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Corona del Mar Today

Controversy Brewing Over New CDMHS Theater; Community Meeting Planned For Thursday Postponed

Corona del Mar High School soon could get a new theater — but will the $13 million proposed theater-in-the-round stage be too small for plays and dance performances?

"Our drama department and our dance department will not be able to use the Thrust Theatre," parents complained in an e-mail that is making the rounds of Corona del Mar High School families. "It is a round stage with no capacity to accommodate the dancers or the props for drama productions."

One parent said, "This theater would be a complete waste of money."

Another said, "I think it is very irresponsible to spend our taxpayer money on a theatre that will stand 'dark' and unused."

A meeting had been scheduled for Thursday evening but too many people had conflicts, so the meeting instead will be planned after school is out for the year, Jim Lamond, the director of facilities development for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, said in an e-mail.

"I do greatly appreciate all of your thoughts, ideas and input as they relate to the theater design," he wrote. "Hopefully we can find a time when we can all gather together again as a group and help move this project forward."

The proposed new theater would be built using about $10 to $13 million of funds from Measure F, a 2005 bond measure that already paid for the Newport Harbor Loats Theater. That theater, which Corona del Mar High School used for its performances this spring of "The Wiz," is a Proscenium theater. But the plan for Corona del Mar High School is to build a Thrust theater, a theater-in-the-round-type stage geared toward small musical ensembles.

Estancia is slated to receive the second Proscenium theater, although one Corona del Mar High School parent said that school "does not have established drama, dance or music programs."

"I find it interesting that they will give them the Proscenium theatre when they are not even ready to use it," she said in an email.

Thrust theaters are slated for Costa Mesa High School as well as Corona del Mar High.

Besides a new theater, Measure F funds also are being used for a Corona del Mar Middle School enclave project.

An e-mail to CdMHS drama teacher Ronald Martin seeking comment was not immediately answered.

Corona del Mar Lakers Fan Says Trip Was Worth it Despite Loss

Corona del Mar Lakers fan Desiree Engle's trip to Boston didn't turn out quite as she hoped, but the self-proclaimed No. 1 fan said she's glad she made the trip, thanks to more than $1,000 in donations from local friends and customers.

"It's unbelievable, the generosity," Desi said at her first day back at work at CeFiore since her trip to the East Coast, where she watched her beloved team lose. "I am super stoked that I got to go."

Desi, just slightly subdued today compared to last week, said she was grateful for the chance to take the trip.

"It just goes to show you how much people love the Lakers and want them to win," she said. "I am truly inspired by this and my heart does bleed purple and gold. I'm lucky to be a part of such a loving and generous town."

Before the trip, Desi decided to put a glass jar on the counter of the shop next to a hand-printed sign asking for donations to help send her to a Finals game in Boston. A longtime fan and season-ticket holder, Desi's passion for the team soon resulted in hundreds of dollars in contributions.

In the end, she collected $1,035, spending $800 on a ticket and $100 on airfare. She bought herself a souvenir patch and spent the rest on taxi and train fare, she said.

Some Boston fans gave her grief, she said, but many more asked to pose with her for pictures.

"There was some hate, but we got mostly love, I'm not going to lie," she said.

Corona del Mar Group To Ask For Village to Be Exempt From Zoning Changes

Could the village vibe that defines Corona del Mar be in jeopardy?

Proposed changes in the Newport Beach Zoning Code could result in huge homes being built on small Flower Street lots — changing the seaside-cottage feel of Corona del Mar forever, local leaders said.

"We have to stop this or we will become Newport Coast Jr.," said Karen Tringali, president of the Corona del Mar Residents Assn..

The group's board voted unanimously last week to write a letter to the city's Planning Commission, asking that small lots on the Flower Streets be treated differently under the new Zoning Code.

Changes in the Zoning Code are being considered in order to bring the code into alignment with changes adopted in the city's General Plan four years ago. City officials have been holding meetings and public hearings for years, but the Corona del Mar group has recently begun to study the impact of the changes, which include spelling out floor-area ratio, height restrictions and open-space requirements.

Planning Commissioner Michael Toerge, who attended the Thursday meeting of the residents' association, said he has serious concerns about the current zoning code draft.

"I can't get behind this plan because of the impact it could have," he said. "I do feel an intense responsibility to make people aware. These are big changes."

The new zoning code could allow for homes to have more square footage, although they might seem visually less bulky, he said.

But there are no guarantees about the visual impact, he said, and by adding more living space to homes on small lots, the community could develop overcrowding, parking issues and other problems.

Tringali said that Corona del Mar has traditionally claimed to be a seaside community with "village charm," and that small lots with appropriately sized cottages is part of that charm.

"Ultimately you'll get larger dwellings," she said, referring to the zoning code changes. "Are these larger dwellings consistent with our advertising a seaside village? Somehow it seems to be flying in the face of the village component."

City Councilman Ed Selich suggested that homes could be kept from being too big for their lots by adding height restrictions of 25 feet, or by banning third stories.

Balboa Island leaders asked for, and were granted, exceptions from the proposed Zoning Code rules because that community also has small lots that are not suited for large "McMansion"-type homes, board members said.

Tringali said a survey this spring of residents showed 88 percent of respondents wanted to limit floor-area ratios.

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