CITY COUNCIL MEETING RECAP — 8/16/2022
In this City Council Recap, I am pleased to tell you about recent City Council approval of the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan Scope of Services and the release of a related RFP (request for proposals). In addition, I will address the adoption of a new zoning ordinance focused on mass, scale, and the height of project sites and buildings. I will recap details of the parking management plan for a new upscale Chinese restaurant; update you on the City’s additional efforts to address climate change; and finally, offer information about the RFP for the City’s Solid Waste Franchise Agreement.
As always, if you have any questions about anything covered in this update or anything else about the work of the City Council, please reach out to me by email using GeorgeWeissCityCouncil@Gmail.com.
CONSENT CALENDAR — (pulled items for discussion)
Item 4 – Approval of Climate Action Plan RFP: Passed 5-0
George Weiss: City Staff members Jeremy Frimond and Fauna Shrago did an outstanding job on this RFP.
Background: In early March, I recommended “Developing a Climate Action Plan” as a priority project during the City Council’s 2022 Strategic Planning and Goal Setting Workshop. My fellow City Council members agreed, and we approved funding to retain a consulting firm to assist the City to develop a comprehensive Climate Action Plan.
Why is acting on Climate Change important? The average global temperature has risen by 1.1° Celsius (1.9° Fahrenheit) since 1880. Most of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of 0.15 to 0.20°C per decade. The rise in The Greenland ice sheet contains enough water to raise global sea levels by more than twenty feet and its melting is accelerating. That could begin to happen when the global temperature increases by another 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Harvard Health reports that two thirds of Americans experience some climate change anxiety, while Lancet reports that 84 percent of young adults are at least moderately worried about this.
We need to do our part to reduce climate change and achieve net zero. That means we must take steps to reduce the output of our carbon and other contributors to global warming to zero. The greatest single source of carbon is transportation. We need to electrify our vehicles or convert vehicles to hydrogen produced by renewable energy.
The RFP and the resulting Climate Action Plan will provide the roadmap, plan, and timeline to get us to that goal. The public will have an opportunity to contribute its ideas and priorities once the Plan is drafted. I hope you will engage in this extremely important work for Laguna, our State, our Country, and our Planet.
Read the Staff Report here: https://lagunabeachcity.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=1790&meta_id=139941
Here is another reliable source of information on this: https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/reports
Item 10 – Revision of Municipal Code Relating to Building Height, Mass, Bulk and Parking within Commercial Districts: Passed 3-2
George Weiss: Councilman Peter Blake voted “No” on this, having previously approved this with enthusiasm just weeks ago. Was he influenced by the two letters sent by Mohammed Honaker’s attorney to the City opposing the revisions as being detrimental to Laguna Beach Company, Inc.’s development plans? You can guess what the answer is.
There were some good points in the ordinance, such as limiting lot mergers in downtown to 5,000 square feet. This helps retain downtown’s unique character. I was also pleased by the encouragement for on-site subterranean parking for commercial buildings. We need to hide the visual impacts of parking.
I voted against this for the same reasons as before. It allows block-long buildings to be approved by the Planning Commission if there are varied roof lines, front setbacks and varied facades and paint colors. In other words, camouflage these enormous structures to make them look less imposing, and be assured they will be approved. Do we really want to encourage demolition of many of our older buildings to enable a big development without a vote of the people? See the photo below. Although this is a residential project, you will get the idea.
The Laguna Residents First Ballot Initiative — now Measure Q — promises to keep the character and quality of life residents moved here to enjoy. It gives residents a voice on large commercial development projects and sets reasonable standards for other developments.
Read more about Measure Q at: www.LagunaResidentsFirst.org
Item 14- Review of Parking Management Plan for the Red Dragon Restaurant at 680 S. Coast Highway
George Weiss: In my April 26th City Council recap I provided a brief history of the building that the Red Dragon will occupy.
You can go to my website to read this: www.GeorgeWeissCityCouncil.org
In summary, this attractive restaurant was built to serve 197 patrons, without ANY parking. Does that pose a problem for anyone? The El Mirador Neighborhood Association asked me to set up a meeting with the architect, Jim Conrad, and the owner, Mr. Zhao. The parties came to an agreement by which thirty employees will be parking out of town and be bused in and paid for their travel time. I had hoped the ACT 5 lot could be used but that was not possible for now. Customers will be valet parked at the Congregational Church site. This was a good outcome for all parties.
Here is a link to a description of Hunan cuisine.
Item 15 – Resolution Adopting Citywide Efforts to Address Climate Change: Passed 5-0
George Weiss: This Resolution was originally presented to the City Council on May 24, 2022. At that time, some Council members thought the document was too lengthy. Thanks to Councilman Bob Whalen agreeing to work with me, we edited it down. We also had the able help of City staff members Fauna Shraga and Jeremy Frimond, along with residents Chris Prelitz, Tom Osborne, and former City staff member Mike Phillips.
It is a solid piece of work that I encourage each of you to read because it is our aspirational document on climate change.
Read the Resolution here: https://lagunabeachcity.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=1790&meta_id=139979
Solid Waste Franchise Agreement Request for Proposals: Passed 5-0
George Weiss: The franchise agreement with Waste Management, Inc., is due to expire on June 30, 2023. Since we have used the same vendor for 28 years and the State has issued new laws governing the disposal of kitchen waste, the Director of Public Works, Mark McAvoy, thought it wise to develop an RFP for these services. EcoNomics, Inc was previously engaged to develop the RFP and Council approved it at last Tuesday’s meeting.
One major change in the waste-hauling services is that residents will now be billed directly instead of seeing a charge on property tax bills. Hopefully, this will have some benefits for residents because billing for the service will depend, in part, on the size of the bin being used. The smaller the bin the less it will cost and the needing two rather than 3 bins may also reduce the cost. Those who recycle green waste on their own will have to have their composting methods certified by the City. In some cases, residents may not want a green bin at all if they recycle their kitchen and green waste on site. One new method is to turn their kitchen waste into compost by using a device like the one pictured to the right.
Kitchen Composter like the one above from Vitamix are being used now.
Note: There is a chance that the price for services will go up as hauling kitchen waste from homes is a new service. Stay tuned for more information as the proposals from three or four waste haulers is evaluated.
Commentary on the Laguna Residents First Ballot Initiative, Now Known as Measure Q
George Weiss: Some months ago, three members of City Council determined they wanted the City to write a competing Ballot Initiative to Measure Q. They hired Stu Mollrich, a consultant known for the recall of Governor Gray Davis. A self-described mud slinger who seems to have no experience writing municipal ballot initiatives, Mollrich appears to be good at instilling FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). I am told he attended City-sponsored meetings focused on writing a competing ballot initiative and was paid $30,000 for his work. It is likely that Mr. Mollrich is contributing his mudslinging skills more to defeating Laguna Residents First Measure Q than for any meager work he did during the unsuccessful attempts to write a competing initiative.
I can share from first-hand experience that it is extremely difficult to write a good ballot initiative. Efforts to write Measure Q began well before the start of the COVID health pandemic and benefited from the time it took to get the details right. The result was a well-reasoned Measure that allows residents a voice on big projects while stopping the loss of parking that the City Council has been giving away for years.
For more about this, including an analysis of the City’s batty approach to parking, please read Mike Morris’ recent opinion piece in the Laguna Beach Independent using the link below: