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Laguna Beach


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

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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.


Planning Commission meeting canceled

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The August 7 meeting of the Laguna Beach Planning Commission has been canceled.

Items scheduled to be heard will be re-calendared.

“The meeting was canceled for lack of agenda items,” said Commission Chair Ken Sadler.

Sadler said an application by Chronic Tacos to open at 689 South Coast Highway had been continued to the canceled hearing. However other items tentatively set for the agenda were not ready to be reviewed, City Planning Manager Scott Drapkin said.

“Chronic Tacos and the Downtown Specific Plan are on the proposed August 21 Planning Commission agenda,” said Drapkin.

The Chronic Tacos application proposes to convert retail space to food service with in and outdoor seating, and the use of 15 customer parking spaces in the lot across South Coast Highway at the Holiday Inn on the corner of Cleo Street and the highway.

Both properties are owned by Mo Honarkar.

The application also included a request to modify a valet parking plan for the hotel.

A hearing on the concept plan, submitted by the Laguna Beach Company for the proposed Cleo Hotel to replace the Holiday Inn, is tentatively scheduled for the first planning commission meeting in September, Drapkin said. 

Cleo Hotel is proposed as a terraced, three-story, full-service hotel and one of the two Honarkar projects to have submitted applications for concept review.

The concept describes the project as a continuation of the existing uses with lodging, retail spaces and a restaurant on the Holiday Inn site and the adjacent 14 West building.

A prior concept plan for Cleo Street was reviewed by the commission. Adjustments to the concept were made for the September hearing. 

The other application submitted for concept review is the proposed Museum Hotel, on the ocean side of North Coast Highway between Cliff Drive and Jasmine Street.

As proposed, a boutique and arts-focused hotel would replace existing uses there. The project will increase available parking and beautify a stretch of Gallery Row, according to Honarkar’s Laguna Beach Company.

No date for its concept review has been set, Drapkin said.

Descriptions of the Honarkar projects are available for review at www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/cd/planning/major_development_projects.htm.


Council to consider special fee for Honarkar projects

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council’s agenda for tonight includes a recommendation to increase development permit fees by 25 percent for the cluster of projects proposed by the Laguna Beach Company, owned by Mo Honarkar.

City Manager John Pietig has been working on a recommendation since the council directed him in March to negotiate an agreement with Honarkar to help mitigate the financial impact of processing Honarkar’s major projects and to recover all city costs related to them.

If approved by the council, the increase will be added on top of the 5 percent increase in building fees and 15 percent increase in planning and zoning fees approved by the council at the March meeting.

“We think the 25 percent brings us close to 100 percent recovery of costs to the city,” said Gavin Curran, City Finance Director. “The bigger the project, the higher the fee, but state law prohibits us from going over 100 percent.”

The recommended increase is on the Consent Calendar of the council agenda and will be approved without discussion unless “pulled” by a member of the council or the public.

Honarkar is amenable to the proposed 25 percent increase, according to the staff report.

An alternate proposal to recover the cost would require staff to track and record their time spent in reviewing the projects. If it was found that the costs exceeded the current permit fees, then Honarkar would be required to pay additional money. 

The city does not currently have such a tracking/recording process in place. Staff is concerned that starting a new accounting process of recording time would be complex and would not accurately account for staff time and overhead, resulting in financial losses for the city, according to the staff report.

Staff anticipates that the special fee will recover 100 percent of the costs incurred by the city in the processing of the Honarkar projects.

Projects include the Cleo Hotel, restoration of the Hotel Laguna, the Museum Hotel, the Central Bluffs – all along Coast Highway – multi-unit housing in Canyon Acres and most of the properties along Laguna Canyon Frontage Road. Folks have been buzzing about rumors of plans to move the main campus of Laguna College of Art and Design from its present location to the Frontage Road properties that include The Hive, [seven-degrees] and Art-A-Fair grounds. 

“There has been talk over the years, about moving the campus to the Arts District, but it has never gone beyond a concept,” said college President Jonathan Burke. 

Among the issues to be resolved is the fate of the buildings on the current campus, designed by Chris Abel and built in 1977, with the understanding by many in the environmental community that it would never be enlarged or used for any other purpose than education.

“Discussions have never gotten to that point,” said Burke.

Descriptions of the Honarkar projects are available for review at www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/cd/planning/major_development_projects.htm.


Board of Supervisors finalizes “Marching Home: A Strategy to End Veteran Homelessness”

The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday finalized the County’s strategy to end veteran homelessness by December 2020, directing County staff to contract with a housing navigator to assist veterans in their search for housing.

“Marching Home: A Strategy to End Veteran Homelessness in Orange County” will develop a systematic, intentional, and sustainable multi-sector response to veterans in need of assistance and promote coordination of and collaboration with many partners to meet veterans’ needs.

“Our veterans have to overcome serious barriers in order to secure housing, which is why connecting them with housing navigation services is critical. We have to get people out of the shelters and into supportive housing,” said Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District Supervisor.

After the 2019 Point In Time counted 311 veterans experiencing homelessness, the Board directed the Office of Care Coordination to create a strategy to end veteran homelessness.

“We must take care of the men and women who served our country. We are making progress with Marching Home, by connecting homeless veterans to the resources and services they need, including their families,” said Vice Chair Michelle Steel, Second District Supervisor.

The strategy aims to reach out to and provide all veterans access to available housing resources by December 2020. The County has collaborated with the Department of Veterans Affairs to host Veteran Housing Resource Fairs in all three regional Service Planning areas to engage veterans experiencing homelessness. Central and North Service Planning Areas had their resource fairs in June and July. The South Service Planning Area resource fair is scheduled for August 30.

“Housing homeless veterans is more than a goal that sounds good; it’s a moral imperative. Marching Home is yet another component in the County’s System of Care that will meet the needs of our most vulnerable communities, especially our deserving veterans,” said Supervisor Andrew Do, First District.

Resources for veterans include vouchers for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-VA Supportive Housing, or HUD-VASH. Currently 80 veterans have a HUD-VASH voucher and are searching for an available housing unit. The Orange County, Anaheim, and Santa Ana housing authorities have another 400 HUD-VASH vouchers to issue to veterans seeking housing. 

“This a major step towards providing housing for our deserving veterans in Orange County. No person, let alone our veterans who fought for our country, should go without shelter. These resources will help better serve the men and women who bravely served us,” said Supervisor Donald P. Wagner, Third District.

To provide more housing by December 2020, 139 HUD-VASH project-based units are under development, including the 75-unit Santa Ana Veterans Village opening in March 2020, 49-unit Placentia Veterans Village in August 2020, and the 15-unit Salerno at Cypress in September 2020.

“The Point In Time was more than a count, it was a resource discussion. We learned what those who experience homelessness need so we are more focused than before,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee, Fourth District.

Click here to read the full strategy and for additional information, visit the Office of Care Coordination’s website at www.ocgov.com/gov/ceo/care.


Council, Design Review Board to hold joint meeting Tuesday

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council will meet with the Design Review Board and Board of Adjustment at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. 

This will be the first joint meeting since the council on July 23 adopted changes in the board’s duties, many of which the board and members of the public opposed. 

The agenda for the joint meeting includes legal representation at Design Review Board meetings, Council feedback on the current board and process, Streamlining Subcommittee to help brainstorm and assess political issues and Public Communication. 

The joint meeting will be adjourned at 5 p.m. for the council’s closed session.

Changes approved in July by the council, described as Phase I of an overhaul, were designed to make the design review process speedier and simpler, prompted by complaints about the length of time and the expense of presenting a project to the board and (having it) approved. 

“It is not the board that needs to be streamlined; it’s the time it takes to get to the board,” said Councilwoman Toni Iseman. 

Board members challenged the wisdom of the council’s decision in July to move the review of all capital improvement projects to the commission, particularly those adjacent to residential zones, to no avail. 

The council also approved the recommendation to send appeals of minor administrative design review decisions straight to council, a reduction in staking to 21 days, transfer of authority for design review on commercial and public works projects, administrative approval of pool/spa and air conditioning units to be heard by Director of Community Development Greg Pfost and enabling him to initiate the revocation process. 

That was the first phase of “streamlining” the review process. A second phase will deal with trickier issues, Pfost said. 

The five-member Design Review Board is appointed by the council. 

Currently serving: Chair Meg Monahan, former Deputy City Clerk; Chair Pro Tem Caren Liuzzi; Deborah Neev, who also sits on the Laguna Beach County Water District Commission; Kristine Thalman, president of Laguna Beach Seniors Inc; and Louis Weil, a realtor. 

They are tasked with reviewing proposed projects and determining if they conform to the policies of the city’s General Plan, the Certified Local Coastal Plan, zoning standards and design review criteria specified in the Municipal Code. The members also sit as the Board of Adjustment to hear requests for variances from standard requirements. 

The Design Review Board generally meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers.


City Manager’s Updates

Free Home Wildfire Consultation – The City of Laguna Beach is encouraging residents to better prepared in the event of a wildfire by creating a defensible space and a defensible home. This can be done by safeguarding your home by using fire-safe construction materials, and to look 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. 

City Managers plane

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Aliso Fire Air Drop

Residents can sign up for a free wildfire consultation by the Laguna Beach Fire Department by clicking here or by calling (949) 497-0700. What happens during a wildfire consultation? Experienced firefighters will come to your home and offer advice about how you can prepare your property and home for a wildfire. Fill out the form and the City will schedule a consultation with you.

Join the City for National Night Out Tuesday, Aug 6 – The City invites locals to come out and join the community for the first annual National Night Out event on Tuesday, Aug 6 from 5 - 8 p.m. at the Laguna Beach High School Baseball Field. 

Laguna’s Finest will step up to the plate against Laguna’s Bravest in a friendly battle between LBPD and LBFD at the Guns N’ Hoses Softball Game. Gates will open at 5 p.m. for pre-game activities and a K-9 Demo. “Mr. Laguna” Skipper Carrillo will be there to throw the first pitch. There will be free hot dogs, chips, and a drink for all attendees. 

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. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances. 

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.

Changes Made to Municipal Code Parking Requirements Encourage Business Growth – At its July 23 meeting, the City Council adopted changes to the City’s Municipal Code regarding parking requirements to stimulate an improvement to local economic conditions. Changes to commercial-related parking provisions include clarifying that interior remodels to existing commercial buildings are not considered an intensification of use, thus do not require additional parking be provided. 

The changes will also encourage sharing of retail spaces between multiple tenants by not requiring multiple tenants within one commercial building each meet parking requirements. Instead, parking requirements will remain dependent on the property’s floor area. This will encourage small business opportunities and the sharing of facilities and staff, greater availability for brick and mortar locations to compete with internet sales, improve economic viability by bringing in a wider customer base, and will aid chronically vacant larger units in the City to become easier occupied based on shared tenancy. 

The adopted parking requirement changes will now go for a second reading by the City Council, after which the changes will need to be sent to the California Coastal Commission for review and approval.

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 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Traffic impacts can be anticipated due to lane closures. 

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.

Lang Park Asphalt Pathway Repairs and Park Closure – On Thursday, Aug 1, the Public Works Department will be slurry sealing the asphalt pathways at Lang Park. The park will be closed from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the work. A tot lot playground is available during the closure at a nearby park, Bluebird Park, located at 772 Cress St. Tennis courts are available at Moulton Meadows Park near the intersection of Balboa Ave and Cortez Ave and at Alta Laguna Park at the north end of Alta Laguna Blvd.

For more information, contact Maintenance Supervisor Mel Summer at (949) 497-0783 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Annual Composting Classes – The City’s solid waste hauler, Waste Management, will offer a free composting class on Saturday, Aug 3, from 10 to 11 a.m. at Bluebird Park, located at 798 Bluebird Canyon Dr. Compost and worm bins will be available for purchase during the class at a discounted price. 

For more information,  visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/recycling or contact the Waste Management class instructor, Lisa Ryder, at (310) 874-2499.

City Chats” on KX 93.5 – “City Chats” returns to the air on Thursday, Aug 15 at 8 p.m. on KX 93.5. Listeners can also tune in to the segment online at www.kx935.com or on the iHeartRadio app. 

Each week get to know members of our Laguna Beach City staff as they talk about the programs, services, and community initiatives that make their City Departments shine. They will also share some of their favorite tunes and the stories behind them. Tune in to “City Chats” Thursday, Aug 15, at 8 p.m. on KX 93.5. 

Be Rattlesnake Aware – According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), rattlesnakes are widespread in California and are found in a variety of habitat throughout the state from Coastal to desert. They may also turn up around homes and yards in brushy areas and under wood piles. 

City Managers snake

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Rattlesnakes during workshop

Generally, not aggressive, rattlesnakes will likely retreat if given room and not provoked or threatened. Most bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally brushed against by someone walking or climbing. The California Poison Control System notes that the chances of being bitten are small compared to the risk of other environmental injuries. Most bites occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors. 

CDFW provides tips for safely living in snake country on its website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/keep-me-wild/rattlesnakes as well as tips for keeping snakes out of your yard and what do to do (and not do) in the event of a snake bite. Additional resources can be found at www.californiaherps.com

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.

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 via https://bit.ly/2DlnFGy or in person at the Community and Susi Q Center, located at 380 Third St, during normal business hours. No profits are being made from the sale of this backpack. Let’s get prepared!


Council approves Rotary use of parking lots for car show

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council gave its blessings to Laguna’s Rotary Club, approving the use of the Forest/Laguna Canyon and Lumberyard parking lots for its Classic Car Show on October 6.

For the past eight years, the car show has been a fundraiser for Rotary’s philanthropic projects.

The city has historically supported the event by allowing the use of the two parking lots to display the cars at no charge, valued at $1,500.

Council approves Rotary

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

A bevy of classic chrome will be on display at Laguna Beach Rotary’s Classic Car Show on October 6 

Rotary’s requests for temporary fencing, amplified sound and the sale of alcoholic beverages and food was also approved by the council. Rotary will obtain the necessary permits for the sale of alcoholic beverages and provide proof of the proper permitting permits.

Staff recommended approval of Rotary’s requests, noting that no issues had ever arisen due to the service of alcohol at the event.

The council also approved a request for 20 reserved parking spaces in Lot 10 and 10 reserved spaces on Forest Avenue. Parking demand in October is historically low according to the staff report.


Council approves recommendations and funding to reduce fire risks

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the recommendations of the Wildfire Mitigation and Fire Safety Subcommittee to help prevent Laguna from being reduced to ashes, as has happened to other California cities.

Despite misgivings expressed by Councilwoman Toni Iseman about funding sources and by Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow about rushing approval of the recommendations, the council voted 5-0 to spend almost $23 million over the next two fiscal years to protect the city from devastation by fire. 

“Most of the $22.9 million has already been appropriated by the council,” said City Manager John Pietig. “The rest will take future action.” 

The appropriation will fund expanded community outreach and alerts, removal of brush along the perimeter of the city and educating property owners on fire-safe landscaping, hiring a Defensible Space Inspector to aid the fuel modification efforts and undergrounding utility poles on Coast Highway.

More ambitious plans to reduce Laguna’s risk of another catastrophic fire will potentially cost about $170 million dollars over the next five or six years, a recommendation angrily criticized by fiscal conservatives.

“This needs more discussion,” said Michele Monda, in a rare agreement with Village Laguna. 

Monda questioned the timing of the creation of the subcommittee, as recommended by Mayor Bob Whalen and which he chaired. 

“Measure P was soundly defeated; when did you start working on this?” asked Monda, who had campaigned against the measure to raise funds to underground Laguna Canyon Road. 

Merrill Anderson read a letter signed by Village Laguna President Johanna Felder that recommended the council “take the plan on the road,” and get community input and support. 

Council approves fireman2

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Courtesy of LBFD

Fireman on radio during 1993 fire

Jennifer Zeiter also opposed the recommended funding. 

“You guys are spending money like it is a fire sale,” said Zeiter. 

She also objected to the proposal to use city money to underground utility poles in high-risk neighborhoods.

“Each neighborhood should fund its owns undergrounding,” she said. “The taxpayers should not be paying.”

Bob Elster opined that there are no boundaries in a fire.

“It won’t stop at Woods Cove,” he said. 

A majority of the public that spoke at the hearing favored council approval of the subcommittee recommendations, some haunted by memories of the 1993 firestorm that consumed more than 400 homes in Laguna.

“After careful consideration [the Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Committee] supports these well-crafted recommendations,” said committee Chair Matt Lawson. 

“In addition to life safety concerns, we are aware that residents are having difficulty accessing private fire insurance. If we don’t act now to mitigate our fire risk, this problem will only get worse.”

The 213-page report for immediate action to ramp up the protection of people’s lives and property, as well as medium and long-term recommendations, was spelled out Tuesday by subcommittee members that included Police Captain Jeff Calvert, Fire Chief Mike Garcia, Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock and Finance Director Gavin Curran. Public Works Director Shohreh Dupuis was credited with quarterbacking the subcommittee report and presentation.

Short-Term Recommendations:

Funding for the short-term recommendations included tapping existing sources.

The council approved the appropriation of $200,000 from the ongoing Measure LL Fund and $320,000 in the fund balance for one-time expenditures over the next two years, plus $1 million a year earmarked in the fund for undergrounding in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 fiscal years; $137,000 from the General Fund balance; $85,000 of ongoing funds from the Parking Fund and $693,000 from the fund balance.

Other approved funding sources: redirect the approved additional payments to the California Public Employees Retirement System, restructure the Side Fund Loan to repay $1.5 million owed to the Street Lighting Fund and appropriate this funding toward the short-term action items. 

Council approves parking meters

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Parking revenues needed to fund medium-term recommendations 

Medium-Term Recommendations:

The council directed the city manager to come up with a plan to increase parking revenues needed to fund medium-term recommendations, including appropriating half of the total Measure LL revenue for undergrounding and fire safety in fiscal year 2021-2022. The following fiscal year, the council approved appropriating $1 million from the Street Lighting and Utility funds for undergrounding and fire safety. 

Council directed Pietig to continue seeking grants for fuel modification and other grant-eligible items.

Long-Term Recommendations:

--Direct the subcommittee to work with federal, state and county agencies to develop a cost/benefit analysis of potential city acquisition of Laguna Canyon Road    

--Direct the city manager to work with neighborhoods to develop undergrounding assessment districts 

--Direct the city manager to pursue Rule 20A from other cities and counties to expedite undergrounding

--Direct the subcommittee to work with staff on identifying other revenue sources for long-term action items.

Short-term action costs are estimated to be $22.9 million; medium-term, $9.4 million and long-term $135.6 million

No appropriations were approved to fund medium or long-term recommendations. 

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

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