Two council meetings to cover: updated public art program; master plans for parks, recreation, facilities; committee appointments; council policies; tenancy termination noticing ordinance


Laguna Beach City Council will hold two meetings next week and cover a variety of notable items.

At the Tuesday (Feb. 27) meeting, council will consider: An updated public art program policy; a contract for the park, playground, and recreation master plan; council meeting agenda order of business; policies updating procedures for councilmember placement of items on council agendas and establishing the format of meeting minutes; a contract for the citywide safety action plan; a donation to reconstruct decorative stone planters and refinish the main entrance doors at city hall; an ordinance amendment regarding single family residential one- and two-unit developments and urban lot splits; an ordinance amending certain portions of city code and determining that no further environmental review is required and a 2024 community survey.

On Thursday (Jan. 29), council will hold a special session to hear the items that were skipped after the abrupt adjournment of the February 13 meeting due to a “disturbing incident of “Zoom bombing” that disrupted the proceedings. The special meeting also has a few notable new items added to the agenda.

At the special meeting, council will consider: An ordinance related to tenancy termination noticing; consultant services agreement for the development of a facilities master plan; a variety of appointments for six city committees; a level three risk assessment of a public tree recommended for removal and resolutions authorizing the city manager to apply for various state grant funds.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Council will consider an updated public art policy on Tuesday (pictured: “Seabreeze: by Sukhdev Dail)

Up first during regular business at the Tuesday council meeting, council will consider an updated public art program policy and provide direction to help develop a proposed ordinance that would revise pertinent sections on the city’s municipal code to align with the changes outlined in the new policy.

On Oct. 5, 2021, council approved retaining Cultural Planning Group to draft an updated public art program policy.

Members of the Arts Commission unanimously agreed on May 10, 2021, to kick off the effort to provide more guidance and combine all public art elements into one ordinance, which would cover more than what’s currently described in city code. The process includes updates and revisions, and aims to establish specific standards for public art.

David Plettner-Saunders and Linda Flynn with CPG, the consulting firm tasked with reviewing and recommending updates to the policies, gave a presentation and asked for direction during a public art policy update workshop on December 7. On Jan. 24, 2022, commissioners received a brief presentation about the progress on updating the policy.

In preparing the draft policy, CPG engaged stakeholders and interviewed artists, developers, architects, business owners, donors, and community and nonprofit organizations to streamline processes and provide transparent and consolidated policies.

The policy recommendations will:

–Organize all programs (art in public places, murals, etc.) to be referred to as “public art program.”

–Provide explicit and greater authority to the Arts Commission to fulfill its role as decision maker in relation to the public art program and asks the council to only substitute its judgment in cases where there is a departure from Oregon following the policy guidelines.

–Aim for comprehensive and transparent policies by consolidating policies and making them available online as a resource for all.

–Acknowledge and respect the role and importance of artists in the program.

–Provide clear criteria for the selection of artists, artworks and sites.

–Provide all new artwork a specific exhibition time frame as opposed to permanently accessioning them into the collection (private development projects have a 20-year minimum).

–Set stronger criteria and authority to de-access works.

–Set clear criteria for donations and responsibilities for the cost of maintenance.

–Allow artwork memorials honoring organizations or events and eliminates individual memorials.

–Encourage financial contributions of any amount to a public art fund.

–Provide that maintenance costs for donated artworks and memorials become the responsibility of the donor.

–Create a policy for responsibilities on each partner to assure mutuality and workload and costs as it relates to the production of public art projects.

–Limit artist to four pieces in the city collection at any one time.

–Provide a well-defined appeals process.

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Also during regular business on Tuesday, council will consider awarding a $356,427 contract to prepare the park, playground, and recreation master plan.

If approved, the action will also authorize the city manager to approve change orders for additional services that may be required in an amount not to exceed $36,000 and transfer $100,500 in project savings from the Bluebird Canyon Drive evacuation route widening to the PP&R master plan study (bringing the total project budget to $392,900).

The city posted a request for proposals in January and received one responsive bid from Community Works Design Group, LLC. According to the staff report, a consultant selection committee reviewed the proposal based on qualifications and experience and highly rated CWDG’s proposal. The CWDG proposal was compared to recently awarded Park Master Plan contracts from other local municipalities and it was confirmed to be competitive in scope and price.

The comprehensive plan will provide a long-term vision for approximately 15 parks and recreational facilities managed by the city, including actionable policies and standards to direct short-term (one to three years) and long-term (five to 10 years) decisions, and a roadmap for ensuring just and fair quantity, proximity, and access to quality parks, open spaces, and recreation facilities and programs throughout the community. The PP&R master plan will address park and playground conditions and needs, recreation programming, facilities and funding opportunities.

The city has not previously completed a comprehensive master plan.

On the consent calendar (usually passed without discussion, unless an item is pulled by a councilmember or member of the public) for Tuesday’s meeting, council will consider several other items noted at the January 19 planning workshop, including a revised council meeting agenda order of business and policies updating procedures for councilmember placement of items on council agendas and establishing the format of meeting minutes.

Also on Tuesday’s consent calendar, council will consider awarding a $248,068 contract to Fehr & Peers to prepare the citywide safety action plan.

If approved, the action will also authorize the city manager to accept a $200,000 Safe Streets and Roads for All grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration to develop the plan, appropriate the grant funds for the CSAP project with a matching increase in estimated grant revenue and appropriate $68,068 from available fund balance in the capital improvement fund for the city’s contribution.

A safety action plan identifies the most significant roadway safety concerns in the community, and the implementation of projects and strategies to address those roadway safety issues.

Another item on the consent calendar on Tuesday, council will consider accepting a donation to restore décor and doors at city hall. Longtime Laguna Beach resident and licensed building contractor, Gregg Abel, offered a donation to provide the necessary materials and labor to reconstruct the two decorative stone planters and refinish the main entrance wooden doors at city hall.

The stone planters border the peppertree and palm tree. The donated work will include restoring a step that used to be a part of the peppertree planter. The value of this work is estimated to be $5,300.

All work will be performed by licensed professional contractors and coordinated through the public works and utilities department.

During regular business, council will consider an urgency ordinance and zoning ordinance amendment, as modified by the California Coastal Commission, regarding single-family residential one- and two-unit developments and urban lot splits pursuant to California Senate Bill 9.

Adopting the urgency ordinance will ensure that the city has enforceable development standards for SB 9 projects during the pendency of the CCC’s review and certification of the modified SB 9 Local Coastal Program amendment. After the modified SB 9 LCP amendment takes effect, the urgency ordinance will terminate.

On another regular business item on the agenda, council will consider an ordinance amending certain portions of city code in accordance with state housing laws and the city’s housing element.

According to the staff report, the amendments include a new chapter for the city’s inclusionary housing policy and new provisions related to density bonuses, single-room occupancy units, transitional and supportive housing, low barrier navigation centers, reasonable accommodations, home occupation/work-live standards, lot consolidations for senior and affordable housing projects and associated amendments.

Specific amendments intended to improve the feasibility of infill housing projects include modifications to the development standards, major remodel thresholds, and parking requirements for mixed-use projects in the Local Business District, Commercial Neighborhood Zone and South Laguna Village Commercial Zone. An amendment to the housing element of the general plan would modify city policy for consistency with the proposed inclusionary housing provisions.

Last up during regular business, council will consider directing the city manager to prepare a 2024 community survey.

If approved, council will appoint an ad hoc committee to collaborate with city staff and the consultant to help finalize the survey objectives and survey instrument before its release. Councilmembers are also being asked to provide direction regarding topics and revenue enhancements to be included in the survey.

Council identified exploring “revenue enhancements” as a priority at the annual planning workshop on January 19.

According to the staff report, a community survey will help gather insight into potential resident support for revenue enhancements and serve as a useful tool to survey topics of interest and help identify services that may need improvement or additional support.

At Thursday’s special meeting, last up on the agenda is a councilmember item from Bob Whalen, requesting that council consider an ordinance related to noticing requirements for tenancy terminations.

The ordinance aims to supplement the state’s tenant protection laws.

At their May 24, 2023, meeting, the Housing and Human Services Committee unanimously agreed to recommend that council develop a tenant protection ordinance and forwarded a draft document to use an example for possible language. Committee members’ key issues focused on: Greater relocation assistance; 60-day noticing requirements (with scope of work and permits attached if the reason for eviction is major remodel); that permits are actually pulled if the reason is major remodel; the duration that an owner has to live in a unit if the reason is owner move-in is two to three years; allowing the right of first refusal for a displaced tenant and that the minimum level of rehab work required to be considered a remodel is identified.

The staff report for next week’s item explains that Senate Bill 567 was signed by the governor in September and addresses several of the concerns raised by HHSC and the community. However, staff notes that there is not a mechanism to monitor property owners’ adherence to the new law’s tenant notification requirements. The proposed ordinance is designed to establish a local framework to track compliance.

“Tracking eviction notices may further deter landlords from circumventing the (Tenant Protection Act). By closely monitoring these notices, the city aims to increase the understanding of the situation and contribute to a more informed and responsive community approach,” the staff report reads.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Council will consider a contract to prepare the facilities master plan and subcommittee recommendations, including taking an aggressive approach to maximize utilization at the Laguna Beach Community and Recreation Center (formerly St. Catherine of Siena School)

Also at the special meeting on Thursday, during regular business, council will consider a consultant services agreement for the development of a facilities master plan.

If approved, the action will authorize the city manager to execute a consultant services agreement with Griffin Structures, Inc., for $760,000, to develop the comprehensive plan, along with future project-related expenses and change orders not-to-exceed $40,000.

Each councilmember is also being asked to provide up to two names to participate in the Facility Master Plan Community Working Group to the city clerk by March 12.

Council will also consider the Facility Master Plan Ad Hoc Committee additional recommendations to:

Direct staff to take an aggressive approach to maximize utilization at the Laguna Beach Community and Recreation Center.

Direct staff to present to the council in spring a plan to incorporate a new fire station #1 at the village entrance and how this change aligns with the fire department standard of cover and the proposed parking structure.

–Direct staff to work with Griffin Structures Inc. to develop a scope of work to evaluate the viability of public-private partnerships at the village entrance that includes a program to solicit such partnerships and next steps and present the scope of work and at a future council meeting for approval.

At their Feb. 21, 2023, meeting, councilmembers approved the priorities they set at their annual planning workshop and directed staff to work with a council subcommittee on the development of the scope of work and the procurement process for the facilities master plan effort.

The facilities master plan aims to provide the city with information regarding current and future facility needs and establishes a framework for the orderly growth of city services, administration and community programs, according to the staff report for next week’s agenda item. The goal of a FMP is to evaluate the condition of city facilities, assess their ability to meet the needs of current services, anticipate growth and future service delivery requirements, analyze gaps in providing services and create an action plan to address these issues. When the plan is finalized, it will provide recommendations with cost estimates to guide future decisions, timelines and steps forward in delivering city services.

Council approved the scope of services on May 16 and city staff began the RFP procurement process. The city received three bids and after the evaluation process concluded, the panel unanimously selected Griffin Structures, Inc., as the highest qualified consultant.

Also on Thursday, most of the items during regular business will be the interviews and appointments to city committees.

The council will make 12 appointments for six committees. All of the new members will serve a two-year term beginning April 1 and running through March 31, 2026.

The Parking, Traffic, & Circulation Committee was the most popular with 10 people applying for four open seats.

The seven-member group advises council on matters pertaining to parking, traffic, circulation and traffic complaints.

The terms for four current PTC members will expire on March 31. Only two are re-applying for another term: Lauriann Meyer and Brandon Rippeon. Another eight locals applied for the committee: Lawrence Esten, Matt Hendrick, India Hynes (also applied to the Recreation Committee), Marian Keegan (also applied to the Rec Committee), Michael Rosenberg, Stewart “Andre” Shields, Mike Simmons and Simon Sproule.

The Recreation Committee also received a lot of interest from local residents, with seven people applying.

At the council’s January 19 planning workshop, there was a majority of support for a suggestion of reducing the size of the larger committees to no more than seven people. The Rec Committee is currently a nine-person group with two alternates. The terms of five members are expiring on March 31, so staff is recommending filling two of the seats with the current alternates, eliminating two positions, and appointing one of the applicants to the single remaining seat. This would reduce the total number of members on the committee to seven.

The applicants are: Andrew Binkley (incumbent), James Foley, India Hynes (also applied to PTC), Marian Keegan (also applied to PTC), Ryan Marx, Claudia Redfern (incumbent) and Jennifer Zeiter.

The Environmental Sustainability Committee is also recommended to be reduced from nine members and one alternate to seven members.

There are four terms that will soon expire so staff is suggesting one position be filled by the current alternate, two seats be eliminated and council appoint one applicant to the last spot.

ESC received seven applications from residents: Steve Chadima (incumbent), Deborah Perlman Deem, Alexander Graebe, Paul Manina, Ramin Pejan, Ted Reckas and David Womack.

Council will also interview four applicants and appoint two residents to the Board of Adjustment/Design Review Board.

The applicants are: Imer Bauta, Mary Jo “MJ” Coveny, Jessica Gannon (incumbent) and Robb Mitchell.

The Heritage Committee also received four applicants for two open seats.

The terms of two current members are expiring and both are re-applying, Linda Morgenlander and Scott Summer. Along with two new applicants, Liz Jurkowski and Jon Stordahl.

Council will also interview the two applicants and appoint two residents to the View Restoration Committee. Incumbent Kelly Brochu and Walter Stender applied for the group.

Also during regular business, council will consider a level three risk assessment of a public tree at 387 El Camino Del Mar and a proposed update of the tree removal and planting policy for public trees.

Staff is recommending removal of the lemon-scented gum tree. A number of public comments were received after the public works department issued a notice of removal of the tree last July. The issue was raised to council, who initially voted 3-2 to remove the tree and then later agreed to reconsider the decision pending a level three risk assessment by a third-party certified arborist. According to the staff report for next week’s item, this assessment includes a ground penetrating radar evaluation of the trees underlying root structure and the performance of a static pool test, the purpose of which is to provide both the City Council and the community with a more comprehensive understanding of the tree’s health and viability.

Staff notes that the assessment report indicates that the likelihood of a failure is “possible,” the likelihood of impact is “high” and the consequence of failure is “severe.” This results in an overall risk rating of moderate leading to a staff recommendation of removing the tree.

Staff is also recommending changes to the policy related to when safety hazards are not visually apparent. Based on community feedback, the revision proposes adding a level three risk assessment to determine the need for removal of apparently healthy trees.

Also during the special meeting on Thursday, on the consent calendar, council will consider resolutions to authorize the city manager to submit applications to the state for local assistance specified grant funds.

California’s fiscal year 2023-24 budget included an allocation for local assistance for park rehabilitations, creations and improvements, including earmarking $300,000 for the construction of a dog play area at Moulton Meadows Park and approximately $1.23 million for the rehabilitation of the Moss Street Beach access.

The funds are administered by the state department of parks and recreation, office of grants and local services, which requires grant recipient agencies to certify through a resolution their participation in the program before submitting an application. The resolution affirms the city’s commitment to fund and implement the proposed projects and to submit the applications no later than January 31 2025.

Construction of the Moulton Meadows dog play area is complete and construction of the Moss Street Beach access is scheduled for completion in June.

The council agenda is available online here for the Tuesday meeting and here for the special Thursday meeting. Both days will start with a closed session at 4 p.m., followed by the regular meeting at 5 p.m.

The meeting can be watched live on Cox channel 852 or on the city’s website at

Members of the public may speak in person in council chambers.

Comments may be submitted on any agenda item or on any item not on the agenda in writing via mail to the City Clerk at: 505 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach, Calif. 92651, by email to, or by using this interactive form.

Written comments will be accepted until the close of business (i.e., 5:30 p.m.) on the business day before the meeting in order to allow sufficient time for council and staff to review and consider them. Any comments received after the deadline for submittal may not become part of the public record for that meeting. For comments submitted on a topic not on the agenda, please indicate that you would like your comments included in the official record for the meeting.


Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Laguna

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