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  #61  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2007, 12:51 AM
dragonsky dragonsky is offline
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Disney foes consider own ballot initiatives
Anaheim voters may see competing measures on housing development in tourist zone.
By Roy Rivenburg, Times Staff Writer
March 25, 2007

Agitated by a Disney-backed ballot proposal that would require voter approval for housing projects in Anaheim's tourist zone, opponents have begun mulling ballot proposals of their own.

City Councilwoman Lorri Galloway said Friday she might ask the council to place a rival initiative before voters. Galloway is contemplating an entertainment tax or some other mechanism that would force resort employers to provide low-cost housing for their workers.

Both measures are targeted for Feb. 5.

Meanwhile, SunCal Cos., a developer that wants to build a 1,500-unit condo-apartment complex in the resort district, said it also might sponsor a ballot measure.

Depending on how many groups join the fray, "there could be three, four, even five initiatives," said Frank Elfend, a SunCal consultant.

At stake is the future of Anaheim's tourist zone, a 2.2-square-mile area anchored by Disneyland and California Adventure. Disney has long planned to build a third amusement park in the district. In 1994, the City Council banned residential development in the neighborhood.

Disney maintains that allowing housing in the resort district would undercut its long-term plans and could stunt the tourist-related revenue the city earns from the area.

SunCal hopes to overturn the 1994 housing ban to make way for 1,500 apartments and condominiums directly across from Disney's envisioned third park. SunCal said 225 of its units would be geared toward low-income residents. The project would replace a 300-unit mobile-home park on the property.

An earlier City Council vote on the project ended in a 2-2 deadlock, with Councilwoman Lucille Kring abstaining because of a possible conflict of interest. But the California Fair Political Practices Commission has since ruled she does not have a conflict and can vote on the project. Kring had joined with Galloway and Councilman Bob Hernandez to revisit the SunCal project.

With a City Council vote on the project scheduled April 24, Disney has launched a two-pronged bid to derail it.

In February, the company sued to block SunCal's proposal. More recently, joined by tourism officials and business leaders, Disney announced plans for a ballot measure that would require voter approval of residential projects in the tourist zone.

About 20,000 voter signatures would be needed to qualify the initiative for the ballot. In contrast, Galloway would need just two more council votes to get her rival measure on the ballot.

The campaign promises to be hard-fought. Mayor Curt Pringle, who opposes residential development inside the tourist district, said, "I cannot envision the people of Anaheim wanting to punish the economic engine that benefits the city."

But Galloway said Disney's desire to block affordable housing in the tourist zone makes no sense. "If affordable housing is not in the resort area, where else would it be?" she asked. Existing upscale neighborhoods like Anaheim Hills aren't going to want such projects either, she said.

The question of who should be responsible for alleviating the city's housing crunch is fueling both initiative drives.

"Voters need to have a clear choice," Galloway said. If Disney's initiative qualifies for the ballot, she added, "I'm certain the City Council will be interested in looking at a counter-initiative."

Disney spokesman Rob Doughty said he couldn't comment on Galloway's initiative idea without knowing more details.
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  #62  
Old Posted Mar 26, 2007, 1:16 AM
Buckeye Native 001 Buckeye Native 001 is offline
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Oh Disney, how quickly you forget who lives near your parks and from what income bracket you employ to run your parks...
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  #63  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2007, 2:23 AM
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Monday, March 26, 2007
Garden Grove may vote on 'entertainment hub'
City officials may OK soliciting proposals from developers for part of resort area.
By DEEPA BHARATH
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

GARDEN GROVE – For the first time, city officials could seek out developers for a 35-acre portion of the city-designated resort area, which they hope will become a premier entertainment destination for the region.

City Council members are expected to vote Tuesday night in favor of authorizing Economic Development staff to solicit proposals for developing the area near the intersection of Harbor and Garden Grove boulevards, part of the city-designated InternationalWEST resort.

Officials envision theme parks, hotels, shops and restaurants in the area. But the 35-acre portion that council members will discuss tonight would be the "entertainment hub" of the resort area, said Chet Yoshizaki, director of economic development.

"We're looking for hotels, restaurants and entertainment-oriented venues such as comedy clubs," he said.

LEDO International, a city-hired consultant, came back with a master plan for the resort area in September that said that the "hub" could accommodate up to four themed hotels with a total of 1,600 rooms and restaurants such as Emeril Lagasse, and should consider integrating a 150,000-square-foot lifestyle and entertainment center into this area.

"It would be something similar to the Downtown Disney area in Anaheim," Yoshizaki said.

The city, however, does not own the 35 acres in question that is now occupied by apartment complexes and miscellaneous businesses, he said.

"This is just a preliminary step," Yoshizaki said.

The City Council meeting will be held at 6:30 Tuesday night at the Garden Grove Community Meeting Center, 11300 Stanford Ave. Information: City Clerk, 714-741-5040.
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  #64  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2007, 2:26 AM
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Monday, March 26, 2007
Placentia Metrolink station plans progress
Officials agree to fund $81,000 for the environmental portion of the project.
By ELLYN PAK and ADAM TOWNSEND
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER



ORANGE – Plans to build a Metrolink station in Placentia progressed after transportation officials agreed today to fund $81,000 for the environmental portion of the project.

Orange County Transportation Authority planners had previously received approval for state funds that would go toward planning.

The station, which would be the 12th in the county, would be built on the south end of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad between Melrose and Main streets. Buena Park, which began building its own station in December 2005, is nearing completion.

Placentia's project could cost more than $31.7 million, which would be funded by state and local money. The first phase is estimated to cost $16.6 million and includes building a new station, track, platform, shelters, parking and bus access.

The station would be an additional link to downtown Los Angeles. Plans would be incorporated into Placentia's downtown development plan.
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  #65  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2007, 2:11 AM
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Big overhaul for tiny Newport Beach island
Private Newport Harbor enclave aims to replace bridge and sea walls, riling some peninsula residents.
By JEFF OVERLEY
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

NEWPORT BEACH – One of Newport Beach's smallest islands is about the get a big face-lift.

A sea-based construction effort will replace sea walls ringing much of Bay Island, a tiny nub with 23 historic homes just off the Balboa Peninsula. The steel and concrete bulkheads are the only defense against lapping tides and storm surges, and at 75, they've outlived their half-century shelf life.

A footbridge – the sole access point to the car-free island – will also be rebuilt as part of the estimated $7 million, nine-month project being funded exclusively by residents of the private enclave.

On the mainland, however, locals have harpooned the plan, saying it's been pursued with little notice. So far, studies are "not addressing any of the problems of the people on the peninsula," resident Mary Ann Miller said, worrying about construction debris and parking.

To cool such sentiment, officials last week called a neighborhood meeting that lured 50 people to the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. "I pledge to openness with all of you," said Maureen Querio, president of the Bay Island Club, the community's controlling corporation. "I want this to be an open process."

Aside from construction impacts, some locals fear moving and lowering the bridge, as is planned, will reduce boating and fishing opportunities. "Many of us … support what you are trying to do," said resident David Follett. "Our concern is some of the temporary impacts, and even some of the permanent impacts."

Before getting the green light, clearance is needed from the city and the California Coastal Commission. Work won't start until fall at the earliest.
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  #66  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2007, 2:54 AM
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Thursday, March 8, 2007
Nostalgia - and lots of fish - at The Crab Cooker
By ELIZABETH EVANS
SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER



Like many natives of Orange County, I have many memories of Sunday drives that ended at The Crab Cooker in Newport Beach.

But more than the food, among the things I remember about those trips and subsequent meals were the long waits for a table at the no-reservations eatery and the paper plates on which everything was served.

In spite of these idiosyncrasies, or maybe because of them, The Crab Cooker is one of the oldest restaurants in the county. With its bright-red exterior and green-and-white awnings, it is also one of the most iconic, and it is certainly one of longest-standing businesses with a single proprietor.

Bob Roubian opened what is now The Crab Cooker in 1951. The original name was Seafood Varieties and there were steaming containers of seafood on the sidewalk out front. But as he writes in a brief history of the restaurant, “Nobody knew us by our business name. Instead they referred to us as the place with the big crab cookers.”

So the name was officially changed in the mid-1950s. The large crab and lobster cooking pots that gave the place its name have long since been removed, but to the naked eye little else has changed.

The setting, inside a building that was a bank before 1951, is an eclectic me'lange of humorous signs and stuffed fish. There are mismatched chairs lined up around red Formica tables, which are topped with paper placemats. And customers sit shoulder to shoulder during the busiest times.

But it's the aroma that gets me in my most nostalgic place. It's a sweet, smoky scent of all the finned and shelled creatures that have been smoked, broiled, boiled and fried within these walls.

And it gets me in the mood to eat. So as we're seated with the short-but-to-the-point menus, I pretty much want to order everything. I start – before I even get a chance to order – with a handful of the rustic oyster crackers that are served in a plastic jar on each table.

This day there are Alaskan Spot Shrimp as a fresh catch, so we begin with that. The firm-fleshed, shells-on crustaceans are served with melted butter and they burn our fingers when we peel them before popping them into our mouths.

In months when the water is still cool the Clams on the Half Shell ($11.50) are a must. It being a cooler than average February, we opt for an order of these behemoth bivalves. They come to the table on a paper plate lined with paper and crushed ice. They're served with a hearty red cocktail sauce, although the creamy, succulent meat really doesn't need anything but a fork – and even the small, plastic two-pronged versions they use here work just fine.

I can't recall another place that serves the same kind of old-fashioned Crab Cakes ($7.95) that are made here. These come batter-coated and fried and look a little like golden-brown hockey pucks. The crisp exteriors coat a sold patty of crab and they're served with the house tartar sauce.

A Crab Cocktail ($6.50) offers plenty of large pieces of sweet crabmeat and spicy house cocktail sauce.

I have to wonder how many times a day the top-notch, if slightly harried, servers here have to answer this question about the chowder: “Is it Manhattan or Boston?” The Crab Cooker's chowder – proclaimed the “world's best'' on the menu – is a sort of hybrid. It's a blend of cream and tang. A combination of tomato, chunks of soft potatoes, and plenty of long strips of slightly chewy clams. It comes steaming hot from the kitchen and on a cold day I can't imagine a better way to warm up. And oh yes, those large oyster crackers I like to eat out of hand are designed to be plopped into this thick potage.

My family probably stopped coming to The Crab Cooker because it only serves fish and my sister was a notoriously picky eater. But we've found that our own fussy eater likes the place for a variety of reasons – among them the old-fashioned number board that flashes when orders are up. Then there are the oyster crackers, as well as big loaves of Fisherman's Bread ($1.50 a loaf). These big-as-your-head loaves come warm from the oven and our son gleefully eats the soft, yeasty interior, leaving the crisp, messy crust for us.

Still, we find room for dinner. I like the King Crab Killer Claws ($24.45 for lunch or dinner). Already cracked, they also come with a metal cracker (the only nondisposable item I've been served here). Even so, it takes some time to get to the white, sweet meat inside. Far less work are the Shrimp and Scallops ($10.25 lunch, $14.50 dinner), threaded on a skewer and grilled. The fish of the day is also grilled. One day there's locally caught halibut, another there's a delicate filet of talapia, and more recently there's white sea bass ($14.95).

Meals are served with a choice of the sturdy Romano potatoes – large balls of cheese, and red-pepper-spiked mashed spuds topped with a generous dose of paprika – or the workmanlike Rice Pilov, as it is called on the menu. And sliced tomatoes or simple and oh-so-right cole slaw. (Go with the potatoes and cole slaw for a real Crab Cooker experience.)

Although the restaurant has a casual charm, the wine list is a thoughtful one. Chardonnay is by Wente ($3.85 glass; $16.95 bottle) and is a fine choice with shellfish. The citrus-tinged Concannon Sauvignon Blanc ($3.45 glass; $13.95 bottle) is nice with the grilled fish; there's also Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon ($7.95 a glass, $38 a bottle) and Moet & Chandon Champagne ($38.75). Or course, everything is served in stemmed plastic glasses.

Before we leave our table, which is full of fish and crab debris, our waitress asks if she can bring us anything else. “What've you got?” I ask, already knowing the answer. “Fish,” she says.

But for those who still hunger for something sweet, there's a jar of saltwater taffy as you exit, right next to the free postcards. I grab a postcard and one of the chewy confections as I leave. Behind me a fellow voices what I've been thinking all along. “Now that I've come back,” he says to his dining companions, “I realize I've been away too long.”
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  #67  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2007, 2:00 AM
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Sawdust Festival 'Springs Into Art' with courses a variety of courses
By KELLY GARRISON
STAFF WRITER



Participants travel from all over California and other states to take classes with Spring Into Art teachers.

Art aficionados – experienced and novice – can attend courses at the Sawdust Art Festival grounds on Laguna Canyon Road on everything from acrylic, silk and oil painting to floral design, pottery, glass blowing and more. Classes take place over several weekends in March and finish up this year at the beginning of April. Most teachers are also exhibitors at the Sawdust Festival's annual art show.

"You get to interact with the artists on a very personal basis in an intensive weekend class setting," said Program Director Molly Bing. "You have the chance to be immersed in the whole process."

This weekend, the festival will hold its final of about 30 classes with painting, mosaic and clay classes. The program gives participants an opportunity to get to know professional artists.

"Classes are held in an amazing setting," Bing said. "We try to make them as comfortable as possible."

Glass blowing artist and Sawdust exhibitor John Barber said he founded Spring Into Art six years ago with a $300 budget. For three years, he cultivated the program before passing duties on to other staff.

"This is really what the Sawdust is here to do – to educate the public," Barber said. "People appreciate the opportunity."

Most participants hear about the program through mailing lists, Bing said, but many hear by word of mouth. A handful of guests receive admission to classes as gifts for special occasions, she said.

Diane Friedersdorf said she traveled from Costa Mesa for Dennis Junka's floral design course, which she also signed her mother up for as a birthday gift.

"I absolutely loved it," Friedersdorf said. "It was a wonderful experience and I think everyone was equally impressed."

The program is "self-sustaining," Bing said, operating mostly by the cost of classes and grants from the city.

"They often come back year after year," Bing said.

Spring Into Art will continue Friday and Saturday. To register, call 949-497-0520.

Last edited by dragonsky; Mar 30, 2007 at 2:42 AM.
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  #68  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2007, 2:01 AM
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Drive-in to return to O.C.
Outdoor cinema will open at the fairgrounds in May.
By JEFF OVERLEY
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER



COSTA MESA - Throw your buddies in the trunk and break out the Milk Duds – the drive-in movie theater, not seen in Orange County for a decade, is coming back.

The Star-Vu Drive-In, conceived by four entrepreneurs with a soft spot for outdoor movie-going, is set to open in May at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

"All four of the people who are doing this are baby boomers, like me, who enjoyed drive-ins growing up," said Jill Lloyd, spokeswoman for Orange County Drive-In LLC, the company behind the endeavor.

Reflecting a nationwide trend, local drive-ins bit the dust in droves during recent decades, giving way variously to Wal-Marts, shopping centers and apartments.

At least 11 "ozoners," as aficionados lovingly call drive-ins, were built in Orange County beginning in 1941, later caving as real estate values soared. The last of the lot, Westminster's Highway 39 Drive-In, closed in 1997.

The medium's golden age was the late 1950s, when more than 4,000 drive-ins operated nationwide, according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association. Now, fewer than 400 exist.

The Star-Vu, approved by Orange County Fair directors in late January, will operate seven nights a week, except during the fair. First-run movies will flicker on a 65-foot-by-33-foot inflatable screen in a Fair Drive parking lot with room for 300 cars. Sound will be delivered via FM radio.

Officials say tickets and concessions will run about 25 percent less than standard brick-and-mortar theaters. Classic cars could get special parking to add a sentimental flair, and the spectacle might be complemented with bands, jugglers and comedians, said Fred Armendariz, who conceived the idea after seeing a film festival at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Jeffrey Teller, head of the Orange County Marketplace and one of Star-Vu's principals, recalls fogging up the windows with a sweetheart at the old Highway 39 Drive-In. For the Star-Vu, he envisions a family environment replete with moms, dads and kids in pajamas that will revive a "sense of nostalgia in the community."

"We all kind of covet a time when life was more simple," Teller said. "It's amazing how iconic the drive-in is in American culture. It has a generational appeal."

Aside from Teller and Armendariz, the drive-in's principals include Lake Forest resident Mary Jean Duran, who runs a consulting firm, and Bob Deutsch, owner of a Maryland company specializing in outdoor movies.
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  #69  
Old Posted Apr 3, 2007, 2:10 AM
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Monday, April 2, 2007
$9.50 for the Friday fast lane
By ELLYN PAK
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER



Commuters on the heavily-congested eastbound 91 Express Lanes now have to fork over more change to use the road during some peak hours. Tolls are rising 75 cents to $1 at various times.

The prices apply to peak times and are based on the number of cars that use the toll lanes, and solidify the 91's position as one of the country's most expensive toll roads.

Increased rates during some hours -- which begin Tuesday -- for eastbound commuters are:

$8.50 from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays

$5.45 from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays

$4.95 from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays

$4.95 from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursdays

$9.50 from 4 to 5 p.m. Fridays

$8 from 5 to 6 p.m. Fridays.

The Orange County Transportation Authority's policy is to raise prices when it tracks 3,200 or more cars in one direction during the same hour in any six of 12 consecutive weeks. The agency last raised its tolls in January.

The lowest toll is $1.15.

The lanes' increasing popularity on a freeway that carries 320,000 vehicles a day will likely keep the price hikes coming. In November, an average of 40,400 vehicles commuted on the express lanes daily.

Information: www.octa.net.
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  #70  
Old Posted Apr 3, 2007, 2:15 AM
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Friday, March 30, 2007
Seeking more resort housing
Disney-area businesses are putting out an initiative to discourage housing as more owners line up to request residential zoning.
By SARAH TULLY
The Orange County Register



ANAHEIM - Proposals to build housing are popping up around Disney's theme parks – and resort officials are worried more are coming.

At least four property owners want residential zoning in the Anaheim Resort area, while a business coalition is pushing for a ballot initiative to deter new housing in the popular tourist zone. Disney officials worry that other developers might be looking at nine parcels available in the 2.2-square-mile area where new homes are banned.

"We are focusing on the dangerous precedent that will set very quickly for many more residential developments in the resort area," said Rob Doughty, a Disneyland Resort spokesman. "We know that there are developers waiting in the wings all ready to propose more residential."

A city-commissioned study found that Anaheim could lose out on about $7.3 million a year in hotel taxes if hotels are not built on three sites where housing is proposed near the theme park. The same study found new hotels won't be needed for 10 to 55 years. Two drafts of the study came up with mixed conclusions about whether homes would fit in.

The Walt Disney Co. could be stuck making up for the loss. When the city floated $510 million in bonds for resort improvements to be repaid with bed taxes, Disney agreed to make debt payments if those funds fell short.

Disneyland and other business officials last week filed papers for a ballot initiative to require voter approval of residential projects within the resort boundaries, fearing that homes will eat up space that should be reserved for tourism businesses and the taxes they generate.

While a 1,500-home plan by SunCal has drawn the most attention, other property owners are also lining up for residential zoning. Two other developers have submitted housing proposals. Another property owner has asked for the same rights as his neighbors, although he has no residential plans for the land where the closed Boogie nightclub sits.

West Millennium

The latest development plan was submitted March 20, the day after the initiative was announced. The developer said the timing was coincidental.

"The fact is, we have been looking at a use of the project for a long time," partner Michael Capaldi said. "There are too many moving parts to time it that neatly."

A hotel and retailers would go up along Harbor Boulevard, with live/work lofts tucked behind, according to the proposal.

Capaldi said the West Millennium Homes project, which would go where a closed Toys 'R' Us store sits, would fit in with the resort district. The 191 condos would not be seen from Harbor.

However, the developer said including affordable housing, as some council members want, may be impossible. Full-priced condominiums would help fund the cost of building a hotel.

"It's not easy to build on any of these parcels. The more difficult it becomes to get the entitlements, the more likely the land will sit there for a long time," Capaldi said.

Parc Anaheim

Parc Anaheim developers turned in plans for 449 condos, including 22 affordable units, along with retail uses last year. The developer has closed the Travelers World RV Park near the corner of Ball Road and Harbor Boulevard for the project.

David DiRienzo, Urban West president, said his site won't work for solely tourism uses because it sits on the side of the Santa Ana (I-5) Freeway away from Disneyland, so he thinks his mixed-use project would be suitable.

Council members' ideas

Council members are mixed on how residential development would work in the resort area.

Councilwomen Lucille Kring and Lorri Galloway said each proposal should be evaluated individually. Galloway said she will back only plans with affordable housing. SunCal's complex would have 200 affordable units.

Mayor Curt Pringle and Councilman Harry Sidhu said they are trying to reach a compromise to allow houses on parts of the SunCal and West Millennium sites that would be cut from resort boundaries, but then require voter approval for any more houses.

Pringle said city planning shouldn't be dictated by current market trends, but by the long-term needs of the city.

"If you open up the door, there will be a flood of proposal from other companies," Sidhu said. "That is the can of worms that we will be opening if we have the SunCal project approved. I do not want to go in that direction. I think we need to have a clear-cut understanding that we redraw the resort district and move forward."
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  #71  
Old Posted Apr 3, 2007, 2:16 AM
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Hey, ocman says it's brilliant. I just don't see it not having, like, 50 acres of surface parking lot though. It's so asinine.
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Old Posted Apr 10, 2007, 3:46 AM
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Sunday, April 8, 2007
Honda Center aims to raise its food game
So far, the investment has paid off with club attendance more than doubling this year.
By SARAH TULLY
The Orange County Register



Longtime Ducks fan Ben Coleman bought season tickets for the first time this year, but he hardly ever sat in his seat.

For 40 games, Coleman, 37, watched hockey from a bar stool or at the edge of an open bar with a view into the arena, surrounded by about a dozen new friends who he met at the new Jack Daniels Old No. 7 Club at the Honda Center.

"It's kind of like a family here. We hang out here to have a good time. It's a lot of fun. It's just because of the camaraderie with all the people here," Anaheim resident Coleman said, clutching two glasses of Stella Artois beer at the last home game Wednesday.

Honda Center officials hoped to attract more fans, such as Coleman, when they renovated the restaurant and bar reserved for suite and club seat holders, re-opening it as the Jack Daniels club in October. The center also has added new food options for fans on other levels.

So far, the club investment has paid off with attendance more than doubling this year, and more patrons are expected during playoffs beginning this week. The club is double the size, split into a first-come, first-served bar and a sit-down restaurant with both buffet and a la carte food. Reservations are almost always booked, and the bar is standing-room only.

The glass that once blocked game sounds from diners is gone.

"The energy feeds on itself on this level. The energy is back," said Tim Ryan, president of Anaheim Arena Management that oversees the center. "You are actually part of the event."

Club trends

Experts say arenas nationwide are creating the same nightclub-type atmosphere and buzz, in the same way.

"The trend in sports in general is nobody sits in their seats anymore. They are looking for alternative places to go to," said Chris Bigelow, a consultant for stadiums and arenas nationwide. "What they (Honda Center officials) are doing is right where the market is going,"

Many arenas are attempting to draw fans in their 20s and 30s who want to have a drink and mingle, some adding pool tables, video screens and pub food. Previously, clubs mostly catered to game-goers in their 40s and up, who wanted to treat corporate clients.

Honda Center is trying to do both with its divided club. On Wednesday, some diners on the restaurant side sported blazers and button-down shirts, sipping on wine and eating beef from the carving station at the buffet. On the bar side, jersey-and-jeans-wearing fans ordered martinis and Kobe beef burgers from waitresses wearing black tank tops, short skirts and boots.

"It's like being in Vegas on ice," said Travis Widner, 23, of Coto de Caza.

After the game, fans can see player radio interviews in the bar's corner. On Wednesday, player Scott Niedermayer signed autographs before answering questions on air, as fans snapped cameras overhead. Before, interviews were at outside establishments.

"Fans certainly didn't want to get in their cars to go to a different establishment," Ryan said.

Open areas

The open glass is one of the main attractions.

"When you have this big, open building, big open spaces, you have the feeling of being part of something larger like an event. That's one of reasons why buildings are opening up," said Bill Dorsey, executive director of the Association of Luxury Suite Directors.

Some fans stay for all or much of the game. On Wednesday, Brian Leecing, 38, of Huntington Beach remained in the restaurant at the same table where he always sits.

"I love the fact that it's open. You are still eating and doing what you are doing but the game is right there," said Leecing, swirling a glass of cognac. "When the windows were there, I wanted to leave right away. Now, I want to stay."

Concession stands

For fans who can't afford premium seats, the center's other levels offer new foods, particularly regional, brand-name products.

Last year, Carlsbad-based Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill opened stands. Villa Park-based First Class Pizza began in October. Wienerschnitzel of Newport Beach sells products at the venue.

Spending is up about 20 percent to about $13 per person on average at Ducks games, Ryan said.

"They have a relationship with the brand that's very recognizable," said C.T. Nice, vice president of food and beverage for Aramark Sports and Entertainment. "Marketing has been done for you so it … gives fans an experience they can connect with very quickly."

Ryan said the changes are the first of more, especially as competition heats up with new restaurants popping up around the center. He said he expects one or two new additions next season.

"We have an attitude that we never feel we are done. We are always looking at ways to improve," Ryan said.
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  #73  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2007, 12:05 AM
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LosAngelesBeauty LosAngelesBeauty is offline
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W0w! I'm so glad that drive-ins are starting to slowly make a come back! I've only been to one drive-in when I was much younger. It was in Provo, Utah and going to one again will really bring back memories I think. I can't wait to go to this with my special someone...


Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonsky View Post
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Drive-in to return to O.C.
Outdoor cinema will open at the fairgrounds in May.
By JEFF OVERLEY
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER



COSTA MESA - Throw your buddies in the trunk and break out the Milk Duds – the drive-in movie theater, not seen in Orange County for a decade, is coming back.

The Star-Vu Drive-In, conceived by four entrepreneurs with a soft spot for outdoor movie-going, is set to open in May at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

"All four of the people who are doing this are baby boomers, like me, who enjoyed drive-ins growing up," said Jill Lloyd, spokeswoman for Orange County Drive-In LLC, the company behind the endeavor.

Reflecting a nationwide trend, local drive-ins bit the dust in droves during recent decades, giving way variously to Wal-Marts, shopping centers and apartments.

At least 11 "ozoners," as aficionados lovingly call drive-ins, were built in Orange County beginning in 1941, later caving as real estate values soared. The last of the lot, Westminster's Highway 39 Drive-In, closed in 1997.

The medium's golden age was the late 1950s, when more than 4,000 drive-ins operated nationwide, according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association. Now, fewer than 400 exist.

The Star-Vu, approved by Orange County Fair directors in late January, will operate seven nights a week, except during the fair. First-run movies will flicker on a 65-foot-by-33-foot inflatable screen in a Fair Drive parking lot with room for 300 cars. Sound will be delivered via FM radio.

Officials say tickets and concessions will run about 25 percent less than standard brick-and-mortar theaters. Classic cars could get special parking to add a sentimental flair, and the spectacle might be complemented with bands, jugglers and comedians, said Fred Armendariz, who conceived the idea after seeing a film festival at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Jeffrey Teller, head of the Orange County Marketplace and one of Star-Vu's principals, recalls fogging up the windows with a sweetheart at the old Highway 39 Drive-In. For the Star-Vu, he envisions a family environment replete with moms, dads and kids in pajamas that will revive a "sense of nostalgia in the community."

"We all kind of covet a time when life was more simple," Teller said. "It's amazing how iconic the drive-in is in American culture. It has a generational appeal."

Aside from Teller and Armendariz, the drive-in's principals include Lake Forest resident Mary Jean Duran, who runs a consulting firm, and Bob Deutsch, owner of a Maryland company specializing in outdoor movies.
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  #74  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2007, 10:04 AM
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Segerstrom Concert Hall's six-month report card
Impressive acoustics, solid ticket sales are a plus, but some patrons have complaints.
By Mike Boehm
Times Staff Writer

March 9, 2007

Six months after it opened to great fanfare, operators of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall are still working out some kinks that led to a mixed reception from music organizations and audiences.

Although Orange County-based performing groups report blossoming attendance in the Costa Mesa venue, the county's leading importer of classical music talent has been disappointed. Musicians are delighted with its intimacy and tailored acoustics, but concertgoers have griped that some seats have poor views of the stage.

The Pacific Symphony, the venue's main occupant, is tickled to be selling more than 92% of its seats and attracting nearly 2,000 new subscribers. But Dean Corey, executive director of the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, which presents touring orchestras and soloists, speaks of "a pall" settling on the hall because of a small but significant number of complaints that emerged early on — mainly over sight lines and comfort issues. Sales for the Philharmonic Society's presentations in the hall are 75% of what it budgeted before the inaugural season. Corey says that could reflect both a wary response by people who heard there were problems and his over-optimism about how much a ballyhooed new venue would boost attendance.

Somewhere between is the Orange County Performing Arts Center, the landlord and a frequent presenter itself. Attendance has been 84% for center-sponsored events in Segerstrom Concert Hall, officials say, and 82% for shows in the Samueli Theatre, the smaller, multipurpose stage under the same roof. Center President Terrence Dwyer says those figures, and the 66% attendance for ballet, Broadway shows and other events in the center's 3,000-seat original venue, Segerstrom Hall, mean that things "are going reasonably well for us this year, and we're projecting we'll be reasonably on-budget" while making the risky expansion leap.

Musicians are having some of the biggest thrills. The hall is a godsend, say veteran players who for years struggled to be heard clearly — and to hear themselves — in Segerstrom Hall, a multipurpose auditorium that lacks acoustics specifically geared for classical music.

"The new hall is so incredibly sensitive that you don't have to push at all, you don't have to do anything unnatural to be heard," says Cynthia Ellis, who, after more than 20 years with the Pacific Symphony, no longer has to be a blowhard on piccolo and flute. "Everybody can just relax and play the way they play."

Shortly after the new hall opened, Marc Dickey, chairman of the music department at Cal State Fullerton, attended his first Pacific Symphony concert in years; he'd stopped going out of frustration that Segerstrom Hall "wasn't working in their favor." Now the impressed professor says he'll be back. He especially wants to hear how the listening experience develops as the Pacific Symphony tinkers with the adjustable acoustics. Like all venues designed by noted acoustician Russell Johnson, the new Segerstrom can be mechanically "tuned" from concert to concert.

Chris Kollgard, double bassist for the Pacific Symphony, says it has helped. "Our first concerts were loud pieces, and they were a little too boomy. Without the fine-tuning the hall can be too reverberant, but they've got a handle on that now."

Audiences have had some gripes, according to presenters who field complaints and relay them to center management. The list of problems sounds like "Goldilocks and the Three Bears Come to Costa Mesa": orchestra level too cold, balconies too hot, seating behind the stage too hard, movable box seats too squeaky. Also: safety railings too obstructive of views, legroom too stingy and, perhaps least solvable, undulating, waveform balconies designed by architect Cesar Pelli too intrusive on sight lines from certain seats in the side boxes, some of which are among the hall's most expensive.

Even musicians have their quibbles: Kollgard says that lockers for storing instruments don't fit the bigger stringed instruments, such as his double bass, and the orchestra has been asked not to use any of them until a fix is made. "People are a little upset" that the promised end to lugging their instruments hasn't arrived. "It's something we've looked forward to."

Some problems rectified

The complaints are taken seriously and "have lessened as we've made improvements," says Dwyer, the center president. Squeaky chairs have been outfitted with quieter mechanisms, more padding is contemplated for bench-like seats behind the stage, and workers are close to getting the temperature in each section just right. The sight-line problem is the biggest issue, he says, but affects just a small number of seats. (Complaints about legroom, sight lines and vertigo arose when Walt Disney Concert Hall opened, as well as problems with amplified sound that have been corrected.)

Many of the new hall's perceived bugs may be a matter of audiences adjusting from the "old" hall, says the Philharmonic Society's Corey. Still, he says, the 60 or 70 complaints his group received were enough to generate a negative "buzz" and dim some of the public's initial good feeling.

"It's not overwhelming, but it's just enough that it kind of puts a pall on things," he said. Ticket income is about 15% less than the Philharmonic Society had budgeted for the 23 performances it booked this season.

Corey says part of the problem could be the glut of offerings during the gala opening in September and October, highlighted by a 2 1/2-week residency by the Kirov Orchestra, Ballet and Opera. "I think a lot of people got tired." Also, he says he may have overestimated the pull the hall would have. In any event, "we haven't seen a real people-coming-out-of-the-woodwork factor."

Nevertheless, the Philharmonic Society plans no retreat: Its 2007-08 season again includes 23 performances in Segerstrom Concert Hall, including Kiri Te Kanawa, Yo-Yo Ma and the State Symphony of Mexico.

Dwyer says sales for the center's presentations this season — including 24 performances in the hall, 86 in the smaller Samueli Theatre that opened in October and 174 performances in the old wing — are close to budgeted attendance projections.

Meeting revenue goals matters, because the center already is under serious financial pressure as it tries to finish fundraising for the $237.5-million expansion. The new hall was completed with borrowed money and remains about $75 million short; officials have said that failure to raise it within two years could lead to programming cuts.

A happy home

Perhaps ironically for those with long memories, the happiest campers so far seem to be the homegrown performing groups. In the center's early days, locals complained about being treated as afterthoughts, with management focused on establishing Orange County's bona fides as a "world class" destination by importing famous names. With expansion — and two decades to mature — groups such as the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale are enjoying more prime weekend dates and see the new hall as a magnet.

The Pacific Symphony, which is giving 76 of the 137 concerts booked so far for the hall's inaugural season, says it's delighted that more than 92% of its seats have been filled, with 1,800 new classical subscribers among a total of about 5,000.

"We really are at capacity," says John Forsyte, the orchestra's president. "We've even talked about ending the subscription campaign early" to avoid freezing out folks who want to buy single tickets for the remaining concerts. He says the plan for the near future calls for maintaining the same number of concerts, holding on to audience gains and building an endowment that will eventually allow another spurt of growth — and pay raises for the musicians.

Leaders of the Pacific Chorale and the Mozart Classical Orchestra, smaller organizations that have booked four performances each in Segerstrom Concert Hall this season, report gains. Attendance was about 90% for the chorale's first concert, says President Kelly Ruggirello, and two Christmas concerts were sellouts. Few tickets remain for two upcoming Irish-themed shows in the Samueli. Subscriptions have grown 15%.

Opera Pacific President Robert C. Jones says he worried that two concert performances of "Porgy and Bess" in the new hall last October — sans costumes and scenery — would draw poorly because of the opening-month performance glut. The shows nearly sold out, he says, "and we all seemed to agree that the choral acoustics are as good as they are anywhere. 'Spectacular' would not be overstating it."

Ami Porat, founder-director of the Mozart Classical Orchestra, a chamber ensemble that uses only the hall's orchestra seating, says it has filled virtually all of the 1,000 or so available seats. The $36,000 earned from a January performance quadrupled the best single-show box office total in the group's previous home, the 756-seat Irvine Barclay Theatre at UC Irvine.

"A number of people in the past said if we only played in a real concert hall, they would come. And they have," says Porat, who launched the orchestra in 1985. "To me, this is a magic time."

mike.boehm@latimes.com
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Old Posted Apr 13, 2007, 5:34 PM
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I was not that impressed with the new concert hall at the O.C performing arts center. I attended an event there about two months ago and while the acoustics were pretty good, I didn't feel like it was that much better than other venues I've been to.

Still, its a nice addition to the complex and it looks very nice and sleek, especially when compared to the older buildings adjacent to it.
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  #76  
Old Posted Apr 13, 2007, 11:16 PM
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^ Even though I'm not terribly fond of the OC (except for a few certain places like Downtown Santa Ana and Laguna Beach ), I would not be averse to attending another future encore of said performance or whatever that may be with my bf, just to experience the OC's cute attempt to climb the high-brow ladder. Just as long as my bf is willing of course.
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Old Posted Apr 18, 2007, 2:17 AM
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Monday, April 16, 2007
Cal-Pac Engineering wins Great Park balloon project
Company will build a landing pad, parking lot and temporary visitor's center, among other things, for the orange helium balloon.



A winning bid has been selected for the Great Park balloon project.

Cal-Pac Engineering Co. Inc. was the lowest of five bidders – at $2.67 million.

Bids were due April 5 for the project to build a landing pad, parking lot and a temporary visitor's center, among other things, for the orange, passenger helium balloon.

Great Park staff reviewed the five bids – Cal-Pac's was the lowest – and the highest was $4.32 million. The Cal-Pac bid was evaluated by checking references, the company's California Contractor License status, contractor bonding capability and worker's compensation insurance status.

The Cal-Pac bid was more than the architect's cost estimate – but staff said contingency funds can pay for the project.

Over the next two weeks, staff will work with Cal-Pac to process the contract. Construction is expected to start May 1.
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Old Posted Apr 18, 2007, 6:04 AM
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Thai Nakorn opening in Stanton. Thai Nakorn, if you've been living under a rock, is arguably the greatest thai restaurant in California. The place in Garden Grove burned down. They are rebuilding that one as well.

OC Register Blogs.
April 13, 2007
Thai Nakorn has permit issues

Went down to the new Thai Nakorn location in Stanton today to take photos of happy eaters, and I was greeted by an apologetic Wanida Sreewarom. She exlpained today that the family is having permit issues and won't be able to open on Saturday as planned.

The earliest Thai Nakorn will open, Sreewaron states, will be Wednesday.

As happy as I am that they're opening the restaurant again, I wish I would have been notified sooner so I wouldn't have had to make the trek down there for nothing. Sreewarom will keep us all posted on opening events.
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Old Posted Apr 19, 2007, 2:25 AM
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Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Brea road breaks coalition
Environmentalists, park officials debate value of proposed road to water plant near Brea.
By ERIC CARPENTER
The Orange County Register

BREA – On a map, it's just a thin line.

But the proposed road it represents in the Brea hills is creating a chasm between local environmental watchdogs and state park officials – two groups typically on the same side of any fight to protect undeveloped land.

The Metropolitan Water District is proposing to build a two-lane asphalt road from Carbon Canyon Road, up a steep slope through Chino Hills State Park, to the Robert B. Diemer Water Treatment Plant.

Water officials say it would allow maintenance trucks and security vehicles to access the plant from the north side and would be a critical entrance and exit during an earthquake or other emergency.

The only road into the plant is from the south side in Yorba Linda.

State park officials say the road would improve safety as well, because it would separate hikers and cyclists from the maintenance trucks now sharing a common dirt trail at the park's entrance. It could also help fund a visitors center for the state park, which is set to begin construction later this year. The district would pay an easement fee to the state's Parks and Recreation Department.

The plan is strongly opposed, however, by nearby residents and members of the environmental group Hills for Everyone, who have been fighting for decades to keep more roads out of Carbon Canyon and protect the area's serenity.

"We don't think it fits in with the goals of the park to carve a paved road through it," said Glenn Parker, Hills for Everyone president and a former Brea councilman.

Hills for Everyone is concerned that the road will interrupt a wildlife corridor used by bobcats and dozens of wild species whose habitat is already crunched by encroaching development, Parker said.

"When we create a state park, we're doing so to protect all its resources," he said. "We don't see why they should allow anything that compromises that goal."

Environmental leaders were irritated that the state parks department has supported the road. They say they've lost a valuable ally in the fight to protect Carbon Canyon.

Parks officials said they were disappointed the two groups didn't see eye to eye.

"We usually are on the same side, but in this case, we are strongly in support of this road," said Kathy Weatherman, sector superintendent for Chino Hills State Park.

"We don't take any of those environmental concerns lightly, but in this case, we feel that separating the two roads will increase safety, and the environmental process will weigh all the other concerns," she said.

The road would cut through about 1,000 feet of state parkland. The rest of the road would be on district property.

The 37-member district board, which has final say, is set to vote on the project later this year.

District project manager John Versalovich said Diemer, built in 1963, is the only one of the agency's five water-filtration plants that has a single access road. Adding the proposed road is critical for security of the plant, which provides much of the county's drinking water, he said.

.

Brea city planners have sent a letter to the district expressing concern about the effect on aesthetics. Charles View, Brea's development services director, said the city was not opposed to the access road but that more study was needed.

In a letter responding to the environmental impact report, he wrote: "The clearly man-made features will be very visible. …The proposed access road will impact the quality of the experience for both visitors to the museum and hikers on the trail."

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Old Posted Apr 23, 2007, 1:33 AM
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O.C. set to study new end to 55 Freeway
Panel ready to take a $275,000 look at helping relieve Costa Mesa traffic. A tunnel under Newport Blvd. is among the options.
By David Reyes, Times Staff Writer
April 22, 2007



For more than three decades, Costa Mesa has sought help from the county and state to solve its No. 1 traffic dilemma: The uncompleted 55 Freeway that dumps 100,000 vehicles daily onto 19th Street.

Finally, those years of lobbying may have paid off.

On Monday, the Orange County Transportation Authority Board is poised to approve a $275,000 study to examine alternatives — including tunneling beneath Newport Boulevard — to help relieve congestion.

"Something has to be done," said a frustrated Mayor Allan R. Mansoor, "because traffic comes to a standstill at that location."

If approved, the 14-month study would evaluate alternative routes where the Costa Mesa Freeway turns into Newport Boulevard.

A tunnel or underpass would extend freeway traffic on Newport Boulevard beneath 19th Street nearly a mile west to 17th Street. Other ideas being discussed include street widening and flyovers.

Newport Boulevard became a state route in the 1930s to help workers travel from orange grove to orange grove. It became a four-lane freeway in 1962.

But as the county's population grew, the freeway evolved into a major connector for inland residents heading to Huntington Beach and Newport Beach for relief from broiling temperatures.

Now, with four lanes in each direction, the 55 shares the same distinction as Los Angeles County's 710 Freeway, whose northern terminus also ends at a city street.

For decades, Alhambra has complained about the added congestion from the Long Beach Freeway, which ends at Valley Boulevard. A tunnel also has been proposed to extend the 710 to Pasadena. South Pasadena residents have fought the project because it would destroy homes and bisect their small town.

In Orange County, Costa Mesa's neighbor to the west, Newport Beach, has been a roadblock to the 55's extension.

"It's a very political decision because of right-of-way issues, and if they extend it, it could end up congesting Coast Highway, and that would be a problem as well," said Marian Bergeson, a former Orange County legislator and a state Transportation Commission member who lives in Newport Beach.

Mansoor and other city officials said the opinions of local business owners and residents would be included as part of the study's outreach program.

Mark Miller, 45, a Costa Mesa barbershop owner, said officials were ignoring the safety of those walking across the street. "We need a pedestrian bridge over Newport Boulevard," he said. "That would make it safe for kids and others."

"They've been talking about this tunnel for five years," he said.

For Costa Mesa, finding a solution has been an uphill battle, said City Manager Allan Roeder. For years the city fought Caltrans' efforts to remove an extension of the 55 Freeway from its project list, he said.

The city prevailed, and, in the mid-1990s, it persuaded the state agency to widen the freeway and extend its terminus a quarter mile from Mesa Drive to its present location at 19th Street.

Prior to the 1990s, the freeway's configuration allowed vehicles to exit and cross 19th Street at such high rates of speed that they created a hazard, Roeder said. Several people were being killed there annually, making it the county's second-most dangerous intersection.

While planners were able to slow the traffic, the intersection now is the county's second-most congested.

The city has approved a project to widen Newport Boulevard a lane in each direction near 19th Street.

Work is scheduled to begin this summer and be completed next year.

But with warmer weather approaching, the forecast calls for more traffic. Weekends, the Fourth of July and the opening of the county fair in Costa Mesa a few exits before 19th Street, means traffic snarls, Mansoor said.

Mansoor, whose push to have police enforce federal immigration laws gained nationwide attention, said he knows that tackling the freeway problem won't make him popular.

"Nobody has wanted to touch this, but if you know me, you know I don't mind taking on these big issues, and I feel it needs to be addressed," he said.

*

(INFOBOX BELOW)

Freeway study

Costa Mesa has sought help from state and local agencies to alleviate traffic at the end of the Costa Mesa Freeway. The Orange County Transportation Authority will vote on a $275,000 study to develop alternatives, including a tunnel to extend the freeway.

History of the road

1931: Named Route 43; the road starts at Highway 1, heads north to Anaheim, then east on what is now the Riverside Freeway.

1959: Receives official designation as State Route 55 and becomes the Newport Freeway.

1962-1966: New four-lane highway is built.

1976: Name changes to Costa Mesa Freeway.

1990: Freeway is extended from Interstate 405 to 19th Street.

1999: Carpool lanes and other improvements are added as part of a 3-year improvement project.

Current: The road is five lanes in each direction, including a carpool lane.
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