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City will review Downtown Specific Plan Update during Planning Commission meeting this Wednesday, June 6

The City will continue its efforts on the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) Update this Wednesday, June 6, during the Planning Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. 

The Planning Commission will review and discuss public correspondence and issue areas related to Section V: Land Use Districts of the existing DSP document. Topics covered will include: the intent and purpose of land use districts, permitted land uses/required entitlements, permit processes, findings and special findings for certain uses, allowable changes in permitted use category per City Council resolution, and definitions. 

For more information on the Downtown Specific Plan Update project, please contact Wendy Jung, Senior Planner at (949) 497-0321 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


City Manager’s Updates

Downtown Specific Plan Update – Continue to Review Portions of Section V: Land Use Districts – The City of Laguna Beach will continue their efforts on the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) Update on Wednesday, June 6 during the Planning Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. 

The Planning Commission will review and discuss public correspondence and issue areas related to Section V: Land Use Districts of the existing DSP document. Topics covered include: the intent and purpose of land use districts, permitted land uses/required entitlements, permit processes, findings and special findings for certain uses, allowable changes in permitted use category per City Council resolution, and definitions. 

For more information on the Downtown Specific Plan Update project please contact Wendy Jung, Senior Planner, at (949) 497-0321 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Queda Way Retaining Wall Replacement – Construction is underway to replace a deteriorated retaining wall at the south end of Queda Way. The project also includes roadway drainage improvements to help prevent flooding of private properties. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of July. For more information, please contact the project manager, Tri Nguyen, at (949) 497-0741.

Downtown Street Restriping – The Public Works Department will be repainting the downtown street legends and striping in preparation for the summer season. This work will start Thursday, June 7 and continue through Saturday, June 9.  All work will be done in the early morning hours to minimize traffic impacts. 

Moulton Meadows Field Maintenance and Closures – Moulton Meadows Field will be closed for annual maintenance and turf renovations through Monday, June 25. If Please call Alexis Braun, Senior Recreation Supervisor at (949) 497-0762 with any questions.

It’s Time to Renew Your Shopper Parking Permits – Residents who have participated in the shopper permit program should receive their 2018-2020 Shopper Parking Permit application in the mail the week of May 28. If you do not receive an application or are interested in the program, visit the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net and click on the “Shopper Permits” icon located on the City’s homepage.

 From the website, residents can purchase parking permits online or by mail by downloading a PDF version of the information packet and application. The cost is $80 each for the first two shopper permits and $150 each for the third and fourth permit. Please make checks payable to the City of Laguna Beach.


City Manager’s Update

Lifeguard Staffing Memorial Day Weekend – Staffing of up to 10 of the City’s thirty lifeguard towers will occur over Memorial Day weekend. For up to date information on open tower locations and times, please call the Marine Safety general information number at (949) 494-6571. Remember to swim near a lifeguard!

Fuel Modification Program (aka the running of the goats…) – The goats just completed clearing fuel in the area around the Pageant of the Masters and will be moving across the street to the Sawdust Festival area. The goats will be crossing Laguna Canyon Road on Saturday, May 26 at 6 a.m. Please expect minor delays in the area.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The goats will be crossing LCR at 6 a.m. tomorrow…they’re resting for the run

Memorial Day Transit Service – Laguna Beach Transit will be running a modified schedule on Monday, May 28.  As a result, the Coastal Service will be offered from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and there will be no neighborhood services.

Moulton Meadows Field Maintenance and Closures – Moulton Meadows Field will be closed for annual maintenance and turf renovations from May 29 - June 25. Please call Alexis Braun, Senior Recreation Supervisor, with any questions at (949) 497-0762.

Laguna Beach Represented at County Track Meet – On Sunday, May 20, twenty-three local youths participated in the Orange County Track and Field Championships at Estancia High School.

The Laguna Beach Track Team is comprised of boys and girls ranging from five to 14 years of age. They competed in various events including the long jump, softball throw, 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1600 meter races. The Laguna Beach team had participants that placed in the top four in their respective events and are moving on to the Southern California Championships at Warren High School in Downey on Sunday, June 3. 

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Submitted photo

Laguna Beach track team

Sunset Serenades: World Music – Sunset Serenades continues with the World Music Series this Friday, May 25 at the Heisler Park Amphitheater, Cliff Drive. The concert starts at 6:30 p.m. and will feature Afro-Cuban music by Maestro Lazaro Galarraga and Friends. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

City Hall Exhibition - The Artist Fund at Festival of Arts presents the exhibition “Red Hot” at City Hall, on display from May 24 through June 28. The public is invited to attend the artist reception on Thursday, June 7 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., and to vote for their favorite piece. The Artist Fund provides disaster-relief grants for Festival artists in need.

Literary Laureate – Local residents Suzanne Redfearn and Lauren Simon have been selected as Literary Laureates for the City of Laguna Beach. The new Laureates will serve jointly as cultural ambassadors for a period of two years, promoting appreciation and awareness of literacy and the literary arts through classes, workshops and events in Laguna Beach. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach.

It’s Time to Renew Your Shopper Parking Permits – Residents who have participated in the shopper permit program should receive their 2018-2020 Shopper Parking Permit application in the mail the week of May 28. 

If you do not receive an application or are interested in the program, please visit the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net. Just click the “Shopper Permits” icon located on the City’s home page. From the website, residents can purchase parking permits online or by mail by downloading a PDF version of the information packet and application. The cost is $80 each for the first two shopper permits and $150 each for the third and fourth permit. Please make checks payable to the City of Laguna Beach.


City Manager’s Updates

Southern California Gas Company Trench Paving – On Thursday, May 24 between 9 p.m. and 12 a.m., the Southern California Gas Company (SCGC) will be paving a trench on Coast Highway near the intersection of 5th Avenue. The southbound lane closest to the median on Coast Highway will be closed between 3rd Avenue and 5th Avenue.  

For questions or concerns, please contact SCGC representative Fred Russell at (949) 910-9906 or Caltrans Permit Field Inspector Shahryar Deravi at (714) 713-5532.

City Council Discussion Regarding Utility Undergrounding Funding Strategies – On Tuesday, May 22, the City Council will receive an update on the funding strategies that the City has been investigating for utility undergrounding and the results of the second opinion survey that measured community support of potential funding strategies.

Sunset Serenades The free concert series continues tonight (Friday, May 18) at the Heisler Park Amphitheater, Cliff Drive, starting at 6:30 p.m. The concert will feature guitar duo The Phil Gough/Alan Deremo Project. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Temporary Stairway Closure at Calliope and Glenneyre Next to the Bluebird SOCWA Lift Station – The City has installed staking and story poles to comply with Design Review Board hearing requirements for the upcoming Permanent Odor Control Installation Project at the Bluebird SOCWA Lift Station. For safety purposes, the City has temporarily closed access to the stairs next to the lift station while the story poles are in place. The story poles will be removed on June 15, 2018. The City apologizes for any inconvenience. Please contact Hannah Johnson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions.


City Manager’s Updates

Arts Audience Spending by Zip Code - The Arts Commission partnered with Americans for the Arts and recently published the findings of Arts and Economic Prosperity Report 5. In addition to the report, the City participated in a survey of audience spending by zip code. The study indicates 65.3 percent of attendees at arts events were from Orange County and 34.7 percent from outside the County. The detailed report can be viewed at http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/civicax/inc/blobfetch.aspx?BlobID=18823 

Art Updates - Want to receive the latest City Arts updates, sign up HERE or our newsletter or https://app.robly.com/subscribe?a=a6aa5eb0fa48629efcf44a04013f8bb1

Poet Laureate Showcase at LCAD Gallery - Kate Buckley, City of Laguna Beach’s inaugural Poet Laureate, has launched a Poet Laureate’s Showcase series of readings, aimed at bringing nationally known poets to Laguna Beach. The next Showcase will be held on Thurs, Sept 14, at 7 p.m. at the Laguna College of Art + Design Gallery, 374 Ocean Avenue. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Agate Street and Thalia Street Beach Access Rehabilitation - Construction is set to begin on Sept 11 for the replacement of the beach stairs at both sites.  The permitted working hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mon through Friday. There are no anticipated traffic impacts, other than occasional equipment and material deliveries. Both access points will remain closed while work is ongoing. Construction is expected to be completed in April 2018. 

Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP) - The City of Laguna Beach has begun preparation of a Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (LHMP), a five-year strategic plan to improve local resilience to hazard events. Development of the plan, the first such plan for Laguna Beach, is being funded through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Laguna Beach LHMP will summarize the natural and human-caused hazards that pose a threat to the community, including drought, flooding, earthquakes, and wildfires. The City would like your input and encourage you to join us for a Community Kick-off meeting on Sept 14 at 6 p.m. and a Hazard Profiles Open House on Oct 18 at 6 p.m., location for both is the Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street.

Fall Quarter 2017 Registration Activities - Registration for fall 2017 recreation activities for all ages is still open.  To register and see the list of programs available please vist: https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index.

Pancake Breakfast Success - This past Labor Day Monday the Laguna Beach Fire Department (LBFD) held the annual Labor Day Breakfast at Heisler Park. The event was a great success with over 650 breakfasts served.  Special thanks to the lifeguards that came and helped, as well as staff from Public Works that provided additional logistical support. Fire fighter/Paramedic Matt Rolfe did a great job coordinating the event for the LBFD.  As always we had great support from our community friends in organizing the event (Sande St. John especially) and for all our residents and friends that joined us for a seaside breakfast. Thanks to all!

New Paramedic - Laguna Beach Firefighter Brent Buccola has recently completed the arduous process of becoming certified as an Orange County Paramedic.  Congratulations to Firefighter Paramedic Brent!


Draft amendments for Downtown Specific Plan focus of Planning Commission Meeting on Sept 20

The City of Laguna Beach and consultant MIG will continue their efforts on the Downtown Specific Plan Update on Wed, Sept 20, during the Planning Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall (505 Forest Avenue).  

City staff will present draft amendments to the Downtown Specific Plan for discussion with the Planning Commission. The focus of the presentation and discussion will be on MIG’s recommended draft amendments to Section III: Issue Statements and Policies, Topic 4 (Re-Use and Intensification) of the existing Downtown Specific Plan document. 

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Photo by Terry Russell (12)

Downtown Specific Plan Update at Planning Commission Meeting on Sept 20

A copy of the Section III, Topic 4 draft amendments, including a strikethrough- underline document for reference are available to review on the project webpage (link included below). The staff report may be viewed on the City’s website on Fri, Sept 15.

Additional meetings will occur in 2017 to review draft amendments to other sections of the plan. This meeting and future meetings play an essential role in obtaining input from the community and direction from the Planning Commission, and to identify the City’s priorities for the future of the downtown area.  

For more information and to send in comments on the Downtown Specific Plan Update contact: Wendy Jung, Senior Planner, at 949-497-0321; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit: http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/


Proposed Park Plaza approved

By BARBARA DIAMOND

City officials agreed on Tuesday to temporarily ban vehicles for six weeks from Lower Park Avenue, a link from South Coast Highway to Laguna Avenue and Glenneyre Street 

The short block will be converted to a pedestrian-only plaza from Oct 21 to Dec1 and maybe even longer, depending on the success of trial period proposed by Transition Laguna, the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce, and the Beautification Council. 

“This has been years in the making,” said spokesman Billy Fried. “The thrust of the idea is to make downtown a more convivial destination for locals, which can only help area merchants. So it’s a win-win.”

“Imagine a busy soccer mom shuttling her kids through town and having to make a stop at the post office or drug store. Maybe the kids want an ice cream and she’d like to take a load off for a moment. 

“They purchase food and settle into a seat at the Plaza. The kids can play and safely walk around. In the process, mom sees someone from the book club who tells her about new club and she make a connection to join it.”

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Rendering courtesy Billy Fried

Rendering of proposed Park Plaza

Fried said the plaza would transform downtown. Not everyone agreed that was a good idea.

“This is a solution looking for a problem,” said Susan Elliott. “I drive home that way. It’s better than turning at Cliff (Drive). And soccer moms won’t sit there – there will be too many tourists.”

Council meeting regular and founder of Laguna Beach Chat, Michael Morris, also found fault with the proposal.  

“I use that turnoff,” said Morris. “Other [left turn] options on Legion and Cleo have no dedicated arrows. I think three-car turning lanes will create a backup and have an adverse effect.” 

Realtor and former planning Commissioner Bob Chapman said blocking vehicles on South Coast Highway from turning onto Lower Park Avenue presented challenges. 

“We should look at the plaza as potentially permanent---or why do it at all?” said Chapman.

Police Chief Laura Farinella supported the concept.

“I consider the proposal a positive,” she said. 

The plan was to furnish the plaza with leased tables and chair and decorated with potted plants, obtained through Beautification Council member Ruben Flores, provided City Manager John Pietig is convinced that the cost is competitive.

Councilman Bob Whalen asked staff to investigate whether purchasing the equipment would be cheaper.

The city had previously budgeted $50,000 for the plaza. Another $25,100 would be required if the council approves extending the required temporary Use Permit to Jan 2. 

Organizers must apply to the Planning Commission for the TUP. Staff indicated that the hearing could be held Oct 4.  


Council approves weapon ban

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Weapons or ordinary items that could be used as weapons will not be allowed at demonstrations, protest rallies or other public assemblies on city beaches or parks. 

The City Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance proposed by Police Chief Laura Farinella to turn away anyone seen with items such soda cans or flags on sticks, as well as the more obvious daggers, metal pipes, or chains. 

“It is important to make our community and our law enforcement personnel safer,” said Mayor Toni Iseman 

Council acted on resident Hillary Cole’s recommendation to add bio-hazardous materials, regardless of the container, to the extensive list of banned items.

However, Cole also said participants in public events should be allowed to carry poles to hold up signs, but her suggestion was not included in the motion to approve the ordinance.

Farinella said flag poles could have easily-removed caps to uncover sharp inserts.

When possible, a warning should be issued before enforcement, unless circumstances dictate immediate action, according to the ordinance.

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Photo by Lynette

What exactly will be regarded as weapons?

“If we see someone heading toward a gathering carrying a weapon, we will tell them to go back to their car,” Farinella said

Violators of the ordinance will be guilty of a misdemeanor.

“This backs up what we want people to know about what we are going to do,” said Mayo Pro Tem Kelly Boyd.

Farinella crafted the urgency ordinance with City Attorney Phillip Kohn, in the wake of the Aug 20 “America First” rally at Main Beach. A similar rally in Virginia ended with one dead, and many others injured when a vehicle was driven into the crowd, Farinella said.  

David Oakley suggested the council should revisit the ordinance to avoid slipping into a police state.

Farinella said people would be able to express their First Amendment rights---just don’t bring weapons.

“Í would rather err on the side of safety when it does not inhibit free speech,” said Councilman Steven Dicterow.

An urgency ordinance takes effect immediately on passage, without the usual requirement for a second reading. 

The complete text of Agenda Bill 13 and the ordinance can be reviewed at www.lagunabeachcity.net. Click on the council agenda for Sept. 12 and again on documents.


City Manager Updates

New Police Officer Graduates from Academy - On Friday, Sept 15, Priscilla Angeloni graduates from the Golden West Police Academy. Priscilla was a jailer with the police department before entering the academy. She has been an outstanding police recruit and is representing Laguna Beach with honor as she has been selected as class president. As class president she will be the keynote speaker for graduation ceremony of Academy Class #155. Welcome Officer Angeloni!

Downtown Specific Plan Update – Review Draft Amendments (Section III, Topic 4) - The City of Laguna Beach and consultant MIG will continue their efforts on the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) Update on Wed, Sept 20, during the Planning Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. 

The Planning Commission will review and discuss MIG’s recommended draft amendments to Section III: Issue Statements and Policies, Topic 4 (Re-Use and Intensification) of the existing DSP document. A copy of the draft amendments are available to view on the City’s website: www.lagunabeachcity.net

For more information on the Downtown Specific Plan Update project please contact: Wendy Jung, Senior Planner, at (949) 497-0321; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Commission OKs staff TKO on downtown development

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Planning Commission on Wednesday agreed to jettison recommendations by consultant MIG on the topic of re-use and Intensification in the revisions to the Downtown Specific Plan.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to accept staff’s agreement with recommendations by an ad hoc committee to scrap policies described as obsolete due to the current economic climate and changes in commercial uses, and shunt still-relevant policies to other areas of the document.

“Speaking for the ad hoc committee, I agree with the staff report,” said former Planning Commissioner Norm Grossman.

Senior Planner Wendy Yung’s report to the commission stated that staff believes the committee’s comments and suggestions were reasonable. She identified the committee as composed of a group of interested residents that want to build consensus on suggested changes to the Downtown Specific Plan. 

Staff and consultant’s recommendations differ significantly

Asked by Commissioner Roger McErlane how the staff recommendations could differ so much from the consultant’s, Community Development Director Greg replied that staff works with the consultant, but adds its own perspective.

Written comments by the Ad Hoc Committee included removal of the topic, originally developed to address economic pressures 10 or even 20 years ago, many of them now irrelevant. 

The committee contended that still relevant policies can appropriately be moved to other topics, such as MIG’s position on shared second story office uses as justification for parking relief, which the committee rejected as covered in another section of the plan and which should be discussed there. 

An MIG recommendation to change the title of the topic from “Re-use and Intensification” to “Small–Scale Development” was also squelched, although Grossman agreed with the elimination of the word, intensification.

“It gets an adverse reaction,” said Grossman.

Members of the ad hoc committee also include former Planning Commissioners Becky Jones, Barbara Metzger and Realtor Bob Chapman; former Mayor Ann Christoph; Village Laguna Board member Kate Clark; and business owners Kavita Reddy, David Rubel and Kent Russell.

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