Corona del Mar Today: Vote on donated benches delayed

The Newport Beach Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission on Tuesday postponed a decision to establish a five-year expiration date on benches donated to the city, asking that staff expand the proposal to include existing benches as well benches donated in the future.

Staff had proposed putting a five-year limit only on all newly donated benches. After the five years passed, staff would contact the donors for a $200 fee if they wanted to continue sponsoring the benches. That fee would go into a bench maintenance account and would be used for bench upkeep.

But at Tuesday's meeting, the commissioners suggested that the plan include all benches, including those already donated to the city. They also asked staff to consider a sliding fee scale because maintenance costs vary depending on if benches are made from wood, plastic or concrete.

Staff will revise their proposal after discussing it with the city attorney, said Mark Harmon, Newport Beach municipal operations director. The commission will discuss and possibly vote on changes to the bench rules at the group's June meeting, but the City Council would have to approve the changes before they go into effect.

Currently, anyone who wishes to donate a bench to the city — typically with a plaque to honor a loved one — pays up to $2,000 or more, and the parks commissioners approve the request. Those benches were assumed to be in place in perpetuity, according to a staff report.

The city has assumed maintenance costs, and benches usually need upkeep every five years, staff said.

Harmon said municipal code allows the city to remove a bench without replacement if it falls into disrepair.

Commissioners said they would like to see existing benches be up for renewal every five years, with the meter starting the day if and when the council votes to adopt the plan.

The issue of whether donated benches should expire came up at a commission meeting in November, and a committee formed to further study the bench question.

The most popular areas for benches — parks or other locations with ocean views — are "benched out," Harmon said.

If the contributor can't be found or declines to continue with the donation, the city would return any remembrance plaque or store it in case the donor has a change of heart, the commissioners agreed.

Benches in popular locations that aren't renewed could become available to others — but the new donors would have to pay the full bench fee, Harmon said.

The commission's next meeting is scheduled for June 5.


Chamber to discuss props

The Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce's monthly government affairs meeting Thursday will include a discussion of two state propositions that will be on the June 5 ballot.

Proposition 28 would change term limits for California legislators. Proposition 29 would increase the state tax on cigarette packs by $1.

The meeting also will include a discussion led by Newport Beach Public Works Director Steve Badum on the status of the City Hall construction site and the project's budget as well as the city's capital improvement budget for Newport Beach and Corona del Mar. Badum was scheduled to speak at the group's April meeting but was unable to attend due to illness.

The meeting also will include legislative reports from representatives for U.S. Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine), Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine), Sen. Tom Harman (R-Costa Mesa) and others.

The meeting will begin at 7:30 a.m. in the chamber offices at 2855 E. Coast Hwy. The meeting, which is set to end at 9 a.m., requires no reservations. For more information, call (949) 673-4050.


CdM Academic Pentathlon winners

Corona del Mar Middle School eighth-grade members of the 2012 Academic Pentathlon team won 53 individual awards and two team awards during this year's Orange County competition, according to an email sent by PTA members.

Perfect scores were granted to Jenny Conde for essay and Jonathan Kuo for math, the email said.

Winners were Aryna Armand, fourth in essay; Nick Borquez, fourth in literature and history, fifth in math and sixth in science; Erica Chen, fourth in math; Jenny Conde, first overall individual, essay, literature, history and science and third in math and overall team and second in Super Quiz/History Team; Conor Costello, fourth overall individual, first in history, third in math, science and Overall Team, and second in Super Quiz/History Team; Daniel Ginsberg, sixth in history; Kate Hunter, sixth in math; Jonathan Kuo, first in math, third in literature and fifth in history; Alex Lenell, first in math; Ryan Levenson, fifth in history and sixth in math; Christopher Lin, second in math and fourth in history; Kaitlin Lockington, third in Overall Team and second in Super Quiz/History Team; Caitlin Martinez, third in Overall Team and second in Super Quiz/History Team; Aimee Nguyen, fifth in history and sixth in math; Vincent Ong, fifth in literature; Matthew Paragas, second in math; Arbaaz Patel, third in math; Arthur Pescan, second Overall Individual, essay, science and history; third in math and Overall Team and second in Super Quiz/History Team; Alex Pham, second in math and history, fifth in essay, third in Overall Team and second in Super Quiz/History Team; Fer Reyna, fifth in essay and sixth in history; Thomas Robertson, third Overall Individual, second in history, fourth in essay, literature and math, third in Overall Team and second in Super Quiz/History Team; Emma Sung, third in math and fourth in literature; Albert Szabo, first in history, fourth in literature and fourth in science; and Kelly Tam, sixth in literature and math, third in Overall Team and second in Super Quiz/History Team.

The students' coaches were Steve Messenger, Jackie Vorona, Carol Boice, Cynthia Francisco and Darla Conde.

Twitter: @coronadelmartdy

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