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City Council on the hot seat tonight – Coast Inn issue; Historic Preservation task force; and the fate of a tree

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council meeting tonight has more than one hot button agenda item. In addition to the Coast Inn appeal, staff is recommending the removal of a tree on High Street.

Councilwoman Toni Iseman put the tree removal on the agenda as requested by landscape architect Ann Christoph. 

The condition of the red ironbark tree in front of 485 High Street was brought to the council’s attention in 2015. The High Street property owner wanted it removed then, but the council denied the request and ordered staff to maintain the tree.

However, after consulting with an arborist late in 2017, staff is recommending removal of the 600 pound tree. The arborist reported that the structural integrity of the tree is suspect and it represents an unusual degree of risk. 

Amy Jackson opposes the removal, according to the staff report. She has indicated she believes the city-retained arborists would agree to the removal of any tree they are asked to inspect. She stated the tree was more important to her than the risk of injury or property damage. 

Jackson wants the tree inspected by independent arborists.

Property owners Vicky and Ken Boden are prepared to contribute up to $2,000 for a replacement tree if they agree with the selection proposed by staff.

In other action

The council will consider establishing a Preservation Ordinance Task Force to try to resolve the deadlocked dialogue that has brought to a standstill a revision to the existing ordinance. 

As presented by staff, the task force would be composed of two council members, and one representative each from the Design Review Board, the Planning Commission and the Heritage Committee and four from the public. 

Community Development Department Director Greg Pfost and Senior Planner Martina Caron would serve as staff liaison to the task force.

Let Laguna Live announced in an email its intention to oppose the proposed composition of the task force.


City Hall exhibition “Red Hot” will be on display now until June 28

The Artist Fund at Festival of Arts presents the exhibition “Red Hot” at City Hall, which will be on display through June 28.

City hall guardians

Guardians of Red Canyon, Lynn Welker

The public is invited to attend the artist reception on Thursday, June 7 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and vote for their favorite piece.

The Artist Fund provides both disaster-relief grants for Festival artists in need.


City is accepting applications for Committee, Commissions, Boards and Task Forces until Jan 22

The City Council is accepting applications for the following Committees, Commissions, Boards and Task Force: Recreation Committee; Design Review Board; Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee; Heritage Committee; Environmental Sustainability Committee; View Restoration Committee; and Affordable Housing Task Force. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

City Hall

Applications are due to the City Clerk by Mon, Jan 22 by 5:30 p.m. Interviews and appointments will be conducted on Tues, Feb 6, at 6 p.m. 

Applications will not be accepted after the Jan 22 deadline. 

Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on one of these committees should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or on-line from the City’s website, www.lagunabeachcity.net. (Click on ‘Government’; ‘City Council’; then ‘Boards, Commissions and Committees’). 

Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at (949) 497-0705.


Council to review plans for Coast Inn renovation

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council will conduct a hearing tonight on a proposal to restore the Coast Inn and two other buildings on the corner of Mountain Road and South Coast Highway. 

Sixty-five letters of support for the restoration were collected Friday night from 147 guests at an open house hosted by property owners. However, the Planning Commission has recommended denial of the conditional use and coastal development permits, the design and a variance requested for the project. 

“We are trying to get as many people as possible to attend the meeting to support the project,” said Marshall Ininns, the Laguna Beach architect for the project.

The project has been hotly contested since it was first proposed about four years ago to the Laguna Beach Heritage Committee, which eventually endorsed the project.  

“It took about a year, but in the end, the committee recommended the council approve the project and consider a 75 percent reduction in the parking requirement,” Ininns said in a previous interview.

The committee conferred an E-rating on the hotel at 1401 South Coast Highway and the former liquor store designed by the late Chris Abel with the Smith family, the original builders and owners of the Coast Inn, in the mid-century modern style, and a K-rating on the cottage, the latter two across Mountain Road. The E-rating justifies the 75 percent parking deduction. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo courtesy Carolyn Smith Burris

The Coast Inn as it looked from approximately 1933 - 1954

“I have since learned that the stakes were not up and the committee may have misinterpreted what it would look like,” said Barbara Metzger, former planning commissioner. 

Personally, she is concerned about the request for a height variance to exceed the 36-foot-maximum.

Coast Inn neighbor Terry Meurer said the proposal adds the rooftop deck for 175 people, a restaurant and bar for 86 people and a pool and if approved, will exacerbate neighborhood problems with traffic, noise, trash and public safety.

Click on photo for a larger image

Rendering courtesy Marshall Innins

Rendering of proposed remodel of The Coast Inn

“Village Laguna opposes the project [as is],” said President Johanna Felder, by phone from New York. 

She also emailed a letter dated Jan 9 that states Village Laguna supports restoration of the Coast Inn, just not the project submitted. The letter urges the council to reject this and all other rooftop decks or the expansion of existing ones. 

In Felder’s absence, Village Laguna will be represented at the council hearing by Bonnie Hano, a former member of the Heritage Committee.

If the hotel restoration is denied, the existing conditional use permit remains in effect: approval of dancing and music in the legendary Boom Boom Room, for up to 597 people, according to property owner Chris Dornin. 

Chris and Marcella Dornin bought the hotel, the former liquor store and cottage in 2013. 

The council has options: denial of the project, approval as proposed, approval with modification or returning it the planning commission with directions.


City Council is accepting applications for the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force

The Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force was created by the City Council at its January 23 City Council meeting. The Task Force will consist of (9) nine members of the Public selected by two City Council members who will act as liaisons and non-voting members of the Task Force.  

The purpose of the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force will be to attempt to reach consensus on the Historic Preservation Ordinance and to provide a recommendation back to the City Council.

Applicants may be contacted by a City Council member prior to the appointments so please be prepared to make a brief statement about your desire to serve on this Task Force.

Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or on-line from the City’s website, www.lagunabeachcity.net and file by Wed, Feb 28, at 5:30 p.m.

Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the Feb 28 deadline.


City Manager’s Update

Leadership Laguna 2018: A Citizens’ Academy - Back by popular demand, the City of Laguna Beach will be hosting a free, five-week citizen awareness program for residents to learn about city operations and how to participate in civic affairs. Sessions take place on every Thursday in March from 7-9 p.m. (beginning on March 1 and ending on March 29). Each session will cover various aspects of local government and featuring presentations from local government leaders. Online applications are due by Friday, Feb 16. See attached flyer for more information or to apply visit: www.lagunabeachcity.net/leadershiplaguna.

Coffee with a Cop - Join us on Sat, Jan 27, from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. in the driveway of 1260 Cliff Dr. for coffee and doughnuts. Personnel from the Laguna Beach Police Department will be passing out Crime Prevention information as well as hearing your neighborhood thoughts and concerns. Hope to see you there! The mission of Coffee with a Cop is to break down the barriers between police officers and the citizens they serve by removing agendas and allowing opportunities to ask questions, voice concerns, and get to know officers in your neighborhood. 

Glenneyre Parking Structure Walkway Repair - Starting on Mon Jan 29, a City Contractor will be rehabilitating the walkway adjacent to the Glenneyre Parking Structure. During this work, pedestrians will be detoured around the work zone and Southbound Glenneyre Street will be reduced to one lane. The construction is anticipated to take three weeks. For any questions, please contact Associate Civil Engineer, Tom Sandefur at (949) 497-0792 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cultural Arts Funding - The City of Laguna Beach is currently accepting grant applications from non-profit organizations for cultural programming based in Laguna Beach. The deadline to submit an application is February 5, 2018. Applications must be submitted on-line at www.lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com.

2018 Public Art Projects – Call for Artists - The City of Laguna Beach is currently accepting applications from qualified artists with demonstrated experience in public art. Applicants may apply for one or all projects. The sites are at the Agate Street and Thalia Street Beach access and the Third Street Stairway Project. For information about the call for artists and honorarium please visit www.lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com. These projects are being funded by Laguna Beach residents Linda and Toni Bonnici, Greg, Bobbi and Dick Nathanson, Tammie Arnold and Mark Porterfield.

Friday Flicks Back at the Forum - The Arts Commission will be screening the film “Loving Vincent” on Friday, Feb 2, at 7 p.m. at the Forum Theatre on the Festival of Arts grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Road. Door will open at 6:45 p.m. The film is a story depicted in oil painted animation, of a young man who goes to the last hometown of painter Vincent van Gogh to deliver the troubled artist’s final letter and ends up investigating his final days.  The film is 97 minutes and is rated PG-13.  This event is free and is funded through the generosity of Laguna Beach residents Steve Chadima and Mark Porterfield.


City Manager’s Update

Art-Inspired Writing Contest – Laguna Beach Literary Laureate Suzanne Redfearn invites local poets and authors to respond in verse or prose to Jeff Rovner’s photograph Kalaywa Monastery, Yangon, currently on display at City Hall. Two selected winners will each receive $250. The deadline for entry is Friday, July 27. For more information, visit http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art.

Laguna Beach Summer Trolley Service Starts June 18 – Start your summer fun early by riding the Laguna Beach Trolley. Trolley service will start daily on Monday, June 18 with Canyon service running from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and Coastal service running from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.  For more information, visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/trolley or call (949) 497-0766.

Laguna Beach Village Entrance Project – The construction plans and specifications for the Village Entrance project are being finalized for public bidding today, Friday, June 15. The award of the construction contract is anticipated to be presented at the August 7 City Council meeting. The plans and specifications are available for public viewing at www.lagunabeachcity.net/villageentrance.


Council asked to consider Laguna becoming a “Tree City”: generous offer made to create urban tree fund

By BARBARA DIAMOND

March 7 is Arbor Day in California – but not in Laguna Beach unless the City Council takes action.

Councilman Bob Whalen has requested a hearing on a city observance of Arbor Day, which is a requirement to be recognized as a Tree City USA. Mayor Pro Tem Rob Zur Schmiede and Public Works Director Shohreh DuPuis supported Whalen’s request.  

“Laguna Beach satisfies all of the Tree City USA criteria except one – the official observance of Arbor Day,” said Barbara McGillivray. 

Criteria for the Tree City designation include having a city tree department or board, a tree care ordinance, a comprehensive urban forest program and official recognition of Arbor Day.  

MacGillivray and her husband, filmmaker Greg MacGillivray, have offered to create an urban tree fund with a $50,000 donation, hoping that other donors will contribute.

She described the purpose of the fund to be enhancement, not a supplement, to the city’s program of re-planting and maintenance. 

“I met with Barbara regarding the very generous offer of a private fund,” said Whalen. “It is neat to enhance what the city does with private donations.”  

Greg MacGillivray said that 25 years ago residents created a Downtown Specific Plan that called for abundant flowers and trees. Trees, he said, are vital to the charm of downtown Laguna. 

More than 30 sidewalk ‘tombs’ in Laguna

Removal of trees, even for valid reasons, throughout the years has diminished the once abundant greenery that gave Forest Avenue its name, not to mention losses on other city streets, according to Barbara MacGillivray.  

“There are over 30 sidewalk tombs,” she said, referring to spots where trees used to be.

Laguna streets should be lined with trees that have been carefully maintained, urged landscape designer and nursery owner Ruben Flores.

“I am very supportive of Arbor Day in Laguna Beach,” Flores said. “We could bring in a festival, speakers and positive togetherness.”

National Arbor Day was founded in 1972. It is celebrated nationally on the last Friday in April, However, many states observe it on a different date, based on the best tree-planting time in the area.

California’s date is March 7.

“That is why we have an urgency to have a city endorsement for moving forward as quickly as possible,” MacGillivray said. 

Whalen’s request for a hearing targeted Feb. 27 or March 6.


City Hall schedule reviewed - Employees support alternate Fridays off

By BARBARA DIAMOND

City Hall will continue to be closed every other Friday.

The City Council reviewed and approved the schedule at the Jan 23 meeting after a resident pulled the review from the Consent Calendar. An item on the calendar is approved without discussion unless a member of the council or the audience request it be opened for a separate vote. 

“The city should be open five days a week,” said Jennifer Siefert, who requested the schedule be pulled. “I know of complaints about service.”

The eight hours off on alternate Fridays are made up with longer work days. Employees still work 80 hours every two weeks. The Laguna Beach Municipal Employees Assn supports the schedule,

“It is beneficial to the employees and the residents,” said Joseph Carvin, on behalf of the Association.

City officials believe the 9/80 schedule is an employee recruiting and keeping tool, especially those with a long commute, which ultimately benefits the residents. 

A 2017 survey of employees showed the schedule played a significant role in employees’ decision to accept a job with the city. 

Schedule helps Laguna compete with other cities, Mayor Boyd says

“Before, we were competing with cities that offered it,” said Mayor Kelly Boyd. 

And the city was losing employees; 50 percent of them left to take jobs with other municipalities. The percentage decreased to 30 percent subsequent to the move to the 9/80 schedule, which went into effect on a trial basis beginning March 28, 2016, as a result of negotiations with the employees association. 

The council reviewed the schedule at a meeting on Jan 10, 2017 and voted to continue it for another year, with an update set for this month.

City Hall is now open for extended hours from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the Friday it is open. 

Staff reported that the change has not resulted in complaints about service.

Laguna Beach Chat founder Michael Morris said his unofficial survey indicates that the 9/80 schedule does not inconvenience residents.

Emergency Services, including the Police, Fire and Marine Safety Departments, as well as Water Quality and Public Works Departments’ maintenance and emergency response crews are staffed every day.


City Manager’s Updates

Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force -- The City Council is accepting applications for the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force. The Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force was created by the City Council at its Jan 23 City Council meeting.  

The Task Force will consist of (9) nine members of the Public selected by two City Council members who will act as liaisons and non-voting members of the Task Force. The purpose of the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force will be to attempt to reach consensus on the Historic Preservation Ordinance and to provide recommendation(s) back to the City Council. 

Applicants may be contacted by a City Council member prior to the appointments so please be prepared to make a brief statement about your desire to serve on this Task Force. Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or on-line from the City’s website, www.lagunabeachcity.net and file by Wed, Feb 28, at 5:30 p.m. 

Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the Feb28 deadline.

South Coast Highway Lane Closures - The Laguna Beach County Water District will be closing the right southbound lane of South Coast Highway between Calliope Street and Bluebird Canyon Drive. The lane closure has been coordinated with Caltrans and will be in effect during working hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The work is expected to be completed by Feb 9. For questions, please contact Lisa Dunbar at (949) 464-3119. 

SCE Pole Replacement by Helicopter - Southern California Edison (SCE) will be using a helicopter to replace a pole in the open space easterly of Moulton Meadows Park on Feb 15. SCE has obtained permission from the County for the work. The helicopter will use the Fire Road between Top of the World and Arch Beach Heights as a landing/loading zone. The Fire road will be temporarily closed while the helicopter is over the landing zone, however, City emergency vehicles will take precedent and be allowed to pass. 

City of Laguna Beach Environmental Lecture Series on Sustainable Gardens - The City of Laguna Beach announces the second in a series of four, free public environmental lectures, entitled From Pots to Plots: Gardening in Laguna Beach.  The event will include information on growing herbs for the kitchen, attracting bees, birds or butterflies to your garden, and identifying new plants that are drought-tolerant, sustainable, or edible. 

The guided conversation will be led by Kelly Osborne, a volunteer with the Laguna Beach School Gardens Projects; Ruben Flores, local landscape designer; and Sally Coffey, Board Member of South Laguna Community Garden Park. The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. on Thurs, Feb 8, in the Community Room at the Laguna Beach Community Center located at 380 Third Street. 

For more information, please contact Environmental Specialist Michael Phillips at (949) 497-0390.

Junior Lifeguards - Registration for the 2018 Junior Lifeguard program is now open to Laguna Beach residents. Participants must pass the required swim test or have participated in the 2017 program to be eligible to register. The first swim test will be held Friday, Feb 2, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. All swim tests take place at the Laguna Beach High School and Community Pool, located at 670 Park Avenue. Additional information about the program, including a list of swim test dates, is available at: https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index?filter=Y2F0ZWdvcnklNUI1MDE0JTVEPTEmc2VhcmNoPQ, or call (949) 497-0716 for more information.

Forest Avenue Banner Program - The Community Services Department is requesting email addresses from Laguna Beach based non-profit organizations interested in participating in the 2019 Forest Ave Banner Program. Please submit your email address before Thurs, Feb 22, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive information and dates to participate in the program.


Council will announce appointments tonight for seats on city advisory groups

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday will interview 39 applicants for seats on five city committees, one board and one Task Force. Twenty three seats are open. Several applicants asked for appointment to more than one body, identified by an asterisk. 

Two-year terms begin April 1. Seven residents have applied for a seat on the Design Review Board. Two seats are available. Incumbents Meg Monahan and Caren Liuzzi have re-upped. Applications were also submitted by Jeffrey Feldman*, Emerich Hlava*, Benjamin Jensen, Audra Miller and Louis Weil*.

The View Restoration Committee is the only one to have the same number of applicants as openings. Staff recommended appointing the two applicants: Dave DiCesaris and Jeffrey Feldman*.  

Seven residents submitted applications for the five seats on the Affordable Housing Task Force. The council will choose between Gary Boisen, Jane Fulton, Mo Honarkar, Karen Martin, Allison Matthews*, Chris Quilter and Louis Weil*. 

Musical chairs ahead

The eight applicants for the three open seats on the Parking, Traffic & Circulation Committee include John Cushing, Jennifer Dawson, Jeffrey Feldman*, Hasty Honarkar*, India Hynes*, Benjamin Jensen*, John Marcos and Louis Weil*.

Appointments to the Environmental Sustainability Committee will be trickier. Five seats are open with two appointments to serve one-year terms and three to serve two-year terms. The seven applicants are incumbents Robert Ader and Irene Bowie, Shelly Christine Bennecke, Emerich Hlava*, Hasty Honarkar* and India Hynes*, and Allison Matthews*.

Two incumbent have re-upped for the Recreation Committee: Byron Nelson and Monica Silva. Michele Hall is the third applicant for the committee, which has two openings.

Four seats are open on the Heritage Committee, which is currently in the throes of the city’s contentious revamp of the Historical Preservation Ordinance. Incumbents Rick Gold and Regina Hartley are among the five applicants, which also include Tamara Dowell, Kip J. Scott, and Scott Sumner.

The committee voted in January to reduce membership from seven to five. 

Appointments to the seven city bodies will come immediately after a proclamation in honor of the Laguna Beach Garden Club is presented.


City Manager’s Update

Coast Inn Subcommittee Meeting - On Jan 23, the City Council reviewed the Coast Inn/Coast Liquor Store Project (CUP 16-2479, PCDR 16-2475, CDP 16-2480 and VA 16-2482) proposed at 1391 and 1401 South Coast Highway.  

At that time, the City Council appointed Mayor Pro Tem Zur Schmiede and Councilmember Whalen as a Subcommittee to meet with the applicant in a public meeting.  

The subcommittee is scheduled to meet on Monday, Feb 12, from 4:30 to 6:15 p.m. at the Community & Susi Q Center (380 Third Avenue). After the Subcommittee completes its work, the item will be re-noticed prior to bringing the matter back to the City Council for public hearing. 

Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force -- The City Council is accepting applications for the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force. The Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force was created by the City Council at its Jan 23, City Council meeting.  The Task Force will consist of (9) nine members of the Public selected by two City Council members who will act as liaisons and non-voting members of the Task Force.  

The purpose of the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force will be to attempt to reach consensus on the Historic Preservation Ordinance and to provide recommendation(s) back to the City Council. 

Applicants may be contacted by a City Council member prior to the appointments so please be prepared to make a brief statement about your desire to serve on this Task Force. Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or on-line from the City’s website, www.lagunabeachcity.net and file by Wed, Feb 28, at 5:30 p.m. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the Feb 28 deadline.

(1) Two-Year Term on the View Restoration Committee - The City Council is accepting applications for (1) two-year term on the View Restoration Committee with terms beginning April 1 through March 31, 2020. Members of the View Restoration Committee adjudicate view claims submitted by property owners to restore pre-existing views that are alleged to be significantly impaired by vegetation.  

The five-member committee of local residents appointed by the City Council conduct public hearings to review claims, hear testimony and determine significant view impairment.  The Committee may approve a view restoration order and establish a maintenance schedule for the subject vegetation on the property. The View Restoration Committee generally meets on the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. 

Interviews and appointments will be conducted on Tues, March 27, at 6 p.m., by the City Council in the City Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave. Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on this committees should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or on-line from the City’s website, www.lagunabeachcity.net and file by Thurs, March15, at 5:30 p.m. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the March 15 deadline.

Partial Closure of Glenneyre Parking Structure on Feb 13 and 15 -  On February 13, the lower floor of the Glenneyre parking structure will be closed for cleaning and maintenance from 7 a.m. until noon.  

On February 15, the upper floor of the parking structure will be closed for cleaning and maintenance from 7 a.m. until noon. The closure will be posted 24 hours in advance and one floor of parking will be available at all times during the work. The entire structure will be available for parking on Valentine’s Day.

Mindfulness & Meditation for Breast Cancer Survivors - A breast cancer diagnosis and life during and after treatment often leaves individuals suffering from anxiety and fear. Growing research has shown that the use of mindfulness and meditation is a healthy and effective tool in mitigating these symptoms and providing quality of life.  Join presenter Anusha Wijeyakumar, Wellness Consultant for Hoag Hospital on Tuesday, Feb 27, from 5:30  – 7 p.m. at the Community & Susi Q Center.

Space is limited, call (949) 464-6645 to register or visit www.lagunabeachcity.net click “recreation classes.”

Community Assistance Grants - The City of Laguna Beach is now accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Community Assistance Grants. The Community Assistance Grant program is available to non-profit organizations that provide special services to residents of Laguna Beach. The objective of this program is to assist local organizations in funding new projects and/or expanded services within our community.

Like last year, we are utilizing an online application submittal process. Visit www.lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com to start the application process.  Additional information can be found on the City’s website at http://lagunabeachcity.net/CAG.  This year, the deadline has been extended by one month. The new deadline for applications submitted electronically will be Thurs, March 29, 5:30 p.m.

Hiring Beach Patrol Officers (part-time) - The Laguna Beach Police Department seeks enthusiastic, career-minded individuals to assist in the patrol and enforcement of Municipal and State codes within the City. Under the supervision of the Civilian Services Administrator or the Watch Commander, the Beach Patrol Officer, working with a partner, interacts with City residents and visitors at beaches and parks in a summer-style City uniform to enforce various City and State codes, rules, and regulations in a professional and courteous manner. To apply you must be at least 18 years of age. All prospective applicants must successfully pass through a thorough police background check. For more information on this position or to apply click here.

Hiring Police Aides (part-time) - The City of Laguna Beach seeks enthusiastic, dedicated individuals to serve in the capacity of Part-time Police Aide. Under the supervision of Laguna Beach Police Department personnel, the Police Aide directs traffic as needed and provides orderly control of pedestrian traffic and vehicular parking in an assigned area. The Police Aide also assists with other departmental tasks and support work, performs some parking enforcement duties, and performs other various assigned duties within the Police Department. Police Aides will be expected to direct traffic, requiring to stand for periods up to eight hours a day. To apply you must be at least 18 years of age. All prospective applicants must successfully pass through a thorough police background check. For more information on this position or to apply click here.


Commission approves a three-month trial of live music at Dizz’s

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Dizz’s As Is has three months to prove that live music won’t bother neighbors. 

The Planning Commission approved a test of the impact of live music from 5:30 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday evenings. Opposition was expressed by neighbors.  

“I’m here to create a little something for the locals,” said applicant Dominic Pitz.

Locals are among the restaurant’s most devoted patrons. Former City Manager Ken Frank chose Dizz’s As Is for his retirement party in 2010.

Frank and Michelle and Mayor Kelly Boyd were among the diners for Wednesday night’s musical debut.

“There were six of us and we asked to sit outside because we couldn’t hear ourselves talk inside,” said Boyd. “I don’t think Dizz’s is the place to have live music where people are eating. Outside was great.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Dizz’s As Is will feature music on Wednesday evenings

The application submitted by Pitz requested permission for performances on acoustic guitar, keyboard or other stringed instruments playing blues, jazz and classic soft rock. 

A noise study commissioned by Pitz was included in the application. 

The study measured noise impacts on multiple days between 5:30 and 9 p.m. from two locations inside the restaurant and from three spots outside. 

Sound levels increased up to 10 decibels when monitored from 10 to 15 feet away from the musicians. Outside levels reportedly did not exceed ambient traffic noise, regardless of location. 

The Pitz family has operated a restaurant at South Coast Highway and Nyes Place since 1977, bought from a couple said to be part of the hippie community in Laguna. 

It was just barely in Laguna at that time. Laguna Beach ended south of Nyes Place until the city annexed South Laguna in 1987.

According to the staff report, the 1920s cottage had first served as a lunch counter and grocery beginning in 1946.

The cottage and grounds now include the restaurant, a covered patio, three off-site parking spaces, a one-car garage and a residence above the garage.


City Manager’s Updates

City Hall Closed - City Hall will be closed this Friday, Feb 16 through Presidents Day, Monday Feb 19. Essential public safety services will still be operating every day. City Hall will reopen on Tues, Feb 20 at 7:30 a.m.

Holiday Street Sweeping Schedule - On President’s Day, Monday Feb 19, street sweeping and parking enforcement will only occur in commercial areas. For more information, contact Senior Fleet Maintenance Supervisor, Austin Comp at (949) 464-6637.

Third Street Hill Resurfacing- On Feb 20 and 21, a high friction surface treatment will be applied to the uphill side of the steep portion of Third Street to reduce vehicles slipping in the area. To accommodate the work, northbound Third Street will be closed between Mermaid Street and Park Avenue from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days. 

Southbound Third Street will remain closed from 9 a.m. on February 20 until 6 p.m. on February 21. A non-toxic odor may be noticeable in this area for several days after the application. For questions, call Mark Trestik at (949) 497-0300.

Coffee with a Cop - Join us on Sat, Feb 17, from 8 to 11 a.m. in the driveway of 470 Graceland Drive for coffee and doughnuts. Personnel from the Laguna Beach Police Department will be passing out information as well as meeting with residents.  

The mission of Coffee with a Cop is to reduce communication barriers and allow for the free flow of information between police officers and the citizens they serve.  It provides residents with the opportunity to meet some of their local officers while also being able to ask questions and voice concerns.  We hope to see you there!

Public Art Dedication - On Sunday, Feb 18, at 3:30 p.m. the public is invited to the dedication of “Boom Boom Peal Step from Ocean Hill” by artist Michael Stutz at the beach access at Mountain Road. This installation has been funded by Laguna Beach residents Mark Porterfield and Steve Chadima.

2018 Public Art Projects – Call for Artists - The City of Laguna Beach is currently accepting applications from qualified artists with demonstrated experience in public art. Applicants may apply for one or all projects. The sites are at the Agate Street and Thalia Street Beach access and the Third Street Stairway Project. 

For information about the call for artists and honorarium visit www.lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com

These projects are being funded by Laguna Beach residents Linda and Toni Bonnici, Greg, Bobbi and Dick Nathanson, Tammie Arnold and Mark Porterfield.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Third Street steps, future site of public art

Art That’s Small at City Hall - Save time on drop-off day by pre-registering for Art That’s Small by March 5. Email the completed guidelines to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach.

Literary Laureate - We are looking for a Literary Laureate to serve as an ambassador and raise awareness of the power of literature, poetry and the spoken word. Guidelines at www.lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach. 

Banner Competition - We are currently accepting designs for the 2018 banner competition. Deadline for submissions is March 12. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach

Downtown Specific Plan Update – Review Section IV: Urban Design - The City of Laguna Beach will continue their efforts on the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) Update on Wed, Feb 21, 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 IV: Urban Design 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 contact: Wendy Jung, Senior Planner, at (949) 497-0321; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force -- The City Council is accepting applications for the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force. The Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force was created by the City Council at its Jan 23 City Council meeting.  

The Task Force will consist of (9) nine members of the Public selected by two City Council members who will act as liaisons and non-voting members of the Task Force.  

The purpose of the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force will be to attempt to reach consensus on the Historic Preservation Ordinance and to provide recommendation(s) back to the City Council. 

Click on photo for a larger image

An iconic Laguna Beach historical building, pre-1926, now Urth Caffe

Applicants may be contacted by a City Council member prior to the appointments so please be prepared to make a brief statement about your desire to serve on this Task Force. Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or on-line from the City’s website, www.lagunabeachcity.net and file by Wed, Feb 28, at 5:30 p.m. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the Feb 28 deadline.

Two-Year Term on the View Restoration Committee - The City Council is accepting applications for (1) two-year term on the View Restoration Committee with terms beginning April 1 through March 31, 2020. Members of the View Restoration Committee adjudicate view claims submitted by property owners to restore pre-existing views that are alleged to be significantly impaired by vegetation. The five-member committee of local residents appointed by the City Council conduct public hearings to review claims, hear testimony and determine significant view impairment.  The Committee may approve a view restoration order and establish a maintenance schedule for the subject vegetation on the property.  

The View Restoration Committee generally meets on the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Interviews and appointments will be conducted on Tues, March 27, at 6 p.m., by the City Council in the City Council Chambers, 505 Forest Avenue. Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on this committees should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or on-line from the City’s website, www.lagunabeachcity.net and file by Thurs, March 15, at 5:30 p.m. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the March 15 deadline.


City Manager Updates

Patriot’s Day Parade - This year’s Patriots Day Parade is scheduled to take place on Sat, March 3, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Road closures near and along the parade route will begin in the downtown area at 10 a.m. The Farmers’ Market will be closed that day and will return on Sat, March 10.

Take the Trolley to the Patriots Day Parade! -Catch the trolley or the City bus and you will be downtown in plenty of time for the Patriots Day Parade. Neighborhood Transit Service will be operating on a regular Saturday schedule starting at 9:30 a.m. and the Coastal Routes will start early at 9 a.m. to get you to the parade!  For schedule and route information, visit: www.lagunabeachcity.net/trolley.

Literary Laureate Deadline - The deadline to apply for the 2018-19 position of Laguna Beach Literary Laureate is March 1. The position is open to Laguna Beach residents with an established background in literary arts. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. Apply online at www.lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com

Art That’s Small Pre-registration - Pre-register for Art That’s Small at City Hall by March 5. The annual small art exhibition is open to Orange County residents ages 18 and older. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. View the guidelines under the Calls for Artists tab at www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art/.

Community Development Department Closed at 3 p.m. Friday, Feb 23 - With a goal of continual improvement, the Community Development Department staff is currently evaluating its permit processing system to improve customer service and efficiencies. To allow staff in the department to work on this effort together, on Friday, Feb 23, the Department’s building and zoning permitting, in addition to other counter services, will be closed from 3 p.m. to the end of the workday (4:30 p.m.). 

SCE Pole Replacement - Southern California Edison (SCE) will be replacing an Edison Pole in front of 325 Diamond Street from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on March 6. Diamond Street will be closed from Glenneyre Street to Catalina Street for the duration of the work. For questions or concerns, please contact SCE’s contractor, Mark Rollins at 714-451-5896.

Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force -- The City Council is accepting applications for the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force. The Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force was created by the City Council at its Jan 23, City Council meeting.  

The Task Force will consist of (9) nine members of the Public selected by two City Council members who will act as liaisons and non-voting members of the Task Force.  The purpose of the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force will be to attempt to reach consensus on the Historic Preservation Ordinance and to provide recommendation(s) back to the City Council. 

Applicants may be contacted by a City Council member prior to the appointments so please be prepared to make a brief statement about your desire to serve on this Task Force. Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or online from the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net and file by Wed, February 28, at 5:30 p.m. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the February 28, 2018 deadline.

Two-Year Term on the View Restoration Committee - The City Council is accepting applications for (1) two-year term on the View Restoration Committee with terms beginning April 1, 2018, through March 31, 2020. Members of the View Restoration Committee adjudicate view claims submitted by property owners to restore pre-existing views that are alleged to be significantly impaired by vegetation.  The five-member committee of local residents appointed by the City Council conduct public hearings to review claims, hear testimony and determine significant view impairment.  

The Committee may approve a view restoration order and establish a maintenance schedule for the subject vegetation on the property.  

The View Restoration Committee generally meets on the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Interviews and appointments will be conducted on Tues, March 27, at 6 p.m., by the City Council in the City Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave. Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on this committees should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or online from the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net  and file by Thurs, March 15, at 5:30 p.m. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the March 15 deadline.


City is in the black – CalPers, not so much

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Laguna Beach ended fiscal year 2016-17 firmly in the black, $4.8 million above the mandated 20 percent reserve.

There is no lack of projects or programs on which to spend it. 

The City Council has the happy task of perusing on Tuesday the recommendations for one-time expenditures of roughly $4.3 million and the less enjoyable jolt of at least one ongoing expenditure. The recommendations came from City Manager John Pietig in coordination with Director of Administrative Services Gavin Curran and Finance Officer Nancy Pauley.

Major One-time Expenditures

$1 million to fund an IT Master Plan, equipment and software replacement;

$1 million transfer to the City’s Insurance Fund;

$500,000 for Laguna Art Museum and Laguna Playhouse grants;

$500,000 legal costs;

$500,000 reserve for capital improvement projects; and

$300,000 transfer to the city’s Open Space Fund.

The only fly in the ointment is the ongoing funding of $450,000 for California Public Employees Retirement System. 

CalPers has lowered its expected return on investments from 7.5 percent to seven percent and it amortization period from 30 years to 20 years. 

Just the change in the estimated return is expected to increases future city costs by $2.8 million. 

The 22 recommendations for one-time and ongoing expenditures in the agenda would be funded by a 6.7 percent higher increase in property taxes compared to expectations. Hotel taxes were up 7.8 percent over estimates and sales tax was up 1.5 percent.

Parking fund revenue exceeded expectations by $900,000 and the Capital Improvement Fund added $1.3 million to the available balance. 

Pietig also credited judicious spending by departments for paring the budget.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Parking revenue exceeded expectations in 2016-17

The recommendations, if approved, would leave $491,000 in the General Plans starting balance of $4,830,000.

A second and shorter list of one-time and ongoing expenditures includes requests by council members and department heads.   

The Fire Department requested $200,000 one-time funding and $160,000 in ongoing funding to develop a strategic plan. Public Works asked for $100,000 to create an Urban Forest Management Plan. The Finance Division would like to add an administrative analyst to the staff at an ongoing cost of $117,800. An additional administrative assistant in Public Works was estimated to cost $92,800.

Staff recommendations to council

Staff recommended that the council update the 2017-18 and 2018-19 adopted budget by accepting the June 30, 2017 ending balance, and also:

Approve additions and adjustments;

Approve capital equipment and vehicle purchases;

Ratify compensation for part-time employees;

Direct Pietig to return to council with options for fund the on-going costs related to the Urban Forest Management Plan;

Authorize Pietig to enter into a contract for public outreach services up to $50,000.


City Manager’s Updates

Laguna Beach Little League Opening Day - Festivities are scheduled at Riddle Field on Friday, March 2, from 5 – 8 p.m., for Laguna Beach Little League Opening Day, weather permitting. Questions, please call Alexis Braun, Senior Recreation Supervisor at (949) 497-0762.

Patriots Day Parade will go on, rain or shine - This year’s Patriots Day Parade is scheduled to take place on Sat, March 3, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Road closures near and along the parade route will begin downtown at 10 a.m. To help with traffic the City’s Weekend Trolley Service will begin at 9 a.m. The Farmers’ Market will be closed that day, and will return on Sat, March 10. We plan to hold the 2018 Patriots Day Parade even if it is lightly raining or the ground is wet. We will cancel it only if we have a safety concern.  If we do cancel it, the notice of cancelation will be posted on the City’s website at www.lagunbeachcity.net

Friday Flicks - Friday Flicks continues this Friday, March 2, at the Forum Theatre, 650 Laguna Canyon Road featuring The Whole Gritty City, Unrated, 89 mins. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Screening starts at 7 p.m. This event is funded by Laguna Beach residents Mark Porterfield and Steve Chadima.

479 Ocean Avenue Termite Treatment - Starting at 4 p.m. on Sat, March 3, 479 Ocean Avenue, currently under renovation, is scheduled for tenting and termite treatment. The two adjoining buildings, Peter Blake Art Gallery and the Laguna Beach Animal Hospital, must be tented and treated as well due to shared common walls. The tents will be removed by 9 a.m. on March 5 so the businesses can resume operation.

City Council Review of Draft Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance - The Laguna Beach City Council will review Planning Commission and staff recommendations for a draft ordinance amendment to Chapter 25.17 of the Laguna Beach Municipal Code and an amendment to the City’s Local Coastal Program relating to Accessory Dwelling Units, also referred to as the Second Residential Unit Ordinance.

The City Council meeting will be held on Tues, March 6, at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located at 505 Forest Avenue. To view a copy of the staff report for this item, please refer to the agenda posted on the City’s website: www.lagunabeachcity.net.

Arbor Day Celebration on Wed, March 7 - The City’s First Arbor Day Celebration and Tree Planting Ceremony will be held at Jahraus Park on Wed, March 7 from 3 to 6 p.m. To kick off the event, the City Council at its February 27 meeting proclaimed March 7 to 14 of each year as Arbor Week in Laguna Beach to coincide with the annual State and California recognition of California Arbor Week.  

This fun event for families will feature activities and crafts for kids, live music, tree experts, community groups and garden clubs, and giveaways.  This will be a fun educational event for the whole family!

Downtown Concrete Repairs - Beginning on March 5, a City contractor will be performing sidewalk repairs by slant cutting at 63 locations in the downtown area. Slant cutting leaves a more aesthetically pleasing finished surface when compared to abrasive grinding. The work is expected to be completed in four to five business days.  

For more information, please contact Maintenance Supervisor, Wayne Chintala at 949-464-6637.

South Coast Highway Lane Closure - Between 10 p.m. on March 7 and 5 a.m. on March 8, the Laguna Beach County Water District will have one northbound lane of South Coast Highway closed, between Bluebird Canyon Drive and Oak Street, for transmission valve maintenance. For more information, contact Lisa Dunbar at 949-464-3119.

Poet Laureate’s Showcase - The public is invited to attend a Poet Laureate Showcase featuring literary artists Francesca Bell, Victoria Patterson and Kate Buckley on Thurs, March 8, at the LCAD Gallery, 374 Ocean Avenue at 7 p.m. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Art That’s Small at City Hall - Delivery date for Art That’s Small at City Hall is Sat, March 10, at City Hall, 505 Forest Avenue between 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.  Please contact Mike McGregor, Arts Program Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. View the guidelines at www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art/.

Free Compost Giveaway on Sat, March 10 - The annual compost giveaway event will be held on Sat, March 10, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the City Maintenance Facilities parking lot, located at 1900 Laguna Canyon Road. Free compost will be available in appreciation of the recycling efforts by Laguna Beach residents. This is a self-service event. Please visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/recycling for more information.


City News

Council dips into flush city exchequer to fund recommended spending

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday divvied up the majority of the $4.8 million windfall from better-than-expected revenues in fiscal year 2016-17.

Six recommendations were given a green light, with only a couple of changes. The council voted to allocate $15,000 for an assessment of the costs to improve the unusable interior of the Digester Building and to boost the South Laguna Community Garden’s $251,000 reserve fund to $500,000, subject to garden supporters matching it.  

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Digester Building

Twenty-two expenditures, one-time and on-going, were recommended by City Manager John Pietig in coordination with Director of Administrative Services Gavin Curran and Finance Officer Nancy Pauley.

Approved major one-time expenditures

$1 million to fund an IT Master Plan, equipment and software replacement

$1 million transfer to the City’s Insurance Fund

$500,000 for Laguna Art Museum and Laguna Playhouse grants

$500,000 legal costs

$500,000 reserve for capital improvement projects

$300,000 transfer to the City’s Open Space Fund

The approved expenditures will be funded by higher than expected tax revenue: property tax was up 6.7 percent, hotel taxes were up 7.8 percent and sales tax was up 1.5 percent.

Parking fund revenue exceeded expectations by $900,000 and the Capital Improvement Fund added $1.3 million to the available balance. 

A second and shorter “wish list” was tabled by Pietig at the hearing. He asked the council to hold off funding the mostly on-going expenditures while he deals with some recent developments. 

The lone exception was a one-time expenditure of $200,000 earmarked for a Fire Department strategic plan and $160,000 to hire a Fire Captain, which would not go into effect until July, when the fiscal year begins. 

Six recommended actions approved by the council

Update the 2017-18 and 2018-19 adopted budget by accepting the June 30, 2017 ending balance;

Approve additions and adjustments to 2017-18 and 2018-19 adopted budget, as modified;

Approve capital equipment and vehicle purchases, for which funding has already been set aside;

Ratify compensation for part-time employees;

Direct Pietig to return to council with options for funding the on-going costs related to the Urban Forest Management Plan and management of the forest;

Authorize Pietig to enter into a contract for public outreach services up to $50,000.  

CalPERS funding continues to plague the City

Funding for the California Public Employees Retirement System continues to plague the City.

CalPers has lowered its expected return on investments from 7.5 percent to 7 percent and its amortization period from 30 years to 20 years. 

Just the change in the estimated return is expected to increase future City costs by $2.8 million.

Curran advised the council to take no permanent action on funding until the changes shake out.


Council proclaims March 14-17 as Arbor Week: Arbor Day celebration will take place at Jahraus Park

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday took the last step needed to apply for Tree City USA status with the Arbor Day Foundation.

Laguna joins more than 3,400 American communities that have qualified for the status by meeting four core standards of sound urban forestry management according to the city staff. 

City staff opined that becoming a Tree City would demonstrate the City’s commitment to maintaining a healthy urban forest and promote the benefits that trees provide residents, businesses and visitors.

The status requires maintaining a tree board or department responsible for tree care, enacting and spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Trees, park at Top of the World

Laguna needed only to officially celebrate Arbor Day to qualify – and the council took care of that with a proclamation – and went a step further by proclaiming March 7 to 14 Arbor Week.

“I applaud you and the vigilant people in town,” said Barbara McGillivray.

She and her husband, filmmaker Greg McGillivray, have pledged $50,000 to set up a private foundation to fund trees that enhance Laguna.

Trees can reduce erosion of top soil due to wind and water cut heating and cooling costs, moderate temperature, clean the air, produce life-giving oxygen, reduce greenhouse emissions, provide for wildlife and when properly planted are a source of joy and spiritual renewal, according to the proclamation. 

Further: Besides beautifying the city, trees increase property values.  

Arbor Day began in 1872 when J. Sterling Morton proposed to the Nebraska Board of Agriculture that a special day be set aside to plant trees.

Councilwoman Toni Iseman, a Nebraska native, takes special pride in Morton’s accomplishment.


Chamber submits spending plan for council approval

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday approved without comment the detailed explanation of how the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce plans to spend the $50,000 allocated for economic development services.

Three major goals were submitted by the Chamber for funding at the 2017 Budget Workshop: Business retention, expansion and attraction; Changing consumer habits; and Support for the Cultural Arts Program.

“The Chamber is very happy with the City’s action in approving an action plan based on the decision made last June for the two-year budget,” said Norm Grossman, Chamber board member.

“Much of the funds will be used as seed money for our primary goal of improving the retail environment for residents and visitors.”  

Tasks are tied to action items contained in the council-approved Fiscal Years 16-18 Economic Development Action Plan.  

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The Chamber works hard to promote the city to businesses

Examples of tasks include updating the list of commercial vacancies on the Chamber’s website to encourage businesses to open in Laguna Beach; planning business-related events such as retail forums; developing and producing information packages to attract new businesses; develop and maintain a social media campaign to encourage residents to shop locally; and to collaborate with businesses and the city to increase Chamber participation in initiatives to increase economic activity in the city. 

The Chamber was late in submitting the proposed scope of work due to a staff turnover last fall.

Tasks and costs were included in the submittal:  total of $47,000 to complete strategies outlined in the Business Retention Goal.

Proposed strategies include identifying gaps in local retail and make the listing public to encourage leases and sales, facilitating networking, developing “Open for Business” and “Welcome to Laguna Beach” packages for new and existing businesses, developing the “Think Laguna First” social media program geared toward residents and visitors and collaboration with   merchants and the city to modify ordinances to be more business friendly. 

The Chamber will submit quarterly progress reports to the city throughout the term of the agreement.


Council wants more review before approving law on accessory units

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Proposed revisions to the City’s second-unit ordinance need more careful consideration of the impact on neighborhood character, density, privacy, public safety, parking, enforcement and benefits before the council is willing to approve an alteration.  

The council on Tuesday watched a lengthy Power Point presentation, listened to opinions from the public and debated proposed revisions in a 90-minute hearing before deciding it needed more time to digest the inch-thick agenda bill before rendering an informed opinion on so-called ADUs and JADUs. Council comments will be included in the minutes of the meeting.  

“I think this is the most complex issue I have seen as a member of the council,” said Steven Dicterow, an attorney.

For those who did not attend public workshops or the numerous meetings held by the Planning Commission, ADUs are Accessory Dwelling Units, a new name for second units in a separate structure. Add a J and you get Junior Accessory Units, mostly carved out of the interior of an existing building. Both are endorsed by the Laguna Beach Seniors as a way the city’s elderly can afford to age in place.

Speaking on behalf of the seniors, Cody Engle outlined the group’s recommendations.

One unit of an ADU be owner occupied

Limit deed restriction to 10 or 15 years on rent- and age-restricted units for seniors or low-income renters

Require registration of an ADU every two years, including certification of owner occupancy

Three years of existence before space can be converted to an ADU

Clarify if design review is required when an ADU is added to existing space.  

Emergency access issues a major concern

Not mentioned by Engle, but a major concern for the Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee is the danger of more development in neighborhoods designated by the city as having limited emergency access – tight corners, narrow streets or street parking that hinder fire-fighting equipment.  

“We urge the city to foster housing solutions where seniors and others who need help can live safely, without creating added risk for themselves, their neighbors or first responders,” said Matt Lawson, committee chair.  

Since January 2017, the state has required every California community to provide ADUs – a sort of one-size-all fix-it for the dearth of affordable housing (somewhat of an oxymoron in South Orange County), without regard for possible adverse impacts on the community. 

“There is a benefit to the community to the extent the intent is to provide housing options for family members, students, the elderly, in-home health care providers and the disabled,” said South Laguna resident John Thomas.

“But the state mandate does not require that these be the only beneficiaries – and it does not require that these options be affordable, but merely no higher than at market prices – so all the state is doing is facilitating increased intensity of land use with no mitigation on the impacts on the infrastructure of the increased intensity.”

“Easier to roll out than to reel in”

“A program like this is easier to roll out than to reel in.”

Laguna Beach resident Court Shannon recommended that the city save time and energy and just abide by the state law in a letter read by Peter Stechman.

“I recommend Laguna follow the prevailing State Laws first and see if there are issues that even require a new ordinance that is restrictive in any way,” Stechman read.

Shannon maintains that the way the city’s ordinance is drafted now will further deter creation of ADUs and make them cost-prohibitive, based on limited size.

He has been thwarted in his attempt to build a second unit on his Temple Hills Drive property. 

The letter also contained opposition to the proposal that ADUs must be within a half-mile of an OCTA stop. The state version states only that public transportation be within a half-mile.

Councilman Bob Whalen also took exception to the notion that the city has no other public transportation that qualifies. 

“Those little Blue Buses have been around for years and should be included,” Whalen said. 

However on the wall behind the dais was a map of the city’s bus and trolley routes and the warning “Use It or Lose It,” as City staff tries to determine whether to revamp or even eliminate the service. 

Staff was directed to incorporate council comments into a future review, consult with City Attorney Philip Kohn and bring more people to the table for further discussion.

No date was set for a hearing.


City Manager’s Updates

Coffee with a Cop & Emergency Personnel – Please join us on Saturday, March 10 from 8 a.m. – 11 a.m. at Mission Hospital located at 31872 Coast Hwy. Personnel from Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach Police Department, Laguna Beach Fire Department, Laguna Beach Lifeguards, OC Parks, OC Lifeguards and Doctors Ambulance will be present. There will be a vehicle display and photo opportunities. Hope to see you there!

Interim Outdoor Display and Portable Sign Permits – In an effort to strike a balance amongst business owners advertising their business and complying with the City Manager’s Municipal Code, the City Council approved an interim six-month period between March 1 and August 31, 2018, allowing for the placement of outdoor signage and displays subject to specific guidelines. Portable signs and outdoor displays are subject to administrative approval by the Community Development Director. One A-frame sign per business not to exceed six square feet would be allowed as long as it is consistent with the architectural attributes of the building in which the business is located. Outdoor displays are permitted, provided that they are limited to an area of 18 square feet and inclusive of no more than five items also related to the type of business. All signage and displays are limited to private property only. A Temporary Outdoor Display/Sign Permit application may be submitted to the Community Development Department along with a drawing or photograph of the proposed signage or outdoor display for review. No fee will be required during this six-month interim period.

Free Active Shooter Incident Preparedness Seminar – Please join us on Tuesday, March 13 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Susi Q Community Center located at 380 3rd Street for a review of past and recent active shooter incidents. There will be instruction on what to do during an active shooter incident and information on how to individually and organizationally prepare for an active shooter incident. Registration is required so please visit the City website at www.lagunabeachcity.net, and click the “Sign up for a Class” icon and then the “Special Events” tab. You may also sign up at the Community & Susi Q Center or call for more information at (949) 464-66445.

Beach Street Lane Closure – On March 8 and 9, between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., the City will have one direction of Beach Street between Forest Avenue and Ocean Avenue closed for annual tree trimming. For more information, please contact Robert Sedita, Public Works Sr. Administrative Analyst at (949) 497-0740.

Hiring Summer Bus Driver, Trolley Stewards and Parking Lot Attendants (part-time) – The Laguna Beach Public Works Department is seeking enthusiastic, safety conscious individuals to assist with summer positions in the Transit and Parking Division. The Summer Bus Driver drives a bus or trolley on a set route for the duration of the summer festival season and the Trolley Stewards assist passengers and visitors and narrates information aboard the City’s trolleys and buses throughout the summer festival season. Parking Lot Attendants work in the City’s parking lots assisting patrons, collecting fees and keeping lots clean. All prospective applicants must successfully pass through a thorough police background check. For more information or to apply visit: www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/citygov/administrative_services/personnel/opportunities.htm

Arts Marketing Workshop – Save the Date – The City of Laguna Beach is offering a free marketing workshop on Saturday, April 7. Presenters Rosenn Weiss and Con Cristeson will present, “Artists are the Heart of the Community.” For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

2018 Public Art Projects – Call for Artists – The City of Laguna Beach is currently accepting applications from qualified artists with demonstrated experience in public art. Applicants may apply for one or all projects. The sites are at the Agate Street and Thalia Street Beach access and the Third Street Stairway Project. For information about the call for artists and honorarium please visit http://lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com. These projects are being funded by Laguna Beach residents Linda and Toni Bonnici, Greg, Bobbi and Dick Nathanson, Tammie Arnold and Mark Porterfield.

Spring Quarter & Summer Camp 2018 Registration Activities – Registration for spring 2018 recreation activities for all ages and young summer camps are currently open. To register and see the list of programs available please visit:https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index

Smart Gardening Series, “Terrific Tomatoes” – Ahhh, the taste of homegrown tomatoes! You’ll enjoy learning about the many varieties, their culture, diseases and pests, and growing in the ground vs. growing in containers. Join Master Gardener Kris Bonner and Saturday, March 17 from 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. at the Community & Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street. Registration is required, call (949) 464-6645 or visit www.lagunabeachcity.net and click on “Sign up for a Class.”

Glenneyre Parking Structure Painting – On Tuesday, March 13, the City will be painting handrails and other metal items at the Glenneyre parking garage. No interruption in parking or services is expected. For more information, please contact Maintenance Supervisor Wayne Chintala at (949) 464-6637.

Heisler Park Gazebo Painting – On Wednesday, March 14, the City will be painting the gazebo in Heisler Park. The gazebo area will be closed during the work and is expected to be opened the following day. For more information, please contact Maintenance Supervisor Wayne Chintala at (949) 464-6637.

Free Compost Giveaway on Saturday, March 10 – The annual compost giveaway event will be held on Saturday, March 10 from 8 a.m. to noon at the City Maintenance Facilities parking lot, located at 1900 Laguna Canyon Road. Free compost will be available in appreciation of the recycling efforts by Laguna Beach residents. This is a self-service event. Please visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/recylcing for more information.


City Manager’s Updates

Utility Undergrounding Information Web Page - Information regarding the City’s efforts to date and various funding options under consideration by the City Council for utility undergrounding along the City’s key evacuation routes is now available on the City’s web site at www.lagunabeachcity.net/utilityundergrounding.

Annual Composting Classes - The City’s solid waste hauler, Waste Management, will offer the first of four free composting classes planned for 2018 on Sat, March 17, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Bluebird Park, located at 798 Bluebird Canyon Drive. Compost and worm bins will be available for purchase during the class at a discounted price.  

For more information visit the city’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net/recycling, or contact the Waste Management class instructor, Lisa Ryder, at (310) 874-2499.

Laguna Beach Police Department Welcomes New Officers - On Friday, March 16, two new officers graduate from the Golden West Criminal Justice Training Center Academy. Please join us in welcoming Officer Ryan Radel and Officer Wade Kraus to the Laguna Beach Police Department!

Art That’s Small at City Hall – Artist Reception and Award Ceremony - The public is invited to a reception on Thurs, April 5, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 505 Forest Ave. Winners of the 2018 Art That’s Small at City Hall competition will be announced. The exhibition can be viewed through April 20. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

2018 Banner Competition Winners - On March 12, Arts Commission reviewed 21 submissions and selected designs by Bill Atkins, Al Esquerra, Kelly Hartigan Goldstein and Cydette Vikander for the 2018 Banner Competition. The completed banners will be displayed at Main Beach starting in May. 

To see the winning designs visit: http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art/default. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Arts Marketing Workshop - Artists and arts organizations are invited to this free workshop to be held on Saturday, April 7 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Presenters Roseann Weiss and Con Christeson will explore entrepreneurial development, collaboration and opportunity. Information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or register at https://clb_artsmarketingworkshop.eventbrite.com. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Poet Laureate Webpage - Keep up-to-date on the writing of Laguna Beach’s first Poet Laureate, Kate Buckley. You may follow Kate’s monthly posts on the City’s website at: http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art/poet_laureate/poems.htm. This project is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

2018 Public Art Projects – Call for Artists - The City of Laguna Beach is currently accepting applications from qualified artists with demonstrated experience in public art. Applicants may apply for one or all projects. The sites are at the Agate Street and Thalia Street Beach access and the Third Street Stairway Project. For information about the call for artists and honorarium please visit www.lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com

These projects are being funded by Laguna Beach residents Linda and Toni Bonnici, Greg, Bobbi and Dick Nathanson, Tammie Arnold and Mark Porterfield.


City Manager’s Updates

Caltrans – Overhead Warning Sign Emergency Replacement - Beginning Monday, March 26, Caltrans will mobilize to remove and replace a failing overhead sign structure located on N Coast Highway, approximately 2000 feet south of the El Morro Elementary School entrance.  

Work will be conducted on weekdays between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Intermittent closures of the shoulder and/or outside travel lane can be expected through May 31. One northbound lane will be maintained for travel and southbound lanes will not be affected during this period.  

For more detailed project information, contact Oussama Issa, Caltrans Assistant Resident Engineer, at (949) 279-8821.

Utility Undergrounding Information Web Page - Information regarding the City’s efforts to date and various funding options under consideration by the City Council for utility undergrounding along the City’s key evacuation routes is now available on the City’s website by selecting the arrow icon on the home page or at www.lagunabeachcity.net/utilityundergrounding.

Police Chief on KX 93.5 - The Police Chief will participate in, “The Importance of Being Show,” that broadcasts live from the KX 93.5 FM this Sunday morning from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Junior Lifeguards - Registration for the 2018 Junior Lifeguard Program is now open to Laguna Beach residents. Participants must either pass the required swim test or have participated in the 2017 program successfully to be eligible to register. 

Swim tests will be held this Friday, March 23, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 24, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. All swim tests take place at the Laguna Beach High School and Community Pool, located at 670 Park Avenue. 

Not sure if your child is ready for the swim test? Drop-in at the Junior Guard Clinic on Saturday morning from 10 a.m. – 10:50 a.m. or 11 a.m. – 11:50 a.m. Additional information about the Junior Lifeguard Program, including a list of swim test dates, is available at: http://bit.ly/2BT1dE2.

Arts Marketing Workshop - Artists and arts organizations are invited a free workshop on Saturday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Presenters Roseann Weiss and Con Christeson will explore entrepreneurial development, collaboration and opportunity. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or register at https://clb_artsmarketingworkshop.eventbrite.com. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Art That’s Small at City Hall – Artist Award Reception - The public is invited to an artist award reception on Thursday, April 5, at 5:30 p.m. at Laguna Beach City Hall, 505 Forest Ave. The exhibition can be viewed through April 20. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Friday Flicks at the Forum - The concluding Friday Flick “Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang” will be screened on Friday, April 6, at 7 p.m. at the Forum Theatre on the Festival of Arts grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Road. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Run time: 76 min. Unrated. Funded through the generosity of Laguna Beach residents Steve Chadima and Mark Porterfield.

Laguna Beach Literary Festival - The public is invited to a free day of readings panels, workshops and craft talks with some of California’s finest writers, hosted by Laguna Beach Poet Laureate Kate Buckley. This special event will be held on Saturday, April 14, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Orange County Public Library, Laguna Beach Branch, 363 Glenneyre Street. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. For more information, visit http://LagunaBeachLitFest.com.


City Manager’s Update

Third Street Closed on Tuesday, April 3 - From 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3, Third Street will be closed between Park Ave and Mermaid Street for tree trimming and asphalt repairs. Please use alternate routes. For more information, contact Deputy Director of Public Works, Dale Schuck at (949) 497-0735.

Park Avenue Striping Improvements - On Monday, April 2, minor traffic delays can be anticipated along Park Ave near Tahiti Ave between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. due to roadway striping improvement work. The striping on Park Avenue is being modified in order to address speeding issues of downhill traffic by narrowing the lane width into and around the sharp curve. For questions, please contact Mark Trestik at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (949) 497-0300.

Southern California Edison Pole Repairs - On Saturday, March 31, Southern California Edison will be working at the intersection of Acacia Drive and Cedar Way to repair overhead lines. Electricity to homes and businesses should not be interrupted but a portion of Cedar Way may be closed during the repairs. Notification signs and “No Parking” signs will be posted in the vicinity. 

Coast Highway Lane Closure - On April 9 and April 10, the Southern California Gas Company will be working at the intersection of Coast Highway and 5th Ave to repair a leaking valve. The left turn pocket, and southbound number 1 lane of Coast Highway between 4th Ave and 5th Ave, will be closed during the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day.

Arts Marketing Workshop - Artists are invited to a free workshop on Saturday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Presenters Roseann Weiss and Con Christeson will explore entrepreneurial development, collaboration and opportunity. For more information please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or register at https://clb_artsmarketingworkshop.eventbrite.com. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Art That’s Small at City Hall – Artist Award Reception - The public is invited to an artist award reception on Thursday, April 5 at 5:30 p.m. at Laguna Beach City Hall, 505 Forest Ave. The exhibition can be viewed through April 20. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Friday Flicks at the Forum - The concluding Friday Flick “Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang” will be screened on Friday, April 6 at 7 p.m. at the Forum Theatre on the Festival of Arts grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Road. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Run time: 76 min. Unrated. The series has been funded through the generosity of Laguna Beach residents Steve Chadima and Mark Porterfield.

Laguna Beach Literary Festival - The public is invited to a free day of readings panels, workshops and craft talks with some of California’s finest writers, hosted by Laguna Beach Poet Laureate Kate Buckley. This special event will be held on Saturday, April 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Orange County Public Library, Laguna Beach Branch, 363 Glenneyre Street.  This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. For more information, visit http://LagunaBeachLitFest.com.

Call to Artists - Council Chambers Banners - The Arts Commission is holding a competition to replace the banners in the Council Chambers. The competition is open to Laguna Beach residents ages 18 and older. Entries must be submitted to the reception desk at Susi Q Community Center, 380 Third Street, by May 14 at 5 p.m. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. For full guidelines and entry form visit http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art.


Council approves Park Plaza in theory

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday supported the concept of closing lower Park Avenue to create a pedestrian plaza – but not for a while, and in opposition to the negative opinions of many residents. 

City Manager John Pietig was directed to move ahead on the design of semi-permanent and/or permanent Park Plaza, incorporate a Park Plaza element in the Downtown Specific Plan currently being revised and move forward simultaneously with associated traffic improvements. 

The proposed improvements on highway intersections from Broadway to Legion Street were contained in an agenda item that preceded the “evaluation of the temporary plaza concept” and approved by council. 

“We need to look at the other improvements before we make this [plaza] permanent,” said Councilman Bob Whalen.

According to a report presented by Assistant City Manager Christa Johnson, a majority of residents surveyed about the plaza or who sent emails to the city opposed the closure of the block.

“A majority of emails – the vast majority – didn’t want the street closed down,” said Mayor Kelly Boyd. “That little street does get used as a shortcut off Coast Highway.”

Speakers at the meeting were split.

“I have been making that left-hand turn for 19 years,” said Craig Coffin. “It is a special corridor up to Mystic Hills. We have a beautiful park across the street and I am opposed [to the plaza] until we have a transportation study.”

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Park Plaza during the temporary trial

Loss of vehicular access is potentially significant, impactful and must be addressed by a traffic circulation study performed by a professional analyst, said Robin K. Hall.

“Traffic circulation will be altered significantly,” she said.

Councilman Steve Dicterow, who lives in North Laguna and has an office on the corner of Glenneyre and Forest Avenue, suggested folks in town should become more familiar with city streets.

He suggested getting off the highway and taking less traveled streets, starting with Aster, if they don’t want to cope with traffic on the highway from Cliff Drive to Forest Avenue.

From Aster, drivers could turn right on Rosa Bonheur, take a left onto Lower Cliff Drive, another left onto Beach and then take either a left turn on Broadway to Forest Avenue and up the Third Street hill or turn right on Broadway, left on Beach Street, right onto Forest and left onto Park.

Supporters of a permanent plaza waved a printed leaflet when a member of the audience or council spoke favorably of the plaza. 

“I went there every three or four days and I saw residents and visitors really enjoying it,” said George Weiss, whose comments caused a flutter of leaflets. ”I want to make it permanent.”

Speakers Billy Fried, Ruben Flores and Chris Prelitz were leaders in the coalition put together by Transition Laguna Beach, the Chamber of Commerce and the Laguna Beach Beautification Council, that came up last year with the idea of Park Plaza. 

The goal was to bring residents downtown in the non-summer months and entice visitors to stay longer, a benefit to local merchants, and to foster connectivity.

“The country is divided, the city is divided – the plaza helps build community,” said Prelitz on Tuesday.


Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce Spring Mixer, April 26 at Ti Amo by il Barone

Mix it up with friends and colleagues. Get to know our small business owners. Maybe get a legal tip or two. That will all be happening on April 26 as the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce mixes it up at Ti Amo by il Barone.

That’s a two-fer!

Enjoy great company with a real local crowd while indulging in Ti Amo’s antipasti and small bites, along with wines and il Barone’s signature Facci Ri Veccia (Focaccia, crescenza, mozzarella, Parma prosciutto, truffle oil. As reviewed here in Stu News, “We are talking about an amazing dish here, folks…”).

Donatella and Chef Franco Barone, owners of Ti Amo by il Barone

Ti Amo by il Barone is headed by Chef Franco Barone, who is a pretty big deal in this town and beyond. His many honors include twice being recognized as Southern California’s Chef of the Year by the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association as well as the Orange County Business Journal. The award winning chef and his wife Donatella are excited to welcome their guests to their Italian bungalow, located at 31727 Coast Hwy in Laguna Beach. They are serving up savory authentic Italian cuisine, perfectly paired wines, and sweet treats.

The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce delivers another classy and fun opportunity for attendees to mix and mingle with friends, and connect with new business colleagues and community leaders. 

The Chamber Mixer is from 6 – 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 26. Attendees will receive a complimentary welcome beverage and two drink tickets. Antipasti, small bites and the Facci Ri Veccia will be served. There will be opportunity drawings to win special prizes and surprises.

To register online, visit www.LagunaBeachChamberSpringMixer.


Beautification Council holds Annual Membership meeting at Montage

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Allan Schoenherr was the guest speaker at the 2018 annual Beautification Council Membership Meeting, held at Montage Laguna Beach.

Schoenherr is a photographer and author of “A Natural History of California” and “Wild and Beautiful: A Natural History of Open Space in Orange County.”

“I spoke about places to go and hike and what you might see when you got there,” said Schoenherr. 

Submitted photo

Allan Schoenherr

His talk was accompanied by slides. 

Council President George Weiss presided over the meeting.

The council was started in 1952 by the late Harry Lawrence. The group’s first project was a cleanup of Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road, removing scrub and weeds with the assistance of the Rotary Club of Laguna Bach and the US Marines.

The most notable project was Main Beach that Lawrence liked to call the Window to the Sea.

Inspiring beauty is the goal of the council. Its mission is to maintain and enhance the natural beauty and cleanliness in Laguna Beach and to promote beautification projects on streets, residential and commercial properties, parks and the shoreline through education and community involvement.  

“New members are always welcome,” said Emeritus board member Eleanor Henry, who joined the group when she retired in 1995. “They can fill out an application form on our website or just show up at a meeting.”

Membership dues are $35, good for January through December. There is no reduction in fees for later memberships, Henry said.

For more information about the council or membership visit website www.lagunabeachbeautificationcouncil.com.


City holds Council Chamber Banner Competition

The City of Laguna Beach Banner Competition is a project of the Arts Commission. Artists are provided with banner material on which to paint original artwork. The completed banners are displayed in the City of Laguna Beach Council Chambers. The competition is open to residents of Laguna Beach ages 18 and older. Proof of residency is required. 

Contestants are asked to submit a color design that must be drawn to scale (4 1/2 in. x 15 in.) of their banners. Bright colors are suggested, and a community celebration theme encouraged. Religious symbols are discouraged. The design will be painted on one side of the banner. Banners are not always the exact size. Allow in your design a variance of 10 percent. If you wish to have your design returned, please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope. 

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2017 Banner competition winners

For judging purposes please do not sign the front of your submitted design. You may submit a maximum of two designs. 

If your design is selected you be provided with a vertical 3 ft. x 10 ft. banner. The banner must be painted with acrylics. One side must be painted. The artist’s signature and date should be placed on the lower right corner. 

Prospective designs must be delivered to: Susi Q Community Center, 380 Third Street before 5 p.m. on May 14.

The Arts Commission will review and select the designs. Selected Artists will be notified to pick up blank banners. Completed banners are to be delivered to City Hall. Winners will be recognized at the City Council meeting. 

The seven members of the City of Laguna Beach, Arts Commission (and on various occasions invited guests) judge designs anonymously for creativity and visual impact. 

Completed banners will be awarded a $900 honorarium. The completed banner and design becomes the property of the City of Laguna Beach and will be displayed when and where the City desires. 

This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. For full guidelines and entry form visit http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art.


Council greenlights four art projects

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council recently approved two temporary art projects and two permanent ones, one of which will be principally funded by a private donation.

“Word on the Street” a five-part sculpture to be installed in Heisler Park, fulfills the goal of the city’s Cultural Arts Plan to expand the focus on temporary art projects.

Los Angeles sculptor Scott Frobisher’s messaging installations will be composed of similar materials to street signs, the largest one 48 inches wide, 12 feet tall and four inches deep. The project must be approved for a temporary use permit by the Planning Commission prior to installation. It will be exhibited for 12 months from the final approval date.

“This is the kind of public art we need,” said Hillary Cole at the council hearing on the project.

The installation was unanimously recommended by the Arts Commission, which will fund the $10,000 cost from Special Programs Budget of the Business Improvement District, which is financially supported by the hostelries in Laguna Beach.

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Photo courtesy Elizabeth Turk Studios

Umbrellas equipped with LED lights will form part of the Shoreline Project

A performance art piece on Main Beach by artist Elizabeth Turk was approved by the council at the request of Laguna Art Museum Executive Director Malcolm Warner. 

The “Shoreline Project,” will be presented between 6 and 10 p.m. on November 3 as part of the LAM’s fifth “Art & Nature event.” This project also requires a Temporary Use Permit.

Somewhere between 500 and 1,000 volunteers reportedly will participate. Each will carry a custom-made umbrella equipped with LED lights and walk along a choreographed path created by Turk. 

Six signs describing the performance will be located along the pathway from the museum to Main Beach.

Adverse weather or tidal conditions could cause the cancellation of the project. 

All funding, including the costs of additional Marine Safety Department staff, will be paid by the museum. 

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Photo by Tom Berndt

Part of Scott and Naomi Schoenherr’s existing art in Heisler Park: The Divers

A $25,000 donation by Laguna Beach resident John Wolf will be used to expand Scott and Naomi Schoenherr’s Art in Public Places installation in Heisler Park. 

The existing installation includes seating, sculpture and inlaid sidewalk medallions inspired by “Giggle Crack,” commissioned by the city.   

Similar installations at the amphitheater stage and seating were unanimously recommended by the Arts Commission, which also recommended an additional $15,000 be allocated from the Art-In-Lieu Fund. 

The fund consists of required fees paid by developers of commercial projects if they do not commission art on the premises. 

Michael Gagnet, who represents the owner of the re-named Hotel Joaquin (formerly called the Motor Inn), said the developer preferred to install art rather than pay the fee. The $30,000 cost exceeds the fee that would have been levied.

Sage Vaughn’s sculpture, called “Cove Wildflower,” will be located on the exterior of the hotel near the lobby entrance.

The 25-foot tall, 8-foot wide, 3-inch deep, powder-coated aluminum sculpture will fade from yellow to orange inspired by the torch lily, commonly called the red hot poker plant.


Council to review proposed Landscaping Element

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday will be presented with three options to consider for the new Landscape and Scenic Highways element and the Landscape and Scenic Highways Resource Document. 

One option is the overhaul of the element as recommended by a Planning Commission sub-committee and approved by commission. However, it would require a substantial amount of work to incorporate all the changes into the element and the resource document, as well as cost $100,000, according to the staff report.

The second option is to approve the element and the resource document with the Planning Commission and Design Review Board edits that can easily be incorporated without significant time and cost. 

Thirdly, the Council could choose to approve recommended changes from the board and the Commission, excluding the Commission recommendation to reorganize the element and convert some of the larger tasks into action items. This option would cost $35,000.

Keep the documents separate, urge McErlane and Whitin

Planning Commissioner Roger McErlane and commission Chair Susan Whitin were appointed to review both the element and resource document.

McErlane and Whitin advised the Commission to keep the element and the resource document separate.

“The Commission wants to re-organize the element to make it shorter and more reader-friendly,” said former Planning Commissioner Barbara Metzger at the hearing. “It’s already acceptable for the general plan and staff has said it would take 100 hours to do the reorganizing.” 

McErlane is a master planner and urban designer who served as vice president of the Irvine Co from 1996 to 2009. Whitin prepared the landscape plan for the bluff-top park and hotel grounds at Montage Laguna Beach.

“All we wanted to do was some re-editing and re-organIzation of the element, which is a tool for the city,” said McErlane in a report to the commission. “We also wanted to define the action items in the element to begin a downtown streetscape evaluation and study.”

The resource document, also under consideration by the Council on Tuesday, was created by landscape architects Ann Christoph and Bob Borthwick. 

Christoph was a member of Selva Partners, hired by the city in 2013 to convert the resource document into an element, she said. As mayor in 1995, Christoph was liaison to the committee that created the document.


City Manager’s Updates

Community Open House on Utility Undergrounding - The community is invited to an informational open house on Utility Undergrounding on Wednesday, April 11 between 6 and 7 p.m. at the Community and Susi Q Center located at 380 Third Street to learn more about the City’s efforts to address the risks associated with the overhead utility poles and electrical wires and potential funding strategies being explored for undergrounding of utilities along Laguna Canyon Road and other key evacuation routes. To learn more, please visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/utilityundergrounding

Southern California Edison Pole Replacement - From 10 p.m. on April 15 to 7 a.m. on April 16, Southern California Edison will be replacing an Edison pole at the northeast corner of the intersection at Cleo Street and Sleepy Hollow Lane. Cleo Street, west of S. Coast Highway to Sleepy Hollow Lane will be closed during the work.  Emergency vehicle access shall be maintained via Sleepy Hollow Lane as approved by the Fire Marshal. The traffic signal at the S. Coast Highway and Cleo Street intersection will be affected by the outage with a four-way red flash initiated during the work.

Free Paint/E-Waste Drop-off and Shredding Event on Saturday, April 14 -Residents and businesses are invited to participate in the annual free drop-off event to dispose of unwanted paint, batteries, CFL bulbs, and E-Waste on Saturday, April 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the City Maintenance Facilities, 1900 Laguna Canyon Road. Free shredding service will also be available on site. This service is sponsored by the City and Waste Management. For more information, including a detailed list of acceptable E-Waste items, please visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/recycling or contact Liz Avila at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

City-Wide Track & Field Meet - The City of Laguna Beach will host the annual Boys & Girls Track Meet on Friday, April 20 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Laguna Beach High School. All children born in or after the year 2003 and reside in Laguna Beach or attend school within the Laguna Beach Unified School District boundaries are invited to attend. Please register online by Thursday, April 19 at: https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index?search=track+meet.  

Friday Flicks at the Forum - The concluding Friday Flick “Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang” will be screened on Friday, April 6 at 7 p.m. at the Forum Theatre on the Festival of Arts grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Road. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Run time: 76 min. Unrated. Funded through the generosity of Laguna Beach residents Steve Chadima and Mark Porterfield.

Laguna Beach Literary Festival - The public is invited to a free day of readings panels, workshops and craft talks with some of California’s finest writers, hosted by Laguna Beach Poet Laureate Kate Buckley. This special event will be held on Saturday, April 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Orange County Public Library, Laguna Beach Branch, 363 Glenneyre Street. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach. For more information, please visit http://LagunaBeachLitFest.com.

Call to Artists – City Council Chambers Banners - The Arts Commission is inviting artists to submit designs to replace banners in the City Council Chambers. The competition is open to Laguna Beach residents ages 18 and older. Entries must be submitted to the reception desk at the Community and Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street, by May 14 at 5 p.m. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and theCity of Laguna Beach. For full guidelines and entry form, please visit http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art.

Sunset Serenades and World Music –Friday evenings from May 4 through June 8, at 6:30 p.m., the Arts Commission will present free concerts at the Heisler Park Amphitheatre with a variety of music genres.

5/4: Jackie Menter Trio – Classical

5/11: Jack Benny – Eclectic/Acoustic Pop trio

5/18: The Phil Gough/Alan Deremo Project

5/25: Maestro Lazaro Galarraga and Friends – Afro Cuban

6/1: Gamelan X with Mayang Sunda – Indonesian

6/8: L’Esprit D’ Afrique – African

This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.


City will host a free 2016 Energy Code Residential Standards Training on Tuesday, April 24

The City of Laguna Beach will be hosting a free 2016 Residential Energy code training on Tues, April 24 from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave. 

Bruce Cheney will present an interactive, “hands-on” course designed to provide plans examiners and building inspectors with the knowledge and skills needed to more quickly and effectively enforce the energy code for residential projects. 

Cheney has more than 20 years of professional experience in the field of Building Science. His combined experience in construction, project management, real estate, and energy-efficiency lead Bruce to form Anchors Aweigh Energy in 2009.  

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Photo from Anchors Aweigh Facebook page

Cheney is a certified Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rater through CalCERTS and CHEERS as well as a subject matter expert for the California Investor Owned Utilities. He is a recognized proctor and trainer in the construction industry, offering instruction on implementing new Title 24 Residential and Nonresidential Energy-Efficiency Standards for professionals ranging from contractors and energy managers to plans examiners and building inspectors. 

Anchors Aweigh Energy is a Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business in San Diego. They teach Title 24 Part 6 classes throughout Southern California as well as performing Title 24 calculations, conducting HERS inspections, and consulting on building performance

“We want to inform the Laguna Beach community of the 2016 Energy Code updates,” said Dennis Bogle, Building Official. “We want to effectively communicate energy efficiency compliance options and requirements to builders and clients, as well as help them understand the purpose of each of the residential compliance forms and related documents.”

Architects, designers, contractors, real estate professionals, residents, property and business owners are invited to attend. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. Available CEUs: ICC 0.7

Register at www.sce.com/energycenters. For more information, please contact Stacy Kirk, Senior Permit Technician at (949) 497-0379 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Downtown Specific Plan update will be discussed on Wednesday, April 18 at 6 p.m. at City Hall

The City of Laguna Beach will continue its efforts on the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) Update on Wednesday, April 18 during the Planning Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall (505 Forest Ave). 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

City Hall

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 portions of Section V Land Use Districts of the existing Downtown Specific Plan document. 

Specifically, the focus of Section V review will cover topics such as: 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.  

Other topics pertaining to property development standards, special planning and/or design criteria will be reviewed and discussed at a subsequent Planning Commission meeting.  

A copy of the Section V draft amendments is available to review on the project webpage (link included below).

Additional meetings will occur in 2018 to review draft amendments to other sections of the plan.  

This meeting and future meetings play an essential role to obtain input from the community and direction from the Planning Commission, and to identify the City’s priorities for the future of the Downtown.

 For more information on the Downtown Specific Plan Update 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.; or visit: www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/cd/planning/mjrplanginitv/downtown_specific_plan_amendment/
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City vows to defend Most Water Wise City title: All you have to do is pledge – but why should you pledge?

Laguna Beach has been declared “most water wise city” in the nation in its category four times already. And now it’s time to defend our title once again. 

Mayor Kelly Boyd is hoping for a flood of responses from residents.

How do we get to earn this title?

Pledge! That’s all you need to do – a click or two and you’re done

It’s actually quite simple. The program is designed to raise awareness among neighbors and friends and the community in general.

So residents simply have to pledge online to do more to conserve water. It’s that simple.

Just go to www.mywaterpledge.com and make a series of online pledges to conserve water.

That’s all. 

Residents who take the challenge are entered in drawings for hundreds of eco-friendly prizes, including home improvement gift cards, home irrigation equipment, and the Grand Prize $5,000 home utility bill payment.

Why pledge?

And here are some reasons why you should go online right now and pledge:

P: Pride in our town for being water-smart winners – and not just at water polo

L: Less water now means more water later

E: Easy to do, and it’s easy savings, too

D: Do something dead simple that makes a difference 

G: Give your kids a good example of what it takes to be a responsible citizen

E: Eat, drink and be merry; celebrate with neighbors when we win again!

“Last year, Laguna Beach residents made 6,286 pledges to cut water use by 32.6 million gallons of water over the next year,” stated Boyd. 

Let’s make it 8,000 pledges this year. We can do it! Click on it now, www.mywaterpledge.com and tell everyone how easy it is to do.

The Challenge also gives residents a chance to nominate a deserving charity that would benefit from receiving a 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

Laguna Beach County Water District provides water service to 22,000 residents within an 8.5 square mile area of LB. The District’s mission is to furnish a high quality, reliable water supply in a financially responsible manner, while promoting water-use efficiency.


City holds Community Open House on utility undergrounding this Wednesday at the Susi Q

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The City is hosting a Community Open House on utility undergrounding on Wednesday, April 11 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Susi Q Center. 

Stop by to learn more about the City’s efforts to address the risks associated with overhead utility poles and electrical wires and potential funding strategies being explored for undergrounding of utilities along Laguna Canyon Road and other key evacuation routes. 

Speak one-on-one with City staff, ask questions and share your comments. To learn more, visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/utilityundergrounding.


City Council is now accepting applications for Committees, Commissions and Boards

The City Council is accepting applications for the following Committees, Commissions and Boards: Arts Commission; Emergency Disaster Preparedness Committee; Housing and Human Services Committee; and the Planning Commission.

Interviews and appointments will be conducted on Tuesday, May 1 at 6 p.m. by the City Council in the City Council Chambers. All applicants will be interviewed.  

Applicants may be contacted by City Council members prior to the interviews and appointments so please be prepared to make a brief statement about your desire to serve on a committee.

Deadline for applications is April 20 at 5 p.m.

Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on one of these committees should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or online from the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net and file in the City Clerk’s office no later than Friday, April 20 at 5 p.m. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at (949) 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.

Number of positions that will be open and details for the following Committees, Commissions and Boards follow: (The City Council may reduce or enlarge the number of committee members at their discretion.)

Arts Commission

Three (3) two-year terms on the Arts Commission with terms beginning July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2020.  

The Arts Commission consists of eight members, one of which is an alternate position, appointed by the City Council. Four of the seven members must be actively participating in the arts. The Commissioners are compensated in the amount of $125 per month. The Arts Commission has the power and duty to act in an advisory capacity to the City Council in all matters pertaining to the artistic aspects of the City.

Additionally, commissioners recommend to the City Council the adoption of such ordinances, rules and regulations as they may deem necessary for the administration and preservation of the fine/performing arts of the community. One of the major projects of the Commission is the implementation of the Cultural Arts Plan. 

Commission meetings are generally held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 5:30 p.m.  Meeting and preparation time may exceed several hours per week.  

Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee

Four (4) two-year terms on the Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee with terms beginning July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2020. The Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee is a nine-member body appointed by the City Council whose charge would be to advise the City Council on all matters pertaining to disaster prevention, planning and preparedness. The Committee will make recommendations to the City Council and will have staggered terms.  Meetings are generally held on the first Monday of the month at 6 p.m. 

Housing and Human Services Committee

Three (3) two-year terms on the Housing and Human Services Committee with terms beginning July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2020.  The Housing and Human Services Committee is currently a nine-member body appointed by the City Council whose charge would be to assess and identify housing opportunities and human needs for all segments of the community; provides input on the City’s Housing Element of the General Plan; informs and makes recommendations to the City Council and other community leaders; and increases community awareness of programs to fill these needs. 

Meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month at 5 p.m.

Planning Commission

Three (3) positions on the Planning Commission with terms beginning July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2020. 

The Planning Commission is a five-member body appointed by the City Council for the purpose of reviewing and advising the Council on items related to the development and modification of land uses within the City limits. As such, the Commission reviews and recommends action on the development and amendment of the general plan, zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations and special projects related to land use planning. 

Planning Commissioners serve a two-year term and are compensated in the amount of $357 per month. The regular meetings of the Commission are held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 6 p.m. Study sessions may be held as part of the regular meeting or at other specified times. 

Substantial time commitment required

A substantial time commitment averaging four to six hours a week is necessary to be a Planning Commissioner. Meetings may be four or more hours long and require a great deal of preparation time. In addition to these regular meetings, Commissioners are expected to visit sites and review project proposals prior to the meeting, as well as attend special project workshops. 

It is desirable to have or be able to acquire certain skills or aptitudes, such as the ability to understand zoning regulations and their effect on allowed land uses.

Experience in land use planning, architecture, engineering and/or real estate would be an asset.


City Manager’s Update

Grand Re-opening of Thalia Street Beach Access - The City of Laguna Beach invites the community to a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, April 17 at 4 p.m. for the re-opening of the newly renovated beach access at Thalia Street.

Disposal of Sandbags - Residents can dispose of filled sand bags at the Act V Lot, 1900 Laguna Canyon Road.  Residents can also dispose of up to 10 filled sand bags by scheduling a bulky item pickup which are provided free three times per calendar year. 

To schedule a pick-up, contact Waste Management at (949) 642-1191. Filled sand bags should not be placed in the trash or recycling carts. Storage and re-use of the sandbags is recommended at least through the end of April.

Southbound Coast Highway Lane Closure on Friday, April 13 - From 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Friday, April 13, the Montage Resort landscape contractor will be closing the number two lane of southbound Coast Highway to trim trees. The closure will begin at the northern limits of the resort property and extend to the southern limits of Treasure Island Park.  

For more information, please contact Deputy Director of Public Works, Dale Schuck at (949) 497-0735.

Southern California Edison Pole Replacement - From 10 p.m. on April 15 to 7 a.m. on April 16, Southern California Edison will be replacing an Edison pole at the northeast corner of the intersection at Cleo Street and Sleepy Hollow Lane. Cleo Street, west of South Coast Highway to Sleepy Hollow Lane, will be closed during the work. Emergency vehicle access shall be maintained via Sleepy Hollow Lane as approved by the Fire Marshal. The traffic signal at the South Coast Highway and Cleo Street intersection will be affected by the outage with a four-way red flash initiated during the work.

Free Paint/E-Waste Drop-off & Shredding Event on Saturday, April 14 - Residents and businesses are invited to participate in the annual free drop-off event to dispose of unwanted paint, batteries, CFL bulbs, and E-Waste on Saturday, April 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the City Maintenance Facilities, 1900 Laguna Canyon Road. 

Free shredding service will also be available on site. This service is sponsored by the City and Waste Management. For more information, including a detailed list of acceptable E-Waste items, please visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/recycling or contact Liz Avila at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Downtown Specific Plan Update - 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, April 18 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 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.  

A copy of the draft amendments are available to view on the City’s website: www.lagunabeachcity.net. For more information onthe Downtown Specific Plan Update project, please contact Wendy Jung, Senior Planner, at (949) 497-0321 orThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

City-Wide Track & Field Meet - The City of Laguna Beach will host the annual Boys & Girls Track Meet on Friday, April 20 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Laguna Beach High School. All children born in or after the year 2003 and residing in Laguna Beach or attending school within the Laguna Beach Unified School District boundaries are invited to attend. 

Please register online by Thursday, April 19 at https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index?search=track+meet.  

Bluebird SOCWA Lift Station Odor Control Improvement Project – Community Meeting - Water Quality staff will be holding a community meeting to present and discuss the subject project on April 19, at 6 p.m. The project will address the odors surrounding the City’s sewage lift station located at the corner of Calliope Street and Glenneyre Street.  

The presentation will cover the proposed project with details on the layout and aesthetics of the new facility. Please join as staff will be seeking input from the community. For questions, please contact Hannah Johnson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Laguna Beach Literary Festival - The public is invited to a free day of readings panels, workshops and craft talks with some of California’s finest writers, hosted by Laguna Beach Poet Laureate Kate Buckley. This special event will be held on Saturday, April 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Library, 363 Glenneyre Street.  

This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach. For more information, please visit http://LagunaBeachLitFest.com.

Call to Artists – City Council Chambers Banners - The Arts Commission is inviting artists to submit designs to replace banners in the City Council Chambers. The competition is open to Laguna Beach residents ages 18 and older. Entries must be submitted to the reception desk at the Community and Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street, by May 14 at 5 p.m.    

This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach. For full guidelines and an entry form, please visit http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art.

Sunset Serenades and World Music - Friday evenings from May 4 - June 8 at 6:30 p.m., the Arts Commission will present free concerts at the Heisler Park Amphitheatre with a variety of music genres.

This year’s schedule includes:

5/4: Jackie Menter Trio - Classical

5/11: Jack Benny - Eclectic/Acoustic Pop trio

5/18: The Phil Gough/Alan Deremo Project

5/25: Maestro Lazaro Galarraga and Friends - Afro Cuban

6/1: Gamelan X with Mayang Sunda - Indonesian

6/8: L’Esprit D’ Afrique – African

This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.


Council approves hybrid Landscape and Scenic Highway element: Let the tree planting begin

By BARBARA DIAMOND

It took six years for mandated revisions to the Landscape and Scenic Highways element in the General Plan and an updated companion resource document to wend their way through multiply hearings to finally reach the council.

The Council on Tuesday voted 4-0 (Councilwoman Toni Iseman was absent due to illness) for the third of three options, as recommended by staff. The option includes approval of amendments to the existing element suggested by the Design Review Board and the Planning Commission, except for commission’s recommendation to reorganize the element. 

The option also included the conversion of some of the larger tasks into action items at a cost of up to $35,000, to be brought back to the council for further evaluation. 

“We have been waiting for this document to begin replanting downtown trees,” said City Manager John Pietig.

Let the tree planting begin?

Staff was directed to begin preparing a landscape/streetscape implementation plan to replace trees in the downtown and make other improvements in the streetscape, according to Community Development Director Greg Pfost. 

Other directions to staff included providing the council with a proposed Request for Proposal for consultant assistance to come up with a plan for approval/public input process for the plan. 

“We will revise both documents (the element and the resource document) to be consistent with directions we received from Council,” Pfost said. 

Support for Option One was expressed by former Planning Commissioner Barbara Metzger on her own behalf and of the named signatories to a letter she read.

That option requires less staff time and less expense than Option Three. It did not incorporate Planning Commission recommendations intended to improve the document and make it more user-friendly.

“Our intent was not to disrupt the process,” said Commissioner Roger McErlane, who served on the commission sub-committee that recommended reorganization of the element and the resource document. “In retrospect, I think that appointing a subcommittee after six years is a mistake – it is disruptive.” 

Former Mayor Ann Christoph said the Landscape and Resource Document has been revised several times and the authors, one of whom is Christoph, are willing to do more revisions.

Eucalypti under fire again

Tuesday’s hearing could have been titled “A Debate on Safety on Scenic Highways,” which took up a considerable amount of the roughly two-hour hearing.

Safety issues were raised by the fire department and the Public Works Department questioned the advisability of continuing to plant eucalypti as street trees.

“Between (consultant) Mike Rohde and myself, we have 78 years of experience in the fire industry,” said Acting Fire Chief Tom Christopher.

His department’s concerns:

--The premise expressed by consultants that healthy green trees, including eucalypti, work as ember catchers that protect structures from burning

--The consultants’ interpretation of National Fire Behavior standards and science in the element and the resource document

--Portrayal of the goats that graze brush as less than the fire prevention tool 

 “We need to follow the advice of sworn fire safety professionals and respect consensus fire science just as we respect consensus climate science,” said Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Committee Chair Matt Lawson.

The Public Works contends that most eucalypti tend to be shallow rooted and present a hazard when they fail and fall in a high wind. Limb drop is also a public safety issue. 

Furthermore, many eucalypti grow too large to be used on Laguna streets, need larger planting areas than are available, and are prone to pests and diseases, according to the Public Works report. 

The department supported the Planning Commission recommendation to determine street trees for specific locations in the downtown.

“You cannot take a broad based approach and apply it to the whole city,” said Christopher.


Council to consider Arts Commission recommendations for Village Entrance

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Arts Commission has been working since January to come up with recommendations for public art, other than artist-designed benches, to enhance the Village Entrance.

An Arts Commission recommendation to be considered by the City Council tonight is a proposal to develop a bandstand style or pavilion that would become an “outdoor plaza venue” (noted in bold face type in the report), where people would gather.

“We have heard a request from the public for a gathering space,” said Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl. 

Commissioners also recommended that the space should be designed in relation, and complementary to existing facilities, as opposed to a “Culture Palace” that seeks to fill all space needs.

The commission’s preferred option would provide a multi-use and flexible facility for performances and exhibitions, classrooms, studio space and the capacity for digital programming, according to Poeschl’s report.   

Also in bold face in the commission’s recommendations: “One potential is that the facility ‘points to’ and coordinates art activities in other venues and places occurring throughout the City.”   

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted graphic

Location of possible public art, potentially south and north of the vehicular bridge in the Village Entrance plan

The commission is asking the council to invite artists Art Fornes, Arnie Quinze and Janet Echelman to submit proposals for an installation at the trail-crossing area south of the vehicular bridge in the Village Entrance plan. The bridge is located roughly in the middle of the frontage that stretches along Forest Avenue, Broadway and Canyon Road.  

Proposals for the north side of the bridge would be considered as long as the artist understands that the artwork could not obstruct the functions of the water quality treatment basin.

Regardless of location, the commission is recommending that proposals should include electrical outlets and infrastructure for future performances and events.

Public art is a requirement in the development of commercial property, including City projects. 

Developers have the choice of purchasing art or contributing to the City’s Art in Lieu Fund. 

If purchasing art, one percent of a project’s total value must be used for original work that is site-specific and approved by the council. The alternative is a 1.25 percent contribution to the City’s Art-in-lieu Fund, to be used to acquire art works designated by the City.  

The Art in Public Places allocation for the Village Entrance is $80,000. The commission is recommending an additional $100,000 be appropriated from the in-lieu fund, which has a current balance of $190,400.


City Manager’s Updates

Coffee with a Cop - Join your neighbors and personnel from the Laguna Beach Police Department for coffee, doughnuts, and conversation on Sunday, April 22 from 8 - 10:30 a.m. at Laguna Beach Cyclery (240 Thalia St.).. No agenda or speeches, just a chance to ask questions, voice concerns, and get to know the officers in your neighborhood. We hope to see you there!

Police Department Citizen’s Academy Graduates - On Thursday, April 19, Class #25, made up of 19 community members, graduated from the Laguna Beach Police Department Citizen’s Academy. We are so happy to be able to partner with our community and share the ever-changing facets of police work, and we now have life-long community partners.

Art That’s Small Exhibition Winners - The winners of this year’s competition are: First Place - Alice Gamez; second Place - Carolina Manchester; third place - Shakiba Hashemi; City Hall Choice - Jill Cooper; Honorable Mentions - Bryce Darrow, Ludo Leideritz and Gabriella Kohr. The Arts Commission would like to thank all participating artists. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. 

Laguna Beach Literary Festival - The first Laguna Beach Literary Festival took place on Saturday, April 14, and was a big hit! The Arts Commission would like to recognize and thank Kate Buckley for her tenure as the City of Laguna Beach’s inaugural Poet Laureate. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.


City Treasurer’s added duties – hotel audits – preserve retirement benefits

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The addition of hotel audits to the regular duties of City Treasurer Laura Parisi qualifies the service for retirement benefits. 

A salary of $11,600 will be added henceforth in Parisi’s $86,640 a year salary and her 25-hour a week schedule will be upped by about three hours a month, approved on a 4-1 vote Tuesday, with Councilman Rob Zur Schmiede opposed. 

Parisi has performed the audit separately from her regular duties since 2000 and was paid separately. Prior to 2000, the City had hired an independent certified public accounting firm to make the audit, paying a higher price for the service than requested by Parisi.

The switch included the caveat that the audits were not part of Parisi’s duties, a position reiterated by the council in 2005.

Parisi’s “special compensation” for the audits was reported to the California Public Employees Retirement System, which manages health and pension benefits for city employees. 

In 2015, CalPERS reviewed Parisi’s “special compensation” and notified the city that the audit did not qualify.

Had the council not taken the action to add the audits to Parisi’s regular duties, the City would have been required to eliminate the special compensation status of the payment for the audits. The City would also have been obliged to refund the $3,500 Parisi had contributed to her CalPERS retirement benefits related to the compensation for the audits. 

According to the report by Director of Administrative Services Gavin Curran, the CalPERS directive would have lowered the calculation of Parisi’s retirement by about $11,600.

Former Mayor Paul Freeman, who was on the council when the audits were assigned to Parisi, testified that he never thought the work was not “pensionable.”  

Councilman Steve Dicterow said putting the audits into Parisi’s hands was always intended to qualify for contributions to her retirement contribution to CalPERS.

However, the audits are not automatically part of the job for other treasurers who may not have the same qualifications or experience as Parisi.


2018 City Council Election Update

Three City Council seats up for grabs this year

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The terms of Mayor Kelly Boyd, Mayor Pro Tem Rob Zur Schmiede and Councilwoman Toni Iseman will end this year.

Voters will have a wide choice if all the folks who have expressed interest in running for one of the three seats actually become candidates. Boyd will not be among them, although he said he will campaign for selected candidates. Iseman has indicated she won’t make a decision until later this year on whether to try for a record-shattering, sixth consecutive term in office. 

Zur Schmiede says he definitely will run, although he has yet to submit his 501 form, which confirms a candidate’s intent to run.

As of Monday, only three hopefuls have submitted the form. 

Mancuso, Kempf and Kinsman are definitely running

Judie Mancuso submitted her 501 in June of 2017. 

Mancuso is a long-time animal welfare advocate, founder of the 501(c)(4) Social Compassion in Legislation, and a candidate for the City Council in 2016.

“I have over 10 years of experience in getting big things done at the State level,” said Mancuso on Saturday. 

Sue Kempf submitted her 501 in March. Her resume includes running her own company and others. In Laguna, she was a founder and graduate of the first Community Emergency Response Team class, served on the View Equity Task Force, and co-chaired the Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee. She currently sits on the Planning Commission, with her term ending June 30.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Beach City Hall

“I am running because this is a great town to live in and I want to make sure it stays that way,” said Kempf.

Cheryl Kinsman filed her 501 on Monday. 

A former City Council member, Kinsman sits on the Laguna Beach County Water District Commission. 

Kinsman was honored as the 2014 Woman of the Year by the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club for her service to the community. 

She is credited with working successfully with then-Councilwoman Jane Egly to keep a hospital with an Emergency Department in Laguna. 

Previous to her eight years on the council, Kinsman served on the Planning Commission and the city’s Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee. Her experience as an MBA and CPA were put to use as volunteer auditor of the Laguna Beach High School PTA and treasurer of Neighborhood Watch and the North Laguna Community Assn.

Hall, Blake, Philippsen, Zeiter and Auger have yet to decide/file

The list of potential candidates who have yet to make their intent to run in writing includes Michelle Hall, who ran for the council in 2014. 

“I believe it is time for a change,” said Hall, a past president of Laguna Beach Republicans. “We need someone like me. I have lived here all my life and I understand the community.”

Not committed to running yet, and that is a big YET: Gallery owner Peter Blake, a longtime Laguna Beach resident and businessman, unashamedly passionate about Laguna and concerned for its future.

“I am waiting and hoping to see a candidate who thinks the way I do,” Blake said last week. “The city is not broken, but it has been eroding for the past 25 years, for which I blame Village Laguna – it did wonderful things in the past, but it is out-of-step with the times.”

The list of uncommitted possible candidates includes Karyn Philippsen, a founding member and former president of the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau (now called Visit Laguna) and a founder of the Sister Cities Assn of Laguna Beach. Philippsen said this week that she is “considering her options.”

Attorney Jennifer Zeiter also said she is considering running for the council. Zeiter is founder of Stop Taxing Our Property, a group opposed to funding undergrounding with a bond or sales tax increase, and a past president of Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn.

Lorene Auger, who styles herself as Lorene Laguna, has said she will file her 501 when she fills out her election committee.

Goldstein will support like-minded candidate

Sam Goldstein, owner of the Heisler Building, a former Design Review Board member and integral to the establishment of the Business Improvement District that funds art projects, art groups and artists, will not be running for office, but he will be seriously involved in the election. 

He has established Liberate Laguna to financially support favored candidates and has contacted some of the hopefuls to determine how their positions align with his. 

The election campaign officially begins July 16, the first day that candidates can pick up nominating papers and collect signatures.


City Manager’s Updates

Testing of the Long Range Warning System - The City of Laguna Beach will be testing the newly installed Downtown Outdoor Warning System on Friday, May 4 at 12 p.m. Those who are in the coverage area will hear a recorded message clearly indicating that it is a test only. In the event of a real emergency, this system can be activated to provide life-saving instructions to residents and visitors in the downtown area. The system may be utilized for all hazards or disasters where immediate action from the public is necessary. Laguna Beach’s Downtown Outdoor Warning System differs from others within Orange County as it provides verbal instructions along with a siren as opposed to just a siren. Specific emergency announcements can be broadcast over any one (or more) of the three speakers, which are located at City Hall, Main Beach, and Heisler Park. The Cities of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach will also be testing their independent Outdoor Warning Systems at the same time.

New Fire Chief - Michael Garcia will start as the new Fire Chief on Monday, April 30. Chief Garcia has over 32 years of experience in the fire service, including 28 years with the City of Long Beach. An event for employees and the public to meet Chief Garcia will be held on May 3 at Fire Station One from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Access to Free Offers on the Trolley Tracker -You can nowride Laguna Beach Transit and use the Trolley Tracker app to gain access to exclusive offers from restaurants, retailers and attractions all over town! To unlock these offers, simply ride the trolley, and click on Special Offers on the Trolley Tracker app. To redeem, show the offer on your phone to the participating business. The Trolley Tracker is available on the Visit Laguna Beach app and in the Apple and Google Play Stores.

Caltrans – Coast Hwy Traffic Signals Replacement -Beginning Monday, April 30, Caltrans will mobilize to replace the traffic and pedestrian signal heads located at seven intersections between Cress Street and Ocean Avenue on Coast Highway. Work will be conducted on weekdays between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. Intermittent lane closures and flashing red signal lights can be expected through May 24. One northbound and southbound lane will be maintained for travel during this period. For more detailed project information, please contact Moussa Essayli, Caltrans Resident Engineer, at (949) 279-8816.

Heritage Month - Celebrate Heritage Month this May and enjoy the many scheduled activities and events. Activities and tours are scheduled throughout the entire month of May. A calendar of all the events can be found on the city website at http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/cd/preserve/heritage_commitee.htm.

Review Proposal for a Wayfinding Signage Pilot Project - The City of Laguna Beach will bring forward a proposal for a Wayfinding Signage Pilot Project on Wednesday, May 2 during the Planning Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall (505 Forest Avenue). The purpose of the wayfinding signage is to inform and direct visitors and residents to their desired destinations, amenities and features, and enhance the visitor and resident experience. Prior to the meeting, a prototype of the pedestrian directional sign will be installed within the existing planter at the southeast corner of Forest Avenue and South Coast Highway. After review and upon recommendation by the Planning Commission, the project will be reviewed by the City Council at its meeting on May 22. The City’s goal is to conduct the pilot project for pedestrian wayfinding signs in summer 2018. 

Summer Camp and Summer Recreation Activities Registration - Registration for summer 2018 recreation activities for all ages, adult softball and youth summer camps opens on Monday, April 30. To register and see the list of programs available please visit: https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index.

Call to Artists: Council Chambers Banners - The Arts Commission is inviting artists to submit designs to replace the banners in the Council Chambers. The competition is open to Laguna Beach residents ages 18 and older. Entries must be submitted to the reception desk at Susi Q Community Center, 380 Third Street, by May 14 at 5 p.m. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. For more information, email Arts Program Coordinator Michael McGregor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

City Hall Exhibition -The Artist Fund at Festival of Arts is currently exhibiting their annual Board of Directors Show at City Hall, 505 Forest Avenue. See work by local artists Geraldine Crosper, Anne England, Roger Folk, Rick Graves, Elizabeth McGhee and Wendy Wirth. The exhibition can be viewed through May 22.

Sunset Serenades - Held on Friday evenings in May and June at 6:30 p.m. at the Heisler Park Amphitheater, Cliff Drive, enjoy the free concert series featuring:

5/4: Jackie Menter Trio – Classical

5/11: Jack Benny – Eclectic/Acoustic Pop trio

5/18: The Phil Gough/Alan Deremo Project

5/25: Maestro Lazaro Galarraga and Friends – Afro Cuban

6/1: Gamelan X with Mayang Sunda – Indonesian

6/8: L’Esprit D’ Afrique – African

This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.


Council to make appointments to two commissions, two committees

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council will interview applicants for two commissions and two committees, starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

All appointments are for two years, starting July 1.

Three applicants have applied for the three open seats on the Housing and Human Affairs Committee.

Incumbent Marc Bruderer has been a member of the committee since 2012. He lists his occupation as a consultant and graduate student. 

Gail Duncan, also an incumbent, is seeking a fifth appointment to the committee. She wants to expand collaboration with other agencies.

Marisa Peasley has been a resident in Laguna for 23 years. She plans to start a foundation for the homeless.

Planning Commission

Five applications were filed for the three seats on the Planning Commission.

Applicants Anne Johnson, Ken Sadler and Sue Kempf are incumbents. 

The incumbents will be challenged by Ernest Hackmon, and J. Walker Reed.

A business development consultant, Hackmon is a graduate of the city’s Community Emergency Response Team class of 2017, of Leadership Laguna in 2016 and the Citizens Academy in 2014. He chaired the Parking, Traffic and Circulation committee from 2009 to 2017.

Johnson has served on the Planning Commission since 2000. During that time she also served on the boards of the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club and the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, as a member of Senior Housing Task Force and city representative for Leadership Laguna. 

Prior to her appointment to the commission, Johnson was a member of the City’s Recreation Committee and the Vision Laguna 2030 Steering Committee.

Kempf was first appointed to the Planning Commission in 2014, coming off 17 months and eight hearings of the View Equity Committee, which crafted the revisions to the newly-named View Preservation and Restoration Ordinance. 

She is also a candidate for City Council and if elected would be required to resign from the commission.

Sadler was appointed to the commission in 2012, to replace Bob Whalen, who had been elected to the City Council. Prior to the appointment, Sadler, an engineer, had served six years on the Design Review Board. 

Reed is a real estate broker and financial advisor. He has been a resident of Laguna Beach for 42 years, is a graduate of Laguna Beach High School and founder of the Alumni Assn. He has previously served on the Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee and spearheaded the city’s first utility undergrounding project in the El Mirador neighborhood.

Arts Commission

Six applicants are vying for the four open seats on the Arts Commission. Four commission members must be active participants in the arts. Five of the applicants qualify.

Incumbents Donna Ballard, Suzi Chavel, Karen Wood and Michael Stice are seeking reappointment to the Arts Commission. 

Ballard is an architect, just completing her third term. She served as vice-chair of the commission for one year and chair for two years. She is member of the LOCA board of directors.

Chavel is an artist, designer, documentary filmmaker and fine arts photographer. After a hiatus, she was re-appointed to the commission in 2007. She has been a judge of the Festival of Arts Recycled Fashion Show and the Patriots Day Parade.

Karen Wood came to Laguna 10 years ago. She is General Manager of the Irvine Barclay Theater. She has been twice nominated for an Art Star Award for Leadership while Managing Director of the Laguna Playhouse.

Stice has been the alternate commissioner since 2016, stepping in when one of the commissioners is absent.

He teaches at Laguna College of Art and Design and was named communications manager in 2012. He previously worked at Laguna Art Museum for 20 years.

Karen Philippsen was a founding director of the Laguna Beach Hospitality Assn, now called Visit Laguna Beach. She also was a founder of the Sister Cities Assn of Laguna Beach and founding chair of the group’s Fete de la Musique. More recently, she served as chair of the 90th Anniversary celebration of Laguna Playhouse.

Kathe Madrigal is a painter with four public art projects to her credit. Her work is exhibited at the Festival of Arts.   

Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee

Robert Elster, Ernest Hackmon, Christine Lins and incumbents Matt Lawson and Tim Templeton have applied for the four available seats. 

Elster served from 1972 to 1998 a in the U.S Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. He retired with the rank of Commander. He was subsequently employed as a medical facility planner.

Hackmon has also applied for appointment to the Planning Commission and if appointed could not serve on EDPC. See his qualifications above.

Lawson has served as chair of the committee since 2015. He was also appointed to the Measure LL Audit-Oversight Committee and chaired the Design Review Task Force. Lawson completed the Citizen Academy classes and CERT training.

Lins recently received her certification of completion of the Leadership Laguna program. She retired in January after 34 years of nursing and 10 years of teaching.

Templeton is a marketing advisor and former member of the city’s TechComm Committee. He is interested in pursuing how technology can benefit the city in emergency situations. 

The hearing will begin at 5 p.m. in the City Hall chambers.

More in-depth information about the applicants is available on the city’s website www.lagunabeachcity.net.


City welcomes new Fire Chief Michael Garcia

The City of Laguna Beach is pleased to welcome Michael Garcia as the City’s new Fire Chief. Garcia brings over 32 years of fire experience to the position, and began his service to the City as of yesterday, April 30.

Garcia’s experience includes 28 years with the Long Beach Fire Department.  He has 20 years of supervisory and management experience, with over eight years as a member of the Long Beach Fire Department Command Staff, holding positions of Assistant Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, and for a period as the Acting Fire Chief.  

“Chief Garcia brings an impressive amount of fire experience to the City of Laguna Beach,” said City Manager John Pietig. “I look forward to his leadership as we assess the department and develop plans for the future.”

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

New Fire Chief Michael Garcia

Garcia’s background includes expertise in the areas of fire operations, administration, fire prevention, emergency preparedness, staff training, and community relations. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Vocational Education from California State University, Long Beach. Mike lives with his wife and their three children, and says he has always enjoyed Laguna Beach.

“There is just something special about this town, the people here and the intense sense of community,” Garcia said. “I am honored and humbled to serve and protect that community as Fire Chief for the City of Laguna Beach.” 

Garcia took over duties as Chief from Acting Fire Chief Tom Christopher yesterday, April 30. Garcia is the City’s 19th Fire Chief, and will have a salary of $192,000 per year.

The public is invited to meet Chief Garcia on Thursday, May 3 at Fire Station One (located at 501 Forest Avenue, next to City Hall) from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.


Council, Planning Commission to meet jointly tonight

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Planning Commission has a list of suggested items to discuss with the City Council at the joint meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. tonight, Tuesday, May 1.

Parking studies and traffic demand on potential large projects tops the list.

Three hotel projects along Coast Highway and a mixed-use project on Laguna Canyon Road are in the planning stages and traffic and parking are public issues, according to the commission. The commissioners want to know what, if any, thoughts the council has on how the demand may be accommodated when the projects come before the commission.

“The joint meeting is a good chance for us to get together with the council, which the Brown Act prohibits except under these conditions,” said Anne Johnson, a commissioner since 2000, whose application for another term will be reviewed at the council’s 5 p.m. interview and appointment hearing. 

Round-up of topics proposed by the Commission

--Citizen participation in and sub-committees for major projects.

The commission opined that public and commission workshops would be helpful held sooner rather than later in the approval process – the rigorous public debate on the California Environmental Quality Act vis a vis revisions to the Historic Preservation Ordinance comes to mind. 

--The increased parking on some Laguna Canyon properties. 

The commission is concerned that excessive, unpermitted parking is cluttering up the visual experience of driving along Laguna Canyon Road and wants to know if the city can control it.

--Should a limit be set on the time new projects on the agenda can be heard?

--Better communication between council and commission.

--Council priority projects.

A public comment period is scheduled for the end of the meeting.

The agenda for the meeting is available on the city’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net.


City Manager’s Updates

City Council Review of Draft Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) Ordinance - The City Council will review Planning Commission and staff recommendations for a draft ordinance amendment to Chapter 25.17 of the Laguna Beach Municipal Code and an amendment to the City’s Local Coastal Program relating to Accessory Dwelling Units, also referred to as the Second Residential Unit Ordinance. 

The City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 8 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located at 505 Forest Ave. To view a copy of the staff report for this item, please refer to the agenda posted on the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net.

City Council Review of Draft Tree Removal Permit Ordinance - The City Council will review staff recommendations for a draft ordinance to amend the Laguna Beach Municipal Code and establish a Tree Removal Permit process for Heritage trees, design review approved trees and privately maintained trees in the public right-of-way. Fines and penalties for removal of these trees without first obtaining a permit are included in the draft ordinance, Chapter 12.06. The City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 8, at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located at 505 Forest Ave. To view a copy of the staff report for this item, please refer to the agenda posted on the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net.

Cress Street Beach Access Stairs Repair - Beginning Monday, May 7, the Public Works Department will perform repairs to the lower half of the Cress Street beach access. Repairs include patching chipped, cracked and broken concrete. The repairs will be followed by coating the lower staircase with a polymer sealer and coating system leaving a surface with the appearance of newly placed concrete. The work will be done in phases and the City does not anticipate any closure of the stairs during the project. The City expects to complete the work by Friday, May 18. For more information, please contact Deputy Director of Public Works Dale Schuck at (949) 497-0735.

Coast Highway Lane Closure - On Tuesday, May 8 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., the Laguna Beach County Water District will be closing the northbound number 2 lane of Coast Highway, between Oak Street and Cress Street, to replace a meter cover. For questions, please contact the Water District at (949) 464-1041.

Southern California Edison Pole Replacement - On Monday, May 7 between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., Southern California Edison (SCE) will be replacing an Edison Pole at the Monterey Drive/Poplar Street intersection. Portions of Poplar Street and Monterey Drive near the intersection will be closed during the work. For questions or concerns, please contact SCE representative Erik Hall at (949) 308-8763.

Annual Composting Classes - The City’s solid waste hauler, Waste Management, will offer the second of four free composting classes planned for 2018 on Saturday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Lang Park, located at 21540 Wesley Drive. Compost and worm bins will be available for purchase during the class at a discounted price.  

For more information, please visit the city’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net/recycling, or contact the Waste Management class instructor, Lisa Ryder, at (310) 874-2499.

City Photo Contest - The City’s 2018 Photo Contest is now open. The City is looking for your perspective on our City’s vibrancy, vitality, and livability fitting the theme “Daily Life in Laguna Beach.” Photographs may be entered in three categories: Sunsets, Daily Life, and Environmental. The First Prize photo will receive $500, and additional winners will receive $100 each. Entries must be submitted online by June 6. For rules and information about how to enter, visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/photocontest.

Summer Camp and Summer Recreation Activities Registration - Registration for summer 2018 recreation activities for all ages, adult softball and youth summer camps opened on Monday, April 30. To register and see the list of programs available please visit https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index.


Council reappoints incumbents to two commissions, two committees

By BARBARA DIAMOND

All incumbent applicants for two city commissions and two committees were reappointed by the City Council at a special meeting on Tuesday.

Appointments are for two years, starting July 1.

Mayor Pro Tem Rob Zur Schmiede chaired the hearing in the absence of Mayor Kelly Boyd. 

He told the applicants that when a committee or commission is doing a good job, it is difficult for the council to replace incumbents and he urged all un-appointed applicants to apply again at the next opportunity. 

The three open seats on the Housing and Human Affairs Committee were filled by incumbents Marc Bruderer and Gail Duncan and 23-year resident Marisa Peasley, who also plans to start a foundation for the homeless.

Five applications were filed for the three seats on the Planning Commission.

Incumbents Anne Johnson, Ken Saddler and Sue Kempf were reappointed. Kempf is also a candidate for City Council and if elected would be required to resign from the commission.

Six applicants were interviewed for the four open seats on the Arts Commission, which were filled by incumbents Donna Ballard, Suzi Chavel, Karen Wood and Michael Stice, who will serve as an alternate. All four are active participants in the arts, fulfilling a commission requirement.

Applicants were asked by Councilman Steve Dicterow if Laguna still qualified as an art colony. All four appointees gave an unqualified yes. 

Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee incumbents Robert Elster, Matt Lawson and Tim Templeton were reappointed for another term. They will be joined by Ernest Hackmon, who had not been selected for the Planning Commission. 

More in-depth information about the applicants is available on the city’s website www.lagunabeachcity.net.


Council to consider recommendations for Accessory Dwelling Ordinance

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council will consider on Tuesday recommendations to determine the future of accessory dwellings and their junior partner in Laguna Beach.

Five staff recommendations and alternate proposals to three of them will be reviewed.

“It’s going to be a hot session because of opposition to the staff recommendations to Council, which challenge state law,” said Cody Engle, Bluebird Canyon resident and Laguna Beach Seniors Inc board member.

First recommendation:

Define “public transit” as “a fixed-route service open to the public at large and includes transit stations, bus stations, bus stops, such as Orange County Transportation Authority, or another fixed route service as adopted by City Council resolution as it pertains to Chapter 25.17 of the city’s municipal code.”

Second: 

An ADU within an existing structure shall:

(Staff recommendation) Comply with all other standards of the ADU ordinance related to lot size, unit size and parking; or

(Alternative) An ADU within an existing structure shall be permitted provided it meets the minimum size restriction; or

(Alternative) All development provisions are no longer applicable if an ADU were incorporated into an existing single-family residence or accessory structure, including lot size, unit size, parking, and within a zone for single-family use on a single-family lot.

Third:

Consider one the following three options regarding lots located in impaired access areas:

(Staff recommendation) Approve the draft ordinance to not allow a parking exemption for lots located within impaired access areas and that parking must be provided for the ADU; or

(Alternative) Exclude lots in the R-1 and RHP zones located within impaired access areas from having an ADU; or

(Alternative) Maintain existing ordinance requirements for a minimum lot size of 6,000 square-feet with no exclusions within impaired access areas identified within the General Plan.

Fourth:

Approve an incentive to establish affordable units by reducing the minimum lot size from 6,000 square-feet to 4,000 square-feet when deed-restricted for low- to moderate-income persons or seniors (62 years and older).

Fifth:

Direct staff to develop an enforcement and monitoring program that will be brought back for the City Council’s consideration at a future meeting.

Laguna Beach Seniors fear adoption of too-restrictive measures

Laguna Beach Seniors board member Cody Engle is concerned that the council will adopt measures he feels will be too restrictive – limiting ADUs by location and by lot size. He communicated his concerns to council members and to Stu News.

“Some of the council members, led by Rob (Councilman Zur Schmiede), are suggesting that ADUs ought to be prohibited based on a ‘public safety’ theory that increased density in the ‘impaired access’ sections of the city is a safety risk,” Engle emailed.

“Turns out that 47 percent of the R-1 houses (in Laguna Beach) are in impaired access areas, mainly narrow streets, or limited access such as Bluebird Canyon. Last week the City sent notices to 1,278 of 2,596 homes in the impaired access areas, telling them that the council was considering this issue.”

Engel also noted that notices of the hearing were sent only to owners of lots of 6,000 or larger square feet, the size lot stated in one of alternatives. Notices were not sent to owners of smaller lots, although those owners can create an ADU within “existing space,” according to Engle.

“It appears that under the state law the city cannot invoke the ‘safety’ argument for what is created in existing space. The State’s theory seems to be that if a home is legal on the lot, an ADU created within the home is legal,” Engle wrote.

Matt Lawson, chair of the Disaster/Emergency Preparedness Committee supports limitations on ADUs, based on safety issues. 

“ADUs may be fine in safer parts of the city, but it is not a good idea to house our most vulnerable residents – including the elderly and those without vehicles – in the most imperiled neighborhoods in a city, 90 percent of which has been designated within the highest wildfire risk category,” Lawson said Monday.


Draft Tree Removal Permit Ordinance will be discussed at tonight’s Council meeting

The City Council will review staff recommendations tonight for a draft ordinance to amend the Laguna Beach Municipal Code and establish a Tree Removal Permit process for Heritage trees, design review approved trees and privately maintained trees in the public right-of-way.

Fines and penalties for removal of these trees without first obtaining a permit are included in the draft ordinance, Chapter 12.06. 

The City Council meeting will be held tonight (Tuesday, May 8) at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located at 505 Forest Ave. 

To view a copy of the staff report for this item, please refer to the agenda posted on the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net.


City to require permits to remove trees and will double fines to $6,000

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council decided on Tuesday to make it more difficult to remove certain trees, and more expensive.

A draft ordinance was approved that requires a permit to remove trees that are on the Heritage List, were included in an approved landscape plan, are privately maintained in the public right of way or provide shelter to nesting birds. Violations of the ordinance will result in fines in addition to the cost of replacement. “Make them suffer,” said Chuck Trevison.

Fines for the removal of tree without a permit or in violation of a permit will be doubled when the new ordinance is approved. A tree with a trunk diameter over 12 inches and up to 24 inches the fine will be raised from $3,000 to $6,000, plus a $100 fine for the first violation and the cost of a replacement tree. Ouch!

Under the terms of the ordinance, a replacement tree must come in 12-gallon box minimum. 

Replacement trees may be suggested by the property owner and a certified arborist may be consulted to advise on the species and size of the replacement or a request to exclude replacement. Replacements must be planted within 30 days after the removal.  

“An ordinance is not a deterrent if people don’t know about it,” said Councilman Steve Dicterow, prompting City Manager John Pieitig to respond, “We will have to do a citywide mailer.”

Trees on private property will not subject to the ordinance.

Passage of the ordinance requires a second reading and takes effect 30 days after the final reading and approval.


City Manager’s Updates

Caltrans – Coast Hwy Lane Closure - On May 11 and May 14 - 16, Caltrans will be conducting geotechnical investigation work between Aliso Way and 7th Avenue on Coast Highway. Work will be conducted on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Intermittent closures of the northbound curb lane can be expected. One northbound lane will be maintained for travel during this period. Southbound lanes are not affected.  

For more detailed project information, please contact Michael Liao, Caltrans Engineer at (562) 665-1328.

Artist-Designed Banners - New artist-designed banners are now on display throughout the city. The 2018 selected banners by artists Al Esquerra, Kelly Hartigan Goldstein, Bill Atkins and Cydette Vikander can be viewed at Main Beach.

Call to Artists: Council Chambers Banners - The Arts Commission is inviting artists to submit designs for the Council Chambers Banners. Designs must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Monday, May 14 at the reception desk at the Community and Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street. For more information, please contact Michael McGregor, Arts Program Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

*Both banner programs are sponsored by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach.


Council concedes city must comply with state mandate on ADUs: How much still undecided

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Laguna Beach City Council on Tuesday wrestled with ways the city could best deal with state-mandated development of accessory dwelling units without altering the town’s unique character.

Clearly struggling with what they felt was the hijacking of local control, the council voted on six recommendations that will be reviewed by staff, spiffed up and returned to the council on July 10, before being sent to Sacramento for approval. 

“The City’s hands are tied,” said Chris Quilter, past president of Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. “We could see them writhing in agony, but their choices are limited. But they came up with the outline of an ordinance that can be submitted to the state with a straight face.”     

For openers, the council directed staff to prepare a resolution to accompany the adoption of the ADU Ordinance that designates the city’s Main Line (the little blue buses) as “public transit” for purposes of the proposed ordinance. The State exempts the usual parking requirements if the ADU is within a half-mile of public transit. 

Council directs staff on a variety of issues

The council directed staff to process applications for ADUs within existing structures in accordance with subdivision (e) of Government Code section 65852.2, including the requirements for an independent exterior access from the existing residence and for sufficiency of side and rear yard setbacks for fire safety purposes. In addition, owner occupancy for either the primary or accessory dwelling units shall be required.

Staff was directed to evaluate proposed impaired access areas to determine if there are some areas in which no ADUs should be allowed due to public safety concerns, and to prepare a map showing these locations.

No action was taken on proposed incentives intended for deed-restricted occupancy by low- to-moderate-income people and seniors.  

Staff was directed to develop an enforcement and monitoring program to be presented to the City Council for consideration at a future meeting.

No action was taken on a proposed Junior Accessory Dwelling Units Ordinance. The motions alone took 40 minutes – the hearing was much longer. More than 20 speakers from the audience expressed their opinions on how the city should accommodate the state law. Some speakers supported compliance, others opposed ADUs based on safety issues – and some of them live in the same neighborhood.

Bluebird Canyon resident Pamela Adams opposed ADUs and if they are approved, said occupants should not be allowed to park on the street.  

Cody Engle, who lives on the same street as Adams, favors ADUs in their neighborhood, but he too stipulated no on-street parking, as well as owner-occupied units.

Engle is a board member of the Laguna Beach Seniors, which supports the ADUs as a means for city’s elderly to remain in their homes. 

“To ignore [the state law] is to invite a lawsuit”

“To ignore (the state law) is to invite a lawsuit,” said Engle.

The less combative Quilter said, “We wanted council to understand this is an opportunity, not a threat. (ADUs) are the best, cheapest and simplest way to comply with state law and provide affordable housing for people we don’t want to lose.”

Artist Carrie Woodborn said Laguna is losing more and more artists who simply can no longer afford to live here. 

“It is a tremendous loss,” she said. 

Losing people is what Disaster/Emergency Preparedness Committee Chair Matt Lawson fears. He reported that more than 40 people lost their lives in recent fires.

“Our committee recommends careful scrutiny of additional ADU development in neighborhoods designated in our Safety Element as having critical development patterns in respect to emergency responder access,” said Lawson.

Court Shannon believes excluding areas from the development of ADUs should be based on clear findings supported by substantial evidence. 

As for State interference: “The state wouldn’t tell cities what to do if the city was doing the right thing in the first place,” said Shannon.

The state law went into effect in January 2017. It will be at least another two months before the revised ordinance comes back to the council for approval.  

And only a few more months after that the state will issue new laws and the council and the community can get to reprise Tuesday’s meeting. Oh joy.

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