CITY COUNCIL MEETING RECAP — 11/16/21
2021 Mills Act Contracts For Eight Properties: Approved 5-0
George Weiss: The State Legislature adopted the Mills Act in order to create a financial incentive for the preservation of historic properties. This year, eight properties were approved, and these properties will be receiving tax benefits over ten years from the State of California that will significantly reduce their State property taxes. For the eight homes that received either a K or E rating, the City forgoes $110,480.00 in property taxes each year The owners of these properties have agreed to invest $1,700,000+ over the next ten years to restore and maintain these properties. That’s a pretty good deal for all 8 parties involved. One glitch remains – that the City must have a mechanism in place that assures that the owners have invested the monies they said they would over that time.
I suggested that the City keep track of the permits issued to these properties over the next ten years so some assessment can be made regarding the value of the improvements. Had this been done previously for the 108 properties that received $482,775 in tax benefits in 2021, it would have gone into the City’s general fund. I am grateful that people are going through the very time-consuming process of applying for historic status for their homes. We also to know that they are meeting their financial obligations to reinvest monies to restore and maintain these historic properties.
Proposed Fairview-LA Brea Streets Undergrounding Utility Assessment District 2021-23 Passes 5-1
George Weiss: This assessment district in North Laguna has fifty-seven property owners and met the 60% minimum requirement to moved this project forward. A couple of residents who are on the borders of the district testified that they had already paid for utility undergrounding, as they were part of other previously approved undergrounding districts. I think the City should be step in and help these residents from being double charged for undergrounding. Otherwise, I support undergrounding in all neighborhoods and hope we achieve that goal in the next 20 years.
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Amendment To Accessory Dwelling Unit Zoning Ordinance Passes 5-0
George Weiss: Without going into the many details of these amendments, all I can say is that overall, the changes promote the building of more ADUs in Laguna. While that is troubling to some, it is not a serious problem. If I am wrong I will have to eat my words – let me explain why. Since last year, there have been 80 applications for ADUs or JADUs. (JADUs are accessory dwelling units that are within the envelop of the house and not separate units.)
I believe many people will apply for approved plans just to increase the potential selling price of their home. These units will never be built but sold with the house as approved plans. Others will build an ADU or JADU and use it for relatives and visiting friends. These will not be on the rental market, so impacts to the neighborhood will be small. Geographical hurdles caused by Laguna’s terrain will prevent most people from building an ADU, as the cost is significant. So why would someone reduce their personal privacy while eliminating an attractive landscape just to make money renting out an ADU? Those with the money and land will be less likely to build one in the first place, and those who need the extra income face significant costs, especially if building on a hillside.
Professional Services Agreement For Employee Engagement Facilitation: Approved By Consent, Professional Services Agreement For Employment Testing Services Approved 5-0
George Weiss: These agreements will facilitate employee engagement and workplace satisfaction across all departments, and for testing for prospective police department employees to assure the best candidates are selected. I applaud City Manager, Shohreh Dupuis for engaging Donnoe and Associates, Farriss Coaching and Consulting and UCI’s Division Of Continuing Education to achieve these goals. The cost of these consulting engagements is $42,000 and $28,000 respectively
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Update On Southern California Edison’s Service Reliability – Information Regarding Recent Power Outages
George Weiss: Southern California Edison gave a wide-ranging presentation on the known causes of the “random” outages suffered by residents and business in Laguna over the last six or more months. One of these random outages was caused by a lightning strike, another caused by a new transformer that failed. While these outages were an inconvenience and affected some neighborhoods more than others, SCE’s staff pointed out the number of total minutes for all outages was below other areas served by Edison. Mayor Bob Whalen asked for a comparison of Laguna versus other cities in Orange County, as SCE’s service areas include large, sparsely populated counties such as Mono and San Bernardino. If these statistics become available, I will post them in a future recap.
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Housing And Human Services Committee Announces 2022 Goals
George Weiss: The Housing and Human Services Committee Chairman Alex Rounaghi recommended that the City establish a Housing Trust Fund Task Force. The goal would be to look at a various ways the City can create or help create a permanent entity that could apply for grants and solicit funds from the private sector to provide housing and housing support for all types of affordable housing. I applaud the hard work and effort this committee has put into this report and will help in any way I can to further these goals.
My take is that the best model for achieving these goals is through private/public partnerships. The City on its own cannot be the sole source for funding housing, even State and Federal grants. We need a housing trust or fund that is created by and for residents. This entity would raise funds through private donations and by securing grants which would then be matched by City funds or land. For me, this is the best sustainable solution that does not have resident taxpayers paying for most of the costs.
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An article about Quentin Kunaka in Stu News
George Weiss: Q is making progress, see this url for a great profile of Q
A Plug For The Laguna Residents First Ballot Initiative
George Weiss: Laguna Residents First, a grassroots advocacy group created by and for Laguna residents, has submitted a ballot initiative to the City which will give Laguna voters the right to approve or deny any new major commercial development.
Your pre-registration now will help assure that you will have an opportunity to put this initiative on the Fall 2022 election ballot. Your signature does not obligate you to vote for the Initiative, but it will allow residents to decide.
What’s At Stake
Specifically – public safety, property values, greater density, and Laguna’s unique, small-town character.
Your signature can help all Laguna residents prevent such developmental changes as:
Increased, view-blocking, building heights
The Initiative memorizes existing height limits.
Reduced parking requirements and fewer spaces
Residents should not be stuck with increased business
customer and visitor parking in their neighborhoods.
Increased density and greater congestion
Combing parcels to create larger buildings Downtown
To learn more and pre-register, go to:
Laguna’s Free, On-Demand Transit Service Is Up And Running:
George Weiss: Pick up and drop off is now available at 75 locations. Take this free ride system to reduce vehicle trip and open up more parking spaces!
See here for more information: