California Coastal Commission staff met with a Newport Beach staff member earlier this month to discuss the city's fire ring removal application then followed up with a letter listing four points where the application needs clarification before the commission will schedule a public hearing.
A copy of the letter, dated Sept. 13, was posted to the city's website Sept. 20.
The major roadblock appears to be the lack of specific air-quality studies, the letter indicates. Commission staff had requested additional information on air-quality studies in a June letter, but the city's response in August said such a study was not feasible.
"In our last letter we asked you a series of questions regarding the alleged air-quality impacts of the fire rings to which you didn't fully respond," the latest commission letter states. "Therefore, we request your response to the following questions: How has the city documented the air-quality impacts of the fire rings? Have air samples been taken at the beach or neighboring homes? If so, please provide the results of that sampling. How does the city know definitively the source of smoke in adjacent neighborhoods? Are there regular air-quality-monitoring stations in Corona del Mar and the vicinity of the Balboa Pier?"
The letter also asks whether the city enforces restrictions on burning "inappropriate materials, such as treated paper or plastic creating toxic smoke," and what penalties exist for violators.
The letter also asks for information on how many people use the fire rings, and when the rings are most in demand, as well as their history.
"City staff is compiling additional information to respond to the Coastal Commission's September 2012 letter," the city website states. "Once the application is deemed complete, a public hearing can be scheduled. With the desire to conduct the hearing locally, potential public hearing dates would be in either November 2012 or February 2013."
The traffic study at East Coast Highway near MacArthur Boulevard will remain in place until at least Oct. 23, city officials confirmed.
The traffic study was installed in late June, using delineator poles and paint to move the merge, where three lanes squeeze to two, from the MacArthur intersection to closer to Acacia Avenue.
Based on surveys, feedback, traffic counters and other information, city staff will prepare a report to present to the City Council at an Oct. 23 meeting.
"Staff is planning to prepare a summary report and would like to bring it to [the] City Council for review at their Oct. 23 meeting," city spokeswoman Tara Finnigan wrote in an email. "Additionally, we intended, and will continue to monitor the trail lane drop through the months of September and October, with its removal after the City Council discussion on the 23rd."
The success of the study could pave the way for a Corona del Mar entryway beautification project, with the former traffic lane being converted to expanded sidewalks with landscaping improvements.
Councilman Ed Selich has said that residents of the Irvine Terrace neighborhood have criticized the traffic study, saying it backs up traffic along Avocado Avenue.
Mayor Nancy Gardner has said she has received mixed feedback, but most comments have been specific and reasonable.
Paddle with mayor
Gardner will lead a "paddle with the mayor" event Oct. 13, she announced at the Corona del Mar Residents Assn. board meeting.
"For those who have stand-up boards or kayaks, we'll paddle around the islands," Gardner said last week.
Details about the event will be available soon.
Gardner said the paddle event was a follow-up as promised to a May Mayor's Walk when about 35 people joined Gardner for a 2.75-mile walk around Corona del Mar. The walk included stops along the way to discuss public works projects, historical tidbits and issues like the beach fire rings.
The paddle and walk with the mayor events are Gardner's version of Meet the Mayor sessions that began about two years ago when Mayor Pro Tem Keith Curry held the position.
After becoming mayor in December, Gardner said she felt more comfortable being active while meeting with the public rather than sitting and hoping residents would show up to talk to her about issues and concerns.
City contractors removed a fallen tree limb from the 200 block of Orchid Avenue on Monday morning and soon will remove the rest of the tree, a city official has confirmed.
"The rest of the tree will be removed as well because the limb failure compromised the tree and possible evidence of internal rot," city spokeswoman Tara Finnigan wrote in an email. The work is being performed by West Coast Arborists, the city's contractor, she said.
"Next, the city's arborist will inspect the rest of the Carob trees in that neighborhood over the next several days to determine if there are any problems with the remaining Carob trees," Finnigan wrote. "Our arborist performs routine tree inspections throughout the city."
The contractor sends reports to the city's municipal operations director when trees are trimmed, and municipal operations staff will review existing information, Finnigan said, including looking for health issues regarding the trees, as well as information from arborist inspections this week.
The tree fell about 9 p.m. Saturday but caused no damage or injuries, a witness said.