Corona del Mar Today: Leaf blower ban on upcoming City Council agenda

The Newport Beach City Council will consider banning gas-powered leaf blowers at its Tuesday meeting, according to city and resident group websites.

In its current draft, the ban would not include electric blowers, going against Council's directive to staff at a November meeting.

The ordinance as drafted would ban gas-powered leaf blowers in residential areas throughout the city, as well as in commercial areas and city parks and medians. It also would allow formal homeowners associations to opt out, and there would be a phase-in period for implementing the ban, according to the Newport Beach website.

The leaf-blower issue has been debated for more than two years in Corona del Mar, where several residents have testified and complained that leaf blowers cause noise and air pollution. One resident even started a petition to ban all blowers.

The city's Environmental Quality Affairs Committee also studied the issue and sent recommendations to the City Council in October 2009.

The City Council has discussed leaf blowers at least twice at meetings, and at one point there was discussion of letting voters decide. In the November 2010 meeting, council members asked staff to draft an ordinance banning all blowers in most areas of the city, with a few exceptions.

The Corona del Mar Residents Assn., which conducted a member poll about leaf blowers in 2009, sent e-mails to 567 members and received 104 responses.

"The responses indicated that 55 percent of the association members that participated in the poll favored a ban on leaf blowers in the community and 85 percent wanted to ban or limit emissions, days/hours of operations, or decibel levels in residential areas," according to the CdMRA website.

Tuesday's council meeting is open to the public, and public comments are welcome. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall at 3300 Newport Blvd. The meeting also will be streamed live at the city's website.

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Tree trimming in CdM

Recent tree trimming by Southern California Edison crews have left some residents and city officials wondering what if anything can be done to protect Corona del Mar's trees.

One Newport Beach official called the recent tree trimming "severe and hideous" and said it's nearly impossible to restore the tree's canopy and natural appearance — but that Edison crews have a state mandate to keep plant foliage clear of power lines to protect service.

Corona del Mar resident Ron Yeo said he's seen tree trimming over the years around power lines — but nothing "as brutal" as this winter's work.

His thoughts when he noticed?

"Outrage," he said in an e-mail. "Outrage and disappointment."

Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Gardner, who represents Corona del Mar on the City Council, said the state mandate requires power lines to be free of plant foliage for at least 10 feet.

"Although this looks hideous and completely unnatural, this type of pruning is acceptable and permitted per ISA Line clearing pruning standards and is evident throughout Southern California," Gardner said in an e-mail.

If the trees die as a result of the line clearing, Edison will pay for removal but not replacement of trees, she said.

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Upscale appliance store opens

A high-end kitchen and barbecue appliance showroom has opened today at 3641 E. Coast Hwy.

Dynamic Kitchens Showcase replaced the Charlene Asdourian antiques shop, which closed in October.

Click here to read our earlier story about Dynamic Kitchens Showcase, including the owner's connection to the invention of the Viking Range.

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CdM group research 1-way streets

One-way streets in Corona del Mar might work to make streets safer and traffic more efficient, at least in part of town inland from Coast Highway, according to informal discussions during this month's Corona del Mar Residents Assn. board meeting.

The topic came up in two meetings earlier this year, but no action has been taken. A few board members had expressed concern about the narrowness of some of Corona del Mar's streets creating safety concerns.

At a meeting this week, CdMRA member Michael Toerge, who also serves as a city planning commissioner, said city studies have been conducted that showed that one-way streets would not be a good idea throughout Corona del Mar.

"I've seen a couple of studies on it, and with all the dead-end streets that go onto Bayside Drive, and the diagonal of PCH, it would breed more confusion for visitors," he said. "It probably would create more of a problem for us."

Some members asked if creating one-way traffic lanes on the north side of Coast Highway had been considered, and Toerge said he would research that question. The group decided to look at the older studies and to add the topic to their website to begin to collect community input.

At this week's meeting, the group also heard a report about John Wayne Airport, and they discussed concerns that adding sharrows to East Coast Highway through Corona del Mar could create legal liability if a cyclist were injured and sued.

Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Gardner, who attended the meeting and is chairwoman of the city's Cycling Safety Committee, said that no action would be taken without public hearings and input from the city attorney.

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