NewLeftHeader

broken clouds

63.8°F

Laguna Beach


City Manager’s Updates

Moulton Meadows Park Playground Resurfacing – On Monday, Sept 16, work will begin to replace the playground safety surfacing at Moulton Meadows Park. The playground will be reopened to the public at the end of October. 

For questions, contact Maintenance Supervisor Wayne Chintala at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (949) 464-6644.

SCE Pole Replacements – Southern California Edison (SCE) will be working in several areas of town next week. For questions or concerns, contact SCE’s Customer Service number at (800) 655-4555.

--2030 Glenneyre St – On Tuesday, Sept 10, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., SCE will be replacing a utility pole located at 2030 Glenneyre St. Glenneyre Street, between Ruby Street and Diamond Street, will be closed during the work. Detour signs will be posted alerting residents of the temporary road closure.

--361 Center St – On Thursday, Sept 12, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., SCE will be replacing a utility pole located at 361 Center St. Center Street, between Glenneyre Street and Catalina Street, will be closed during the work. Detour signs will be posted alerting residents of the temporary road closure.

--910 Skyline Dr – On Friday, Sept 13, between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., SCE will be replacing a utility pole located at 910 Skyline Dr. Portions of Skyline Drive near Park Avenue may be blocked during the work and personnel will be directing traffic. Vehicular access to Skyline Terrace from Skyline Drive will be restricted during the work.

Help Keep Your Sewer Lateral Clean – A private sewer lateral is the pipe that drains your sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and showers from your home or building to the City’s sewer main line. Proper maintenance of a private sewer lateral is important because they can clog with roots and grease and can cause a backup inside your property or spill from the line. Property owners are responsible for the operation, maintenance, and repair of their property’s sewer lateral from the home including the point of connection with the City’s sewer main line.

 It is recommended that all homeowners have their sewer laterals video-inspected on a periodic basis to ensure they are functioning properly. Contact a plumbing company participating in the City’s program for a video inspection and lateral assessment. No matter the company you choose, be sure your plumber contacts the City’s Plumber’s Hotline before they begin work at (949) 464-6616. Be sure to request a copy of the lateral video inspection.

Getting Married in Laguna Beach? If you’d like to be married on public property in Laguna Beach, you’ll need a wedding permit. Wedding permits are issued for most beaches and parks within the City’s jurisdiction with some restrictions. The City schedules ceremonies on a master calendar on a first-come, first-served basis upon receipt of the application and non-refundable use fee. Changes to the wedding permit, such as date or time, must be in writing and a processing fee of $10 is required.

To obtain availability of specific beaches, parks, and dates for a wedding, call (949) 497-0716 or (949) 464-6645.

Emergency Kit Backpacks For Sale – Getting prepared for emergencies has never been easier. A Laguna Beach-specific Emergency Kit Backpack is available for purchase. The kit includes the following: AM/FM hand crank radio with flashlight and cell phone charger, 4-in-1 gas and water utility shut off tool, glow sticks, bio-hazard bags, nitrile gloves, N95 mask, 54-piece first aid kit, duct tape, emergency poncho, solar blanket, and a personal hygiene kit. 

City Managers backpack

Click on photo for a larger image

Laguna-specific emergency backpacks are available for purchase and make great gifts for loved ones if you already have yours

Additionally, the kit will contain emergency plan templates and disaster-specific information. Each red backpack will feature an official City of Laguna Beach Seal. You can purchase the Laguna Beach-specific Emergency Kit Backpack for $50 on the City’s website here or in person at the Community and Susi Q Center, 380 Third St, during normal business hours. No profits are being made from the sale of this backpack. Let’t get prepared!

Wildland Fire Engine and Neighborhood Outreach Event – The Laguna Beach Fire Department invites the community to attend a christening of the new wildland fire engine along with a neighborhood wildfire evacuation and outreach event on Saturday, Sept 7 from 9 to 11 a.m. at Fire Station 2, located at 285 Agate St.

The City’s newly released neighborhood-specific evacuation maps will be shared with the community to kick off the City’s evacuation outreach campaign. This campaign is detailed in the Wildfire Mitigation and Fire Safety Report which was approved by the City Council in July. Disaster preparedness material will be handed out and the City’s Emergency Kit Backpacks will also be available for purchase. Coffee, pastries, and donuts will be provided.


City Manager’s Updates

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. It will also be running service to the Coastal and Canyon routes from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

For more information, visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/trolley or call (949) 497-0766.

Holiday Street Sweeping Schedule – On Monday, Sept 2, only non-residential areas will be swept. Residential street sweeping will not occur, and parking restrictions will not be enforced.

Labor Day Holiday Trash Collection Schedule – In observance of the Labor Day holiday on Monday, Sept 2, 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.

New Trolley Hours Starting September 3 – Beginning on Tuesday, Sept 3, the Laguna Beach Trolleys will have new off-season hours:

Weekend Coastal Trolleys will operate on Friday from 4 to 11 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

Arch Beach Heights, Bluebird Canyon, and Top of the World Neighborhood Trolleys will operate Monday to Thursday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

North and South Laguna routes will operate Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Use the Trolley Tracker on the Visit Laguna Beach mobile app for arrival times. 

For more information, visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/trolley

Sunset Serenades – The Sunset Serenades concert series will return to the Heisler Park Amphitheater on Friday, Sept 6 with a performance by ukulele virtuoso Andrew Molina. Concerts will take place on Fridays in September from 5:30 p.m. to sunset. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. 

For schedule information, visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art

City Managers Andrew

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of andrewmolinaukulele.com

Sunset Serenades returns on Sept 6 featuring Andrew Molina 

New Wildland Fire Engine and Neighborhood Outreach Event – The Laguna Beach Fire Department invites the community to attend a christening of the new wildland fire engine along with a neighborhood wildfire evacuation and outreach event on Saturday, Sept 7, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Fire Station 2, located at 285 Agate St.

Fire Department personnel and officials will push the new engine into the apparatus bay, “officially” placing the engine into service along with pushing the old retiring 1999 wildland engine out of service. 

The community is invited to witness this ceremonial placement into service and the christening of the new engine. Additionally, the City’s newly released neighborhood-specific evacuation maps will be shared with the community to kick off this evacuation outreach campaign. 

This campaign is detailed in the Wildfire Mitigation and Fire Safety Report which was approved by the City Council in July.  Disaster preparedness material will be handed out and the City’s Emergency Kit Backpacks will also be available for purchase. Coffee, pastries, and donuts will be provided.

Village Entrance – Construction for the next phase of the Village Entrance project will begin on Tuesday, Sept 3. For this phase of work, the employee parking lot and the parking area behind City Hall will be closed. 

A portion of newly constructed Lot 11, located at the intersection of Laguna Canyon Road and Forest Avenue, will remain open to the public. Lot 10 (located next to Art-A-Fair) and Lot 12 (located adjacent to City Hall on Forest Avenue) will be reserved for City vehicles and employee parking Monday through Friday. Lots 10 and 11 will be available for public parking on weekends. 

For more information, visit the Village Entrance website at www.lagunabeachcity.net/villagentrance.

Bluebird Park Slide Renovation – On Monday, Sept 9, construction will begin to remove and replace the damaged slide at Bluebird Park. The slide will be reopened to the public at the end of October. 

For questions, contact Maintenance Supervisor Wayne Chintala at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (949) 464-6644.

Police Department Participates in Pink Patch Project – The Laguna Beach Police Department is excited to announce its participation in the Pink Patch Project. To show support and bring awareness to breast cancer, the Laguna Beach Police Department had designed its very first pink patch which will be worn by officers in the month of October. As part of the program, these patches are available for purchase. All proceeds from the sales will be donated to a local charity for breast cancer research and awareness. 

Those interested in purchasing a pink patch can visit www.lbpdpinkpatch.com. Patches are also available for purchase at the front counter of the Laguna Beach Police Department. 

Southern California Gas Company Paving Repairs on Coast Highway

On Friday, Sept 6, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., the southbound lane closest to the curb on Coast Highway will be closed between Camel Point Drive and Bluff Drive. Southern California Gas Company’s contractor will be paving the street associated with previous gas line work. 

For questions or concerns, contact the Gas Company’s project coordinator, Jorge Hernandez, at (714) 989-5147.


Planning Comission asks for heads up on upcoming projects

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Planning Commission wants to get a handle on projects they may review in the coming months, perhaps years – many of them submitted first as concepts.

Mo Honarkar’s Laguna Beach Company has at least six projects under consideration, but only two of them have been submitted as concepts. Other major projects have been announced, but are not ready to be reviewed by the commission.

“I am getting concerned about upcoming major projects,” said Ken Sadler, commission chair. “Some we know about like the concept for the Cleo Hotel, but there are others that we have just heard about. We have asked staff for a general overview and direction.”

The commission is working on clarifying the concept review process as a prelude to applications for entitlements and permits. Concept review provides business owners with direction from the commission before they get in over their heads.

“We want to make it easier for the applicants and the public for a number of projects we have coming before us,” said Commissioner Anne Johnson.

The Honarkar properties along Coast Highways and on Laguna Canyon Frontage Road are not the only projects unready for prime time.

Realtor Connor Stevens confirmed on Wednesday that Newport-based Bear Flag Fish Co. has signed a lease that encompasses the iconic Boom Boom Room, but is still at the concept stage. Stevens also confirmed that San Diego’s Better Buzz Coffee chain has leased the former Coast Liquor building across the street and deals are in the works for the cottage behind it.

All three properties have been owned by Chris Dornin since 2013. 

The Bear Flag lease is contingent on city approval of the project.

Planning Commission Bear Flag

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bear Flag Fish Co. has signed a lease to take over the former Boom Boom Room location, but has not received city approval yet

“All restaurant leases include a ‘per approval’ clause,” said Stevens.

The concept includes a cocktail lounge, a restaurant, a sushi bar and a fish market.

It will be the fourth Bear Flag establishment: one is in Huntington Beach, one in Newport and one in the Crystal Cove Shopping Center.

However, a more extensive proposal for the Coast Inn property is still active, according to Laguna Beach architect Marshall Ininns.

“I have been working on this project for six years,” said Ininns. “It is zoning plan check at this point.”

This is a revised version as directed by the City Council of the original plan that was approved by the Heritage Committee, but kicked up a storm of public opposition and was thrice rejected by the Planning Commission, Ininns said. 

“The revision includes the controversial rooftop pool, which has been a part of the project since [architect] Morris Skenderian submitted a project for the property,” said Ininns. “It will be for the use of hotel guests only.”

“We have removed the restaurant on the lower floor elevation from the plan and the elevator has been moved to avoid a height variance.”

Bear Flag owner Tom Carson has another project in the works. He received a green light in January to open a tacqueria to replace the defunct Johnny Rockets on the corner of South Coast Highway and Ocean Avenue.

But the city red-tagged the Wild Taco project it in June and renovations are at a standstill as of Wednesday.

“I am thrilled that Wild Taco is coming in but I an unbelievably disappointed that work has not resumed,” said Heidi Miller, owner of the neighboring Tight Assets and World Newsstand.

“The closure adversely affects my business and Tom (Carson) is frustrated. I know he wanted to be open by the Fourth of July.”

In an exchange of texts with Miller, Carson wrote he was almost ready to give up, but later texted that it would have been nice for both of their businesses if he could have opened this summer, but now it appears to be delayed until winter. 

Carson was unavailable for comment.

Unfamiliarity with city processes can be a problem for newcomers, said Miller.

Planning Commission Flippin Beach N Burgers

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Flippin’ Beach ‘n’ Burgers plans to open in former Royal Thai location

Steven Schroff, who leased the former Royal Thai didn’t know he needed city approval to begin interior renovations on the building he had leased.

The conversion to a Flippin’ Beach ‘n’ Burgers was red-tagged. 

But two weeks ago, Laguna Beach architect Mark Warren stepped in and will submit applications to the city, probably by today.

What a concept!


City Manager’s Updates

Bluebird SOCWA Sewer Lift Station Odor Control Project – The City’s Water Quality Department will begin construction of odor control improvements at the City’s largest wastewater pumping facility located at the corner of Calliope and Glenneyre streets on Monday, Aug 26. 

The project will provide odor control for the surrounding area, known as the Glenneyre Dip. During construction, the stairs from Glenneyre Street to Galen Drive will be closed for public access until after construction is complete. A new stairway and improved public access pathway from Galen to Glenneyre is included in the project. 

Construction is anticipated to take three months. While the permanent odor control facility is being constructed, the City will provide temporary odor control for the immediate area. 

For more information, contact the City’s Project Manager. Hannah Johnson, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Be Coyote Aware – Like most communities located in semi-rural areas, Laguna Beach has active coyote populations. Due to the brushy canyon areas and natural “den” type rock formations, our hillsides provide an attractive environment for coyotes and other animals. Numerous small wild animals in the area provide a plentiful natural food supply for coyotes and other predators; however, coyotes are very resourceful predators. 

City Managers coyote

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Laguna Canyon Foundation

The City of Laguna Beach wants residents to be coyote aware 

Refuse in commercial and private garbage dumpsters, pet food, and domestic cats now comprise a large percentage of the diet for the “Urban Coyote.” Garden plots, fruit trees, and golf courses offer additional incentives for these animals to move closer to humans. Some ill-informed citizens even leave food out for coyotes, racoons, and other wildlife which, of course, escalates the problem. 

Usually the only threat coyotes pose is to pets that are allowed to run loose. Most attacks occur during the evening hours, but daytime incidents have been reported. Animal Services recommends that pets not be let outside during evening hours unless the owner is next to the pet to prevent a coyote attack. This is most crucial in areas that border undeveloped open space. Also, when pets roam without identification, Animal Services is unable to notify most pet owners of the fate of their missing pets. 

If you have any concerns regarding wild animals, or see a coyote in a residential area, call Laguna Beach Animal Services at (949) 497-0701. You may also report coyote sightings to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SCE Pole Replacement – On Tuesday, Aug 27, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Southern California Edison (SCE) will be replacing a utility pole located at 10 Top of the World Dr. A portion of Alta Laguna Boulevard and Top of the World Drive in the vicinity will be closed during the work. Detour signs will be posted alerting residents of the temporary road closure. 

For questions or concerns, contact SCE’s Customer Service number at (800) 655-4555.

CERT Registration Now Open – The Laguna Beach Police Department, in collaboration with the Laguna Beach Fire Department, is excited to announce registration for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course. A Community Emergency Response Team is an organized and trained group of volunteers ready to assist in case of a disaster. 

The CERT program consists of 25 hours of classroom and hands-on training and it concludes with an exercise drill to apply the skills and knowledge obtained during the classroom sessions. 

Training will begin on Tuesday, Sept 3. Classes will then meet weekly from 6 to 9 p.m., including two Saturday morning meetings. The final exercise/drill takes place on Saturday, Oct 5. Mandatory attendance is required at all classes. 

To be considered for this training, you must be a resident of Laguna Beach or work within the city limits, be at least 18 years old, and have no felony convictions. Applications must be submitted through the online recreation class sign-up at http://bit.ly/2tmh9vi. All individuals will receive a confirmation email if accepted into the program.


City’s fuel modification programs in high gear ahead of fire season

Fuel modification programs within the City of Laguna Beach are in high gear ahead of peak fire season to further reduce the risk of loss of life and property damage from wildfires.

“As part of the City’s fuel modification programs, the City currently has two working goat herds to keep fuel levels down to slow the spread of a possible wildfire,” said Laguna Beach Fire Chief Mike Garcia. 

 “On August 15, a third goat herd consisting of another 200 goats was brought in for additional help with fuel modification. That means we now have 800 working goats as part of our fuel modification program to help reduce fire risk in the City of Laguna Beach.” 

Citys fuel goats

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Goats working hard to keep fuel levels down 

The City’s goat herd was expanded in size because heavy rains over the winter months have created higher than average growth of brush (fire “fuel”) in Laguna Beach’s fuel modification zones. 

The first herd of fire goats just completed clearing modification zones in North Laguna, behind the Festival of Arts and the area behind City Hall. That herd is now working its way from Thurston Middle School to Top of the World Elementary to complete that fuel modification zone before the start of the 2019-2020 school year. 

Citys fuel hill

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

A team of experienced hand crews also work in fuel modification zones to clear brush by hand

The second herd started in Arch Beach Heights and completed fuel modification work there and through to the Fire Road and has now been moved to Bluebird Canyon. 

The third herd, added last week, will start in South Laguna Beach at Upper Three Arch Bay and move north to Arch Beach Heights. Each herd is guided by its own dedicated goat herder from Peru and a shepherd dog to help guide the herd through the City’s specific fuel modification zones.

Citys fuel view

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Fuel modification programs reduce the risk of loss of life and property damage from wildfires

“Due to the heavy rains last year we’ve had a lot of vegetative growth here and it’s slow-going with our goats because there is so much of it,” Garcia said. “We haven’t had a third herd in years, but this year we need to bring them in to clear as much growth as we can before we move into the fire season.”

As part of the City’s fuel modification program a team of experienced hand crews also work in fuel modification zones to clear brush by hand. The hand crew teams (each consisting of about 6-7 professional landscapers) just finished an area located on the hillside near Barracuda Way. Hand crews clear fuel modification zones by 1) identifying and removing any invasive species, 2) removing any dead brush and 3) thinning out flammable species.

“We partner with the Laguna Canyon Foundation to oversee our fuel modification programs and make sure it’s done in the way the environment can sustain and also meet all of the requirements of our Coastal permit,” said Laguna Beach Fire Marshal James Brown. “By partnering with the Laguna Canyon Foundation, we know we have someone out there at the site that really cares about preserving the Laguna environment.”

Citys fuel Rouda

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

On Aug 21, Assistant City Manager and Director of Public Works Shohreh Dupuis and Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen met with Congressman Harley Rouda to advocate for funding for the City’s wildfire mitigation efforts 

Nearly all of the City of Laguna Beach and its surrounding 16,000 acres of open space are designated by CalFire as a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone. This designation underscores the significant risk in the City and recognizes the loss of 441 structures due to wildfire in 1993.

At its regular meeting on July 23, the Laguna Beach City Council unanimously approved a Fire Mitigation and Safety Subcommittee Report and approved moving forward with its recommended action items including additional programs, mitigation measures, staffing and equipment needed to reduce the current level of high fire risk and exposure to wildfires in Laguna Beach, and action items needed to further protect the City in the event of a wildfire. 

A detailed copy of the Subcommittee’s report can be found here.

The City of Laguna Beach is encouraging residents to be better prepared for a wildfire by creating a defensible space and creating a defensible home. You can do this by using fire-safe construction materials and looking for points of entry where embers could intrude into the home or attic during a fire. 

Home and property safety preparation should also include creating defensible space around your home by clearing vegetation at least 30 to 100 feet away from your home and using fire resistant landscaping to help stop the spread of wildfire. Residents should also remove all dead or dying vegetation from their yard, roof, and rain gutters. 

Residents can sign up for a free wildfire consultation by the Laguna Beach Fire Department by visiting here, or by calling (949) 497-0700. 


Planning Commission to review proposed Downtown Specific Plan revisions

By BARBARA DIAMOND

After years of reviewing the Downtown Specific Plan chapter by chapter, the Planning Commission on Wednesday will get a look at the entire package. 

The commission will review the proposed changes, accumulated from numerous public workshops, hearings, and recommendations from consultants. A draft of the proposed plan was made public on August 1 and can be reviewed at www.lagunabeachcity.net.

“This is a legacy document and we don’t want it to be flawed,” said Ken Sadler, commission chair. “We’ve been at this for five years and we want it to be a successful resource that means something.”

As for the procedure Wednesday night, Sadler said, “Here’s what I think: we’ll open up the meeting for public comment, have some commission discussion, and then kick it back to the staff to review all they heard and the correspondence.” 

The plan’s primary purpose is to preserve and enhance the unique character of the downtown, which includes the Arts District and the Central Bluffs. 

First adopted in 1989, the plan has undergone changes, so has the downtown. 

Planning commission downtown

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Downtown area

The proposed plan allows more diverse uses in the Downtown Specific Plan Area without requiring a conditional use permit. The plan also allows second and third stories in specific locations for housing. Heights of 24 and 36 feet would be permitted to accommodate the housing.

Planned Integrated Development Standards deals with large developments, usually under single ownership in the Arts District and the Central Bluffs – which would include properties along Laguna Canyon Frontage Road and Coast Highway owned Laguna Beach Company.

The Urban Vision Chapter in the proposed plan includes both vision and guidelines. Vision refers to the look and feel of the downtown; guidelines tell how to realize the vision. 

If the plan were to be adopted in its present iteration, parking would not be determined by the use of the property. 

South Laguna resident John Thomas posited in an email that the less restrictive requirement proposed might have unintended consequences.

“The effect of the plan may very well be to drive out current low density uses like clothing stores and art galleries to be replaced by higher density bars and restaurants, which would increase traffic and congestion and at the same time reduce the amount of parking that currently exists,” Thomas wrote. 

The Ad Hoc Committee on DTSP revisions suggests that additional hearings on parking would be advisable, not to mention other concerns.

Planning Commission parking meters

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Parking concerns

“We don’t like the Urban Design section at all,” said Ad Hoc Committee member Norm Grossman, a former planning commissioner. 

Sadler said the Ad Hoc Committee’s input was valuable. 

“We incorporated many of their suggestions in our recommendations to staff,” said Sadler. 

A 25-member Chamber of Commerce Urban Design Committee also takes exception to the section.

“An alternate plan was presented by the committee, but it has been totally ignored by the staff,” said Grossman. 

The original Downtown Specific Plan was the result of several years’ work in the 1980s by a Citizen’s Advisory Committee, with some of the same members now on the Ad Hoc Committee. It was created as a guide for the growth, design, and development standards in downtown Laguna Beach, primarily to preserve and enhance the unique character of the downtown. 

The plan has been amended throughout the years, most recently in 2008.

In 2012 the council directed the planning commission to amend the plan.  Eight public workshops were held in 2012 and 2013. Subsequently, MIG was hired to consult on the revisions to the plan. From 2015 to 2018, the commission and the public reviewed MIG’s  proposals, chapter by chapter. 

The draft to be reviewed Wednesday incorporates revisions based on prior direction from the commission and public input.


City Council/Design Review Board met jointly to discuss issues

By BARBRA DIAMOND

The City Council and the Design Review Board met jointly on August 6 to air issues related to the board and the review process. 

Four items were submitted by the board for discussion: legal representation at the meetings; council feedback; Phase II streamlining, to help brainstorm and assess potential issues; and public communication. The board is opposed to transferring some of its oversight to the Planning Commission, as is proposed in the “streamlining” process. 

“I think little was accomplished to address issues raised by the board,” said Verna Rollinger, former city clerk, council member and one of the dozen members of the pubic that attended the 4 p.m. meeting.

Item one

Board member Deborah Neev said some issues before the board would benefit from the presence of a city attorney, who could advise on legal issues there and then, without having to continue the hearing. 

“We have to rely on staff to tell us when something contentious is coming up,” said board Chair Meg Monahan, former city deputy clerk. “Sometimes both sides have attorneys and it would be nice [for the board] to have backup.”

Board member Louis Weil said delays also can result when documents are submitted to the board 20 minutes before the meeting. 

City Manager John Pietig supported the notion of an attorney at the meetings a couple of times a year, but a full-time attorney would cost the city $4,000 for 45 hours a month.

“I would prefer to use attorneys to disarm the DRB so residents wouldn’t need lawyers,” said Councilman Peter Blake.

Councilwoman Toni Iseman reiterated her concern that what is wrong with the process is the time and money it takes to get a project on the DRB’s agenda, not the board.

Mayor Bob Whalen said the consensus supported an attorney at the meetings on an as-needed basis.

Item two

Council feedback on the board and its review process was second on the agenda. 

“I don’t think people should think the streamlining process as an indictment of the board,” said Councilwoman Sue Kempf. “When we are talking about process, we are not talking about the board.” 

Neev expressed disappointment that the building department was not at the table for the discussion of the process. Some delays can be attributed to projects not sticking to approved plans, caught by building inspectors and brought back to the board, she said.

“Are you saying that approved plans get changed out in the field?” asked Whalen.

“Builders don’t always stick to approved plans,” said Community Development Department Director Greg Pfost, whose duties include overseeing the building department. 

If the department gets a call complaining that a window is where it shouldn’t be or a structure is too high, his department can put a stop work order on the job. 

Board member Kris Thalman said people just want to know what the rule is. 

“Streamlining may show us how to be clearer and clean up inconsistencies.” 

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow said design review is a discretionary process, which allows some leeway.

 Neev stated the city needs to resolve differences with the California Coastal Commission 

That is in the works, according to Pfost. And the city is getting favorable reactions to a community survey that is reviewed weekly by his department, he said. 

Item three

Monahan suggested establishing a Phase II Streamlining Subcommittee to help brainstorm and assess potential issues.

“I recommend we have one member of DRB and one member of the Planning Commission to discuss issues before [an ordinance] goes on an agenda,” said Monahan. “We are the ones in the trenches and involved with a lot of these issues. It would be helpful for us to be involved before an ordinance is approved.”

Dicterow said he wanted the board’s input. Blake said it would be like putting an arsonist in charge of putting out a fire.

Public communication

Heisler Building owner Sam Goldstein said the city as a whole does not want to get rid of the board, but some plans could be approved over the counter and appealed if necessary to the council or the board. 

“DRB is not re-DRB,” said former board member Bob Chapman. “The process should be a way to approve designs. 

“Lot coverage should be a criterion, not the square footage of the structure.”

John Thomas stated there are a lot of changes after a DRB decision has been made. 

“I hope that will be addressed in streamlining,” said Thomas. 

The meeting was adjourned at 5 p.m.


City Manager’s Updates

CERT Registration Now Open – The Laguna Beach Police Department in collaboration with the Laguna Beach Fire Department is excited to announce registration for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) course. 

A Community Emergency Response Team is an organized and trained group of volunteers ready to assist in case of a disaster. The CERT program consists of 25 hours of classroom and hands-on training, concluding with an exercise drill to apply the skills and knowledge obtained during the classroom sessions.

 Training will begin on Tuesday, Sept 3. Classes will then meet weekly from 6 to 9 p.m., including two Saturday morning meetings. The final exercise/drill takes place on Saturday, Oct 5. Mandatory attendance is required at all classes.

Training includes the following topics: Disaster Preparedness Fire Safety Disaster Medical Operations Light Search and Rescue CERT Organization Disaster Psychology CERT and Terrorism Traffic Control and Scene Management Training will begin on Tuesday, September 3. Classes will then meet weekly from 6 to 9 p.m., including two Saturday morning meetings. 

To be considered for this training, you must be a resident of Laguna Beach or work within the city limits, be at least 18 years old, and have no felony convictions. 

Applications must be submitted through the online recreation class sign-up at http://bit.ly/2tmh9vi. All individuals will receive a confirmation email if accepted into the program. 

Wildlife Information – It was reported on Tuesday that there were three mountain lion sightings recently reported to the police department over four days. All three of those mountain lion sightings were unfounded. 

According to wildlife experts, Laguna Beach Animal Services staff, and OC Parks staff, there hasn’t been an actual mountain lion observed in the wilderness areas near Laguna Beach in over 20 years. Most of the mountain lion sightings are actually bobcats, or in some cases coyotes. 

City Managers coyote

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Ryan Moran 

A former coyote sighting in North Laguna 

To assist in providing residents with information about coyotes and bobcats, Laguna Beach Animal Services will be conducting a Living with Wildlife Community Workshop at Alta Laguna Park (Top of the World) on Wednesday, Aug 21 at 5 p.m.

Does Your Mobile Contractor Have a Business License to Work in Laguna Beach? – Mobile contractors like gardeners, landscapers, carpet cleaners, mobile car detailers, and swimming pool or pond services all need to hold a Laguna Beach Business License to operate within the City. 

A business license ensures contractors are aware of the City’s regulations and guidelines to avoid the illegal discharge of fertilizers, pesticides, lawn, dirt, sediment, organic materials, and cleaning chemicals to the streets and gutters that drain to the ocean. Educating contractors prior to beginning work helps protect the storm drain system and protects from potential violations and enforcement actions by the City. 

Residents and businesses are responsible for the actions of their contractors and have a responsibility to ensure that their contractors are aware of local regulations. More information on the City Business Licensing process can be found here

Police Department Participates in Pink Patch Project – The Laguna Beach Police Department is excited to announce its participation in the Pink Patch Project. In an effort to show support and bring awareness to breast cancer, the Laguna Beach Police Department had designed its very first pink patch which will be worn by officers in the month of October. 

As part of the program, these patches are available for purchase. All proceeds from the sales will be donated to a local charity for breast cancer research and awareness. 

To purchase a pink patch, visit www.lbpdpinkpatch.com. Patches are also available for purchase at the front counter of the Laguna Beach Police Department. 

SCE Pole Replacement – On Thursday, Aug 22, between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Southern California Edison (SCE) will be replacing a utility pole located at 1545 Bluebird Canyon Drive. 

A portion of Bluebird Canyon Drive, east of Morningside Drive, will be closed during the work. Detour signs will be posted alerting residents of the temporary road closure. 

For questions or concerns, contact SCE’s Customer Service number at (800) 655-4555.


City releases draft Downtown Specific Plan

The City of Laguna Beach has released its draft Downtown Specific Plan (DSP), a planning document that serves to guide growth, design, and development standards in downtown Laguna Beach. Its primary objective is to preserve and enhance the unique character of the downtown.

How does the community benefit from the DSP?

The DSP document will be used by the City Council, Commissions, and Committees, City Staff, residents, property owners, businesses, developers, and other government entities as the land use and design policy document defining downtown development over the next 20 years. 

The DSP also identifies priorities for public improvements to the downtown area. This document was formulated as a result of a multi-year process that included a large number of public outreach workshops, stakeholder meetings and interviews, and both City Council and Planning Commission meetings. 

It is intended to provide a clear understanding of the vision that the community has set for the future of downtown Laguna Beach.

City releases downtown

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The DSP will guide growth, design, and development standards in downtown Laguna 

What is the history of the DSP document?

The City formally recognized the need for a specific plan for the downtown in 1983 with adoption of the Land Use Element of the General Plan. In 1989, the Downtown Specific Plan was first approved, and has been subsequently amended, including a comprehensive amendment in 2000, which included the expansion of the Plan boundary to the Boys & Girls Club on Laguna Canyon Road and the creation of the Civic Art District. 

The Downtown Specific Plan has been successful in preserving the look and feel of a traditional downtown.

What are the key updates to the Downtown Specific Plan?

The changing nature of commerce, housing, transportation, and circulation necessitates revisions that support flexibility to meet rapidly changing resident and visitor needs and to enhance vitality, while maintaining the special qualities of the downtown. As a result of community input gleaned throughout the planning process, several enhancements proposed in this Specific Plan update include:

1. Allowing for changes in permitting requirements to occur on an as-needed basis in order to incentivize or limit certain land uses in the downtown.  Specifically, a new procedure is proposed that allows land use permitting requirements to be changed (i.e. from requiring a Conditional Use Permit to being permitted-by-right, or vice versa) by City Council Resolution, upon recommendation by the Planning Commission, on an annual or as-needed basis based on staff/consultant recommendation. 

2. Fostering opportunities and promoting diversity in housing type and affordability as part of mixed-use development and conversion of existing second-story buildings to help fulfill the need for downtown housing with access to services and transportation. 

3. Providing for greater flexibility in development standards such as increased building height and simplified parking requirements to meet future needs and growth. 

4. The draft DSP update includes revised height standards based upon specific street location and criteria. For more information about the proposed building height standards, see pages 113, 161-162 of the draft DSP document. In addition, parking requirements are proposed to be reduced for certain non-residential uses such as office, retail, and food services.

5. Establishing an urban design framework that identifies key opportunity sites and provides recommendations on pedestrian and streetscape improvements, such as pedestrian crossings, improved alleyways, and public parklets to make the area more vibrant, walkable, and welcoming for residents and visitors.

6. Revising urban design guidelines to provide further direction on elements such as site design, architecture, and open space to property owners, developers, designers, City staff, and appointed and elected officials involved in review of proposed development projects. 

City releases Hobie

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The DSP has been successful in preserving the look and feel of a traditional downtown

7. Rebranding of the former Civic Art District as the Arts District to encourage a greater focus on art and cultural uses and to nurture a culture of creativity. 

8. Updating flexible criteria and development standards for proposed planned integrated developments that incorporate public amenities and/or benefits in special planning areas such as the Arts District and Central Bluffs District. 

The full draft DSP document is being released in advance of the August 21 Planning Commission meeting, where the Commission will conduct their initial review and provide direction to staff on any modifications if needed. 

Staff will be recommending that the item return to the Planning Commission at a meeting in October for subsequent review of the final draft, including environmental review (CEQA), and recommendation to the City Council.

For more information or to view a copy of the public review Draft Downtown Specific Plan, click here or contact Wendy Jung, Senior Planner, at (949) 497-0321 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


City Manager’s Updates

If You See Something, Say Something – Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cities of El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. A localized version of the nationwide “If You See Something, Say Something” anti-terrorism public awareness campaign is being promoted in Orange County called Keep OC Safe. 

The program is focused on delivering the message to local citizens that an alert public plays a critical role in keeping our community safe. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) national anti-terrorism public awareness initiative has two primary focuses. 

The first is to raise public awareness of the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime. The second is to emphasize the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the proper local law enforcement authorities. In Orange County, “If You See Something, Say Something” provides guidance to citizens on how to report questionable behavior or situations such as an unattended backpack in a public place or someone trying to break into a restricted area. 

Visit www.keepocsafe.org for more information about the campaign; a list of key indicators of questionable activity; and links to local, regional, and national crime prevention resources. 

Watch a video on the Orange County campaign on the City of Laguna Beach’s YouTube Channel here. 

Village Entrance Art in Public Places – On Monday, Aug 12, the Arts Commission will review a proposal concept by Marc Fornes for an Art-in-Public Places installation to be located in the Village Entrance. The meeting is open to the public and will be held in the Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave, at 5:30 p.m. The concept proposal can be viewed here. 

Draft Downtown Specific Plan Released – The City of Laguna Beach has released its Draft Downtown Specific Plan (DSP), a planning document that serves to guide growth, design, and development standards in Downtown Laguna Beach. 

City Managers downtown

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The City has released its Draft Downtown Specific Plan serving to guide downtown growth and development standards 

Its primary objective is to preserve and enhance the unique character of the downtown. The DSP document will be used by the City Council, Commissions and Committees, City Staff, residents, property owners, businesses, developers, and other government entities as the land use and design policy document defining downtown development over the next 20 years. 

The DSP also identifies priorities for public improvements to the downtown area. The full draft DSP document is being released in advance of the August 21 Planning Commission meeting, where the Commission will conduct its initial review and provide direction to staff on any modifications if needed before recommendations are eventually made to the City Council.

For more information or to view a copy of the public review Draft Downtown Specific Plan, click here or contact Wendy Jung, Senior Planner, at (949) 497-0321 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Police Academy Graduation – After six months of intense training, Police Officer Recruit Tanner Flagstad will be graduating from the Golden West College Police Academy on Friday, Aug 9, at 10 a.m. Tanner has previously served as an Explorer, Cadet, and Beach Patrol Officer at LBPD. Please welcome him back (again) to the Laguna Beach Police Department.

Public Invited to Take Community Development Questionnaire – If you have recently interacted with the City of Laguna Beach Community Development Department you are invited to take a new customer service questionnaire about your experience. You can take the survey here or at a new kiosk in the lobby of City Hall. This questionnaire is a tool to help the City enhance customer service, streamline development approval procedures, and improve project turnaround time as part of a new Community Development Department Action Plan.

National Night Out Community Event a Success – Congratulations to all who participated in Tuesday’s ‘Guns N’ Hoses’ National Night Out softball game! The Laguna Beach Police Department was victorious over the Fire Department at the community event held at the Laguna Beach High School Baseball Field. 

National Night Out is an annual community building campaign that promotes police community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. This event enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. 

West Nile Virus Detected in Orange County – The Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District (OCMVCD) has confirmed the first mosquito sample to test positive for West Nile virus (WNV) in 2019. The mosquitoes were collected from the city of Orange at El Camino Real Park on July 30. 

The District has also confirmed nine birds with West Nile virus in the cities of Cypress, Buena Park, Huntington Beach, and Tustin. There are no confirmed cases of human infections currently in Orange County. 

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans via the bite of infected mosquitoes, which become infected when feeding on birds carrying the virus. Young children, the elderly, or individuals with lowered immune systems are at greater risk to experience severe symptoms when infected. Around the home, eliminating breeding sources for mosquitoes is critical: dump and drain containers filled with water at least once a week, clean and scrub bird baths and pet water bowls weekly, and dump water from potted plant saucers. 

Orange County residents are urged to report unusual numbers of mosquitoes to OCMVCD. For more information, please contact the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District at (714) 971- 2421 or (949) 654-2421 or visit www.ocvector.org

SCE Pole Replacements – Southern California Edison (SCE) will be replacing two utility poles located at 216 and 406 Canyon Acres Dr on Tuesday, Aug 13, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Portions of Canyon Acres Drive will be blocked, and personnel will be directing traffic. 

For questions or concerns, contact SCE’s Customer Service number at (800) 655-4555.

Park Avenue Roadwork – From Monday, Aug 12, to Friday, Aug 16, street repairs will be conducted on Park Avenue between Wendt Terrace and Short Street. Traffic impacts can be anticipated during lane closure hours of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, contact Engineering Technician Alpha Santos at (949) 497-0729 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Street Resurfacing in Coast Royal and South Laguna Village Neighborhoods – On Monday, August 19, preparatory work for the repair and resurfacing of roadways in the Coast Royal and South Laguna Village neighborhoods will begin. Preliminary construction notices have been mailed to affected residents and property owners. Preparatory work, consisting of pavement repairs and crack filling, will continue through September, with slurry seal resurfacing to follow in October. 

For more information, visit the project website at www.lagunabeachcity.net/slurryseal or call (844) LAGUNA4 or (844) 524-8624.

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, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

Scott Brashier is our photographer.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising

949.315.0259

Email: Editor@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc.

949.315.0259

© 2019 Stu News Laguna - All Rights Reserved.