scattered clouds


Laguna Beach

 Volume 12, Issue 65  |  August 14, 2020

City requests additional information about MacGillivray’s Digester proposal


City Manager John Pietig has received from Barbara and Greg MacGillivray additional information related to their proposal for the renovation of the Digester Building in the Village Entrance that he requested in a letter dated January 22. 

Pietig asked for a response from the MacGillivrays by February 5 in order to give staff sufficient time to evaluate their proposal and understand their commitment to the renovation of the Digester prior to the February 25 City Council meeting, on which it is tentatively agendized. 

The MacGillivrays have offered to donate $500,000 toward the restoration of the Digester to a usable condition. The city would be liable for an estimated $2 million of the restoration – about the same amount it would spend to demolish the building and related costs – according to the MacGillivray’s calculations. 

City requests digester

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Digester’s fate under consideration

Information requested by Pietig and partial responses: 

--Specific details and description of your proposed use of the Digester Building along with the square footage of the area proposed for that use.

Response: Plans call for using the building and surrounding grounds in a way that will add to the community and be sustainable for 99 years.

Our idea is to let Laguna Beach residents choose from five possible uses: a small café or retail, art gallery, and possible upstairs apartment, or office.

Uses would be code compliant and beneficial to locals. 

Estimated square footage was included in the response. 

--Parking analysis, identifying the parking spaces required for the proposed use, and identification on how the parking requirements will be met.

Response: Once uses are determined, we would, in concert with the city, agree on ways to meet parking requirements. It would be ideal to have four adjacent city-metered spaces reserved for customers. 

The MacGillivrays said they are open to discussion on this topic. 

--Details and timeline of the entitlement process you are proposing to pursue, including Environmental Impact Analysis, Coastal Development Permitting, Environmental Abatement, Historic Building Modification process, Conditional Use Permit, etc.

Response: Entitlements and permits should follow city guidelines. A schedule should be mutually determined and accepted by April 30. “Neither the city, its residents, the City Council nor we want the process to drag on,” wrote Greg MacGillivray. 

The Plan is to renovate the exterior quickly and maintain it while permits and historical alterations are agreed on. 

--Details of the cost estimate, identifying how your proposed project can be entitled and constructed within your proposed $2.5 million budget.

Response: Costs need to be prepared by design and construction professionals.

Specific proposed terms of the 99-year lease agreement, identifying roles and responsibilities for the entitlement, and permitting processes, and the construction phase of the renovation project, specifically identifying responsibility for permitting costs and any costs over your proposed $2.5 million budget. 

Response: The MacGillivrays expressed hope that permitting costs will be shared by the city.

“We want to help save this beautifully designed building, as do many other Lagunans, but we don’t want it to become a contentious issue,” wrote MacGillivray in his response to Pietig’s queries. “If the City Council, all of whom we support, decides it is not in the city’s best interests to save a Laguna landmark, we will be disappointed, but we will understand.” 

The full texts of the written exchanges are available in the City Clerk’s Office in City Hall. For more information call (949) 497-0309.


Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: for questions about advertising


Email: with news releases, letters, etc.


© 2020 Stu News Laguna - All Rights Reserved.