CITY COUNCIL MEETING RECAP — 10/10/2023
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: https://lagunabeachcity.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=2164
In this recap we cover an update on Providence Mission Hospital; public comments regarding the posting of communications sent to City Council on the City’s website and the pickleball courts at Lang Park; appointment of City Council members to a Joint Community Pool subcommittee; and, a review of a tree removal at 387 El Camino Del Mar.
Update on Providence Mission Hospital:
Seth Tiegan, CEO of the Hospital, provided an update on the status of the hospital and assured Council that the hospital is here to stay. Evaluation of programs and elimination of others are continually under review, but we were assured that no major changes are in the offing. Mr. Tiegan agreed to provide updates once a quarter so Laguna residents and the surrounding community would be aware of any changes prior to their implementation. Mr. Tiegan said our hospital performs each year 9,000 surgeries, sees 18,000 ER incidents, and that a majority of its patients are non-Laguna residents. By 2030 the hospital must be in compliance with state law regarding seismic compliance.
Items of Interest from Public Comments
Finding public comments and records on the City’s Website: Laguna Beach, CA | Home (lagunabeachcity.net)
Most people are under the impression that the comments they submit to City Council will also be posted on the City’s website. However, when a resident asked the City Clerk why many letters had not been posted they were told that residents had to submit their written comments specifically to the City Clerk in addition to City Council members. The resident stated that community members have an expectation that their letters and public comments would appear on the City’s website, and be easy to find from earlier Council meetings, rather than difficult to locate. A request was made for an easier to navigate and more accessible website for these materials.
Interim City Manager, Sean Joyce, agreed that these communications should be more accessible on the website, and posted the following website improvements:
Updates Made to the City Website
Based on public comments from the October 10 City Council meeting, updates have been made to the City website. These include updates to the City Council’s webpage, available at:
GW: Ms. Martin pointed out that State Law trumps local laws so Laguna must be in compliance. I will be working with City Council to have the courts moved to a new location where the noise does not impact the neighbors. Senior residents deserve peace and quiet in their homes. Meanwhile, I think Council will be working to build pickleball courts closer to Wendt and S. Coast Highway.
Item # 10 Appointment of City Council Members to Joint Community Pool Committee: Passed 4-1 (I dissented)
Currently, Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) is proposing to extend the current 25-meter pool to 50-meters at the same location. This would involve closing the pool for an extended period of time and eliminating the children’s pool. The proposal would also involve the demolition of the building that houses the locker rooms and building a new structure in the small parking lot adjacent to the pool.
The agenda item read: “Appoint two of its members to serve on a joint subcommittee with the Laguna beach Unified School Board to discuss options and joint use opportunities”. There was no agreement with LBUSB to form a joint subcommittee, therefore this item was not properly posted and this Council’s action on this was a potential minor violation of the Brown Act’s posting requirements. It would have been preferable for City Staff to have provided options such as a Taskforce, Subcommittee, Commission or other group entity from which the Council could choose.
The City is a partner with LBUSD on the management of the current pool and pays 70% of the maintenance costs. Based on the City’s interest as a partner, the Council named the Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem to this committee. The goal of the committee is to propose solutions that would benefit residents while maintaining a partnership with LBUSD.
GW: The reason that I voted against this agenda item is because I think that any Joint Community Pool Committee selected by the City Council should also have included members of “Sensible Laguna”, a community organization formed to protect the quality of life for residents living near the pool. They have done substantive research on the costs involved in expanding the pool as well as the safety issues of prolonged work on Park Avenue (a key evacuation route) and have presented alternative options and locations for a new municipal pool. It has been shown that the High School pool needs some upgrading from 25 to 30 or 35 meters. This could be accomplished on the current site without destruction of buildings and would preserve the children’s pool. Laguna is a world class destination, but lacks a municipal pool.
Item # 11 – Council Review: Notice of Public Tree Removal at 387 El Camino Del Mar: (Council deferred a final decision on this item to the next council meeting).
The tree being proposed for removal stands near the iconic roundabout at the intersections of El Camino Del Mar, Catalina and Los Robles.
The arborist noted that he was absent when sidewalk construction took place so that the construction crew could be supervised so as to assure that the crew cut the roots in accordance with best practices. The arborist stated that this tree now poses a moderate risk of failure due to possible cutting of anchor roots. He also noted that the tree is leaning, and that he thought the leaf growth and color was less than robust.
GW: This and other trees around Laguna’s only Roundabout were planted when the El Mirador neighborhood was developed. They are mature lemon-scented gum trees that provide shade and a cathedral-like feeling for walkers and drivers. There was no evidence presented that demonstrated that the anchoring roots were cut on this tree nor that the tree was suddenly leaning more.
In fact, this tree stayed upright and intact during our ’23 high wind storms and rains. Lemon-scented gum trees often lean slightly, so this characteristic plays only a small role, if any, in assessing the overall health of the tree. See pictures below of the tree the arborist submitted that were taken in August 2023 and one taken in early October by a neighbor. It would be a shame to remove one of these trees as their aesthetic value come from their group setting around the Roundabout.
What Residents Said: Chris Reed, Ruben Flores, Ann Christoph, Bob Borthwick, Cathy Jurca sent letters opposing the removal and saying that the tree is too important to the public landscape. We need good shade trees to cool the land and community members during periods of increasing heat.
Picture taken by City Arborist, August 2023 (image leveled)
Picture taken by neighborhood resident, October 2023
The Laguna Beach Ocean Foundation invites you to its 20th Anniversary Celebration. A major new project of this organization is restoration of the Aliso Creek Estuary, which will start soon. Please consider attending this event and supporting this noted organization.
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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.
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