CITY COUNCIL MEETING RECAP — 12/14/21
Contract Award For Sewer System
Lining Approved 5-0
George Weiss: Laguna Beach has over eighty-five miles of sanitary sewer pipes with many of them very old. This contract for $1,036,277 will be used to re-line 5.4 miles of old pipe and extend its life by 50 years. That is money well invested to keep our sanitary sewer system in good working order.
See this video to learn about the process being used:
See the City’s staff report here:
Provision For City’s Assumption Of
Ambulance Transport Services Passes 5-0
George Weiss: Due to significant market shifts within the ambulance transport business, the City proposed putting this service under the control of the Fire Department. This local control should improve response times while also providing a pool of entry-level employees who could be selected for positions as City firefighters and EMTs. On the downside, the costs to operate Laguna’s own ambulance service raises the cost per trip from $965 to $2,800. This tripling of the cost is needed for the service to be financially self-supporting. Other cities including Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, San Clemente and Orange have moved to this model.
It gets complicated when examining Payer-Type insurance, such as Medicare, Medi-Cal, Commercially Insured, and Private Pay/Non- Insured. Based on a 2015 study, over 50% of Laguna’s population falls into these first two categories, constituting 58% of Laguna’s ambulance calls. These two categories pay only $497 and $369 per use. So the financial shortfall would have to be picked up by those with private insurance, which is only 27% of the population. How this all works financially is yet to be seen. The City Council will be reviewing this in 6-12 months. Nothing changes until mid-2022. Look for more on this topic in early 2022
For more information, see:
Professional Services Agreement, Enhanced Tree Replacement Policy, And Updated Public Tree Removal And Planting Policy Pass 5-0
George Weiss: This policy change gives residents a say in what kind of tree is planted when replacing a dead tree or when a resident makes a request to plant a tree in a new location on City property near their home. It also provides an opportunity for residents to review the proposed tree planting at a public hearing. For new plantings, the City will take measures to assure that residents views are not compromised. This reasonable process allows for more resident input which could permits neighbors to make these decisions. On the other hand, trees can create contentious issues with respect to views.
For more information, see:
Citizen’s Oversight Committee
Conducts Measure LL Audit
George Weiss: Measure LL was approved by voters in 2016 “to provide services and improvements needed to accommodate millions of annual visitors, protect beaches from pollution, and provide fire, police protection and emergency response, parking, utility undergrounding to prevent fires and power outages, and other services and improvements.”
This ordinance increased transient occupancy taxes paid by hotel and other rental guests from 10% to 12%, providing the City with approximately $2,000,000 annually, with audits occurring yearly.
Julian Harvey, Chair of this committee, presented the findings for 2019-2020. While there were six significant deficiencies found, when considered in context, these had little or no financial consequences and were more system or human control issues which may be addressed through software and automation.
For more information, see:
Let Your Voice Be Heard – Take The City’s Residents Satisfaction Survey Now
Please take the City’s resident satisfaction survey. Although it is a poorly composed survey which leaves out many resident-oriented issues, and despite the fact that the City is making it available to residents at the worst time of the year to get proper response rates (the holiday period of December 20 to January 10) – this should nevertheless be motivating enough for everyone to take the survey and help counter these gaffs to limit public response.
Fortunately, there are enough valid questions to definitely make this survey worth every resident’s participation – especially the section which asks residents’ for approval ratings of the City government.
The link for the survey is:
This will prompt you to the website for Polco – the firm that also did the 2012 Resident Survey. You will be required to enter your zip code and email address.
Once you have answered the questions, in order to submit your response, you will be required to provide your email and zip code. This will cite which respondents live inside or outside of the city and ensures that each person responds only once.
The City hopes to continually engage with the community and periodically ask for your input on pressing topics, new ideas and initiatives, and other important issues.
Please share this information with others. We need to get as many residents as possible to take the survey since initial reports seem to indicate that the original sample may have focused on Laguna Beach business owners and around 400 downtown and North Laguna residents – which may suggest a possible bias for businesses and not a fair sampling for residents.
California Coastal Commission Approves Revised Downtown Specific Plan With 22 Remaining Conditions
George Weiss: I spoke at the Coastal Commission meeting about local parking. This is a huge issue for residents, businesses and visitors, as many past decisions have reduced parking requirements for businesses and driven visitors to park in overcrowded neighborhoods.
Some of the 22 conditions which the City Council will need to discuss include changes in parking policies and landscaping, and development on the Coastal Bluffs.
Read more about the modifications being
While the City is working on parking solutions, it’s a problem Laguna can’t solve by building more and more parking structures. Laguna needs to start from scratch and develop a long-range plan for traffic circulation and parking that does not impact the beauty of our town, our neighborhoods and our environment.
See the chart below which documents parking giveaways and the resulting 612 shortages which have eroded Laguna’s parking supply:
Click on image to enlarge
Of particular note, upon the Downtown Specific Plan’s final approval early next year, conditional use permits will only be required for new bars, restaurants, live entertainment venues and souvenir shops. All other commercial uses would be permitted by each business owner’s right.