The first meeting of the Newport Beach Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee took place Monday afternoon, with members discussing their concerns and setting priorities — including adding sharrows in Corona del Mar, adding racks throughout the city that won't cause damage to expensive bicycles, reaching out to schools with safety programs and adding permanent speed radar devices on downhill locations.
City staff already is designing "Share the Road" signs that will be placed throughout the city, including on Coast Highway through Corona del Mar and along Bayside Drive from Marguerite Avenue to El Paseo, which members agreed would help protect cyclists.
The committee created several subcommittees, including a group that will take charge of a bicycle map and another to study ways to educate motorists about bicycle safety. Members also discussed whether speed limits for cyclists should be lowered on downhill stretches like Spyglass Hill Road, where cyclist Michael Nine was killed in July when he collided with a truck making an illegal turn.
Sharrows, or marked lanes where motorists and cyclists share the road, will require lots of community outreach before they can be added on Coast Highway between Poppy Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard, said City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner, the committee's chairwoman.
"We would not paint first and then outreach," she said. "We would outreach first and then paint."
The city added sharrows along Bayside Drive in October, which several committee and audience members said were working well.
"I'm thrilled the city got them in so quickly on Bayside," said Sean Matsler, a committee member.
"It's been hugely effective, and I ride it a lot," said cyclist Dan Purcell of Corona del Mar. "Motorists are really paying attention to them."
"No one's honked their horn at me," said Frank Peters, another cyclist from Corona del Mar who also writes the Cycling Safety column for Corona del Mar Today.
The group will meet next at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 3.
NBFD needs help with toy drive
Local firefighters are trying to collect more than 250,000 new toys for the Spark of Love Toy Drive, and they are seeking the public's help.
"We could really use toys now for the toy drive," said Jennifer Schulz, a Newport Beach Fire Department spokeswoman. "Please remind people to not wait until the last minute to donate, so we have time to get them to needy families."
Newport Beach and Orange County fire stations are "in desperate need" of unwrapped toys and gift cards this year, said Dee Azevedo, toy warehouse manager.
"Last year, we had a need for toys at the warehouse," Azevedo said in a statement. "This year is turning out to be the same way. We have approximately 207 orders to fill, which means we need 286,972 toys to complete our orders before Dec. 24. It's a large endeavor to receive approximately 16,822 toys per day. So, we are asking the public while they are out holiday shopping to think about donating toys for those less fortunate children."
The Orange County Toy Collaborative combines the efforts of the Orange County Firefighters' Spark of Love toy drive, the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program, Orange County Social Service Agency's Operation Santa Claus program and the St. Vincent de Paul holiday charities program. These campaigns receive and distribute more than 300,000 toys annually for needy children and families throughout Orange County.
You can drop toys off at any Newport Beach fire station, including the Corona del Mar station on Marigold Avenue.
Port Theater update: Revisions caused work delays
City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner's December newsletter notes the lack of work on the Port Theater remodeling project.
"Out walking the other day, I passed the side door of the Port Theater, which was open, so I peeked inside," she wrote. "I don't know quite what I expected, but it wasn't nothing … which was essentially what I saw. Lots of bare floor suggesting there's still quite a bit to do before any grand opening."
The theater first opened in the 1950s and at one point was slated for demolition. Last January, the owner met with city officials to discuss plans to open with 350 seats and the ability to get permits twelve times a year for special events.
The project apparently was on hold pending revisions, including a revision to the exterior facade, according to a city spokeswoman.
"The revisions are now approved, and we are expecting a inspection request shortly," Tara Finnigan said in an e-mail.
It is not known when the project will be complete.
GATE parent advisory meeting scheduled for Dec. 14
Parents of GATE students at Corona del Mar Middle and High School are invited to the first GATE parent advisory meeting set for 3:15 p.m. Dec. 14. The agenda includes discussion of the latest research into GATE students, learning and teaching strategies and a chance to share your students' experiences and their course of study at CdMHS. The meeting will take place in Room 416.
Phoenician Stone shop — gone
A Corona del Mar business that was part of a U.S. Customs investigation last summer has closed, leaving behind unclaimed property inside the shop at 3034 E. Coast Highway.
Phoenician Stone sold imported stone mantles and other decorative finishes. The shop made headlines in August when federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents swarmed the business, taking over the next-door tire shop's parking lot to dismantle crates.
An ICE agency spokeswoman has not replied to an e-mail seeking updates on the case, but on Nov. 22 she said the investigation remained ongoing.
A "For Lease" sign has been placed in the windows of the business, as well as a "Notice of Right To Reclaim Abandoned Property." Inside there are a few items including a white fireplace surround.
A message left at the business's listed number was not returned.
Gas station temporarily closed
The Shell gas station at 1600 Jamboree Road is closed for business in order to install hydrogen fueling pumps. City officials said they issued permits for the project on Nov. 18. It was not immediately known how long the project would take to complete.