Share this story

Forest Avenue closure extended as staff works on design for permanent Promenade


The Planning Commission this week unanimously approved extending the closure of lower Forest Avenue as city staff continue to work on a design for a permanent Promenade.

Commissioners voted 5-0 on Wednesday (Nov. 15) in support of a temporary use permit and a coastal development permit to extend the closure until Jan. 31, 2027. The closed street stretches from the crosswalk at South Coast Highway to the crosswalk located at Forest Avenue and Glenneyre Street.

They are currently in the process of developing a permanent design for the Promenade on Forest pedestrian plaza, said Community Development Director Marc Wiener.

Staff is slated to present two concepts at the Jan. 24, 2024 City Council meeting. Once they decide which plan to move forward with, city staff can work more diligently with RRM Design Firm on the project, Wiener explained.

“I do anticipate that over the next six months we’re going to make substantial progress on that,” he said.

It will come back to the Planning Commission on multiple occasions for design input, he added. They have already held a few workshops on the project and created a subcommittee for further study, Wiener noted.

Staff calculated that the process to convert the Promenade into a permanent plan will take until 2027. That would provide the time needed to obtain the full entitlements, prepare construction drawings, commence and hopefully complete construction, Wiener said. There probably will be a phase while it’s under construction that the street will be completely closed down, or at least portions of it will be, he added.

“Three years seemed reasonable. It may be a little shorter, but we’d rather have more time to work with then less,” Wiener said.

Answering a commissioner question, Wiener explained that the coastal development permit is required for a few reasons, including coastal access. This is a street and accessibility is being maintained, but it’s for pedestrians rather than vehicles, he noted. It also reduces the number of parking spaces in the Downtown, which is considered an access issue, he added, however the city has a number of parking management tools in place to offset that. Additionally, the CDP is required because it is an intensification of use in the location.

Commissioners asked only a few questions and didn’t have much discussion on the topic, only commenting that they can make the findings and support the item. There were no public comments, a notable difference from most of the previous meetings on the project.

Forest Avenue closure extended Promenade

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The closure of lower Forest Avenue was extended this week as city staff continues to work on a permanent Promenade design

Council approved closing lower Forest Avenue to allow an outdoor pedestrian promenade area on May 26, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In August 2020, council agreed to extend the program.

In early 2021, council again extended the program until Jan. 30, 2024, and directed staff to prepare an analysis of the next steps to make the Promenade permanent.

A $376,990 contract with RRM Design Firm for preliminary engineering and entitlements to study possibly making the Forest Avenue Promenade permanent was unanimously approved by the council on May 18, 2021. The proposed scope of work required RRM to prepare a programming plan, which will develop a high-level space plan, including parameters such as the amount of dining space, space dedicated to restaurants, retail, gathering areas and for performances.

There was more progress on the project last year on June 7, 2022, when council unanimously approved the Promenade on Forest Program Plan, which acts as a guide to develop permanent design concepts for future consideration.

On July 5 this year, the Planning Commission reviewed concepts for the Promenade on Forest and unanimously recommended “Forest stroll” design, a more informal, meandering style, to City Council.

The parklet and outdoor dining program was also concurrently approved and extended by the council. Most recently on November 7, a majority of councilmembers agreed to continue the program until Jan. 1, 2026.

On October 8, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 1217, extending the previous state law and allowed cities to waive parking requirements for outdoor dining until Jan. 1, 2026.


Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Laguna.


Shaena Stabler, President & CEO -

Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

Email: with news releases, letters, etc.


Email: for questions about advertising


*The content and ads in this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the publisher.

© 2023 2S Publishing, LLC - All Rights Reserved.