Corona del Mar Today: Group approves curvy, palm-filled entryway plans

Corona del Mar's revamped entryway at MacArthur Boulevard and East Coast Highway could feature a curvy, extra-wide sidewalk; date palm trees; low, curving walls that double as seating; and "programmable" sidewalk space that could be used for art and music shows and holiday events.

Members of the Corona del Mar Citizens Advisory Panel voted 3 to 1 at the group's December meeting to approve the plans and forward them to the Newport Beach Neighborhood Revitalization Committee.

The decision resulted in the CdM CAP group's being immediately disbanded because it filled its obligations, despite an agenda that listed another January meeting and earlier discussion of outreach efforts to nearby businesses and the Corona del Mar Residents Assn.

"The concept plan, while still preliminary and will be refined in future design phases, is a very good plan that follows the CdM Vision plan," Ron Yeo, a committee member who has been involved in Corona del Mar beautification vision plans for several years, said in an email to local leaders.

Construction costs will be around $1.3 million, he wrote, and the project could be on the Newport Beach proposed budget in July.

The current plans move the so-called squeeze lane — where three traffic lanes reduce to two lanes — to the west side of MacArthur Boulevard. The former traffic lane would then be used to expand the sidewalk area from about 12 to 33 feet in the block between Begonia and Carnation avenues, while also expanding to a lesser degree the widths between Acacia and Begonia and Carnation and Dahlia avenues.

The changes not only will improve the looks of the area, Yeo said, but it will improve traffic safety for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians.

The changes also will result in the loss of nine parking spaces between Begonia and Carnation avenues because of safety concerns, but the parking places would be replaced in other areas of Corona del Mar, Yeo said.

Specific details, such as park benches, bicycle racks, possible outdoor dining for nearby restaurants and others, remain unresolved.

"All the details will be worked out later," said CAP member Sandie Haskell. "We could have meetings for the next three years with people saying, 'We should have this here or put an umbrella there.' But we were an ad hoc committee formed to come up with the concept. We came up with a concept, and our work was done."

By moving forward now, she added, the plans would have a better chance of being funded in the city's next fiscal year, which begins in July.

But the group's lone dissenting voter said she was concerned that neighbors, property owners, businesses and CdMRA members would "most definitely be caught off guard on this quick decision."

"I believe we rushed this decision," Lisa Jordan said in an email. "I am disappointed that we may have not fulfilled our agreement to the city. By this vote, we're essentially handing the full responsibility back over to the city, which was not our direction/job. There are still so many decisions to be made."

Resident Jim Mosher, who observed the meeting, said he wondered if the group violated the state Brown Act, a law that requires open meetings, because the meeting's publicized agenda did not indicate that a vote would be taken and also said the group would meet again on Jan. 25.

In an email, Mosher wrote "(T)here was nothing in the agenda to hint that the CAP would be voting on making a final recommendation to the NRC and folding up shop."

City spokeswoman Tara Finnigan said that staff will be send notices to community members and property owners before the Jan. 12 Neighborhood Revitalization Committee meeting. The meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall at 3300 Newport Blvd.

"Public comments on the plans can be made to the committee and again at the full City Council meeting" at a future date, Finnigan said. "So, there is still time for public review and comment and all of the conceptual plans are available online."

The Corona del Mar Business Improvement District has been working to bring a beautification plan to the MacArthur Boulevard entry point since at least 1999, with revisions to its plan made again in 2004.

Originally, the plans included creating a "Restaurant Row," with outdoor dining on the expanded sidewalk space, and part of the process included the relinquishment of Coast Highway from Caltrans to the city of Newport Beach in 2004, which allowed local officials to make improvements to medians along with other changes, like pedestrian crosswalks.

During this year's CdM CAP meetings, city officials stated that restaurant owners who want to use the increased sidewalk space for dining would have to have permits and approval from zoning and planning officials.


Last yelp for groomers

A Corona del Mar dog washing business has closed its doors at 3838 E. Coast Hwy.

Dog Wash opened in March 1997, according to online city business records.

It was not known if the business would relocate to another Corona del Mar location or close permanently. Customers said the shop closed this week, and the awning has been removed and the windows covered with paper.

The owner did not return messages seeking comments for this story.


Spirit Run to return

A year after being saved from the brink of elimination, the Newport-Mesa Spirit Run has opened registration for the 29th annual run scheduled for March 4.

The fundraising race traditionally has been held each March, with students from five local elementary schools along with serious racers running a course around Fashion Island. In September 2010, however, four of the five schools that organized and paid for the race dropped out, citing dwindling returns on their $20,000 donations.

Representatives from Harbor View and Lincoln elementary schools in Corona del Mar, along with Andersen and Newport Coast, said they would support the run but could no longer pay to run the event.

Then, in December, a group of parents led by Diane Daruty decided to save the Spirit Run by creating a nonprofit group and reorganizing the way fundraising would be handled.

Last year's Spirit Run took place March 27, when about 1,500 participants braved the rainy weather. The event ultimately raised more than $50,000, which was distributed among nine district schools, Daruty said in a statement.

Daruty said she is continuing her role as race director and chairman of the board of Newport-Mesa Spirit Run Inc.

"We are very excited about the upcoming event, and things are going well," she said.

For more information or to register, visit

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