A project that will enhance the Corona del Mar entryway at MacArthur Boulevard and East Coast Highway — its origins dating back to 1998 — should go before the Newport Beach City Council for further consideration, a city committee decided unanimously at a meeting held Thursday.
Members of the Newport Beach Neighborhood Revitalization Committee heard public comments and discussed the plans, which would move the point where three lanes merge to two and use the former traffic lane to expand sidewalks and improve landscaping. In December, a Citizens Advisory Panel approved the concept plans for the project; read our story here.
At Thursday’s meeting, several residents said they were against the plan, which would remove nine parking spaces at MacArthur Boulevard. Some complained about traffic problems, crowds and not having enough information.
“Nobody knew anything about it, and when I explained what it was, everyone was against it,” said one woman, an Acacia Avenue resident. “They’re ramming it down our throats.”
Councilman Ed Selich, who sits on the NRC committee, suggested that city crews paint stripes at the intersection and use cameras to monitor how traffic flow is affected. He also provided background on the beautification project, which he said dated back to a community meeting held at the OASIS Senior Center in 1998. That meeting spurred local leaders and members of the Corona del Mar Business Improvement District to begin working with urban planners to create a Vision Plan, and those leaders spent years presenting that plan to groups and organizations, Selich said.
“Over the years, the B.I.D. slowly, incrementally began working on implementing the Vision Plan,” he said. “It met with broad support.”
The entryway plan was an original goal of that Vision Plan. Last year, with the creation of the NRC group, the project became part of a citywide discussion of revitalization. The Citizens Advisory Panel began meeting over the summer, and their suggestion needed committee approval before being sent to the City Council for possible approval. If the Council approves the plan, funding for the $1.3 million project would not be available until at least the 2013 fiscal year.
The City Council will consider the entryway plan at a Feb. 28 meeting. If they decide the plan should move forward, more public outreach will be conducted, as well as studies of traffic and a plan to replace the lost parking spaces.
Bernie Svalstad, a B.I.D. board member and member of the CAP group, said the Corona del Mar Residents Association’s April town meeting would include information about the project, and that more outreach would be conducted before any construction is begun.
“I think these things will be worked out,” he said. “This is going to be going on and on and on as usual. There’s plenty of time. If it’s worked out, good, we’ll have a beautiful entrance not just to Corona del Mar but to Newport Beach.”