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Laguna Beach Launches Effort to Rebuild Park, Ease Flooding

The City Council, hoping to have storm-battered Main Beach Park presentable by summertime, has agreed to pay a team of engineering consultants $22,700 to launch the rebuilding project.

The group also will consider ways to reduce the chance of future flooding in the downtown business district, City Manager Kenneth C. Frank said.

Main Beach Park took the brunt of storms earlier this month, during which a river of water and mud flowed through the city’s main business district and into many shops. Erosion created a gaping hole in the park, and a stretch of the popular boardwalk there was toppled.

Before the council’s unanimous action Tuesday night, Kelly Boyd, owner of the Marine Room Tavern, asked the city for help in preventing future flooding. Boyd, whose bar was flooded twice this month, hoisted a copy of a Jan. 15, 1931, article noting downtown’s drainage problems.

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“Here it is, 65 years later,” he said, “and we’re still talking about problems of water in downtown Laguna.”

The park’s current design includes a berm that was originally intended to protect the area from wave damage. But Boyd said it has become “a very pretty dam” that makes shops more susceptible to flooding from Laguna Canyon.

Business owners want a culvert cut through the park so that floodwaters can flow more freely to the ocean.

City Manager Frank said the new design could include metal grates that open for floodwaters and close for high tides.

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City officials say they don’t know yet what the repair of Main Beach Park will cost.

In other action, the council gave unanimous preliminary approval to an ordinance that would extend fire-resistive building requirements to the entire city.

That measure, which is expected to be presented for final approval next Tuesday, would essentially ban new wood roofs anywhere in Laguna Beach.

The city has been seeking ways to become less susceptible to fires since the October, 1993, firestorm that destroyed or damaged 441 homes in and around Laguna Beach.

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