CITY COUNCIL MEETING RECAP — 5/24/2022
BUDGET WORKSHOP #1
Resolution To Adopt Fee Schedule Update
For Community Development, Water Quality,
Public Works And Fire Department –
Plus The Review Of A Community Development
Staffing Proposal All Pass 5-0 With Direction
George Weiss: It is a long slog through this item, so I will just highlight some of the key issues and recommend you visit to the online Staff Report and budget for more information. Final approval will be made at the City Council Meeting on June 21, 2022.
Highlights: The fees charged by Community Development will be rising significantly. According to the Staff Report, Zoning/Planning’s annual fee revenue is $1,234,000,000. The total cost of service – according to what I believe to be a flawed consultant report – is $3,238,000.00. There is a need to update fees since the last fee changes were made many years ago.
However, an actual time study should have been performed. Instead, Zoning and Planning Staff just estimated the time they spent on each project. Another factor which, no doubt, increased the estimated time spent on each project was due to so many of the staff being new. It takes up to a year for a planner to get up to speed as our codes and geography are extremely complicated and need to be learned over time.
The Community Development Department is one of the most important resident and business serving departments within our City. Projects ques are awfully long under normal circumstances, but now they’ve gotten totally out of control.
The Council also approved adding seven additional employees. I did not completely see the justification for this, as I did not see the statistics showing an increase in the number of residential and commercial projects over time. We have added more than a dozen employees over the last 15 years we’ve kept the losing population. We now have 22,515 and declining by a half a percent a year.
A motion I made and seconded by Bob Whalen was to direct Community Development to find project tracking software that would allow planners to account for the time they spend on each project. This will help determine if the fee changes are justified and whether additional adjustments are needed. It will also allow management to assess the productivity of planners and other staff. Please see the Staff Report for more information.
North Coast Interceptor Reliability Report Update And Resolution To Authorize Phase 2 Low-Interest Loan
For North Coast Interceptor Reach And Replacement Project
George Weiss: The North Coast Interceptor is a 4.5-mile transmission system that daily carries two million gallons of wastewater from Laguna Beach and Emerald Bay to the Coastal Treatment plant ½ mile from the mouth of Aliso Creek. The Council approved a $8.5 million dollar loan to complete the rehabilitation and installation of new piping for five separate segments. One of the new segments will travel from the Laguna SOCW lift station at Anita to Legion Street. The technology is amazing, as it can drill horizontally far underground without digging up a street or open space. Watch this animated video:
(Items Discussed By Council)
Members And Residents)
Approval Of $7.5 Million Low-Interest Loan For Wastewater System Improvements Passes 5-0
George Weiss: In February 2021, the City Council approved of long overdue capital improvement projects for our wastewater treatment systems. The Anita Street lift station reconstruction, pipeline rehabilitation and many other projects were included. The projects will take two years to complete. See the Staff Report for more information.
Counsel Approves A Non-Disclosure Agreement With Multiple Parties Investigating The Coastal Fire: 5-0
George Weiss: A resident called me to say that all five agencies investigating the cause of the Aliso and Woods Canyon Coast Fire should make their information public immediately as they investigate. My take is that there are times when there is a need to share information between agencies – that having confidentiality between investigators fosters their sharing of information, which in turn can lead to a truthful and factual account of the cause or causes of the fire. On the other hand, using an open sharing of information model has the danger of people leaking information to gain points or settle a score. Plus there’s the concern of releasing information that might not be 100% accurate. I am dedicated to making all activities of government open and transparent, but there are some exceptions to this general rule that make sense. The Council agreed that this is one of those times.
Climate Change Resolution Sponsored By George Weiss With Assistance From Bob Whalen
Passes 5-0 With Direction To City Staff
George Weiss: The City has made progress on addressing the impacts of using fossil fuels within our city. The Council approved electrification of the City’s fleet where feasible, installing electric vehicle charging stations, and implementing solar for City buildings where possible. The Council has also approved a ban on plastics, and will hopefully soon be banning the sale of helium filled Mylar balloons. These cause fires and pollute our ocean, causing harm to sea life. We still have a ways to go. Electrification is the best and most viable way to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. My sponsorship of this resolution (see attached will help inspire us as we begin the lengthy process of creating a Climate Action Plan that will further make Laguna Beach one of the most environmentally conscious cities in California.
See Article about this that appeared in the Coastline Pilot on June 5th.
Get With The Fun Agenda
George Weiss: If you’d like to know more about the many fun musical and cultural opportunities sponsored by the City’s Arts Commission, check out the schedule at the URL below. There are dozens of great events for families and adults of all ages.
Have a Room or Studio to Rent?
George Weiss: A Laguna resident I know needs new accommodations. Let me know if you have a room or studio for rent. Thanks