Gardner: 'The state of the city is fine'

CORONA DEL MAR — Mayor Nancy Gardner delivered Tuesday what was perhaps the shortest state of the city address in recent history.

"The state of the city is fine," she told an audience during a Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Five Crowns. "Any questions?"

Gardner was only partially joking. In some of her first public remarks since being sworn in December, she praised the city administration for weathering the recession, and then devoted most of her talk to neighborhood issues.

Gardner, who lives just blocks away, focused on issues affecting CdM business owners.

She is set to give a more formal annual address in February about the state of the entire city.

Business leaders have continually complained about the lack of parking in the village, and the one policy proposal Gardner made Tuesday was to create a new parking plan for CdM.

In outlining the area's parking problems, she said families and visitors have more cars than CdM streets were designed to handle.

"We've got an old grid in a new world," she said.

A past parking study recommended that visitors pay meters on or near East Coast Highway, Gardner said, but residents opposed that idea because it would entice people to park in residential areas nearby.

She proposed that the city reevaluate the problem and create a new parking plan that would satisfy business owners, residents and visitors. It may include buying land for a public parking lot or structure.

"We need to look at it with a fresh eye," Gardner said.

One temporary solution? Gardner said she would ask for a parking citation sweep — a "shock and awe" strategy.

Gardner praised City Manager Dave Kiff for streamlining the city government during the past few years.

When revenue dropped during the recession, he trimmed positions and consolidated departments, and made the city more business-friendly in the process, she said.

"Compared to many cities … Newport Beach has almost had a free ride," Gardner said.

On Feb. 3, she will give a more detailed address at the Mayor's Dinner, which is hosted by the Speak Up Newport community advocacy group. The dinner is sold out, according to the group's website.

Twitter: @mreicher

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