Back to Top

City Manager’s Updates

Village Entrance Groundbreaking Ceremony – The City of Laguna Beach invites the community to a ground-breaking ceremony on Tuesday, Sept 11 at 4 p.m. for the Village Entrance project. The ceremony will be held near Lot 10 at 725 Laguna Canyon Road. Refreshments will be served. Project information is available at

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

Pedestrian Safety Improvements at Brooks Street Crosswalk – On September 10, a Caltrans contractor will begin installing flashing beacons and in-road lights to improve pedestrian safety crosswalk visibility on S Coast Highway at the intersection of Brooks Street. Minor traffic delays can be expected during lane closure hours between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. The work is scheduled to be completed by the end of November 2018. 

For more information, contact the Caltrans representative, Oussama Issa, at (949) 936-3593.

Labor Day Holiday Trash Collection Schedule – In observation of the Labor Day holiday on Monday, Sept 3, trash and recycle collection will be delayed by one day for the entire week. All residents should place their carts out for collection on the day after their regular trash collection day.

Labor Day Transit Schedule – The Laguna Beach Transit will be running special hours this Labor Day. Neighborhood Transit Service (Top of the World, Bluebird Canyon, Arch Beach Heights) will run from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. There will be no service to North Laguna and South Laguna neighborhoods. Transit will also be running service to the Coastal and Canyon routes from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.  For more information, go to or call (949) 497-0766.

Southern California Edison Pole Replacement – On Friday, Aug 31, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Southern California Edison (SCE) will be conducting utility pole work at 952 Bluebird Canyon Drive and replacing a utility pole at 968 Bluebird Canyon Drive. The parking lane of the southbound lane of Bluebird Canyon Drive will be closed in the vicinity of the work. 

For questions or concerns, contact Jeff Volpe, Construction Coordinator with SCE at (949) 632-0995.

Southern California Edison Pole Replacement – On Tuesday, Sept 4, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., Southern California Edison (SCE) will be replacing a utility pole at 408 Monterey Drive located at the Monterey Drive/Jasmine Street intersection. The pedestrian walkway and bike lane on Monterey Drive will be closed from Jasmine Street northward to the alley located behind 408 Monterey Drive. 

For questions or concerns, contact Alfred Fuentes, Construction Coordinator with Pro Energy Services, Inc. at (909) 518-5676.

Southern California Edison Equipment Upgrade – On Wednesday, Sept 5, through Thursday, Sept 6, between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m., Southern California Edison (SCE) will be replacing equipment in an SCE vault at 299 Ocean Avenue. To complete this work, the southbound lane of Ocean Avenue will be closed from the Beach Street intersection to approximately 175 feet south. This replacement work will require a power outage in the downtown area which will affect many of the properties between Broadway Street and Forest Avenue, and between S Coast Highway and Forest Avenue.  Since not all the properties in this area will be affected by the outage, SCE will be sending out notifications to only those properties who will be affected.  For questions or concerns, contact Steve Hoffman, SCE Planner at (949) 458-4452.

Ask Laguna – Did you know? Ask Laguna is a service the City offers as a way for residents and visitors to report concerns and make service requests to the City. It’s fast, free, and the easiest way to communicate directly with City Hall. You can access Ask Laguna via the easy-to-remember link of To report an emergency or immediate safety concern, please call 9-1-1.

Electric Lawn Mower Rebate – Did you know? The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) offers a year-round Electric Lawn Mower Rebate Program for residents of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Residents can purchase a new, cordless electric lawnmower, scrap their old gas mower and receive a rebate check based on the purchase price of their new mower.  Help improve air quality by participating in the electric Lawnmower Rebate Program. The on-line application is available at For more information, call (888) 425-6247 (Tuesday - Friday).

Emergency Alert System Test – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) on September 20. The WEA portion of the test starts at 11:18 a.m. PST and the EAS portion follows at 11:20 a.m. PST. The WEA test message will be sent to cell phones and uses special tones and vibrations. The EAS test is scheduled to last approximately one minute and is made available to EAS participants including radio and television broadcasters. Both systems are developed to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. No action is required from residents as part of the tests.

Sunset Serenades – Sunset Serenades starts Friday, Sept 7 at 5:30 p.m. with jazz vocalist Valerie Geason. Enjoy an evening of free live music at the Heisler Park Amphitheater on the corner of Cliff Drive and Jasmine Street. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Juried Fine Art Exhibition Juror – The City of Laguna Beach Arts Commission has approved Heather Bowling, Director of the City of Brea Art Gallery, as the guest juror for the 2018 Juried Fine Art Exhibition at City Hall. The deadline for artwork submission is September 8. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. Apply online at

Cultural Arts Calendar – The 2018 Fall edition of the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Calendar is now available. The calendar features arts related events and opportunities for September, October and November 2018. A digital version is available online at This is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

City adopts resolution in hopes of gaining significant State monies to help with shelter funding

At Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council voted to adopt the Resolution as follows: “A resolution…declaring a shelter crises (sic) pursuant to SB 850 (Chapter 48 Statutes of 2018 and Government Code §8698.2) required by the State of California in order to be eligible to receive funding from the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP).”

Prior to the vote, Mike Morris spoke of his frustration at the negativity he has seen on the Nextdoor website about homeless challenges and the efforts of the City to find solutions. 

Morris noted that the rhetoric on the site was all about “…getting tough on the homeless, and yes, we need to get tough on the problem, but we need [mostly] to be tough on neighboring cities and the County, who aren’t doing their fair share – they’re the ultimate NIMBYs when it comes to funding, locations, and housing.”

Not everyone was thrilled about the prospective adoption of this resolution, despite the significant funding its approval could bring to the City’s coffers from State funds.

Paul Merritt expressed the concern that as a result of this Resolution, the Canyon would potentially become the “next dumping ground” for the homeless population and that these people would then be there permanently. “It opens up a trapdoor of [potential] problems,” he added. “Where will the City put the permanent housing?” 

Location of future permanent housing is at issue

City Manager John Pietig responded that that he had been assured by Judge David O Carter that Laguna had met its commitment and that the onus for providing permanent housing would land on the shoulders of neighboring cities and the County.

“Friendship Shelter has [placed] 100 people in permanent housing – outside Laguna Beach,” Pietig noted. “That’s the approach we are supporting. Adopting this resolution means that we’ll get more money for what we are already doing – it’s not fair for our community to have to pay.”

Mayor Pro Tem Rob Zur Schmiede made the point that if all OC cities agreed to build 45-bed shelters – similar to Laguna’s Alternative Sleeping Location (ASL), “It would ease the burden on Laguna Beach. That’s what this Resolution is about, getting the other cities to step up,” he said.

All who voiced their opinions agreed that it was a complex problem. 

Councilmember Dicterow made the point that residents need to appreciate that the City Council makes decisions “in the context of a legal environment” and to ignore this fact could risk lawsuits “in the tens of millions of dollars.”

“It’s a complex issue,” Zur Schmiede concluded. “But I’m optimistic about what will come out of Judge Carter’s courtroom.”

City recognizes graffiti warrior Keith Kesler with the title of Honorary Graffiti Removal Ambassador


On Tuesday, the City Council honored Keith Kesler for his tireless work fighting graffiti throughout the town. In his short, but productive career in this field, Kesler has taken down over 1,500 tags on local public property. This teacher in the Communications Department at California State University at Fullerton, husband, and father of five, became a graffiti-fighter just over a year ago.

“I had to do something about it,” he says. “I started seeing the stuff everywhere, so I got some Goof Off spray, then took pictures and sent them to the City.” 

And, evidently, his work never ceases. The day of the Council meeting, Kesler erased more of the infamous Feral’s work.

City recognizes presentation

Click on photo for larger image

Photo by Dianne Russell

(L-R) Dale Shuck, Keith Kesler, Wayne Chintala

During the City Council Meeting, Maintenance Supervisor of Public Works, Wayne Chintala, and Deputy Director of Public Works, Dale Shuck, commemorated the occasion with gifts. Shuck presented Kesler with a City Worker hat and a T-Shirt naming him (in a newly created position) the Honorary Graffiti Removal Ambassador. Chintala gave Kesler a bucket containing more supplies to complete his tasks.

City recognizes with shirt

Click on photo for larger image

Photo by Shirlyn Kesler

Ready to continue his war against graffiti, Kesler dons his official gear

Until June, he waged an unknown battle against tagging, however, with this recognition by the City, he officially has been honored twice. On June 21 at The Laguna Beach Beautification Council (LBBC) Awards, Kesler was presented with the “Harry Lawrence Award” for his selfless work on graffiti removal throughout Laguna Beach.

“I’ve hated graffiti for years,” says Kesler, a 30-year Laguna resident, who lives in Bluebird Canyon. One day while on a route he frequents, either walking his dog or exercising (north to Heisler Park or south to Aliso Creek), he decided to take action.

And Laguna is certainly glad he did.

City Manager’s Updates

Street Resurfacing – Construction will begin next week to repair and resurface roadways in the Laguna Canyon area and the area bounded by Thalia Street, Temple Terrace, Cress Street and the Coast. Preliminary construction notices have been mailed to affected residents. Preparatory and repair work will continue through September, with slurry seal resurfacing to follow in October. The project is expected to be completed in November. For more information, please visit the project website at or call (844) LAGUNA4 or (844) 524-8624.

Fire Department Staffing Update – After 27 days working up north at the Mendocino Fire Complex, fire engines LB 1 and OES 313 are returning to Laguna Beach on Thursday, Aug 23. The initial crews worked a 14-day assignment from July 27 until August 8 when they were replaced by a fresh new crew. Laguna Engine 302 returned to Laguna Beach on Wednesday, Aug 22, after a 17-day assignment to the Mendocino Complex. 

Backpack Giveaway – On Friday, Aug 24, approximately 20 children from the Boys and Girls Club will make their way to the Laguna Beach Police Department for a special field trip where they will receive backpacks filled with school supplies to kick off the school year. The Laguna Beach Police Department has partnered with the Purist Group to make this backpack event possible. Members of the Laguna Beach Police Department will be waiting at the police station for the kids to arrive at 1:30 p.m. They are in for a real treat! There will be a snow cone station, vehicle display, and tours. Backpacks are filled with crayons, pencils, notebooks, and other supplies.

Literary Laureate Playwriting Class – Every Friday from October 5 through November 9, from 1 to 3 p.m., Laguna Beach Literary Laureate Lojo Simon will be teaching a free course in short-form playwriting at the Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. Class size is limited. Register online at

Arts Marketing Workshop – On Friday, Oct 5, the Arts Commission in partnership with National Arts Marketing Project will be holding a free arts marketing workshop. The workshop “The Art of Relevance” will be led by Art Marketing Project founder Cindy Sherman. It is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. For information and registration, visit

Alta Laguna Pickleball Courts – Alta Laguna Park now has a pilot pickleball program with two pickleball courts available for play every Sunday through Friday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Open group pickleball play is encouraged for this social sport. The court will continue to be used for tennis during the other open hours. Please call Alexis Braun, Senior Recreation Supervisor with any questions at (949) 497-0762.

City Manager’s Updates

Pearl Street Beach Access Closure – Unusually low sand levels have prompted the closure of the beach access stairway at Pearl Street. Beachgoers are being re-directed to Woods Cove, where sand levels are normal. The stairway will be re-opened as soon as a sufficient amount of sand returns to Pearl Street beach.

Free Public Lecture Series on Proposed Aliso Creek Estuary Project – The City of Laguna Beach announces a free public lecture at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug 30, regarding proposals for an estuary restoration project at Aliso Creek and its implications for the future. The lecture will be held in the Community Room at the Laguna Beach Community Center at 380 Third Street.

The proposed restoration project will be presented by Laguna Ocean Foundation Project Lead Coordinator Ed Almanza, who will be introduced by Laguna Beach Mayor Pro Tem Rob Zur Schmiede. The Foundation received a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy to develop a Conceptual Restoration Plan to return the Aliso Creek estuary to a healthy ecosystem. The presentation will include slides and videos to describe the local and regionally significant benefits of the restoration project. This lecture is the third of four in a series of educational events presented by the City’s Environmental Sustainability Committee.

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

Art Inspired Writing Winners and Author Event – Congratulations to Ellen Kempler and Theresa Keegan on having their work selected as the winners of the City’s Literary Laureate’s Art Inspired Writing Competition! Their work will be on public display at City Hall near the first-floor elevator through September. In addition, the public is invited to attend a special Author Event on Thursday, Aug 30, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street, where over thirty contributing authors will present their pieces. An anthology of competition entries has been published and will be available for purchase. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

LPAPA at City Hall – The Laguna Plein Air Painters Association is currently exhibiting work at City Hall, 505 Forest Ave, through October 4. Stop by and experience more than 50 stunning works by local artists. This exhibition is free and open to the public during normal City Hall business hours.

Calls for Artists – The Arts Commission is currently accepting submissions for their Juried Fine Art and Children’s Holiday Palette Exhibitions as well as their Council Chamber Banner and Holiday Palette Competitions. Guidelines and entry forms are available via the “Calls for Artists” page at These arts opportunities are funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

For more information contact Arts Programs Coordinator Mike McGregor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

City Council highlights from Aug 7

In addition to a 4-1 approval by City Council on a construction contract for the Village Entrance project (see Barbara Diamond’s story on Front Page II), the following events highlighted Tuesday’s Council meeting:

City awarded $4.2 million Fire Prevention Grant

The City has been awarded a $4.2 million fire prevention grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) California Climate Investments Program. The grant provides funding to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires and sequester carbon. The grant is funded by the State Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. 

School Resource Officer is part of Joint Use Agreement between City and LBUSD

The City and the Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) renewed their Joint Use Agreement for use of shared sites and also entered into an agreement to establish a School Resource Officer (SRO) program in the District.

The program will assign one LBPD law enforcement officer to the District facilities during the 9-month academic school year. The mission of the SRO program is to reduce school-related violence and crime committed by juveniles and young adults, and foster a program that will build a positive relationship between law enforcement, youth, parents, and school administrators. 

The District has expressed support for the program and will make a formal decision on the program at its upcoming August 21 meeting. 

City Council approves first reading of Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance

On Tuesday, City Council made amendments to and adopted a first reading of its ordinance regarding Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) or second residential units on a property. The ordinance has been expanded, rewritten, and reorganized.

State regulations regarding ADUs took effect on January 1, 2017, and aim to address the California housing shortage by encouraging the development of affordable housing options for seniors, students, the disabled, relatives, and in-home health care providers.

Ordinance as it pertains to existing ADU structures

ADUs are permitted within an existing structure on any lot where a single-family dwelling currently exists but requires owner-occupancy of either the primary or accessory unit. Proposed ADUs located entirely within a single-family residence, or permitted accessory structure, do not need to meet additional parking requirements or other development standards shown below for new ADU structures.

Ordinance as it pertains to new ADU structures

The City’s Municipal Code will only regulate new construction of an ADU, whether it is attached or detached. For new attached or detached ADUs, the following standards apply: 

Minimum lot size for an ADU is 6,000 square feet. The maximum ADU size depends on lot size, is not to exceed 750 square feet, and is determined by 7 percent of the lot size (e.g. 6,000 sq. ft. lot x 7 percent = 420 sq. ft. ADU). The unit size may be increased to 10 percent of the lot size if dedicated as low-to-moderate-income, or as a senior unit. Maximum ADU building height is 12 feet; anything higher is subject to Design Review approval.

Parking exemptions for new ADUs

There is an exemption from State parking requirements for new attached or detached ADUs, if the ADU is located within one-half mile of public transit, as defined by the City as OCTA Bus Routes and the City’s Mainline Transit System, consisting of regular non-seasonal route public transit.

However, the State parking exemption for new attached and detached ADUs will not apply if there is less than a 28-foot paved right-of-way width, including 8-foot wide on-street parking lane, or 36-foot paved right-of-way width, including two 8-foot wide on-street parking lanes for the front of a property to ensure emergency vehicle accessibility. 

Additionally, that width clearance must be maintained in either direction to the intersections adjacent to the property. If the street width cannot be met, one onsite parking space is required and can be uncovered or an owner may construct one new public on-street parking space as parking for an ADU.

Replacement parking requirements for garages converted to an ADU

Replacement parking for the conversion of an existing garage into an ADU must be provided as covered, uncovered or tandem. 

An ADU may not be operated at any time as a short-term lodging unit, and an ADU enforcement and monitoring program will be developed as part of this ordinance. The ordinance will undergo a second reading at a date to be determined before it goes into effect.

City Council approves tree-replanting plan

The Council approved a tree-replanting plan for 27 vacant tree sites located in downtown and along Coast Highway.

Over the past few years, several trees located within the downtown area and along North and South Coast Highway have been removed due to vehicle damage, disease, death, storms and Caltrans projects. Each site has been assessed for the replanting effort and a recommended replanting list has been made.

On Tuesday the Council decided that vacant tree wells in the downtown and along Coast Highway be replanted in accordance with the Planning Commission recommended species. 

Wade Brown recognized for 30 years of service

City Manager John Pietig recognized Wade Brown, Public Works Department Undergrounding Program Manager for the City of Laguna Beach, for 30 years of service with the City.

Brown started as a building inspector in 1988 and in 1990 he became the Parks Division Manager for the Public Works Department and was then promoted to Project Director. 

Brown has worked on many notable City projects including the Montage Project and Treasure Island Park, building the second story to City Hall in 1990, coordination of the clean up process after the 1993 fires, the Heisler Park Master Plan and renovations, Lifeguard Headquarters Project, which included the Main Beach Sewer Lift Station, the third largest lift station in the City located under the Lifeguard Station at Main Beach, the Top of the World Trail in 1995, and the Village Entrance Project for the past 20 years.

“Wade has always been one of those go-to team members,” said City Manager John Pietig. “Anything we need him to do he finds a way to help us do it. My great thanks to Wade for everything you have done for this community. Congratulations, Wade.”

City Manager’s Updates

Extension of Candidate Filing Period for the City of Laguna Beach – The process of nomination for the November 6, 2018, General Municipal Election which opened July 16, 2018, for three (3) seats on the City Council will be extended through Wednesday, Aug 15, 2018, at 5 p.m. for non-incumbent filers if an incumbent who is eligible for reelection fails to file a Declaration of Candidacy by 5 p.m. on August 10, 2018. Per state law, the nomination period for filing nomination papers for the Office of City Council may be extended five days to Wednesday, Aug 15, 2018, at 5 p.m. Candidates that have not filed nomination papers but would still like to do so if the nomination period is extended, must make an appointment to pick up the nomination forms from the City Clerk’s Office beginning Monday, Aug 13, 2018. Nomination papers with the appropriate signatures and fees must be filed with the City Clerk no later than 5 p.m., Wednesday, Aug 15, 2018. The General Municipal Election is November 6, 2018. For information on the election and to register to vote, visit or call the City of Laguna Beach City Clerk’s office (949) 497-0705.

Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Course Accepting Applications – The City is excited to announce registration for the upcoming Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which is an organized and trained group of volunteers ready to assist in case of a disaster. Applications are due by Monday, Sept 17, and must be submitted online at For more information, contact Jordan Villwock, Emergency Operations Coordinator at (949) 497-0389 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 Sunset Serenades – Sunset Serenades returns on Friday evenings in September at 5:30 p.m. at the Heisler Park Amphitheater at Cliff Dr and Jasmine St.

This fall’s schedule includes:

9/7: Valerie Geason – Jazz Vocalist

9/14: Jack Benny – Eclectic rainbow pop group

9/21: Dr. Jane G. Ferruzzo – Virtuoso Harpis

9/28: Community Beatles Singalong with Jason Feddy

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

City Managers serenades

Click on photo for larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

Sunset Serenades begin again in September in Heisler Park

 Marketing Workshop for Artists – On Friday, Oct 5, 2018, the Arts Commission in collaboration with Americans for the Arts is hosting “The Art of Relevance,” a free marketing workshop with guest presenter Cindy Sherman, founder of Art Marketing Project. The workshop will take place from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach. For information and registration visit

 Cleo Street Lift Station Upgrade – The City’s Water Quality Department is in the process of replacing the onsite emergency generator at the wastewater lift station located near the Cleo Street beach access. The area will remain open to vehicular and pedestrian traffic to the beach and surrounding homes during the replacement project. For information about the project, contact Hannah Johnson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 Fall Recreation Guide – This fall, our Laguna Beach Community Services Fall Recreation Guide features a tear out Emergency Preparedness Form you can use to make sure you and your family are prepared and know what to do in the event of an emergency. Residents should receive a copy of the Fall Recreation Guide in the mail, but you can also pick one up anytime at the Susi Q Center or at City Hall. You can also register for recreation classes and programs online at

 Community Outreach – The Laguna Beach Police Department has started a new community outreach initiative by placing a temporary pop-up informational booth at Main Beach Park from Friday through Sunday until Labor Day of 2018.

 Water Quality Department – The City dedicates significant resources and effort to prevent urban runoff pollution from ever reaching the ocean. The City’s Water Quality Department staff removes an average of eight tons of debris and sediment annually from 17 of the City’s urban water diversions. Remaining street pollution is captured before it reaches the beach and is sent to the sanitary sewer system for treatment. There are 25 urban water diversions along the Laguna Beach coastline, and over 80 percent of the watershed land area in the City of Laguna Beach is diverted.

City Managers trees

Click on photo for larger image

Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Trees have long been a part of our iconic landscape

Tree Removal Ordinance – The City of Laguna Beach recently adopted a Tree Removal Ordinance to establish protection of the urban forest in the City by requiring a permit be issued before the removal of private trees in three categories. Residents need a permit to remove a tree if it is a Heritage Tree, a Design Review approved tree or a tree that is privately maintained in the public right of way. If you are unsure if your tree requires a permit for removal or for more information on the tree removal permit process, see the Tree Removal Permit page on the City’s website at

 Southern California Edison Pole Replacement – On Wednesday, Aug 15, between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Southern California Edison (SCE) will be replacing a utility pole north of the Balboa Avenue/Del Mar Avenue intersection. The pole is located approximately 175 feet north of the street intersection, adjacent to the emergency access fire road. The emergency access fire road shall remain open and clear of any obstructions during operations. For questions or concerns, contact JC Holt, Construction Coordinator with Pro Energy Services, Inc. at (909) 781-3973.

 Southern California Edison Pole Replacement – On Thursday, Aug 16, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., SCE will be replacing a utility pole at 353 Cedar Way. The work is being performed during the night due to an outage associated with the pole replacement, which will affect commercial customers in the vicinity. Cedar Way, between Jasmine Street and Aster Street, will be closed during operations.  Emergency vehicle access shall be permitted at Cedar Way as needed.  The affected residents and customers have been notified of the work and the street closure in advance by SCE.  For questions or concerns, contact JC Holt, Construction Coordinator with Pro Energy Services, Inc. at (909) 781-3973.

City Manager’s Updates

City Receives California Emergency Services Association Gold Award – The California Emergency Services Association has awarded the City of Laguna Beach the California Emergency Services Association Gold Award for outstanding service in Emergency Management. 

Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock’s work in this field in the area of creating both shelter and evaluation plans is what prompted the City of Aliso Viejo to nominate the City for the award. Jordan will receive the award at the CESA Annual Emergency Management Training and Conference in September.

City manager Jordan

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock

Arts Market Survey – The City has partnered with national nonprofit organization Artspace to research and develop policies and programs to offer affordable creative space. If you are an artist or a creative, please take this 10-minute survey This program has been funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach. (See expanded article on the survey in this issue of Stu News Laguna.)

City releases agenda bill on Preservation Ordinance issues, asks council to determine if CEQA guidelines are binding


The City has released the agenda bill that poses questions staff believes Council needs to answer if the logjam that has hobbled completion of the proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance is to be resolved. 

City staff and a group of property owners represented by attorney Larry Nokes are at loggerheads over the interpretation of a California Environmental Quality Act guideline that has stymied agreement on legal interpretations of state law. More than 20 meetings were held on the ordinance with no reconciliation of the differences. Some of the meetings were downright ugly.

Resolution of the differences was most recently put into the hands of a task force, which reached an impasse over the question of the City’s legal obligation for historic preservation under CEQA, and is now seeking Council direction. 

The City Attorney’s office has opined that the city would be required to follow CEQA guidelines if there is substantial evidence that a proposed project involves a structure that has the potential of being an historic resource. CEQA guidelines have been determined by the courts to be regulations. 

Nokes, who was not appointed to the task force, believes the city is under no obligation to consider a structure’s historical status during a discretionary action, such as design review.

CEQA is concerned with the potential impacts of a project on the physical environment. In 1992, CEQA was amended to include manmade structures as a part of the environment protected by the act. 

The intent behind the word “preclude” is at the heart of the debate

The amendment adds to a section of the state Public Resources Code a paragraph that reads: “The fact that a resource is not listed in, or determined to be eligible for listing in, the California Register of Historic Resources, not included in a local register of historic resources or not deemed significant pursuant to a compliant historic inventory shall not preclude a lead agency from determining whether the resource may be an historical resource for the purposes of this section.”

Nokes maintains that “precluding” is not the same thing as “compelling” a lead agency to determining whether the resource may be an historical resource. It should be up to the property owner, Nokes contends.

That is the crux of the current disagreement, according to the staff report. 

Staff has requested the Council provide direction to the Historic Preservation Task force regarding what the city’s obligation should be under CEQA, and in the absence of any applicable local regulations, when considering discretionary projects involving potential historic structures that are not on state or city historical registers, and not on a local historical inventory that meets all applicable state requirements.

Two options have been offered by the staff:

--Determine, as suggested by Nokes, that the City is not obligated and may choose not to consider a structure’s historic status during the reviews of a discretionary action;

--Determine, as suggested by the City Attorney’s Office, that the City would be required to follow CEQA guidelines if there is substantial evidence that a structure potentially would be historic. 

The staff report is on the City’s website. However, the staff report included a caveat that the agenda bill could be revised prior to a public meeting. Comments should be directed to City Clerk Lisette Chel Walker.

City takes steps to clean up trashy acts, initiative aimed at visitors

The City is launching an education and outreach effort called Keepin’ it Clean, Laguna: Leave No Trash Behind anti-litter campaign to remind visitors to use trashcans throughout the City.

The “Keepin’ It Clean, Laguna” outreach aims to teach visitors how to dispose of their waste and recyclables responsibly, especially at the receptacles located at the top of the City’s beach access stairways and along Coast Highway.

The program reinforces the City’s initiatives to keep the beaches and public areas clean and free of trash or litter by the following efforts:

--Additional trashcans and signage have been placed at frequently visited beach accesses and sites along Coast Highway

City takes trash

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Not a pretty sight – matters should improve with new program

--Contract services have been added to empty the trash receptacles in frequently visited areas twice a day during the rest of this summer

--More than 600 trash and recycling containers are now placed throughout the City in public places

This outreach is an attention-grabbing educational effort to encourage visitors to use all the 600 trashcans and recycling containers placed throughout the City for trash disposal.

City takes beach

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The City is doing everything in its power to keep Laguna’s beaches pristine…seen here, beautiful Treasure Island Beach

“Throughout the summer, our City’s beautiful beaches are a choice destination for millions of visitors looking to swim and sunbathe,” said Shohreh Dupuis, director of Public Works/assistant city manager. “We want to take this opportunity to encourage all of our visitors to pitch in and ask them to do their part to keep our beaches safe and clean.”

The City’s efforts will range from placing signs near trash receptacles and a social media campaign encouraging visitors to dispose of their trash in receptacles located on beach accesses and public places. The overarching aim is to promote public awareness on community cleanliness, environmental protection and effective use of provided trash disposal.

Here’s to a program that, with luck and enough trash cans, with ensure garbage in, garbage out.

Page 6 of 19