B.I.D. Wants to Illuminate Median Palm Trees Throughout CdM

posted: July 26th, 2014 04:02 am | 6Comments

The Corona del Mar Business Improvement District board has delayed a decision about how to spend $5,000 to improve village holiday decorations and instead will research what steps to take to be able to add lights to palm trees along East Coast Highway.

The B.I.D. pays more than $20,000 each year to add banners, grapevine deer and other holiday decorations, with the focal point being a lighted tree in the median at Marguerite and East Coast Highway.

This year, the group wants to spend an additional $5,000, and board members on Thursday considered whether to add four faux presents to be placed around the tree. The fiberglass gift boxes, red and gold with bows, would cost $4,986.34 — nearly the entire budget. The group also considered adding more lighted snowflakes to the tree at a cost of $1,623.

Instead, however, the group decided to wait on a decision because members want to ask for city staff to help them figure out how to add power to medians along East Coast Highway so more palm trees could have Christmas lights, and possibly be illuminated with flood lights year-round.

“I think that has more impact for the village, to have all the palm trees lighted up,” said Scott Palmer, a B.I.D. volunteer.

Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce President Linda Leonhard said that adding lights throughout town would create a festive, holiday environment that could draw visitors and eventually lead to holiday lighting ceremonies.

Stacey Jordan of the Dekra-Lite lighting company told the group that the village has 38 palm trees, mostly smaller trees, in 11 areas along East Coast Highway.

The board also decided at Thursday’s meeting to work with Dekra-Lite artists to create Christmas Walk window clings for merchants, along with illuminated holiday graphs that can be placed in windows. The window clings would cost about $8.85 to $15.45 each, and the illuminated graphics would cost $75.95 to $104.55 each. B.I.D. members will receive ordering information when the designs have been approved.


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

posted: July 25th, 2014 02:10 pm | 0No Comments

1. The Central Library is hosting Pet Adoption Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday as part of this year’s Summer Reading Program, themed Paws to Read. The event, which will be held in partnership with the Orange County Humane Society and City’s Animal Control department, will take place near the lower level entrance to the library. The Central Library also will host Batman Day from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, where there will be crafts and a scavenger hunt to celebrate Batman’s 75th anniversary. Costumes are encouraged. The library is located at 1000 Avocado Ave.

2. Crystal Cove State Park will host a guided Coastal Geology Walk from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday; meet at the Los Trancos lot. There also will be a Sunset Hike that meets at 7:30 at the Berns Amphitheater, which is inland at the School-State Park entrance.

3. The Corona del Mar Farmers Market will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in the parking lot near Bayside Drive and Marguerite Avenue.

4. Recycled Rags will host its monthly parking lot party from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, featuring hotdogs, lemonade and coffee, as well as discounted items on racks in the back lot. There also will be donuts for the early risers, as well as a $5 gift for the first 25 people in the door. Recycled Rags is located at 2731 East Coast Highway. For more information call (949) 675-5553.

5. A Family Science Day event with an astronomy theme will take place at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Muth Interpretive Center, featuring a craft, self-guided activities and hands-on exploration. There will be story times at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The event is free and designed for kids between 3 and 12 years old. The Muth Interpretive Center is located at 2301 University Drive in Newport Beach.


City Submits Charcoal-Only Beach Plan to Coastal Commission

posted: July 25th, 2014 05:07 am | 2Comments

The City of Newport Beach has submitted a coastal development permit application for a charcoal-only beach fire ring pilot program.

The city’s 60 beach fire rings have been charcoal-only since March in an effort to comply with new rules from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. In June, City Manager Dave Kiff confirmed that the city planned to conduct a 26-month pilot program; read our story here.

The city’s 50-page application was submitted on July 17, and signs announcing the pending application have been posted.

According to the city’s application, the city has staff “dedicated to overseeing the use of the fire ring areas near the Balboa Pier and on the Corona del Mar State Beach.”

“These staff members serve not only to ensure the charcoal only rule is complied with, but also as reconnaissance in the field,” the application said.

Since beginning the charcoal-only program, the application states, the same general numbers of people are using the rings as before, and for about the same length of time.

“By appearance, fire ring users seem to be having a comparable experience (fun, food, warmth, and socializing) and the amount of users cooking on the fire rings has increased,” the application states. “Beachgoers tend to report that ‘charcoal only’ has not been a deterrent to having an enjoyable time.”

Fewer than 5 percent of visitors choose to go to Huntington Beach to burn wood, and while non compliance exists when staff is not present, the city believes “that smoke levels are significantly decreased,” the application states.

The pilot program would not involve moving or removing and rings and would continue education and outreach and increased staffing to monitor ring usage, the application states. The application also includes a photo of six women smiling in front of a blazing fire that appears to be fueled by a mound of charcoal.

The Coastal Commission has not yet posted online its August meeting agenda, and it is unclear when the Newport Beach charcoal application will be scheduled.

Some residents who live near the fire rings have praised the charcoal-only rules and believe that smoke pollution has been reduced since the rules have been in place.

But many beach visitors have expressed the opposite opinion, said Doug Swardstrom, a leader of the Friends of the Fire Rings group that is working to bring back wood bonfires at the beach.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Swardstrom spoke during the non-agenda public comment portion of the meeting and asked the Council members four questions, including whether research on the health and safety of charcoal smoke and lighter fluid had been performed, how long free charcoal would be given away, whether parking lot revenue was a proper way to count beach fire rings users considering that most fire rings are used at night when parking is free, and whether some rings could be wood-fueld with others charcoal-fueled, spread at intervals to comply with air district rules.

“Everybody wants the wood,” he said. “It’s possible to be in compliance.”

Neither Council members nor staff addressed him or answered his questions.


From the Police Log: Residential Burglary, Purse Snatching

posted: July 24th, 2014 06:11 pm | 0No Comments

A burglar broke into a Corona del Mar home earlier this week, stealing $15,000 worth of items, according to a police report.

The burglary with forced entry occurred between 9 a.m. Monday and 5:15 p.m. Wednesday in the 2700 block of Windward Drive, the report said. Information about what was taken was not available.

“The house was broken into while it was being fumigated for termites,” said Lt. Jeff Brouwer.

Police also took a report of a grand theft from a person, or a purse snatching incident, in the 1000 block of Newport Center Drive at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. The theft, with a loss of $1,655, was reported Wednesday.

“The purse was stolen from a stroller while the mother was attending to a child,” Brouwer said.


Former Harbor View Teacher Killed in Solo Car Crash

posted: July 24th, 2014 02:39 pm | 0No Comments

A woman involved in a solo vehicle crash Wednesday on Newport Coast Drive has died, police said.

Karine A. Bondra, 46, of Irvine, died at 6:50 p.m. at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo, according to the Orange County coroner’s webpage.

A witness called 911 to report a single vehicle collision at 11:24 a.m. on Newport Coast Drive just north of Pelican Hill Road South, police said. Bondra was traveling southbound on Newport Coast Drive when her silver Honda left the road and crossed the center median. She was ejected from the vehicle and suffered critical injuries, according to a police news release. Newport Beach Fire Department paramedics transported her to the hospital, where she later died.

She was the only occupant of the vehicle.

Bondra taught fifth grade at Harbor View Elementary School, when she was known as Kari Laveaud.

Laura Boss, a Newport-Mesa Unified School District spokeswoman, said in an email that she had been currently employed by the district and most recently taught at Harbor View and Woodland elementary schools.

“This is a tragic event and our thoughts and prayers are with her family during this difficult time,” Boss wrote.

“It is so sad and tragic,” said Harbor View Principal Todd Schmidt. “Although at Harbor View for a short time, once a Viking, always a Viking. She will be greatly missed, and her family is in our thoughts and prayers.”

Schmidt said he sent emails to Harbor View staff members and families to inform them of the news.

Police continue to investigate the collision and ask that anyone with information call Investigator Scott Grecco at (949) 644-3747.


“CdM Bypass” Details Begin to Emerge

posted: July 24th, 2014 11:31 am | 4Comments

A Corona del Mar bypass plan would incorporate real-time driving information and electronic signs, a city councilman told members of the CdM Business Improvement District at a meeting today.

The bypass plan was a last-minute addition to the proposed amendment to the land-use element of the city’s General Plan, which the City Council approved on Tuesday. The amendment will be on the Nov. 4 ballot; read our earlier story here.

Supporters say voters should have the right to decide on whether to approve the amendment, which would add 500,000 square feet of office space, 50,000 square feet of retail and 500 new residential units in Newport Center. Opponents say the development will worsen already bad traffic in the Corona del Mar area, although supporters say the new plan will result in nearly 3,000 fewer “average daily car trips” from what the 2006 General Plan would have allowed.

At a meeting earlier this month, Mayor Pro Tem Ed Selich suggested adding the Corona del Mar bypass plan as a way to ease traffic concerns. Originally, he proposed requiring the bypass plan before development was allowed, but the version the Council passed this week requires only “consideration” of the plan.

The goal would be to divert traffic off East Coast Highway through the village by urging motorists to take Newport Coast Drive, the 73 toll road, San Joaquin Hills or other roads if they were trying to pass the village.

According to a city staff report, the plan “shall, among other things, identify traffic measures that divert traffic on surface streets, such as new signage,” but very few details were provided.

At today’s B.I.D. meeting, however, Selich said that he envisioned using sensors on roadways to measure traffic, then use that data to provide real-time driving estimates. Signs would be placed near Newport Coast Drive and East Coast Highway for motorists heading from the Laguna Beach area, and near Bonita Canyon and MacArthur Boulevard for motorists heading from the airport area.

The city could work with officials at the 73 toll road to reduce or eliminate tolls between Bonita Canyon and Newport Coast Drive — a plan many B.I.D. board members said would improve their own driving habits and help with Corona del Mar congestion.

“It’s a very high hurdle to achieve, a very high bar,” Selich said. “That would be the ultimate solution.”

B.I.D. Chairman Bernie Svalstad said the group would have liked more time to discuss the bypass plan before the Council vote.

“That would have been nice,” Selich said. “It’s the way the process worked out.”

The board members also discussed whether diverting traffic from Corona del Mar would be good or bad for business owners. New board member Shawn Lim, owner of Rose Bakery Cafe, said he had new customers every day, so more people driving by the restaurant meant more possible customers.

But others said that heavy traffic discouraged locals from heading into the business district to spend money.

“I do think that congestion is a negative thing for the village,” said Jim Walker, owner of the Bungalow restaurant.

It was not clear whether the bypass plan would be developed even if the amendment failed to pass in November. In any case, Selich said that the plan would need more study before being implemented.

“It needs some vetting,” he said. “I think it’s a worthwhile thing to go ahead with.”


CdM Chamber Mixer Scheduled for July 29

posted: July 24th, 2014 05:31 am | 0No Comments

The Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce will host a Sunset Mixer from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday July 29 at Sherman Library & Gardens in the library building, according to an emailed invitation.

The event is free for members at $20 for guests and will include live music, networking opportunities, appetizers and refreshments and a docent-led tour of the gardens.

Sherman Library & Gardens is located at 2647 East Coast Highway. Free parking will be available behind Sherman Library & Gardens.


Passengers, Dog Rescued After Boat Catches Fire and Sinks off Crystal Cove

posted: July 23rd, 2014 04:56 pm | 1Comment

A 24-foot long boat caught fire 3 1/2 miles off Crystal Cove this afternoon, a Orange County Sheriff’s Harbor Patrol official said.

The fire occurred about 3:30 p.m., and two passengers and their dog were rescued by another boat passing by, said Sgt. Fritz Von Rettberg.

“The boat was fully engulfed” when Harbor Patrol boats reached it, he said. “We put it out, and the boat sank after that.”

No one was injured in the incident. Smoke could be seen from Corona del Mar as well as from Crystal Cove, he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Von Rettberg said. The value of the boat was not immediately known.

Photo courtesy of Corona del Mar Today reader Sarah Drislane.


Woman Critically Injured in Solo Crash

posted: July 23rd, 2014 04:47 pm | 0No Comments

A Laguna Beach woman was critically injured when her car crashed on Newport Coast Drive earlier today, according to a police news release.

The 46-year-old woman was driving southbound on Newport Coast Drive when her vehicle left the roadway and crossed the center median just north of Pelican Hill Road South about 11:24 a.m. She was the only person in the car, police said, and no other vehicles were involved.

The woman was ejected from the vehicle and sustained critical injuries, the release said, and Newport Beach Fire Department paramedics transported her to Mission Hospital.

The crash is under investigation, and anyone with information is asked to call Investigator Scott Grecco at (949) 644-3747.

Police issued a Nixle alert after the crash, advising motorists to avoid the area.


Police Urge Motorists to Avoid Newport Coast Drive Near Coast Highway

posted: July 23rd, 2014 11:58 am | 0No Comments

The Newport Beach Police Department has issued an alert, warning motorists to avoid both directions of Newport Coast Drive between East Coast Highway and Pelican Hill Road North because of a traffic accident.

The alert was issued at 11:56 a.m.

No other details about the incident were immediately available. The alert is in effect “until further notice,” it said.