Corona del Mar Today: City to hold meeting on eucalyptus trees

City officials are planning to hold a neighborhood meeting at 6 p.m. Oct. 13 at the OASIS Senior Center to discuss the status of Corona del Mar's blue gum eucalyptus trees.

On Tuesday, a blue gum near Fourth and Goldenrod avenues fell over during a rainstorm, damaging two homes and four cars but causing no injuries. Last month, another blue gum along Irvine Avenue fell and killed 29-year-old Haeyoon Miller.

Arborists have been inspecting all the blue gums in Newport Beach since that accident, and any tree identified as dangerous is being removed. Within a week of the fatality, 100 trees were removed from along the Irvine Avenue median. Since then, all of Corona del Mar's blue gums have been inspected, and five trees were removed this week; read our earlier stories here and here.

Other trees may be removed pending a written report and recommendation of the arborist, according to an email sent today to members of the Corona del Mar Residents Association.

The email said that City Manager Dave Kiff wanted residents to know that the Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission plans to schedule a meeting with residents at the OASIS Senior Center to discuss the trees and ask questions.

"This meeting will provide a good forum for both information and public comment," the email said.

Karen Tringali, president of the CdMRA, said members should take advantage of the chance to participate in a dialog about urban forestry and resident safety.

"The City is aggressively taking action to protect residents' safety in the short term while investigating longer-term solutions for appropriate tree maintenance and selection in residential areas," she said. "The City is working with CdMRA and other resident groups to make sure they are informed of their progress and have opportunities for public comment."

The meeting will be held at the Hart Events Center in the OASIS, which is located at Fifth and Marguerite avenues.

Kiff said he hoped to have a quorum of members of the Parks commission, but in case there isn't a quorum he asked the City Council to waive a quorum requirement.

"We want and need to have the public meeting," he said in an email. "We also need to act urgently — not emergently — on removing some of the trees. As such, I have had to ask Council to allow us to waive G-1 — in order only to accommodate a quorum-less PB&R. We will still discuss this with the public and ask for comments and input."

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PTA members: Improve drop off — now

Construction of a middle school enclave and theater will resume by December or January, and the schools' pool parking lot will be reconfigured within a year, a district official told members of the Corona del Mar High School and Middle Schools' PTA Wednesday.

But several parents asked that immediate steps be taken to improve traffic flow.

The pool lot has three lanes for parents dropping off and picking up students, including one that is used for cars pulling through to exit. But a new curb was installed over the summer, making the three lanes tight if cars don't stay within the imaginary lanes.

Jim Lamond, director of facilities for the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, said he would see if striping could be added.

He said district officials planned to eventually reconfigure the lot and possibly find an alternate spot for buses.

"It needs to happen now," another parent said. "Nothing is going to happen until someone gets hurt."

Lamond told the group that construction of a middle school enclave and theater project likely will resume later this year after the state Department of Architecture approves the plans. Crews worked over the summer, demolishing a building and laying pipes and electrical conduits, he said.

When work does resume, he said it would be behind green fences.

"Then the noise will start," he said. "The backhoes will fire up."

Construction should take 22 months for the enclave and 20 months for the theater.

"I'm praying for no rain this winter," he said. "Usually one day of rain causes three days of delays."

He also told parents that police would no longer ticket cars parked on the streets around the school on street sweeping day after district officials promised to take care of street sweeping with their own equipment. Construction at the school, along with construction at Our Lady Queen of Angels across the street, has caused parking congestion in the area.

High School Principal Tim Bryan gave an update on recent revisions to grading policies, which standardized how teachers at the school weigh scores from homework, assignments and other criteria.

Bryan also said he believed Monday's pranks at the school, which included toilet paper and graffiti done in washable paint on the gym walls and some classroom windows, was the work of a small group of seniors. He said he issued a stern announcement about school pride and felt that most seniors didn't want to lose privileges if pranks continued.

"No one wants happy high school hijinks all year long," he said. "They (students) feel it disrespects the school."

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Curves changes locations

Corona del Mar's Curves fitness center has relocated, according to signs in the former space in the Port Plaza building.

The fitness club was closed two days last week during the move to 2711 E. Coast Highway at Fernleaf Avenue.

For more information, call 673-2878.

amy@coronadelmartoday.com

Twitter: @coronadelmartdy

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