Corona del Mar Today: Luxury condo project granted continuance

The AERIE applicant stopped a Coastal Commission hearing Wednesday, moments before a vote, asking for a continuance in order to find out exactly what will be needed to gain approval for the Corona del Mar condominium project.

"We need some specifics," said David Nish, a representative for Richard Julian, the AERIE developer. "We would like to ask for a continuance."

The hearing had lasted about 90 minutes, with several members of the public speaking in support and in opposition of the plans, which would replace a 60-year-old apartment building with a seven-unit condominium complex at the corner of Ocean Boulevard and Carnation Avenue.

Staff was recommending support of the plans, requesting that some lower decks and a swimming pool be changed and moved in from the water. A dock portion of the AERIE plans was withdrawn; staff had suggested denying that part of the project.

Several commissioners, however, said they remained unconvinced about the scope of the project, despite staff comments praising Julian's efforts to reduce plans from a year ago when commissioners voted 7 to 5 against it. The new plans reduce grading by 55% but still required a cut of 11,460 cubic yards.

"This is, in fact, major bluff alteration," said Commissioner Mark Stone. "They are hollowing out the bluff. I continue to struggle with that … I think this is asking for too much here … I don't know why it needs to be that large."

Commissioner Bruce Reznik, who is new and didn't vote on AERIE last year, agreed.

"There is a lot to like about the project," he said. "I agree there is a project here … It's absurd to think it's not going to be precedent-setting. In the end, I don't think this conforms to the community character."


Holiday House Liquor Store closes

Holiday House Liquor at 2937 E. Coast Hwy. has closed, with a for-lease sign posted nearby and a notice in the window announcing the shop would reopen soon.

"Holiday House will relocate next to Starbucks April 1, 2011, Thanks!" the notice says.

The sign did not indicate which Starbucks would be the liquor store's new neighbor. A leasing agent for a vacant property near the Corona del Mar Starbucks said that no one had signed a lease for that space, including Holiday House.


Cycle Safety Committee discusses signs

Newport Beach could soon see signs advising cyclists to watch their downhill speeds on hills like Spyglass and Ridge Park Road, as well as signs that remind motorists and cyclists to share road space.

Sample signs were revealed and discussed Monday afternoon at the Cycle Safety Committee meeting, which was held in the Friends Room of the Central Library. About a dozen members of the public attended the meeting.

Committee members discussed whether the signs should say something more pointed, like "Slow Down" or "Control Your Speed," but they agreed that signs with a cyclist symbol placed at the top and midway down some of the city's steepest hills not only would remind cyclists to remain in control, but would be visual reminders to motorists that cyclists often are present.

Committee member Denis LaBonge told the group about the outreach subcommittee's progress, including a proposed series of bike safety rides that could be held on Saturday mornings. The rides could feature bike checkups and safety tips, he said. He also suggested the committee plan a ciclovia event, as Los Angeles did for the first time in October, drawing 100,000 people. A portion of city streets could be closed to motor traffic, he said, for a few hours during an off-season time of year, creating a safe and bike-friendly opportunity for riders that also could drive business to local merchants.

He also proposed that city staff and elected officials work together to find ways to get grant funding for some projects, the way Long Beach city bike officials have done.

Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Gardner, chairwoman of the committee, said she would write the grants with staff help if committee members researched the grant options.

"I will write every grant that you give me, and I write a good grant," she said.


Harbor View scholarships announced

Two $1,000 scholarships will be granted to former Harbor View Elementary School students who are members of the Corona del Mar High School class of 2011.

The Harbor View Parents Faculty Organization sponsor the scholarships, which honor former student Brad Evans, who was a UC Berkeley student when he died in 2001.

Applications are due on April 29 and must include an essay about how experiences at Harbor View influenced high school success, as well as your future goals. Applications are available in Allison Lent's office.

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