A small crowd gathered at the Back Bay View Park on Tuesday, watching as the first flights departed John Wayne Airport and flew correctly overhead. But a few people on hand insisted the situation was an anomaly, perhaps because the pilots knew they were being watched.
"I'm personally offended," said Kay Rackauckas, who lives in Jasmine Creek and has complained that for several weeks, flights were veering over Corona del Mar before turning around over the ocean. "All this proves is they can fly straight."
Three City Council members, along with a few residents, airport officials and City Manager Dave Kiff, gathered at the park off Jamboree Road to watch the morning's flights. As the planes took off, they disappeared into low clouds, but the few that popped into view were correctly flying the STREL flight path that takes a straight shot over the Back Bay.
But Rackauckas and others said that for the past several weeks, flights actually veered toward Corona del Mar.
"At the Toshiba Classic, golfers were looking up and saying, 'What's going on?'" Rackauckas said. "You can't tell me they're not flying over there."
Kiff suggested that optical illusions could create the impression that flights aren't following the correct path.
Trackers indicate there aren't problems, said Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, who also was at the meeting.
Several problems have been brought up with STREL, Daigle said, and have been fixed or are being addressed.
One such problem being examined is flights turning too soon and creating noise over Crystal Cove State Park, she added. But there have been no indications that flights are regularly veering over Corona del Mar, despite some residents' complaints, she and others at the meeting said.
And although Tuesday's meeting had been made public in advance, other non-publicized observation sessions did not reveal a problem, they said.
Officials will continue to work with residents, setting up other observation meetings and viewing photographs and videos indicating non-complying flights.
"We'll come out again," Daigle said. "We want to address concerns."
Corona del Mar Residents Association President Karen Tringali, who was watching the flights as they took off, said she has heard a handful of complaints in recent weeks.
She suggested any future meetings take place at Inspiration Point, where a different perspective might reveal problems with flight patterns.
The meeting lasted about 30 minutes. Two hours later, Rackauckas returned to the park and said flights again had begun to veer over Corona del Mar.
Coastal Commission reconsiders project
The California Coastal Commission on Wednesday unanimously voted not to reconsider plans for an Ocean Boulevard project, despite letters of support and a slideshow with several examples of nearby homes that were allowed to build on the coastal bluff.
"For 10 years, you found something was black, and in January you said it was white," said Sherman L. Stacey, a representative for the project's applicants. "That's not something you should do."
In January, commissioners voted 7-3 against the project to replace a home at 3225 Ocean Blvd. At that meeting, commissioners expressed concern that the 4,700-square-foot new home would not preserve scenic resources, minimize landform alteration or conform with the pattern of development in the area.