Updates from the Laguna Beach City Manager’s office

Released: September 16, 2010

CMC Designation for Lisette ChelDeputy City Clerk Lisette Chel has just received recognition as a Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC) by the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.  She has completed the four-week long training classes plus other seminars as well as her undergraduate college program.

Skateboard Regulations Being ConsideredThe Parking, Traffic, and Circulation Committee will meet next Thursday, Sept 23, at 6 p.m. to consider a final report from the Skateboarding Issues Subcommittee. Included in the report are proposed ordinance provisions restricting the use and speed of skateboards within the City.  In anticipation of a large number of attendees, the meeting will be held at the Top of the World Elementary School multi-purpose room.

Broadway Gateway Beautification Grant – The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) staff has recommended that a $480,000 grant be awarded to the City for parkway improvements on Broadway between Forest Avenue and the bus depot.  Some of the project features include new landscaping, decorative sidewalks, creek railing, street trees, pedestrian lighting, an informational kiosk, decorative benches and public art. The OCTA Board will act upon the staff recommendations on September 27.

Prescription Drug Take-Back Day – On Saturday Sept 25, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Police Department will participate in the nationwide “Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.”  The no-questions-asked event will be staged in the School District parking lot across from Laguna Beach High School at Park Avenue and Short Street.  We are aggressively reaching out to individuals to encourage them to rid their households of unused prescription drugs that pose a safety hazard and can contribute to prescription drug abuse.  The public is encouraged to collect all of their old prescription medication and drop it off at the site for later destruction.

Heisler Park Sculptures – In preparation for the renovations at Heisler Park a number of sculptures will need to be temporarily removed during construction. The artists will be removing and storing their works and they will be reinstalled when the park is complete. The pieces being temporarily removed are “In Central Park” by Jerry Rothman, “Towards the Within” by Gerard Stripling and “Support” by Louis Longi.

DRB/City Attorney Workshop – The City Attorney conducted a workshop with the Design Review Board on Sept 16.  This type of workshop is typically done on an annual basis to discuss various issues of interest or concern.  The discussion topics included voting practices and meeting protocol, a review of proposed amendments to the DRB Bylaws, discussion about appropriate conditions of approval and solar energy systems.

925 Oriole – At its upcoming hearing on Sept 23, the Design Review Board will conduct a second hearing on the proposed construction of a replacement home on this very prominent site, which previously contained the ‘mausoleum’ house, which was destroyed in the BBC landslide.  A total of six new homes are slated for review that evening.

Storm Drain Repair – In August, the City began construction on a $900,000 storm drain repair project to replace or line deteriorated storm drains at 43 locations throughout the City. The work is being scheduled to keep one step ahead of the Citywide street slurry seal project.  The work is currently being done on Alta Laguna Boulevard, Chateau Way and Chillon Way. That work will continue through next week. The next areas of work will be on Palm Drive, Wendt Terrace, and Anita Street.

Alley Slurry Seal – The alleys in North Laguna were resurfaced three months ago. Because of some minor defects in the pavement finish, the contractor has agreed to apply a seal coat to the pavement surfaces. Not all of the alleys have defects, although they will all be seal coated to provide a uniform finish throughout. The work was mostly done this week, but the contractor is one day behind schedule. No work will be done Friday because that is trash day in the area. The work will be completed Monday.

Street Resurfacing – The current street paving project is about 50% complete.  The application of the slurry seal has gone quicker than anticipated and needs to be suspended for a few weeks to allow other components of the project to catch up. The preparatory work such as patching, concrete repair, and crack sealing, as well as restriping, will continue. Slurry seal application is scheduled to resume in mid-October.

Updates from the Laguna Beach City Manager’s office

Released: September 10, 2010

Alley Slurry Seal – The alleys in North Laguna were resurfaced three months ago. Because of some minor defects in the pavement finish, the contractor has agreed to apply a seal coat to the pavement surfaces. Not all of the alleys have defects, although they will all be seal coated to provide a uniform finish throughout. The work will be done next [this] week.

Hospital Approvals – Mission Hospital received unanimous Design Review Board approval for a cooling tower and new emergency generator.  There was no apparent opposition to the project.

Storm Drain Repair – In August, the City began construction on a $900,000 storm drain repair project to replace or line deteriorated storm drains at 43 locations throughout the City. The work is being scheduled to keep one step ahead of the citywide street slurry seal project.  The work is currently being done on Alta Laguna Boulevard, Chateau Way and Chillon Way.  That work will continue through next week. The next areas of work will be on Palm Drive, Wendt Terrace, and Anita Street.

Updates from the Laguna Beach City Manager’s office

Released: September 2, 2010

Design Guidelines – “A Guide to Residential Development” – The Planning Commission reviewed the draft Guidelines on June 2 and directed staff to route certain chapters of the document back to the Heritage and Environmental Committees, as well as the Arts Commission.  All suggested changes have been incorporated and staff has completed the final sentence structure edits.  The current draft document is scheduled for final Planning Commission review on Sept 8.

South Coast Water District Tunnel Stabilization & Sewer Pipeline Replacement Project – The SCWD has circulated the draft EIR for this upcoming project.  The two-mile long tunnel, located between Three Arch Bay and Aliso Creek Beach, was constructed in 1954, is mostly unlined and unsupported.  Councilmembers may recall that in 2007, the City approved a CDP to enlarge and fortify a relatively short segment of the tunnel. Although repairs have been made to sections of the tunnel over the years, the tunnel is deteriorating and in need of more comprehensive repairs.

Mission Hospital – The hospital is proposing to replace an existing cooling tower and emergency generator, and to construct an 18’ high sound wall to mitigate noise impacts for adjacent residential properties.  The project is scheduled for design review on Sept 9.  The hospital representatives have held neighborhood meetings with residents on Seventh Avenue to discuss the project and address questions or concerns.

Annual Tree Trimming – The 1,100 City maintained trees are trimmed on various schedules depending upon tree type and location.  All City Palm trees are trimmed each year. Other City trees are trimmed either yearly or every other year. This year’s trimming program will begin next week and will include all City Palm trees and City trees mostly in the North Laguna area.  The program will last through the end of October.

Resurfacing Project – This year’s $1.6 million resurfacing project is 25% completed. The work will continue through the end of October. For a minor contract price adjustment of $10,000 the contractor will be able to include slurry seal of three City parking lots in the areas where the resurfacing is being done. The parking lots included are the lot next to Fire Station 4, Alta Laguna Park, and Lang Park.

Updates from the Laguna Beach City Manager’s office

Released: August 26, 2010

Brooks Street The 49th annual Brooks Street Surf Contest was held last weekend with ideal conditions. The contest, which is open to Laguna Beach residents only, drew approximately 100 contestants participating in twelve events according to age group. The contest is said to be the oldest surfing contest in the world and is truly a community event.

September Sunset Serenades – Every Friday evening in September the Arts Commission will be presenting Sunset Serenades. The concerts are held at 5:30 p.m. at the Picnic Beach entrance in Heisler Park. The four performances include: 9/3 Global Beat Foundation (World Beat); 9/10 Fugowies (Pop/Harmony); 9/17 Arte Hernandez (Latin Jazz); and 9/24 Nancy Sanchez (Jazz). This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach.

Storm Drain Repair Project – Construction will begin next week on the repair and replacement of 40 metal storm drain pipes at various locations throughout the City.  Pipes will either be lined with an inner layer of polyester resin felt, or completely replaced with new concrete pipes.  Work will begin in areas where the street resurfacing is being done in order to complete any excavation work before the resurfacing. Construction will be completed in November.

Story Poles Behind City Hall – A concept design for slope stabilization and a debris wall behind City Hall was presented to the City Council in July.  The preliminary design will be presented to the Planning Commission for Design Review in October.   Story poles for the wall will be installed next week.

Reef Inn Management Change – The Reef Inn on Coast Highway will be changing management and will be operating under the Travelodge flag beginning Sept 1.   Over the next few weeks, they will be requesting temporary and permanent sign changes.

Laguna Beach City Manager Ken Frank prepares a memo for the City Council and staff, usually every Friday. This week, the memo was released on Wednesday, Aug 19.

Invasive Plants – We are starting to enforce the Municipal Code regarding invasive plants on private property.  Our local landscape architect has donated time to identify key areas, which need to be eradicated in Laguna Canyon and Bluebird Canyon.  The Fire Department Weed Abatement Coordinator will be contacting these property owners to work with them on eradicating the plants.  If the cost is too great, we will allow eradication over several years.

Hedge Height Process – The City staff has prepared an agenda bill for the Planning Commission meeting on September 22 to discuss ways in which the hedge height process might be modified.  This issue should be to the Council before the end of the calendar year.

Traffic Light at Emerald Bay – The Emerald Bay Association has recirculated the Mitigated Negative Declaration for a Caltrans permit to put a stoplight at the main entrance to Emerald Bay.  The City staff has reviewed the document and believes the project is similar to the Association’s proposal more than a year ago.   At that time, several concerned members of the Emerald Bay community approached the City Council to express their concerns with the installation of a stop light and the other provisions such as widening Coast Highway slightly, moving the entrance gate, etc.  The full Mitigated Negative Declaration is available on a disc in the City Council office. At this point, the City staff is taking no action on the proposed environmental documentation.

Street Resurfacing – Preliminary resurfacing work consisting of asphalt patching, crack sealing and curb repair has been taking place over the last two weeks on streets in the Top of the World neighborhood and the area between Park Avenue and Thalia Street.  Beginning next week, streets in these two areas will be resurfaced with slurry seal.  Three weeks of resurfacing in these two areas will be followed by two weeks of resurfacing in the area between Downtown and Boat Canyon and three weeks of resurfacing in South Laguna.

Food Waste Diversion Program – The Montage has received a second state-of-the-art food dehydrator as part of a regional program designed to divert food from the landfill and reduce the City’s carbon footprint.  The City, in partnership with Mission Viejo, Irvine and the unincorporated areas of Ladera Ranch and Las Flores, received a $400,000 grant from the County of Orange OC Waste & Recycling to provide for on-site food waste diversion with the assistance of Waste Management.  The Food-dehydration machine reduces food waste by 93 percent by drying the food waste at 180 degrees for about 18 hours.  The output resembles coffee grounds and is used as fertilizer by the Montage.

Creating Parking Places in South Laguna – On Aug 26, the DRB will be considering a Public Works plan to add paving along streets in the Coast Royale neighborhood.  Nine additional spaces would be created if approved by the Board.

925 Oriole – This project is to replace the extremely large, highly visible building at this address, which was destroyed during the Bluebird landslide.  The property owner is entitled to rebuild the property as it was before.  The applicant come in with a 5,800 square foot home and the Board will need to determine whether the proposed residence is more in keeping with the character of the neighborhood than the prior residence which was destroyed by a disaster.

City Manager’s updates cover many topics of interest

Laguna Beach City Manager Ken Frank prepares a memo for the City Council and staff, usually every Friday. The memo from Aug 13 is reprinted here without comment as it was received in our Friday afternoon email.

Combination Commercial Recycling Bins – Recycling bins are available for commercial customers at no additional cost to encourage recycling. Commercial customers pay for the quantity of solid waste generated, so they can save money by recycling. Many of the commercial operations in town have such limited space that they do not have room for a separate recycling bin. The City’s solid waste contractor, Waste Management, has rolled out a combination bin that has separate compartments for regular waste and recyclables, and can fit into the space occupied by the standard trash bin. The customer helps the environment and saves about 10% by using the combination bin.

Parking at Act V Lot – Starting Sept 1, parking at the Act V lot will be available to students from the Laguna College of Art and Design.  The College has expanded to four campus facilities at various points on Laguna Canyon Road and will be using Act V as additional parking.  It is anticipated that no more than 50 student vehicles will use Act V daily.   The students will park on the aggregate area of the Act V lot and a small shuttle van will move the students among the campus locations.  All student vehicles will be identified with a sticker.

Mission Hospital – On Sept 9, the hospital is scheduled for Design Review to consider plans for a replacement of the existing cooling tower and emergency generator and to construct the new 18-foot tall sound wall.

Vista Del Sol – The property at 150 Vista Del Sol is accessed through the inland side of Three Arch Bay.  On Sept 9, the Design Review Board will review a concept for driveway improvements and retaining walls.  A new home proposed at the end of the driveway will also be reviewed by the DRB.

Police Officers Leaving – Corporal Ted Falencki is retiring from the City’s Police Department.  Officer Mike Donohue has accepted a position with the State and his primary responsibility will be flying an airplane.  This is something he wants to do.  We will be recruiting to fill these two vacancies.

Excellence in Communications – The City has received an award from the California Association of Public Information Officials.  The City received third place in the Statewide competition for new websites.

Laguna Terrace Park files suit to halt the Coastal Commissions appeal of City decision

Lawyers for Laguna Terrace Park LLC filed an action seeking injunctive relief against the California Coastal Commission’s (CCC) action to appeal the City’s decision to allow the existing mobile home park’s 157 spaces to be changed into individual ownership, i.e., single family lots.

The Council made that determination last month and specified that the action ought not be appealable to or by the CCC. Under the city’s Local Coastal Program (LCP), land use elements are first to be determined by the city. Case law in the state upholds that action.

The CCC hangs its hat on a “stream bed” that it alleges to be within 100 feet of the park’s boundary and hence, subject to appeal.

The lawsuit alleges that the stream is not within the 100 feet and notes that the term “stream” requires that it be “…mapped by the USGS…or identified in a local coastal program.” Thus, the suit alleges, there is no “stream”.

Download a conformed copy of the complaint as a  PDF:

City Manager’s updates cover many topics of interest

Laguna Beach City Manager Ken Frank prepares a memo for the City Council and staff, usually every Friday. This past Friday, July 30, the memo contains enough update topics that almost anyone in Laguna could find something of interest.

The memo is reprinted here without comment as it was received in our Friday afternoon email.

Parking Meter RevenueFor the fiscal year 2009-10 which just concluded on June 30, receipts from parking meters and parking lots were 7% above the same period in the previous year. Total revenues were about $3.4 million. The month of June was 12% above June the previous year despite gloomy weather most of the time.

Parking Ticket Revenue – On the other hand, revenue from parking tickets is down substantially because we are issuing warnings instead of tickets in some cases and we are not issuing multiple tickets for one vehicle.  The following chart shows the decline:

Gross Parking

Fiscal Year Tickets Issued Fine Revenue

FY 07-08 53,869 $  1,907,082

FY 08-09 48,278 $  1,812,780

FY 09-10 38,754 $  1,498,253

Cost of Parking Tickets – At present, most of the parking citations are $40.  Of that amount, the City receives about $30 and the other $10 goes to the County and State.  The Legislature is now proposing an additional $3 State fee on each ticket.  Unless the City raises the parking citations to cover that $3, we will lose about $80,000 per year in revenue.  This is just one of the many proposals being floated to help balance the State balance.

Lost Property Taxes – The City Council has approved property tax credits for 30 historic buildings in the community.  Each year, these designations mean a loss of approximately $250,000 in property taxes to public agencies.  Laguna’s share of the loss is about $56,000 each year.  One property owner saves more than $120,000 per year and several save $20,000.

Automated External Defibrillator – On July 18, Laguna Beach Police and Fire personnel were dispatched to a home in the 200 block of Wave Street for a report of a 56-year-old man who had fallen.  An officer arriving initially determined that the man was not breathing and requested a second officer bring the Automated External Defibrillator.  After initially attempting to resuscitate the man with breaths, the defibrillator was applied and indicated a shock was required.  The officers administered two pulses from the equipment, which resuscitated the man.  Arriving paramedics credit the quick application of the Defibrillator with saving the man’s life.  He was transported to Mission Hospital Mission Viejo where he is recovering from a potentially fatal heart attack.  This was the first successful use of an Automated External Defibrillator device by Police personnel.

Appeal of Coast Inn Approval – Two members of the California Coastal Commission, along with Audrey Prosser, have appealed the City Council’s decision approving the remodel of the Coast Inn.  At the August 13 meeting of the Commission, there will be a discussion as to whether or not there is sufficient justification for an appeal.  If the Commission so determines, there would be an appeal hearing at a later date.

Community Garden – This week, the Planning Commission approved an expansion of the community garden in South Laguna.

Salary Information on Website – There has been a flurry of activity in Sacramento and around the State amid revelations of the pay scandal in Bell.  Salary information for the City of Laguna Beach is already on the City’s website.  First, the adopted budget includes salary information for all of the positions, although you would have to do some division if there is more than one job under the same title.  Secondly, when the website was redone some months ago, we placed position descriptions and salaries on the website.  However, a couple of positions were not listed.  Therefore, this week we have provided another avenue on the website for anyone to look at the salary resolution and find the salary range or actual salary for Councilmembers, City Manager and every other position in the City.

No Appeal of New Sewer Lift Station – The City approved the Coastal Development Permit for the underground replacement of the Main Beach sewer pump station.  This new pump station is needed before the Marine Safety Headquarters can be reconstructed.  The Coastal Commission did not appeal that approval so we will complete the final design of the pump station and go to bid.

Street Resurfacing – Construction will begin Monday to resurface over 120 streets in the following neighborhoods: (1) Top of the World, (2) between Broadway and Boat Canyon, (3) between Park Ave and Thalia St, and (4) South Laguna.   Preliminary work will consist of replacing broken curbs and gutters and sealing or reconstructing badly cracked pavement.  Streets adjacent to the High School will be paved prior to Labor Day.  Other areas will be resurfaced in September and October.

Skateboard Regulations Being Considered – The Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee met on July 22 to consider possible restrictions on skateboarding within the City.  The meeting was held at Thurston Middle School in anticipation of a large number of attendees. Approximately 160 to 170 people attended the meeting.  Committee members heard comments from 35 speakers. The Committee had formed a subcommittee to study the issue. The subcommittee is expected to have final recommendations for the full Committee to consider on September 23.

Appeals to and by Coastal Commission put cloud over future plans for Coast Inn

The City confirmed Thursday that it had received notice from the California Costal Commission (CCC) that an appeal is now on record of the City Council’s July 9, 2010 unanimous approval of the remodel for the Coast Inn.

Laguna resident and real estate broker Audrey Prosser said in an interview Thursday that she had filed and appeal with the CCC and that she had learned that the CCC itself had filed a complaint.

City Manager Ken Frank acknowledged that and said the CCC had not sent its staff report to the city that supports the appeal. “We can’t speak to the appeal until we see if it’s a substantive issue.”

Frank’s office emailed what had been received by the Community Development Dept on Wednesday:


a. Appeal No. A-5-LGB-10-166 Appeal of Commissioners Shallenberger and Wan and Audrey Prosser of the decision of the City of Laguna Beach (CDP 10-05) granting a permit for extensive remodel of the historic Coast Inn including: an increase in room size and reduction in the number of rooms from 24 to 10; elimination of office space, restaurant, and 2 bars; and addition of 13-space subterranean parking garage, wine bar, elevator, and rooftop pool at 1401 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, Orange County.(JDA-LB)

Prosser, a gay activist, had also begun an appeal of the City’s Planning Commission’s unanimous approval that was ultimately brought to an agenda bill by Councilwoman Verna Rollinger on July 9. Testimony at that meeting included concerns by members of the gay community who angusihed over what they saw as a loss of a gay icon. The Coast Inn’s Boom Boom Room was a well known gay bar from at least the late 1970s.

Prosser stated emphatically Thursday, “This is not a vendetta by the gay community. You don’t have to be gay to find a reason to appeal this project. There are many aggregious things…”

The project’s Laguna-based architect Morris Skenderian called the appeal “discouraging” in a phone interview Thursday indicating that he believed the Council’s 5-0 approval on July 9 to have been a compromise that was acceptable to all.

He said the CCC appeal was based on the issue of affordable visitor-serving lodging. “Toni [Iseman] alluded to that [on July 9]. It is part of the Coastal Act but it has never been part of the Laguna Beach [Local Coastal Plan] and was never brought up by city staff during the process,” said Skenderian. He said it has been an issue with Dana Point development in the recent past.

When asked about the affect the CCC appeal might have for the future of the project, the architect said, “It now depends on our client’s [Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, property owner] willingness to go through the process. He can either hire attorneys or abandon the project.”

Skenderian said that if the CCC position were to stand, the mitigation could cost as much as $600,000.

“I don’t know what the client will do. If he abandons the project, no one wins. The hotel would be closed. The city would lose $100,000 annually in bed tax alone if that happens.”

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