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.”

Property tax assessments add $380K to city coffers

The Laguna Beach City Manager’s office said Monday that the county assessor’s property tax assessments for fiscal year 2010-11 revealed that Laguna Beach had the second highest increase in Assessed Valuation in the county. The positive 1.89% increase means the city will receive about $380,000 more income than the zero percent increase in the adopted budget.

The city’s budget had allocated $1.2 million from the reserve Recession Smoothing Account. The increase reduced that amount to $820,000.

Fountain Valley, with a 3.13% gain, was the only city in OC with a higher positive increase. Newport Beach had a .27% gain. The other LB neighboring cities, Irvine, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Woods, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest and Dana Point, were among the 19 with a negative assessed valuation.

On tonight’s City Council meeting agenda

Two City Council agenda items scheduled for July 20 that may garner citywide interest.

Item 18. Financial Summary and Closeout of Bluebird Landslide Fund

The final numbers for the costs paid by the city to repair and rebuild the area destroyed in the Bluebird Canyon landslide of June 1, 2005 have been tallied at $36,802,042. Last month the California Emergency Management Agency notified the city that the amount of reimbursement approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be $33,926,762 ($24.9 from FEMA and $9 million from the state).

Those numbers equate to a shortfall of $2,497,429, which the city is obligated to pay.

In Nov of ’05, the voters of Laguna Beach passed Measure A, a 1/2 cent sales tax levy to create a Disaster Contingency Fund to pay for any costs of Bluebird not reimbursed by FEMA and/or future natural disasters. The Council will be asked to b) approve the transfer of $2,497,428 to the Bluebird Landslide Fund to balance and close it.

FEMA made a determination that the landslide was the result of heavy winter rains and therefore eligible for disaster relief funds.

Item 22. Pedestrian Access to the Top of The World Fire Road

Councilmember Jane Egly is asking the City Manager and City Attorney to look into the potential of providing a walking and cycling access to the fire road from Old Top of the World that would be available to everyone. The current access is essentially unusable by many residents. The access from the Arch Beach Heights end of the fire road is, according to the agenda bill, “excellent”.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers. It is telecast live on Cox Channel 30 and is available by streaming on the City’s website as are the Council’s entire agenda and complete bills – visit:

Updates from the City Manager

Laguna Beach City Manager Ken Frank issues a few notes and updates for the benefit of the City Council on Fridays each week. The July 16 updates follow.

Summer Meeting Schedule – Just a reminder that the City Council modified its meetings for the summer as follows:

July 20

August 17

August 31

September 21

Farmers Market Expansion – Local vendors will join the weekly Orange County Farm Bureau Farmers Market starting [July 17]. The added area is called “Laguna Lane” and is adjacent to the northwest corner of the current market with space for 6 additional local vendors.

Business Task Force – This week, the City staff met with members of the Business Task Force, including Councilmembers Iseman and Pearson.  We discussed the recommendations, which were approved by the City Council and the current status of implementing each recommendation.

Downtown Sidewalk Washing – From May through September, downtown sidewalks are pressure washed monthly by the City’s contractor. The July washing will begin next week. The process normally takes two weeks because the work can only be done during early hours before the sidewalks fill with pedestrians. During the fall and winter months the washing is done about every other month, depending upon rain. Each washing costs $10,000, and the annual program cost is $90,000.

Energy Efficiency Grant Approved – Last December the City submitted an application for a State Energy Efficiency block grant. The final approval and grant agreement was received this week. The grant amount of $131,000 was determined by a population based formula. The grant will be used to replace the City Hall air conditioning units with high efficiency units and to replace lighting at several City facilities with energy efficient lighting. The program also includes lighting motion sensors throughout City Hall.

City of Laguna Beach

Key Accomplishments

July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010


Community Development

Obtained Coastal Commission certification for amendments to the South Laguna Village Zone, parking code changes and sign ordinance amendments.

Extended development entitlements by 12 months to help with the financial crisis.

Adopted an omnibus ordinance with changes to grading, design review, nonconforming lots and existing nonconforming variances.

Prohibited marijuana dispensaries in the City.

Reduced fees when no inspection is needed for an occupancy permit.

Adopted a new in lieu housing fee program.

Adopted an ordinance accelerating the effective date of the green building code.

Approved a water efficient landscape ordinance.

Adopted major changes to the Land Use Element and zoning map.

Adopted many specific recommendations proposed by the Business Assistance Task Force.

Public Facilities

Replaced the benches at Main Beach Park.

Restricted left turn movements on Coast Highway at Anita, Brooks and St. Anns.

Constructed a new sidewalk at the foot of Nyes Place.

Rebuilt the retaining wall on Third Street.

Rehabilitated the City owned streetlights in Victoria Beach.

Improved the trail between Old Top of the World and the fire road.

Completely rehabilitated the sewer pump station at Glenneyre and Calliope (Bluebird), including new electrical, pumps, motors and wetwell.

Undergrounded the utilities on Lookout Drive and Poplar Street.

Approved a concept to replace the lifeguard headquarters building, public restrooms, and sewage lift station at Main Beach.

Approved the conceptual plans to renovate the animal shelter.

Improved the community swimming pool by replacing shower heads and metal doors.

Replaced over 500 parking meters in the Downtown with credit card parking meters.

Added a parking ticket machine at Lang Park.

Upgraded the fuel station behind City Hall to meet new Air Resources Board regulations.

Installed “smart irrigation controllers” at 15 City facilities.

Created 15 new parking spaces on Cliff Drive by making it a one-way street.

Reconstructed all of the alleys north of Boat Canyon.

Adopted a 20-year plan for improvements to the sewer system.

Replaced the alarm system at all of the 25 sewer pump stations.

Installed a quick-connect emergency power device at the Irvine Cove pump station.

Public Safety

Updated the Police Department’s policy manual through an online program involving other police agencies.

Reorganized the Police Department to provide Lieutenant Watch Commanders on busy shifts.

Conducted a pedestrian safety program along Glenneyre.

Created a new fuel modification zone protecting houses below Quivera Street in Arch Beach Heights.

Obtained grant funds to replace old portable radios.

Initiated a program for funding of firefighter training through Santa Ana College.

Received a State grant to replace emergency extrication equipment.

Installed a new roof on Fire Station 4.

Achieved a Class 3 fire protection rating from the Insurance Services Office.

Upgraded the computers in patrol cars.

Completed a multi-year effort to scan old paper reports into the computer system.

Created a civilian supervisor position to oversee Parking and Animal Services.


Afforded residents the option of purchasing parking permits online.

Created an entirely new City website with online access to meetings of the City Council, Planning Commission and Design Review Board.

Participated in the Statewide process to establish a marine preserve off the Laguna Beach coastline.

Entered into a new lease with the Friends of Hortense Miller Garden.

Accepted the donation of 90 acres of open space on the ridgeline above South Laguna.

Acquired the Verizon property on Laguna Canyon Road.

Purchased the Bunn parcel at the end of Canyon Acres for open space.

Modified the lease with Laguna Beach Seniors to pay for their share of utilities and cleaning in exchange for greater City access to space in the evenings.

Opened an alternative sleeping location on Laguna Canyon Road, which immediately eliminated encampments in beaches and parks.

Adopted several ordinances to ensure that beaches and parks are used as intended, including restrictions on: the storage of personal belongings, camping and sleeping, loitering, traversing bluffs and landscaping, and the use of beaches and parks between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Participated successfully in the process to preserve our community hospital as a nonprofit entity with an acute care facility and emergency room under the ownership of Mission Hospital.

Initiated a free, all day parking lot, ten months of the year for downtown employees and visitors.

Purchased the Hopkins Trust parcels on Bluebird Canyon Drive for open space.

Acquired four lots in Arch Beach Heights to add to the view park.

Relocated the emergency homeless shelter from the Act V lot to 20652 Laguna Canyon Road (Verizon parcel).

Extended the summer trolley service to serve Three Arch Bay.

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