Back to Top


City Manager Updates

Shopper Parking Permits – Residents that have applied should receive their new Shopper Permit(s) next week. Shopper Permits are available only to residents of Laguna Beach (proof of residency required such as a utility bill in your name). They cost $80 each for the first two permits and $150 each for the third and fourth (with a maximum of four permits per household). Shopper Permits allow residents to park in City lots and at City meters for the posted amount of time without additional payment. The permits are valid for two years: from August 1, 2018 to July 31, 2020. 

If you are a resident of Laguna Beach and would like to purchase a Shopper Permit, please visit the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net. Just click the “Buy a Parking Permit” icon located on the City’s homepage. From the website, residents can purchase parking permits online or by mail by downloading a PDF version of the information packet and application.

City Manager Agate

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Maggi Henrikson

Agate Street stairs under construction

Agate Street Closure – On Friday, July 20, between 7:30 a.m. and 6 p.m., a portion of Agate Street between South Coast Highway and Ocean Way will be closed for resurfacing as part of the Agate Street beach access rehabilitation project. Pearl Street and Ocean Way will temporarily become two-way streets, and access to Viking Way will be maintained. For questions, please call Project Director Lou Kneip in the Public Works Department at (949) 464-6688.

Agate Street Beach Access – Re-Opening Ceremony – The City of Laguna Beach invites the community to a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, July 24 at 4 p.m. for the re-opening of the newly renovated beach access at Agate Street. The project included new stairways, overlooks, landscaping, lighting, benches and bike racks. 

For questions, please contact Lou Kneip at (949) 464-6688 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


City Manager’s Updates

Agate Street Beach Access – Re-Opening Ceremony – The City of Laguna Beach invites the community to a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, July 24 at 4 p.m. for the re-opening of the newly renovated beach access at Agate Street. The project includes new stairways, overlooks, landscaping, lighting, benches and bike racks. For questions, please contact Lou Kneip at (949) 464-6688 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Drop-In Basketball – Drop-In Basketball will be held at Laguna Beach High School in Dugger Gym for three Sundays, July 15, 22 and 29, from 9 a.m. to noon. The cost is $3 per participant. Please contact Community Services at (949) 464-6645 with any questions.

City Hall Exhibition – Community Art Project awarded Mike Ishikawa the Arts Commission Choice award for his pastel “Heisler Park” which is currently on exhibit at City Hall. The public is invited to vote for their favorite artwork before the exhibition ends on August 8.

Public Art Restoration – The following installations are in the process of restoration: “Laguna Tortoise” (Bluebird Park); “Word on the Street” (Heisler Park); and “Boy and Dog” (Jahraus Park). Artists will be on-site undertaking the restoration, which should be completed by Sunday. This project has been funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Call for Artists – The City of Laguna Beach is now accepting entries for its 2018 Juried Fine Art Exhibition. Entry deadline is September 8. Apply online at https://lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com. This project is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. For more information, contact Arts Program Coordinator Michael McGregor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Council to pick which tax measure goes on Nov ballot

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday will consider two possible ballot measures to fund undergrounding utilities on key evacuation routes in the November election.

Staff has provided steps for placing measures for a general purpose sales tax increase or a special purpose sales tax increase on the ballot. Special purpose taxes for a specified use require a two-third supermajority vote for approval and the revenue goes into the General Fund, to be used at the council’s discretion. 

A general purpose tax requires a 50 percent plus one vote and revenue is limited to the specified use approved by the voters. 

If the general purpose tax is selected, the council must adopt a resolution expressing support for the Utility Undergrounding, Fire Safety and Other Essential City Services Measure, its intent to prioritize spending options for future ballot measure revenue and its intent to create an oversight committee.

The special purpose measure is titled Laguna Beach Undergrounding and Fire Safety Measure.

Both measures to be considered recommend a one percent increase in sales tax.

Staff has been working with Mayor Kelly Boyd and the council’s Utility Undergrounding Subcommittee of Councilmen Rob Zur Schmiede and Bob Whalen to develop the wording of a measure. 

Regardless of which option is selected, certain actions must be taken by the council:

--Direct the City Attorney to prepare an impartial analysis measure

--Authorize City Manager John Pietig to prepare a fiscal analysis

--Authorize Boyd, Whalen and Zur Schmiede, any other council members so inclined and the chiefs of the Police and Fire Departments to prepare direct and rebuttal arguments in favor of the selected measure 

Staff has also recommended that the council appoint Whalen and Zur Schmiede to prepare a ballot argument in favor of the selected ballot measure and a rebuttal.

All of the documents must be filed with the City Clerk’s Office by 5:30 p.m., August 10.

The first reading of an ordinance for the selected measure is scheduled to be introduced at Tuesday’s meeting. A second reading will be required for adoption.


Council approves maximum pay hikes

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council approved last week the maximum hike allowed by law in their monthly stipend. The vote was 3-2, with Councilman Bob Whalen and Mayor Pro Tem Rob Zur Schmiede opposed to the ten percent increase (five percent increase for each of past two years).

Members of the Design Review Board, Arts and Planning Commissions also got a pay increase, retroactive to July 1, approved by a resolution. The council will have to wait until after the November election for their increase to become effective per the ordinance introduced at the meeting. A second reading is required for passage.

Resident Michael Morris said the proposed increase for council members was not commensurate with the time they spend on City business, merely symbolic and not a measure of the council’s worth and perhaps should be waived. 

“The number of hours you put into public service is immense,” said Morris. “I don’t think the increases are meaningful. I would suggest given that the city’s voters are going to be asked to increase taxes on themselves in November, perhaps the council – but not the commissions or board – just forgo an increase.” 

Three options considered

City staff provided three options for the council to consider. 

--Increase compensation by the growth in the Consumer Price Index over the past 30 months, 7.7 percent

--Match the increases to the salary increases given employees over the past three years, 3.5 percent in January of 2016 and 3 percent in in July of 2017 and 2018

--Increase the compensation by 5 percent annually (10 percent total), the maximum amount allowed council members by government code

Whalen and Zur Schmiede favored an increase that would mirror the three percent annual increases for city employees.

A fourth option not included in staff recommendations could have increased the compensation for board and commission members, but not for the council. 

The approved increases raise the council member’s salary from $826 a month to $908 a month. Planning Commissioners’ and Design Review Board members’ monthly compensation will be raised from $357 to $392. The eight Arts Commissioners will see their checks go up from $125 to $137 a month.

The cost of the increases is covered by the $12,900 appropriation approved by the council in June.

A hike in pay was proposed by Councilwoman Toni Iseman, who said she spends most of her stipend meeting with the public.

Council members also are reimbursed for expenses incurred in travel on behalf of the city; are given a flat amount to compensate for cell phone bills; and the City pays the dues for memberships in organizations that benefit the city. 


City’s proposed draft plan for replanting of trees to be reviewed at public workshop this Friday

There will be a public workshop to review the City’s proposed draft plan for replanting of trees in the downtown area and on portions of Coast Highway. The workshop will be held this Friday, June 29 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. in the community room of the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center.

Citys proposal downtown trees

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Replanting of trees workshop is this Friday, June 29

Public Works staff have developed a replanting plan which will be presented at the workshop.

Subsequent to the workshop, the planting plan will be presented to the Planning Commission on July 18 and to City Council on August 7.

Susi Q Center is located at 380 Third St.

For more information, go to www.lagunabeachcity.net.


Council expected to approve tree removal permit and set a fee

By BARBARA DIAMOND

An ordinance to establish a tree removal permit and a permit fee is expected to be approved tonight by the City Council.

The council previously voted unanimously in favor of the permit and set fines for violating the ordinance.

Permits will be required to remove heritage trees, Design Review-approved trees and privately maintained trees in the public right of way.

Proposed fines for violations are heavy. All fines will be doubled for unpermitted removal of heritage trees.

Size matters

The fine for unpermitted removal of non-heritage trees with a trunk measuring six to 12 inches around is $1,000 for the first offense, $3,000 for the second offense and $5,000 for the third offense. 

Fines for unpermitted removal of non-heritage trees with trunks that measure more than 12 inches up to 24 inches is set at $3,000 for the initial violation, $7,000 for the second and $10,000 for the third.

Non-heritage trees that measure more than 24 inches around will cost the culprit $5,000 for the first violation, $12,000 or the second and $15,000 for the third.

If the ordinance is passed as expected, the public will be notified of the procedures for obtaining a tree removal permit by various sources.

What you need to know about the permits

--Permits will be available at the front counter in City Hall

--Folks on the Interested Parties List will be noticed

--Permit applications will be posted on the Tree Removal Permit web page

--A press release will be coordinated with the Community Information Officer

--Real Property Reports will be amended to include a statement that trees on the property may require a permit for removal

--Announcement of the new ordinance will be made by a city-wide mailer to all property owners

The proposed ordinance is on the council’s Consent Calendar and will be approved without discussion unless pulled by a member of the council or the audience.


City’s proposed draft plan for replanting of trees to be reviewed at public workshop on Friday, June 29

There will be a public workshop to review the City’s proposed draft plan for replanting of trees in the downtown area and on portions of Coast Highway. The workshop will be held on Friday, June 29 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. in the community room of the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center.

Citys proposal downtown trees

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Replanting of trees workshop is on Friday, June 29

Public Works staff have developed a replanting plan which will be presented at the workshop.

Subsequent to the workshop, the planting plan will be presented to the Planning Commission on July 18 and to City Council on August 7.

Susi Q Center is located at 380 Third St.

For more information, go to www.lagunabeachcity.net.


City Manager’s Update

Laguna Canyon Road Improvements – On June 27, from 5 to 7p.m., Caltrans will be conducting a public hearing at the Laguna Beach High School Library to present environment impact findings and their proposal to adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Laguna Canyon Road Improvements project. The project proposes to provide Class II bike lanes on the shoulder of the road, implement drainage improvements, underground overhead utilities between El Toro Rd and State Route 73, and implement traffic safety improvements on Laguna Canyon Rd from 1,700 feet south of El Toro Rd to 1,200 feet north of El Toro Rd. The hearing will provide the public an opportunity to comment and to discuss certain design features of the proposed project with Caltrans staff. If you have any questions, contact Van Nguyen, Caltrans Public Information Office at (657) 328-6363 or e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Click here to view the Caltrans notice.

SCE Pole Replacement by Helicopter – On June 25, 26, and 28, Southern California Edison (SCE) will perform helicopter operations to replace two poles located in the canyon between Canyon Acres Dr and Alta Laguna Park. SCE will use a helicopter to transport crews to prepare the site on Monday, June 25 and Tuesday, June 26. On Thursday, June 28, the helicopter will be used to place the new poles. The landing zone and staging area for the helicopter will be located at the trailhead north of Alta Laguna Park. The trails in the vicinity of the staging area will be temporarily closed while the helicopter is operating in the staging area for no more than 10 to 30-minute intervals. Hours of operations will vary each day. Signs will be posted and flag persons will alert the public of the temporary closures. For questions or concerns, please contact JC Holt, Construction Coordinator with Pro Energy Services, Inc. at (909) 781-3973.

 July 4 Laguna Beach Transit Hours – On July 4, the trolleys will be operating special service hours. The Coastal routes will run from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the Canyon route will run from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will be no transit service in the North and South Laguna neighborhoods, along with the Top of the World, Bluebird Canyon and Arch Beach Heights neighborhoods. For more information, please contact the Transit office at (949) 497-0766.

Two New Laguna Beach Police Officers Graduate Academy – On Friday, June 22, Officer Elizabeth Gutierrez and Officer Chelsea Martin will graduate from the Golden West Criminal Justice Training Center, Academy Class #157. Officer Gutierrez comes from a family of law enforcement officers and was previously both a Police Aid and Police Cadet with the Laguna Beach Police Department. Officer Martin is a graduate of Long Beach State University, where she played field hockey and was the team captain. We welcome them to our police and city family!

 Creative Placemaking Assessment – On Monday, June 25, the Arts Commission will review and discuss the final draft report of the Creative Placemaking Assessment submitted by AEA Consulting. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. This project was funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. The report can be reviewed at: www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art/default.htm

 The Word on the Street – On June 30, new temporary sculptures, titled “Word on the Street,” by Scott Froschauer, will be installed throughout Heisler Park. The public is invited to attend the public art dedication and artist reception on Sunday, July 1 at the corner of Cliff Dr and Jasmine St at 5 p.m. This project is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

 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 www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art.


Council to vote Tuesday on raises for

themselves, board and commission members

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday will determine if they or members of the Planning Commission, Design Review Board and Arts Commission should get raises, and if so, how much.

Three options were supplied by staff:

--Increase compensation by the growth in the Consumer Price Index over the past 30 months, 7.7 percent

--Match the increases to the salary increases given employees over the past three years, 3.5 percent in January of 2016 and 3 percent in July of 2017 and 2018

--Increase the compensation by 5 percent for 2016 and 2017 (10 percent total), the maximum amount allowed council members by government code

The current annual cost of the compensations is $109,900. (Annual costs are approximately $68,895 for city council, $17,780 for DRB, and $22,225 for all commissioners.) The first option would raise the cost to $118,200; the second option would cost $120,400; the third option, $120,900.

Raises for board and commission members could be approved by resolution, retroactive to July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

An increase in the compensation for City Council members must be approved by ordinance. If approved, state law stipulates that increases would not go into effect until the start of new terms for a council member, December 4.


Council approves changes in the 2018-19 budget

By BARBARA DIAMOND

At its June 12 meeting, City Council approved most of the changes to the 2018-19 budget recommended by staff, based on a positive economic outlook for the city. 

Forecasts for major city revenues include a 4.5 percent increase in property taxes, a 4 percent increase in bed taxes, and a 2 percent increase in sales tax; the 20 percent General Fund reserve and the 10 percent Disaster Contingency remain intact. The adopted budget for fiscal year 2018-19 is $97 million. The General Fund, which is the city’s primary operating fund, is $64.3 million.

The rosy projections make possible the spending additions for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Approved additions included reducing the appropriation for a Community Development Historical Inventory consultant from $30,000 to $20,000 and using the $10,000 to fund salary increases for the City Council, the Planning and Arts Commissions and the Design Review Board. City Attorney Philip Kohn will also get an increase in his monthly retainer from $8,500 to $12,000 and in his hourly rate from $235 to $255. Marine Safety funding for part-time salaries will be increased by $10,000 to address busier activity on city beaches. 

The biggest change was the increase from $100,000 to $600,000 to pay for IT equipment, Cultural Arts grants recommended by the Arts Commission and funded by the Business Improvement District in the amount of $237,600, and Community Assistance Grants totaling $259,000 were approved for disbursement. 

City Clerk Lisette Chel Walker and City Treasurer Laura Parisi were awarded 5 percent Exceptional Performance payment.

Unfunded pensions remain a concern. The California Public Employees Retirement System, known as CalPERS, continues to be underfunded, and apparently isn’t expecting its investments to pay better in the future. The rate of return was lowered from 7.5 percent to 7 percent, which is expected to increase the city’s payment to CalPERS by an additional $2.8 million by 2024-25. 

However, in June of 2017, the council approved incrementally appropriate ongoing revenues above the budget estimates toward future increases in pension payments with the goal of $2.8 million by 2024-25.

Page 5 of 17