Back to Top


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.

Page 16 of 16