A Port Theater representative asked the Corona del Mar Business Improvement District board this week if it would agree to remove an orchid tree that blocks the theater’s electronic marquee.
“The tree completely blocks half of our marquee so traffic going north on PCH can’t see what’s going on,” said Jessica Prause, a theater representative. “We spent a lot of money and time revitalizing the theater, making it look nice. We’re happy to pay the costs of moving it. We just need permission.”
The city’s Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission had advised the theater’s owner that the B.I.D. group would need to OK the request before going forward, Prause said.
Scott Palmer, the B.I.D.’s administrator, expressed concern that several other businesses had also requested removal of trees that block signs, and that granting the Port’s request would “open a real can of worms of people saying, ‘You did it for the Port, you should do it for me.’”
Prause said the theater, which dates to 1949, had been granted landmark status.
“There has never been a tree there previously,” she said. She also passed out copies of a photograph that she said was taken in the 1950s that showed an elephant in front of a crowd by the theater, and the marquee saying “Cecil B. DeMille’s Greatest Show on Earth Academy Award Winner.” The movie was released in 1952.
Newport Beach City Councilman Ed Selich suggested the tree be moved to another location and replaced with a mature King Palm with a trunk that rose above the marquee so fronds wouldn’t block it.
The orchid tree could be moved to a tree well in front of Zinc Cafe & Market, the group decided.