City to Host Second Annual Breakfast With Santa Event

posted: November 20th, 2014 05:10 am | 0No Comments

For the second year, Newport Beach will host a Breakfast With Santa event from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Friday Dec. 5.

The breakfast costs $15 per person, and children under 2 years old are free, according to the Newport Navigator. The event will take place at the Newport Coast Community Center at 6401 San Joaquin Hills Road. The breakfast will include crafts and photos.

For more information on the event, call (949) 270-8100, or you can register online here.

Newport Beach used to hold annual Winter Wonderland events, which cost about $32,000 and brought artificial snow to a city park, but those events were suspended in 2011 due to budget cuts. The same year, the city cut its annual Easter egg hunt event as well.


From the Police Log: Alcohol-Related Arrest, Theft From Vehicle

posted: November 19th, 2014 01:34 pm | 0No Comments

Newport Beach police arrested a 24-year-old Santa Ana man Monday afternoon on suspicion of disorderly conduct while intoxicated and drinking in public at East Coast Highway and Marguerite Avenue, a report said. His bail was $500.

Police also took a report of a lost access card on Monday in the 600 block of Newport Center Drive. The loss occurred between 5:20 and 5:30 p.m. Nov. 12. Officers also took a report of a petty theft from a motor vehicle on Monday in the 300 block of San Miguel Drive. The theft occurred between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m., and no loss was listed on a report.


CdMHS Sports Complex Project Takes A Tiny Step Forward

posted: November 19th, 2014 10:48 am | 4Comments

The Newport-Mesa Unified School boardroom was standing room only Tuesday night, with dozens of parents and neighbors of Corona del Mar High School ready to share their thoughts on a proposed new sports complex on the school’s Eastbluff campus.

After listening to about an hour of public comments, the board agreed to have staff develop a concrete proposal for the project, including any privately funded additions, and bring that back to them at a Dec. 9 meeting for a vote.

The board already approved $7.4 million in funding from a one-time windfall to replace the outdated facility with an all-weather, artificial track field and 1,000 new seats. The also approved field improvements for Newport Harbor High School and Costa Mesa High School, and those projects are underway.

But residents’ complaints about the CdMHS project caused it to be tabled earlier this year.

On Tuesday, 15 people spoke in support of the project and eight spoke against. The audience applauded each speaker, and the mood was civil.

Several speakers said they were concerned about poor field conditions that have contributed to injuries, including rolled ankles and broken legs.

Varsity lacrosse player Emily Schwartz, who wore a leg brace and used crutches to approach the podium, said the fields were crammed, and that injuries were a serious concern.

“We have more than we would like,” she said.

“Our student athletes are playing in conditions that are beyond sub-par,” said Bryan Middleton, the school’s girls soccer coach. “I’ve had girls with scholarship opportunities who are rolling their ankles on our fields.

But Denise Lambe, who lives on Aralia Street near the school, said the project would decrease the already bad quality of life that residents have because of the school.

“I can’t get out of my area,” she said. “I hear the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag at 9 a.m., and the water polo kids in the afternoon. There’s trash and speeding and disrespect. Why are so many houses for sale in the Bluffs? People are running away.”

Arnie Blakely, another resident, said the school was 52 years old and was already excellent.

“What is the real need for a stadium?” he asked. “Will it make students smarter?”

A few residents, however, said they weren’t bothered by the noise and traffic associated with living near a high school.

Cory Alder, a CdMHS graduate whose three children also graduated from the school, said he lives every day with the traffic.

“It’s not that bad,” he said. “I can make some accommodations for the kids in our community. Close your window, turn on some music, go to dinner. Better yet, get out to the game and experience it. It’s invigorating.”

The board’s decision on Tuesday night did not require a vote because they were only directing staff to come back with a specific plan on Dec. 9, when they will decide how to proceed.

Deputy Superintendent Paul Reed said staff would work with cross country and track coach Bill Sumner and others who wish to expand on the project, perhaps by including lighting, a snack bar and restrooms.

“It’s their dollars,” he said. “They get to decide what they want to propose.”

The group would have to agree to have funds raised by specific timeframes for three stages — initial planning, construction documents and construction. Then, he said, the board could decide whether to accept the amended project or keep it as originally budgeted and proposed.

Board president Karen Yelsey said she’d received about 50 emails from parents in support of the project. She also praised Principal Kathy Scott for working with students and residents to alleviate concerns about students parking off campus and littering.

Read our earlier stories here, here and here.


CdMHS Reflections Art Contest Winners Announced

posted: November 19th, 2014 05:05 am | 0No Comments

The Corona del Mar High School PTA has announced winners of the 2014-2015 Reflections art contest.

In the Dance/Choreography category, junior Kendall Kurzweil placed first with a piece called “Hope,” according to a PTA email. Last year, she reached the state level in the contest; read our story here.

In the Film Production category, sophomore Hannah Schoenbaum placed first with “Unmasked.”

In the Literature category, freshman Joaquin Andrade placed first with “The Power of Humanity,” sophomore Justin Lloyd placed second with “The World Would Be a Better Place If…” and sophomore Fritz Miller placed third with “Changing the World.”

Freshman Brandon Getter placed first in the Music Composition category with “Imagination,” the email said. And in the Photography category, sophomore Alex Hachigian placed first with “Tower of Knowledge,” and freshmen Austin Paskerian and Grace Hachigian tied for second place with “Cloudy With a Chance of Water” and “Beautiful Fortress in the Forest,” junior Dean Ames placed third with “Surf and Turf,” and sophomore John “J.T.” Russell received an honorable mention for “Remembering Our Traditions.”

In the Visual Arts category, sophomore Katherine Gerlt placed first with “What if Someone Cared Enough to Reach Another,” sophomore Yein Lee placed second with “Finding the Real Me,” freshman Tiare Kofsky placed third with “Soul Dancer,” and sophomore Alexander Munro received an honorable mention for “PEACE.”

The middle school winners include Allyson Lobel, eighth grade, who won first place in the dance/choreography category with a piece called “A Smile on the Inside,” according to the email.

Celine Niu, eighth grade, won first place in the Film Production category with “The Power of Cooperation,” the email said. In the Literature category, Miranda Chang, eighth grade, placed first with a piece called “Everyone in the World Could Help Each Other Out.” Celine Niu placed second with “The Three Resketeers” and third with “Converting Fractious.”

John Dick III, seventh grade, placed first in the Music Composition category with “Redemption,” the email said.

In the Photography category, Brooklyn Hollander, seventh grade, placed first with “People Like Dogs,” Abbas Akmal, eighth grade, placed second with “The Journey of a Dark Night to a Bright Day,” and Brooklyn Hollander placed third with “The Big Picture.”

In the Visual Arts category, Leyla Rakshani, eighth grade, placed first with “Opportunity.”

All first-place winners now advance to the Harbor Council Level, the email said.

This year’s contest theme was “The world would be a better place if…”


CdM Sunset, 11/18/2014

posted: November 18th, 2014 05:04 pm | 0No Comments


City’s Charcoal Application Updates Now On Hold

posted: November 18th, 2014 12:57 pm | 16Comments

The City of Newport Beach’s coastal development permit for charcoal-only fire rings is on hold, a city spokeswoman confirmed today.

“It’s on hold because we likely won’t pursue the current application until getting further direction from the next City Council,” said Tara Finnigan in an email.

In December, four new City Council members will be sworn in: Scott Peotter, Diane Dixon, Marshall “Duffy” Duffield and
Kevin Muldoon. Current Council members Mike Henn, Leslie Daigle and Nancy Gardner will term out, and Mayor Rush Hill lost to Duffield.

During their campaigns, Muldoon, Duffield and Peotter said they supported wood-burning fire rings. And current Councilman Tony Petros was not on the Council when it voted to remove the rings, although he did support a charcoal-only option; read our story here.

Newport Beach implemented the charcoal-only rule in March in order to comply with South Coast Air Quality Management District rule amendments on beach fire rings, but city staff agreed to work with the Coastal Commission staff on obtaining a permit for the program. The City submitted its 50-page application on July 17; read our story here.

In August, however, the Coastal Commission staff sent a three-page letter to the city, requesting more information including data on air quality and health impacts from charcoal smoke, whether data had been gathered about how fire ring users’ experience with charcoal compared to wood, charcoal availability and the dates of the proposed pilot program; read our earlier story here.

In October, city staff said they hoped to have the application complete and resubmitted by mid-October. A Coastal Commission staff member confirmed that no new information had been submitted, and that the application had not been withdrawn.

The new Council members will be sworn in at the Council’s only meeting in December on Dec. 9. That meeting typically is ceremonial, with goodbyes to outgoing members, placing new members on the dais and electing a mayor and mayor pro tem. New business will likely wait until a meeting in January.


Two Arrests in OCSD Suspended License Sting Operation

posted: November 18th, 2014 10:04 am | 0No Comments

An Orange County Sheriff’s Department sting operation at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach this week resulted in two arrests, according to a department news release.

The undercover “court sting” took place Monday, when deputies staked out offenders who had been old not to drive, the release said.

“Eight offenders were followed by deputies from courtrooms to their vehicles to ensure that they were not driving,” the release said. “While some offenders complied with the law and had alternate means of transportation, two individuals in court for DUI proceeded to get behind the wheel and drove away from the courthouse.”

Deputies waiting nearby stopped the two drivers near the courthouse, and both drivers received misdemeanor traffic citations for driving on a suspended license. Their vehicles also were impounded for 30 days.

“DUI Court Sting stakeout operations, along with regularly scheduled high visibility DUI enforcement, serve as a proven deterrent with the goal of keeping impaired drivers from the road and heightening awareness among the public of the dangers of driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol,” the release said. The operation was funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


Where Could Civic Center Bunnies Go? Ideas Multiply Like, Well, Rabbits

posted: November 18th, 2014 05:24 am | 18Comments

Newport Beach City Councilman-elect Scott Peotter has nothing against rabbits — but the bunny statues in the Civic Center park are symbols of wastefulness and have to go, he said in an interview this week.

“We’ve just got to get rid of the bunnies,” he said. “I would like to find a very good adoptive home for the bunnies.”

Peotter, who will be sworn in as Corona del Mar’s Council representative at a December meeting, made the bunnies a campaign issue, even creating a YouTube commercial that shows one of the rabbit’s head being digitally blown off.

“It certainly is a very symbolic thing,” he said.

The 16 rabbit sculptures cost about $13,800 per rabbit, or about $221,000, according to a city webpage. The price included grading, placement, design, manufacturing, painting and anti-graffiti protection. The project’s budget for children’s play element was $225,000, and other climbable sculptures that were considered, including giant sea turtles and spider webs, were rejected because of cost and durability concerns. (Read our earlier stories about the bunnies here and here.) Two of the bunnies are 8 feet tall, and 14 others are smaller and placed facing inward in a ring. The bunnies are white with different colored, pastel-shaded eyes.

Peotter has criticized the cost of the entire Civic Center project, calling the building Taj-Ma-City-Hall, and calling for more transparency in city government.

The rabbits, he said, should be removed from the complex as a sign of respect to taxpayers — and not at the taxpayers’ expense. Private funds should be used to move them, or they could be given away to an organization that would pay all moving fees.

He plans to ask the Council to place the topic on a future agenda, perhaps requesting that the city’s Arts Commission to explore various possibilities.

“I want to do it right away,” he said. “Maybe at the first meeting in January, I’ll do that.”

Private funds could be used to move the bunnies to other city parks, he said, or they could be auctioned or donated to Children’s Hospital of Orange County or an animal shelter. There’s also been interest in the bunnies from agencies outside the area, who found out about Peotter’s goal on his campaign Facebook page.

“We would very much love to have one or two of the bunnies to display on our property,” said Margo DeMello, president of the House Rabbit Society, the world’s largest rabbit rescue and educational organization.

“We operate a rescue and adoption facility in Richmond, California,” she said in an email. The organization also has chapters and volunteers nationwide and in countries including Japan, Greece and Australia.

“Our volunteers, and the staff who run our shelter in California, rescue homeless rabbits from municipal shelters, rehabilitate them, and adopt them out as indoor household companions, and we educate the public on compassionate, humane, house rabbit care,” she said.

Ross Holly, of Friendly Farms in Monterey County, also left a Facebook post inquiring about the rabbits.

“I saw your request for re-homing the NB bunnies and I would like to request (if possible) one or two for our Rabbit Rescue / Small Animal sanctuary…” he posted. “Please let me know if this is a legitimate offer.” In a private message, Holly said he was corresponding with Peotter and would continue to follow the issue when it moves onto a City Council agenda.

Peotter said he’s received emails and messages from residents who said they and their children love the bunnies, but plenty of messages from others who agree with him.

“I have to learn the ropes, learn what kind of staff time would be involved in this,” he said. “The taxpayers have already been injured enough. It’s clear that it would only happen if we could do it in a way that taxpayers don’t have to pay to get rid of them.”

Peotter said he didn’t know if there was a requirement to have a play structure installed to replace the bunnies, and that also would be something to consider as the issue evolves.

A City spokeswoman declined to speculate on what might happen to the bunnies.

Second image courtesy of Scott Peotter’s campaign.


From the Police Log: Man Arrested on Suspicion of Burglary

posted: November 17th, 2014 12:19 pm | 0No Comments

A 46-year-old Santa Ana man was arrested at 2:25 p.m. Friday in the 600 block of Orchid Avenue on suspicion of residential burglary without forced entry as well as receiving stolen property. His bail was $50,000, a report said.

The burglary had occurred in the same location, police said, and cash was taken. The victim knew the suspect, whose occupation was listed as housecleaner on a police report.

Police also arrested a 22-year-old Corona man at 11:52 a.m. Friday at Ocean Boulevard and Fernleaf avenue on suspicion of possession of unlawful paraphernalia and driving with a suspended or revoked license. His bail was $500.

A 59-year-old Costa Mesa man was arrested at 2:11 a.m. Friday at East Coast Highway and Jasmine Avenue on suspicion of DUI and DUI with a prior; his bail was $2,500. Police also took a report of taking an auto without the owners consent on Nov. 12. The incident occurred in the 800 block of Avocado Avenue between 3 and 8:10 p.m.

Officers took a report of grand theft auto on Nov. 12 in the 3200 block of East Coast Highway. The theft occurred at 8:03 a.m., a report said. Officers took a report of an obscenity or threat in the 1400 block of Newport Center Drive on Thursday. The incident occurred between 9:47 p.m. Oct. 25 and midnight Thursday. Police also took a report of a petty theft from buildings in the 100 block of Newport Center Drive on Sunday. The theft, with a loss of $310 occurred between 3 and 6 p.m. Sunday, a report said.


CdMHS Sports Complex on Tuesday School Board Agenda

posted: November 17th, 2014 07:46 am | 1Comment

A Corona del Mar High School athletic field improvement project, which was tabled after noisy and angry complaints from residents near the school, will go back to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s board at the group’s Tuesday meeting.

The board already approved $7.4 million in funding for the project, along with $8.5 million in funding to renovate Davidson Field at Newport Harbor High School, about $700,000 to improve the Corona del Mar High School aquatics locker room, $7.4 million to renovate the Costa Mesa High School athletic field and $1 million dedicated to future planning of an aquatics complex at Estancia High School. The funds, allocated in 2013, were a “fortuitous windfall of one-time funding coming to the District as a result of the State’s dissolution of all redevelopment agencies,” according to a report included in the Tuesday meeting agenda.

The Corona del Mar High School aquatics locker room project is complete, and progress is underway on the other two high school’s fields, the report said. The CdMHS project stalled earlier this year.

The CdMHS project would add an all-weather track and field and seating for up to 1,000 spectators.

“At the same time, it was recognized that a group effort led by CdM Coach Bill Sumner was focused on enlarging the project scope and raising private donations for that purpose,” the report states. “The Board of Education indicated that it would entertain proposals to add to the Board’s approved scope, but no further action was taken…Initial informational meetings with the Corona del Mar community during the Spring of 2014, however, suggested that greater time needed to be allowed to take input and attempt to resolve collateral issues of existing parking, traffic flow and the completion of the Enclave and Theater projects on the CdM campus which would, once completed, improve both. Accordingly, no further planning for the Project has been effected as of this time.”

The district organized two community meetings in February and March, where residents angrily denounced the plans. At one meeting, neighbors jeered a student who was trying to express student support for the project. Read our earlier stories here and here.

Residents expressed concerns about existing traffic near the school, noise and trash and whether the new project would make those problems worse while adding light pollution and lowering property values.

The board’s meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the board room of the District Education Center at 2985-A Bear Street in Costa Mesa. The public may attend, and there are opportunities to make comments.

The CdMHS PTA sent an email blast on Sunday to members, urging them to attend the meeting to show support of the project.

“We need your voice, we need your help!” the email said. “Please attend the meeting at the district office in support of improving our campus.”