City budget may delay revitalization projects

The city's first revitalization projects may be delayed because of limited capital funds, City Manager Dave Kiff said in anticipation of Tuesday's City Council meeting, when three of the initiatives are set to be reviewed.

Proposed landscaping and other streetscape improvements in West Newport, Santa Ana Heights and Corona del Mar are expected to cost more than $10 million to build and more than $100,000 per year to maintain.

"We don't have the resources to bite them off all at once," City Manager Dave Kiff wrote in a newsletter previewing the meeting. "But at least we have a good path to follow as funds become available."

Later, in an email to the Daily Pilot, he estimated that the improvements could be built within the next five years.

The city's capital improvement budget for fiscal year 2011-12 was $57.5 million and included major projects such as Sunset Ridge Park and Marina Park, although both of those developments have been delayed. Since the budget was finalized in July, the council approved at least one major capital project: new harbor dredging.

Officials also expect to pay $8 million in bond payments, primarily for the under-construction Civic Center in this fiscal year. More than half of that will go toward interest.

The proposed street revitalization plans feature lush, colorful trees and shrubs; monuments marking the city border; curved sidewalk paths; and other permanent features such as short concrete walls that double as seating. Stretches of Coast Highway, Superior Avenue, Balboa Boulevard and South Bristol Street have been selected for the improvements.


CdM eucalyptus replacement trees to diversify streetscape

The council plans to vote on a selection of trees to replace the eucalyptus removed from Fourth Avenue in Corona del Mar.

The Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission selected three trees that would be allowed on the street — gold medallion, dwarf southern magnolia and the African tulip — and each homeowner would decide which of the three trees to plant in front of his or her home.

Kiff wrote in the newsletter that the city has identified multiple trees in recent years to vegetate a given street, instead of the historical designation of a single "street tree."

"The variety of height, color and canopy makes for a more aesthetically-pleasing neighborhood," he wrote.


Bicycle Safety Committee finishes year, sets goal for next

Its first full year of work complete, the Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee has requested that the council allow it to continue to working on making Newport a more bike-friendly city.

During 2011, the group of cyclists and others created a map of the city's bike paths; conducted meeting with Corona del Mar residents and businesses about "sharrows," the markings that warn vehicles to share the road; and recommended the locations and types of public bike racks, among other accomplishments.

A staff report says the committee members now want to develop a capital plan for cycling improvements.

The city spent an estimated $51,000 in staff members' time working on the committee during the past year, the report says, primarily from Public Works Department involvement.


Council members up for committee appointments

Also on Tuesday, the council plans to make appointments to the various committees on which council members serve. The Aviation Committee, for instance, may have Councilwoman Leslie Daigle and Councilmen Rush Hill and Keith Curry, according to a staff report.

That committee's profile is heightened this year, as Newport enters negotiations about John Wayne Airport noise restrictions, which expire in 2015.

Other groups up for appointments include the city Finance Committee, Tidelands Management Committee, and outside groups such as the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency board of directors.

Twitter: @mreicher

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