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Laguna Beach

Inside City Hall

Dear Laguna Beach Community,

It has been wonderful seeing so many of you out and about over the last few weeks. Be it at the Patriots Day Parade, the re-dedication of Riddle Field, or the city’s recent Arbor Day event at Bluebird Park, seeing your smiling faces energizes me and I share in your enthusiasm for getting back to a more normal life post-pandemic!

This week, the City Council received the annual mid-year budget update.  GOOD news – we had better-than-expected revenues, and as a result the City Council was able to fund a number of items to help move our city forward. Many of these were items of importance you told us were needed through the recent community and business survey. The surveys were completed from November to January by Polco, a nationally recognized civic engagement platform that has conducted more than 1,000 benchmark surveys in 500 local governments across the US. I think I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – the resident survey reported 95% positivity about the quality of life in Laguna Beach – which is something I can’t disagree with! Results also showed that overall residents are happy with city services, the natural environment and access to cultural arts programs.

Inside City Hall Sue Kempf

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Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf

There are also some of areas of opportunity realized in the survey that the council is focusing on. First – it’s no surprise that traffic and parking continue to be a challenge for us all. The good news of this is that many respondents are highly satisfied with the quality of the city’s transit system – like our Trolley service. But when we asked about traffic flow, ease of parking and travel by car throughout the city, responses were not as favorable. In fact, 74% of you supported the development of a Parking Master Plan for the whole city to build new parking facilities and 78% of you asked we provide parking availability throughout the entire town – not just the Downtown area.

To this end, we are using the survey feedback and input from a recent listening session to help us form the Parking Master Plan Study, which will ultimately help form solutions, identify new parking facilities and alleviate traffic flow and parking issues in Laguna Beach.

The survey also showed residents are generally supportive of additional community serving facilities, with 71% supporting the purchase of additional properties for these facilities. Tuesday, the City Council set aside $4M for future city facilities, and also monies to acquire more open space in and around the city.

A couple other things from the survey that came as no surprises –community design is an opportunity for the city. Only 28% of you expressed we have enough variety of housing options in the city, and only 40% were satisfied with the overall quality of development in the city. We can do better. This week during the mid-year budget update, the City Council approved a new position of Housing Coordinator intended to develop new housing programs and also create housing options. The council also earmarked $200,000 go toward housing programs.

The survey also asked a series of questions about some of the initiatives we have been working on. We asked residents if there is support for converting Lower Forest to a Permanent Promenade and opinions on year-round use of the Irvine Bowl/Festival of Arts Grounds. 83% of those surveyed support making the Promenade permanent and a whopping 92% support using the Irvine Bowl year ‘round. You’ll be happy to hear that part of the monies set aside for Capital Improvements in Tuesday’s mid-year budget update will go toward replacement of the Promenade Decks for continued community use and enjoyment until more permanent solutions are determined. We also allocated monies Tuesday for median landscaping along Laguna Canyon Road and replacement of chain link fence areas on areas of Laguna Canyon Road, among other things. We want our city to shine when you or your friends and family meet at the Irvine Bowl for an event or night on the town.

This survey information is valuable to us as elected officials because we want to make sure your voice is heard and has weight in the decision-making for the future of Laguna Beach. Some of that input was realized this week during our mid-year allocations and more is to come. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete this survey and we value the results.

I hope you stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you at the beach!

In Community Spirit, 

Sue Kempf 

Mayor of Laguna Beach


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