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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:


Public Comments; Options for Fourth of July Celebration; Promenade Ad Hoc Committee Work Plan.


Remarks by GW:

Happy Earth Day!  We live in not only a beautiful place but also a community of caring and involved community members as I witnessed at three different recent events:

On Saturday, April 20, I attended the delightful Earth Day celebration with the kids and their families at the library hosted by our Citizen of the Year and president of the Friends of the Library, Karen Phillipson.  I had the privilege of introducing the April Poetry Month students contest winners: Emma Colcord, Chase Provost, Lila Etherton, Stella Murphy and Molly Mahoney.  Their poems were works of wonder. What talented poets we have growing up in our community!  Their folks must be so proud of them.


That evening, I attended at our beautifully restored theatre by Rivian, Charles Murray’s documentary on The Canyon.  The film served as a reminder of what our activist community has been able to do to protect our Green Belt and the earth.  We have an impressive legacy of community doers that have preserved one of Laguna’s strongest assets.


And third, was the Earth Day (April 22) celebration at the Rivian theatre that was organized by Gayle Waite, president of the Laguna Canyon Conservancy with eight speakers and the 3 high school winners of the Earth Day film contests, Katia Arriaga, Katelyn Hall, and Alysha Martinez.  We heard inspiring talks of the work of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby, OC Coast Keeper, the Laguna Bluebelt Coalition, LCAD, and the Laguna Canyon Conservancy.


I left all three events in awe of how our residents work together to keep Laguna beautiful and protect our planet.  Thanks to all who attended and who contribute so much to Laguna Beach’s environment. Congratulations to Gayle Waite and the board of the Laguna Canyon Foundation for creating the best ever Earth Day event for our town. 



Notable Items from Public Comments


Jacob Cherub, Ann Christoph, Michele Monda, John Thomas and Anne Caen spoke about the need to reinstate the Zoom option as many older and less mobile residents find it difficult to attend Council meetings in person. 


Chris Catsimanes claimed that the LBPD Crime Statistics Report was flawed. He said that a 7% reduction in crime is inaccurate because there was no differentiation between minor and serious crimes. The report excluded any mention of arson in which the suspect pleaded guilty and was convicted of arson. 


Clark Collins and Linda Morgenlander– Heritage Committee announced that May is Heritage Month and a couple of events taking place in celebration are an open walk-in reception on May 2nd at Tango on Forest Ave. between 5-7PM, free food and cash bar. Also, on May 11th a Historic Tour of Aubrey St. Clair designed homes on May 11th. See this URL. for more information:


Steve McIntosh, Sensible Laguna, praised the Earth Day event at the Rivian Theater held on Monday, April 22.  He also asked where residents will swim once the LB High School pool is closed for construction. 





Item # 8 Options for Fourth of July Celebration, Passed 5-0 in favor of Drones 


Background: The Environmental and Sustainability Committee, (ESC) recommended the City consider using light drones instead of traditional fireworks. By trying out the use of drones we do not pollute the air or ocean, and eliminate the noise impacts on birds, dogs, and people who have PTSD. The costs for a 15-minute light drone show would be $75,000 versus $42,000 for fireworks. The Council agreed to give light drones a try and review the decision after the 4th of July. 


Resident Comments: Judy Mancuso (acting Chair of the ESC) asked if music would be part of the drone show. She supported the decision based on the reduction of the impacts stated above. Gene Felder spoke in support of a drone show but fears it may increase the use by private parties of traditional fireworks. Michele Monda recommended asking the Dana Point Ritz Carlton about their experience with holding a light drone show. Jacob Cherub asked why a laser light show was not an option. 


Three emails were received after the Council meeting, all disappointed that Council made this decision. I explained in return emails that this is a trial, and we could go back to traditional fireworks if residents don’t like the light drone show. 


GW: As the liaison to the ESC, I brought this forward for Council consideration and thought it made sense to try this option and reduce ocean, air pollution and noise. Let’s see how it works. 

Item # 9: Promenade Ad Hoc Committee Work Plan, Passed 4-1 (I dissented)


Background: At the January City Council meeting a consensus was reached to have a Promenade design competition with the goal of having four designs for consideration as suggested by Councilmember Whalen. Instead, the subcommittee consisting of Mayor Kempf and Councilmember Orgill discarded that approach and decided to hire for $30,000 a local firm, SWA, to function as the design consultant. Tellingly the word “resident” was missing in the staff report/workplan. In the end, the Council agreed to include some residents in a separate focus group and conduct some resident workshops. 


Public Comments: 


Gene Felder said the project needs more creative ideas and advocated for a design competition to get more imaginative plans. 


Michele Monda wanted a hybrid solution more like Europe where the street is used as it was before Covid, and at night or on weekends is closed off as a pedestrian promenade. She recommended getting local residents like Bob Borthwick, who has experience designing projects like this, involved. 


Les Miklosy said we should figure out what the requirements are. Define what a successful pedestrian promenade would be. 


Anne Caen said residents were concerned about the lack of a hybrid design, and about the loss of parking.


Johanna Felder said we should start by going back to how the street was before Covid, and then compare it with a hybrid or permanent plaza. SWA may be a respected firm, but they proposed the removal of 118 trees in the Downtown Action Plan. Do they really care about Laguna’s character?


Mark Christie (Forest Ave business owner) said he is a supporter of the Promenade, but not in its current form. If done right, the Promenade should look like it was there forever. 


Charmagne (Forest Ave business owner of the Shoe Cellar) says older visitors and local customers need to be able to access the store. They need parking nearby. 


John Thomas said there was no meaningful involvement by residents in the focus groups. Residents should have the biggest voice over special interest groups, such as tourists, business owners, etc. Many see Forest Avenue as the heart of Laguna and the subcommittee is trying to perform heart surgery on it. The plan needs to include all the costs. 


Gregg MacGillivray supports the Promenade but thinks it can be a far better design and referred to the redesigned sitting area under the peppertree, which even includes seating sized for children.


Carrie Reynolds, who does consumer research, noted that focus groups produce qualitative data.


Bill Hoffman said the Promenade is the only car free spot in Laguna. It is too important to put cars back in. He claimed there was sufficient public input in previous meetings and workshops. 


Alice (Forest Ave business owner of The Shoe Cellar) says there is no energy on the Promenade. People on one side of the street cannot see the stores on the other side very well. Aging customers do not have a place to park close by. She asked that the trees on Forest Ave be kept.


Judy Mancuso suggested using the Promenade on weekends for a Farmer’s Market. Make it a hybrid so 5 days a week it has parking (a normal street), and on weekends make it a pedestrian plaza by closing the street. 


Toni Iseman mentioned the cities of Boulder, Carmel, and San Louis Obispo as places that have pedestrian plazas we could learn from. She asked how many business could survive a year long shut down during construction if it became a permanent plaza. 


Mike Ray said that a survey showed that 90-95% of people love it. 


Ann Krisman (Forest Ave business owner) said the Promenade has hurt her business, Fresh Produce. 99% of the people she talks to do not go to it. It is $250,000 just for maintenance plus the lost parking revenue. [

GW: The cost of lost parking revenue is an additional $206,00 per year and increasing as meter rates go to $5.50 an hour this summer.] 


Jacob Cherub said 2,700 households received the 2021 survey and 553 replied. 2,307 businesses got the survey and only 187 answered.  The project needs a taskforce to bring people together. Steve Kellenberg (Planning Commission member) said the two previous Promenade designs were for tourists. 


Mike Hoag loves the concept of a Promenade and seeing parents take their toddlers to take their first steps there. We need a document of what we want the Promenade to do. 


Violet (Forest Ave business owner of Violet’s Boutique) thanked Mayor Kempf for contacting her. She reported that her business has fallen off since Forest Ave was closed down because her older customers don’t have a close spot to park. Maybe the idea of a hybrid promenade model would work better. 


Ann Christoph asked who made this project a priority over all the other areas and neighborhoods in Laguna Beach. It needs a flexible plan for heavy use in summer. Bring it back to what it was before Covid. 


Yu Tan worked at the Forest Gallery, and closing off the Promenade was useful for visitors to go to restaurant and then to the gallery.


Jerome Pudwill said the group (subcommittee) is tilted towards the business owners and who picked the subcommittee members? The public has not had a chance to vote on whether they want a permanent pedestrian promenade. 


David Rubel (Forest Ave business owner of Rubel’s Jewelers) said his business has been fine. Beautify the area and make it nice, but the Promenade works. 


For the April 23rd meeting there were twenty-eight emails received, 7 for the pedestrian promenade and 16 against. Twenty-one mentioned the need for resident input. Please also see all email comments to date on the attached document.


GW: I agree with the sentiments sent in a letter in January 2024 by a long-time resident, David Schroeder: “Forest Avenue, as it existed before the Covid pandemic was a historical treasure, unique in Southern California, which should not be abandoned. Regardless of other considerations that have been discussed at length, the street has a heritage worth preserving as it was. It is the very worst kind of hypocrisy for the city to maintain any type of control over residences or business properties for historical reasons and then to gut the historical center of the City itself.” 


I have voted for the Promenade for the last few years but will no longer unless a hybrid option is explored with parking during the day and a closed off pedestrian promenade on weekends and after 6 p.m. during the week---like European cities do. My initial concern was that residents were left out of participation in the planning process, such as whether they wanted to close down this portion of Forest Ave and how it would look/operate.  Four years later the residents continue to be left out of the process.

Prior public workshops were limited to the choice of paving stones and lighting fixtures versus solicitation of conceptual ideas or even whether the Promenade was wanted at all. While the City has spent more than $405,700 to build the Promenade twice, up to $750,000 for maintenance and we still do not have any data on how many residents and visitors use the Promenade. After more than three years of use, shouldn’t we have this data? 

Please read my City Council Recap of January 23rd. It is available at 




GW: Summer is almost here. Please see the following community events for your enjoyment: 


May 3 through June 14, 2024

Heisler Park Amphitheater

6:30 p.m. to Sunset

5/3 - The Danny Green Trio (Jazz/Pop)

5/10 - Jodie Siegel (Singer/Songwriter)

5/17 - Steve Wade (Louisiana Jazz)

5/24 - Uncanny Valley (Rock)

5/30 Caro Pietto (Brazil)

 6/7 Quarteto Nuevo (World)

 6/14 Jessica Fichot (France)


June 8, 2024, Bluebird Park

1 p.m. and 3 p.m.






Calendar of Events – May 2024  

Opening Night Celebration 

Thursday, May 2, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. 

Join the Heritage Committee in Celebration of Heritage Month 

Tango Restaurant, 305 Forest Avenue, Suite 103 

Light Hors d’oeuvres provided. No charge. 

Trolley Tour: The Works of Local Architect Aubrey St. Clair 

Saturday, May 11, 8:30 a.m. (Tour #1) and 10:30 a.m. (Tour #2) 

Guided trolley tour celebrating the works of Laguna Beach architect Aubrey St. Clair 

Trolley loading at 306 Third Street (Laguna Beach Water District) at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.  Trolley departs at 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. 

Email or go to to sign-up. 

Note: Space is limited, and confirmation is required. No charge.  

Historic Project Forum 

Thursday, May 16, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. 

Design, construction and real estate professionals share experiences with historic properties,  including Mills Act calculations and Q&A Find out about the rewarding process of historic preservation! City Council Chambers, 505 Forest Avenue 

Laguna Beach Living History featuring No Square Theatre 

Saturday, May 18, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. 

Celebrate Heritage Month with the Laguna Beach Historical Society  

Located in the Murphy Smith Bungalow, 278 Ocean Avenue 

Also open most Fridays and Saturdays, 1:00 – 4: 00 p.m. 

Built in 1923 in the Builder’s Bungalow style, an example of an early Laguna Beach cottage. 

Public Tours of the Hortense Miller Garden 

Come visit and fall in love with Hortense Miller, her home, and garden! 

For more information or to schedule your docent led tour: You may also call (949) 464-6645 to book a tour most Saturdays and Thursdays at 9:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. No charge. 

Crystal Cove Historic District – Self-Guided Walking Tour 

This charming, quaint Historic District will take you back in time! 

Check the website below for park hours, activities, and parking information. 

For more information: 

Questions: Contact Heather Steven, Heritage Committee Staff Liaison at (949) 497-0332 or

GW remarks
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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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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

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