Council Votes No on CdM Entryway Project; Call for “Comprehensive Parking Solution” Before Removing PCH Spots

posted: January 9th, 2013 11:02 am | 7Comments

The Newport Beach City Council took about one hour Tuesday night to unanimously reject a Corona del Mar beautification project that had been in the works for more than a decade.

The Council members also decided to “call for a comprehensive parking solution” before going forward with permanently removing eight parking spaces on East Coast Highway and possibly using the space for a small-scale version of the project.

The original project would have cost about $1.2 million, and the smaller project would cost about $450,000, said City Manager Dave Kiff. City funds have not been allocated to either project.

At Tuesday’s meeting, City Traffic Engineer Tony Brine explained a study conducted over the summer, which could have led to funding for the beautification project at East Coast Highway and MacArthur Boulevard. City staff moved the squeeze lane, where three traffic lanes merge to two, from Carnation Avenue to Acacia Avenue, then observed traffic backups that drew complaints, especially from residents of the Irvine Terrace neighborhood.

Councilman Ed Selich said he attended the Irvine Terrace homeowners association’s annual meeting in November, where residents inundated him with complaints about traffic backing up, making it impossible to turn from Avocado and into a turn lane on East Coast Highway.

“This was my idea,” he said, referring to his work on the Corona del Mar Vision Plan of the 1990s. “It seemed like a terrific idea at the time. The idea was to move the bottleneck further to the west. It seemed to make sense…The perception of the people in Irvine Terrace was it’s a terrible solution.”

A Corona del Mar Citizens Advisory Panel met in 2011 and created a plan that would have converted the former traffic lane into expanded sidewalks with curved walls, landscaping and other features that would make the entryway more appealing for pedestrians; read our story here.

At Tuesday’s Council meeting, cycling advocate and Corona del Mar resident Frank Peters spoke in favor of the project.

“Where else in the city are we enhancing the pedestrian experience?” he said.

Jim Walker, owner of the Bungalow Restaurant (and a Corona del Mar Today advertiser) that is located in the area of the proposed project, also spoke at the meeting and expressed concern about a staff proposal to remove eight Coast Highway parking spots despite rejecting the entryway project overall. Walker said the beautification project would have encouraged pedestrians to visit the area’s merchants, which would have compensated for moving the parking spots. Losing the project and the parking was lose-lose, he said.

“We’ve had a traffic-flow problem there for the past 30 to 40 years,” he said. “If we take the parking away, the merchants are going to have a cash-flow problem.”

City staff removed the parking at the T-intersection of East Coast Highway and MacArthur for the parking study with promises to replace them if the project went forward. On Tuesday, city staff said the parking spaces were unsafe in that intersection and should be removed. The spots would be relocated, possibly in part by making a section of Carnation Avenue one-way.

“Carnation should be in addition,” Walker said. “The north part of Corona del Mar has a major parking shortage. Any parking that we lose is hard to replace.”

In all, about 10 people spoke at the Tuesday hearing, mostly in support of the project.

Others, like George Schroeder, said the traffic study showed the project’s fatal flaws.

“I don’t believe it’s a good concept,” he said. “We all saw the study, we all saw it backed up and said, ‘Well, there you are.’”

In the end, City Council member Nancy Gardner of Corona del Mar made a motion, which the Council unanimously supported in a 7-0 vote. Part of the motion called for “a comprehensive parking solution” for Corona del Mar before proceeding with the project, as well as having staff redesign landscape plans for the smaller-scaled project.

After the meeting, Corona del Mar Business Improvement District Chairman Bernie Svalstad said he wasn’t surprised at the Council’s decision.

“We go back to the drawing board,” he said.

Walker, who also is on the B.I.D. board, said parking was his main concern.

“I knew we were facing a losing battle,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to provide more parking for the north side of Corona del Mar.”

Read our earlier stories here, here, here, here, click here.


7 Responses to “Council Votes No on CdM Entryway Project; Call for “Comprehensive Parking Solution” Before Removing PCH Spots”

Comments

Frank Peters

January 9th, 2013

This is a terrible outcome. Cars win, pedestrians lose. City staff, who will soon move into the new City Hall, would've been among the many beneficiaries as they explore lunchtime restaurants. Worst of all, the "comprehensive parking solution" will only mean one thing: short term relief followed by more cars and a further reduction in quality of life here in CdM.

Cdm Local

January 9th, 2013

The proposal /test worked because it slowed the traffic between Avocado and Dahlia, where the lanes merge from 3 to 2. With the current set up, drivers turning left from MacArthur to PCH try to speed up as quickly as possible and create hazards for drivers attempting to look out for auto & bike traffic and pedestrians when turning onto Dahlia. During the test, with 2 lanes, the traffic was already 'calmed' into 2 lanes when people turned, and frenetic, aggressive driving behavior was reduced. Faster is often not better.

Gigi

January 10th, 2013

Whether your like it or not, there are going to be more cars. Period. Everyone needs to get off their "all about me and my rights" high horse and learn to SHARE THE ROAD. Frankly, this matter is so ridiculous if you've ever lived in NYC or Chgo. It's ONE ROAD. Yes, it's crowded. Yes, there are people walking around. Yes, there are cars driving. Why is any of this upsetting you all so much? Get over yourselves and focus on the bigger picture in life.

David Huntsman

January 10th, 2013

Will there be more cars? I don't think so. Kids aren't rushing to get a car the way previous generations did. There certainly aren't more places to park them. Of course many will continue to drive. But, why the need to drive fast through CdM? I observed the traffic study. The cars weren't overly put out.

Gigi

January 10th, 2013

David, I agree with you other than that there will be more cars because kids don't "rush" to get cars, their parents buy them cars.... And why people drive so fast thru CDM is a mystery to me. Where are they going that is so iimportant they need to zig zag around other drivers, barely missing hitting bikers and people on foot.

isabelle

January 10th, 2013

I don't get it...decades old traffic issues at that corner yet new bank at same corner gets parking variance for 9 cars???

Michael Toerge

January 10th, 2013

In the coming year there will be much more traffic coming and going into Newport Center with the opening of the new Civic Center and two new 300,000 square foot high rise office buildings for Pimco and the Irvine Company. It’s hard to imagine that these new developments will not add more traffic to this intersection. I applaud the city council’s effort to beautify Corona del Mar while enhancing pedestrian and cycling opportunities through CdM and the city in general. But, to the city council’s credit, rather than simply implementing the project, they organized a test project to help them make a decision. The test clearly revealed that the plan, at the very least, requires more work. I was especially impressed with Councilman Selich’s position as he is the father of the Vision Plan that has brought many aesthetic improvements to CdM. This beautification piece of the Vision Plan was an important part of the plan from day one, yet Councilman Selich listened to the results of the test and reasoned that the plan, in the form presented, was not supportable. Thank you Councilmember Gardner for insisting that a general parking solution for this area be included in whatever modified plan returns for consideration.


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