Mayor’s Update - October 2010

Ken Frank, City Manager, to retire December 10. Our City Manager is retiring December 10. His last Council meeting is December 7.  We are fortunate to have had him for over 30 years. He has done a terrific job to ensure that our city remained in good fiscal health all these years. The City Council is in the process of interviewing City Manager candidates; we expect to make our decision in early November for a new City Manager.

Best managed City in Orange County.  The staff and City Council are committed to fiscal prudence.  Some of our accomplishments over the last year:

We got ahead of the recession and created a recession reserve fund -- and put aside nearly $6 million of “rainy day” money to carry us for several years, in case revenues were to fall because of the worsening economy.  There was a $2 million budget shortfall last year, but we cut costs -- and used some of the savings we had put aside -- to ensure that critical public safety staff would not have to be laid off and so that our city services standards would be maintained.

We realized an upgrade in the City’s bond rating from Standard and Poor’s from AA+ to AAA.

We reduced debt – and, therefore, debt expense (interest).

We reduced operating expenses by not replacing certain job positions, by freezing salaries – and through the use of technology…(Two examples:  You can now purchase your parking permits or pay for parking tickets online AND builders, architects and homeowners may look up parcel information online without having to talk to staff.)

We sunsetted the Bluebird Landslide voter-approved ½ cent sales tax that two years early, as we had received more from FEMA and the State than had been anticipated.

City budget – personnel and retirement expense.   Lately, we’ve been asked what our personnel and retirement expenses are.  They are 58% of our annual budget.

Skateboarding issue.  The Parking/Traffic/Circulation (PTC) Committee has finalized its recommendations regarding this issue and has asked some of our City departments to take a final look at their proposal. Staff will be preparing an agenda bill for the Council meeting Nov. 16 -- or for a meeting in December.  The Committee is not recommending a ban on skateboarding, but rather is proposing regulations to enhance safety.

Open for Business Meetings.  The next round of “Open for Business” meetings will be held on the following three Thursdays: Nov. 4, Feb 3 and April 7, at the Community-Senior Center, beginning at 6:30 PM.  If you know someone who would like to open a business in Laguna who needs some guidance or encouragement, please invite them to attend. Or if you are an existing business with ideas or questions, the door is open to you, too!

Crime is down in Laguna Beach.  Contrary to recent e-mails that have been distributed to Laguna Beach residents and business owners, our crime level is down.  The 2009 year-end statistics show reportable crime down from 2008 (4.3%) -- and the statistics for the first 7 months of 2010 indicate crimes are down substantially, compared to last year.

Laguna Beach property taxes.   Contrary to a couple of e-mails that have been distributed recently, the City of Laguna Beach does not – and cannot legally – raise property taxes.  The County assessor’s office assesses home values and raises or lowers property taxes.   There is one exception:  an approved initiative by the voters of the City, which last occurred in our town 19 years ago for a general revenue bond.   Also, contrary to these e-mails, the property tax increase in Laguna Beach this year was not the highest in Orange County – the increase in assessed value was 1.89% (which, again, was the increase determined by the County).

Sewer & trash service.  Instead of paying for our sewer bill and trash bill each month, we all pay it annually.  It is on our tax bill, but it is not a tax.  It is a separate line item. This year, the County dump increased their fees to the cities, and the costs for sewer service increased, so the City Council voted to consider increasing the annual sewer and trash bill.   The average trash and sewer bill per household, under this proposal, would increase from $524 to $581 – over a 3-year time period (at an approximate increase rate of 3.5% per year) – for a total of $57 over three years.  These would all be pass-through costs with no profit to the city.

Arch Beach Heights View Park. This new park is under construction and we are looking to complete – and dedicate it – by the end of October.

Water shortage in Laguna Beach. Do you know that ALL of our water is imported and that we get almost all of it from Colorado?  Because of droughts, California has a severe water shortage right now!  Regulations have been instituted in Laguna Beach that we are not supposed to water our yards between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., otherwise we face a citation.  Also, please, make sure none of your irrigation water is running off your property!

It is my pleasure to serve the residents and businesses of Laguna Beach – and to serve with such a balanced City Council.

Thank all of you for what you contribute to our very special community.

Elizabeth Pearson, Mayor

Updates from the Laguna Beach City Manager’s office

Released: September 24, 2010

Village Entrance Draft EIR – The revised Village Entrance Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) is available on the City’s Website at the following link: http://laguna-web.civicasoft.com/cityhall/cd/planning/veir.asp.  The 60-day public comment period will begin on Friday Sept 24 and will end on Wednesday, Nov 24.  The Planning Commission will be conducting a public hearing on the DEIR on Wednesday, Nov 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Artist Open Studios – On Saturday, Oct 2, the first of six monthly Artist Open Studios will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  This self-guided tour is free and is an incredible opportunity to peer into the creative spaces of 24 of Laguna’s painters, sculptors, photographers, ceramicists, printmakers, glass, fiber and jewelry artists and buy local art right from the source.  A map and listing of participating artists is available at www.lagunabeachcity.net.  This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach.

Postcards from Laguna – On Monday, Sept 27, the Arts Commission [reviewed] the 19 entries to the temporary mural program.  The Commission will recommend four designs for installation at the Broadway Bus Depot to the City Council.

New Police Officers – In September, three new Laguna Beach Police Officers graduated from the Golden West College Criminal Justice Training Center’s Basic Recruit Academy.  Chief Workman gave the Keynote Address to the 28 member graduating class as well as hundreds of family members and colleagues from police departments throughout the County.  Jonathon Boyce grew up locally where he attended El Toro High School.  He has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Massachusetts in Sociology with an emphasis in Criminal Justice.  Officer Boyce has worked at the Police Department two summers as a Beach Patrol Officer and more recently as a booking officer.  James Michaud served in the Marine Corps as a Military Policeman.  After his return from Iraq, James was fortunate to be selected to receive Golden West College’s Returning Combat Veterans Scholarship in order to attend the Police Academy.  Abe Ocampo was raised in Glendale and is fluent in Spanish.   Abe received the class’s Director’s Award for Outstanding Character and graduated third overall in his class.  He is married with two children.

Public Art Documentary Premiere – On Thursday, Oct 7, the public art documentary “Eye View – the Laguna Beach Public Art Collection” will be screened at 5 p.m. at [seven-degrees], 891 Laguna Canyon Rd prior to First Thursday’s Art Walk.  The documentary features artists Marlo Bartels, Jorg Dubin, Larry Gill, Andrew Myers, Scott and Naomi Schoenherr who have created public art for the City’s collection. The documentary was produced by Aperture Films and funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach. The documentary can be viewed on the City’s website in early October.  Mayor Pearson will be introducing the feature.

925 Oriole – Last night the Design Review Board unanimously approved a replacement house for the structure at 925 Oriole that was destroyed in the Bluebird landslide.


PTC Committee met at TOW School last night

PTC Photo

Staff photo by Chris Kreymann

Those opposed to sanctions against skateboarding on certain streets with long or steep downhill grades outnumbered supporters of the proposals in a meeting last night at Top of the World School. The Parking, Transportation & Circulation Committee will next refer to the City Council any proposed restrictions, which will then be considered for action.

Ken Frank’s Top Ten Countdown

In his own words…

Top Ten City Accomplishments

Accomplishment #10

Reducing Litigation

 

In December, I will be retiring as City Manager of Laguna Beach.  Over the 31 years of my tenure, the City has progressed in numerous areas.  For the next ten weeks, I would like to share my perceptions of the City’s most significant accomplishments during the past three decades.  As in most “top ten” lists, we will start at the least important and gradually escalate to Number One – the most influential change in our community.

 

Number Ten on the listing of City accomplishments over the last 30 years is the Enactment of Senate Bill 23 in 1987.  Sponsored by our State Senator Marian Bergeson, SB 23 overturned a series of pernicious court decisions, which created unsustainable financial exposure for cities and counties in California.

These court decisions culminated with the “Taylor case” involving a swimmer who seriously injured himself diving head first into the surf in Newport Beach. That accident led to a $6 million award against Newport Beach, even though no city employee, facility or construction was involved in the accident.  Instead, the court determined that the simple provision of lifeguards by Newport Beach subjected the city to potential liability for anyone who was injured in the surf.

Unless the Taylor decision was overturned, cities and counties would have confronted untold millions in lawsuits.  Many jurisdictions would have been compelled to eliminate lifeguards in order to escape the untenable liability exposure.

Laguna Beach and Newport Beach initiated a Statewide coalition of beach cities and counties that paid for attorneys and lobbyists to help pass corrective legislation.  Senator Bergeson was an energetic, influential author.  With the successful enactment of SB 23, cities and counties were granted an immunity for injuries, which occur on public beaches in their natural condition.  This immunity is absolutely critical for Laguna Beach because our beaches are entirely natural with no harbors, marinas, breakwaters, or other manmade facilities to modify the natural contours of the ocean.  Since 1987, Laguna Beach has never lost a lawsuit or paid a claim over injuries in the surf.

Kenneth Frank

City Manager

Ed Note: We appreciate Mr. Frank’s 31 years and his interests in having us share his own words with our readers. # 9 in his countdown will appear here on Friday.

Council to consider specific recommendations to improve customer service at front counter

The City’s Community Development Department (CDD) will present several specific recommendations to “…improve customer service…”

The CDD is responsible for planning, zoning, code enforcement and building construction services for residents of Laguna Beach.

The agenda bill is item #12 on Tuesday night’s City Council agenda.

The recommendations were gathered and garnered after visits to the cities of Huntington Beach, Lake Forest, Brea and San Clemente.

The entire agenda is available at the www.lagunabeachcity.net


Updates from the Laguna Beach City Manager’s office

Released: September 16, 2010

CMC Designation for Lisette ChelDeputy City Clerk Lisette Chel has just received recognition as a Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC) by the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.  She has completed the four-week long training classes plus other seminars as well as her undergraduate college program.

Skateboard Regulations Being ConsideredThe Parking, Traffic, and Circulation Committee will meet next Thursday, Sept 23, at 6 p.m. to consider a final report from the Skateboarding Issues Subcommittee. Included in the report are proposed ordinance provisions restricting the use and speed of skateboards within the City.  In anticipation of a large number of attendees, the meeting will be held at the Top of the World Elementary School multi-purpose room.

Broadway Gateway Beautification Grant – The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) staff has recommended that a $480,000 grant be awarded to the City for parkway improvements on Broadway between Forest Avenue and the bus depot.  Some of the project features include new landscaping, decorative sidewalks, creek railing, street trees, pedestrian lighting, an informational kiosk, decorative benches and public art. The OCTA Board will act upon the staff recommendations on September 27.

Prescription Drug Take-Back Day – On Saturday Sept 25, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Police Department will participate in the nationwide “Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.”  The no-questions-asked event will be staged in the School District parking lot across from Laguna Beach High School at Park Avenue and Short Street.  We are aggressively reaching out to individuals to encourage them to rid their households of unused prescription drugs that pose a safety hazard and can contribute to prescription drug abuse.  The public is encouraged to collect all of their old prescription medication and drop it off at the site for later destruction.

Heisler Park Sculptures – In preparation for the renovations at Heisler Park a number of sculptures will need to be temporarily removed during construction. The artists will be removing and storing their works and they will be reinstalled when the park is complete. The pieces being temporarily removed are “In Central Park” by Jerry Rothman, “Towards the Within” by Gerard Stripling and “Support” by Louis Longi.

DRB/City Attorney Workshop – The City Attorney conducted a workshop with the Design Review Board on Sept 16.  This type of workshop is typically done on an annual basis to discuss various issues of interest or concern.  The discussion topics included voting practices and meeting protocol, a review of proposed amendments to the DRB Bylaws, discussion about appropriate conditions of approval and solar energy systems.

925 Oriole – At its upcoming hearing on Sept 23, the Design Review Board will conduct a second hearing on the proposed construction of a replacement home on this very prominent site, which previously contained the ‘mausoleum’ house, which was destroyed in the BBC landslide.  A total of six new homes are slated for review that evening.

Storm Drain Repair – In August, the City began construction on a $900,000 storm drain repair project to replace or line deteriorated storm drains at 43 locations throughout the City. The work is being scheduled to keep one step ahead of the Citywide street slurry seal project.  The work is currently being done on Alta Laguna Boulevard, Chateau Way and Chillon Way. That work will continue through next week. The next areas of work will be on Palm Drive, Wendt Terrace, and Anita Street.

Alley Slurry Seal – The alleys in North Laguna were resurfaced three months ago. Because of some minor defects in the pavement finish, the contractor has agreed to apply a seal coat to the pavement surfaces. Not all of the alleys have defects, although they will all be seal coated to provide a uniform finish throughout. The work was mostly done this week, but the contractor is one day behind schedule. No work will be done Friday because that is trash day in the area. The work will be completed Monday.

Street Resurfacing – The current street paving project is about 50% complete.  The application of the slurry seal has gone quicker than anticipated and needs to be suspended for a few weeks to allow other components of the project to catch up. The preparatory work such as patching, concrete repair, and crack sealing, as well as restriping, will continue. Slurry seal application is scheduled to resume in mid-October.


Updates from the Laguna Beach City Manager’s office

Released: September 10, 2010

Alley Slurry Seal – The alleys in North Laguna were resurfaced three months ago. Because of some minor defects in the pavement finish, the contractor has agreed to apply a seal coat to the pavement surfaces. Not all of the alleys have defects, although they will all be seal coated to provide a uniform finish throughout. The work will be done next [this] week.

Hospital Approvals – Mission Hospital received unanimous Design Review Board approval for a cooling tower and new emergency generator.  There was no apparent opposition to the project.

Storm Drain Repair – In August, the City began construction on a $900,000 storm drain repair project to replace or line deteriorated storm drains at 43 locations throughout the City. The work is being scheduled to keep one step ahead of the citywide street slurry seal project.  The work is currently being done on Alta Laguna Boulevard, Chateau Way and Chillon Way.  That work will continue through next week. The next areas of work will be on Palm Drive, Wendt Terrace, and Anita Street.

Updates from the Laguna Beach City Manager’s office

Released: September 2, 2010

Design Guidelines – “A Guide to Residential Development” – The Planning Commission reviewed the draft Guidelines on June 2 and directed staff to route certain chapters of the document back to the Heritage and Environmental Committees, as well as the Arts Commission.  All suggested changes have been incorporated and staff has completed the final sentence structure edits.  The current draft document is scheduled for final Planning Commission review on Sept 8.

South Coast Water District Tunnel Stabilization & Sewer Pipeline Replacement Project – The SCWD has circulated the draft EIR for this upcoming project.  The two-mile long tunnel, located between Three Arch Bay and Aliso Creek Beach, was constructed in 1954, is mostly unlined and unsupported.  Councilmembers may recall that in 2007, the City approved a CDP to enlarge and fortify a relatively short segment of the tunnel. Although repairs have been made to sections of the tunnel over the years, the tunnel is deteriorating and in need of more comprehensive repairs.

Mission Hospital – The hospital is proposing to replace an existing cooling tower and emergency generator, and to construct an 18’ high sound wall to mitigate noise impacts for adjacent residential properties.  The project is scheduled for design review on Sept 9.  The hospital representatives have held neighborhood meetings with residents on Seventh Avenue to discuss the project and address questions or concerns.

Annual Tree Trimming – The 1,100 City maintained trees are trimmed on various schedules depending upon tree type and location.  All City Palm trees are trimmed each year. Other City trees are trimmed either yearly or every other year. This year’s trimming program will begin next week and will include all City Palm trees and City trees mostly in the North Laguna area.  The program will last through the end of October.

Resurfacing Project – This year’s $1.6 million resurfacing project is 25% completed. The work will continue through the end of October. For a minor contract price adjustment of $10,000 the contractor will be able to include slurry seal of three City parking lots in the areas where the resurfacing is being done. The parking lots included are the lot next to Fire Station 4, Alta Laguna Park, and Lang Park.

Updates from the Laguna Beach City Manager’s office

Released: August 26, 2010

Brooks Street The 49th annual Brooks Street Surf Contest was held last weekend with ideal conditions. The contest, which is open to Laguna Beach residents only, drew approximately 100 contestants participating in twelve events according to age group. The contest is said to be the oldest surfing contest in the world and is truly a community event.

September Sunset Serenades – Every Friday evening in September the Arts Commission will be presenting Sunset Serenades. The concerts are held at 5:30 p.m. at the Picnic Beach entrance in Heisler Park. The four performances include: 9/3 Global Beat Foundation (World Beat); 9/10 Fugowies (Pop/Harmony); 9/17 Arte Hernandez (Latin Jazz); and 9/24 Nancy Sanchez (Jazz). This program is funded by the lodging establishments and the City of Laguna Beach.

Storm Drain Repair Project – Construction will begin next week on the repair and replacement of 40 metal storm drain pipes at various locations throughout the City.  Pipes will either be lined with an inner layer of polyester resin felt, or completely replaced with new concrete pipes.  Work will begin in areas where the street resurfacing is being done in order to complete any excavation work before the resurfacing. Construction will be completed in November.

Story Poles Behind City Hall – A concept design for slope stabilization and a debris wall behind City Hall was presented to the City Council in July.  The preliminary design will be presented to the Planning Commission for Design Review in October.   Story poles for the wall will be installed next week.

Reef Inn Management Change – The Reef Inn on Coast Highway will be changing management and will be operating under the Travelodge flag beginning Sept 1.   Over the next few weeks, they will be requesting temporary and permanent sign changes.

 

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