One of the several studies currently being pursued by the Newport Beach City Council is entitled "Enhanced Corona del Mar Entry at MacArthur and East Coast Highway."
While this project has the label an enhanced CdM entry, its real purpose is a long-sought change promoted by the CdM Chamber of Commerce/Business Improvement District to eliminate a portion of the right-hand lane on the south side of E. Coast Hwy at the MacArthur Blvd. intersection, replacing this lane with a widened sidewalk to permit outdoor dining for five restaurants at this location. The restaurants are the Bungalow, Rothchilds, Café Panini, Crow Bar & Kitchen and Ruby's Diner.
One of the first things this committee should undertake is the careful evaluation and justification of reasons for making major changes at this critical, traffic-impacted intersection.
Do Newport Beach city taxpayers want to pay to further define the entrance to CdM, to continue an illusion that it's not part of Newport Beach?
Just a few years ago, the city took over responsibility of Coast Hwy in CdM from Caltrans and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to reconstruct and beautify the median on E. Coast Hwy. Isn't this enough?
Will the restaurant and adjacent non-restaurant owners be willing to pay the city for this additional land (E. Coast Hwy right of way) to create more dining space, and where will they find the additional required parking needed for the expansion of these restaurants?
It has been suggested that the slowing of traffic through CdM could improve business. Is that what the majority of Newport Beach citizens want?
Will the residents south of Coast Highway be pleased with more restaurant parking and traffic on their unlighted streets well into the late evening? If after serious consideration of all the negatives, the city still plans to proceed with this concept, a consultant planner needs to develop a schematic plan, then a consultant traffic engineer needs to determine and evaluate required changes to the MacArthur/Coast Hwy intersection and demonstrate that traffic conditions will be improved after the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to accomplish the necessary changes.
A schematic project budget will follow, and then a City Council determination of the financial feasibility of this project. Years ago, there was a drive-in at this corner known as the "Zoo." If the current proposed project comes to fruition, it might be time to return to this nomenclature for the entire intersection.
Citizens who travel in this part of town and nearby residents might want to pay special attention to the progress of this project. Contact the city for the schedule of Citizen Advisory Panel (CAP) meetings.
RON HENDRICKSON lives in Newport Beach.