CdM Today: Christmas Walk fever hitting CdM residents

 Rick Allen of the popular band Pinch Me! has been planning for Christmas Walk for a long time.

"It's the kick-off for the holidays," Allen said. "It gives us a chance to connect with our fans and to try out a few Christmas songs."

While Pinch Me! is busy rehearsing for the 32nd Annual Corona del Mar Christmas Walk, which takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, other bands are gearing up for their sets.

Travis Barrett and his partner Alex Herrera — formerly the Green Room — will be playing outside Gina's Pizza in the Albertson's parking lot. About 10 other local bands will be performing, including at the Wells Fargo lot near the post office on Orchid Avenue and in other locations. The Corona del Mar High School's Madrigal Singers also will perform up and down Coast Highway between 2 and 4 p.m.

Music is just the tip of the iceberg, however. The beer and wine garden is always a huge draw, as well as the Newport Beach Fireman's BBQ, carolers, a bouncy house, Santa visits and photo ops and the opportunity drawing full of local prizes. As always, the event is free, and local merchants typically offer treats and refreshments.

"The Corona del Mar Christmas Walk is one of the area's most anticipated events," said Michelle Brown of the Brown and Stowell Team.

Corona del Mar Today will be on hand in the vendor area, live blogging and selling greeting card sets that show original photographs of some of the most stunning images they've captured for the site. Stop by and check them out — then tell them your Christmas Walk stories and they'll update the site immediately.


Police announce curfew crackdown plans

When schools let out for winter break on Dec. 17, the Newport Beach Police Department will be ready and waiting to find curfew violators, department officials announced.

"This is in response to a recent increase in theft related crimes committed during nighttime hours by juvenile subjects," according to a police press release.

The concentrated curfew enforcement effort will last throughout the entire school vacation period.

According to the city curfew ordinance, minors younger than 18 are prohibited from loitering in public streets, alleys and other public places between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

"It is the Police Department's intent to enforce this law as a means to reduce crime while at the same time protecting juveniles from potentially being crime victims themselves," the statement said. "The Newport Beach Police Department will continue to actively enforce this ordinance for the safety of our youth and to discourage improper behavior."

Police enacted a curfew violation enforcement effort in August, with 26 detentions in the first 15 days of that month, and they noted a dramatic drop in thefts, they said.

Many of the juveniles involved in the thefts are from the Corona del Mar and Newport Beach areas, police have said.

Last summer, many suspects were using Facebook to make plans to go "car hopping" in Corona del Mar and other areas, meeting after dark to go up and down streets, checking for unlocked cars and then stealing items.


City officials cut ribbon on widening project

A three-month-long construction project that widened San Miguel Drive near Fashion Island is complete, and city officials gathered Tuesday to cut a ceremonial ribbon and praise the job.

"This is an example of government working," said Mayor Keith Curry, who said the intersection was one of the city's busiest. "They worked to get it done in time for Black Friday, and they did."

The project began in August and involved widening San Miguel between MacArthur Boulevard and Avocado Avenue. Traffic heading away from Fashion Island toward MacArthur gained an additional third left-turn lane, and bike lanes were made wider. Another change is a "no left turn" sign for drivers leaving the medical buildings at 1401 Avocado Ave., although as Curry and other officials were leaving the site, several motorists made illegal left turns right in front of them.

Project manager Fong Tse said the project was complete six weeks ahead of schedule and under budget, costing $1.5 million. Crews arrived as early as 4 and 5 a.m. some days and worked nights and weekends to finish before the holiday shopping season.

The project also involved relocating the Fashion Island monument sign and palm and pine trees, planting new grass, adding new signals and relocating water, sewer, gas, cable and other utility facilities.


Cycling safety committee's first meeting is Monday

The new Newport Beach Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee will hold its first meeting at 4:30 p.m. Monday in the Fire Conference Room at City Hall.

City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner, who suggested the committee be formed to continue the work of the Cycling Safety Task Force, will chair the committee. The members include former Newport Beach Mayor John Heffernan, a lawyer who lives in the Port streets neighborhood; Tony Petros of Big Canyon, who rides with Velo 605, a Corona del Mar cycling group; Denis LaBonge of Newport Coast; and Stephen Sholkoff, a retired radiologist.

The task force members were named in October after two votes to break ties.

The Newport Beach City Council created the Task Force on Cycling Safety after several bicycle crashes, including fatalities. The group met for several months before creating a report the City Council received in mid-May. That report suggested that police meet with cycling advocates, that the city add bicycle racks at key points throughout the community and that traffic engineers find an appropriate spot to test sharrows, or marked lanes where cyclists and motorist share the road.

The Fire Conference Room is in the Fire Administration Building at City Hall at 3300 Newport Blvd. The meetings will be open to the public. You can stop by the Administration Building — Building B — to ask for directions.

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