Planning Commission public hearing for the So CA Gas Advanced Meter project scheduled on Aug 16 

The Planning Commission will conduct a study session on the proposed Southern California Gas Advanced Meter project, which would upgrade residential and commercial gas meters in the City with “advanced meter” technology for remote natural gas usage tracking. The Commission will hold a public hearing at its Wed, Aug 16, meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located at 505 Forest Avenue.  

Southern California Gas has submitted applications to establish data collectors throughout its local service area (all developed areas of LB excluding South Laguna). The data collector units resemble small cellular installations and will be subject to the City’s Wireless Communications Facilities Ordinance. 

The purpose of the study session is to review the master plan and discuss potential collocation opportunities, siting preferences, staking requirements and other considerations prior to scheduling any site-specific application for a public hearing.  

The data collectors will require a Conditional Use Permit and Planning Commission Design Review, and in select circumstances a Coastal Development Permit. For each application, a public notice identifying the date and time of the public hearing will be mailed to neighbors in accordance with City noticing requirements.

Planning Commission meetings are open to the public. They are also broadcast on government channel 852 on Cox, streamed on the City’s website, and archived on the City’s website for future viewing. 

To view a copy of the staff presentation for this item, please refer to the City’s website: http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/ It will be available by 5:30 p.m. on Fri, Aug 11.


Council approves “small things” recommended by the mayor to reduce traffic

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday approved Mayor Toni Iseman’s recommendations to City Manager John Pietig to investigate and report on ways to improve circulation downtown, lessen the impacts of construction and clear holdups on the highway. 

Isman’s directions to the city manager:

*Bring to the council options on how to reduce congestion downtown due to commercial food and beverage delivery trucks, including enforcement and restrictions on times of deliveries

*Come back to the council with graduated fines for different violations

* Return with options to reduce congestion and the carbon footprint associated with residential construction, including staging plans, hauling routes, a requirement for certified brake inspection documents and the impacts of excess excavation

A directive to Pietig to talk to Caltrans about prohibiting left turns off of Pacific Coast Highway unless there is a left-turn pocket was added to Iseman’s original recommendations by Councilman Steven Dicterow. 

“Small changes can make big differences,” Iseman said. 

However Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Boyd, former owner of the Marine Room, did not completely agree with Iseman’s definition of small changes. He said limiting delivery times makes no sense and he voted against Iseman’s recommendations. 

“Restaurants open at different times,” he said. “You have to be in business to understand.”

Pietig encouraged a dialogue with the Chamber of Commerce about the proposal. 

As for fines: Civilian Administrator Jim Beres reported that new technology for giving traffic fines is soon to be implemented. The technology also enables increased fines for repeat offenders.

Paul Columbus, one of the five members of the audience to speak on the recommendations, said residents should be involved in determining remedies. He called it crowd sourcing – but including old-school methods such as mailers and suggestion boxes,

Iseman suggested that Stu News could participate. 

Resident Rita Conn supported the use of traffic circulation directors to expedite crossings. Unfortunately they cannot be stationed in the middle of the intersection of Broadway and the highway, said Iseman. That is where many would most like to see them, but they would be restricted to the sidewalk, she said. 

No date was set for Pietig to return to the council with the requested information.


City Manager Updates

City’s Summer Breeze Seeing Record Breaking Ridership- The City’s Summer Breeze program has already surpassed last year’s total ridership by 18 percent with four more weeks of service remaining. The Summer Breeze provides free parking and a free bus ride into Laguna Beach from a parking lot located at the 405 freeway and SR-133.  For more information on the Summer Breeze program go to http://lagunabeachcity.net/summerbreeze

Downtown Specific Plan Update – Review Draft Amendments (Section III, Topic 3) The City of Laguna Beach and consultant MIG will continue their efforts on the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) Update on Wed, August 16, during the Planning Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. The Planning Commission will review and discuss MIG’s recommended draft amendments to Section III:  Issue Statements and Policies, Topic 3 (Downtown Commercial Uses) of the existing DSP document.  A copy of the draft amendments is available to view on the City’s website: www.lagunabeachcity.net.  For more information on the Downtown Specific Plan Update project please contact: Wendy Jung, Senior Planner, at (949) 497-0321; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cress Street Sidewalk Improvements -Construction will begin on August 21 to extend the sidewalk on Cress Street from Bluebird Park to Temple Terrace. Minor traffic delays can be expected during working hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of November.

Caltrans Coast Highway ADA Sidewalk Improvements- On August 28, at 5:30 p.m., the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in partnership with the City of Laguna Beach will be hosting a public outreach meeting at the Community and Susi Q Center to provide information, answer questions, and obtain public input regarding an upcoming Americans with Disabilities (ADA) sidewalk improvement project.  The project limits are along Coast Highway between Ruby Street & Ledroit Street.  If you have any questions or are unable to attend the meeting and would like to provide comments, please contact Yvonne Washington, Caltrans Public Information Officer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

CERT Training - The next Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Class will start on Tuesday, Sept 5. The CERT program consists of 25 hours of classroom and hands-on training, and it concludes with a disaster exercise to apply the skills and knowledge obtained during the classroom sessions. Training includes the following topics: Disaster Preparedness, Light Search and Rescue, Fire Safety, Disaster Medical Operations, and much more. If you are interested in learning how to be better prepared and want to join the class please register through the following link: http://bit.ly/2tmh9vi or through the recreation course sign-up on our City’s website. Any questions can be directed to Jordan Villwock, Emergency Operations Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (949) 497-0389.

Poetry Reading at Festival of Arts - The Festival of Arts is celebrating its 85th anniversary on August 13. The celebration ceremony will include a poetry reading by Laguna Beach Poet Laureate, Kate Buckley. Events will take place from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. at the Festival grounds located at 650 Laguna Canyon Road. This event is open to the public and admission is free throughout the day. The Poet Laureate program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach.

Sunset Serenades - Sunset Serenades will return to the Heisler Park Amphitheater on Cliff Drive, Friday evenings in September. Enjoy live music overlooking the ocean from 5:30 p.m. to sunset.

9/8: Tommy Kowalczyk - Rock and Classical Piano

9/15: Jason Feddy sings The Laguna Beach Police Blotter

9/22: Ginger Root - Summer grooves from the Chapman University band

9/29: Jodi Siegel - Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist

This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. 

Juried Fine Art 2017 - The 2017 Laguna Beach Juried Fine Art Exhibition is now accepting submissions. The exhibition is open to Orange County artists 18 years of age or older. Entries must be made via https://lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com by Sept 9. This Program is funded by the Lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. For more information contact Michael McGregor, Arts Program Coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Fall Quarter 2017 Registration Activities - Registration for fall 2017 recreation activities for all ages started Monday, August 7.  To register and see the list of programs available please visit: https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index.

Parents’ Night Out - On Friday, August 25, from 5:30 - 9:30 p.m., the Laguna Beach Community Services Department will be hosting its quarterly Parents’ Night Out.  For registration and information please visit: https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index?search=parents.


Unanimous council support for Paris Climate Agreement applauded

By BARBARA DIAMOND

It was a rare night for the Laguna Beach City Council. 

A harmonious and vocal audience applauded the council’s unanimous vote in favor of a resolution of support for the Paris Climate Agreement and the Mayor’s National Climate Action Agenda.

“I have never been in room before where I agreed with so many things being said,” commented Famin Pejan. 

Pejan was one of the 34 speakers who urged the council to support the agreement and sign on to the mayor’s agenda. 

“Tonight was exhilarating,” said Barbara MacGillivray. 

And that was before the council voted.

The council unanimously approved the resolution with four amendments proposed by Councilman Bob Whalen that he said would better reflect the values of the community.  

*Section 1: The city hereby supports the goals of the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda including adopting and supporting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement;

*Section 2: The city commits to reduced Green House Gas emissions through the ongoing implementation of its Climate Protection Action Plan;

*Section 3: The city commits to periodic updates to its Climate Protection Action Plan to identify additional policies and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by the city, residents and visitors, and to provide a sustainable local environment; and

*Section 4: The city clerk shall certify the adoption of this resolution. 

In a second action proposed by Whalen, staff was directed to explore available resources to assist the city in measuring its greenhouse gas emissions and to identify additional strategies to reduce emissions generated by the city’s residents and visitors.

Audience members, including environmental activist Chris Prelitz, who criticized the pre-amended resolution, mostly wanted the council to go further, specifically supporting a stronger commitment by the city and more compelling language in the document. 

There was also support for rewriting the city’s Climate Protection Action Plan, basing an update on more current data gathered since the plan was first approved.

Bluebelt Coalition spokeswoman Jinger Wallace said the city need look no further for an update than the proposed changes to the city’s Sustainability Element of the General Plan, pending review by the Planning Commission. 

Additionally, the city’s Environmental Sustainability Committee has developed a two-year work plan. 

“This will probably take them through the end of calendar year 2018, but if we want to begin to review the action plan – which will take public input – I could see them being the group to hold the meetings, but I think we are looking at 2018,” said Councilman Rob Zur Schmiede. 

City Manager John Pietig said it would be prudent to look back at previous experiences when two or three committees reviewed environmental proposals before which body – and how it would work with other bodies – is determined for an update on the action plan.


The Chamber will hold its “Artsy August” happy hour tomorrow, Wednesday Aug 9 at [seven-degrees]

The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce invites residents to their “Artsy August” happy hour, taking place on Wed, Aug 9, at 5:30 p.m. at [seven-degrees] located in the heart of the city’s festival district.

The Chamber will be hosting two other local Chambers: the German American Business Associatio (GABA) and the Orange County Iranian American Chamber of Commerce (OCIACC).

This year’s event will feature a selection of small bites, beer & wine, raffle prizes and silent auction. Each attendee will also receive a free ticket to the Sawdust Art Festival, to be enjoyed that evening, or any other date during festival season. The Chamber recommends taking the trolley, which stops a few steps from the event.

Seven-degrees is located at 891 Laguna Canyon Road. Admission is $15. For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, visit the Chamber’s website, LagunaBeachChamber.org, or contact the Chamber at (949) 494-1018. The public is welcome to attend.

As host of the event, the Chamber of Commerce promotes, represents, and supports local businesses, and advocates on their behalf. In its 100 year of operation, the Chamber also serves as the business resource center for the community.


Council will consider extension of city, Susi Q pilot program at Tuesday meeting

By BARBARA DIAMOND

A pilot program that partnered the city and Laguna Beach Seniors Inc. to upgrade and streamline services at the Third Street Centers will be evaluated by the City Council on Tuesday. 

Extension of the program has been recommended by city staff, which reports that the experimental program has made a positive difference in programming, customer service and overall operating efficiencies at the Third Street Centers.

Councilman Rob Zur Schmiede and representatives of the seniors developed an agreement to enhance the partnership by increasing efficiency, identifying cost savings and providing improved customer service at the Community and Susi Q Centers.

Staff cites improved service at the front desk, which is now provided by city employees. It is estimated that the arrangement saves the seniors $18,000 a year.

Among the senior-specific goals of the project are to ensure that Laguna’s older residents are aware of and find diverse, affordable and convenient programs at the center, reflecting their interests and needs.

A survey conducted by the seniors will focus on programs and center priorities to make certain that the goals of the pilot program are achieved now and in the future. 

Programs and services offered at the center will continue to be listed in the city’s Community Services brochure. Consideration of an icon to identify senior-specific information in the brochure has been tabled at this time is included in the lengthy report which is available for review on the city’s website lagunabeachcity.net.

The report and recommendation are on the program is on the council’s Consent Calendar, which will not be discusses at the meeting unless it is “pulled” by a member of the council or the public.


City Manager Updates

Fall Quarter 2017 Registration Activities - Registration for Fall 2017 recreation activities for all ages is available starting Monday, August 7.  To register and see the list of programs available visit: https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index.

Parents’ Night Out - On Friday, August 25, from 5:30 - 9:30 p.m., the Laguna Beach Community Services Department will be hosting its quarterly Parents’ Night Out.  For registration and information please visit: https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index?search=parents.

Citywide Curb Ramp Improvements-The City is planning to have 35 new accessible curb ramps installed at several intersections along Alta Laguna Boulevard, upper Park Avenue, and various locations near downtown. Construction is scheduled to begin on August 8 and take approximately two months to complete. Minor traffic impacts can be anticipated during work hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For additional information, please contact Tri Nguyen, Project Manager, at 949-497-0741 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

New Laguna Beach Police Explorers - Explorers Joshua Herbst and Skyler Martin will be graduating from the Orange County Law Enforcement Explorer Advisor Association (OCLEEAA) Explorer Academy on Sunday August 6. The graduation is being held at the Orange County Sheriff’s Academy. We are happy to have them part of our team!

Laguna Beach County Water District Work on Glenneyre Street & Thalia Street - The Laguna Beach County Water District is planning to close traffic lanes to make emergency leak repairs on Glenneyre Street and Thalia Street. On August 8, northbound Glenneyre Street will be closed between Bluebird Canyon and Calliope Street; and, on August 10, the uphill lane on Thalia Street will be closed between Avalon Avenue and Wilson Street. Detours and minor traffic delays can be expected during the closure hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, please contact the Water District at (949) 494-1041.

Meeting to Discuss Modifications to the Neighborhood Transit Services-On July 31, the City held a neighborhood meeting to discuss City Council recommended modifications to the off-season Neighborhood Trolley schedule, and the Mainline North and South route.  

These modifications include operating weekday peak hour service in the Top of the World, Bluebird Canyon and Arch Beach Heights neighborhoods. In addition, the recommendations include cancellation of the North Laguna/Canyon and the South Laguna/Ritz Mainline Routes (blue and white buses).  

Staff also discussed the extension of the off-season Neighborhood Weekend Service which includes operating until 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.  For more information: http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/transit_and_trolleys/citybus.htm.  

The public input period is still open to send in feedback on these recommended changes.  Please contact or email Deputy Director Paula Faust at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 949-497-0303.


Planning Commission public hearing for the So CA Gas Advanced Meter project scheduled on Aug 16

The Planning Commission will conduct a study session on the proposed Southern California Gas Advanced Meter project, which would upgrade residential and commercial gas meters in the City with “advanced meter” technology for remote natural gas usage tracking. The Commission will hold a public hearing at its Wed, Aug 16, meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located at 505 Forest Avenue.  

Southern California Gas has submitted applications to establish data collectors throughout its local service area (all developed areas of LB excluding South Laguna). The data collector units resemble small cellular installations and will be subject to the City’s Wireless Communications Facilities Ordinance. 

The purpose of the study session is to review the master plan and discuss potential collocation opportunities, siting preferences, staking requirements and other considerations prior to scheduling any site-specific application for a public hearing.  

The data collectors will require a Conditional Use Permit and Planning Commission Design Review, and in select circumstances a Coastal Development Permit. For each application, a public notice identifying the date and time of the public hearing will be mailed to neighbors in accordance with City noticing requirements.

Planning Commission meetings are open to the public. They are also broadcast on government channel 852 on Cox, streamed on the City’s website, and archived on the City’s website for future viewing. 

To view a copy of the staff presentation for this item, please refer to the City’s website: http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/ It will be available by 5:30 p.m. on Fri, Aug 11.


City council approves evaluation of in-town parking structures: reactions are mixed

By BARBARA DIAMOND

A proposal at Tuesday’s council meeting to consider possible sites for in-town parking structures and how to evaluate them met with mixed reactions and in one case, downright hostility. 

However, the council unanimously approved three of the five staff recommendations and tacked on a fourth. Recommendations included further study of four sites: top-ranked Art-A-Fair, the development site at 331-397 North Coast Highway, Holiday Inn on South Coast Highway and on property owned by Laguna Presbyterian Church on Third Street.

“We got some ideas we should follow up on,” said Councilman Rob Zur Schmiede.

Some of the sites investigated by the city resulted from contact by developers suggesting a partnership. 

“We are looking for direction from the council to try to put together some projects,” said City Manager John Pietig.  

Speakers from the audience were about evenly divided for and against in-town parking structures. 

An irate Lorene Auger, who now signs her last name as Laguna, vehemently opposed the inclusion of Art-A-Fair as a possible site for a parking structure. 

“There are three council seats up for election – if this goes through, I can guarantee you they will be gone,” she said. “This will not happen.”

She reminded council that a proposed parking structure at the Village Entrance, just up the road from Art-A-Fair was jettisoned due to public action.

“We have to figure out who we are”

Thilde Peterson said the city should build on Dupuis’ presentation.

“We have to figure out who we are,” Peterson said. 

Her business partner Hillary Cole suggested considering a parking authority, under city control, as a way to fund parking construction without incurring city debt.

There was no discussion of bonds listed by Dupuis as a means of funding. She also listed the $6 million in the Parking Fund and future parking revenue, citing the $900,000 annually collected from the Glenneyre Street structure.  

South Lagunan John Thomas opined that no taxpayers’ money should be used to benefit the millions of visitors rather than residents.

Mark Orgill, former owner of Seven Degrees, an entertainment venue on Frontage Road, saw the staff proposal differently: an opportunity. He favors underground projects and would celebrate resident-only parking.

“For years people said we need more parking---now they say we don’t need more parking,” groused Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Boyd. 

Boyd opined that whether additional parking is provided or not, the tourists are going to come to Laguna.

“They are already here,” said Councilman Bob Whalen. “We should be pro-active.”

He proposed immediate consultation with the California Coastal Commission, which controls much, if not all parking in Laguna. 

Whalen’s recommendation to staff, to work with the commission to determine parameters for parking strategies that would allow the City to regain control of the parking regulations in residential areas, was included in the motion approved by the council. 

Analysis of the Hotel Laguna, Boat Canyon and Aliso Beach sites were also added to the motion for consideration as possible sites.

 

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Dianne Russell, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising

949.315.0259

Email: Lynette@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc

949.715.1736