“Hedgie,” “Gingerbread Baby” Author-Illustrator to Make Central Library Appearance

posted: November 27th, 2015 05:40 am | 0No Comments

Bestselling children’s author and illustrator Jan Brett will visit the Central Library at 5 p.m. Sunday Dec. 13, according to a library news release.

Doors will open at 4 p.m. for the free event, and no reserved seating is available. Seating will be limited to room capacity and will be first-come, first-served, and the first 100 families will receive a free, signed Jan Brett poster, the release said.

Brett, who has written more than 36 children’s books including “Gingerbread Baby” and the Hedgie the hedgehog series, will discuss her new book “The Turnip,” which tells the story of eight animals struggling to pull a giant turnip from a garden.

“Clearly an animal lover, Brett is known for creating colorful, detailed depictions of a wide variety of animals,” the release said. “As part of the presentation, the author/artist will give a short drawing demonstration and talk about how she develops her story and characters.”

Guests also will have the chance to see her colorful tour bus and have their photo taken by the bus, or with the Hedgie character, the release said.

Books will be available for purchase and signing, courtesy of Whale of a Tale Children’s Bookshoppe. Signings will be limited to books purchased at the event due to time constraints, but the signing will be open to all after the presentation.

The event will take place in the Friends Room of the Central Library at 1000 Avocado Ave.

Giving Thanks, and Saying Farewell

posted: November 26th, 2015 05:21 am | 24Comments

After six years of covering local news on a daily basis, the time has come to take on new challenges. Corona del Mar Today’s last day of regular publication here will be Dec. 31.

Our traditional Thanksgiving column has been to give thanks, A to Z, for people and things that, over the past year, have made Corona del Mar a great and interesting place to live and work. This year, the list will be broader and reflect six years’ of gratitude.

Thank you for reading our stuff, loyal Corona del Mar Today supporters.

A…Advertisers. Corona del Mar Today would not exist without them. Thank you to Bob Garrett of State Farm, B. Candy, Saritasa, Your Car, Our Driver, the Bungalow Restaurant, Peter M. Rivas of Edward Jones, Stowell and Associates, Jabulani Yoga, Green LLP, West of Camden, the Newport Beach Police Department and Mark Patterson Jewelry.

B…Vanis Buckholz, a Corona del Mar Middle School student who founded his Re “Cycle” er business at age 7 and continues to collect recyclables from businesses throughout Corona del Mar and to support the Project Hope Alliance. Corona del Mar Today first noticed him one summer morning, biking to the OASIS center to collect bottles and cans, and we’ve followed him proudly as he has been honored with a Daily Point of Light award from former President George H. Bush, appeared at City Council meetings and was featured on national television.

C…Corona del Mar, from its schools to its residents, from its businesses to its beaches. We feel lucky to live here, and while we worry about empty businesses (and some possible new ones — Smart and Final???), we also have confidence that it will remain interesting and beautiful.

D…Daily Pilot 103. When I first made the list, I couldn’t believe it. I was honored and proud to be included on the list of movers and shakers in the community, and it was fun in the years after that to see if we fell or climbed on the list. It was an unexpected perk and affirmation that we were always proud of.

E…Editors, including Paul Danison and Susan Vardon at the Orange County Register and John Canalis at the Daily Pilot. Early on, they valued Corona del Mar Today for its news and community benefits, and they showed support financially and editorially. I’ve been so lucky to have the chance to work with such wonderful professionals during this stage of my journalism career. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

F…Nik Froehlich. Corona del Mar Today had been live for only a few weeks, with only a few readers, when we received an email from a parent at school telling me he was “totally hooked.” Nik Froehlich reached out, using his expertise in the web design and support industry, to shape CdM Today into what it is today. He’s been a tipster, he’s sold ads, he’s helped with glitches and offered sound advice. He has promised to continue to work with us to preserve our archives, so Corona del Mar Today can continue to be an online reference for readers. Endless gratitude, Nik. You made this happen.

G…Guards. The Newport Beach Junior Guards program is one of the best parts of living here. We love it. (Oh — and Jilly says hi to Mr. Leith’s group!)

H…Harbor View Elementary School, and its principal, staff and teachers. And Harbor Day School, as well. Our children have been well educated at these schools, and Corona del Mar Today covered many of the amazing students and campus events.

I…Independent news publishers’ groups. From the earliest days, I found professional support from peers and colleagues throughout the country with groups like LION, the Local Independent Online News group, of which I was a founding member, and others. Much of what Corona del Mar Today did right was because of the input and advice I received from these organizations and the journalists who are part of them.

J…Jennifer Schulz, a city employee now with the recreation department but formerly the spokeswoman for the fire department. In our earliest days, when Corona del Mar Today struggled to earn credibility, particularly from law enforcement sources, Jenn would respond to questions, set up interviews and help develop features.

K…Dave Kiff, Newport Beach city manager. We are lucky to have a city manager in Newport Beach who cares so much about our city and who works so hard to get things right. Personally, I consider him a friend — and wonder if he hadn’t been so great to work with over the years, if Corona del Mar Today would have lasted as long as it did. Thank you Dave, for everything you do.

L…Linda Leonhard, president of the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce. We didn’t start out as friends, but Linda taught me a lot about how business leaders work together in this small community.

M…Marcus at Beach City Performance. Is it us, or does construction in town just murder tires? It seems like we’re popping in to see Marcus every week or two or three, and he quickly gets us back on the road. What would we do without a tire place in the middle of town?

N…Former City Councilwoman and Mayor Nancy Gardner of Corona del Mar. Six years ago, when I was new at covering news locally, Nancy met with me at Zinc for a coffee and schooled me on how to do this job. Attend Corona del Mar Residents Association meetings, attend Corona del Mar Business Improvement District meetings. I had never heard of these organizations, but quickly they became the bread and butter of Corona del Mar Today’s regular news coverage. Nancy Gardner was a great City Council representative for CdM, and her patience and advice early on shaped this site.

O…OASIS Senior Center. From its construction to its members, its activities and clubs, its meeting rooms where we’ve spent hours and hours covering candidate forums and other events, it’s been a hub for Corona del Mar Today.

P…Police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella, and previously, Kathy Lowe. Crime news has been a regular feature in Corona del Mar Today, and when the stories were interesting, it was thanks to their information and efforts.

Q…Quiet Woman, our first advertiser. Lynne Campbell really got things rolling by making me believe that I could make a business with a local news blog.

R…Readers. Some of my earliest readers, like Jamie and Dan, have moved away and are often in my thoughts. Others like John Manly and Jim Mosher actively assist my work and have for years, and others kindly point out typos and offer story ideas and suggestions. But every single one of you matters, and your loyalty has pushed me to work harder than I ever dreamed.

S…Stories. So many stories in little Corona del Mar! From a shooting at Fashion Island one December evening to a mysterious rash of diaper dumpings on Coast Highway, to a girl falling from a prom bus onto the toll road to a neighbor who actually turned out to have consulted on the movie “E.T.,” I was never at a loss for interesting stories. And just when I would think I’d written everything there was to write, a new library-fire station plan would pop up, or an artist would make beautiful sand art at Big Corona, or someone like Cynthia Saito would tell me about a product like Wrapadoo that she invented.

T…Tara Finnigan, a Newport Beach city spokeswoman. What’s being filmed at Little Corona? Why did the Port Theater have a palm tree removed from their section of sidewalk? What’s going on with beach fire rings? Will lifeguards be outsourced in Corona del Mar? Why isn’t the City Council video working? Where’s the library board agenda? Is it legal to have a bed on your roof? Tell me, tell me now, please email me A.S.A.P. The patience of a saint. Thank you.

U…Ukulele player Bill Tapia. Corona del Mar Today was only a few months old when I saw an OASIS flier about a ukulele club and decided it would make an interesting feature. I expected a few seniors playing Hawaiian tunes, but instead I had the chance to watch Bill perform with the group. He was 101 years old that day, and he told me he’d played with Elvis Presley and just returned from a tour of Japan. When he died a few years later, the Ukulele Strummers hosted a memorial attended by hundreds.

V…John Valeriano, accordion player, and his partner, Tommy Naughton, who plays gutbucket or washtub base. Thank you for including Corona del Mar Today in your regular parties, first at Pizza Royale and ultimately at Gina’s Pizza, and for inviting me to private parties, too. You guys are the greatest!

W…Window painting at Mark Patterson Jewelry. Josette Patterson wanted to unite children and businesses for an annual Halloween window painting event, and while she provided the paints and windows, I provides the kids. The community is closer and more involved because of events like these. Thank you! And also a special thanks to the kids who have helped: Jilly, Matthew, Aleah, Maggie, Nato, Lexie, Maddie, Chloe, Austin and Jackson.

X…Xmas Walk. The first year I walked the Christmas Walk as a Corona del Mar Today publisher, I really felt the love when people finally had a chance to meet me and tell what they liked and didn’t like about the site.

Y…Ron Yeo, a Corona del Mar architect who not only has led reforestation efforts in town, but whose early morning walks and photography skills have tipped me off to excellent stories over the years and helped fill these pages with gorgeous shots of the beaches.

Z…Zoning Administrator Brenda Wisneski. We joke that she gets this recognition because Z is a tough alphabet letter to fill, but that’s not the whole story. The Zoning Administrator hearings are often the first time I’d hear about newsworthy developments, from Roger’s Gardens’ new restaurant to whether Starbucks in Fashion Island can serve wine. Brenda has been a huge help for years, behind the scenes, helping us navigate the city’s website to find out about permits and the status of projects. From fire rings information to whether Coco’s was really turning into a bank, Brenda could help figure out what we all needed to know. Thank you!

Council Approves Extra Funds For CdM Library/Fire Station Project

posted: November 25th, 2015 12:34 pm | 1Comment

The Newport Beach City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved plans, along with an additional $1.25 million in funds, for new, combined fire station and library on Marigold Avenue in Corona del Mar.

“This is going to be a tremendous community resource, as it has been for generations,” City Councilman Keith Curry after the vote. “This is a great project.”

In spring 2014, city staff confirmed that plans were in the works to demolish the existing fire station and library and rebuild them as one building. This March, the City Council approved a contract with an architect, but residents opposed early plans that reduced the new library to 2,500 feet compared to its current 3,750 feet.

A group called Friends of the CdM Library formed, and they met and discussed the need for a bigger — not smaller — library space. In June, the architect revealed new plans that increased the second story space for the fire station and added to the library’s first-floor space.

City staff held several community meetings, and the Board of Library Trustees also discussed the plans. In the end, staff proposed a facility that would be 10,000 square feet, about 2,000 square feet larger than originally envisioned. The price tag also grew from $6.75 to $8 million.

Joy Brenner, Friends of the CdM Library founder, praised the Council’s decision.

“The unanimous approval of the Library was especially heartwarming, because in addition to the spirit of collaboration we felt with community, Board of Library Trustees and City Staff, we also have the unanimous support of the City Council,” she said.

Councilman Scott Peotter, who represents Corona del Mar, had suggested in May that the project be delayed a year, and he also had suggested that private funds be raised to cover the additional costs. He supported the plan, however, participating in the meeting by telephone from Portland.

Curry said it was “refreshing” to have Peotter’s support on the project.

“I’m glad to be on the same side as he is on this project,” Curry said.

Construction could begin next summer and take 12 to 14 months, during which time the fire station would be relocated.

NBPD Offers Tips to Prevent Package Thefts

posted: November 25th, 2015 05:46 am | 0No Comments

The Newport Beach Police Department has issued a warning to residents about thieves stealing packages from porches, along with mail from residential mailboxes, taking advantage of holiday shopping and deliveries.

The department’s warning also included tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of mail or package thefts.

The tips include:

• Always track your package deliveries so that you know when they are estimated to arrive at your home.
• Make sure that someone is home to receive the delivery or that a trusted neighbor is available to receive the package on your behalf.
• Never leave your deliveries unattended on your front porch.
• Always require a signature when having items delivered.
• Always use a US Postal collection box or deposit your mail inside your local post office.
• Whether you have a home mailbox or use a post office box, you should always collect your mail on the day it is delivered. Never leave it in your mailbox overnight.
• Mail thieves look for bank statements and credit card bills, which can be used to create counterfeit checks or fake identifications.
• Thieves also look for personal checks enclosed in utility bills or other payments. Thieves take these stolen checks, remove the ink, and then fill out the blank check with their name and desired amount.
• Never send cash or coins through the mail.
• When reordering checks have them sent to your bank.
• When you travel, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to pick up your mail.
• If you don’t receive a check, bill, or other mail you are expecting, contact the issuing agency immediately.
• Report all suspicious activity or if you are a victim of theft, to the Newport Beach Police Department by calling (949) 644-3717.

Library to Host Heartburn Lecture

posted: November 24th, 2015 05:26 am | 0No Comments

The next “Medicine in Our Backyard” lecture series event will take place at 7 p.m. Monday Nov. 30 at the Central Library and will examine digestive disorders, according to a library news release.

“Stop Heartburn and Acid Reflux for Good” will feature Dr. Kenneth J. Chang, executive director of the UC Irvine Health H. H. Chao Comprehensive Digestive Disease Center, who will discuss advances in non-surgical and minimally invasive procedures for a range of complex gastrointestinal diseases, including gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD, Barrett’s esophagus and esophageal cancer, the release said.

The free event is sponsored by the Newport Beach Public Library in partnership with UC Irvine Health. No reservations are required, and seating will be first-come, first-served and limited by room capacity.

Chang is a nationally recognized expert in esophageal disease prevention and treatment, the release said, and he has pioneered minimally invasive and endoscopic techniques to help patients permanently control acid reflux while avoiding major surgery.

The event will take place in the Friends Room of the Central Library at 1000 Avocado Ave.

From the Police Log: Burglary Reports, Alcohol-Related Arrest

posted: November 23rd, 2015 11:11 am | 0No Comments

Newport Beach police took a report of a burglary from a motor vehicle on Sunday in the 1000 block of Bonnie Doone Terrace, a report said. The burglary occurred between 9:30 p.m. Friday and 12:49 p.m. Sunday, and the loss was $3,000.

Police also took a report of a residential burglary with no forced entry on Friday in the 300 block of Poppy Avenue. The burglary, with a loss of $1,380, occurred between 4:45 p.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. Friday.

Police also arrested a 23-year-old Newport Beach man at 5:06 a.m. Saturday in the 4500 block of East Coast Highway on suspicion of disorderly conduct while intoxicated. His bail was $500. Officers arrested a 22-year-old Fountain Valley man at 10:05 p.m. Saturday at East Coast Highway and MacArthur Boulevard on a misdemeanor warrant and a felony warrant. His bail was $40,000.

Rain in Forecast for Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday

posted: November 23rd, 2015 11:05 am | 0No Comments

Today’s weather should be sunny with a high near 73 — but rain is in the forecast, according to the National Weather Service.

Tonight there will be increasing clouds, and there is a 30 percent chance of showers Tuesday after 4 p.m. The high Tuesday should be near 66. Tuesday night, there also is a 30 percent chance of showers mainly before 10 p.m., the agency’s website states.

There’s a 40 percent chance of showers Wednesday, mainly after 10 a.m., and the high should be near 63. Wednesday night, there is a 30 percent chance of showers before 10 p.m.

Thanksgiving should be mostly sunny with a high near 63, but there’s a slight chance of showers after 10 a.m. Friday with a high near 63. There is also a slight chance of showers before 10 p.m. Friday night. Saturday and Sunday should be mostly sunny, with highs in the 60s.

City Council to Consider CdM Library Plans, Underground Utilities District

posted: November 23rd, 2015 07:08 am | 0No Comments

The Newport Beach City Council will meet Tuesday and could vote on whether to approve community-inspired plans for a new Corona del Mar library branch, along with a budget increase of $1.25 million to pay for them.

The Council also will hold a hearing on a proposed underground utility assessment district that would include an area within Bayside Drive, Avocado Avenue, Coast Highway and Carnation Avenue. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers and is open to the public.

The hearing is one of the meeting’s first agenda items and will include public testimony as well as a count of ballots, which were mailed to property owners within the proposed district. City Manager Dave Kiff said in an email that the item was moved to the beginning of the meeting so the ballots could be tallied by the end of the evening. To form a district, more than 50 percent of the votes must be in favor, a staff report states.

The underground district was proposed by property owners within the 11-block area, who submitted a petition in June requesting the district be formed. The cost would range from about $10,800 to $52,600 based on property size, with half of all property assessments being about $16,000 or less, according to a staff report. In all,
“$4,322,556.97 will be provided by property owner contributions and/or bond proceeds if the assessment district is approved,” the report states. The City would be responsible for assessments for the Old School and Begonia Park properties, or $45,061.67 and $272,931.76, respectively, the report states, with funds to be requested in the future.

If the district is formed, work would begin in September 2017 and poles should be removed in September 2019.

The staff report states that besides being more aesthetically pleasing, placing utilities underground also would be more reliable and safer, eliminating the risk of wind and rain causing lines and poles to fall.

“Falling facilities can lead to personal injuries and damage to structures, including fire,” the report states. “Properties immediately adjacent to the facilities usually have a greater risk. Furthermore, in compact communities like Corona del Mar, the negative effects of falling lines and poles are more widespread including blocked driveways and alleys, and property damage.”

The Council also will consider the latest set of plans for a new Corona del Mar library branch and fire station, as well as to increase the project’s budget from $6.75 million to $8 million.

In spring 2014, city staff confirmed that plans were in the works to demolish the existing fire station and library on Marigold Avenue, then rebuild them as one building. This March, the City Council approved a contract with an architect, but residents opposed early plans that reduced the new library to 2,500 feet compared to its current 3,750 feet.

A group called Friends of the CdM Library formed, and they met and discussed the need for a bigger — not smaller — library space. In June, the architect revealed new plans that increased the second story space for the fire station and added to the library’s first-floor space.

City staff held several community meetings, and the Board of Library Trustees also discussed the plans.

“At the conclusion of the outreach program, the proposed building and recommended design concept is for a 10,000 square foot facility that is approximately 2,000 square feet larger than was envisioned…” the staff report states, which also means a higher price tag.

“This expected increase in cost for the facility can be primarily attributed to the increased size of the building and is in line with industry standards,” the staff report states. “Construction costs for this type of facility are now hovering around $600 per square foot. However, staff believes that through the upcoming design development phase, there will be opportunities to value engineer the project to reduce costs. Value engineering includes items such as looking to incorporate standard sizes and quality materials instead of custom materials as well as maximizing the efficiency of the design. This will be closely balanced with maintaining a high quality public facility that fits in the neighborhood, is durable, and can withstand the test of time. Also, staff plans to work with the Library staff as their may be opportunities for private funding for library furnishings, features or equipment.”

Construction could begin next summer and take 12 to 14 months, during which time the fire station would be relocated, the report states.

At last week’s Corona del Mar Residents Association meeting, Councilman Keith Curry urged residents to attend the meeting or contact their Council representatives to express their wishes for the plans.

“You never know how these things are going to go,” he said. “Make your feelings heard.”

Corona del Mar’s Council representative, Scott Peotter, did not attend the CdMRA meeting on Thursday. In the past, however, he has requested that the project be delayed and that residents raise funds privately to pay for the additional costs; read our story here.

The Council’s consent calendar agenda also includes a proposal to move animals in the city’s current shelter in Huntington Beach to another location.

“The proposed placement of the new but possibly temporary shelter is off of Riverside in Santa Ana Heights, in the ‘residential kennel’ zoning area,” Kiff wrote in an email. “We so appreciate the kennel operator’s willingness to help out with our animals. Additionally, an item asks the Council to enter into an agreement with a local vet to provide veterinary services for the shelter animals.”

The city has been in a five-year contract with the Orange County Humane Society in Huntington Beach since April 2011. For several years, however, city staff has noted many issues, including animal cages being hosed down for cleaning leaving animals wet for days, animals hosted in a building with no ventilation or sunlight, no proper quarantine area for sick cats, food and water bowls not being regularly cleaned, drugs being marked up by 300 percent, a voice mail system that is full so residents can’t leave messages to find animals and more.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Civic Center at 100 Civic Center Drive.

CdM Today Poll of the Week

posted: November 23rd, 2015 05:11 am | 0No Comments

Thanksgiving Holiday Closures

posted: November 22nd, 2015 06:25 am | 0No Comments

Newport Beach City Hall will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. City library branches also will be closed beginning at 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and the OASIS Senior Center will be closed Thursday and Friday.

Also, trash pickup on Thursday will take place instead on Friday, and Friday’s pickup will be delayed until Saturday. There will be no city street sweeping on Thursday or Friday.

Banks and post office branches also will be closed on Thursday, and Newport-Mesa Unified School District schools will be closed Wednesday through Friday.

The Corona del Mar Business Improvement District meeting, typically held on the fourth Thursday each month, will be held at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 3 instead.