CdM Citibank One of Four Branch Closures in State

posted: March 28th, 2015 06:13 am | 1Comment

Corona del Mar’s Citibank branch, scheduled to close at 3 p.m. June 19, is one of four California Citibanks that will close simultaneously, a company spokesman said.

Customers received letters, dated March 13, that said accounts would be transferred to the Newport Center branch, a mile away at 1100 Newport Center Drive.

The other branches that are closing are in California but not in Orange County, said Andrew Brent, director of public affairs for Citibank’s U.S. Consumer and Commercial Banking division, in an email.

“We continually seek ways to optimize our branch network, which include opening, renovating and, where appropriate, closing branches,” his email said. “Accordingly, we have determined that a number of branches either in close proximity to other Citibank branches or outside our target footprint will close in June 2015.”

The Corona del Mar branch is located at 3021 East Coast Highway.

Read our earlier story here.

Police Warn of Weekend Traffic Congestion on Coast Highway, Newport Blvd.

posted: March 27th, 2015 02:35 pm | 0No Comments

Beginning at 8 p.m. tonight and through 3 p.m. Monday, you can expect congestion and delays on Coast Highway near Newport Boulevard, police said in an alert.

During that time, there will be only one westbound lane on Coast Highway in the area, the alert said.

“If you’re coming from southbound Newport Boulevard, the ramp to Coast Highway will be closed and you will have to detour on Hospital Road, then to Superior Road to access Coast Highway,” the alert said. “With the expected weather, please be patient and allow extra time to arrive to your destination.”

Beginning Monday, westbound Coast Highway traffic will be reduced to one lane, and the southbound Newport Boulevard ramp to Coast Highway will be closed, expect during peak weekday traffic hours of 3 to 8 p.m. through the end of the month.

CdM This Weekend: Five Great Things For Your To-Do List

posted: March 27th, 2015 02:27 pm | 0No Comments

1. Corona del Mar High School will present “Seussical,the Musical” this weekend in the school’s brand-new theater. The show will begin at 7 p.m. tonight and Saturday, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets are $17 if purchased online in advance; click here for more information. The school is located at 2101 Eastbluff Drive.

2. Crystal Cove State Park will host several events Saturday, starting with a 9 a.m. Canyon Hike that meets at the Berns Amphitheater, located inland from the School-State Park entrance. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., there will be a Beachside Ranger Chat in the Education Commons of the Historic District, and at 1 p.m., there will be an Ancient Volcanoes hike that also meets at the Berns Amphitheater.

3. The first-ever Mayor’s Spring Egg Roll will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Civic Center Park. The free event will feature games, crafts, face painting, a magic show, train rides and a chance to meet the Easter Bunny. The Civic Center is located at 100 Civic Center Drive.

4. Roger’s Gardens will host a free event called Organic Controls for Garden Pests & Diseases with Pat Welsh from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday, where you can learn about how to protect the environment and use organic controls to create and maintain your garden, along with ways to control specific pests and diseases. From 10 to 11 a.m. Sunday, there will be a free Gardening, Coffee & Conversation event. The monthly events are held in the Disneyland gazebo, where Roger’s provides coffee and muffins and guests ask questions are start conversations about everything from what’s growing, what’s dying, new plants, bugs, vegetables or anything else on your mind. Roger’s Gardens is located at 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road.

5. Recycled Rags will host its monthly parking lot party from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, featuring refreshments throughout the day as well as discounted items on racks in the back lot. The first 25 customers will receive a coupon for $5 off any purchase of $25 or more to be used the day of the sale, and there will be a chance to win a $100 gift certificate. Recycled Rags is located at 2731 East Coast Highway. For more information call (949) 675-5553.

Harbor View Dedicates New Flag Pole With Bands, Speeches and Stars and Stripes

posted: March 27th, 2015 09:27 am | 0No Comments

Harbor View Elementary School students celebrated a new flag pole on the school’s lower playground with a ceremony this morning, which featured a ceremonial dedication by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa).

“I’m very proud of this school,” Rohrabacher said, “with a new flag pole to make sure our flag always flies very high and very proud.”

The school’s old flag pole was in bad shape, said Principal Todd Schmidt.

“Parts of it were falling,” he said, adding that no students were nearby when the pieces fell.

A booster group called Harbor View Dads decided to purchase and pay to install a new pole, said Jon Spotts, president of the group. The total cost was about $5,000. The group also plans to fund a new electronic message board for the school, and in past years the group purchased iPads for students to use in the classroom.

Before today’s Flag Deck ceremony began, teachers and students, wearing red, white and blue, handed out small flags and waved signs. There were balloons, and the Corona del Mar High School and Middle School bands performed, and sixth-grader Catherine Johnston sang the Star Spangled Banner.

Rohrabacher told the students that his job was to “vote to make things better for when you’re older.” He did an impression of Ronald Reagan, and he mentioned a recent flap at the University of California at Irvine, where a student group voted to ban the American flag.

He then presented the principal with a flag that had flown over the United States Capitol as a gift to the school. The official dedication of the flag pole involved him hitting the pole three times with a gold hammer — the first time he’d ever used a golden hammer for such a ceremony, he said later.

“I think it’s interesting that a congressman is coming to school,” said Allison Flood, 12, a sixth-grader. “I think it’s really special.”

Farm-to-Table Restaurant Approved for Roger’s Gardens

posted: March 27th, 2015 09:17 am | 1Comment

The Newport Beach Zoning Administrator on Thursday approved a minor use permit for Roger’s Gardens, paving the way for construction of a 108-seat, open-air restaurant.

Owner Gavin Herbert said construction would begin in July, and while a December restaurant opening was possible, a spring opening was guaranteed. The restaurant will be called The Farmhouse, with the former chef from Sage in the kitchen and will serve alcohol.

Documents included in the staff report describe the restaurant as completely outdoors.

“All tables and chairs will be in an open air, garden environment,” the document said. “Some seating will be covered by awnings and trellises while others will be shaded by trees and landscaping.”

A few neighbors spoke at the hearing, held in the Corona del Mar conference room at the Civic Center, expressing concerns about noise, employee parking and whether garish signs would be added along San Miguel Drive.

“It’s a big difference, having a nursery living next to you than a restaurant,” said neighbor Dana Lee.

Herbert said he had a parking arrangement with a nearby church, and could provide shuttle service for employees who parked off site. Zoning Administrator Brenda Wisneski made this parking plan part of the conditions for approval of the permit.

Herbert also said he would not add any more signs, and that he had no plans to host large special events, including weddings, because it would require moving merchandise to make room for the event — a difficult logistical arrangement when the shops are open seven days a week.

When asked about “DJ-type recorded music,” he replied, “Not a prayer..It doesn’t fit who we are.”

Herbert said that adding the cafe would help Roger’s Gardens contend with drought-related sales drops in nursery items, and that the decades-old, family-owned business, sitting on six acres, was a “pretty unique retail business.”

“It’s our goal that the cafe is equally unique,” he said. “We’ve been at that location 40 years. We’ve been a good neighbor and will continue to be good neighbors.”

After the hearing, neighbor Corena Dusek said she was content with the outcome.

“He addressed everything,” she said.

Roger’s Gardens is located at 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road.

At the same meeting, the Zoning Administrator approved a permit that would let Mayur Indian Cusine at 2931 East Coast Highway sell hard alcohol with a California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Type 47 license instead of its current license that allows beer and wine only. The Zoning Administrator also approved a permit for a new restaurant, Damasq Cafe, to open at 3601 East Coast Highway in the former Bohemia clothing boutique space.

Read our earlier story here.

Natural History Lecture Scheduled for April 1

posted: March 27th, 2015 05:05 am | 0No Comments

The Orange County Natural History Lecture Series will host an event from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday April 1, featuring ecologist Cascade Sorte on “Predicting the Future: How Will Global Change Affect Marine Species?”

The event will be held at Back Bay Science Center at 600 Shellmaker Road.

Sorte, a marine ecologist who studies the impacts of global change across scales, from physiology up to species ranges, is best known for her work showing that climate change can favor invasive species, leading to increased impacts on native species, an event announcement said. She is an assistant professor at the University of California at Irvine and has worked extensively on both coasts.

The lecture will describe Sorte’s “approaches to predicting the future impacts of global climate change on California’s marine species, including likely connections between climate change and the rise of invasive species,” the invitation states.

The event is free, but organizers request participants R.S.V.P. by emailing marine education at newportbeachca dot gov. The gates will open at 6:30 p.m. and close promptly at 7:15 p.m.

CdM B.I.D. Board Ponder Entryway Project, Median Banners, Business License Tax

posted: March 26th, 2015 12:50 pm | 1Comment

The Corona del Mar Business Improvement District board met today, discussing an entryway project that has been in the works for more then a decade.

Board members agreed to send a letter to City Council members, asking that they include the $400,000 project in the 2015/2016 budget.

The plan would remove and relocate eight parking spaces along East Coast Highway near MacArthur Boulevard and replace the roadway with expanded sidewalks and landscaping, as well as make Carnation Avenue a one-way street between Fourth Avenue and East Coast Highway, allowing several of the parking spaces to be relocated there on a stretch that is currently painted red.

In 2011, a citizens committee created a plan that would have moved the squeeze lane, where three lanes of East Coast Highway merge to two, from Carnation to Acacia. The $1.2 million plan then would have converted the former roadway to expanded sidewalks with landscaping and other features. In 2013, however, the City Council rejected that plan and later considered the scaled-down version.

B.I.D. members today expressed frustration that the City Council ultimately could fail to fund the project after the B.I.D. has paid about $100,000 toward the project, including paying for part of a traffic study.

City Councilman Scott Peotter of Corona del Mar urged the B.I.D. board to send a letter to Council, explaining how much the group has invested in the project to date.

Peotter also asked the B.I.D. board to consider his idea to eliminate or reduce the city’s business license tax, a topic that came up at Tuesday’s Council meeting; read our story here.

On Tuesday, Peotter said the City could afford to eliminate the tax, while possibly creating a flat fee that would pay for a database of businesses in the city that residents and others could use for research. Business license taxes add about $4 million to the city’s budget each year.

At the meeting, and in an email blast, Councilman Keith Curry criticized Peotter and his fiscal proposals.

“No analysis, no budget consideration, not even any real knowledge about how much money was involved,” Curry’s email said. “This would have created a $3-4 million hole in the budget during the middle of the fiscal year…This amount is enough to fund approximately 20 police officer positions.”

At today’s B.I.D. meeting, Peotter told the board members that Curry “came unglued” during the Council meeting. He said he would provide information to the B.I.D. and asked that members let him know their thoughts on changing the business license tax.

“I don’t know how you feel about it,” he said. “Curry doesn’t want to give it back because he wants to spend it.”

The City Council on Tuesday voted 5-1, with Curry dissenting, to have the city’s Finance Committee consider the business license tax structure. Councilman Tony Petros was absent.

“Curry is on the Finance Committee,” Peotter said. “So there will be pressure not to do it.”

Peotter also told the group that the B.I.D., or perhaps the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce, should consider taking over management of the banners in the median of East Coast Highway and Marguerite Avenue.

Leonhard said historically, Caltrans operated that section of roadway, and she worked with them to add banners that promoted Corona del Mar events. But when Newport Beach took over the highway, staff took over scheduling the banners, and often Corona del Mar events are not promoted because city staff has scheduled other events to be advertised.

Leonhard said the Corona del Mar Annual Town Meeting, scheduled for April 22, can’t advertise in the median because the Newport Beach Film Festival currently occupies the space.

Peotter said the B.I.D. seemed “like a natural instrument” to take over scheduling banner space, and that the group should create a proposal with criteria and other information and send it to city staff for consideration.

From the Police Log: Shoplifting Arrest, Burglary from Motor Vehicle

posted: March 26th, 2015 12:40 pm | 0No Comments

Newport Beach police arrested a 47-year-old Laguna Beach man Wednesday morning in the 3100 block of East Coast Highway on suspicion of shoplifting, according to reports.

The shoplifting, which involved stealing items worth less than $950, occurred at 10:05 a.m., and the man was arrested at 10:38 a.m. The man’s bail was $500, a report said.

Police also took a report of a burglary from a motor vehicle in the 23000 block of Newport Coast Drive on Tuesday. The burglary, with a loss of $800, occurred between 7 p.m. Monday and 7:15 a.m. Tuesday. Officers also took a report of identity theft on Wednesday in Crystal Cove; the incident occurred at 11:20 a.m. March 5, a report said.

CdM Coastline Classic Car Show Canceled

posted: March 26th, 2015 11:25 am | 0No Comments

After 11 years, the Corona del Mar Coastline Car Classic has been canceled for 2015, organizers said today.

The annual event took place in the Big Corona State Beach parking lot every year in early September, but planning the show had become a burden, said Chamber of Commerce President Linda Leonhard.

“It was the amount of time and effort,” she said. “We want to focus on events that benefit the business district.”

Leonhard said the Chamber of Commerce was working to expand its other two yearly events, the Christmas Walk and the Scenic 5K race; read our story here. Last month, Leonhard said she was working with police and city staff on possibly expanding the beer garden at the annual Christmas Walk, perhaps be closing Bayside Drive, as well as adding a V.I.P. lounge for Champagne toasts at the Scenic 5K finish line. City staff has requested the chamber conduct an updated traffic survey for the race, she said, and the chamber may also study the effects of closing a section of Bayside Drive during the Christmas Walk.

The car show could be incorporated into this year’s Christmas Walk, she said, with a parking lot reserved for classic cars.

Bernie Svalstad, chairman of the Corona del Mar Business Improvement District, said at a meeting today that the group could form a subcommittee to explore adding a new third event for Corona del Mar, perhaps a Summer Stroll or an Oktoberfest event.

“To me, it would start with something simple and easy,” he said.

“There’s a lot of ideas to explore,” Leonhard said.

Read about last year’s car show here.

NBPD Announce Distracted Driving Campaign

posted: March 26th, 2015 05:24 am | 0No Comments

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and Newport Beach police is planning to increase education and enforcement of distracted driving laws.

The campaign will involve more than 200 local law enforcement agencies and the California Highway Patrol, according to a news release.

“Driving takes one’s full attention and any distraction can have deadly, dangerous consequences,” said Chief Jay R. Johnson in the news release. “Imagine driving for four or five seconds while blindfolded… that can be the effect of looking down to send a text message. In the average time it takes to check a text message – less than 5 seconds – a car travelling at 60 mph will travel more than the length of a football field.”

The monthlong campaign includes two “high-visibility enforcement days” on April 1 and 15, the release said.

In California, the current minimum ticket cost for distracted driving is $161, the release said.

Police offered the following tips to avoid a distracted driving ticket or crash:

• Turn off your phone and/or put it out of reach while driving.

• In your outgoing message, note that you cannot answer the phone while you are driving.

• Do not call or text anyone at a time when you think they may be driving.