CITY COUNCIL MEETING RECAP — 7/27/2021
Pocket Mouse To Be Reintroduced
At James Dilley Preserve
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is partnering with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and OC Parks to re-introduce the endangered pocket mouse species to Laguna’s open spaces and help prevent its extinction. The first reintroduction site will be in the James Dilley Greenbelt Preserve.
George Weiss: Hurray for small steps being taken to restore this little mouse! It gets its name from the pockets in its cheek where it stores seeds to bring back to its nest. If there isn’t sufficient food in winter, the Pacific pocket mouse can hibernate to assure its survival. I hope we all get to see one as we hike Laguna’s trails.
Street Performance Ordinance Passes 5-0
As directed by City Council, the City Staff came back with a list of specific sites Downtown and in other areas where street performers will be allowed. This includes Greeter’s Corner at Brooks Street and Coast Highway, all of Heisler Park and seven additional Downtown sites.
George Weiss: Thanks to Sian Poeschl and Jeremy Frimond for their work on this ordinance.
Citizen’s Audit Review And Measure LL Oversight Committee Report For
Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Passes 5-0
The Oversight Committee concluded that the use of Measure LL funds during FY 2019-2020 was consistent with the ballot measure and related ballot measure resolutions. It also recommended focusing on the variability of Measure LL revenue and on identifying the top priorities for spending these funds: 1. Full time public safety positions, 2. Utility undergrounding, 3. Beach clean up/kelp removal, 4. Contracted pressure washing of sidewalks.
George Weiss: Measure LL was approved by Laguna voters in 2016 and its funds have helped offset the cost of providing public safety, public works services and more for the 6,000,000 visitors coming to Laguna Beach. The Committee has done a superb job of auditing the fund and making recommendations for improving how we allocate the funding.
Pilot Program For On-Demand
Neighborhood Transit Approved 5-0
In March, the City Council directed the City Staff to introduce a pilot program in Fall 2021 that will replace three neighborhood trolley routes and provide on-demand residential transit service. This service will allow residents and visitors to use an app to request pick-up along the same three routes the trolleys previously used (Top Of The World, Bluebird, and Arch Beach Heights). All of these routes would terminate in the Downtown area.
George Weiss: These trolleys did suffer from low usage most of the time. I believe City Staff reported that only eight or so riders per hour used the system. The new system promises to be faster and more efficient. It’s just unfortunate that the trolleys were not running for most of last year and that we could not have worked out the details in time for this summer.
Laguna Residents First Ballot Initiative Begins Signature Collection
The Laguna Residents First Ballot Initiative was approved by the City Attorney and is now being circulated by Laguna Residents First (LRF), a grassroots political action committee that is promoting policies and programs that protect and preserve Laguna Beach’s unique environment, heritage and charm. LRF believes that as the city evolves and changes, commercial development projects should:
• Be unique, not part of large, monolithic developments.
• Be responsible, so that each project mitigates the impact it has on its neighbors, residents, and visitors. This includes traffic, parking, safety, scale, and aesthetic impacts.
• Be innovative in finding ways to preserve the well-known value of Laguna's look and feel.
To be put on the next election’s ballot, the organization needs to collect 1,700 voter signatures in the next six months.
If introduced and passed on the next election’s ballot, the initiative will give residents the right to vote and approve or disapprove of all major commercial developments in Laguna.
More details can be found at: lagunaresidentsfirst.org .
George Weiss: Full disclosure – I was a co-founder of Laguna Residents First, but I resigned when I announced my City Council candidacy. I still fully support the goals of this organization.
2021 Fall Community Events
The Rotary Club Classic Car Show is scheduled for Sunday , September 26th, at City Parking Lots 11,11E and 12. There will be food and alcoholic beverages during the show. For more information on this event go to: https://lagunabeachcarshow.com/
Laguna Beach Veterans Of Foreign Wars 75th Anniversary celebration on November 11 at Heisler Park Monument Point, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mark your calendar and support this event. There will be a flyover as part of the ceremony.
Laguna Beach Men’s and Women’s Open Volleyball Tournament is scheduled for October 22-24 at Main Beach. The exciting and fun event is City-sponsored and sanctioned by the California Beach Volleyball Association and the Association of Volleyball Professionals. For more information, visit: https://lagunaopen.org/
Letters And Community Buzz — July 2021
George Weiss: The following are some comments from residents responding to my bi-monthly City Council updates. I welcome any and all comments from residents.
I have lived in Laguna Beach since 2006. As a parent of two, I have long struggled with the lack of many kid-centric offerings in our great town. Public swimming pools, athletic facilities (soccer, baseball, etc). Neighboring communities seem to have all of these amenities (with the exception of Dana Point, perhaps).
As children hit their preteen and teenage years, it seems the options become more limited. I am interested in supporting a rec area that could include sports fields/sports courts, a skate park, etc., that the community could benefit from. The skate park is the one I am mostly focused on. How can I support such an effort?
Today I saw 2 e-bikes with two riders each without helmets. Two riders appeared under age and they may have been riding at 20 + mph. Then add how dangerous stop sign running is by these riders. This will end badly with deaths if action is not taken. I am happy to continue sharing what I have researched and what my attorney has shared with me. George we don’t want to see children die, but it is where this will end if action and broad law enforcement are not immediately taken. I am not a strict law and order person, but this is life, death and kids – and the ugly press that accompanies it.
George Weiss: Regarding “kid-centric offerings” – I would be very supportive of additional recreational opportunities for kids and adults. We do have good mountain biking here for kids of all ages, plus there’s our ocean where kids can surf or skimboard, a community pool where kids can learn to swim, baseball diamonds, and soccer fields supporting AYSO programs.
There are many public tennis courts and now an increasing number of pickleball courts. We do have the Boys and Girls Club that provides indoor recreational opportunities for kids of all ages. And there’s a lawn bowling facility used by older adults.
A city like ours could do more and find a place that works for a skateboard park and a facility for indoor sports. I’d love to have your comments regarding your recreation priorities. Do we need a municipal pool? Where could we locate a skateboard park?
Regarding e-bikes – I agree with this resident’s comments, but when I have inquired about this, I am told things are governed by State law, and other than enforcement, there is not much we can do. The Laguna Beach Police Department is increasing enforcement and a video was created to promote safe riding of e-bikes, but more public education at schools and by parents is needed.
You asked for my further input on suggestions for Aliso Creek and Aliso Canyon.
First, find a way to move Laguna sewage to Dana Point rather than to Aliso Canyon; I believe there is need to get one of the cities (Laguna Hills?) to divert sewage elsewhere and Laguna Niguel already has pulled away or desires to. With that, the pipe in Aliso Creek can be removed. I thought with the recent sewage spill, there might be consideration.
George Weiss: Regarding Aliso Creek – Today, we would never build a wastewater treatment plant in the middle of a fire-prone wilderness area. A long-term solution would be to re-route our waste south to another plant run by the South Orange County Wastewater Authority (SOCWA). Our current plant does the job, but at what cost to the environment?
Right now, SOCWA is building a road through the open space from the Laguna plant located behind The Ranch At Laguna Beach, all the way to the entrance of Aliso Woods Canyon Wilderness Park. This is for a new pipeline, as the current iron pipeline built 20 years ago is leaking and half of the sludge being produced needs to be transported to another pipeline. We really need to think long term about this and have a plan to de-commission this plant so Aliso Creek and the coastline are protected.