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Laguna Beach moves forward with plan to seek homeless aid grant

The Laguna Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to update a 2009 resolution declaring a “state of shelter crisis” for local homeless people in order to satisfy requirements for a state grant.

The city plans to apply for a share of the Homeless Emergency Aid Program, a $500-million block grant to be apportioned among cities and counties statewide. It was unclear how much money the city will request from the grant, though the council approved $547,000 for the Alternative Sleeping Location shelter, or ASL, this fiscal year.

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During public comments, council candidate Paul Merritt expressed concern with the plan to move forward on the grant, saying Laguna Beach “already supports a huge disproportion of homeless.”

“It looks like we’re already supporting two to three times the amount of homeless [people] that any other city in Orange County is,” Merritt said.

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City Manager John Pietig agreed but said the resolution is not a promise to allocate more money toward new homelessness projects.

“All this item does tonight is reapprove the same resolution that will hopefully make us eligible for funding,” Pietig said. “But there’s a lot going on in the county, and we agree that the [neighboring] cities should absolutely do more.”

‘Graffiti warrior’ is celebrated at meeting

A Laguna Beach resident known as the “graffiti warrior” was honored at Tuesday’s council meeting for his efforts to eradicate vandalism by taggers across the city.

Keith Kesler was given a public works hat and polo shirt. He believes he has removed more than 1,500 tags and marks in Laguna Beach but said “new ones pop up every day.”

“I just got sick of [seeing the graffiti], since my wife and I walk all over town … so I just decided I would do something about it,” Kesler said.

Kesler accomplished his feat with the help of city maintenance supervisor Wayne Chintala, who supplied him with graffiti removal materials including gloves, razors and towels.

City to seek funding related to Local Hazard Mitigation Plan

Laguna Beach will seek approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the city’s Local Hazard Mitigation Plan to receive funding for non-emergency disaster assistance.

A Local Hazard Mitigation Plan is intended to uncover vulnerabilities connected to natural disasters and develop long-term plans for protecting residents and properties.

Laguna’s plan was adopted Aug. 7. The council voted Tuesday to formally adopt a resolution to apply for funding.

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