Where the street has no name

However famous the Balboa Bay Club may be, visitors are apparently having trouble finding it.

No matter that the club has been operating in its same location since 1948, or that a guard shack thought to be intimidating was recently removed to make the entry feel more inviting.

The Balboa Bay Resort — the public side of the club — continually gets calls from people who can't figure out where to turn, concierge Patrick Hynes told City Council members during their meeting Tuesday.

Signage on the property just isn't doing the trick. But there is a solution, continued Hynes, an eight-year employee who won a local award for his quality of service and is a member of an international hotel concierge society. The traffic light outside the storied West Coast Highway destination simply needs a name.

Any name would do, he said, speaking as an individual, not on behalf of the resort. Balboa Bay Way. Balboa Bay Drive. Club Drive.

"It's been a long frustration for me," he said in an interview Wednesday. "Any sign would result in a smoother, less-dangerous traffic flow and less lost or befuddled visitors."

Hynes, of course, knows where to turn when he arrives for work. But it is challenging for him to explain to out-of-town visitors how to find the club at 1221 W. Coast Hwy.

He could offer that the hotel is across from a car wash but said that doesn't seem glamorous. Another possible explanation also has its faults: "We're at the unnamed traffic light between Dover and Tustin," he said.

Some guests drive back and forth along West Coast Highway several times before they spot it.

A green sign labeled Montage Resort Drive dangles from the streetlight at the entrance to the Laguna Beach hotel, also off Coast Highway. So why not in Newport?

"I think this suggestion really makes sense," Councilman Mike Henn said at the meeting.

Mayor Rush Hill promised to look into the matter, jokingly suggesting the street be christened in honor of himself.

Representatives from the Balboa Bay Club and Resort have talked briefly with the city about the idea, but it never got off the ground, said co-owner Kevin Martin.

As part of an overall update to the property, a new coffee bar, Blend, opened this year. A restaurant, Waterline, has also opened, replacing the First Cabin Restaurant.

Meanwhile, the resort's lobby and Duke's Place bar are in the process of being updated and reconfigured.

"With all that we're doing, it would be really helpful to have that street name changed, for sure," Martin said.

The club and resort entrance is considered a driveway and so whether to name it will fall to the city, said California Department of Transportation spokesman David Richardson.

However, Caltrans, which operates that section of the highway, would install the sign panels should a name be designated.

Hill said Wednesday that he planned to consult with city staff about the proper way to start the process for considering a name, even if it doesn't end up being Rush Hill Way.

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