Council approves hybrid Landscape and Scenic Highway element: Let the tree planting begin

By BARBARA DIAMOND

It took six years for mandated revisions to the Landscape and Scenic Highways element in the General Plan and an updated companion resource document to wend their way through multiply hearings to finally reach the council.

The Council on Tuesday voted 4-0 (Councilwoman Toni Iseman was absent due to illness) for the third of three options, as recommended by staff. The option includes approval of amendments to the existing element suggested by the Design Review Board and the Planning Commission, except for commission’s recommendation to reorganize the element. 

The option also included the conversion of some of the larger tasks into action items at a cost of up to $35,000, to be brought back to the council for further evaluation. 

“We have been waiting for this document to begin replanting downtown trees,” said City Manager John Pietig.

Let the tree planting begin?

Staff was directed to begin preparing a landscape/streetscape implementation plan to replace trees in the downtown and make other improvements in the streetscape, according to Community Development Director Greg Pfost. 

Other directions to staff included providing the council with a proposed Request for Proposal for consultant assistance to come up with a plan for approval/public input process for the plan. 

“We will revise both documents (the element and the resource document) to be consistent with directions we received from Council,” Pfost said. 

Support for Option One was expressed by former Planning Commissioner Barbara Metzger on her own behalf and of the named signatories to a letter she read.

That option requires less staff time and less expense than Option Three. It did not incorporate Planning Commission recommendations intended to improve the document and make it more user-friendly.

“Our intent was not to disrupt the process,” said Commissioner Roger McErlane, who served on the commission sub-committee that recommended reorganization of the element and the resource document. “In retrospect, I think that appointing a subcommittee after six years is a mistake – it is disruptive.” 

Former Mayor Ann Christoph said the Landscape and Resource Document has been revised several times and the authors, one of whom is Christoph, are willing to do more revisions.

Eucalypti under fire again

Tuesday’s hearing could have been titled “A Debate on Safety on Scenic Highways,” which took up a considerable amount of the roughly two-hour hearing.

Safety issues were raised by the fire department and the Public Works Department questioned the advisability of continuing to plant eucalypti as street trees.

“Between (consultant) Mike Rohde and myself, we have 78 years of experience in the fire industry,” said Acting Fire Chief Tom Christopher.

His department’s concerns:

--The premise expressed by consultants that healthy green trees, including eucalypti, work as ember catchers that protect structures from burning

--The consultants’ interpretation of National Fire Behavior standards and science in the element and the resource document

--Portrayal of the goats that graze brush as less than the fire prevention tool 

 “We need to follow the advice of sworn fire safety professionals and respect consensus fire science just as we respect consensus climate science,” said Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Committee Chair Matt Lawson.

The Public Works contends that most eucalypti tend to be shallow rooted and present a hazard when they fail and fall in a high wind. Limb drop is also a public safety issue. 

Furthermore, many eucalypti grow too large to be used on Laguna streets, need larger planting areas than are available, and are prone to pests and diseases, according to the Public Works report. 

The department supported the Planning Commission recommendation to determine street trees for specific locations in the downtown.

“You cannot take a broad based approach and apply it to the whole city,” said Christopher.


City Manager’s Update

Grand Re-opening of Thalia Street Beach Access - The City of Laguna Beach invites the community to a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, April 17 at 4 p.m. for the re-opening of the newly renovated beach access at Thalia Street.

Disposal of Sandbags - Residents can dispose of filled sand bags at the Act V Lot, 1900 Laguna Canyon Road.  Residents can also dispose of up to 10 filled sand bags by scheduling a bulky item pickup which are provided free three times per calendar year. 

To schedule a pick-up, contact Waste Management at (949) 642-1191. Filled sand bags should not be placed in the trash or recycling carts. Storage and re-use of the sandbags is recommended at least through the end of April.

Southbound Coast Highway Lane Closure on Friday, April 13 - From 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Friday, April 13, the Montage Resort landscape contractor will be closing the number two lane of southbound Coast Highway to trim trees. The closure will begin at the northern limits of the resort property and extend to the southern limits of Treasure Island Park.  

For more information, please contact Deputy Director of Public Works, Dale Schuck at (949) 497-0735.

Southern California Edison Pole Replacement - From 10 p.m. on April 15 to 7 a.m. on April 16, Southern California Edison will be replacing an Edison pole at the northeast corner of the intersection at Cleo Street and Sleepy Hollow Lane. Cleo Street, west of South Coast Highway to Sleepy Hollow Lane, will be closed during the work. Emergency vehicle access shall be maintained via Sleepy Hollow Lane as approved by the Fire Marshal. The traffic signal at the South Coast Highway and Cleo Street intersection will be affected by the outage with a four-way red flash initiated during the work.

Free Paint/E-Waste Drop-off & Shredding Event on Saturday, April 14 - Residents and businesses are invited to participate in the annual free drop-off event to dispose of unwanted paint, batteries, CFL bulbs, and E-Waste on Saturday, April 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the City Maintenance Facilities, 1900 Laguna Canyon Road. 

Free shredding service will also be available on site. This service is sponsored by the City and Waste Management. For more information, including a detailed list of acceptable E-Waste items, please visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/recycling or contact Liz Avila at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Downtown Specific Plan Update - Review Portions of Section V: Land Use Districts - The City of Laguna Beach will continue their efforts on the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) Update on Wednesday, April 18 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 V: Land Use Districts of the existing DSP document. Topics covered include: the intent and purpose of land use districts, permitted land uses/required entitlements, permit processes, findings and special findings for certain uses, allowable changes in permitted use category per City Council resolution, and definitions.  

A copy of the draft amendments are available to view on the City’s website: www.lagunabeachcity.net. For more information onthe Downtown Specific Plan Update project, please contact Wendy Jung, Senior Planner, at (949) 497-0321 orThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

City-Wide Track & Field Meet - The City of Laguna Beach will host the annual Boys & Girls Track Meet on Friday, April 20 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Laguna Beach High School. All children born in or after the year 2003 and residing in Laguna Beach or attending school within the Laguna Beach Unified School District boundaries are invited to attend. 

Please register online by Thursday, April 19 at https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index?search=track+meet.  

Bluebird SOCWA Lift Station Odor Control Improvement Project – Community Meeting - Water Quality staff will be holding a community meeting to present and discuss the subject project on April 19, at 6 p.m. The project will address the odors surrounding the City’s sewage lift station located at the corner of Calliope Street and Glenneyre Street.  

The presentation will cover the proposed project with details on the layout and aesthetics of the new facility. Please join as staff will be seeking input from the community. For questions, please contact Hannah Johnson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Laguna Beach Literary Festival - The public is invited to a free day of readings panels, workshops and craft talks with some of California’s finest writers, hosted by Laguna Beach Poet Laureate Kate Buckley. This special event will be held on Saturday, April 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Library, 363 Glenneyre Street.  

This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach. For more information, please visit http://LagunaBeachLitFest.com.

Call to Artists – City Council Chambers Banners - The Arts Commission is inviting artists to submit designs to replace banners in the City Council Chambers. The competition is open to Laguna Beach residents ages 18 and older. Entries must be submitted to the reception desk at the Community and Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street, by May 14 at 5 p.m.    

This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach. For full guidelines and an entry form, please visit http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art.

Sunset Serenades and World Music - Friday evenings from May 4 - June 8 at 6:30 p.m., the Arts Commission will present free concerts at the Heisler Park Amphitheatre with a variety of music genres.

This year’s schedule includes:

5/4: Jackie Menter Trio - Classical

5/11: Jack Benny - Eclectic/Acoustic Pop trio

5/18: The Phil Gough/Alan Deremo Project

5/25: Maestro Lazaro Galarraga and Friends - Afro Cuban

6/1: Gamelan X with Mayang Sunda - Indonesian

6/8: L’Esprit D’ Afrique – African

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


City Council is now accepting applications for Committees, Commissions and Boards

The City Council is accepting applications for the following Committees, Commissions and Boards: Arts Commission; Emergency Disaster Preparedness Committee; Housing and Human Services Committee; and the Planning Commission.

Interviews and appointments will be conducted on Tuesday, May 1 at 6 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.

Deadline for applications is April 20 at 5 p.m.

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 in the City Clerk’s office no later than Friday, April 20 at 5 p.m. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at (949) 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.

Number of positions that will be open and details for the following Committees, Commissions and Boards follow: (The City Council may reduce or enlarge the number of committee members at their discretion.)

Arts Commission

Three (3) two-year terms on the Arts Commission with terms beginning July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2020.  

The Arts Commission consists of eight members, one of which is an alternate position, appointed by the City Council. Four of the seven members must be actively participating in the arts. The Commissioners are compensated in the amount of $125 per month. The Arts Commission has the power and duty to act in an advisory capacity to the City Council in all matters pertaining to the artistic aspects of the City.

Additionally, commissioners recommend to the City Council the adoption of such ordinances, rules and regulations as they may deem necessary for the administration and preservation of the fine/performing arts of the community. One of the major projects of the Commission is the implementation of the Cultural Arts Plan. 

Commission meetings are generally held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 5:30 p.m.  Meeting and preparation time may exceed several hours per week.  

Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee

Four (4) two-year terms on the Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee with terms beginning July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2020. The Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee is a nine-member body appointed by the City Council whose charge would be to advise the City Council on all matters pertaining to disaster prevention, planning and preparedness. The Committee will make recommendations to the City Council and will have staggered terms.  Meetings are generally held on the first Monday of the month at 6 p.m. 

Housing and Human Services Committee

Three (3) two-year terms on the Housing and Human Services Committee with terms beginning July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2020.  The Housing and Human Services Committee is currently a nine-member body appointed by the City Council whose charge would be to assess and identify housing opportunities and human needs for all segments of the community; provides input on the City’s Housing Element of the General Plan; informs and makes recommendations to the City Council and other community leaders; and increases community awareness of programs to fill these needs. 

Meetings are generally held on the first Wednesday of the month at 5 p.m.

Planning Commission

Three (3) positions on the Planning Commission with terms beginning July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2020. 

The Planning Commission is a five-member body appointed by the City Council for the purpose of reviewing and advising the Council on items related to the development and modification of land uses within the City limits. As such, the Commission reviews and recommends action on the development and amendment of the general plan, zoning ordinances, subdivision regulations and special projects related to land use planning. 

Planning Commissioners serve a two-year term and are compensated in the amount of $357 per month. The regular meetings of the Commission are held on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 6 p.m. Study sessions may be held as part of the regular meeting or at other specified times. 

Substantial time commitment required

A substantial time commitment averaging four to six hours a week is necessary to be a Planning Commissioner. Meetings may be four or more hours long and require a great deal of preparation time. In addition to these regular meetings, Commissioners are expected to visit sites and review project proposals prior to the meeting, as well as attend special project workshops. 

It is desirable to have or be able to acquire certain skills or aptitudes, such as the ability to understand zoning regulations and their effect on allowed land uses.

Experience in land use planning, architecture, engineering and/or real estate would be an asset.


City holds Community Open House on utility undergrounding this Wednesday at the Susi Q

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The City is hosting a Community Open House on utility undergrounding on Wednesday, April 11 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Susi Q Center. 

Stop by to learn more about the City’s efforts to address the risks associated with overhead utility poles and electrical wires and potential funding strategies being explored for undergrounding of utilities along Laguna Canyon Road and other key evacuation routes. 

Speak one-on-one with City staff, ask questions and share your comments. To learn more, visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/utilityundergrounding.


City vows to defend Most Water Wise City title: All you have to do is pledge – but why should you pledge?

Laguna Beach has been declared “most water wise city” in the nation in its category four times already. And now it’s time to defend our title once again. 

Mayor Kelly Boyd is hoping for a flood of responses from residents.

How do we get to earn this title?

Pledge! That’s all you need to do – a click or two and you’re done

It’s actually quite simple. The program is designed to raise awareness among neighbors and friends and the community in general.

So residents simply have to pledge online to do more to conserve water. It’s that simple.

Just go to www.mywaterpledge.com and make a series of online pledges to conserve water.

That’s all. 

Residents who take the challenge are entered in drawings for hundreds of eco-friendly prizes, including home improvement gift cards, home irrigation equipment, and the Grand Prize $5,000 home utility bill payment.

Why pledge?

And here are some reasons why you should go online right now and pledge:

P: Pride in our town for being water-smart winners – and not just at water polo

L: Less water now means more water later

E: Easy to do, and it’s easy savings, too

D: Do something dead simple that makes a difference 

G: Give your kids a good example of what it takes to be a responsible citizen

E: Eat, drink and be merry; celebrate with neighbors when we win again!

“Last year, Laguna Beach residents made 6,286 pledges to cut water use by 32.6 million gallons of water over the next year,” stated Boyd. 

Let’s make it 8,000 pledges this year. We can do it! Click on it now, www.mywaterpledge.com and tell everyone how easy it is to do.

The Challenge also gives residents a chance to nominate a deserving charity that would benefit from receiving a 2018 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

Laguna Beach County Water District provides water service to 22,000 residents within an 8.5 square mile area of LB. The District’s mission is to furnish a high quality, reliable water supply in a financially responsible manner, while promoting water-use efficiency.


Downtown Specific Plan update will be discussed on Wednesday, April 18 at 6 p.m. at City Hall

The City of Laguna Beach will continue its efforts on the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) Update on Wednesday, April 18 during the Planning Commission’s regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall (505 Forest Ave). 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

City Hall

City staff will present draft amendments to the Downtown Specific Plan for discussion with the Planning Commission.  

The focus of the presentation and discussion will be on MIG’s recommended draft amendments to portions of Section V Land Use Districts of the existing Downtown Specific Plan document. 

Specifically, the focus of Section V review will cover topics such as: the intent and purpose of land use districts, permitted land uses/required entitlements, permit processes, findings and special findings for certain uses, allowable changes in permitted use category per City Council resolution, and definitions.  

Other topics pertaining to property development standards, special planning and/or design criteria will be reviewed and discussed at a subsequent Planning Commission meeting.  

A copy of the Section V draft amendments is available to review on the project webpage (link included below).

Additional meetings will occur in 2018 to review draft amendments to other sections of the plan.  

This meeting and future meetings play an essential role to obtain input from the community and direction from the Planning Commission, and to identify the City’s priorities for the future of the Downtown.

 For more information on the Downtown Specific Plan Update 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. ; or visit: www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/cd/planning/mjrplanginitv/downtown_specific_plan_amendment/
default.htm
.


City will host a free 2016 Energy Code Residential Standards Training on Tuesday, April 24

The City of Laguna Beach will be hosting a free 2016 Residential Energy code training on Tues, April 24 from 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave. 

Bruce Cheney will present an interactive, “hands-on” course designed to provide plans examiners and building inspectors with the knowledge and skills needed to more quickly and effectively enforce the energy code for residential projects. 

Cheney has more than 20 years of professional experience in the field of Building Science. His combined experience in construction, project management, real estate, and energy-efficiency lead Bruce to form Anchors Aweigh Energy in 2009.  

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo from Anchors Aweigh Facebook page

Cheney is a certified Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rater through CalCERTS and CHEERS as well as a subject matter expert for the California Investor Owned Utilities. He is a recognized proctor and trainer in the construction industry, offering instruction on implementing new Title 24 Residential and Nonresidential Energy-Efficiency Standards for professionals ranging from contractors and energy managers to plans examiners and building inspectors. 

Anchors Aweigh Energy is a Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business in San Diego. They teach Title 24 Part 6 classes throughout Southern California as well as performing Title 24 calculations, conducting HERS inspections, and consulting on building performance

“We want to inform the Laguna Beach community of the 2016 Energy Code updates,” said Dennis Bogle, Building Official. “We want to effectively communicate energy efficiency compliance options and requirements to builders and clients, as well as help them understand the purpose of each of the residential compliance forms and related documents.”

Architects, designers, contractors, real estate professionals, residents, property and business owners are invited to attend. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. Available CEUs: ICC 0.7

Register at www.sce.com/energycenters. For more information, please contact Stacy Kirk, Senior Permit Technician at (949) 497-0379 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


City Manager’s Updates

Community Open House on Utility Undergrounding - The community is invited to an informational open house on Utility Undergrounding on Wednesday, April 11 between 6 and 7 p.m. at the Community and Susi Q Center located at 380 Third Street to learn more about the City’s efforts to address the risks associated with the overhead utility poles and electrical wires and potential funding strategies being explored for undergrounding of utilities along Laguna Canyon Road and other key evacuation routes. To learn more, please visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/utilityundergrounding

Southern California Edison Pole Replacement - From 10 p.m. on April 15 to 7 a.m. on April 16, Southern California Edison will be replacing an Edison pole at the northeast corner of the intersection at Cleo Street and Sleepy Hollow Lane. Cleo Street, west of S. Coast Highway to Sleepy Hollow Lane will be closed during the work.  Emergency vehicle access shall be maintained via Sleepy Hollow Lane as approved by the Fire Marshal. The traffic signal at the S. Coast Highway and Cleo Street intersection will be affected by the outage with a four-way red flash initiated during the work.

Free Paint/E-Waste Drop-off and Shredding Event on Saturday, April 14 -Residents and businesses are invited to participate in the annual free drop-off event to dispose of unwanted paint, batteries, CFL bulbs, and E-Waste on Saturday, April 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the City Maintenance Facilities, 1900 Laguna Canyon Road. Free shredding service will also be available on site. This service is sponsored by the City and Waste Management. For more information, including a detailed list of acceptable E-Waste items, please visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/recycling or contact Liz Avila at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

City-Wide Track & Field Meet - The City of Laguna Beach will host the annual Boys & Girls Track Meet on Friday, April 20 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Laguna Beach High School. All children born in or after the year 2003 and reside in Laguna Beach or attend school within the Laguna Beach Unified School District boundaries are invited to attend. Please register online by Thursday, April 19 at: https://secure.rec1.com/CA/city-of-laguna-beach/catalog/index?search=track+meet.  

Friday Flicks at the Forum - The concluding Friday Flick “Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Qiang” will be screened on Friday, April 6 at 7 p.m. at the Forum Theatre on the Festival of Arts grounds, 650 Laguna Canyon Road. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. Run time: 76 min. Unrated. Funded through the generosity of Laguna Beach residents Steve Chadima and Mark Porterfield.

Laguna Beach Literary Festival - The public is invited to a free day of readings panels, workshops and craft talks with some of California’s finest writers, hosted by Laguna Beach Poet Laureate Kate Buckley. This special event will be held on Saturday, April 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Orange County Public Library, Laguna Beach Branch, 363 Glenneyre Street. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach. For more information, please visit http://LagunaBeachLitFest.com.

Call to Artists – City Council Chambers Banners - The Arts Commission is inviting artists to submit designs to replace banners in the City Council Chambers. The competition is open to Laguna Beach residents ages 18 and older. Entries must be submitted to the reception desk at the Community and Susi Q Center, 380 Third Street, by May 14 at 5 p.m. This program is funded by the lodging establishments and theCity of Laguna Beach. For full guidelines and entry form, please visit http://lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/art.

Sunset Serenades and World Music –Friday evenings from May 4 through June 8, at 6:30 p.m., the Arts Commission will present free concerts at the Heisler Park Amphitheatre with a variety of music genres.

5/4: Jackie Menter Trio – Classical

5/11: Jack Benny – Eclectic/Acoustic Pop trio

5/18: The Phil Gough/Alan Deremo Project

5/25: Maestro Lazaro Galarraga and Friends – Afro Cuban

6/1: Gamelan X with Mayang Sunda – Indonesian

6/8: L’Esprit D’ Afrique – African

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


Council to review proposed Landscaping Element

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday will be presented with three options to consider for the new Landscape and Scenic Highways element and the Landscape and Scenic Highways Resource Document. 

One option is the overhaul of the element as recommended by a Planning Commission sub-committee and approved by commission. However, it would require a substantial amount of work to incorporate all the changes into the element and the resource document, as well as cost $100,000, according to the staff report.

The second option is to approve the element and the resource document with the Planning Commission and Design Review Board edits that can easily be incorporated without significant time and cost. 

Thirdly, the Council could choose to approve recommended changes from the board and the Commission, excluding the Commission recommendation to reorganize the element and convert some of the larger tasks into action items. This option would cost $35,000.

Keep the documents separate, urge McErlane and Whitin

Planning Commissioner Roger McErlane and commission Chair Susan Whitin were appointed to review both the element and resource document.

McErlane and Whitin advised the Commission to keep the element and the resource document separate.

“The Commission wants to re-organize the element to make it shorter and more reader-friendly,” said former Planning Commissioner Barbara Metzger at the hearing. “It’s already acceptable for the general plan and staff has said it would take 100 hours to do the reorganizing.” 

McErlane is a master planner and urban designer who served as vice president of the Irvine Co from 1996 to 2009. Whitin prepared the landscape plan for the bluff-top park and hotel grounds at Montage Laguna Beach.

“All we wanted to do was some re-editing and re-organIzation of the element, which is a tool for the city,” said McErlane in a report to the commission. “We also wanted to define the action items in the element to begin a downtown streetscape evaluation and study.”

The resource document, also under consideration by the Council on Tuesday, was created by landscape architects Ann Christoph and Bob Borthwick. 

Christoph was a member of Selva Partners, hired by the city in 2013 to convert the resource document into an element, she said. As mayor in 1995, Christoph was liaison to the committee that created the document.

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