Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Firefighters and lifeguards have extremely busy long 4th of July weekend

You ever wonder what it must be like to live in a war-torn country with battle going on daily? Gunshots and bombs lighting the sky, etc.

Well, I think I lived through that scenario last Thursday, July 4th. As soon as dusk approached, the sounds of fireworks filled our skies. The only thing not present, fortunately, was the threat of harm, in the sense of getting shot.

But literally, every moment, one after another, the sound could be heard with another detonation. And it carried on until late into the night. And when I say many, they were the kind that light up the sky, and M80s, firecrackers and such.

No sparklers and snakes for those of us wussies.

Fortunately, it only happens one night a year…or two or three when you add in the days leading up to it, and a couple of days afterwards, while clearing the garage of that extra arsenal.

It’s crazy.

And what about those repeated calls from our city officials, “Fireworks of any kind are illegal” in such and such city; “violators will be prosecuted?”

If that truly was the case, by Friday morning our jails would be overflowing with violators. Now, I get it. There are simply too many people taking part. Police could literally pick a street and find those breaking the law.

So what was the result of such antics? According to a report compiled by Newport Beach Fire’s Raymund Reyes and Chief Jeff Boyles, our NBFD “responded to hundreds of calls throughout the busy weekend, including multiple MCIs (multi casualty incidents).

“There were also five fire-related incidents on the 4th. While four were minor in nature, a small brush fire broke out behind Mesa Drive in Upper Back Bay sometime after 9 p.m., with fireworks being the apparent culprit. Fortunately, crews were able to extinguish it almost immediately.”

Chief Boyles added, “Hot weather throughout the State of California, along with multiple wildfires posed many challenges for our firefighters. On Tuesday, July 2nd a crew of four NBFD firefighters were launched to Butte County as part of an Orange County strike team to fight the Thompson Fire. They returned home to Orange County over the weekend and another group of four NBFD firefighters were sent to the Lake Fire in Santa Barbara on the morning of July 8.

“NBFD is a proud contributor to the California Master Mutual Aid System with our Orange County partners,” said Chief Boyles.

And, if it wasn’t firefighters keeping their eyes on our lands and structures, add in this, our lifeguards were busy too, in what might be the understatement of the year.

According to Chief Boyles, “Newport Beach Lifeguards performed 76 rescues on the 4th of July, but the true test came in the days following the holiday as the swell picked up and challenged beachgoers with rip tides and large surf. Of the 807 rescues over the weekend, five were non-fatal drownings (exhaustion/aspiration) that required advanced medical care.”

“This may have been the busiest 4th of July weekend, along with the biggest swell we’ve seen since Ben (Carlson’s) last rescue (in 2014),” said Lifeguard Battalion Chief Adam Yacenda. “2020 had a massive swell, but the beach was closed over the holiday weekend because of COVID. (Last weekend) was truly the Super Bowl of Lifeguarding, and our guards were in it to win it.”

A different angle to look at the long weekend for our lifeguards: 2,732 Public Contacts, 215 Code Enforcements, 187 Blackball Warnings, 66 renderings of First Aid, 30 Medical Aids, Seven Stingray Victims, Four Reunited with Families, 13 Boat Assists…and NO LOSS OF LIFE.

That, my friends, is the best news!

• • •

 So, if people weren’t out enjoying the beach, chances are that some of them may have been playing pickleball up at The Tennis and Pickleball Club at Newport Beach.

Club President and Founder Sean Bollettieri-Abdali told me that their tournament action on Saturday (July 6) alone featured more than 1,000 matches. That’s a lot of pickleball!

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Alexandra Taylor

(L-R) U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Tennis and Pickleball Club President and Founder Sean Bollettieri-Abdali

In fact, over the weekend there were other visitors taking part in the action, too, including U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and family, who joined Sean, Mayor Will O’Neill and others in competition.

How good of an athlete is our Mayor, you might ask? He competed in jeans and a pair of boots…and didn’t miss a step as they often say.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Alexandra Taylor

Mayor Will O’Neill (right) shows his prowess on the courts despite the lack of “official pickleball wear”

Reports were that Senator Cruz and his daughter, who joined him on the trip, both more than held their own on the courts.

• • •

Cue the John Williams’ Olympic Theme song…former newspaper industry counterpart Eric Spitz (formerly president of the Orange County Register) informed me that his daughter, Ayla Spitz, has qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team in swimming later this summer.

Ayla, who competed at Newport Harbor High School and then for the California Golden Bears, will swim two freestyle relays in Paris.

During her high school years, Ayla was quite accomplished:

–A three-time Scholastic All-American who was the Orange County Female Swimmer of the Year as a senior.

–Set high school records in the 50 free (23.00), 100 free (48.88), 200 free (1:45.44), 100 back (54.16) and 100 breast (1:04.61).

–Swam for Irvine Novaquatics and helped the club team to a first place finish at 2017 Winter Junior Nationals and 2018 Summer Junior Nationals.

–Set Novaquatics age-group records in eight events.

–She was the Newport Harbor High School valedictorian and served as president of the Math Club.

Must take after her mother! Good luck in Paris, Ayla.

• • •

The California Coastal Commission meets this week in San Rafael. Their Thursday (July 11) agenda includes multiple Newport Beach issues.

First is a public hearing and action regarding the city’s request to amend the Implementation Plan and Land Use Plan of the city’s certified Local Coastal Program. Discussed will be a revision of the development standards for accessory dwelling units to ensure consistency with state law; and action to modify development standards for Bay Island.

There will also be an appeal by Bayside Village Marina of the city’s decision to grant a permit with conditions to Orange County Sanitation District for the demolition of their existing approximately 4,800-sq.-ft. pump station and construction of a new approximately 7,500-sq.-ft. pump station that includes a new underground pump room, electrical room, odor control facility and generator room, within an approximately 14,500-sq.-ft. site area, as well as the installation of two approximately 1,300-ft.-long, 24-in. diameter force mains at 250 E. Coast Highway.

Finally, Newport-Mesa Unified School District has an application before the Commission requesting replacement of the existing beach playground at Newport El – including new playground equipment, sand recompaction, new recycled synthetic rubber playground surfacing and masonry site walls (1327 West Ocean Front).

For all items related to Newport Beach, consult the CCC agenda and details within.


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