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Laguna Beach


Council’s Consent Calendar includes EIR Services for Digester demolition

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Tonight’s City Council Agenda will include staff recommendations to approve hiring a consulting firm to prepare an environmental impact report for the demolition of the Digester and to open the bidding on a contract to remove the accumulated sludge inside the building.

The recommendation is Item 7 on the Consent Calendar and will be approved by the council with no discussion unless “pulled” by a member of the council or the public. Members of the public have previously opposed the demolition.

“It’s dirty pool,” said historian Anne Frank. “I will try to let people know about this.”

It has been suggested that the Digester should be the art to fulfill the Art in Public Places requirement for the Village Entrance, rather than the sculpture proposed by the Arts Commission.

“The Digester is a marvelous reminder of the WPA [New Deal Agency that provided jobs for millions during the Great Depression] projects that could be used for a useful purpose,” said Dick Frank.

Council's Consent Digester

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The Digester 

Staff is recommending approval of the services of Rincon Consultants Inc., which they believe will ensure the proposed EIR is in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, an $82,566 purchase order, and up to $8,250 to cover unforeseen circumstances.

If approved, Rincon will prepare an initial study, circulate a Notice of Preparation, manage a pubic scoping session, and prepare and review required technical studies. As proposed, the EIR will include a detailed analysis of impacts to the air, hazards, hazardous material, cultural tribal resources, land use, and planning, greenhouse gas emissions, and noise.

Bidding will be reopened on a contract to remove the sludge in the Digester. A bid by Innovative Construction Services far exceeded the $60,000 estimate, staff explained. The company had failed to account for odor control and labor costs required to clean the Digester to an acceptable status that would meet air quality requirements.


City Manager’s Updates

Holiday Street Sweeping Schedule – On Monday, Jan 20, street sweeping will only occur in commercial areas. For more information, contact Senior Fleet Maintenance Supervisor Austin Comp at (949) 464-6637.

Riddle Field Electrical Modifications – On Tuesday, Jan 21, work to improve the electrical system at Riddle Field will begin. During construction, a small area adjacent to the snack bar will be closed to the public. Working hours are 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of March. 

For additional information, contact Matt Oxford, Project Manager, at (949) 497-0792 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

City Manager's field

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Submitted photo

Riddle Field will undergo electrical modifications beginning on Jan 21 

Striping and Repainting in North Laguna – On Tuesday, Jan 21, the City’s contractor, Orange County Striping, will be repainting curbs and refreshing the roadways’ striping throughout North Laguna. No parking or traffic impacts are anticipated during the work.

For questions, contact Maintenance Leadworker Todd Henry at (949) 497-0348.

Laguna Canyon Road Slope Repair – On January 15, Caltrans commenced slope stabilization work on the west side of Laguna Canyon Road between Canyon Acres Drive and Woodland Drive to address the December 26 rainstorm damage. The work consists of removing loose rocks/debris and replacing the damaged steel mesh blanket that protects the road. 

Construction is expected to take four to six weeks and minor traffic and noise impacts are anticipated. Working hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for the first and last day when working hours will be 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. 

For questions, contact Caltrans Project Manager John Nowak at (949) 279-8511.

Community Assistance Grants – The City of Laguna Beach will begin accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2020-2021 Community Assistance Grants beginning January 21. The Community Assistance Grant program is available to nonprofit organizations that provide special services to residents of Laguna Beach. 

The objective of this program is to assist local organizations in funding new projects and/or expanded services within our community. Additional information can be found on the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net/cag

To be considered for a grant, applications must be submitted electronically by Friday, April 3 at 4:30 p.m. The submission link will be activated on the website on January 21. 

For more information, contact Becket Wilson, Community Services Administrative Assistant, at (949) 497-0779.

Sign Up for Dog Park Closure Alerts – When it rains, the City often closes the Dog Park due to wet and muddy conditions. The City now sends out text alerts when it closes and re-opens the Laguna Beach Dog Park. To sign up, text LBDOGPARK to 888-777. Closures (and re-openings) are also posted at www.lagunabeachcity.net.


Barbara’s Column

City Manager hosts reception for his newest employee

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

City Manager John Pietig hosted a reception Tuesday night in the City Council Chambers to introduce his newest employee to Laguna residents.

Under Laguna’s form of government, Pietig is the City Council’s only employee. All the rest of the folks on the City’s payroll are Pietig’s employees, including Marc Wiener, who succeeds retiring Gregory Pfost as director of the Community Development Department.

barbara column wiener

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Marc Wiener, new director of the Community Development Department

Wiener’s appointment was announced in November. However, he didn’t begin his new job until December 30, which allowed time for Wiener, his wife, and their three children to move to Southern California.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the community of Laguna Beach. I believe in protecting the city’s heritage, history, and beauty, while continuing to improve its development process,” he said, when the announcement was made. “As a people person and a problem solver, I am also committed to enhancing service.”

Pietig lured Wiener away from Carmel-by-the-Sea, where he had served as director of Planning and Building for the past four years. Wiener was selected by Pietig after an extensive interview process.

As the Community Planning and Building Director for Carmel, Wiener oversaw the Planning, Building Safety, Zoning, and Code Compliance Divisions. His 11-year career in Carmel included developing short-term lodging and street vendor ordinances, as well as a strategic plan for his department. He also worked with the local business community to address the city’s downtown vacancy rates.

He ought to feel right at home in Laguna. 

These issues and more are hot buttons in Laguna and the guests at Tuesday’s reception provided a smorgasbord of ideas on what they would like to see Wiener tackle first.

Councilwoman Sue Kempf’s immediate goal for Wiener is for him to be well-grounded on the updated Downtown Specific Plan, still waiting approval after seven years of wending its way through City bureaucracy.

barbara column kempf

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There were plenty of familiar faces in the crowd, including Councilwoman Sue Kempf

Landscape architect Bob Borthwick wants to see Wiener’s department, as well as Public Works, involved in the Downtown Action Plan. 

Downtown businesswoman Heidi Miller and Councilwoman Toni Iseman zeroed in on improvements needed in the permitting process.

“We need to find a way to accelerate approvals so people don’t have to wait so long to find out what needs to be done and [how to] get it done,” said Iseman.

Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Committee Chair Matt Lawson also would like Wiener to focus on streamlining the approval process, but specifically with regard to fuel modification and fire safety improvements.

“A lingering issue that is a sore spot is how things are handled at the counter in City Hall,” said landscape architect and former mayor Ann Christoph.

The counter is where applications for permits are submitted and, according to many critics, linger too long and cost too much. 

barbara column pietig

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City Manager John Pietig undertook a comprehensive interviewing and vetting process to find the right person for the job

No surprise here – Canyon Alliance of Neighborhoods Defense Organization President Penny Milne’s priority is an update of the Open Space and Conservation Element of the General Plan – in particular, the watershed and drainage course map, which was adopted prior to the City’s annexation of the canyon. 

“The map is from 1981 and doesn’t even recognize Laguna Canyon Creek,” said Milne.

Laguna College of Art + Design President Jonathan Burke, whose stomping ground is also the canyon, would like Wiener to address live/work studios that would help keep artists in Laguna Beach.

Architect Morris Skenderian said the most critical issue facing the City is its interface with the California Coastal Commission on development permits. 

“It affects every project and every coastal development permit,” said Skenderian.

Architect Marshall Ininns would prefer more aggressive action: “Rewrite the Local Coastal Plan,” he said. 

Hasty Honarkar, a member of the city’s Parking, Traffic, and Circulation Committee, opined that bringing the community together should be Wiener’s first order of business.

“Find a happy medium,” she said. 

Affordable housing for everyone tops Laguna Beach Seniors Past President Chris Quilter’s wish list.

“Everyone says it can’t be done,” said Quilter. “I don’t believe it.”

Certainly, the state mandate on increased housing will be high on Wiener’s to-do list. The City is appealing the Southern California Association of Governments’ jump from 55 new dwellings, with 17 earmarked affordable, to 390, with 116 affordable.

“Everything is interconnected,” said Planning Commissioner Susan Whitin. “He [Wiener] is going to be twirling all the plates in the air at one time.”

barbara column heidi

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(L-R) Ruben Flores, Heidi Miller, and Matt Lawson

Pietig had previously said the role of the Community Development Director was key for the City and that Laguna is fortunate to have Wiener come aboard to lead the community development efforts.

“His years of experience in a similar role for a California coastal city and his experience with the Coastal Commission will be a great benefit for our community,” said Pietig. 

As Community Development Director, Wiener will provide strategic management and oversight for all department services, including planning, zoning, building, and permitting code enforcement, and Historic Preservation – oh joy!

He will also work on large-scale and advanced planning projects such as the updates to the city’s General Plan, the Downtown Specific Plan, and continuous work with the California Coastal Commission.

Artist Jorg Dubin, a Planning Commissioner, said Wiener should have a few weeks to get comfortable.

He seemed very comfortable Tuesday meeting some of the city’s most active residents, including Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson, Visit Laguna Beach President Ashley Johnson (no relation to Anne), Laguna Creative Ventures team member Karen Philippsen, Stephany Skenderian, and Community Emergency Response Team head Sonny Myers, who stopped by before leaving to teach a radio class to CERT members. 

Among the more familiar faces: Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow, City Clerk Lisette Chel-Walker, Assistant City Manager/Public Works Director Shohreh Dupuis, and Pietig’s Executive Assistant Mariann Tracy.

“I want to thank everyone for giving Marc a great community welcome,” said Pietig.

The reception might have gone on well past its scheduled 5:30 p.m. close, but Pietig had to shoo everyone out to make way for the Heritage Committee meeting. 

But wait – there’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading StuNewsLaguna. Contributions are welcomed.


Assistant City Manager Johnson gets a promotion – in Del Mar

The Del Mar City Council confirmed Monday that Laguna Beach Assistant City Manager Christa Johnson would be their new city manager. 

Johnson has been Assistant City Manager in Laguna for 8 1/2 years, replacing John Pietig when he succeeded Ken Frank in 2011.

“It is a great loss for Laguna Beach, but a great gain for Del Mar,” said Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow.

“Christa did a fantastic job here and she will be missed.”

Johnson, who is married and has two children, said she does not plan to give up her home in Laguna.

“I very much enjoyed working with members of the business community and environmental groups and my fellow city employees,” said Johnson.

Assistant City Manager Christa Johnson

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Christa Johnson is the new City Manager of Del Mar

She moves on to Del Mar with more than 22 years of experience in government. Before coming to Laguna Beach, she held the position of Assistant City Manager in the Northern California city of Windsor. Prior to that, she served as assistant to the city manager of Alameda from 1977 to 2006; management analyst of Alameda County from 1996 to 1997; and as administrative assistant/public relations for the Yosemite National Institutes from 1995 to 1996. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from San Francisco State and a bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Santa Barbara. 

“I’m pleased that our new City Manager comes with experience facing the challenges and opportunities of a coastal community,” Del Mar Mayor Ellie Haviland said in a press release issued January 9.

Monday’s announcement culminated a five-month recruitment that included a community survey.

“I’m glad we were able to complete the search process so that we will have a smooth transition,” Council member Dave Druker said in the press release.

Johnson’s base annual salary will be $240,000 and she will get a monthly car allowance of $500 and a monthly cell phone/technology allowance of $150, according to an agreement approved Monday. She also will receive an annual contribution of $10,000 into a deferred compensation plan, an annual consumer price index adjustment of up to 3 percent, and performance bonuses of up to 4 percent.

In a 2017 League of Women Voters interview, Johnson was asked what techniques she used when negotiating for a higher salary or other benefits. She replied: “You have to let it be known that you have an interest, are competent, and are willing to do the extra work involved in taking on a new assignment. I am convinced that 99 percent of managers want to help people develop professionally, but some are just clueless and they need to be specifically asked for assignments. We are each in charge of our professional destiny and it’s incumbent on us to vocalize our interest, make suggestions, make reasonable requests for professional development opportunities, and follow up with people who provide these opportunities or that can share information that can help us grow and advance in this fantastic profession.”

Her first day at the new job is February 12. A reception to introduce Johnson to the community will take place at a later date.


Chamber of Commerce to host Annual Board of Directors Installation Mixer on Jan 23

The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce will host its Annual Board of Directors Installation Mixer on Thursday, Jan 23 at Marine Room Tavern. The event, which begins at 5:30 p.m., will be catered by Ristorante Rumari.

J.J. Ballesteros, President of the Board of Directors, will preside over the ceremonies. Mayor Bob Whalen will preside over the Installation of the Board Officers.

Chamber of Board

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Submitted photo

The Chamber will host its Annual Board of Directors Installation Mixer on Jan 23 at Marine Room Tavern; seen here are Chamber Directors (L-R) Carmelit Green, David Rubel, Julie Laughton, J.J. Ballesteros, and Norm Grossman

2020 Chamber Board of Directors include:

--J.J. Ballesteros – President

--Julie Laughton – President Elect

--Dave Rubel – Vice President

--Carmelit Green – Treasurer

--Norm Grossman – Secretary

--Dawn Knepper – Director

--Doug Vogel – Director

--Hasty Honarkar – Director

--Mark Meisberger – Director

--Reinhard Neubert – Director

--Scott Sanchez – Director

--Craig Strong - Director

--Tyler Russell – Director

Prices for the event are $15 for Chamber Members and $20 for Prospective Members. 

Visit www.lagunabeachchamber.org to register for this annual event. 

The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce has served the businesses of Laguna Beach since 1917 as a tool for promoting commerce and allowing members to connect to one another and the community. The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce’s core mission is to promote, represent, and support members of the business community.

If you have any questions or would like more information on the Laguna Beach Chamber, contact (949) 494-1018 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Marine Room Tavern is located at 214 Ocean Ave.


City of LB Community Services offers Mary’s Country Line Dancing classes at Susi Q

The City of Laguna Beach Community Services Department invites locals to “join the fun” on Wednesdays as Mary Schmidt leads Country Western Line Dancing classes at The Susi Q. No experience is necessary.

Participants will learn the basic beginner steps and build confidence, and then move on the dance floor to the beat of favorite country songs.

Instructed by Mary Schmidt, the first session began on January 8 and continues every Wednesday until January 29 from 1:05 p.m.- 2 p.m. Participants must be 18 years of age and older. The fee is $48; drop-in sessions are also available at $15 per session).

City of boots dancing

Courtesy of cabinteelylife.com

Country Western Line Dancing classes available

The next session starts on March 3.

To view the catalog and register for the class, click here. 

The City of LB Community Services Department provides creative programs and diverse services to promote an active lifestyle, enhance the quality of life, and build a sense of community for residents and visitors of all ages.

The Community & Susi Q Center is located at 380 Third St.


City Manager’s Updates

Meet the New Laguna Beach Community Development Director – The City of Laguna Beach invites the public to come and meet the City’s new Director of Community Development, Marc Wiener, on Tuesday, Jan 14 from 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. 

Wiener spent the last four years as Community Planning and Building Director for the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., where he oversaw the Planning, Building Safety, Zoning, and Code Compliance Divisions. He holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning from San Jose State University and is certified by the American Institute for Certified Planners (AICP). Light refreshments will be served.

Laguna Canyon Road Slope Repair – On Wednesday, Jan 15, Caltrans plans to begin slope stabilization work on the west side of Laguna Canyon Road between Canyon Acres Drive and Woodland Drive to address the December 26 rainstorm damage. 

The work consists of removing loose rocks/debris and replacing the damaged steel mesh blanket that protects the road. To accommodate the work, the single inbound traffic lane will be extended to Woodland Drive before it breaks into two lanes. Construction is expected to take four to six weeks and minor traffic and noise impacts are anticipated.

Working hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for the first and last day when working hours will be 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. Please direct any questions to Caltrans Project Manager, John Nowak, at (949) 279-8511.

Downtown Action Plan Informational Meeting – The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce invites the public to attend an informational meeting on the Downtown Action Plan at City Hall on Friday, Jan 24 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. 

Attendees will receive a presentation from City of Laguna Beach staff and a consultant from SWA Group on the Plan and the public will have an opportunity to provide input. A light continental breakfast will be available. Visit www.lagunabeachchamber.org to register. The event is free to the public. 

City Manager's downtown

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Downtown Action Plan meeting to be held on Jan 24 

Weekday Coastal Trolley Schedule Modifications – Effective Monday, Jan 6, 2020, the Weekday Coastal Trolley schedule has been slightly modified to include additional trips to and from Laguna Beach High School for the morning arrival and afternoon dismissal times.   

See the latest trolley schedules by visiting www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/transit_and_trolleys/citybus.htm. For additional information, contact Michael Litschi, Deputy Director of Public Works, at (949) 497-0303 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce to Host Annual State of the City Luncheon – The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce will host its annual “State of the City” luncheon on Thursday, May 14, from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at the Montage Laguna Beach, 30801 S Coast Hwy.

Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen and City officials will present the State of the City Address. The luncheon is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and provides attendees a great opportunity to get an up-close look at City activities, recent highlights from the past 12 months, and City goals for the near future. 

To reserve tickets or for more information, call (949) 494-1018 or visit www.lagunabeachchamber.org

City Manager's State of the City

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Police Chief Laura Farinella, Mayor Bob Whalen, and Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow at last year’s State of the City Luncheon

PMMC in Need of Pedialyte – The Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) is low on its Pedialyte stock with all of its recently rescued sea lion pups. When these little ones are first brought in, they are too weak to eat whole fish on their own. The PMMC’s trained animal care team tube-feeds the pup patients “fish smoothies” so they can regain their strength. Please drop off unflavored Pedialyte donations at the PMMC’s visitor courtyard from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. or have your donation shipped directly to the PMMC at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd, Laguna Beach, 92651. Check out their wish list of all needed items at www.pacificmmc.org/our-wish-list.

Friday Flicks at the Forum – On Friday, Feb 7 the public is invited to attend a free screening of Ruben Brandt, Collector at the Forum Theater located on the grounds of the Festival of Arts, 650 Laguna Canyon Rd. Doors open at 6 p.m. The film will start at 7 p.m. with a run time of  96 minutes and is rated R. 

For more information, contact Arts Program Coordinator Michael McGregor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

City Hall Exhibitions – An exhibition of artwork from the Festival of Arts Permanent Collection is currently on display at City Hall and will conclude on January 16. The next exhibition, titled 2020 Vision, will feature work from the Laguna College of Art + Design’s Painting and Drawing MFA program and be on display from January 28 to March 5.

Cultural Arts Funding Grants – The Arts Commission is accepting applications for cultural arts funding grants from organizations that provide cultural programs in Laguna Beach. The deadline to submit is Monday, Feb 3. Applications must be made online at www.lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com

If You See Something, Say Something – The Laguna Beach Police Department is closely monitoring the events in the Middle East, communicating with our state and federal partners for any significant intel that develops. If you see anything that is suspicious to you, say something. 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. Visit their website at 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 at https://bit.ly/39IZ78d. 

Reminders:

Tree Recycling – Waste Management will collect and recycle holiday trees on the regular collection days at no charge from now until Friday, Jan 17. Trees must be cut to lengths less than six feet. Decorations, tinsel, metal ornaments, and metal stands must be removed from the trees. 

Visit the city’s website www.lagunabeachcity.net/recycling for more information. 

The City Council is accepting applications for Committees, Commissions and Boards – Spots are available on the Recreation Committee, Design Review Board, Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee, Heritage Committee, Environmental Sustainability Committee, and View Restoration Committee.

Interviews and appointments for these positions will be conducted on Tuesday, Feb 4 by the City Council in the City Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave.

Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on one of these committees should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or online from the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net and file by Friday, Jan 24 at 5 p.m. The application on the City website is interactive and applicants are encouraged to fill in the application online. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at (949) 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the January 24 deadline. 

Good Neighbor Outdoor Lighting – Residential holiday lighting is permitted until January 15 and to be turned off no later than 12 a.m. As defined by City Council resolution, residential holiday lighting during the remainder of the year (between January 16 and November 14) is limited to no more than seven consecutive days and should be turned off no later than 12 a.m.


City takes steps to acquire library

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council has set in motion steps to pursue the purchase of the Laguna Beach Branch of the Orange County Library System.

They were cutting it close. 

Under the terms of a 1970 agreement, the city had until January 20 to exercise its option to buy the county’s share of the property, which includes the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce offices and the fundraising Friends of the Library Book Shop.

The council on Tuesday authorized City Manager John Pietig to take the initial steps to clear the way for the purchase of the property and approved the appropriation of $20,000 from the Library Impact Fees to cover the cost of due diligence activities related to the potential acquisition. 

Pietig was directed to inform the county’s Chief Operating Officer of the city’s intent to exercise its option. He was also authorized to obtain an inspection, appraisal, and environmental assessment of the property. The county would conduct its own appraisal. 

The city’s purchase price would be based on the fair market value of the one 6,270-square-foot lot bought by the county out of the total 10,000-square-foot property, which includes the parking lot.

City takes library

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Courtesy of Friends of the Library

City Council has taken steps to purchase the library

Acquisition of the parking lot is one of the benefits of the purchase, but the major benefit would be control of the property in perpetuity, which includes other uses, according to city staff.

The announcement of the proposed sale came as a surprise to the Friends of the Laguna Beach Library, according to Sandra Hovanesian, vice president of the group. 

“We talked about it yesterday [Wednesday], and we are sitting back until the city gets an appraisal,” said Hovanesian. “But the Friends most likely will support the library whether it is city or county.”

Friends Board member Karl Koski said before the council meeting that he supported the purchase.

 “It is in the city’s interest to have complete control of the property in case of future issues,” said Koski. 

The county has indicated a desire to continue to operate the property as a library, via a lease agreement. 

Once the city and county have completed due diligence activities and established a fair market value, staff will provide the council with the information to consider moving ahead on the purchase, Assistant City Manager Christa Johnson said Tuesday. 

Meantime, Pietig was authorized to execute an agreement under which the city would pay the county $1,484 per month for the space occupied by the chamber, backdated to January 2. The city would sublease the space to the chamber. The in sublease would terminate after 12 months.


Chamber of Commerce to host Annual Board of Directors Installation Mixer

The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce will host its Annual Board of Directors Installation Mixer, installing its 2020 Board, on Thursday, Jan 23 at Marine Room Tavern. The event, which begins at 5:30 p.m., will be catered by Ristorante Rumari.

J.J. Ballesteros, President of the Board of Directors, will preside over the ceremonies. Mayor Bob Whalen will preside over the Installation of the Board Officers.

Chamber of Board

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Submitted photo

The Chamber will host its Annual Board of Directors Installation Mixer on Jan 23 at Marine Room Tavern; seen here are Chamber Directors (L-R) Carmelit Green, David Rubel, Julie Laughton, J.J. Ballesteros, and Norm Grossman

2020 Chamber Board of Directors include:

--J.J. Ballesteros – President

--Julie Laughton – President Elect

--Dave Rubel – Vice President

--Carmelit Green – Treasurer

--Norm Grossman – Secretary

--Dawn Knepper – Director

--Doug Vogel – Director

--Hasty Honarkar – Director

--Mark Meisberger – Director

--Reinhard Neubert – Director

--Scott Sanchez – Director

--Craig Strong - Director

--Tyler Russell – Director

Prices for the event are $15 for Chamber Members and $20 for Prospective Members. 

Visit www.lagunabeachchamber.org to register for this annual event. 

The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce has served the businesses of Laguna Beach since 1917 as a tool for promoting commerce and allowing members to connect to one another and the community. The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce’s core mission is to promote, represent, and support members of the business community.

If you have any questions or would like more information on the Laguna Beach Chamber, contact (949) 494-1018 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Marine Room Tavern is located at 214 Ocean Ave.


City Council accepting applications for appointed committees

The City Council is accepting applications for the following Committees, Commissions, and Boards: Recreation Committee, Design Review Board, Parking, Traffic & Circulation Committee, Heritage Committee, Environmental Sustainability Committee, and View Restoration Committee.

Interviews and appointments will be conducted on Tuesday, Feb 4 at 5 p.m. by the City Council in the City Council Chambers. All applicants will be interviewed. Applicants may be contacted by City Council members prior to the interviews and appointments so please be prepared to make a brief statement about your desire to serve on a committee.

Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on one of these committees should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or online from the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net, and file by Friday, Jan 24 at 4:30 p.m. 

The application on the City website is interactive and the City encourages applicants to fill in the application online. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at (949) 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the January 24 deadline. 

City Council cars

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The Parking, Traffic & Circulation Committee is accepting applications

Positions on the following Committees, Commissions, and Boards are open (the City Council may reduce or increase the number of committee members at its discretion):

(3) Two-year terms on the Recreation Committee with terms beginning April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2022. The Recreation Committee is a seven-member body that directs its efforts in the area of providing for the recreation and park needs of the community. Meetings are generally held on the second Monday of the month. 

(2) Two-year terms on the Board of Adjustment/Design Review Board with terms beginning April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2022. The Board of Adjustment/Design Review Board is a five-member body appointed by the City Council for the purpose of considering requests for variances from the zoning code. The members also sit as the City’s Design Review Board. Board members serve a two-year term and are compensated in the amount of $392 per month. The Board meets bi-monthly, generally on the second and fourth Thursday of the month. 

A substantial time commitment of approximately 10 hours per week is necessary to be a Board member. In addition to the bi-monthly meetings, Board members are expected to visit the sites and review the plans of projects prior to the meeting. 

The Board acts on an average of 14 items per meeting. It is desirable to have or be able to acquire certain skills or aptitudes, such as the ability to understand and conceptualize architectural drawings, and to visualize building mass and volumes based upon on-site staking plans. Experience in the building trades, architecture, historic preservation, landscaping, planning, and/or real estate would be an asset.   

(3) Two-year terms on the Parking, Traffic & Circulation Committee with terms beginning April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2022. The Parking, Traffic & Circulation Committee is a seven-member body that acts in an advisory capacity on matters pertaining to parking, traffic, circulation, transit, the Parking Management Plan, and traffic complaints. Meetings are generally held on the fourth Thursday of the month.

(2) Two-year terms on the Heritage Committee with terms beginning April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2022. The Heritage Committee is currently a five-member body that acts in an advisory capacity to the Design Review Board, Planning Commission, and City Council on matters pertaining to historic preservation such as the review of modifications to a historic structure, placement of a structure on the Historic Register, and creation of a special designation plaque program. Meetings are generally held on the third Monday of the month.

City Council houses

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Historic property on Diamond Street: the Heritage Committee is accepting applications

(4) Two-year terms on the Environmental Sustainability Committee with terms beginning April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2022. The Environmental Sustainability Committee is a seven-member advisory body to the City Council.  The purpose for the Committee is researching, reviewing, and advising the Council on items related to protecting the environment and improving the community’s future sustainability. The Committee receives its work assignments from the City Council. Committee members typically work in subcommittees to research issues and policies and prepare recommendations for approval by the Committee for submission to the City Council. 

A personal time commitment of 10-15 hours per month may be necessary to accomplish tasks. Regular meetings are generally held on the third Monday of each month at 6 p.m. Meetings may be two or more hours, and often require a great deal of preparation time. 

(2) Two-year terms on the View Restoration Committee with terms beginning April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2022. Members of the View Restoration Committee adjudicate view claims submitted by property owners to restore pre-existing views that are alleged to be significantly impaired by vegetation. 

The five-member committee of local residents appointed by the City Council conducts public hearings to review claims, hear testimony, and determine significant view impairment. The Committee may approve a view restoration order and establish a maintenance schedule for the subject vegetation on the property. The View Restoration Committee generally meets on the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. 

City Council Chambers is located at 505 Forest Ave. 

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