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.
The project, which includes an elevator to a garage above Breakers Drive, would require a 46-foot wide by 37-foot deep by 19-foot high notch excavation into the bluff face.
In the meeting in Santa Barbara, the applicants sought for a new hearing because of new evidence and errors in the staff report. There were several letters in support of the project, along with Stacey's slideshow that presented several nearby homes that he said were granted Coastal approval although they went further down the bluff.
A few commissioners praised the staff's work before unanimously voting not to reconsider the project. If they had voted for reconsideration, they would have placed the item on a future agenda and treated it like a new application.
Instead, plans will go back to the drawing board, said Brion Jeannette, the project's architect.
"Well, we are certainly disappointed," he said after the hearing. "We will have to review and make changes to the design and return."
CdM parking meters plan on hold
The Newport Beach City Council had mixed reactions to plans that would add meters and permits in some areas of Corona del Mar, but in the end they didn't spike the topic. They said it would be better off as part of a discussion in the newly formed Revitalization Committee.
"I'm just not sure we'll ever find a workable solution to parking problems in Corona del Mar — both real and perceived," Councilman Ed Selich said in the recent council study session.
The discussion was part of an agenda item that listed several projects that City Manager Dave Kiff wanted to know if the council wanted to pursue or table.
Councilwoman Nancy Gardner said Corona del Mar residents, community groups and business leaders had been discussing parking issues for years, and that plans to add meters along East Coast Highway, while issuing permits to residents, seemed to please residents as well as business owners. But she noted that city staff was not thrilled with the plan, which would be time consuming and costly.
Parking studies and discussions have led officials to believe that Corona del Mar has adequate parking in most areas, with congestion along East Coast Highway and some side streets between about Heliotrope to Avocado avenues.
In the end, the council took a straw vote that showed the issue would be best discussed by members of the Revitalization Committee, which also will study the so-called Restaurant Row planned near MacArthur Boulevard and Easy Coast Highway. Other areas of Newport Beach like Mariner's Mile and the Balboa Village will be the committee's priorities, however.
Woman thwarts car burglar
A Corona del Mar woman interrupted a car burglary and helped police make two arrests in connection with two other crimes early Tuesday morning, police said.
The incident occurred about 1:30 a.m. in the 3300 block of Ocean Boulevard, when a woman heard a loud noise outside and saw a suspect rummaging through her vehicle, said Sgt. Steve Burdette.
"When the victim observed the suspect, she pounded on her door, startling the suspect, who then fled to an awaiting car," Burdette said. "As officers responded to the location, one officer positioned his vehicle on Marguerite and observed the suspects as they fled westbound on Coast Highway in the wrong lanes of traffic."
The suspects were stopped and taken into custody without incident, he said.
After police stopped the car, they discovered property inside that was taken from the victim's vehicle. Officers also discovered that the suspects had an attempted to steal a Range Rover in the same block of 3300 Ocean Boulevard. An earlier report that the suspects were found in a stolen BMW was erroneous.
"Officers discovered a third victim whose vehicle was damaged when the suspects attempt to break into it," Burdette said.
That car was a Chevy Tahoe in the 3400 block of Ocean Boulevard.
The two suspects, both from Santa Ana, were arrested and booked on suspicion of burglary and conspiracy.