CITY COUNCIL MEETING RECAP — 5/10/2022
(Items Discussed By Council Members And Residents)
Contract To Convert City Drinking Fountains To Combined Bottle Filling Stations Approved 5-0
George Weiss: Some time ago, the City’s Environmental and Sustainability Committee proposed that the City install reusable bottle refilling stations within the City. Thanks to their efforts, the first of these was installed at Main Beach near the playground, plus one at another park location. Now the City has expanded that effort by funding the conversion of 25 additional drinking fountains to dual use – water bottle refilling and drinking fountains. This became part of the Neighborhood and Environmental Protection Plan passed by the City Council on March 9, 2021. The information below explains what a enormous savings and reduction in environmental impacts we can have by moving to reusable water bottles.
Plastic bottles require up to 450 years to dissolve.
90% of the cost of bottled water is the bottle itself.
80% of all plastic bottles never get recycled.
38 million plastic bottles go to landfill each year in America alone.
24,000,000 liters of oil is needed to produce these billions of plastic bottles.
The average American consumes 217 bottles of water per year.
Bottling and distributing water is the least energy efficient method of water supply.
City Passes Amendment For
Regulating Solid Waste, 5-0
George Weiss: The State of California is requiring all residents and commercial businesses to recycle kitchen food waste. You have received a container from Waste Management to help in this effort. In the first three months of 2022, Laguna Beach recycled 891.99 tons of Green Waste and 91 tons of kitchen waste. Waste Management delivers this to Tierra Verde Industries in Irvine, and they turn this into compost which is sold to landscaping companies.
I would like to see Laguna recycle the estimated yearly kitchen waste of 364 tons and use this compost for our park landscapes and the provide the remainder to residents and local landscapers. Instead of hauling that waste out of town, let’s recycle and use it here.
SB 1383 through Cal Recycle will assign an annual procurement target to each jurisdiction based on their population for organic compost and other recycled green waste products. We should do as much of this locally as we can, so we don’t need to buy organic compost and other products produced elsewhere.
Zoning Ordinance For Commercial Building Height Allowances Passes 4-0 (George Weiss Recused)
George Weiss: This was the second reading of this ordinance. It changes the methodology for measuring the allowable height of a commercial building that provides subterranean parking. Formerly the height was measured from the subterranean parking floor. Under the revised ordinance, it will be measured from the street height of the building or provisions applied by the code.
I abstained from voting on the first reading, as I was one of the founding members of Laguna Residents First, whose election certified ballot initiative will change this measurement back to the previous ordinance rules. I subsequently discovered that if a Council member feels they have a conflict of interest on a specific item (it’s normally conflict involving a monetary interest), they must recuse themselves and leave the podium prior to the item being discussed. Though I didn’t know the rules governing this at that time, I nevertheless did not participate in the discussion of the first reading.
Update Of Solar Installation Assessment At City Facilities
George Weiss: In late-June, 2021, the City Council approved spending $100,000 on the feasibility of installing solar panels on City-owned buildings and property. This was an add-on to my agenda bill for electrifying the City’s vehicle fleet. The initial findings show that installing solar panels at City Hall appears to be viable and could lead to long-term savings. In July, City Staff will bring forward recommendations to the Council regarding which other sites will be viable and what their costs might be. I look forward to the results of this work.
Voter Certification For Two Hotel-Related Ballot Initiatives Passes with Direction, 5-0
George Weiss: Two ballot initiatives sponsored by Unite Here 11 gathered sufficient signatures to be placed on the Fall, 2022 election ballot. One involves work rule and minimum hourly pay for hotel maids, and the other regulates hotel development for remodels of over 20 rooms. Rather than accept and approve these ballot initiatives, the Council determined it was best to let voters decide on the fate of these initiatives.
Amendment For Sewer
Connection Fees Passes 5-0
George Weiss: This resolution changes the connection fee for expanded or new sewer line connections for resident and commercial development and sets new connection fees for Accessory Dwelling Units. See Agenda Item 13 at:
Memorandum Of Understanding With Laguna Presbyterian Church For Land Lease And Building Of A Parking Structure Passes 3-2
George Weiss: While I support private/public partnerships in general, this deal was not a win/win. The City Council has a fiduciary obligation to make sure it spends resident taxpayers’ money wisely. For many years we have been providing subsidized parking for commercial property owners and subsidizing additional parking as commercial use intensifies. That is done via parking waivers of all kinds. We are subsidizing 26 spaces of commercial property owners’ parking at Alice Court. They are leased to Downtown property owners for $900 per space a year, while a Gleneyre public lot space brings in over $4,000 a year. It appears that there is also subsidized commercial parking at Hagan Place, too. Now we may be subsidizing parking to the tune of $22 million to build, finance and then lease back the proposed parking structure at the Presbyterian Church.
Instead, we should create a partnership with the Church, commercial building owners (CBOs), and the City, so that all parties which benefit from the parking will pay their fair share for it. The Church is providing the land, and the CBO can provide a majority of the financing through a very small tax on the one million square feet of Downtown commercial space.
The parking structure could be built at half the cost if the Church and the commercial property owners were the lead partners. The City could provide low interest financing and operate the facility. This makes more sense than having the City pay the costs and then paying rent on the gross revenue. The project may never break even under the terms described in the MOU, and that is not fiduciary responsible.
It’s also worth noting that the adjacent building sits on a recognized hazardous chemical site. The ground under Hagan Place is contaminated, and the chemical plume may have drifted to the parking lot site. The Church is currently dealing with mitigating dry cleaning chemicals dumped behind Live Wire Cleaners that are still being removed. Before moving forward, the Church should guarantee that hazardous conditions do not exist under the parking lot site.
Lastly, wouldn’t it have been nice if this property was developed for the affordable workforce, seniors, and artist housing, which we desperately need? Affordable housing in this downtown area could have benefitted so many.
LED Street Light Conversion Update (From April 29 Reap)
George Weiss: The City is converting 400+ streetlights from incandescent to LED. Someone asked me about whether the new LEDs would provide natural lighting. Director of Public Works, Mark McAvoy, replied, “An example of a streetlight with color output similar to the proposed lights is installed at the intersection of Loma Place and Loma Terrace adjacent to the Downtown Police Station.”
Sunset Serenades And World Music Series
Kicks Off Friday, May 10
The Laguna Beach Sunset Serenades and World Music Series starts Friday, May 10, and runs every Friday evening for six weeks through June 14th. Celebrate every weekend with a sunset at the beach and free live musical performances at the Heisler Park Amphitheater. Performances begin at 6:30 p.m. and end at sunset.
For more information, see:
STAFF REPORTS AVAILABLE
Staff Reports on City Council proceedings are always readily available. To read the Staff Reports on any of the items below, go to:
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