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Council candidates outline positions at LBOR® and Chamber Forum

By MARRIE STONE and BARBARA DIAMOND

The Laguna Board of REALTORS® and the Chamber of Commerce hosted the first candidates’ forum of the 2018 election on Thursday before an involved audience in the City Council Chambers.

Candidates Peter Blake, Sue Marie Connolly, Ann Christoph, Toni Iseman, Sue Kempf, Cheryl Kinsman, Lorene Laguna, Judie Mancuso, Allison Mathews, Paul Merritt, and Rob Zur Schmiede were given two minutes for opening statements before Realtor Frank Hufnagel posed the first of five questions of consequence to the community. Elizabeth Bates announced last week that she is no longer a candidate although her name remains on the ballot, because she missed the cut-off date to have it removed. 

What would candidates do about parking in Laguna Beach?

Incumbent Zur Schmiede, nonprofit CEO Mancuso, and political volunteer Mathews recommended adding parking to ACT V. 

Businessman Merritt opposed meters at 1000 Steps Beach, concerned they would drive tourist parking into the neighborhoods, a problem incumbent Toni Iseman said could be dealt with by limiting parking in the off-highway streets to three hours and ticketing offenders.

Art Gallery owner Blake said he would dump the Village Entrance Park in favor of parking. Connolly agreed with Blake.

Landscape architect and former mayor Christoph said voters should decide about parking at the Village Entrance, which has been discussed for about 20 years, and she disagreed with Merritt about the loss of parking spaces, something the Coastal Commission would not fancy. 

Kempf recommended more peripheral parking and increasing parking rates downtown until people won’t pay the price.

Businesswoman Lorene Laguna and former mayor Cheryl Kinsman favored improved technology, such as credit card meters. 

How and why will candidates vote on the one-cent sales tax increase to fund undergrounding?

This is a major issue to be decided by a vote of the people in November. The audience included Village Laguna Elder Arnold Hano, who supports the increase and monitoring new technology, and increase opponent Jennifer Zeiter, founder of Stop Taxing Our Property (S.T.O.P). Seven of the 11 candidates agreed with Zeiter. Kempf, Connolly and both incumbents support the increase, although Iseman indicated she fears the increase will not pass.   

Council candidates meeting

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Submitted photo

Candidates speak on issues

Do candidates support the proposed updated historic preservation ordinance and believe that inclusion on the Historical Register should be voluntary for property owners?

Planning Commission hearings on the proposed ordinance have been rancorous on more than one occasion. However, as Christoph pointed out, inclusion on the Historic Register has always been voluntary. The question should have been about voluntary inclusion on the inventory, she said. 

However, all of the candidates except Christoph and Iseman favored voluntary inclusion on the Register.

Blake was applauded when he said that a structure older than 50 years does not make it historical.

A special one-issue council meeting on the proposed revised ordinance will be held on Sept 18.

What do candidates think about Laguna’s reputation as the most difficult municipality in which to build and what can be done to improve the Design Review process?

 Blake said the process is rigged to block construction. Property rights have been eroded, and he would like them restored, he said.

People ought to be able to remodel their homes, according to Connolly.

Christoph supports the Design Review process as protection for applicants and neighbors. She does believe that preparing for a hearing is onerous, difficult and time consuming. Merritt agreed it takes too long to get a project built. And it’s too expensive, added Mathews. 

Kempf said the expenses before getting to a hearing are one of the biggest complaints. 

Lorene Laguna was hearing the same thing. One of her neighbors spent $80,000 before a spade touched the ground or a nail was hammered.

The process needs to be simplified, said Kinsman.

Mancuso said the process is dysfunctional. She supports term limits for members of city boards and commissions. 

Blame the city, not the board, said Iseman. She believes there is too much development going on in the city.

How would candidates handle the homeless of Laguna Beach? 

Lorene Laguna recommended enacting a panhandling ordinance. 

Kinsman and Blake said put more boots on the ground. However, Blake is not optimistic about stopping the problem, which he said is ruining downtown.

Zur Schmiede and Mancuso want surrounding cities to step up to the plate. Zur Schmiede said Laguna will benefit from legislation that requires surrounding cities to provide shelter beds. There is money available at the state, county and federal level for homeless projects, according to Mancuso. Kempf recommended creating a housing trust to build permanent supportive housing on county land. 

Merritt however, opposes seeking grants. He said they are trapdoors leading to condos and apartments for meth and heroin addicts.

Mathews, who volunteered to work with the homeless before moving to Laguna three years ago, agreed addiction is a problem, but the veterans with PTSD must be helped. “We owe them,” she said.

Iseman suggested finding shelters in other cities. Connolly said the city should send the homeless to Costa Mesa.

Christoph prefers working with the county to find housing. 

The forum concluded with closing statements 

Blake: “Village Laguna stands in the way of this town becoming special. Look at the candidates in their pockets. Vote for a change.”

Iseman: “I shop online at Christmas. Why? It’s easier. Make shopping in town easier and residents will shop here. Wrapped and ready to mail in town would make it easier to get over the Amazon habit.”

Mathews: She wants transparency, vibrancy and livability in town. She doesn’t like the fact that the city’s firefighters and police officers cannot afford to live in Laguna.

Merritt: He agrees with Mathews. “It is impossible for people who work in town to live here,” he said. He supports undergrounding, but wants to find another way to fund it.

Mancuso: “Unfinished business never gets finished,” she said. “That’s my goal.”

Zur Schmiede: “The council is a nonpartisan body and should stay that way…it is easy to take shots at a council that works hard, without knowing what that council is up against.”

Kinsman: “I am here for one reason. Money. I don’t want to leave my sons in debt.”

Lorene Laguna: She supports town hall forums, so residents can talk and interface with elected officials. She also opined that the community must guard against spending on consultants without review.

City Council Candidate Forums: One down, six to go

Remaining forums include:

Police and Firefighters Employee Associations: 6 p.m., Friday, Sept 14 at Top of the World Elementary School

Village Laguna: 7 p.m., Monday, Sept 17 in City Council Chambers

Laguna Beach Arts Alliance: 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept 29 at Laguna Playhouse

Stu News Laguna and KX 93.5: 5 p.m. reception – 6 p.m. forum, Tuesday, Oct 2 at The Woman’s Club

Laguna Beach Seniors and League of Women Voters: 6 p.m., Monday, Oct 8 at the Third Street Centers

Bill Fried’s radio show on KX 93.5: 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct 11


City Manager’s Updates

City Managers Updates building

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The City Manager has released this week’s updates

Orange County Health Care Agency Outreach and Engagement Team – Once again, the Police Department has partnered with Orange County Health Care Agency, and beginning next week, two days a week, two Outreach and Engagement Officers will work in collaboration with our Police Community Outreach Officers to follow up with the homeless population in Laguna Beach. This team will be in addition to the clinician that already works with the Outreach Officers two days a week, giving support now four days a week.

Upcoming Remembrance Ceremony – This year’s City Remembrance Ceremony marks the fifth anniversary of Police Officer Jon Coutchie’s End of Watch. City employees, family, friends and members of the community are encouraged to attend the event to remember the sacrifice of the Police Department’s two fallen officers. The ceremony will take place outside of the Laguna Beach Police Department in front of the Eternal Legacy memorial beginning at 5:30 p.m. on September 21. Refreshments will immediately follow the event. 

Learn More About the Village Entrance Project - You’ve heard a lot about it, but what exactly is the Village Entrance Project, and where is it going to be located? The project will be located near downtown in the area adjacent to the intersection of Laguna Canyon Road and Forest Avenue and focuses on enhanced pedestrian safety, improved traffic flow and new public open space. 

Watch the City’s Village Entrance Project overview video and learn more about the project at www.lagunabeachcity.net/villageentrance. In addition, the City of Laguna Beach would like to invite the community to a groundbreaking 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. 

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

September is National Preparedness Month – September marks National Preparedness Month and the City of Laguna Beach encourages its residents to get prepared. The City is breaking down the month of September into weekly tasks that will help you be more prepared. This week – stay informed by registering your cell phone numbers, text numbers, and email addresses with AlertOC at www.alertoc.com. AlertOC is Orange County’s Emergency Notification System which sends geo-targeted emergency notifications to impacted areas. Additionally, register for Nixle, the City’s community notification system used to alert residents for localized situations and relevant community advisories. 

Text 92651 to 888-777 to enroll in Nixle. Sign up for AlertOC and Nixle, they’re free and the best way to stay informed in an emergency!

City Managers Updates Fire

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Residents are encouraged to be prepared for an emergency with The City’s important tips

Dorn Court Storm Drain Improvements - On September 10, construction work to improve the storm drain system on Dorn Court will begin. Minor traffic delays and parking impacts can be expected during working hours of 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of November 2018. 

Contact Tri Nguyen at (949) 497-0741 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions.

9-11 Day of Remembrance – On Tuesday, Sept 11 beginning at 8 a.m. at Monument Point in Heisler Park, the City will host a ceremony to honor the 2,980 individuals whose lives were lost at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The ceremony will conclude at 9:10 a.m.

Calls for Artists – The Arts Commission is currently accepting submissions for 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 http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art. The lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach fund these programs. 

  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 for artists. The workshop, “The Art of Relevance,” will be led by Art Marketing Project founder Cindy Sherman and funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. 

For information and registration visit https://lagunabeachart.eventbrite.com.

Artist Work Live Assessment – If you are an artist or work in a creative industry, the City needs your input. Please take the brief survey being conducted in partnership with Artspace at www.artspace.org/CreativeSpaceLaguna. The lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach fund this assessment.

City Receives Emergency Services Gold Award – Did you know? The California Emergency Services Association 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 the area of creating both shelter and evacuation plans is what prompted the City of Aliso Viejo to nominate the City for the award. Villwock will receive the award at the CESA Annual Emergency Management Training and Conference this month.

Free Car Seat Safety Event – The Laguna Beach Police Department, in partnership with “National Child Safety Passenger Week,” will be offering free car seat inspections by certified technicians in front of the police station, on Saturday, Sept 8 and again on Saturday, Sept 22 from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. The appointments are in 30-minute increments, so schedule your appointment soon. 

To reserve an appointment, contact Debi Jensen at (949) 497-0396 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Southern California Edison Pole Replacements on Glenneyre Street – On Tuesday, Sept 11 between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., and on Wednesday, Sept 12 between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Southern California Edison (SCE) will be replacing utility poles at 660 and 634 Glenneyre Street. On Tuesday, the work will require that Los Olivos be closed between Glenneyre Street and Goff Street. On Wednesday, the work will require that El Camino del Mar be closed between Glenneyre Street and Goff Street. On both days, the northbound and southbound lanes in Glenneyre Street will be reduced to one lane in each direction approximately from St. Ann’s Drive to Legion Street. 

For questions or concerns, contact SCE at (949) 458-4562.

Southern California Edison Pole Replacements on Laguna Canyon Road – On Thursday, Sept 13 through Friday, Sept 14 between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., SCE will be replacing two utility poles located at Laguna Canyon Road, between El Toro Road and the SR-73 toll road. The work will require that the northbound lane closest to the shoulder of Laguna Canyon Road be closed from approximately 1,900 feet south of the SR-73 toll road to the toll road.

For questions or concerns, contact Mike Thomas, Field Construction Supervisor with Pro Energy Services, Inc. at (949) 302-4978.


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 http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/pw/village_entrance_project.

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 www.lagunabeachcity.net/trolley 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 www.lagunabeachcity.net/asklaguna. 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 www.aqmd.gov/lawnmower. 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 https://lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com

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 www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art/default. 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

By DIANNE RUSSELL

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

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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

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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 www.lagunabeachcity.net/slurryseal 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 https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index.

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 https://lagunabeachart.eventbrite.com.

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 http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art. 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 www.ocvote.com 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 http://bit.ly/2tmh9vi. 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 https://lagunabeachart.eventbrite.com.

 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 www.lagunabeachcity.net.

 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 www.lagunabeachcity.net/trp.

 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 www.artspace.org/CreativeSpaceLaguna. 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.)

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