Appeals to and by Coastal Commission put cloud over future plans for Coast Inn
The City confirmed Thursday that it had received notice from the California Costal Commission (CCC) that an appeal is now on record of the City Council’s July 9, 2010 unanimous approval of the remodel for the Coast Inn.
Laguna resident and real estate broker Audrey Prosser said in an interview Thursday that she had filed and appeal with the CCC and that she had learned that the CCC itself had filed a complaint.
City Manager Ken Frank acknowledged that and said the CCC had not sent its staff report to the city that supports the appeal. “We can’t speak to the appeal until we see if it’s a substantive issue.”
Frank’s office emailed what had been received by the Community Development Dept on Wednesday:
14.5. NEW APPEALS.
a. Appeal No. A-5-LGB-10-166 Appeal of Commissioners Shallenberger and Wan and Audrey Prosser of the decision of the City of Laguna Beach (CDP 10-05) granting a permit for extensive remodel of the historic Coast Inn including: an increase in room size and reduction in the number of rooms from 24 to 10; elimination of office space, restaurant, and 2 bars; and addition of 13-space subterranean parking garage, wine bar, elevator, and rooftop pool at 1401 South Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, Orange County.(JDA-LB)
Prosser, a gay activist, had also begun an appeal of the City’s Planning Commission’s unanimous approval that was ultimately brought to an agenda bill by Councilwoman Verna Rollinger on July 9. Testimony at that meeting included concerns by members of the gay community who angusihed over what they saw as a loss of a gay icon. The Coast Inn’s Boom Boom Room was a well known gay bar from at least the late 1970s.
Prosser stated emphatically Thursday, “This is not a vendetta by the gay community. You don’t have to be gay to find a reason to appeal this project. There are many aggregious things…”
The project’s Laguna-based architect Morris Skenderian called the appeal “discouraging” in a phone interview Thursday indicating that he believed the Council’s 5-0 approval on July 9 to have been a compromise that was acceptable to all.
He said the CCC appeal was based on the issue of affordable visitor-serving lodging. “Toni [Iseman] alluded to that [on July 9]. It is part of the Coastal Act but it has never been part of the Laguna Beach [Local Coastal Plan] and was never brought up by city staff during the process,” said Skenderian. He said it has been an issue with Dana Point development in the recent past.
When asked about the affect the CCC appeal might have for the future of the project, the architect said, “It now depends on our client’s [Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, property owner] willingness to go through the process. He can either hire attorneys or abandon the project.”
Skenderian said that if the CCC position were to stand, the mitigation could cost as much as $600,000.
“I don’t know what the client will do. If he abandons the project, no one wins. The hotel would be closed. The city would lose $100,000 annually in bed tax alone if that happens.”
Property tax assessments add $380K to city coffers
The Laguna Beach City Manager’s office said Monday that the county assessor’s property tax assessments for fiscal year 2010-11 revealed that Laguna Beach had the second highest increase in Assessed Valuation in the county. The positive 1.89% increase means the city will receive about $380,000 more income than the zero percent increase in the adopted budget.
The city’s budget had allocated $1.2 million from the reserve Recession Smoothing Account. The increase reduced that amount to $820,000.
Fountain Valley, with a 3.13% gain, was the only city in OC with a higher positive increase. Newport Beach had a .27% gain. The other LB neighboring cities, Irvine, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Woods, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest and Dana Point, were among the 19 with a negative assessed valuation.
On tonight’s City Council meeting agenda
Two City Council agenda items scheduled for July 20 that may garner citywide interest.
Item 18. Financial Summary and Closeout of Bluebird Landslide Fund
The final numbers for the costs paid by the city to repair and rebuild the area destroyed in the Bluebird Canyon landslide of June 1, 2005 have been tallied at $36,802,042. Last month the California Emergency Management Agency notified the city that the amount of reimbursement approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency would be $33,926,762 ($24.9 from FEMA and $9 million from the state).
Those numbers equate to a shortfall of $2,497,429, which the city is obligated to pay.
In Nov of ’05, the voters of Laguna Beach passed Measure A, a 1/2 cent sales tax levy to create a Disaster Contingency Fund to pay for any costs of Bluebird not reimbursed by FEMA and/or future natural disasters. The Council will be asked to b) approve the transfer of $2,497,428 to the Bluebird Landslide Fund to balance and close it.
FEMA made a determination that the landslide was the result of heavy winter rains and therefore eligible for disaster relief funds.
Item 22. Pedestrian Access to the Top of The World Fire Road
Councilmember Jane Egly is asking the City Manager and City Attorney to look into the potential of providing a walking and cycling access to the fire road from Old Top of the World that would be available to everyone. The current access is essentially unusable by many residents. The access from the Arch Beach Heights end of the fire road is, according to the agenda bill, “excellent”.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers. It is telecast live on Cox Channel 30 and is available by streaming on the City’s website as are the Council’s entire agenda and complete bills – visit:
Updates from the City Manager
Laguna Beach City Manager Ken Frank issues a few notes and updates for the benefit of the City Council on Fridays each week. The July 16 updates follow.
Summer Meeting Schedule – Just a reminder that the City Council modified its meetings for the summer as follows:
Farmers Market Expansion – Local vendors will join the weekly Orange County Farm Bureau Farmers Market starting [July 17]. The added area is called “Laguna Lane” and is adjacent to the northwest corner of the current market with space for 6 additional local vendors.
Business Task Force – This week, the City staff met with members of the Business Task Force, including Councilmembers Iseman and Pearson. We discussed the recommendations, which were approved by the City Council and the current status of implementing each recommendation.
Downtown Sidewalk Washing – From May through September, downtown sidewalks are pressure washed monthly by the City’s contractor. The July washing will begin next week. The process normally takes two weeks because the work can only be done during early hours before the sidewalks fill with pedestrians. During the fall and winter months the washing is done about every other month, depending upon rain. Each washing costs $10,000, and the annual program cost is $90,000.
Energy Efficiency Grant Approved – Last December the City submitted an application for a State Energy Efficiency block grant. The final approval and grant agreement was received this week. The grant amount of $131,000 was determined by a population based formula. The grant will be used to replace the City Hall air conditioning units with high efficiency units and to replace lighting at several City facilities with energy efficient lighting. The program also includes lighting motion sensors throughout City Hall.
City of Laguna Beach
July 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010
Obtained Coastal Commission certification for amendments to the South Laguna Village Zone, parking code changes and sign ordinance amendments.
Extended development entitlements by 12 months to help with the financial crisis.
Adopted an omnibus ordinance with changes to grading, design review, nonconforming lots and existing nonconforming variances.
Prohibited marijuana dispensaries in the City.
Reduced fees when no inspection is needed for an occupancy permit.
Adopted a new in lieu housing fee program.
Adopted an ordinance accelerating the effective date of the green building code.
Approved a water efficient landscape ordinance.
Adopted major changes to the Land Use Element and zoning map.
Adopted many specific recommendations proposed by the Business Assistance Task Force.
Replaced the benches at Main Beach Park.
Restricted left turn movements on Coast Highway at Anita, Brooks and St. Anns.
Constructed a new sidewalk at the foot of Nyes Place.
Rebuilt the retaining wall on Third Street.
Rehabilitated the City owned streetlights in Victoria Beach.
Improved the trail between Old Top of the World and the fire road.
Completely rehabilitated the sewer pump station at Glenneyre and Calliope (Bluebird), including new electrical, pumps, motors and wetwell.
Undergrounded the utilities on Lookout Drive and Poplar Street.
Approved a concept to replace the lifeguard headquarters building, public restrooms, and sewage lift station at Main Beach.
Approved the conceptual plans to renovate the animal shelter.
Improved the community swimming pool by replacing shower heads and metal doors.
Replaced over 500 parking meters in the Downtown with credit card parking meters.
Added a parking ticket machine at Lang Park.
Upgraded the fuel station behind City Hall to meet new Air Resources Board regulations.
Installed “smart irrigation controllers” at 15 City facilities.
Created 15 new parking spaces on Cliff Drive by making it a one-way street.
Reconstructed all of the alleys north of Boat Canyon.
Adopted a 20-year plan for improvements to the sewer system.
Replaced the alarm system at all of the 25 sewer pump stations.
Installed a quick-connect emergency power device at the Irvine Cove pump station.
Updated the Police Department’s policy manual through an online program involving other police agencies.
Reorganized the Police Department to provide Lieutenant Watch Commanders on busy shifts.
Conducted a pedestrian safety program along Glenneyre.
Created a new fuel modification zone protecting houses below Quivera Street in Arch Beach Heights.
Obtained grant funds to replace old portable radios.
Initiated a program for funding of firefighter training through Santa Ana College.
Received a State grant to replace emergency extrication equipment.
Installed a new roof on Fire Station 4.
Achieved a Class 3 fire protection rating from the Insurance Services Office.
Upgraded the computers in patrol cars.
Completed a multi-year effort to scan old paper reports into the computer system.
Created a civilian supervisor position to oversee Parking and Animal Services.
Afforded residents the option of purchasing parking permits online.
Created an entirely new City website with online access to meetings of the City Council, Planning Commission and Design Review Board.
Participated in the Statewide process to establish a marine preserve off the Laguna Beach coastline.
Entered into a new lease with the Friends of Hortense Miller Garden.
Accepted the donation of 90 acres of open space on the ridgeline above South Laguna.
Acquired the Verizon property on Laguna Canyon Road.
Purchased the Bunn parcel at the end of Canyon Acres for open space.
Modified the lease with Laguna Beach Seniors to pay for their share of utilities and cleaning in exchange for greater City access to space in the evenings.
Opened an alternative sleeping location on Laguna Canyon Road, which immediately eliminated encampments in beaches and parks.
Adopted several ordinances to ensure that beaches and parks are used as intended, including restrictions on: the storage of personal belongings, camping and sleeping, loitering, traversing bluffs and landscaping, and the use of beaches and parks between 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
Participated successfully in the process to preserve our community hospital as a nonprofit entity with an acute care facility and emergency room under the ownership of Mission Hospital.
Initiated a free, all day parking lot, ten months of the year for downtown employees and visitors.
Purchased the Hopkins Trust parcels on Bluebird Canyon Drive for open space.
Acquired four lots in Arch Beach Heights to add to the view park.
Relocated the emergency homeless shelter from the Act V lot to 20652 Laguna Canyon Road (Verizon parcel).
Extended the summer trolley service to serve Three Arch Bay.
Updates from the City Manager
Laguna Beach City Manager Ken Frank issues a few notes and updates for the benefit of the City Council on Fridays each week. The July 9 updates follow.
Traffic Alerts – The City is trying out a new service to inform the community via email when there are significant traffic delays on highways or heavily traveled streets due to accidents or major construction projects. To access the service, users can login to: http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/services/traffic_alerts.asp and enter their email address. Users can also decide to stop receiving the messages at any time by logging in and opting out of the service.
No No Left Turn Sign – At our request, Caltrans has removed the “No Turn” sign on Broadway in front of the pink commercial center between Ocean and Broadway. Instead, they installed a No U-Turn sign closer to Beach. This will eliminate one of the problems after the implementation of the one way traffic on Cliff.
Cottage Visitors – We have had some visitors get through the fences for the three cottages being stored temporarily at Big Bend. One of the homes appears to have been entered. We are resealing the buildings.
Two New Recreation Supervisors – Kristin Bruhagier has worked as a part-time Marine Safety Senior Lifeguard Supervisor since 2005. She has a Bachelors degree from UC Irvine and a Masters degree from New York University (NYU). Kristin was a NCAA swimmer while attending UCI and she also was swim coach for youth swim and water polo teams. Kristin lives in Huntington Beach. Tom Toman has been with the City since 2006 as a Public Works Technician and Intern where he has assisted with summer festival transit, nuisance abatement, service requests and other Public Works programs. Tom was a NCAA basketball player at Florida Southern University and has a Bachelors degree from Saint Louis University. Tom lives in Laguna Beach.