Commission Votes to Move ‘Iconic’ Pair of CdM Palms

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A view of the two palms on Carnation Avenue under consideration by the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission — Photo by Richard Umphrey ©
A view of the two palms on Carnation Avenue that the Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission voted to move.
— Photo by Richard Umphrey ©

A pair of “iconic” palm trees in Corona del Mar will be moved a few feet, but retain their memorable “goal post” configuration, officials decided this week.

The Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission voted 5-1 Tuesday to relocate the washingtonia robusta (Mexican fan palm) trees at 239 Carnation Ave. in Corona del Mar about eight to 10 feet to the corner of the property. Commissioner Tom Anderson dissented.

Newport Beach City Council still has to discuss and decide if the two palms should be designated as “special” trees.

The homeowner, Steve Perkins, has waited a very long time and deserves an answer, Anderson noted.

“I don’t mind looking at palm trees as well, I think they look nice… Newport Beach is better because of the trees,” Perkins said, but the palms don’t work on that location anymore.

He has spent a lot of money to own the property, it’s been a long process, and his plan was approved by the California Coastal Commission.

Perkins, whose property borders the two Mexican fan palms, wants to demolish the current single-level house and construct a new multi-level home on the site.

The project was approved by the CCC in January. Newport Beach Zoning Code requires that a home of this size (larger than 4,000-square-feet) include a (minimum) three car garage. However, because the property is so narrow (about 40 feet) the new layout of the house would require that the trees be removed in order to access the garage.

The Municipal Operations Director decided in February to allow the removal of the palms. The Palisades Condominium Homeowners Association appealed the decision, making a number of objections.

On July 5, the appeal was brought before the PBR Commission. Following public testimony, commissioners directed staff to meet with the property owner to determine alternatives.

Moving the trees to this new location is the most viable solution, Municipal Operations Co-Director Mike Pisani said Tuesday.

Darren Ginsberg, the resident whose property will now share a border with the palms, had concerns about the trees being too close to his property. His kids, pets, cars and house could be damaged, he said holding up a palm frond that had fallen.

“This is what falls into my yard,” he said. “This is not ok.”

There are hundreds of these types of trees elsewhere in the city and there haven’t been any known government claims because of damage, said Jim Damon on behalf of the Palisades Condominium HOA. He also explained that the root ball would be planted seven feet below the surface so that would not be a problem.

“There is no reason why the trees cannot be put in the (recommended) location to satisfy the framing,” and keep them in the neighborhood, Damon said.

Locals and visitors have identified the two 58-foot palms as an important part of the neighborhood and are worth protecting, several commissioners agreed at the last meeting. The shape and configuration is what makes them unique.

The community’s interest should not be overwritten by a single builder, noted one local resident.

Several other residents spoke on both sides of the issue.

The trees will be moved to their new location soon, city staff said.


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