Appointments to the City’s Design Review Board

The City Council is accepting applications for the Board of Adjustment/ Design Review Board. Appointments will be made to fill three terms that will extend through January 31, 2013. Interviews will be held on October 19, 2010, at 6 p.m. by the City Council at their regular meeting in the Council Chambers.

Laguna Beach residents who are interested in applying should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or on-line at the City’s web site, www.lagunabeachcity.net and file it by Tuesday, October 12, 2010, at 5 p.m. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at 497-0705.

Councilmembers request that applicants attend at least two current meetings of the Board prior to the interviews.

The Board of Adjustment is a five-member body appointed by the City Council for the purpose of considering requests for variances from the zoning code. The members also sit as the City’s Design Review Board. Board members serve a two-year term and are compensated in the amount of $230.00 per month. The Board meets bi-monthly.

A substantial time commitment of approximately 10 hours per week is necessary to be a Board member. In addition to the bi-monthly meetings, Board members are expected to visit the sites and review the plans of projects prior to the meeting. The Board acts on an average of 15 items per meeting. It is desirable to have or be able to acquire certain skills or aptitudes, such as the ability to understand and conceptualize architectural drawings and to visualize building mass and volumes based on-site staking plans.

Experience in the building trades, architecture, historic preservation, landscaping, planning and/or real estate would be an asset.


Ken Frank’s Top Ten Countdown

In his own words…

Top Ten City Accomplishments

Accomplishment #7

Enhancing Public Safety

 

In December, I will be retiring as City Manager of Laguna Beach.  Over the 31 years of my tenure, the City has progressed in numerous areas.  For the next ten weeks, I would like to share my perceptions of the City’s most significant accomplishments during the past three decades.  As in most “top ten” lists, we will start at the least important and gradually escalate to Number One – the most influential change in our community.

Accomplishment Number Seven has been a priority for all City Councils:  Enhancing Public Safety.

Many efforts have been undertaken toward that end.

Employing goats to create a firebreak around the perimeter of Laguna Beach to significantly lessen the possibility of a wildland fire blowing into the City

Creating an interior canyon fuelbreak in Arch Beach Heights to prevent the spread of a fire starting on the undeveloped hillside

Creating in-house paramedic units, two of which are on duty in the City at all times rather than contract with the County for units located outside Laguna Beach

Improving the 911 Dispatch Center’s staffing levels and equipment

Adding five police officers on patrol

Extending lifeguards into the shoulder seasons

Conducting business and residential inspections by Fire units

Using senior volunteers in the Police Department to supplement the work of sworn officers

Constructing a fire road between Arch Beach Heights and Top of the World so the fire engine at Station 3 can travel quickly from Top of the World to Arch Beach Heights

Prohibiting new wood roofs to reduce fire hazards

Realigning and widening Laguna Canyon Road to eliminate serious traffic accidents

Installing traffic signals at key locations (e.g., Festival of Arts) to promote pedestrian safety

Retaining South Coast Medical Center as an acute care hospital.

Constructing new sidewalks for pedestrian safety.

Updates from the Laguna Beach City Manager’s office

Released: Oct 1, 2010

Skateboarding – The Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee is recommending a program of regulations for skateboarders to enhance safety for those individuals and to mitigate the impact of skateboards on the community.  The PTC Committee has referred the action to the City staff for final comments.  The matter will be on a Council agenda either in Nov or Dec.

Application for Funding for Homeless Assistance – The City applied through Orange County for funding to help defer the cost of the temporary homeless shelter on Laguna Canyon Road.  We have been notified that the City’s application was not approved.  It appears that the Federal and County guidelines were directed more at programs, which provided longer term housing for people who are presently homeless.  In fact, the Federal grant guidelines as administered by the County gave applicants a 1.5 preference for permanent housing to get people off the homeless rolls as compared to programs such as Laguna’s, which are providing temporary shelter.

New Dispatcher – Next Monday [10/4], Beth Fuller will begin working as a Public Safety Dispatcher.  Beth is a native Californian and attended Upland High School.  She graduated from Cal State San Bernardino in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.  Beth is currently working on a Master’s degree in Psychology.  Beth worked for the La Verne Police Department as both a jailer and dispatcher.

Heisler Park Renovation – The final phase of renovations to Heisler Park is scheduled to begin on Oct 11. The $2.4 million renovation project involves three areas of the park: the Diver’s Cove stairway at the northern end of the park, the Monument Point area surrounding the lawn bowling courts in the central portion of the park, and the North Main Beach area from the Gazebo southerly to Main Beach. The Diver’s Cove and the North Main Beach areas should be completed before the end of 2010. The Monument Point area should be completed by May 2011. The Rockpile Beach and Picnic Beach areas that were renovated in 2008 will remain open to the public during project.

More Grant Money – The Orange County Transportation Authority Board of Directors has approved a grant in the amount of $488,000 for the Broadway Gateway beautification. This will mean an entirely new landscaping and sidewalk palette from the bus depot to Forest Avenue. The landscaping and paving will beautify an area that is seen and used by many, many people each year, but which has been under maintained for decades.

Red Palm Weevil – A beetle native to Southeast Asia that is a serious pest of palm trees has been found infesting Canary Island date palm trees in northern Laguna Beach near the intersection of Chiquita Street and Hillcrest Drive. The red palm weevil, Rhynchophorus Ferrugineus, is considered one of the most destructive pests of palm trees worldwide and its discovery during tree removals in residential plantings in Laguna Beach represents the first time this insect has been found in the United States. The discovery of the red palm weevil represents a serious threat to most common types of landscape palms as well as California’s date palm industry.  State detection crews will begin deploying traps in the City of Laguna Beach within 400 meters of the infested properties this week.


Ken Frank’s Top Ten Countdown

In his own words…

Top Ten City Accomplishments

Accomplishment #8

Providing Additional Parking

In December, I will be retiring as City Manager of Laguna Beach.  Over the 31 years of my tenure, the City has progressed in numerous areas.  [Over] ten weeks, I would like to share my perceptions of the City’s most significant accomplishments during the past three decades.  As in most “top ten” lists, we will start at the least important and gradually escalate to Number One – the most influential change in our community.

 

Number Eight on the top ten list is the Provision Of Additional Parking.  While parking remains a challenge during the summer months and on warm weekends, parking spots are generally available in the downtown and near the beaches most of the year.

The following public parking has been added in the last 30 years:

Glenneyre Garage – 110 new spaces

Former Edison substation across from the Festival  of Arts – 75 spaces

Forest/Laguna lot across from the Festival – 116 spaces

Community Center – 74 spaces on nights and weekends

Hagen Place on Mermaid – 25 spaces

Alice Court on Glenneyre – 24 spaces

Coast Highway/Sea Cliff – 10 spaces

In addition, more than 50 additional parking stalls have been created by making the 300 block of Ocean and the 100 block of Cliff one way traffic.

The City has secured 264 parking slots by purchasing the “Act V” lot on Laguna Canyon Road from The Irvine Company.  That acquisition precluded private commercial development on that site and allowed for a permanent summer parking operation.

Furthermore, the City has assured the availability of parking spaces in the downtown by purchasing lots that had previously been leased from private property owners:

Ocean Avenue lot #1 - 18 spaces

Ocean Avenue lot #2 - 24 spaces

Broadway lot – 26 spaces

Mayor’s Update - October 2010

Ken Frank, City Manager, to retire December 10. Our City Manager is retiring December 10. His last Council meeting is December 7.  We are fortunate to have had him for over 30 years. He has done a terrific job to ensure that our city remained in good fiscal health all these years. The City Council is in the process of interviewing City Manager candidates; we expect to make our decision in early November for a new City Manager.

Best managed City in Orange County.  The staff and City Council are committed to fiscal prudence.  Some of our accomplishments over the last year:

We got ahead of the recession and created a recession reserve fund -- and put aside nearly $6 million of “rainy day” money to carry us for several years, in case revenues were to fall because of the worsening economy.  There was a $2 million budget shortfall last year, but we cut costs -- and used some of the savings we had put aside -- to ensure that critical public safety staff would not have to be laid off and so that our city services standards would be maintained.

We realized an upgrade in the City’s bond rating from Standard and Poor’s from AA+ to AAA.

We reduced debt – and, therefore, debt expense (interest).

We reduced operating expenses by not replacing certain job positions, by freezing salaries – and through the use of technology…(Two examples:  You can now purchase your parking permits or pay for parking tickets online AND builders, architects and homeowners may look up parcel information online without having to talk to staff.)

We sunsetted the Bluebird Landslide voter-approved ½ cent sales tax that two years early, as we had received more from FEMA and the State than had been anticipated.

City budget – personnel and retirement expense.   Lately, we’ve been asked what our personnel and retirement expenses are.  They are 58% of our annual budget.

Skateboarding issue.  The Parking/Traffic/Circulation (PTC) Committee has finalized its recommendations regarding this issue and has asked some of our City departments to take a final look at their proposal. Staff will be preparing an agenda bill for the Council meeting Nov. 16 -- or for a meeting in December.  The Committee is not recommending a ban on skateboarding, but rather is proposing regulations to enhance safety.

Open for Business Meetings.  The next round of “Open for Business” meetings will be held on the following three Thursdays: Nov. 4, Feb 3 and April 7, at the Community-Senior Center, beginning at 6:30 PM.  If you know someone who would like to open a business in Laguna who needs some guidance or encouragement, please invite them to attend. Or if you are an existing business with ideas or questions, the door is open to you, too!

Crime is down in Laguna Beach.  Contrary to recent e-mails that have been distributed to Laguna Beach residents and business owners, our crime level is down.  The 2009 year-end statistics show reportable crime down from 2008 (4.3%) -- and the statistics for the first 7 months of 2010 indicate crimes are down substantially, compared to last year.

Laguna Beach property taxes.   Contrary to a couple of e-mails that have been distributed recently, the City of Laguna Beach does not – and cannot legally – raise property taxes.  The County assessor’s office assesses home values and raises or lowers property taxes.   There is one exception:  an approved initiative by the voters of the City, which last occurred in our town 19 years ago for a general revenue bond.   Also, contrary to these e-mails, the property tax increase in Laguna Beach this year was not the highest in Orange County – the increase in assessed value was 1.89% (which, again, was the increase determined by the County).

Sewer & trash service.  Instead of paying for our sewer bill and trash bill each month, we all pay it annually.  It is on our tax bill, but it is not a tax.  It is a separate line item. This year, the County dump increased their fees to the cities, and the costs for sewer service increased, so the City Council voted to consider increasing the annual sewer and trash bill.   The average trash and sewer bill per household, under this proposal, would increase from $524 to $581 – over a 3-year time period (at an approximate increase rate of 3.5% per year) – for a total of $57 over three years.  These would all be pass-through costs with no profit to the city.

Arch Beach Heights View Park. This new park is under construction and we are looking to complete – and dedicate it – by the end of October.

Water shortage in Laguna Beach. Do you know that ALL of our water is imported and that we get almost all of it from Colorado?  Because of droughts, California has a severe water shortage right now!  Regulations have been instituted in Laguna Beach that we are not supposed to water our yards between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., otherwise we face a citation.  Also, please, make sure none of your irrigation water is running off your property!

It is my pleasure to serve the residents and businesses of Laguna Beach – and to serve with such a balanced City Council.

Thank all of you for what you contribute to our very special community.

Elizabeth Pearson, Mayor

Updates from the Laguna Beach City Manager’s office

Released: September 24, 2010

Village Entrance Draft EIR – The revised Village Entrance Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is available on the City’s Website at the following link: http://laguna-web.civicasoft.com/cityhall/cd/planning/veir.asp.  The 60-day public comment period will begin on Friday Sept 24 and will end on Wednesday, Nov 24.  The Planning Commission will be conducting a public hearing on the DEIR on Wednesday, Nov 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Artist Open Studios – On Saturday, Oct 2, the first of six monthly Artist Open Studios will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  This self-guided tour is free and is an incredible opportunity to peer into the creative spaces of 24 of Laguna’s painters, sculptors, photographers, ceramicists, printmakers, glass, fiber and jewelry artists and buy local art right from the source.  A map and listing of participating artists is available at www.lagunabeachcity.net.  This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach.

Postcards from Laguna – On Monday, Sept 27, the Arts Commission [reviewed] the 19 entries to the temporary mural program.  The Commission will recommend four designs for installation at the Broadway Bus Depot to the City Council.

New Police Officers – In September, three new Laguna Beach Police Officers graduated from the Golden West College Criminal Justice Training Center’s Basic Recruit Academy.  Chief Workman gave the Keynote Address to the 28 member graduating class as well as hundreds of family members and colleagues from police departments throughout the County.  Jonathon Boyce grew up locally where he attended El Toro High School.  He has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Massachusetts in Sociology with an emphasis in Criminal Justice.  Officer Boyce has worked at the Police Department two summers as a Beach Patrol Officer and more recently as a booking officer.  James Michaud served in the Marine Corps as a Military Policeman.  After his return from Iraq, James was fortunate to be selected to receive Golden West College’s Returning Combat Veterans Scholarship in order to attend the Police Academy.  Abe Ocampo was raised in Glendale and is fluent in Spanish.   Abe received the class’s Director’s Award for Outstanding Character and graduated third overall in his class.  He is married with two children.

Public Art Documentary Premiere – On Thursday, Oct 7, the public art documentary “Eye View – the Laguna Beach Public Art Collection” will be screened at 5 p.m. at [seven-degrees], 891 Laguna Canyon Rd prior to First Thursday’s Art Walk.  The documentary features artists Marlo Bartels, Jorg Dubin, Larry Gill, Andrew Myers, Scott and Naomi Schoenherr who have created public art for the City’s collection. The documentary was produced by Aperture Films and funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. The documentary can be viewed on the City’s website in early October.  Mayor Pearson will be introducing the feature.

925 Oriole – Last night the Design Review Board unanimously approved a replacement house for the structure at 925 Oriole that was destroyed in the Bluebird landslide.


PTC Committee met at TOW School last night

PTC Photo

Staff photo by Chris Kreymann

Those opposed to sanctions against skateboarding on certain streets with long or steep downhill grades outnumbered supporters of the proposals in a meeting last night at Top of the World School. The Parking, Transportation & Circulation Committee will next refer to the City Council any proposed restrictions, which will then be considered for action.

Ken Frank’s Top Ten Countdown

In his own words…

Top Ten City Accomplishments

Accomplishment #10

Reducing Litigation

 

In December, I will be retiring as City Manager of Laguna Beach.  Over the 31 years of my tenure, the City has progressed in numerous areas.  For the next ten weeks, I would like to share my perceptions of the City’s most significant accomplishments during the past three decades.  As in most “top ten” lists, we will start at the least important and gradually escalate to Number One – the most influential change in our community.

 

Number Ten on the listing of City accomplishments over the last 30 years is the Enactment of Senate Bill 23 in 1987.  Sponsored by our State Senator Marian Bergeson, SB 23 overturned a series of pernicious court decisions, which created unsustainable financial exposure for cities and counties in California.

These court decisions culminated with the “Taylor case” involving a swimmer who seriously injured himself diving head first into the surf in Newport Beach. That accident led to a $6 million award against Newport Beach, even though no city employee, facility or construction was involved in the accident.  Instead, the court determined that the simple provision of lifeguards by Newport Beach subjected the city to potential liability for anyone who was injured in the surf.

Unless the Taylor decision was overturned, cities and counties would have confronted untold millions in lawsuits.  Many jurisdictions would have been compelled to eliminate lifeguards in order to escape the untenable liability exposure.

Laguna Beach and Newport Beach initiated a Statewide coalition of beach cities and counties that paid for attorneys and lobbyists to help pass corrective legislation.  Senator Bergeson was an energetic, influential author.  With the successful enactment of SB 23, cities and counties were granted an immunity for injuries, which occur on public beaches in their natural condition.  This immunity is absolutely critical for Laguna Beach because our beaches are entirely natural with no harbors, marinas, breakwaters, or other manmade facilities to modify the natural contours of the ocean.  Since 1987, Laguna Beach has never lost a lawsuit or paid a claim over injuries in the surf.

Kenneth Frank

City Manager

Ed Note: We appreciate Mr. Frank’s 31 years and his interests in having us share his own words with our readers. # 9 in his countdown will appear here on Friday.

Council to consider specific recommendations to improve customer service at front counter

The City’s Community Development Department (CDD) will present several specific recommendations to “…improve customer service…”

The CDD is responsible for planning, zoning, code enforcement and building construction services for residents of Laguna Beach.

The agenda bill is item #12 on Tuesday night’s City Council agenda.

The recommendations were gathered and garnered after visits to the cities of Huntington Beach, Lake Forest, Brea and San Clemente.

The entire agenda is available at the www.lagunabeachcity.net

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

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Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillepsie, Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

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