Historic ordinance, extension of Promenade on Forest up at Laguna Beach City Council

A view of the Hotel Laguna at 425 South Coast Hwy from the ocean at Main Beach.
A view of the Hotel Laguna at 425 South Coast Hwy. from the ocean at Main Beach. The hotel was listed on the 1981 Historic Resources Inventory.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The historic preservation ordinance is returning to the Laguna Beach City Council for adoption following a majority vote in July.

In a 4-1 vote with Councilwoman Toni Iseman dissenting, the City Council passed the ordinance to a second reading scheduled for this Tuesday at the reluctance of preservationists.

The ordinance amends the city’s current inventory of historic structures from 1981, which the city’s historic preservation ordinance — first adopted in 1989 — acknowledged. The ordinance provided incentives to owners to maintain those properties.

Efforts to update the historic register began in 2013 as the register became outdated, with many of the structures listed having been modified or demolished in addition to new properties, city staff said in February.

Over 30 public workshops and meetings have been held since work began to update the city’s historical preservation program in 2015.

The City Council also adopted a resolution adopting a negative declaration for the project, which states that the planned program will not have a significant adverse effect on the environment.

On Tuesday, the council will be considering adoption of an ordinance to amend current city code on the historic preservation program in addition to a resolution to make changes to the city’s local coastal program and request certification by the state Coastal Commission.

Public art squares embedded with tiles by local artist Marlo Bartels, adorns an entryway.
Public art squares embedded with tiles by local artist Marlo Bartels, adorns one of the entryways to the new Promenade on Forest in downtown Laguna Beach.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Extension of Promenade on Forest

The City Council will also be considering extension of the Promenade on Forest pilot program, which opened to the public in June as part of the city’s economic recovery and business development plan.

Extension of the program would be through Jan. 30 with the council to revisit the matter at their first scheduled meeting in January.

Councilmembers approved the closure of lower Forest Avenue — between Coast Highway and Glenneyre Street — through Sept. 7 and the promenade includes six dining decks, 41 dining tables and intermittent retail displays to allow for patrons to safely eat, shop and interact while allowing businesses to operate.

In a report prepared by city staff for Tuesday’s meeting, staff referenced the July 1 order that shuttered indoor dining.

“It is unclear how long the closure will last; however, it is feasible to assume that restaurants may be subjected to diminished occupancy rates for an extended period and the reduced occupancy may jeopardize the long-term viability of local restaurants,” city staff said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to worsen since the initial approval and it appears public gatherings will continue to be modified for the foreseeable future.”

Estimated costs to extend the program through January is $119,000. Approximately $98,500 is related to sanitation and safety services. The remaining $20,500 would be allocated to additional furniture, replacement of damaged assets and printing COVID-19 related materials such as circulation arrows and regulatory signs.

City staff said the Arts Commission’s special programs budget would also contribute $12,500 for two live performances a week.

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