CdM Today: High school statue vandalized

Corona del Mar High School administrators and PTA members Wednesday discussed ways to prevent vandalism on campus after a graffiti incident over winter break.

"This wasn't a prank," said PTA President Lynne Ramsey at the first PTA meeting of the year on Wednesday morning. "What this was was a hate message."

Principal Tim Bryan said the vandals targeted the Sea King statue on the quad as well as over a painted graphic on a wall in the main quad. There also was damage to the pool office area.

"It happened last year, at the same time," he said.

The graffiti included anti-gay messages and named the mascot of a rival local high school.

Administrators at that school have been contacted, Bryan said, as well as the Newport Beach Police Department.

Bryan said he hoped that someone would end up bragging about the damage, and that eventually someone would come forward with information.

"Someone's going to know who did it," he said.

Members of the PTA and school administrators discussed whether adding cameras would prevent future incidents, as well as whether walls could be covered with special materials making it easier to clean graffiti.

The main question, said Bryan, is "how fast can we make this go away."

The company that painted the mural included the cost of repainting the mural in case of vandalism, he added.

"We used it last year," he said.

For now, the damage is mostly covered with tarps.

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Committee tackles sharrows, speed signs and more

Members of the Newport Beach Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee met Monday afternoon, spending more than an hour discussing whether bicycles should have speed limits on steep hills, how to explain Coast Highway sharrows to Corona del Mar residents and the possibility of creating a bicycle advisory group to work with county Caltrans officials on safety issues.

Committee members, city staff and cycling advocate guests bounced around ideas about whether fixed-speed radar signs on hills like Ridge Park and Spyglass would be effective in reducing accidents — or whether cyclists might try to race against the signs.

Barbara Danzi, a Newport Coast resident and committee member, said she would prefer to see signs at neighborhood exits on those hills that warn motorists to be careful of cyclists — not signs warning cyclists to be more careful.

Staff will continue to explore fixed radar signs, as well as possibly add signs aimed at cyclists that say "Watch Downhill Speed."

The group also received drafts of a letter City Manager Dave Kiff plans to send to Corona del Mar residents to explain a plan to add sharrows along Coast Highway between Begonia Avenue and Hazel Drive.

The committee members are considering adding sharrows, or "share the road" arrows pavement markings, on both sides of the road through the village. Bayside Drive has had sharrows since October.

Kiff's letter emphasizes that sharrows are not the same as bike lanes and do not reduce on-street parking spaces. Committee members were asked to review the draft and send comments by Friday.

City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner, who is the committee chairwoman, said she would ask the Corona del Mar Residents Assn. and the Corona del Mar Business Improvement District to add the sharrows topic to future agendas for more business and community outreach.

Several bicycle advocates attended the meeting and talked about a recent meeting they had with Caltrans officials in Orange County, a meeting that was prompted by the death of an Irvine man after a crash at the merge of the 73 Toll Road onto Newport Coast Drive. The men said that officials Caltrans District 12, which covers Orange County, seemed receptive to the idea of having a Bicycle Advisory Committee that could bring attention to local "hot spots."

"They want specific suggestions," said Pete Van Nuys, a Orange County Bicycle Coalition board member.

Police Chief Jay Johnson discussed bicycle crash statistics that his staff has been compiling and analyzing, and he said the department planned to ask every school in Newport Beach if it would participate in a Bike Safety Rodeo that would encourage bicycle registration and teach basic rules of the road.

Van Nuys told the group they should consider applying for a Bicycle Friendly Community designation.

"The work you're doing here is stellar," he said.

"Maybe once we're further down the road," Gardner said.

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Slope failure damages sewer line

Seven units in two buildings on Carnation Avenue above Bayside Place were evacuated Tuesday when a slope failure damaged a sewer line, city officials said.

The private slope is below the homes in the 200 block of Carnation Avenue. Several people reported the damaged sewer line, and city crews spent several hours trying to pinpoint the damage by using dye tests.

Two homes were yellow-tagged, allowing for residents in all units to enter for personal belongings only.

It was not immediately known how long it would take to isolate the problem and make permanent repairs.

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Spirit Run date changed due to conflict

The Spirit Run has been rescheduled to its original date of March 27 to avoid a conflict with the final day of the Toshiba Classic.

The off-then-on-again run appeared to be doomed after a 27-year run when four of five elementary schools that hosted it dropped out. But a group of parents stepped up to save the race — hailed as the longest-running kids race in Orange County — raising sponsorship money and working with Newport Beach officials to plan the event.

Late last month, the group announced the revamped race that would be open to all Newport-Mesa Unified School District schoolchildren, with more of a focus on health and less on fundraising; read our story here.

The revamped Spirit Run was to take place March 13, but when Toshiba organizers noted the conflict, the date changed back to March 27.

"The new date leaves more time for training," said Diane Daruty, a parent who organized the Newport-Mesa Spirit Run group.

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Arson fire reported in rent drop box

An arsonist placed a rag into a rent payment drop box and set it on fire early Tuesday in the Newport Ridge Apartments, according to police. The incident occurred at 1 White Cap Lane between midnight and 6:45 a.m., according to a police report. The fire burned the box and contents with damage set at $300.

Newport Beach Fire Department's arson investigators are looking into the fire, said spokeswoman Jennifer Schulz. She said the fire was extinguished by the time firefighters arrived.

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