of Mexico, is causing large surf and strong rip currents along the Southern California coastline,” according to a city news release. “Large swells typically attract onlookers to Newport Beach’s coastline and the Newport Beach Police and Fire Departments are advising visitors to the Balboa Peninsula to anticipate heavy traffic and severely limited parking.”

Depending on the crowds drawn to the waves, traffic delays could be two hours or more, the news release said, and officers will have a “heavy presence” to keep cars moving so they don’t block roads. Visitors, the release said, shouldn’t drive to the Peninsula but rather use public transportation, bikes or walk.

“Motorists cannot park along an area of red curb, blocking any driveway, or in any private driveway or parking lot without the owner’s permission,” the release said. “There will be little or no parking available from A Street (near the Balboa Pier) east to Channel Road (the end of the peninsula), and there is no ‘drop off’ point to allow passengers to get out.”

Peak surf size will be Wednesday with 10-12-foot faces at well-exposed breaks, waves to 15 to 20 feet and up to 25 feet or more at the Wedge, according to a Surfline forecast provided by Newport Beach lifeguards.

Newport Beach Lifeguard Battalion Chief Jim Turner said that so far, the Point by 18th and 19th streets has had bigger waves than the Wedge, with sets of 10 to 12 feet.

The high surf is predicted to gradually diminish on Thursday and Friday.

Besides traffic warnings, lifeguards are reminding beach visitors that only highly experienced swimmers should enter the water during such conditions.

“The ocean can be highly volatile and swimmers must know their personal limitations,” said Chief Lifeguard Rob Williams. “That surf is powerful and causes strong rip currents that pull along the shoreline and out to sea. Swimmers should avoid areas with piers, rocks and jetties as they can cause serious injuries.”

Swimmers caught in a rip current should stay calm and swim parallel to the shore until they are out of the rip current, Williams said in the release.

Other safety tips in the release include:

Check with a lifeguard before entering the water.
Swim near a lifeguard.
Never swim alone.
Use a floatation device.
Surfers and body boarders should have a leash on their boards. Body boarders and bodysurfers should wear swim fins.
Parents should never leave children unattended while at the beach. Don’t dive headfirst into any unknown water.
Don’t dive toward the bottom into oncoming waves.

Some coastal flooding is also possible in Orange County, the release said.


Construction Update: Bike Lane Near CdMHS to be Complete This Week

posted: August 26th, 2014 09:45 am | 0No Comments

A new bike lane currently being built near Corona del Mar High School and Our Lady Queen of Angels will be mostly complete this week, according to Newport Beach staff.

“Thanks to a remarkable effort by City Staff and the Contractor, the major construction component of the Eastbluff Dr/Ford Road Bike Lane Improvement Project is planned to be completed by the end of this week,” said Senior Traffic Engineer Brad Sommers in an email. “With this work done, the roadway and sidewalk can be opened up for the beginning of school at Corona Del Mar High. Follow up items may be completed with temporary lane and/or sidewalk closures during nonpeak hours.”

The Newport Beach City Council approved the project at the August Council meeting, and work began the next day; read our story here. The work was scheduled to be complete by Sept. 12.

The bike lane will be continued onto Ford Road between Jamboree Road and MacArthur Boulevard, but that work will take place after the Eastbluff widening work is complete, Sommers said.

“Since the existing road is wide enough in this section the work consists of striping and signage only,” he said.

Meanwhile other construction is ongoing on the Corona del Mar High School campus but shouldn’t disrupt the start of the school year Sept. 2, said Laura Boss, a Newport-Mesa Unified School District spokeswoman

“As far as the construction on campus goes, it appears there will be pockets of work still occurring but it should not impact access to the campus or classroom activities,” she said.

A new staff parking lot in front of the office will be open, she said, although crews will return, likely during winter break, to complete the lot with slurry seals and numbing spaces. The school’s new theater is scheduled to be complete in late November with a grand opening tentatively planned for December.

“The construction crews on campus will be working solidly through the holiday weekend to complete the slated projects,” Boss said.


Huge Waves in Forecast

posted: August 26th, 2014 05:00 am | 0No Comments

The National Weather Service has issued a high surf advisory for today through Friday, with large surf, strong rip currents and sets as high as 15 feet.

Possible coastal flooding and strong rip currents also are forecast through Thursday, the advisory said.

The advisory says the large southerly swells are from Hurricane Marie, which the National Hurricane Center on Monday said was about 505 miles off the southern tip of Baja, Mexico and was continuing to weaken. The swells will move into Southern California coastal waters today, the advisory said, “increasing to 10 feet Tuesday night and Wednesday.”

The wells will produce large surf, strong rip currents and strong longshore currents this afternoon through Thursday, and minor coastal flooding and beach erosion also are possible.

Surf of 8 to 10 feet will begin at some beaches, “mainly in Northern Orange County,” on Tuesday, becoming more widespread Tuesday night and Wednesday across Orange County, the advisory said.

Occasional sets at some beaches could be 12 to 15 feet, the advisory said. The southerly swell will fade Wednesday Night and Thursday but Orange County surf will continue above 7 feet through Thursday, the advisory said.

The alert will begin at 11 a.m. today through 1 a.m. Friday.

“Impacts will be greatest along the beaches of Orange County where damage to piers and other structures is possible along with some beach erosion,” the advisory said.

Swimming and surfing conditions will be “extremely dangerous” because of the large surf and rip currents, the advisory said.

“Occasionally larger waves can appear unexpectedly washing over rocks and jetties near the waters edge,” the advisory said.

Local news reports, including the Daily Pilot and Orange County Register, said that Newport Beach lifeguards plan to be fully staffed this week, and that waves at the Wedge could be 25 feet.


East Coast Highway Lane to be Closed at Morning Canyon

posted: August 25th, 2014 05:56 pm | 0No Comments

A lane of East Coast Highway at Morning Canyon Road will be closed from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, according to the City of Newport Beach – City Hall Facebook Page.

Crews will be doing repair work in the No. 1 lane, the message said, and that lane will be closed from Cameo Highlands Drive to Morning Canyon Road.

“Vehicles will still be able to make a left onto Morning Canyon Road as the left turn lane will remain open,” the message said.


From the Police Log: DUI, Switchblade Possession Arrests

posted: August 25th, 2014 11:15 am | 0No Comments

Newport Beach police arrested a 34-year-old Bellevue man Sunday afternoon in the 1500 block of Avocado Avenue on suspicion of carrying a switchblade, a report said. His bail was $500.

Police also arrested a 56-year-old Los Angeles man at 12:46 a.m. Friday at East Coast Highway and Marigold Avenue on suspicion of DUI; his bail was $2,500. A 64-year-old Newport Beach woman was arrested at 7:32 p.m. Friday in the 300 block of Marigold Avenue on suspicion of DUI; bail was $2,500. And officers arrested a 35-year-old Laguna Niguel man at 10:30 p.m. Friday in the 7700 block of East Coast Highway on suspicion of DUI and excessive speed; bail was $2,500.

A report of a DUI at East Coast Highway and Marguerite Avenue also was taken at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

Police took a report of a petty theft of motor vehicle parts on Friday in the 400 block of Iris Avenue. The loss was $250, and the theft occurred between 9:30 p.m. Aug. 20 and 7 a.m. Aug. 21. Police took a report of a grand theft shoplifting incident in the 600 block of Newport Center Drive on Saturday. The theft, with a loss of $2,540, occurred between 12:28 and 12:46 p.m. Aug. 20. Police also arrested a 26-year-old Sacramento man at 8:44 p.m. Aug. 21 in the 2500 block of East Coast Highway on a misdemeanor warrant from an outside agency. His bail was $1,000.