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Editorial:

City, developer could compromise

October 13, 2009

Oh, did we have to restrain ourselves on this one.

When reporter Alan Blank broke the news Tuesday that the Newport Condominium Assn. was filing a claim against Costa Mesa, due to transients repeatedly breaking the chain-link fence at the Newport Terrace complex to urinate and defecate in the property’s common area, our minds immediately set to work thinking of clever headlines.

Unfortunately, that proved to be difficult for a family newspaper. In the end, we settled on “Condos: We’re not a toilet, so pay up.” If we were the OC Weekly, there’s no telling what we would have come up with.

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But bathroom jokes aside, this is a serious matter. The condominium association is asking the city to reimburse it for $1,199.27 in repairs and demanding that the city either provide sanitary toilet facilities in Canyon Park, which borders the complex, or install a barricade on the city property strong enough to keep trespassers out.

Public Services Director Peter Naghavi said the problem may be the first of its kind for the city, at least during his tenure in office. The question is whether the city or developer is responsible for setting up a barricade between public and private properties, and the answer could set a precedent for future disputes.

Our recommendation is that, for this case at least, the city and developer meet each other halfway and each chip in to put a sturdy fence between Canyon Park and Newport Terrace. Perhaps the two parties can also foot the cost for a portable toilet or two in the park. And if that takes care of the problem, it would be an air freshener all around.

There’s a message emanating loud and clear from the Wedge, the area at the tip of the Balboa Peninsula where spectators often go to gawk at the high, crashing waves.

And that message is: Think twice before you go in the water.

In the last month, one man has been killed and another seriously injured while surfing the Wedge waves, heralded as some of the toughest on the West Coast.

We’re not trying to deny any experienced surfers a thrill ride. But the key word there is experienced. The history of injuries at the Wedge should serve as proof to anyone that it’s not an area for novice boarders.

“The tendency is to get caught up in that breaking wave,” Kevin Wallis of Surfline.com told the Daily Pilot. “When they get caught up and eventually crash and fall, they’re doing that in shallow water. That’s why you see spinal injuries along the Balboa Peninsula.”

So here’s our rule for surfing the Wedge: When in doubt, stay out. And hopefully, the injury last week will be the last one we see this summer.


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