1. Corona del Mar’s dolphin topiaries, located in the median at East Coast Highway and Marguerite Avenue, will be replaced; read our story here.
2. The Port Theater wants to extend the hours for serving alcohol; read our story here.
3. Details were released this week about a Corona del Mar’s parking study; read our story here.
4. A second candidate announced he was running for City Council to represent Corona del Mar; read our story here.
5. Flowers in the middle of the street and on sidewalk corners? The Corona del Mar Business Improvement District is working on a plan that could add some color to local streets; read our story here.
Corona del Mar High School will host its second blood drive of the year from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday March 6, according to an event announcement.
The event will be held in the school’s small gym on campus at 2101 Eastbluff Drive.
“Anyone from students to parents can donate,” organizer Sophia Forino wrote in an email. “If your child is in AP Biology they will even receive extra credit.”
To donate blood, you must be at least 16 years old and have a permission slip signed by a parent of guardian. Signups are available outside the school’s ASB office. Parents who donate will go to the front of the line, she said.
In Southern California, Forino said, 1,500 pints of blood are needed every day.
1. Are there wedding bells in your future? The Corona del Mar Bridal Walk will take place between noon and 4 p.m. Sunday, with registration between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Rothschild’s Restaurant at 2407 East Coast Highway and ending with a reception at Five Crowns Restaurant at 3801 East Coast Highway. In between, brides can visit shops throughout Corona del Mar that will help them with wedding planning, including Francis-Orr Fine Stationery, Beach Candy, Andrea’s Couture and Mark Patterson Jewelry (a CdM Today advertiser.) For more information, click here.
2. Join a bird walk at Crystal Cove State Park at 8 a.m. Saturday that meets at the Berns Amphitheater, inland at the School-State Park entrance. There also will be a Beachside Ranger Chat from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday in the park’s Historic District. There also will be a guided tidepool walk to Little Treasure Cove at 2 p.m. Saturday; meet at Pelican Point Lot #1. At 4 p.m. Sunday, there will be a guided photography walk that meets at the Los Trancos lot near the trailer.
3. Roger’s Gardens will host My Edible Garden with David Rizzo from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday. Rizzo will lead an interactive discussion that will focus this month on warm-season vegetables and herbs to plant now, growing in containers and small spaces and care of fruit trees. Roger’s Gardens is located at 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road.
4. Rainy weather making you feel stir crazy? Head to the Central Library from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday for drop-in crafts in the Children’s Storytime Room. No registration is required for the program, which is aimed at kids between 3 and 8 years old. The library is located at 1000 Avocado Ave.
5. The Corona del Mar Farmers Market is open, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Bayside Drive and Marguerite Avenue.
Corona del Mar’s sidewalks and streets could one day be adorned with flowers — a marguerite daisy in the middle of the Marguerite intersection, with smaller matching flower mosaics on the sidewalks on all four corners of the intersection. Poppy Avenue could have a giant poppy in the middle, while other intersections could have irises or dahlias on the corners.
The Corona del Mar Business Improvement District board met Thursday morning, where Dan Herman of Rabben/Herman Design gave a presentation about plans to improve the Marguerite intersection. The B.I.D. board agreed last July to spend $3,000 for a landscape architect to develop plans, including adding colorful markings to the crosswalks and pavement; read our story here.
Herman’s presentation included several potential designs, including one that added a blue wave pattern to the intersection and others that showed abstract daisy designs.
In the end, the board members preferred a design with a smaller flower in the middle of the intersection, designs added to the crosswalks and smaller flowers on the sidewalks at all four corners.
The cost to implement that design, Herman said, would be about $100,000. The center flower would be made using a thermoplastic material in three colors, and the corner flowers would be mosaics created offsite and then installed as a complete piece.
“It’s very unique,” said Linda Leonhard, president of the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce. “It would bring people in.”
Other B.I.D. members said that by making the sidewalks more attractive, people would walk more and spend more time in the village.
City Councilman Ed Selich cautioned the B.I.D. members to make sure they considered maintenance costs.
“Tires leave a lot of marks,” he said. “If you don’t keep it fresh, you may as well not do it at all. You can’t underestimate that.”
The board voted to have Rabben/Herman refine the drawings and to create a budget for a major intersection with a flower in the middle and on the sidewalk corners, and a budget for a minor intersection with the flowers on the corners only. Herman declined to accept additional money for the revisions.
B.I.D. Chairman Bernie Svalstad said that neighbors might want to participate in fundraising to create the flower mosaics to match the Flower Streets near their homes.
Gardner joked about what the B.I.D. could add at MacArthur Boulevard, clearly not named for a flower.
“It’s not a flower — should you put a bouquet there?” she asked. “Or have it say, ‘I shall return?’”
Automated pay stations for Big Corona State Beach will be going back to the California Coastal Commission with a new proposal for parking rates.
City staff yanked the item at the Commission’s January meeting before the commissioners could vote on whether to approve or deny a coastal development permit for the kiosks.
The item is not currently on the agency’s March agenda, which has been posted online.
Newport Beach staff had proposed that Big Corona Beach parking should cost up to $2 an hour, with a limit of $15 most days and $25 on holidays. The Coastal Commission staff, however, said in a report that the holiday rate should be no more than $20, and that $1.50 per hour was the appropriate hourly rate for non-holidays.
At that January meeting, the commissioners did approve the kiosks for the Balboa Pier parking lot. City staff then began to rework parking rates for Big Corona.
According to a proposed rate schedule, the new rates would vary depending on the time of year and time of day that a visitor arrives at the parking lot.
During the peak season of May through September, the hourly rate would be $2.50 for people arriving between 6 and 8 a.m. and between 8 and 10 p.m., and $4 per hour between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
In the off season from October to April, the weekend rate would be $2.50 an hour, and and the weekday rate would be $1.50 per hour.
In all cases, the daily maximum fee would be $15, which is the same as the current day-use flat fee.
The proposed fee schedule does not address holiday parking rates. An item on the City Council’s Tuesday consent calendar proposed changing holiday rates at the Balboa Pier and at Big Corona to $2 per hour with a $20 maximum fee for Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day, according to a staff report. The Council decided to postpone a vote on the item, however, because of concerns that the city might be inadvertently giving up control over setting beach curfews; read that story here.
In 2010, the City Council voted top increase parking at Big Corona from $8 to $10 weekday/weekend rate to $15 with a $25 peak rate for Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day holidays. The $25 holiday rate concerned the Coastal Commission staff in part because it’s higher than other beaches and was implemented without a coastal development permit, according to a January 2014 staff report.
In February 2013, the City Council voted to spend $215,000 for 12 pay stations at Big Corona and 11 stations at the Balboa Pier. The total cost, including signs and counting loops to track vehicles, would be $440,000. The kiosks have been ordered, and city officials originally hoped to have them installed by Memorial Day 2013, and staff maintained for months that a coastal permit should not be necessary.
Police took a report of a vehicle burglary at 900 Newport Center Drive at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The burglary occurred at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 19, and no information about the loss was available on a public report.
Officers also arrested a 21-year-old Troy, Mo. man on suspicion of DUI at Newport Coast Drive and East Coast Highway at 11:11 p.m. Wednesday; his bail was $2,500, according to a report.
Officers took a report of a petty theft in the 3300 block of Ocean Boulevard at 8:05 a.m. Monday. The theft, with a loss of $940, occurred between 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Monday.
Police also arrested a 57-year-old Huntington Beach man at 1:17 p.m. Monday at 1000 Avocado Ave. on suspicion of disorderly conduct while intoxicated; bail was $500.
After years of complaining that the 12 Corona del Mar dolphin topiaries are fat, overgrown and misshapen, Business Improvement District officials today said that the city will foot the bill to replace them.
“The dolphins now look more like manatees than dolphins,” said Bernie Svalstad, chairman of the Corona del Mar B.I.D. The overgrown topiaries can’t be trimmed any longer, and the B.I.D. has been discussing whether to replace them since 2011.
Early members of the B.I.D. group have said the dolphins were added to the Marguerite Avenue median of East Coast Highway in 1993, along with a 15-foot tall Santa Claus topiary that was brought out for the holidays and stored offsite until it finally died; read our earlier story here.
Svalstad said he met with city staff at the median on Monday and was told the city would pay to replace the 7-foot-tall topiaries. Svalstad did not know the cost for replacing them, and a city spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email seeking cost information. In the past, however, officials have estimated that the dolphins would cost about $1,000 each to replace.
UPDATE: In an email sent after this story was originally published, Newport Beach City spokeswoman Tara Finnigan said the topiaries would cost a little less than $8,000, as well as $5,000 for median landscape improvements around the dolphins.
“These numbers don’t include the cost of relocating the current topiaries if/when that idea comes to fruition,” she wrote.
City staff will likely work with Roger’s Gardens to grow the topiaries, incubating them in a nursery until they are ready to be planted, probably in September.
Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce President Linda Leonhard said she worried people would be upset if they drove by and saw crews removing the dolphins, but Svalstad said the new ones would immediately be planted.
“What’s the plan for the old ones?” Leonhard asked.
“You could auction them off,” said City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner.
Leonhard said she would work on ideas for auctioning the old topiaries and perhaps donating the money to a school. Svalstad suggested that the proceeds be used to fund village beautification projects.
The equipment was installed Feb. 21 and did not require permits, city staff said.
Changes to the SCAQMD’s rules on beach fire rings take effect Saturday, when rings must be spaced further apart then they currently are at Big Corona, or else fuel sources are limited to gas or charcoal. The Newport Beach City Council approved a plan to reconfigure the rings, but that plan can’t be implemented with a permit from the California Coastal Commission. That leaves charcoal as the main fuel source for the rings, although city officials said that AQMD fines and citations will not be issued during a grace period that will extend through Persian New Year on March 18.
The equipment will not be permanent, said Sam Atwood, a SCAQMD spokesman, although he was unsure how long it would remain in place on top of the building that houses the beach concession stand.
“We placed our monitoring equipment at Big Corona to monitor PM emissions starting March 1st, after implementation of changes in our Rule 444, as well as city of NB’s switch to charcoal-only requirement,” he said. “We will be able to assess over time the difference in PM levels at the monitor between last year, when fire pits were used for burning wood, and this year when they will be used for charcoal (as well as gaseous-fueled demonstration units).”
Last year, SCAQMD technicians began monitoring air quality at the beach on Persian New Year, when thousands of visitors celebrate by building bonfires that they leap over as part of a cleansing ritual. Technicians used hand-held equipment for that event but returned later to place equipment on the concession stand’s roof; read our stories here and here.
About 30 people attended a community meeting Wednesday evening in the Civic Center to discuss a draft Corona del Mar parking management plan.
Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc. has been studying parking in Corona del Mar since last summer, and while the village has plenty of parking, the draft report states, management of the parking supply could be improved. Short-term solutions could include easing parking requirements for businesses, encouraging businesses to share parking, extending parking limits along East Coast Highway, adding shared valet system and eliminating some red-painted curbs. Longer-term solutions could include a residential parking permit program for certain “hot spot” neighborhoods; read our earlier story here.
Brian Canepa of Nelson\Nygaard attended Wednesday’s meeting, along with local business owners, Newport Beach city staff members and residents. He explained the study, then answered questions.
One question was whether a new parking structure could ease congestion in busier business areas, where spillover from the business district sometimes leads to clogged residential streets.
“If you built a parking structure, no one would use it,” he said. “It would sit empty.”
After his presentation, everyone was invited to look at different parking solutions that were outlined on posters, and to write down their opinions and ideas.
Rose Bakery Cafe owner Sean Lim said he thought that sharing available parking is a solution that works. Often, he said, residents will use parking near his business overnight but will move their cars before his business picks up.
“There’s plenty of parking,” he said. “We should share.”
Canepa said he would take the comments and written remarks from the meeting, then talk to city staff and modify his report. A final report should be complete in March, he said, and then it would likely go before the Newport Beach Planning Commission and ultimately to the City Council before any suggestions would be implemented.
At the Corona del Mar Business Improvement District’s board meeting on Thursday morning, some members discussed the parking report draft. Several members said they liked the idea of a shared valet system, but they wondered if such a system would affect proposed plans for an entryway improvement project, perhaps by adding a pull-in lane for valet use along East Coast Highway. That project remains on hold after the City Council rejected it last year; read our story here.
By Susan Hoffman, special to Corona del Mar Today
“You’re not going to be wearing a wetsuit when you fall in so you won’t be wearing one the day of the swim test,” shouted Sgt. John Hollenbeck, an Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol watch commander.
Then Hollenbeck jumped into the chilly 59-degree water, along with deputy trainees Tim Africano and Steve Baker.
Part of the OC Sheriff’s Department Marine Operations Bureau training process is to conduct a swim test for new deputies, which takes place in the harbor in front of the Bayside Drive Harbor Patrol station. The latest tests were given Wednesday morning.
Both deputies are full-fledged deputies — no rookies allowed — with four or more years experience working in jails and on the street with the Sheriff’s Department. Transitioning from land to sea comes with the occupational hazard of ending up in the water, a reason for the swim test.
There are four phases of the test, beginning with a 100-yard swim to the yellow spar buoy.
Sgt. Hollenbeck joined the deputies in the water for both the short distance swim and the under-dock test. Hollenbeck explained that since the docks can be potential hiding places, deputies must familiarize themselves with the construction.
“We’re the police but also the fire department for water,” he said, meaning part of law enforcement duty includes cross training as marine firefighters. That’s the reason for the third phase, which involves wearing regulation fire gear when jumping into the water so officers know how to handle themselves in case of an emergency open water rescue. The deputies are expected to remove the waterlogged gear, including boots while still in the water. “It’s like a fist fight wrestling their way out,” Hollenbeck said.
The last phase of the swim test requires the deputies to wear a patrol jacket known as a float coat along with a 40 pound weight belt, similar to their “Sam Browne’ gun belt that is part of the uniform. They initially sink and then the float coat, filled with floatation material, helps them pop up. This prepares them for an emergency requiring them to be in the water wearing their heavy gear.
Both deputies passed the swim test with flying colors and neither seemed to mind the cold water. Africano, a Rancho Santa Margarita patrol officer who has been waiting for the desired position said, “It felt good, refreshing.”
Baker, a Yorba Linda motor officer, agreed.
“It’s not too cold,” he said. The New Zealand native who happens to also be a commercial diver thinks it’s fantastic to become part of the Harbor Patrol.
Hollenbeck said the deputies were lucky today, with water temperature hovering between 59 and 60.3 degrees instead of the low 50’s when hypothermia had once threatened a trainee.
Top and bottom photos courtesy of Sgt. John Hollenbeck; other photos by Susan Hoffman.