Council agenda: New city manager appointment, local housing trust fund, outsourcing investment management slated

By SARA HALL

The Laguna Beach City Council has several notable items on the agenda tonight.

At tonight’s meeting (Tuesday, April 9), council will consider: Appointment of a new city manager; establishing a local housing trust fund; extending an urgency ordinance related to state Senate Bill 9; annual report on the fiscal year 2021-22 audit results; outsourcing management of the city’s investment portfolio; request to remove a residence from the city’s historic register; resolutions related to an underground utility assessment district (Woods Cove) and an amendment of the Design Review Board bylaws regarding the appointment of temporary alternates.

Up first during regular business, council will consider the biggest item of the night: The recommended appointment of Dave Kiff as the new city manager.

According to city code, the city manager must be appointed by a motion or resolution with at least three councilmembers in support.

Council has engaged in a formal competitive executive recruitment process over the last several months to select a qualified candidate to fill the position. Based on this process, Kiff was identified as the candidate who is best qualified and able to serve as city manager.

Courtesy of Dave Kiff

Councilmembers will consider appointing Dave Kiff as the new Laguna Beach city manager

Kiff previously worked in state legislature and other city and county jurisdictions. Most notably, he spent 20 years at Laguna’s coastal neighbor to the north, Newport Beach, including nearly a decade as the city manager. After Newport, he was interim executive director of the Association of California Cities-Orange County and then moved to Sonoma County, where he led the homeless services division.

According to the staff report for tonight’s item, the city manager will receive an annual salary of $315,000 and will receive the same benefits as other management employees. The city manager will also receive a monthly housing stipend of $1,000 (subject to certain provisions); vehicle allowance of $500 per month; cell phone stipend of $80 per month; a laptop from the city and other benefits.

The city is in the process of a background check, which will need to be completed before Kiff assumes the position of city manager.

The employment agreement, if approved tonight by City Council, will be effective as of May 6, the date Kiff will commence his duties in the new role.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

City Council will consider establishing a local housing trust fund

Another notable item on the agenda is last during regular business, council will consider establishing a local housing trust fund.

If approved, the action will also adopt administrative guidelines; adopt Uniform Multifamily Regulations (UMRs), and authorize the city manager to apply for and execute agreements for grants related to the Laguna Beach Local Housing Trust Fund.

Council is also recommended to authorize the city manager to issue a notice of funding availability (NOFA) of existing housing in-lieu funds and housing funds, and of anticipated LHTF funding.

Staff is expected to return to council on May 14 with results of the NOFA and a request to issue letters of intent.

On Dec. 12, 2023, the City Council directed staff to conduct additional analysis with representatives from the Housing and Human Services Committee and, if feasible, return with the appropriate document(s) to establish a local housing trust fund.

HHSC completed extensive research and concluded that a LHTF would provide valuable funding to facilitate the development of affordable housing in Laguna Beach.

A housing trust fund acts as a critical financial resource to tackle housing challenges within a community. More specifically, a housing trust fund is a pool of money set aside by the city to support various initiatives aimed at making housing more affordable, accessible and sustainable. This funding can be used for a variety of purposes, including loans or programs.

According to staff, in the context of the state’s LHTF grant program, a housing trust is: “a public, joint public and private, or charitable nonprofit organization,” which was established by “legislation, ordinance, resolution (including nonprofit articles of incorporation), or a public-private partnership organized to receive specific public, or public and private, revenue to address local housing needs.”

On March 27, HHSC discussed the local housing trust fund idea and added input on the recommendations in the draft resolution, LHTF program application, administrative guidelines and other related documents.

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Committee members unanimously recommended that City Council establish a Laguna Beach Local Housing Trust Fund by adopting a resolution committing housing in-lieu fee and housing funds to the LBLHTF and incorporating administrative guidelines and uniform multifamily regulations (UMRs) as loan and underwriting guidelines.

They also suggested that the council authorize the city manager to: Apply for and execute agreements related to the LBLHTF and issue a notice of funding availability (NOFA) with city-owned land.

Other recommendations included: Establish the specified priority populations (artists, seniors and local workers) and programs (rent subsidies, accessory dwelling unit development, new multifamily housing units, rehabilitation for affordable housing units and senior aging in place home repair); direct staff to return to council during the budget process with changes aimed directing monies toward at the housing fund, and direct staff to review NOFA responses with the HHSC affordable housing subcommittee, if they are available in a timely manner, for input prior to publication of the Future Council agenda packet.

Included in the draft documents is a statement of purpose, which identifies that the LBLHTF aims to assist in the creation and preservation of affordable housing in the City of Laguna Beach for the benefit of lower income households (extremely low, very and low).

For potential sources of ongoing revenue, the recommendations are based on committee suggestions and what staff found in looking at current balances. The key characteristic of a LHTF is that it receives ongoing revenues from dedicated sources of funding sufficient to permit the LHTF to comply with the requirements of the state’s grant program. HHSC recommended several funding sources: Inclusionary housing in-lieu fees; the city’s housing fund; short-term rental fees; housing impact fees/commercial linkage fees; hotel bed taxes; Laguna Beach Tourism Marketing District; parking fees and second home linkage fees.

Also during regular business tonight, council will consider an extension of an urgency ordinance re-codifying a city code section regulating single family residential one- and two-unit developments and urban lot splits pursuant to state Senate Bill 9.

Staff is recommending an extension of 22 months and 15 days, or until the city’s permanent ordinance is certified by the California Coastal Commission, which would allow additional time for the city to analyze the Housing and Community Development department’s correspondence for the purpose of evaluating whether to revise the Laguna Beach’s permanent regulations and the CCC to certify the permanent regulations for SB 9 properties/projects.

Council unanimously adopted the urgency ordinance on February 27, which established temporary processing rules and objective standards to govern applications under SB 9. According to the staff report, California cities can only adopt urgency planning and zoning laws on an interim basis and are only valid for 45 days.

During regular business, council will also hear the Citizens’ Audit Review and Investment Advisory Committee annual report on the fiscal year 2021-22 audit results.

In the summary for the report, committee members wrote that “despite the material weaknesses and significant deficiencies noted below, which have all been addressed through filling open positions, additional training, and process improvements, the committee finds the city’s financial reporting processes and internal controls to be adequate.”

In a separate, but related item, council will consider the audit and investment committee’s recommendation to outsource management of the city’s investment portfolio.

The committee is recommending the city retain Meeder Public Funds, Inc., to manage the Laguna Beach’s investment portfolio, and, if approved, request staff to prepare a transition plan, including modifying roles and responsibilities as appropriate.

Also on Tuesday during regular business, council will consider a property owner’s request to remove a residence from the city’s historic register.

The Heritage Committee recommended that the council direct city staff to prepare a resolution denying the request to de-list the property at 2055 Catalina St.

The property was initially placed on the register with a “K” rating in 2007, after the previous property owner submitted an application. The rating is given to resources that are “very good historical architectural examples which strongly retain their original integrity. These buildings have significant architectural, historical, and/or aesthetic value and are fine period examples,” according to the staff report. Although, at the time, it was not fully evaluated for historic significance and architectural integrity.

A historic assessment prepared last year concluded that the property is “not historically or architecturally significant as an example of early development in Laguna Beach,” and it doesn’t meet the criteria for designation in state or city register. Based on these findings, the current property owner requested it be removed.

In a 3-1 vote on Oct. 16, 2023, the Heritage Committee recommended council deny the request and maintain the property’s listing due to “inconsistencies within the assessment” regarding certain criteria and that “the residence is an intact example of an early Laguna Beach cottage.”

Also during regular business, council will consider resolutions and appropriations related to the sale of bonds for an underground utility assessment district (Woods Cove).

Under councilmember items on tonight’s agenda, Mayor Sue Kempf is requesting the council consider an amendment of the Design Review Board bylaws regarding the appointment of temporary alternates.

Council directed staff at the March 26 meeting to bring an item back amending the DRB bylaws to allow for temporary appointment of alternate board members in situations where a board member is unable to serve for an extended period of time due to medical conditions or other unavoidable absences. The proposed amendment is intended to ensure continuity in board operations and decision-making processes in a temporary absence of any board member.

The council agenda is available online here. The closed session starts at 4 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 5 p.m.

Members of the public may speak in person in council chambers.

The meeting can be watched live on Cox channel 852 or on the city’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net/agendas.

Comments may be submitted on any agenda item or on any item not on the agenda in writing via mail to the City Clerk at: 505 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, Calif. 92651, by mail to amckay@lagunabeachcity.net, or by using this interactive form. In order to allow sufficient time for members of the City Council and staff to review and consider your written comments, submissions were accepted for consideration up until the close of business (i.e., 5:30 p.m.) on April 8 (the day before the City Council meeting).

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Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Laguna.


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