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Staff Reports Available
George Weiss: Staff Reports on City Council proceedings are always readily available. To read the Staff Reports on any of the items below, go to:

My Remarks at City Council:

I’m optimistic that in 2023 our newly constituted City Council will work together for the common good of residents and businesses, in that order.

Last Saturday we had another case of excessive auto noise by what seems to be scores of loud sportscars travelling along the length of Coast Highway. Joanne McMahon emailed me and other Council members. It seems these car rallies take place once a month. Question for Chief Calvert: How can we locate the meet up location and stop these rallies from happening? What other enforcement action can we take? GW: The Chief assured us that measures are being taken to reduce auto noise and hold those accountable.

Summary: In this recap I cover the draft of the Master Parking Plan, An Appeal of a 1902 Historic home remodel, State Bill 9 that allows residents to build another home on their property by right, ratification of an Memorandum of Understanding (PAY and Benefits) between the City and the LB Police Employees Association, Seismic Assessment of Critical City Facilities, and a plea for volunteers to serve on City Committees.

Resolutions: Councilman Alex Rounaghi sponsored a resolution calling for the City of Laguna Beach to stand in solidarity with the Iranian people and all peoples suffering from oppressive regimes. Bravo! Alex mentioned that his father had emigrated to the US from Iran as have hundreds of thousands of Iranians in the last 40 years. My daughter-in-law’s Kurdish father and mother were also refugees from Iran. A prisoner of the Shah’s regime for 5 years, my father in-law emigrated to Sweden where my daughter-in-law was born.

Not to make this too personal (Ok, I will) but above is a picture of my 15-month-old grandson attending a public protest in Los Angeles for Masha Amini the 23-year-old woman who was killed by the Iranian police some months ago initiating freedom protests that continue to this day. My Ukrainian flag is still flying too. Lets all think about what it might be like to live under an oppressive government. It will make us more grateful for the freedoms we enjoy “in the land of the free and the home of the brave”.



GW: Mayor Bob Whalen sponsored this proclamation in recognition Sue Kempf’s service to the community over the course of the last year as she served as Mayor. Congratulations, Sue.



GW: Incumbent Councilmember and now Mayor Pro-Tem Sue Kempf along with Alex Rounaghi and Mark Orgill were sworn in as Council members. We have an opportunity now with the revised Council for a new start on equal representation and advocacy for residents as well as the local businesses (which had been receiving a stronger proportion of that support).

In a continuation of the break with the tradition of rotation, the Mayor, and Mayor Pro tem positions, were once again rotated between Bob Whalen and Sue Kempf. It is unusual in Laguna’s history to have the same people in the same positions---the 5th time as Mayor for Whalen. However, since he was the Pro tem in ’22, a training to be Mayor position, moving into Mayor again was expected by most of us.

Item 10 Seismic Assessment of Critical City Facilities: Passed 5-0
GW: All our municipal facilities are old and mostly historic. Although there has not been a major earthquake in 100 years, one will happen at some point in the future. To protect our first responders and all City workers we voted to discuss funding soon for a more detailed seismic evaluation, one that would tell us the cost of retrofitting city facilities to make them as safe as possible.

Item 13 Ratify Year LB Police Employees contract:
GW: Good News, the Laguna Police Employees Association (PEA) approved a new contract that will raise wages and benefits. Laguna will be second only to Irvine for compensation. Our police officers are singular among city employees. They work 24/7. Can you imagine working a 12-hour night shift for months on end----often in harm’s way? That’s what our cops do and it’s a tough, lonely, and sometimes dangerous job. Next time you pass a police vehicle, smile and wave. They need your support and goodwill.



Item 18: Acceptance of Master Parking Plan, Direction given 5-0
Do We Have Enough Parking? Some feel we do not have enough parking in Laguna Beach so last year then Mayor Sue Kempf and Mayor Pro-Tem Bob Whalen elected themselves with help from former Councilman Peter Blake to create a sub-committee of two and to hire another consultant to explore building parking structures around town, and use what we have more effectively. New initiatives were suggested by the public, like walkability, making the town safer and more secure for electric bikers, better signage, and a commitment to peripheral or remote parking structures. These measures reduce congestion and pollution. We can secure an additional 102 spaces by leasing 3 empty lots in North Laguna. Additional spaces can be gained by restriping some lots, and by increasing the use of the parking app to extend to private lots the City leases thus reducing drive around time.

Another easy way to recover over two hundred spaces or get the revenue the City is rightfully owed is to raise monthly leasing fees of over 200 spaces to landlords and businesses who now pay only 23% ($700. annually) of the average combined annual revenue of all City spaces, which is $4,200 a year per space. These revenues can be put to good use. For example, we lost $500,000 annual meter revenue when we created the Promenade. No City official or Council member, other than me, has pointed this out.

Supply and Demand: The 2014 Parking Management Plan (PMP) said we had about 2,500 spaces in the Downtown. The 2022 PMP said we have about 3,500, a gain of 1,000 or 130 spaces yearly over the last 8 years. However, utilization over the last 8 years did not change. Demand increased as supply increased. The old law of supply and demand in action! This suggests that building new parking structures all around town will increase the number of visitors, cause more street congestion, and be very costly to residents.

Here is an interesting quote from the 2014 PMP (See this URL to read it)

· “…construction of additional parking may not be cost effective and may have the unintended effects of increasing congestion while negatively affecting the pedestrian-friendly, low-scale village atmosphere that has historically characterized Laguna Beach. We must manage our limited resources wisely making informed decisions about allocation of available space and planning very carefully for any expansions of that space.”

Rather than take what Billy Fried described as a “1970’s approach” to a 21st Century problem, the City should be implementing “Complete Streets”, which should include creating secure places to lock and store electric bikes, dedicated bike lanes, making Laguna more walkable, and make more use of remote lots outside of town or the downtown to bus visitors into our town. We must protect our environment and quality of life.

If we go down the path of greater utilization of what we have and develop more ways to get people out of their cars, we preserve the unique character of our town. Let’s work together to gain more parking and improve circulation through creative and common sense solutions.

If you want to learn more read the draft of the MPP.

I have collated the many emails from a variety of residents and organizations who made useful suggestions to improve the report for its next draft. See attached. 


Appeal A: An Appeal of a 1902 Ocean Way Historic home remodel:
Denied 4-1

Is this a Historic Home?


GW: This was written by Clark Collins: “1902 Ocean Way Home owned by John & Lois Solomon.

‘An outstanding example of the 1930’s Normandy Revival Style, it was home for the Solomons for more than 60 years. John Solomon was a long-time, very prominent lawyer & resident of Laguna Beach. He was President of the Laguna School Board, Chairman of the Art Museum Board of Directors and a member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the Festival of the Arts.

One of the challenges of historic preservation is that it sometimes appears arbitrary. Detractors of the Inventory frequently claimed that it was just a drive-by survey by citizens with no knowledge of historic preservation. Nothing could be further from the truth. In actuality, funds for the survey came from the U.S. Department of Interior with matching amounts from the State and County and it was done with a standardized methodology supplied by the State. The effort was coordinated by Eric Jessen, a noted historian; Karen Turnbull, a local historian; Kathy Les and Hal Thomas of the Heritage Orange County and numerous local architects & business owners as well as consultants. The Inventory was an integral part of the development of the Historical Element of the City’s General Plan.

I would argue that there is significant evidence that the property is a historic resource as defined by CEQA and that a historic evaluation needs to be completed before any changes to the exterior of the home should be approved. The proposed project completely changes the exterior of the home and would negatively impact its historic integrity.

The City needs a process by which they can evaluate the most significant structures that were on the Inventory. Currently there isn’t one. Until there is a process, decisions on modifications to the exterior of these properties need to be made based on facts. An historic evaluation needs to be completed for 1902 Ocean Way to determine whether this property is truly an historic resource. If it is, then changes to the exterior must comply with CEQA.”

GW: I voted to uphold the appeal as the applicant wanted to change so many features of the house such as changing the hand troweled mortar front wall to wood siding. (wood siding destroys the timber mortar look completely). This with other changes convinced me that remodeling the house would destroy significant elements of what makes the house historic.

The City’s argument was that the Historic Register had not been updated every five years making this house unprotected from Laguna’s former or current Historic Ordinance.

“The City is mandated by law to treat a historic resource based on substantial evidence in light of the whole record” 25.454.044 Definitions “Historic Resource”




City Committees Need YOU

GW: There are a lot of talented people in our community, and your abilities would be a big help on the following committees that have open positions. You can apply to any of the following by January 20, 2023. If interested click here for an application to provide to our City Clerk, Ann Marie McKay

Interviews for these positions will be held at the Feb 7 Council Meeting.

Design Review Board
(Reviews residential variance requests from our zoning Code)

Positions open: Three
Term: 2-years from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2025
Meeting times: 5 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of the month

Environmental and Sustainability Committee
(Researches ways to protect the environment and improve our community’s sustainability)

Positions open: Five alternates
Term: 2-years from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2025
Meeting times: 6 p.m. on the third Monday of the month

Heritage Committee
(Reviews applications for the City’s Historic Registry and researches historic preservation)

Positions open: Three
Term: 2-year terms for two, and one for a 1-year term starting from April 1, 2023
Meeting times: 6 p.m. on the third Monday of the month

Parking, Traffic & Circulation Committee
(Reviews parking management plan, and parking and traffic complains)
Positions open: Three
Terms: 2-years from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2025
Meeting times: 6 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month

Recreation Committee
(Reviews recreation activities and park needs for our community)

Positions open: Four
Term: 2-years from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2025
Meeting times: 6 p.m. second Monday of the month

View Restoration Committee
(Hears property owners claims about views they have lost since owning their property due to vegetation growth blocking it)

Positions open: Four
Term: 2-years from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2025
Meeting times: 5 p.m. second Wednesday of the month

Housing and Human Services Committee
(Make recommendations about housing/human needs and identify housing opportunities)

Positions open: Four
Term: 15-month term from April 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024
Meeting times: 6 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month

Citizens’ Audit Review & Investment Advisory Committee
(Reviews results of annual financial audit and Investment policy, identifies any internal control weaknesses, and provides advice on investment strategies)

See this URL for more information:

“Stay tuned as our residents unite, enriching Laguna together. Much will change in the next two years”.


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Disclaimer: All representations made in this email reflect the views of the author and are not official statements of the City of Laguna Beach or City Council. Any mistakes or omissions are the sole responsibility of the author, George Weiss.



Have a question about city government, need a document, or help finding the right person to talk to or anything else, please know that our City Clerk, Ann-Marie McKay is there to assist you professionally and capably. Email: or call 949-497-0309

All representations made in this email reflect the views of the author and are not official statements of the City of Laguna Beach or City Council.
Any mistakes or  omissions are the sole responsibility of the author, George Weiss. No public funds were expended on this website.

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