Police last week warned residents about an increase in thefts and home

burglaries in the Eastbluff area.

Most of the break-ins have occurred in homes next to greenbelt areas,

Newport Beach Police Sgt. Steve Shulman said. Police have not received

any descriptions of the burglars. Shulman said residents should pay

attention to suspicious people coming or going from homes near parks.

In other news, Corona del Mar had a rare visitor last week -- a masked

booby from the distant tropical Galapagos Islands. The rare bird was

found in Big Corona beach with a fishing hook and line lodged in its


She was taken to the Wetlands and Wildlife Center in Huntington Beach,

where she continues to receive treatment.

Center officials say she will stay for a couple of weeks or until she

is strong enough to be released. The last time a booby was sighted in

Newport Beach was in June 1992.

* Deepa Bharath covers public safety and courts. She may be reached at

(949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at o7 deepa.bharath@latimes.comf7 .

Are you sure this is an RV solution?

Costa Mesa police have pitched a new solution to the recreational

vehicle debate that dominated City Hall discussions in the past two


Police Lt. Karl Schuler suggested dated, florescent placards be placed

on vehicles to allow for loading and unloading of the rigs. Permits would

be issued and time-stamped by the city and any vehicle without one would

be subject to a citation, he said.

Mayor Linda Dixon seems to think it is a compromise that may work.

Dixon said the suggestion allows for recreational vehicle owners to

prepare for trips, while protecting other residents against the dangers

of large vehicles on the street for long periods of time.

Another citywide debate -- the cable issue -- moves one step closer to

resolution as AT&T; Broadband officials delivered their customer service

report to the city.

The cable giant was granted a 48-hour extension to ensure accuracy and

completeness, but the report was only a page long and encompassed data

from the Southern California region as a whole.

City officials will meet this week to discuss what steps will be taken

from here.

* Lolita Harper covers Costa Mesa. She may be reached at (949)

574-4275 or by e-mail at o7 lolita.harper@latimes.comf7 .

Ships and torches

Two replica 18th century ships sailed into town Tuesday for a stay at

the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum. The Hawaiian Chieftain and the Lady

Washington will be in town until Tuesday at the museum.

A decades-old ordinance that offers free parking Sunday mornings at

meters adjacent to churches is the subject of a constitutional challenge

after a Newport Beach man sued the city over the matter. Arguing that the

ordinance is a disservice not just to freedom but to all religions, John

Nelson met with city officials before filing suit last week.

Planning Commissioners got their first formal look at a luxury resort

slated for the Marinapark property on Balboa Peninsula. Though the

commission action was routine, it kicked off what's sure to be a

controversial approval process that includes a long-term lease for the

American Legion hall.

And the Olympic torch blazed through Newport Beach and Costa Mesa on

Wednesday, uniting the cities with others along the 65-day journey from

Atlanta to Salt Lake City for the Winter Games.

During a brief ceremony at City Hall, Newport Beach Mayor Tod Ridgeway

said the city was proud to be one of the stopping points. The raucous

crowd shouted out support and waved small flags handed out as a show of


A handful of runners carried the torch, including 'N Sync member Lance

Bass. The teen idol was chased by screaming girls as he headed up Newport

Boulevard in Costa Mesa.

* June Casagrande covers Newport Beach. She may be reached at (949)

574-4232 or by e-mail at o7 june.casagrande@latimes.comf7 .

Buck Gully sullied

About 3,000 gallons of raw sewage dribbling down Buck Gully on Monday

closed Little Corona on Wednesday.

The spill reminded residents and officials of the price the

environment pays for heavy coastline development.

The Orange County Health Care Agency, which ordered the closure, said

it was probably caused by paint, drywall mud, silt and other refuse from

a construction site.

It was not surprising, considering the widespread building of

bluff-top homes in Newport Coast.

The spill occurred when an Irvine Ranch Water District line became


The beach was still closed Friday afternoon.

* Paul Clinton covers the environment and John Wayne Airport. He may

be reached at (949) 764-4330 or by e-mail ato7

paul.clinton@latimes.comf7 .

UCI slaps fraternity

For the first time ever, UC Irvine officials decided last week to

suspend a fraternity after a pledge complained that he was subjected to

hazing during a nightmare weekend at Big Bear a year ago.

Officials said the decision was a result of an investigation the

university undertook after sophomore film major Jeff Warden filed a

lawsuit against members of the Delta Sigma Chapter of the Beta Theta Pi

fraternity in November at Orange County Superior Court.

Warden said he suffered a seizure and had to be hospitalized as a

result of the hazing.

The university, after the two-month investigation, determined that the

fraternity violated two policies relating to student conduct -- hazing

and serving alcohol to minors, spokeswoman Lori Brandt said.

"Hazing is strictly prohibited on and off campus," she said. "So is

distributing alcohol to a minor."

After Jan. 1 2004, the university will consider discussing the

reestablishment of the fraternity provided several conditions are met,

Brandt said.

Nine of the 13 students who were enrolled at UCI were disciplined, but

nobody was expelled, she said.

* Deirdre Newman covers education. She may be reached at (949)

574-4221 or by e-mail at o7 deirdre.newman@latimes.comf7 .

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