Newport Beach Mayor Michael F. Henn gave a State of the City speech to members of the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, offering a sneak peek of topics likely to be addressed at the upcoming City Council 2011 Priorities Meeting.
Henn was the featured speaker at the chamber's lunch at Five Crowns, which drew a sellout crowd of about three dozen members and guests.
He began with a positive view of the state of Newport Beach.
"In a word, it is excellent," he said, describing how city staff successfully carved $8 million in savings in the 2010 fiscal year's budget and how they are pulling out another $18 million this year, all while opening the new OASIS Senior Center and "smartly" building a new Civic Center and park complex that will be complete by the end of 2012.
The City Council, he said, was poised to tackle issues that would be "generational," meaning they would change the city's path for generations to come.
He listed five topics that he said would be discussed at the Feb. 5 Priorities Meeting, beginning with possibly changing the way that the city delivers services to residents.
"What services are critical to the city?" he said. "What services are perhaps important to the city but perhaps not important for city staff to provide?"
He said the question wasn't whether to reduce services but to discuss how to cut costs and manage staff time.
A second priority is dealing with pension and retirement benefits for city staff, which Henn said take too large a share of city resources.
"We bear no ill will," he said. "But we do know we have to fix it."
Employees will need to pay more of their share of the costs, he said.
Tidelands and related issues comprise Henn's third priority, he said, citing the need to address harbor concerns like dredging, dock tie-ups, higher seawalls and beach issues. Those improvements, he said, could make Newport Beach the premier oceanside recreational city in the world.
"That is not a goal that is unattainable in my view," he said.
Henn said revitalization and working on John Wayne Airport agreements also were top concerns.
"2011 is the year of generational planning," he said. "These are changes that will benefit our city for generations going forward."
The City Council Priorities Meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 5 in the OASIS Center. The public is invited.
Irvine man arrested in Fashion Island fire
A 21-year-old Irvine man was arrested after police say he set fire to toilet paper rolls in a Fashion Island public restroom.
The man was arrested at 3:55 p.m. Jan. 16 at Newport Center Drive and San Miguel Road, according to a report. He was booked on suspicion of arson and he remains in jail with bail set at $250,000.
The man is accused of using a lighter to ignite the paper and then leaving the scene.
The fire was discovered by Fashion Island's maintenance staff, said Sgt. Steve Burdette.
Firefighters were called at 12:03 p.m. and found the smoldering paper in a stall and quickly extinguished the fire, said Jennifer Schulz, a Newport Beach Fire Department spokeswoman.
Break-in reported at The Summer House
A man broke into The Summer House restaurant early Friday morning and stole bottles of liquor, but a jogger appears to have startled the man who left the bottles behind when he fled.
"Apparently he scared the subject off and called the police," Burdette said of the witness. "The suspect ran off and left the bottles behind. It appears the subject pried open the window to gain entry."
The witness said he was near the restaurant, 2744 E. Coast Hwy., at 6 a.m. when he saw someone with a bag running across the street and heard an alarm sounding, so he called police.
"We were walking west on PCH just past Goldenrod when we saw a man running across the street and between the shops to the back alley, wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag," the witness said. "When we reached Summer House, we heard the alarm and saw the window was open."
He called 911, and police arrived within five minutes, he said.
The man said he couldn't see the bag clearly, but he described the suspect as short, about 5 feet, 4 inches, and skinny. He couldn't see the man's face because of the hoodie sweatshirt.
More police cars arrived, and officers began searching the area for the suspect. Police parked on Fernleaf Avenue and along Heliotrope Avenue, which was blocked off for a short time, witnesses said.
A window to the restaurant was broken and hanging open, and a salt shaker was knocked off a table to the floor, but the restaurant's owner said not much else seemed disturbed.
"Fortunately, only a couple of bottles of liquor were taken and later recovered next to a Dumpster across the street," said owner Cindy Holechek.
Swimwear store to open
BeachCandy Swimwear — a local designer's first shop that will sell luxurious bathing suits with Swarovski crystal accents — placed a sign last week in the window of the former Karen Butera Inc. shop that closed last spring.
"We announced ourselves to Corona del Mar today!!" said a post on the BeachCandy Swimwear Facebook page.
BeachCandy will open in March at 2824 E. Coast Hwy., according to the company's website.
The shop will carry the Spring 2011 BeachCandy, ready-made collection along with offering custom swimwear services by designer BritB, the site says.
"The store will also carry select cover-ups, sarongs, handbags, jewelry and much more to accessorize your BeachCandy," the site says. "Each piece in the store has been hand selected from around the globe for a high-fashion look you don't have to travel for."