Panini granted 60-day delay

Continuance will allow restaurant to revise its plan for valet parking at the new location and address other issues.

November 28, 2007|By Brianna Bailey

The Newport Beach City Council unanimously granted a 60-day continuance Tuesday to a popular Corona del Mar restaurant whose request to move to a crowded block was challenged by Councilwoman Nancy Gardner.

“We’re concerned about traffic and parking problems this would cause,” said Corona del Mar property owner Phil Berry, who came to the meeting to protest Panini Cafe’s plan to move several doors down from its East Coast Highway location. “Parking in Corona del Mar is already a problem.”

The restaurant’s present location is already up for lease, he said, and Berry said he feared two restaurants in the same bustling area of Corona del Mar would only exacerbate traffic problems. Berry said he was disappointed the hearing was delayed, but said he hoped the restaurant would use the time to resolve issues its neighbors have with the move.


Principal architect for Panini Cafe Bill Edwards sent a letter requesting the delay Tuesday to Newport Beach Planning Director David Lepo. The hearing delay will allow the restaurant to revise its plan for valet parking at the new restaurant location and address other issues relating to the move.

“We look forward to the ultimate acknowledgment and validation of the Planning Commission’s overwhelming approval of the Panini Cafe here in Corona del Mar,” Edwards wrote.

In October, Councilwoman Nancy Gardner appealed the Planning Commission’s decision to allow the move. Gardner appealed the commission’s 6-1 vote after she heard from area residents who are concerned about traffic problems they say the move could cause, among other issues.

In other news, the council authorized the Los Angeles-based law firm Kiesel, Boucher & Larson to gather information on allegedly lost tax revenue from online travel-booking companies Tuesday in a closed session.

The city also may look at taking legal action on its own to recover tax money, said City Attorney Robin Clauson.

The city may join a city of Los Angeles suit that accuses more than a dozen companies, including Travelocity and Expedia, of charging exorbitant rates for bookings and pocketing the extra money.

Guests who book hotel rooms online pay local transient occupancy taxes based on an inflated price, but the tax that cities and hotels receive is based on a lower rate, according to information from the League of California Cities.

Local transient occupancy taxes are the main source of funding for the Newport Beach Conference & Visitors Bureau, Mayor Steve Rosansky said at the meeting.

Cities including San Antonio, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta have already filed similar lawsuits.

The San Diego City Attorney’s office sued a dozen such online booking companies in 2006, including Hotels.comand, alleging the city had lost more than $30 million in taxes over five years.

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