Los Angeles Times

Corona del Mar Today: AERIE project back on Coastal Commission's agenda

The proposed AERIE condominium development is back on the Coastal Commission's agenda — this time with letters of support from city officials but opposition from one resident who thinks the building will be too big for the neighborhood.

An opposition letter-writing campaign also has been launched.

Coastal Commission staff is recommending approval of the plans for the condos at Ocean Boulevard and Carnation Avenue, citing changes that reduced coastal bluff excavation and changes that moved the pool to a higher elevation and moved decks from a public view corridor.

The project also has reduced the number of units from eight to seven since it was denied permission by the commission in April 2010, and it has lowered its square footage 17% from 61,709 last year to 51,124.

The changes were enough to change the opinion of Michael Toerge, the lone Newport Beach planning commissioner who voted against the project in July 2009.

"I have consistently and publicly opposed the project for very specific reasons," Toerge wrote in a May 20 letter, explaining that he was concerned about the "extreme excavation" and "excessive square footage" and other elements of the earlier plans.

However, the new plans, he wrote, meet local codes and should be approved.

CIty Councilman Keith Curry also wrote a letter of support for the new plans, saying AERIE would be a "tremendous asset to our community."

One longtime opponent of the project, Marilyn Beck, wrote that while she appreciated changes that owner Rick Julian had made, she continues to see the project as too big for the neighborhood.

"We strongly urged Mr. Julian to consider our request to reduce the overall size by 10,000 square feet," she wrote. "We gave him our assurance that we would cease our opposition to the project if it were closer to 40,000 square feet rather than over 51,000."

Beck's letter states that such a large project could set a "dangerous" precedent for future developments that combine lots to make mega condo complexes.

"It is all out of scale and out of character with Corona del Mar," she said.

A letter-writing campaign, which urges residents to write to the Coastal Commission to protest the development's size, is underway. An email blast was sent this week to an undisclosed number of recipients, giving a sample protest letter and asking concerned residents to attend the June meeting. The email blast also offered carpools for those headed to the meeting in Marina del Rey.

So far, the staff report includes 19 letters in support of the project and two opposed.

The Coastal Commission will consider the plans at its June 15 meeting at the Marina del Rey Hotel. The meetings are open to the public, and members of the public may make comments. The meeting also will be streamed live of the Coastal Commission website.

This will be the third time that AERIE has been before the Coastal Commission. After the project was denied in 2010, new plans were presented in March. However, the commissioners comments were negative, and the plans were withdrawn moments before a vote was taken. The item was on the May agenda but was postponed until June's meeting.


CdM Scenic 5K A Huge Success

Thousands of people gathered along Ocean Boulevard early Saturday to run, walk, eat and socialize as part of the annual Corona del Mar Scenic 5K event.

"I had to start the race and jump into it," said Newport Beach Mayor Mike Henn. Even so, he said, he came in toward the head of the pack.

Ehan Chung, 9, of Mission Viejo, placed first in the kids' Dolphin Dash.

"I just ran," he said after the race. "And at the end — I ran as fast as I could."

Huge lines formed at the Restaurant Row station, where runners who completed the course loaded plates with Gina's Pizza, snacks from El Ranchito, creme brulee from The Quiet Woman, fruit and other snacks.

"It's been very smooth, a great race day," said Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce President Linda Leonhard.

"It was really fun," said Kim Rodosky of Newport Beach, who ran the 5K for her third time.

"Another year older, another minute longer," said Laura Palitz of Corona del Mar. "It's never an easy run. It's full of hills."

The race was the first 5K for Erin Stefano, 14, of Corona del Mar.

"She did awesome," said her mother and running partner Brooke Stefano.

"I just wanted to finish it," Erin said.

Organizers said they didn't have complete registration numbers available but believed the race had more participants than last year.

By 9:30 a.m., police were reopening streets that had been closed for the event.


First CdM Today salon set for Tuesday

Corona del Mar Today will hold its first-ever Reader Salon from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Bungalow.

"I can't wait to see my friends and readers," said Amy Senk, publisher of Corona del Mar Today. "I hope this will become a regular event."

Possible discussion topics could be sharrows and bike safety, what the city could do to attract a great Big Corona concessions vendor, the city's budget and airplane noise in Corona del Mar.

"I would love to see a big crowd," Senk said. "I plan to invite city officials and local leaders too."

The Bungalow patio has been reserved for the event, and no-host Happy Hour specials will be available. The Bungalow is at 2441 E. Coast Hwy.


NY-style pizza restaurant to open

John Younesi attended P.S. 144 in Queens, N.Y., and every day after school he'd got to Tony's for a 35-cent slice of pizza and an Italian ice. Then he'd play stick ball with his friends.

"I'm a New York boy," he said, although he now lives in Newport Beach. "And we need a good New York pizza place."

Johnny's New York Pizza will be opening in a few weeks at 2756 E. Coast Hwy., taking over Stella's Cafe, which Younesi also owned.

Stella's closed in 2009, and Younesi said he considered moving out of the Corona del Mar restaurant business entirely before deciding to reinvent the space and focus on pizza.

Younesi also is a lawyer and businessman who hopes one day to franchise the Johnny's New York Pizza business.

Johnny's is modeled after Tony's in Queens. Green and white tiles make a checkerboard floor, and he's added a window and Bakers Pride pizza ovens.

The restaurant will sell Italian ices, salads and pizza.

"The perfect New York pizza has a thin crust," he said. "It is crunchy — cooked well and it's not soggy."

The tomato sauce is from family recipes, and the blended cheese will come from New Jersey.

"The slices will be big ones that you fold over," he said. "You'll eat it at the counter like we did growing up in Queens and Brooklyn and the Bronx."

An opening day has not been set, nor have menu prices been determined. Food will be available for dining in, pick-up and delivery.

Younesi also is an owner of Stella's in Dana Point, where the wood-fire oven pizzas have been named some of the best in Southern California.

"But it's not New York pizza," he said. "Corona del Mar needs a good New York pizza place."

Corona del Mar Today will let you know when an opening date is set.

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