City Manager Updates

E-Waste and Paper Shredding Event this Saturday - Residents and businesses are invited to participate in the annual free E-Waste drop-off and Paper shredding event on Sat, Nov 18, from 8 a.m. to noon.  The event will be held at the City Maintenance Facilities, 1900 Laguna Canyon Road.  For more information, including a detailed list of acceptable E-Waste items, visit the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net/recycling or contact Liz Avila at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

City Receives a Public Works Project of the Year Award - The City has received the 2017 Project of the Year award from the Southern California Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) for the Oak Street and Mountain Road Beach Access Improvements project. APWA’s Award Program was established to recognize public agencies for outstanding capital improvement projects and public works programs.

Thanksgiving Holiday Transit Services Schedule - On Thurs, Nov 23, no Transit Services (trolley and bus) will be operating.  We will be running a modified schedule on Friday, Nov 24.  For schedule information, please visit http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/transit_and_trolleys/citybus.htm. Also, for real time information, try the Trolley Tracker on the Visit Laguna app.

Holiday Street Sweeping Schedule - There will be no street sweeping performed on Thanksgiving Day, Thurs, Nov 23 and parking restrictions will not be enforced.  On Friday, Nov 24 only non-residential areas will be swept.  Residential street sweeping will not occur and parking restrictions will not be enforced. Street sweeping and parking enforcement will return to normal on Saturday, Nov 25.

Holiday Trash Collection Schedule - Residential and commercial trash collection will be delayed one day for customers normally serviced on Thursday and Friday because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Glenneyre Street Closure - On Tues, Nov 28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Laguna Beach Water District will close Glenneyre Street between Agate Street and Bluebird Canyon Road for construction of water facilities. Northbound traffic will be detoured to Agate Street to South Coast Highway to Bluebird Canyon Road. Southbound traffic will be detoured to Bluebird Canyon Drive to South Coast Highway to Pearl Street. For questions, please contact Lisa Dunbar of the Laguna Beach County Water District at (949) 464-3119.

City Hall Closed - City Hall will be closed on November 23 and 24 for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.


City Manager’s Updates

Children’s Holiday Palette Exhibition - The Arts Commission is currently accepting designs for the annual competition. Children ages 5 to 17 years old may submit an original design celebrating the holiday season. Up to 12 designs will be selected for display at City Hall throughout December. Designs must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov 17. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. Call Mike McGregor, Arts Program Coordinator at (949) 497-0722 x5 for information.

Emergency Storm Drain Repair on Coast Hwy near Aliso Beach Park on 11/15 - Emergency storm drain repairs will take place next Wednesday on the slope next to Coast Highway across from Aliso Beach Park. The City’s contractor will be replacing a large piece of storm drain pipe that was damaged in an auto accident. The work will require the closure of the northbound #2 lane of Coast Highway between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. For additional information, contact Maintenance Supervisor, Wayne Chintala at (949) 464-6644.

Planning Commission review of  “Draft” Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance Update - The Laguna Beach Planning Commission will continue their review and discussion of potential revisions to the City’s Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance, which is Chapter 25.17 of the Laguna Beach Municipal Code. The Planning Commission meeting will be held on Wed, Nov 15, at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers (located at 505 Forest Avenue). Staff will provide a presentation to the Planning Commission regarding discussion points and proposed changes.  

The Planning Commission will consider a draft revised ordinance for recommendation to the City Council at a future noticed meeting. To view a copy of the staff report for this item, please refer to the City’s website: www.lagunabeachcity.net.

Free Lecture Event on Wildland Chaparral and Coastal Sage Scrub - The City invites the public to attend a free lecture series event at 6 p.m. on November 16, at the Laguna Beach Community Center, 380 Third Street. The event, entitled “Appreciating Our Coastal Sage Scrub,” will feature biologist Richard Halsey of the California Chaparral Institute, who will discuss the beauty and benefits of chaparral and living in a fire-prone environment. 

The event is the first in the City’s quarterly Environmental Lecture Series. For more information on this event or future lecture topics, please contact Environmental Specialist Michael Phillips at (949) 497-0390.

Restoration of Public Art - The Arts Commission continues its ongoing maintenance of its public art collection. Currently maintenance work is being undertaken on the “Waves” created by artist Larry Gill at the entrance of Forest Avenue. In addition, restoration work will be undertaken on the hanging gate at the intersection of Forest and Park. These projects are funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach.

Juried Fine Art Exhibition – Winners Announced - Mayor Toni Iseman and Arts Commission Chair Michael Ervin recently announced the winners of the exhibition: 1st Place Michael Ward; 2nd Place James Loving; 3rd Place Noriho Uriu. Each was awarded $1,000, $500 and $250 respectively. Honorable mention was awarded to Patsee Ober and Andrew Cortez.

Fire Department Announcement - The Laguna Beach Fire Department is pleased to announce the recent graduation of Firefighter James Lin with Paramedic Class 78 from Saddleback College. James will be assigned to Paramedic Engine 4 (South Laguna) starting in January 2018.

Coast Royal Utility Undergrounding Improvements - Installation of underground conduits and facilities including pull boxes, concrete pads, and retaining walls by the City’s Contractor, Hot Line Construction, is now complete within the Coast Royal neighborhood along Monterey Street, Brooks Street, Pedro Street, Holly Street, Ceanothus Drive, Alta Loma Drive, and Ocean View Street. SDG&E will begin mobilizing their crews to install underground cables and equipment beginning on Nov 16. Due to the upcoming holidays, SDG&E will not work the week of Nov 20 and will begin work again on Nov 27.

Cress Street Sidewalk Extension Complete - Construction work to extend the sidewalk on Cress Street from Bluebird Park to Temple Terrace has been completed and the area is now open to the public. The additional sidewalk will greatly enhance pedestrian traffic circulation and connectivity that is generated from nearby park and school bus drop-offs.

Veterans Day Transit Services - Laguna Beach Transit services will operate on its regular service schedule for the Veterans Day Holiday.

Cookie Contest - Residents are invited to attend the tasting and judging ceremony for the Community Services Department’s first annual Holiday Cookie Contest. Three finalists have been selected to bake a sample batch for a taste-test on Nov 13 at 3:30 p.m. at the Community and Susi Q Center. Cookies, milk, and refreshments will be available to all who attend. 

The winner’s story and recipe will be published in the Winter 2018 Community Services brochure, to be mailed citywide. For more information, contact Adam Gufarotti, Senior Recreation Supervisor, at (949) 497-0304.


City Manager’s Updates

Heroes with Heart Award - On Wednesday evening, Motor Officer Matt Gregg was honored by the Orange County Trauma Intervention Program at its annual “Heroes with Heart Awards Gala” at the Anaheim Hilton. This event recognizes police, sheriffs, firefighters and hospital personnel who have gone above the call of duty to provide compassionate support to citizens in crisis. Officer Gregg was nominated by a Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) volunteer who was impacted by his empathy, and support for a family, who were dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Free Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP) Medicare Open Enrollment Clinic - Specially trained HICAP counselors will provide you with health and drug comparison charts and conduct a cost analysis of your options at no cost to you. Appointments are available from 9:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. on Friday, Nov 17, at the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street. To make your 45-minute appointment or for more information call (949) 464-6645. 

Creative Placemaking Town Hall Meeting - The City of Laguna Beach will hold its first public town hall meeting to discuss the Creative Placemaking Assessment, exploring the city’s cultural infrastructure.  We ask that all attendees bring an example of a cultural space, cultural activity, or public art invention that they find particularly interesting or aspirational to the meeting. 

The meeting will be held on Wed, Nov 8, at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Community and Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street. Refreshments will be provided. For information contact Siân Poeschl, Cultural Arts Manager (949) 497-0727 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Laguna Arts Museum – Art & Nature Installation - As part of its Art & Nature festival, the Laguna Art Museum will unveil its temporary sculpture installation “Seascape” by artist Pablo Vargas Lugo. The sculpture will be located in the ocean 200 yards from the shoreline and will on exhibit for 14 days. 

If the public has any questions, contact Marinta Skupin, Curator of Education at (949) 494-8971 ext. 201. For more information visit www.lagunaartmuseum.org.


Council asked to approve nine Mills Act contracts

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Nine owners of Laguna Beach properties of high historical value have requested the Council to approve on Mills Act contracts on Tuesday.

The Mills Act allows local governments to offer incentives to owners of Laguna Beach properties with E- or K-ratings if they agree to certain restrictions in return for incentives, which may include reduced property taxes. Contracts are for 10 years, with the expectation that the tax savings will be used to maintain and/or rehabilitate the historic structures.

The Mills Act is the single most important economic incentive program in California for the preservation of historic buildings by private property owners, according to the state Office of Historic Preservation.

Applications for the contracts are reviewed by the city Heritage Committee. The committee makes recommendations to the council for approval of the contracts once a year.

To date, 67 contracts have been approved. 

The contracts cost the city in property tax revenue. It is estimated that “lost” property tax revenue for the 37 properties 2016 came to $193,000. Contracts for nine current applicants is estimated to cost the city up to $45,000 a year.

City staff is recommending approval of contracts with owners of properties at 1860 Carmelita St., 595 St. Anns Drive, 377 Mountain Road, 405 El Camino del Mar, 631 Virginia Park, 31706 Scenic Drive and 229 Arch St.

The agenda item is on the consent calendar, which will be approved without discussion unless pulled by a member of the council or the public.


City responds to surprise proposal for Aliso Creek mainstem ecosystem

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Army Corps of Engineers recently surprised Laguna residents and officials with an unexpected release of a proposal for the Aliso Creek Mainstem Ecosystem Restoration project, along with supporting feasibility and environmental impact reports.  

Opponents have only until Nov 28 to review and comment on the Corps’ 2,000-page draft feasibility and environmental reports. They asked the council Tuesday night for help in rejecting the proposal, which bears a similarity to a Corps recommendation almost a decade ago that was shelved due to community opposition.

“The Laguna Beach Bluebelt Coalition met last night and we have many concerns about the Corps restoration project, also known as “SUPER Project of 2008,” said Mike Beanan, speaking on behalf of the coalition.

It was not a compliment.

Aliso Creek

“We need the city council’s support and resources to respond to the draft EIR and to work with the community to present a better alternative,” said Beanan.

The council responded by appropriating $40,000 to obtain expert analysis and support to develop comments on the project and directed the city’s Water Quality Improvement Plan sub-committee to work with staff, consultants and interested community members to develop written comments in accordance with the National Environmental Protection Act. 

“We need to know who our possible allies are and we also need to know the effects on the Aliso Creek Treatment Plant,” said Councilman Bob Whalen. “We also need to get up to speed on the politics of this.”

In a summary submitted by Water Quality Director David Shissler, the council was advised that it will take an extraordinary effort to develop comments on the vast amount of information released by the Corps with such short notice. 

“I am sure the corps intends to do the right thing,” said Shissler. “They are just going about it in the wrong way.”

City comments will be developed to make clear the strong community support for an analysis that reflects the unique environmental interests of Laguna as the tail end of the 19-plus mile mainstem, which collects seven major tributaries---and their pollution--- on its way to the ocean.

The new Corps proposal ends at the treatment plant, ignoring impacts on coastal resources where the creek ends at Aliso Beach, Beanen told the council. 

He recommends modernizing the treatment plant and upgrading sewage facilities to protect Laguna’s ocean water quality.  

“We are at the end of the pipe,” said Mayor Toni Iseman. “This is an opportunity to make it safer.”

Comments may be mailed to Eduardo T. De Mesa, Chief, Planning Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District, ATTN. Deborah Lang, 915 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 930, Los Angeles Ca, 90017. 

Lamb can be reached by phone at (213) 452-3789 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


City announces 10th Annual National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness month in November

The City of Laguna Beach is proud to announce the 10th Annual National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Month in November. Proclaimed by the City Council and organized as a public service by the Housing and Human Services Committee, this month-long event brings awareness to the Laguna Beach community about people who are hungry and homeless in our community, our county, and our nation.

The purpose of Laguna Beach’s Hunger and Homelessness Awareness month is to enhance community awareness of the issue as well as the community organizations that assist with these concerns in Laguna Beach and Orange County.

The Housing & Human Services Committee encourages our community to participate in activities offered during the Laguna Beach Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lynette

Get Help from the Homeless program brought together homeless men and neighbors needing work done

L-R: Gary Madsen, Emanuel Wood, Gene Sottosanto (project manager and ecologist), Dave Finkle, Don Sciortino (visionary) and Wylie Harrison

During the entire month of November, there are five different ways to participate in this worthy cause:

The Laguna Food Pantry’s Annual Food Drive will take place from Nov 1-17, sponsored by the City of Laguna Beach and Waste Management for the eleventh year. The food drive benefits the Laguna Food Pantry, which provides free, fresh groceries to more than 300 local families in need each week. Located at 20652 Laguna Canyon Road north of the dog Park, the Pantry is open from 8- 10:30 a.m. Mon through Fri. 

Food collection sites include U.S. Bank at 310 Glenneyre Street near Forest Avenue, plus many of the city’s churches, public and parochial schools, and Anneliese schools. New volunteers are always welcome. Phone (949) 497-7121 www.lagunafoodpantry.org. 

Peanut butter and jelly, canned tuna, cereal, macaroni and cheese, pasta and pasta sauce, and rice and beans are the most needed products.

The Girl Scout Toiletry Drive will take place from Nov 1-18. Made possible by the Laguna Beach Girl Scouts and the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, the community can participate by donating unused toiletry items and socks which benefit our city’s Alternative Sleeping Location (ASL), which provides the homeless temporary nightly housing and other services year round. 

For a list of drop off locations, contact Missy Palino at (949) 322-0470 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . They are in constant need of the following items: new socks (adult sizes preferred), sample sized shampoo and conditioner, individually wrapped bars of soap, deodorant, toothbrushes and sample sized toothpaste, sunscreen, small bottles of lotion, lip balm, disposable razors, feminine products, small tissue packages, Bandaids, washcloths, and brushes/combs.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Lynette

These are the foods most needed by the Laguna Food Pantry

Volunteering Time at the Friendship Shelter/Guest Chef. The Friendship Shelter helps homeless adults achieve self- sufficiency and become more productive members of our community. Each night more than 160 homeless men and women sleep safely in one of its three programs; Residential Shelter, Emergency Shelter and Housing. 

This November, sign up to be a Guest Chef. Friendship Shelter’s generous volunteers prepare, cook and help serve hot, healthy meals for residents every night of the week. Guest Chefs of all ages are encouraged to volunteer their time and recipes, and make a positive difference in the lives of our residents. To volunteer, call (949) 494-6928 or email the office at friendshipshelter.org.

The Annual Laguna Beach Community Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner will take plcae on Nov 23 at noon. Join Friendship Shelter and the Neighborhood Congregational Church for Laguna Beach’s Annual Thanksgiving Community Potluck. An estimated 600 to 700 meals will be served buffet style, with food and supplies provided by individuals, churches and community groups. 

Donations of food - especially prepared and cooked turkeys – are needed and will be accepted beginning at 11 a.m. Thanksgiving Day at the church at 340 St. Ann’s Drive. The feast begins at noon. 

For more information, or to volunteer, contact Friendship Shelter Marketing Director, Kristin Points at (949) 494-6928 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . To donate turkey, contact Mary LaRusso at (949) 497-5641 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


City Manager’s Updates

November Awareness Month - City of Laguna Beach is proud to announce our 10th Annual National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Month in November. Proclaimed by the City and organized as a public service by the Housing and Human Services Committee, this month-long event brings awareness to the Laguna Beach community about people who are hungry and homeless in our community, our country, and our nation. During the month of November, there are five different ways to participate in this worthy cause. For more details visit: http://www.lagunahungryandhomeless.org/events.html.

Juried Fine Art Exhibition – Artist Reception and Award Ceremony - On Thurs, Nov 2, at 5:30 p.m. the winners of the eleventh annual Juried Fine Art Exhibition will be announced at an Artist Reception at Laguna Beach City Hall, 505 Forest Avenue. The exhibition can be viewed through Nov 22. The juror, Mackenzie Stevens, Curatorial Assistant at the Los Angeles Hammer Museum, reviewed submissions from artists from throughout Orange County and selected 34 to exhibit. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Children’s Holiday Palette Exhibition - The Arts Commission is currently accepting designs to the annual competition. Children ages 5 to 17 years old may submit an original design celebrating the holiday season. Up to 12 designs will be selected for display at City Hall throughout December. Designs must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov 17. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. For exhibition guidelines go to: http://bit.ly/2iEI0y3.

Creative Placemaking Town Hall Meeting - The City of Laguna Beach will hold its first public town hall meeting to discuss the Creative Placemaking Assessment, exploring the city’s cultural infrastructure.  We ask that all attendees bring an example of a cultural space, cultural activity, or public art intervention that they find particularly interesting or aspirational to the meeting. The meeting will be held on Wed, Nov 8, at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Room at the Community and Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street. Refreshments will be provided. For information contact Siân Poeschl, Cultural Arts Manager (949) 497-0727 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

City Sewer System Video Inspection Project - Tunnelworks Service Inc. has been awarded the second-year contract of a five-year program to perform cleaning and video inspection of the City’s sanitary sewer system.  On Monday, Oct 30, Tunnelworks will begin work in North Laguna covering the area from Irvine Cove to Cliff Drive. The work will be ongoing until May 2018.  Project updates will be provided through www.clbwq.net or feel free to contact the City’s Water Quality Department with questions at (949) 497-0378.

Bluebird SOCWA Wet Well Lining Project - Pascal & Ludwig Constructors has been awarded the contract to install a temporary bypass system so that the Bluebird SOCWA lift station can be taken out of service for maintenance work. The bypass system will be set up at the end of Galen Drive.  Through traffic on Glenneyre Street will be modified to facilitate construction but will be kept open in both directions at all times.  Construction activities will commence on Monday, Oct 30.  Work hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.  The project is not expected to exceed three months in duration.  The bypass system is comprised of electric pumps with critically silenced enclosures around them to reduce noise while the system runs continuously during the work inside the lift station.  Project updates will be provided through www.clbwq.net or feel free to contact the City’s Water Quality Department with questions at (949) 497-0378.

Main Beach Sea Rise Level Installation - The City invites the public to view the Main Beach Sea Level Rise installation on November 2-5.  The installation will be composed of three illustrated signs located on the grassy area near the Lifeguard Tower. The installation is intended to draw attention to potential impacts of sea level rise from global warming. The signs are illustrated by Laguna Beach High School art students. The installation coincides with the Laguna Art Museum’s annual Art & Nature festival and its theme of art’s engagement with the natural world.

Smart Gardening Series: Beautiful Bulbs - Join local Master Gardener,Mary Duffy on Sat, Nov 11, from 9 to 10 a.m. at the Community & Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street. Discover the beauty, ease and simple steps for successful gardening with bulbs. Learn about the types of bulbs, and how to plant them, including soil preparation and depth. For more information or to register call (949) 464-6645.

Mindfulness for Teens:  The Secret to a Happier, Healthier You - This series will expose young people, ages 11-15, to mindfulness practices to cultivate kindness, compassion and joy.  By focusing on the present and recognizing their emotions, mindfulness practices are helping young people manage their busy lives. The six-week series will be held Mondays, Oct 30 through December 4 from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Community & Susi Q Center. $45 per student, scholarships are available. Call (949) 464-6645 for more information or to register.

Holiday Cookie Contest - Residents are invited to participate in the City’s first annual holiday cookie recipe contest. Each participant is asked to submit their favorite family cookie recipe and the story behind it. Three finalists will be selected to bake a sample batch of their cookies for a tasting ceremony on November 13. The first place winner’s story and recipe will be published in the Winter 2018 Community Services brochure, to be mailed citywide. Entries must be submitted at the front desk of the Community and Susi Q Center by October 31. 

For more information, contact Adam Gufarotti, Senior Recreation Supervisor, at (949) 497-0304. Entry forms can be downloaded from the following City website link: http://bit.ly/2yvNtes.


City Manager’s Update

Health+Wellness Senior Expo & Free Flu Shot Clinic Live and thrive well! Join a number of City of Laguna Beach, Susi Q and local community services organizations providing resources, awareness, medical and educational information, as well as free demos, screenings and activities. Free flu vaccines will be provided by St. Joseph Health, Mission Hospital for those 18 years+ while supplies last.  This year’s event will be held on Friday, Oct 27, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Community & Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street. For more information: call (949) 464-6645.

The City is proud to announce the opening of “Park Plaza” - Beginning this weekend, the 200 block of Park Avenue will serve as an outdoor pedestrian plaza free from vehicular traffic. In partnership with volunteers representing Transition Laguna, the Laguna Beach Beautification Council and the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce, the lower block of Park Avenue has been spruced up, lighted, furnished, landscaped, and decorated to create an inviting plaza for pedestrians to enjoy.  

The trial program was initiated and funded by the City Council and is tentatively scheduled to continue through the end of the calendar year. Park Plaza will be open to the public between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily.


City will discuss new options at its Tuesday meeting to underground utilities and mitigate severe fire risk

Renewing its commitment to public safety and fire prevention, the City of Laguna Beach will consider advancing new policy and funding solutions to remove utility poles and underground wires citywide at its upcoming October 24 City Council meeting. The City Council agenda item can be viewed at this link:

http://lagunabeachcity.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=3&event_id=254&meta_id=54919.

In addition to considering a portfolio of solutions, the City Council will also consider repealing its preliminary undergrounding ordinance, opting to settle expensive litigation initiated by regional utilities and pursue more cost-effective options.  

A recent Los Angeles Times feature exposed how power lines and electrical equipment are a leading cause of wildfires in California. 

“Laguna knows all too well about the devastation caused by wildfires and my heart goes out to all those whose lives were changed in an instant by the massive fires in Northern California,” said Councilmember Bob Whalen.  

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Dave Day

Just last week, an accident brought down power lines and closed the Canyon Road for hours

“Reading that these fires may have been sparked by overhead utility lines and equipment once again sends an urgent message – in high risk fire zones, above ground utilities are a grave danger.  Our residents in Laguna live every day with the threat of destruction from fires sparked by power lines and transformers. The utility companies have refused to help expedite undergrounding leaving us no choice but to ask our community to support a local funding plan.  We must get this done to protect lives and property.»  

City Council will discuss new options on Tuesday Oct 24

On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss and potentially vote on the following recommended actions:  

Approve and authorize the purchase of California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Rule 20A undergrounding credits from Rancho Santa Margarita and Indian Wells at $0.55 on the dollar;

Direct staff to use $3 million in available funds and up to $4 million in Measure LL, Street Lighting and Rule 20A funds available during the next two fiscal years for undergrounding of utilities along highest priority evacuation routes;

Direct staff to continue to investigate other funding opportunities and present to the City Council in the near future; and

Repeal the city’s ordinance designed to reduce severe fire risk and utility pole related traffic accidents by requiring utility companies to underground all new and replacement utility infrastructure.

The City passed an ordinance in March 2017 designed to reduce severe fire risk and utility pole related traffic accidents by requiring utility companies to underground all new and replacement utility infrastructure. 

In response to the ordinance, Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) filed lawsuits against the City to prevent enactment of the ordinance. Faced with the threat of a long and expensive litigation process, the City Council has reached a settlement agreement with the two utilities and will consider repealing the ordinance while continuing to pursue more cost-effective alternatives.

“We must focus on solutions,” says Mayor Iseman

 “We strongly believe the utilities should step up and share in the cost of undergrounding their dangerous wires and we’re disappointed they sued our City in an attempt to avoid paying. However, slogging through costly litigation for years isn’t going to solve the problem in a timely manner. We’re focused on identifying funding options and directing resources as soon as possible to underground these dangerous utility wires,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Toni Iseman. 

The settlement commits the utilities to work with the City to review safety concerns and existing overhead electric systems and discuss opportunities to reduce fire risk. It also allows for the advancement of Rule 20A funds for up to five years for city initiated undergrounding projects. SCE has agreed to develop preliminary designs for undergrounding of electric facilities along Laguna Canyon Road in 12 months, and SDG&E agreed to advance the City initial funding for engineering and design costs for undergrounding projects that take place within the next five years.

The City Council agreed that fighting a long legal battle would not serve the community’s best interest – not when the threat to public safety is imminent. 

In the last 10 years, downed utility lines have caused at least five significant fires, and 58 vehicles have collided with utility poles on Laguna Canyon Road. 

With millions of visitors each year and only two evacuation roads leading out of the city, the next disaster could be more devastating than the last.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

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