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Laguna Beach

 Volume 13, Issue 75  |  September 17, 2021


Council considers censure of Blake, neighborhood plan, and summer programs

By SARA HALL

City Council has an interesting and packed agenda on Tuesday (March 9), including a request to censure a council member, a proposed plan aimed at neighborhood and environmental protections, and updates on summer parking programs, trolley services, and events.

A noteworthy item during regular business will be Council’s consideration of Councilmember George Weiss’ request for censure of Councilmember Peter Blake.

Weiss’ request for censure is based on two categories of “unprofessional acts” that violate the Rules of Decorum, he states: “First, insulting public communications directed to or about different Laguna Beach residents, which convey the (false) impression that community input is held in disdain by the City Council. Second, public derisive comments about fellow long-term Councilmember Toni Iseman.” In his request, Weiss notes several instances during city meetings, posts on social media, and comments on newspaper articles, when Blake used slurs or other offensive, disparaging, or derogatory language.

The comments are a violation of the Rules of Decorum, Weiss concluded, and they also “create a negative impression of Laguna Beach’s City Council.” “Councilmember Blake’s comments look and sound like abuse of a fellow Councilmember,” Weiss wrote. “They establish a hostile environment for community members to speak without fear of oral or written intimidation. They are not conducive to open dialogue and dissent, which are inherent components if citizens’ democratic rights.”

They also harm the reputation and stature of the council, he states.

Council consider Peter Blake

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Submitted photo

Councilmember Peter Blake

While Blake has the right to free speech, Weiss wrote, elected officials must adhere to a higher standard, as outlined in the Rules of Decorum and Civility Policy.

Referencing the Council’s adoption of the Rules of Decorum and Civility Policy in 2019, staff points out in their report that “city officials who intentionally and repeatedly do not adhere to these rules may be reprimanded by the presiding officer or formally censured by a majority vote of the members of the city body of which such city official is a member.”

The censure is meant to “provide an intervention” so Blake “can be encouraged to embrace respectful disagreement and more effectively give open-minded consideration to all viewpoints.”

A censure by City Council is to be “treated as an official expression of disapproval or criticism.” There is no fine, suspension, loss of compensation or benefits, or any other form of penalty or discipline. 

Any council member may make a motion either to take no action on the censure request, or to deny or approve the censure request.

During the meeting, Blake will have an opportunity for rebuttal and is eligible to vote on any motion made. Other council members will be allowed to ask questions or make comments. Public comment will also be allowed.

Also on the agenda is an extensive proposal aimed at reducing the negative impact of visitors (particularly in highly visited neighborhoods near beaches, parks, and trails) and increasing safety, sanitation, and environmental measures. Staff recommends Council approve the Neighborhood and Environmental Protection Plan, which provides enhanced services and programs, and appropriate $688,000 from the Measure LL Fund for one-time program costs for both fiscal years and $247,700 from the Parking Fund for the FY 2020-21 ongoing costs.

Council considers clean sign

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The Neighborhood and Environmental Protection Plan aims to increase sanitation and safety near beaches, parks, and trails

Also proposed is a service agreement amount not to exceed $18,000 with Laguna Canyon Foundation for the ambassador program at Carolyn Knoll Wood trail head and viewpoint and Alta Laguna Park area.

The item also includes modifying existing contracts to enhance cleaning services, adding specific city staff/officers, and authorization for city staff or Council representatives to meet with the California Coastal Commission staff to discuss the possibility of implementing residents parking permit programs in areas not near the coast and in areas near the coast if alternative parking sites could be identified.

Residents recently requested at various meetings that the city look into developing a series of programs to address the impact of visitors to residential neighborhoods.

Many of the city’s residential neighborhoods have been “significantly impacted by visitors parking on their streets, leaving trash behind, and engaging in nuisance behaviors and illegal activities,” according to the staff report. 

Some of the suggested policies include: Prohibiting the use of plastic straws and single-use containers on beaches and trails; prohibit restaurant’s distribution of plastic straws and single-use to-go containers; regulate shade structures on public beaches to preserve public safety sightlines; and convert city water fountains to include bottle filling stations at parks, beaches, and trails.

Other proposals include adding park gates, neighborhood signage, parking considerations in specific neighborhoods (including possible permit programs), providing trail ambassadors, starting litter picker crews, installing cameras, creating a neighborhood improvement team, year-round lifeguard coverage for certain areas, prohibit the feeding of wild birds in city parks, adjust operating hours of certain parks, and more.

During the consent calendar portion of the agenda, Council will consider adopting a resolution proclaiming the need to continue the local emergency in connection with COVID-19 and authorizing emergency orders, rules, and regulations, for an additional 60-day cycle.

“Given that COVID-19 is still categorized as an active pandemic and is impacting the operations of both the private and public sectors,” staff is recommending the continuation, the report reads.

City Council will also receive a status update on the trolley services with a 2021 summer parking management plan.

Council considers trolley

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Council will hear an update on the summer 2021 plan for trolley services

The staff recommendation for the summer 2021 Parking Management Plan includes the trolley service on the Coastal, Canyon, and Summer Breeze routes between June 25 and September 6, and directs staff to modify service levels as appropriate to respond to ridership demand, and state and local health orders.

Staff is also proposing the introduction of a pilot program beginning in the fall that would provide on-demand residential transit service that would replace hourly trolley service on the three neighborhood routes. 

The recommendation includes working to negotiate a lease agreements with: Mission Hospital Laguna Beach for peripheral parking lot use in an amount not to exceed $68,000, and authorize the provision of free parking at the Mission Hospital lot; Laguna College of Art and Design for peripheral parking lot use on weekends; Festival of Arts for the lease of the parking spaces in city parking lots if the Pageant of the Masters show moves forward; and The Irvine Company to lease a portion of the Spectrum Terrace lot from June 26 to September 6, to provide free peripheral parking for the Summer Breeze trolley service.

The seasonal residential parking permit program in the Canyon Acres neighborhood (if the Sawdust Festival opens), summer parking pass for $30 that offers unlimited parking in select city parking lots, and summer parking meter and parking lot rates and hours are also included.

An item regarding recreation and events is also on the consent calendar. If approved, certain events will continue, like the July 4 fireworks, and recreation activities with move forward with COVID-19 precautions.

If approved, Council will direct staff to schedule outdoor recreation classes and camps for spring and summer 2021 in compliance with state and local health orders; and approve the continued suspension of most indoor recreation classes and city-sponsored events that draw large crowds through summer 2021, or until the county progresses into the later stages of the state’s reopening plan.

It also directs staff to proceed with planning efforts for the July 4 fireworks display and authorize the city manager to execute an agreement with the fireworks display vendor, Pyro Spectaculars by Souza, in an amount not to exceed $35,000.

The agenda is available online here. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. To participate via Zoom, you may click here from your computer or smart phone. You may also call (669) 900-9128 and wait for instructions. The Webinar ID is 955 0557 8235#. The meeting can also be watched live on Cox channel 852.

Comments may be submitted on any agenda item or on any item not on the agenda in writing via mail to the City Clerk at: 505 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach, CA, 92651, by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by using this interactive form: www.lagunabeachcity.net/comment. Email your comments to the City Clerk no later than 3 p.m. on March 8 (the day before the City Council meeting) in order for your comments to be submitted to the members of the City Council the day prior the meeting, which provides them sufficient time to review the comments. You may continue to provide written comments up to 12 p.m. on March 9 (the day of the meeting). While these comments will be provided to the City Council at 2 p.m. on March 9, the Council members may not have sufficient time to review them prior to the meeting.

 

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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