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What’s your City done for you lately? Well, let’s look back at 2023

This is Part 2 in a two-part series.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

PUBLIC WORKS

Utility Undergrounding projects included:

–Completed Diamond Street Underground Utility Assessment District 2013-02.

–Conducted balloting to form the Woods Cove Underground Utility Assessment District 2014-02, which resulted in voter approval of the proposed district.

–Began construction of underground infrastructure for Park Avenue Underground Utility District 2021-02.

Improvement of City Facilities and Local Infrastructure

–Constructed a retaining wall and widened Bluebird Canyon Drive to improve evacuation access.

–Constructed a consolidated trash enclosure to reduce bin clutter along Forest Alley.

–Renovated the Police Department armory.

–Renovated restrooms and front lobby at Fire Station 1 without affecting operations.

–Installed new fencing and landscaping for the dog play area at Moulton Meadows Park.

–Renovated median landscaping along Laguna Canyon Road.

–Installed a natural gas emergency generator in an underground vault to ensure continuous operation of the Irvine Cove wastewater lift station to prevent potential spills on the beach, preserve ocean views and provide environmental protection of ocean habitat.

–Rehabilitated a pump at the Bluebird SOCWA wastewater lift station, to improve pump output and reduce power usage, as part of the ongoing lift station preventative maintenance program.

–Cleaned and maintained more than 100 miles of sewer pipelines to minimize service disruptions and address wastewater system deficiencies.

Transition of Water Quality Department to Public Works Department

To better align the city’s workforce infrastructure and resources, the Water Quality Department, which includes the Wastewater Division, was merged into a division within the Public Works Department. Wastewater Division position titles and descriptions were updated to better align the job responsibilities of the division and certification requirements. This accomplishment will improve the talent resources of future recruitments.

New Solid Waste Collection Franchise Agreement

The city awarded the Franchise Agreement for Solid Waste and Recycling Collection Services to CR&R to commence on July 1, 2024, and continue for eight years. Transitional bi-weekly meetings with CR&R began on July 12, 2023.

Urban Forestry Grant

In September 2023, the Public Works and Utilities Department was awarded a $100,000 match free grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This grant will lead to the upgrade of citywide digital urban forestry management tools, including Tree Canopy Analysis, Updated Tree Asset Inventory and Tree Planting Site Analysis.

Arundo Removal at Aliso Beach

In August 2023, the Public Works and Utilities Department began performing quarterly Arundo (Arundo donax) grass removal projects at Aliso Creek. To date, these ongoing efforts have resulted in removal of nearly nine tons of the highly invasive species.

Public Tree Planting Program

The city has planted 42 trees and improved or repaired 33 tree wells.

Tree City USA Recognition

The city was recognized as a Tree City USA Community for the fifth consecutive year by the Arbor Day Foundation. The city hosted a public Arbor Day celebration with a tree planting ceremony at Moulton Meadows Park on March 9, 2023, which was proclaimed Arbor Day in Laguna Beach by the City Council.

New Beach Cleaner

In May 2023, the city purchased a new beach-cleaning machine dedicated for use at Main Beach and Aliso Beach.

City Fleet Vehicles

In 2023, the Fleet Maintenance Division made 13 new city vehicles ready for service.

Street Sweeping

In 2023, the Public Works and Utilities Department swept 14,500 curb miles throughout the city.

New Slogan on City Vehicles

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The Fleet Maintenance Division installed decals of the city’s newly adopted PRIDE slogan on all city vehicles.

Weed Abatement Project in Downtown and City Parks

In July 2023, the Public Works & Utilities Department was provided $50,000 to oversee a specialized crew to remove weeds in Downtown and the city parks. The project was overseen by Maintenance Supervisor Wayne Chintala.

Fountain Repair at the Susi Q Center

The city and the water district worked collaboratively to repair a non-functioning decorative fountain in the exterior seating area at the Community and Susi Q Center.

Laguna Beach Community & Recreation Center

Facility maintenance team completed numerous projects to prepare the CRC for use by city departments. The work included installing new paint, flooring, HVAC repairs and elevator restoration.

Replacement of Lighting Fixtures at Hagen Place Parking Structure (Lot 14)

In October 2023, the Public Works and Utilities Department replaced lighting fixtures with energy efficient LED light fixtures at the Hagen Place Parking Structure (Lot 14). The work was overseen by Maintenance Supervisor Wayne Chintala.

Annual Nuisance Abatement Program

During July 2023, the city requested 95 property owners trim their overgrown vegetation as part of the annual Sidewalk and Intersection Visibility Nuisance Abatement Program.

Chevron Alignment Signs on Laguna Canyon Road

The Street Maintenance Division and Engineering Division worked together to install new chevron alignment signs on Laguna Canyon Road. No traffic collisions have occurred along this portion of roadway since the signs were installed.

Service Requests

Completed approximately 1,600 service requests repairing public facilities in 2023.

Storm/Emergency Response

Prepared for and responded to five significant emergency events, including major storms, wind events and Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

Recycling Events

More than 400 residents safely disposed of approximately four tons of hazardous waste in the city’s annual Paint, E-Waste and Universal Waste Drop-off event and approximately six tons of paper by participating in the city’s annual document shredding event. Approximately 300 residents also took home 25 tons of compost at two compost giveaway events. Four composting workshops were offered this year.

Aliso Creek Berm Maintenance

Submitted permit applications to regulatory agencies in September for the maintenance of the sand berm where Aliso Creek meets Aliso Beach to the City of Laguna Beach.

American Public Works Association (APWA) Awards

Awarded the APWA Drainage, Water, Wastewater Project of the Year for the Irvine Cove Emergency Backup Generator project.

Guard Railing Repairs

Repaired or installed guard railings along Cliff Drive, Agate Street and Acacia Drive.

Traffic Calming

Conducted speed surveys and installed traffic calming measures along Temple Hills Drive and Bluebird Canyon Drive to address neighborhood concerns about excessive motorists’ speed.

Sunset Avenue Water Line Rupture

Coordinated restoration of the roadway, slope and private property damaged because of flow from a ruptured water pipe on Sunset Avenue.

Grant to Improve Roadway Safety

Awarded $200,000 Safe Streets and Roads for All grant from U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration Office of Safety for the development of a comprehensive safety action plan.

Coast Highway Street Resurfacing

Coordinated the resurfacing of Coast Highway north of Ledroit Street and south of Seventh Avenue with Caltrans.

TRANSIT, PARKING, & COMMUNITY SERVICES

On-Demand Transit Service

Laguna Local on-demand microtransit service expanded in January 2023 to serve more neighborhoods in North and South Laguna. The service had 63,000 boardings, a 91% satisfaction rating and an average wait time of just 8.4 minutes.

Trolley Services

There were more than 612,000 boardings on the city’s free trolley services in 2023. Special event trolley services to the summer art festivals and Sawdust Winter Fantasy were expanded.

Senior Transportation

The city provided more than $140,000 of city and grant funding to Sally’s Fund to support senior transportation services, including the purchase of new hybrid-electric vehicles.

Parking and Transportation Demand Management Report

Completed a comprehensive report assessing the city’s parking needs and developed proposed short- and long-term solutions to increase parking capacity, improve use of existing parking facilities and reduce neighborhood impacts.

Mobile Parking Transactions

There were 218,000 Frog mobile parking transactions in 2023, an increase of 56% over the prior year; improvements were made to the Laguna Beach Parking app and a new one-time payment option was introduced.

Parking Technology Improvements

Replaced single-space parking meters on Laguna Canyon Road and Frontage Road with new multi-space pay stations with “pay by plate” technology. Installed six new pay stations in Aliso Beach parking lots.

Recreation Programs

Provided recreation programs to more than 8,500 community members. Opened and expanded recreation programming at the new Laguna Beach Community and Recreation Center. Awarded $250,000 in Community Assistance Grants and processed more than $1.9 million of revenue transactions.

Special Events

Hosted special events including Patriots Day Parade, City Youth Track Meet, Brooks St. Surf Contest, college, professional and local beach volleyball tournaments, an outdoor family movie night, July 4 fireworks show, World Kindness Day, LOVE Laguna, preschool Halloween event and Hospitality Night.

Facility Updates

Three permanent pickleball courts were added at Alta Laguna Park, resulting in a total of six pickleball courts at that facility. The new Community and Recreation Center opened to the public with volleyball, basketball, futsal and pickleball programs at the gymnasium weekly as well as pre-school classes, summer camps and skateboard classes.

Fleet Electrification and Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Master Plan

Completed a comprehensive plan that analyzed the feasibility and cost of transitioning the city’s municipal fleet to electric vehicles and installing additional public electric vehicle charging stations. An implementation plan is expected to be finalized in 2024.

FINANCE & TECHNOLOGY SERVICES

Financial

–Processed more than 15,600 vendor invoices resulting in more than 14,500 vendor warrants and 1,100 vendor ACH payments.

–Completed and submitted seven annual compliance reports to state and federal agencies and participated in five audits conducted by independent third-party auditors as a requirement for funding received by the city.

–Prepared more than 1,600 journal entries during the calendar year and as a component of the fiscal year-end close.

–Processed more than 35,000 timesheets and issued more than 10,600 paychecks to city employees.

–Administered a citywide budget of approximately $130M and processed 40 budget amendments.

Modernizing Business Practices

–Upgraded the city’s network infrastructure which included replacing 14 network switches at seven locations and updated the central firewalls for City Hall.

–Enhanced the city’s cybersecurity with the development of Multi-Factor Authentication, continued cybersecurity training, and the creation of a citywide Incident Response Plan established to detect, respond to and limit the consequences of a malicious cyber-attack.

–Deployed more than 216 computer devices (laptops, tablets and phones) Citywide, 23 mobile data computers for safety vehicles, and four new CCTV cameras at the Montage, Marine Safety HQ and the Surf & Sand Hotel.

–Implemented Police Department advanced security door access control system.

HUMAN RESOURCES & RISK MANAGEMENT

Employee Recruitment & Retention

–Reviewed more than 7,400 applications for open recruitments throughout the city and onboarded 166 part-time employees and 61 full-time employees.

–Implemented Job Elephant as a strategic resource for recruiters, optimizing job advertisements by selecting platforms tailored to specific job types. This streamlined approach not only provides valuable data on job performance but also simplifies the process by automating postings across multiple advertising websites, accompanied by a consolidated invoicing system.

–Revamped the candidate background and onboarding process by integrating an online background platform via Sterling and implementing a paperless I-9 verification process through NeoGov Onboard.

Employee Development and Engagement

–Expanded employee training opportunities to offer more than 25 different in-person, onsite sessions, including The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team for Management, Building a Culture of Collaboration, Leadership 101 (a four-part series) for 30 frontline employees, Customer Service in the Public Sector, and Writing Letters, Memos & Emails along with a variety of virtual legal, compliance and skill development trainings offered through third-party vendors.

–Hosted several employee engagement events including an enhanced employee picnic at Aliso Beach, five summer events celebrating newly adopted City Values and four Fun Friday theme days for employees.

–Provided upgraded city-branded giveaways to employees to reflect our commitment to building the Laguna Beach workplace brand and investing in our employees.

Employee Benefits and Wellness

–Created and adopted citywide Vision, Mission and Values.

–Hosted the second annual Employee Benefits and Wellness Fair with more 24 vendors and enhanced experiences such as a golf simulator, 360-photo booth opportunity and 32 raffle prize opportunities.

–Created and implemented the Human Resources & Risk Management SharePoint page, consolidating essential resources such as policies, benefit information, employee event details and supervisor resources. This centralized platform enhances accessibility, streamlining employee information retrieval and fostering citywide efficiency.

–Established a partnership with FunEx, an employee benefits program offering exclusive access to a diverse range of discounted activities, providing savings on popular attractions such as amusement parks, water parks, movies, zoos and museums. By prioritizing work-life balance, this no-cost platform enhances our commitment to employee well-being.

Introduced Pet Insurance and Legal Shield Insurance as new employee benefits. These additions not only contribute to a more comprehensive benefits package, but also strategically position the city to attract and retain top talent.

Risk Management

–Reached an agreement with the Laguna Beach Firefighters’ Association Local 3684 (LBFA) on the terms of a workers’ compensation Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program. An ADR program allows for workers’ compensation claims to be processed with greater expedience and equity, benefiting the employee’s return to work process and reducing the city’s overall workers’ compensation liability costs.

CULTURAL ARTS

Live Music and Events

–Engaged thousands of attendees of 250 live music performances.

–Presented special performances by Pacific Opera Company, Circus Bella and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County.

–Engaged more than 500 artists to present live music, visual and performing arts events.

–Distributed “Artist Innovation Grants” to individual artists.

Public Art

–Installed five temporary sculptures outside City Hall and on Laguna Frontage Road.

–Installed a temporary mural at Alta Laguna Park.

–Installed one permanent mural on the bridge near the Sawdust Art Festival.

Maintained and restored public art pieces in the city collection.

COMMUNICATIONS

City Council Meetings Streamed Via YouTube

Implemented a YouTube live stream option for City Council meetings that began with the November 7, 2023, City Council meeting. The YouTube live stream option is one of City Council’s priorities in the city’s Communications Plan.

City’s Community Newsletter

Produced content to publish 51 weekly community newsletters sent to Laguna Beach residents and businesses via Nixle and email.

City Chats Podcast

Produced 21 episodes of the Laguna Beach City Chats Podcast with a total of 264 minutes of content.

City’s Photo Contest

Launched the city’s Photo Contest in October 2023 and received 122 submissions from 45 participants.

Editor’s Note: Information provided by the City of Laguna Beach.

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