Police evacuate Newport Beach City Hall

Police evacuated Newport Beach City Hall on Monday after an employee reported finding an unattended backpack in a breezeway between the council chambers and an administration building.

About 10 Balboa Peninsula businesses on 32nd Street between Newport Boulevard and Villa Way also participated in their own voluntary evacuation, said Newport Beach Police Department spokeswoman Kathy Lowe.

The camouflage backpack contained "miscellaneous personal items," she said.

The initial call to police came about 10 a.m., Lowe said

"The [Newport Beach police] officer responded and took a look at the package and decided that as a precautionary measure, we would have the bomb squad check it out," Lowe said about 12:15 p.m.

Deputies from the Orange County Sheriff's Department bomb squad arrived about 10:45 a.m.

Authorities closed Newport Boulevard between West Coast Highway and 32nd Street, and the 400 block of 32nd Street near City Hall around 11 a.m., Lowe said.

Traffic on Newport Boulevard was impacted to about Hospital Road just before 1 p.m. Crews began removing road blocks and city services resumed about 1:30 p.m.

Business owners across 32nd Street from City Hall said they were nervous but took the scare in stride.

Although, Diana Kha, manager of Elegant Nail Boutique, had to move some appointments around.

"Monday is slow anyway," she said.

She and another employee fielded calls from clients in the empty salon as officers took down yellow police tape outside.

Kha said her business wasn't really affected.

"We're booked now until the end of the day," she said.

Nancy Henderson, however, said she lost out on the day's lunch rush from city employees and others working in the area. Henderson owns Sabatino's Pizza and Sausage Deli, a couple of doors down from Kha's salon.

"We were worried when [police] said, 'You need to leave,'" she said.

"But we weren't scared," employee Juan Nolasco added, with a grin.

Nolasco and Henderson said they're working on a new pie called "the Bomb," to commemorate the day. Henderson said the incident was unlike anything she'd seen in Newport.

While the pair said they hadn't yet decided on an exact topping combination for the Bomb pizza, Henderson said, "It's definitely going to have jalapeño."

— Daily Pilot staff writer Lauren Williams contributed to this report.


Twitter: @JillCowan

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