Corona del Mar Today: Upper Buck Gully trail project construction underway

Work has begun on the Upper Buck Gully trail project, with crews clearing the trails on the looped path that begins at Fifth and Poppy avenues.

City officials toured the site Thursday, where workers are preparing to install footings for four bridges currently under construction, said City Manager Dave Kiff.

When the bridges are complete, he said it would take minutes to install them, with a helicopter dropping them into place.

The trail, which will connect to San Joaquin Hills Road, should be complete by February, Kiff said.

The work is managed by the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, and the California Conservation Corps is doing some of the work.

The project will cost $180,000, with about half paid for by grants and the rest paid with funds from the Buck Gully erosion project.

Funds from the erosion project also will cover $185,000 to be paid for maintenance of the trail, which will be overseen by the IRC.

The IRC will provide basic management services for Buck Gully, including field monitoring, habitat and natural resource management, regional coordination with adjacent open space land managers, assistance with fire and fuels management, public outreach, education and recreational programs, as well as volunteer management for stewardship and public access programs, Newport Beach Deputy Public Works Director Dave Webb said in an email.


Couture Dress Shop Opens

A new couture dress shop has opened in Corona del Mar at 3034 E. Coast Hwy.

Andrea's Couture sells custom-designed formal wear for mothers' of the bride and other special occasions, said owner and designer Andrea Williams.

"We can add sleeves, we can change the necklines, we can dye a dress any color in the world," Williams said. "Everything is custom."

Williams was six months old when her mother, Carmen Popa, opened Andrea's Fashions in Beverly Hills, she said.

"I grew up with couture design," she said.

The shop held a soft opening during last week's Corona del Mar Christmas Walk, but an official grand opening party will be held Jan. 19.

The shop's hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, with appointments available on Tuesdays. For more information, call (949) 644-4200.


B.Candy to move to former psychic shop space

B.Candy will move to a larger location at 3100 E. Coast Hwy. this spring, the owner has confirmed.

The candy shop, currently at 3617 E. Coast Hwy., opened in April and sells candy and candy-themed items including gummy bear nightlights, T-shirts that smell like Peeps and other candies, school supplies, party favors and more.

Owner Brandy Valdez said her goal is to open the new store in March.

This weekend, workers put B.Candy signs in the window of the empty storefront, formerly the Crystal Lotus psychic shop. Crystal Lotus closed in June after two years. The shop, which offered psychic, angel and aura readings, was shuttered for six months after a drunk driver crashed through its front doors in February 2010, causing $75,000 in damage.


Business group to survey CdM restaurants on parking

The Corona del Mar Business Improvement District plans to send a parking survey to more than 40 Corona del Mar restaurants as part of an effort to assess parking needs in the village.

The surveys will be sent early in 2012.

A parking study conducted several years ago focused on whether customers in Corona del Mar had adequate parking. The study indicated that although some areas are congested, there is adequate parking in Corona del Mar.

Last spring, the Newport Beach City Council declined to pursue both a plan to add parking meters along East Coast Highway as well as a plan to implement residential parking permits; read our stories here and here.

Business owners, however, often complain about parking for both their customers and their employees. When the LaMonir Collection dress boutique closed in September, for example, the owners said that parking problems were a major factor in relocating from East Coast Highway to Irvine.

"We're going to interview businesses and find out what the business needs are — not just the customers' needs," said Bernie Svalstad, a B.I.D. board member.

Other business owners, particularly restaurant owners, have had to fight hard to negotiate parking for customers and employees before being permitted to extend hours or add additional seating.

Rose Bakery and Cafe's owners went before the Planning Commission twice in 2010 before a parking agreement was accepted and they were allowed to expand their outdoor seating; and El Ranchito was permitted to open its takeout area only after agreeing to close earlier and pay for employees to use a city lot.

"They all have different parking regulations and needs," said Linda Leonhard, president of the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce. "We want to find out what their current parking agreement is — really sit down with them individually and find out what their needs are."

The group decided to focus on restaurants, she said, "because that's the biggest problem."

The survey asks for restaurant owners to describe their parking agreements with the city, how much they pay for parking, whether that creates a hardship and what their parking needs or wishes are. It also asks for information about hours of operation allowed by the city and whether they are adequate, and what physical improvements they would like to see the B.I.D. implement.

When the survey results have been analyzed, the B.I.D. group will discuss its findings at a board meeting and forward the information to members of the Corona del Mar Citizens Advisory Panel for the Revitalization Committee as well as to Newport Beach City Council members and staff.

Twitter: @coronadelmartdy

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