Floating streetlight off Laguna’s Main Beach will not be installed this weekend

Floating streetlight off Laguna’s Main Beach will not be installed this weekend
"Seascape," a streetlight made of fiberglass and foam depicted in this rendering, was the idea of artist Pablo Vargas Lugo. The Laguna Art Museum said Friday it would not install the piece in time for this weekend's Art & Nature festival. (Courtesy of Pablo Vargas Lugo)

Laguna Art Museum officials' plan to install a floating streetlight off Main Beach fizzled Friday as the museum announced it would not have it done in time for this weekend's Art & Nature festival.

In consultation with state resource agencies, the California Coastal Commission directed the museum to cancel the proposed temporary installation, titled "Seascape," while environmental concerns and issues are addressed, a museum news release said.

"As you might imagine, we were in unfamiliar regulatory territory with this particular piece, and have proceeded in the belief that with enthusiastic support from the city and the approvals we secured from the Coastal Commission, the [California] Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Coast Guard, we could safely go ahead," Malcolm Warner, the museum's executive director, said in a statement.

"The museum will continue to work with the Coastal Commission and the relevant agencies in Sacramento in the hope that there will be a future opportunity to display 'Seascape,' " Warner added.

The city's Community Development Director Greg Pfost said Friday that the city received calls from the California Ocean Protection Council, State Lands Commission and California Fish and Game Commission.

Those agencies were concerned that because the streetlight was to float in a marine protected area, it could affect the environment and sealife, Pfost said.

The Coastal Commission did not authorize a temporary event permit because the museum did not have required permits from the State Lands Commission and from the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Coastal Commission spokeswoman Noaki Schwartz wrote in an email.

"If they are able to satisfy these requirements, then we would be happy to talk to the applicant again about the potential authorization," Schwartz said.

"Seascape," created by artist Pablo Vargas Lugo, was scheduled to be one of the attractions of the fifth annual Art & Nature festival, which includes special exhibitions, lectures, panel discussions, films and family activities.

The other programs and events will remain on schedule, museum officials said. The festival ends Sunday.

Museum officials postponed installing "Seascape" on Thursday after engineers with the Newport Beach firm Morrelli & Melvin Design and Engineering, Inc. said it would be unsafe to lift the streetlight into a vertical position without help from a crane.

The streetlight, made of fiberglass and foam, is attached to a buoy, which contains a 400-pound ballast. It was scheduled to be in place through Nov. 16 about 200 yards offshore.

Pfost told the Pilot on Wednesday the proposed installation satisfied the Coastal Commission.

He said Friday that he will continue working with the state agencies to address their concerns and hopes to install the piece at a later date.

Twitter: @AldertonBryce