LAGUNA NIGUEL : Council Rejects Building Freeze

The City Council held a special meeting this week to consider a temporary freeze on building permits, but decided against such action after being assured that the staff of the recently formed city is able to handle planning responsibilities assumed from the county last month.

The meeting was requested by Councilman Paul M. Christiansen, who said there were "glaring failures" in planning procedures inherited from the county. Christiansen suggested that a temporary freeze be imposed while the city examined its planning process.

But other officials say Laguna Niguel, which incorporated in December and assumed responsibility for building-related activity only last month, can handle the job. Since July 1, about 200 building permits have been issued for a variety of construction projects, from businesses and homes to pools and patios, said senior planner Micki Harris.

"We're in a transition period right now, getting organized and setting up our staffing," Harris said. "We're busy, and we'll probably be real busy for the next year."

Christiansen said he thinks the Planning Department "needs a respite from the onslaught of permit applications in order to properly organize and digest what the county has put upon us."

In particular, he said, the city should look carefully at how development affects parking, traffic and fire safety.

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