Flummoxed commissioners say they need more time to study downtown parking issues


The Planning Commission was asked Wednesday to discuss and provide input on a presentation by City staff and a consulting firm studying parking needs in the Downtown Specific Plan area.

Commissioners were flummoxed by the presentation of very complex issues that they had not previously seen. They spent more time asking probing questions than providing directions.  

“It wasn’t fair to us and it wasn’t fair to the public,” said Commissioner Roger McErlane. 

The hearing was continued to a date uncertain, on the recommendation of Community Development Director Greg Pfost.

“The staff is concerned about the late presentation and additional time is warranted,” said City Manager John Pietig, making a rare appearance at a commission meeting. “It is also important to give the Chamber of Commerce and the public more time to digest the information.”

A Parking policy must be included in revisions to the Downtown Specific Plan.

Chamber recommends a “blended” parking rate downtown

Chamber Director Laura Henkels testified that the chamber is a strong advocate of revising the current parking code, particularly in the downtown, to address technology’s impact on retail economics and parking requirements. One of the Chamber’s recommendations was the adoption of a “blended” parking rate downtown.

Blended rates would eliminate the requirement of a specific number of spaces for a specific use. 

Pfost said blending won’t work unless the city can acquire the use of some of the private downtown parking.

Former Planning Commissioner Barbara Metzger voiced concerns that a blended rate would lead to the proliferation of food service.

“The possibility of the city becoming a Food Court is real,” Metzger said. “Two new downtown restaurants were approved last week, neither of them providing parking because they were in historical structures.”

Mancuso suggests dedicated spots for Uber and Lyft

2016 City Council candidate Judie Mancuso supported blended rates, but she recommended special lots just for residents and special spots for Uber and Lyft pickups and drop-offs, a suggestion that was well-received. 

South Laguna resident John Thomas questioned the number of downtown parking spaces identified by IBI. 

“IBI calculates that we have 3,365 parking spaces for 933,000 square feet of building or 3.6 spaces per 1,000 square feet,” said the detailed oriented John Thomas. “They said we have over 130,000 square feet of bars and restaurants in the Downtown Specific Plan area that by code should have 1,300 parking spaces.”

After doing his own research, using city GSI data, Thomas calculated that the city is already 2,000 spaces short.

Former Commissioner Norm Grossman also questioned some of IBI’s numbers. 

“How does any of this improve circulation?” asked commission Chair Sue Kempf. “How do we stop people from coming into town?”

Pieitig said more peripheral parking spaces, higher meter rates and better signage would help.

Pfost said the next step is to get big goals and policies in place and then come back to the commission.

Wednesday’s presentation will be available for review within the next three weeks on the City’s website, www.lagunabeachcity.net.

A Note from Stu and Lynette

How to get your news published on our pages

At Stu News, we’re often asked how we choose which articles to run on our editorial pages, given that we receive literally dozens of press releases every week. 

First, it’s all about Laguna Beach. We look for interesting, timely, important news about our community and Laguna people. We never want to be boring! 

Make it fresh and original

The fresher and more original the news release, the happier we are to publish a well-written paragraph or two. Or three.

And the more original the content, the more prominently the article is likely to be placed.

We love news about nonprofits, especially newsworthy, unusual or creative events, or kids contributing in their own way, and sports, art, and school achievements. 

We love to hear about new and noteworthy accomplishments by Lagunans in every field.

Please always be sure to provide us with the answers to the “what, when, why, where and who” of your event when you write to us. 

We love photos

Photos are extremely important: they liven up a story, so it is always a good idea to include a high-res photo (or two, so that we have choices) in your press release, preferably photos taken from a interesting angle.

Photo by Terri Karman

Click on photo for a larger image

L-R: Angelo and Harry 

What? You ate the last of the tuna? 

Please include names of people pictured, with their names listed from left to right. 

Spectacular photos of all things Laguna are always considered for publication.

(If a cat is in a photo, you might get lucky. Lynette loves cats. So that’s why she included the photo of the cats – to liven up this Note.) 

Business news – but not sales pitches

Stu News Laguna covers business openings, promotions (of people), and truly newsworthy events, but we don’t promote specific products or services in our editorial pages. 

Co-owner Shaena is the one to contact at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you want to ensure publication through advertising (and our prices are a fraction of print prices, as she’ll tell you, plus we have a great click-through rate and lots of visibility in the community). 

The sooner, the better

Lastly, our deadline for submission for possible placement in StuNewsLaguna’s Tuesday edition is Monday by 11 a.m. and Thursdays by 11 a.m. for our Friday edition. Your article’s chances of inclusion is much better if the press release arrives a lot earlier than that time.

The exception, of course, is breaking news, so never hesitate to contact us in that regard.

Hope this helps answer some of your questions – and we love feedback, so let us know what you would like to see more of in our editorial pages!

We’d love you to tell your friends and family about Stu News. Just click on the yellow tab beneath the masthead on the top right to sign up for every issue and all the community news. We love Laguna and we love what we do!

State of the Police Department Biennial Report Presentation will take place on Thurs April 20 at 7 p.m.

The Laguna Beach Police Department is pleased to announce the State of the Police Department Biennial Report presentation on Thursday, April 20at 7 p.m.

This free event is being hosted and held at the Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach, located at 286 St Ann’s Drive.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Officer Zach Fillers with LBPD’s K9 unit, Ranger, during the 2017 Patriots Parade

The presentation will cover a review of years 2015 and 2016 and is a report back to the community related to statistics, significant cases and events, implementation of new programs and technology, as well as the plan moving forward. 

Speakers will include the police chief, command staff and other police personnel.

This is a great opportunity to hear directly from and engage in dialogue with the police department. 

This presentation is being organized by the Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach and it is open to the public free of charge. For more information, contact Jordan Villwock, emergency operations coordinator, at 949-497-0389.

Jewish Collaborative hosts Scholar-in-Residence Shadi Martini on Friday March 24

In an effort to meet the spiritual needs of Jewish residents and families in Laguna Beach and Newport Beach, the Jewish Collaborative of Orange County (JCoOC) offers monthly Shabbat services in both cities. Both services are informal, uplifting and inclusive while grounded in traditional liturgy and ritual. 

The programs frequently feature guest speakers, musicians, and clergy.This coming Friday, March 24, the featured guest in Laguna Beach is Scholar-in-Residence Shadi Martini of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees speaking on “Syrians & Israelis Working Together Behind the Scenes.” 

Musical Friday night services are held at Mozambique restaurant in once a month and are led by Rabbi-Cantor Marcia Tilchin and musician/radio personality Jason Feddy. They are followed by an optional pre-paid South African-inspired vegetarian dinner.

Reservations are required for those attending dinner and optional for those attending the service only. Dinner is $42 per person and $15 for children 12 and under. Mozambique is located at 1740 South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.  Valet parking is available. 

This weekend will culminate in an educational fundraiser entitled OC Faith Based Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis on Sunday, March 26, 6 p.m., at Temple Bat Yahm, 1011 Camelback Street in Newport Beach. 

The event is put on by the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees and supported by the Jewish Collaborative of Orange County and St. Mark Presbyterian Church. Shadi Martini will be the keynote speaker. 

Visit www.oc-syrian-refugee-relief.eventbrite.com for details on this event.

Resplendent flowers on show as spring begins

Photos by Scott Brashier

Click on photo for a larger image

Click on photo for a larger image

Click on photo for a larger image

Free alternative mortgage financing and investment & portfolio construction workshops offered on March 25

A free workshop on March 25, from 10 – 11:30 a.m., the third in a series of workshops offered on the last Saturday of each month, will be presented by Richard T. Cirelli of RTC Mortgage Corporation and James Hitchcock of Raymond James Pacific Wealth Solutions Group. 

The workshop will be held at the Laguna Beach Board of Realtors office at 939 Glenneyre St, 2nd floor.

Rick Cirelli will discuss how to purchase or refinance real estate using alternative mortgage products including private equity financing, reverse mortgages, subprime loans, stated income & Lite Doc loans; cross-collateralization and piggy-back loans.

Cirelli, of RTC Mortgage Corporation, located in Laguna, is a mortgage industry veteran with more than 40 years of professional mortgage experience. 

James Hitchcock will speak on The Investment & Portfolio Construction Process and will concentrate on an institutional four-step template of forecasting, asset allocation, investment selection and oversight. Hitchcock of Raymond James Pacific Wealth Solutions Group, located in Newport Beach, works with individuals and corporations in assisting them toward achieving their long-term goals. 

For further information about this event or future events, call: Richard Cirelli at (949) 494-4701 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Shaena Stabler and Stu Saffer are the co-owners. Shaena is the Publisher and Stu is the Editor-in-Chief.

Lynette Brasfield is our Managing 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


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