CITY COUNCIL MEETING RECAP — 3/29/2022
City Signs Proclamation Recognizing
April 15 As World Arts Day
George Weiss: Here is an amended excerpt from the proclamation: “Art nurtures creativity, innovation, and cultural diversity for all people and plays an important role in sharing knowledge and encouraging curiosity and dialogue. We must continue to support environments where artistic freedoms are promoted and protected. In this way, furthering the development of art also promotes a free and more peaceful world.”
To read the complete proclamation, go to:
City Grant Provided To Establish
Monarch Butterfly Pollinator Garden
At Bluebird Park
George Weiss: The Pollinator Protection Fund of Laguna Beach received a grant of $5,200 to create a Pollinator Garden in Laguna Beach. This is good news for the decimated Monarch butterfly population which has experienced a steep decline of 80-90% of their historical populations. If you travel to Morro Bay or Pacific Grove, you can hopefully still see tens of thousands of monarch butterflies that winter on eucalyptus trees or Monterey pines at these two locations. It is easy to help the Monarchs by planting milkweed, the only plant on which Monarchs lay their eggs and upon which the caterpillars feed. If you travel to Monterey, make sure to also visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
See below for more information:
Updates To City’s Street
Lighting Standards Pass 5-0
George Weiss: In 2020, the City purchased 780 existing streetlights from SCE. This enables the City to change from the common utility light pole to styles that are much more aesthetically pleasing and reduce energy consumption by switching to soft LED light bulbs. The Business District that runs the length of the City along Coast Highway will be the first to see this change as utility undergrounding proceeds. Districts that have approved utility undergrounding plans have the opportunity to select which style of streetlights will replace existing ones. The Diamond District has made its selection already. Areas where undergrounding is not planned will retain their existing fixtures.
I agree with this sensible plan, but if your neighborhood also wants to have new streetlights, gather support from your neighborhood and lobby your elected officials. The City Council would have to approve the allocation of funds for any changes to happen.
Read the Staff Report at:
Resolution To Authorize Submissions For Eligible Cal Recycle Grants – No Vote Taken
George Weiss: This item was not discussed, so I pulled it now so I could get on my “high horse” and expound about organic waste recycling. I have been recycling all my organic kitchen waste for decades. This is not a simple thing to do, as you need the right space and have to tend to the compost. Composting inevitably attracts critters like mice, rats, racoons, etc., so you either must trust in your local cats, owls or hawks to keep the population in check or make sure you buy a critter proof composter. The easiest one to use which does not attract critters is a worm composter.
State of California Senate Bill 1383 will require municipalities to purchase a number of tons per resident of organically recycled compost. This will create small composting businesses that can meet the demand cited by this new law. The other more-complicated option is to have a business build or run a compost facility within the City limits. This would fulfill the State requirement and potentially could generate additional funding for other green projects.
I know many people are not using the plastic bins Waste Management provided, but let us all make an effort to appropriately recycle our kitchen and green waste.
City Council Members Appointed To Review Fiscal Year 2022-23 Community Assistance Grant Applications
George Weiss: Each year, the City provides approximately $250,000 to local non-profit and/or public organizations that provide special services to Laguna Beach residents. These funds are intended to assist local organizations in paying for new projects and/or expanding their services within the community. The City’s Staff Report does not include a link, but it is listed below should you know or belong to an organization that would like to apply for a grant. Another grant funding source is the Arts Commission, which also hands out the same amount each year. Councilman Peter Blake and Mayor Sue Kempf volunteered to review the grant applications and recommend award amounts for each grant – all subject to review and approval by the City Council.
Community Assistance Grants: https://www.lagunabeachcity.net/government/departments/parks-recreation/community-assistance grants#:~:text=The%20City%20of%20Laguna%20Beach%20makes%20Community%20Assistance%20Grants%20available,expanded%20services%20within%20the%20community.
Arts Commission Grants:
Appeal Of The Approval Of The Three Arch Bay DRB Review 21-10112, Variance 21-10113 Passes 3-2
George Weiss: The Three Arch Bay Association (a voluntary membership group, (TABA) and a next door neighbor appealed this 4-1, Design Review Board approval to the City Council for the Hoch remodel project at 44 S. La Senda Drive. The project had gone through two City Design Review Board meetings and was previously submitted to the Architectural Review Board (part of TABA) three and one-half years ago. The Hoch’s said they paid $19,000.00 to the Board to review their plans but eventually just submitted their plans, to Community Development and then Design Review. Just for the record, there are no CC&Rs filed on any property in Three Arch Bay.
The City Council ruled that the project should go back to the Design Review Board for further review of view issues and lot coverage. I disagreed, as the lot coverage was 51% – only 4% above the maximum normally allowed. Since this is a corner lot, the Design Review Board allowed that variance. On the question of view equity/view preservation, there was very little evidence that the project would impact much of anyone’s views. The 44 La Senda property is a single-story house surrounded by two- and three-story homes. Design Review Board also concluded that the pattern of development shows many homes in the neighborhood exceed 51% site coverage, so neighborhood compatibility is not an issue.
This is complicated. Three Arch Bay’s Homeowner’s Association says it has the right to review remodel projects first and then the project can go through the City’s Community Development Dept. and on to the Design Review Board. The City says all private property land use issues are under the jurisdiction of the City, with the Three Arch Bay Homeowner’s Association being allowed to submit its comments to the City while the application is being processed. Although this was not being debated at Tuesday’s meeting, it may have motivated many to object to this project.
2022 Goal Setting And Strategic
Planning Results Pass 5-0
George Weiss: On Friday, March 4, the Senior City Staff and City Council discussed their strategic goals for 2022. With a $6.9 million budget surplus in hand, the Council approved the allocation of these funds. To review the priorities and see how the funds are being spent, please go to the URLs below:
Update To Noticing Protocols For
Upcoming City Council Agenda Items Passes 5-0
George Weiss: The Brown Act requires three days noticing for City Council agendas. Residents have repeatedly asked the City to publish agendas much earlier so residents can plan their schedules and do the reading needed to become acquainted with the items they would like to comment on in writing or verbally. Good news---We achieved some success by now having the list of future items published earlier than three days prior to the City Council Meeting.
See the Staff Report at: https://lagunabeachcity.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=1660&meta_id=129369
City Council Meetings Allowed
To Abuse Residents And Be
George Weiss: Although Councilman Peter Blake and I voted in the minority regarding the Three Arch
Bay appeal (previously cited here), I was dismayed at Councilman Blake’s rude treatment of Three
Arch Bay residents exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech. For over three years now,
this behavior has occurred on a regular basis. To correct this, I sponsored a censure of Councilman
Blake in 2021, which was passed by the Council 4-1. Unfortunately, the censure has not stopped the
behavior, and the Mayor and other officers of the Council have not reined it in. If you go to the video
of the meet at the URL below and skip ahead to the 1 hour and 50 minute mark, you’ll see the start of
what appears to be Councilman Blake’s trampling on residents’ right to speak. It looks even worse at
the 2 hours and 18 minute mark.
See the video here: https://lagunabeachcity.granicus.com/player/clip/1660?view_id=3&redirect=true
Read the Staff Report here.
Also see other reports at this URL:
Fete De La Musique Set For Saturday, June 18
George Weiss: Item 7 from the Consent Calendar concerned the approval of the use of amplified sound at the cobblestone area of Main Beach. This annual Fete De La Musique event is sponsored by the Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association. From what I recall, musicians will be playing at this and many other venues throughout our town. Mark the date and bring the kids.
For more information about this sponsor’s organization, go to: