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Dangerous trees up for Newport council vote

Removing about 20 blue gum eucalyptus trees in West Bay neighborhood would overturn parks commission's decision.

November 21, 2011|By Mike Reicher

Stepping into the contentious issue of dangerous eucalyptus trees, the Newport Beach City Council may vote Tuesday to remove about 20 of the blue gum variety.

But doing so would overturn a parks commission decision to keep the trees on the West Bay neighborhood's Holiday Road.

That issue pits the city's staff and independent arborist against some residents who wish to keep their decades-old landmarks. A city-hired arborist found that 14 of the trees have a high risk of falling, and four were deemed a moderate risk.

Because the trees are considered marquee features of the neighborhood, they had to be reviewed by Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission before their removal. The commission voted 4 to 3 earlier this month to save them, and commissioners asked if there were other methods to assess the trees' health.

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A city staff report for Tuesday's meeting says that one suggested method, a resistograph, was unreliable. That instrument pushes a small drill into the trunk to measure resistance and decay. The report says it could produce a false negative result if the decay is in the center of a large trunk.

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Permit fees change

In other matters, the council is set to review some of the fees the city charges residents and businesses. The cost for the popular annual parking permits, for instance, could increase from $100 to $150. That permit allows people to park in spaces with meters painted blue, without paying the meters.

About 930 spaces, or 35% of the city's metered spaces, are painted blue.

Nearly 3,000 people bought the permit in 2010. A city report says that the permit cost had not been reviewed for inflation or compared to other cities in nearly 20 years. While the blue meter permit cost could increase, the cost for the "master" parking permit, which allows parking in all meters, could drop from $675 to $450.

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Visit Newport board could get new rep.

In another agenda item, the council may confirm a representative on the Visit Newport Beach, Inc. executive board.

The city's destination marketing organization was scrutinized in September for spending public funds without many controls. One of the new oversight measures is to appoint a city representative to the group's board.

The two nominees are Paul Blank, a cosmetics executive and former co-owner of the Casa Laguna Inn & Spa in Laguna Beach, and Dennis O'Neil, a lawyer and former mayor.

mike.reicher@latimes.com

Twitter: @mreicher

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