Laguna Beach City Council to review fall and winter events, update city budget for 2020-21

Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen joins Santa in lighting the city's Christmas tree.
Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen joins Santa in lighting the city’s Christmas tree during the city’s 2019 Hospitality Night.
(Spencer Grant)

Like seemingly every event put on during the pandemic, this year’s upcoming fall and winter festivities will need to be modified.

On the Laguna Beach City Council’s agenda Tuesday night are changes to upcoming city-sponsored events with both pivoting from their usual locales to the Promenade on Forest. This includes the city’s Halloween and Hospitality Night events, which will instead be turned into seasonal festivals to encompass lower Forest Avenue.

The proposed “Fall Festival at the Promenade” would begin Oct. 5 and include a pumpkin carving contest, a “Thanksgiving Thankful Wall” and an area for residents to drop off letters to members of the armed forces. Hospitality Night would be replaced with “Holidays at the Promenade,” including a tree lighting on Dec. 6.

City staff said event organizers for the Laguna Beach Rotary Club’s annual Classic Car Show canceled the event this year and plans for the city’s Patriot’s Day Parade in March will be revisited in December, pending state guidance.

On the same day The Times announced Gustvao Arellano was becoming a columnist last month, he came to Corona del Mar to pay his respects to the late Rubén Salazar and for a blessing. Fifty years after the columnist’s death, Salazar is passing the torch to Arellano.

Earlier this year, the City Council voted in May to cancel the city’s annual fireworks show out of concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Budget revisions

At the start of the statewide closure orders, the City Council voted to make cutbacks to the city’s budget ahead of what it expected to be a $12-million loss in revenue.

A staff report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting states that the actual loss in revenue for the 2019-20 fiscal year was $7.4 million across all funds, including $3.5 million in the city’s general fund. With the results better than the expected revenue loss and additional department savings, the available balance in the general fund has now increased by $2.6 million from the April projections.

The Measure LL fund, parking, capital improvement and gas tax funds also beat April estimates.

“The uncertainty surrounding the spread of the coronavirus as businesses and schools reopen, the flu season, a potential vaccine, recession and pre-coronavirus pressures on retail make the remainder of this fiscal year nearly impossible to predict,” staff said.

The City Council will be evaluating the budget for the current fiscal year, modifying the already-approved budget for 2020-21 to accept the ending fund balances for last year and additional appropriations.

Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen lauded community efforts to respond to the COVID-19 crisis in his State of the City address, which was held over Zoom on Tuesday night.

It will also be considering a resolution to create a CARES Act Assistance Fund for financial reporting purposes and the addition of a systems analyst position for information technology enhancements in the Community Development department.

Council members will also be considering the extension of a contract with Interwest Consulting Services for $30,000 to retain the services of interim Public Works Director Manuel Gomez.

Tuesday’s meeting begins at 5 p.m. and can be viewed on Cox cable channel 852 or livestreamed through the city’s website at

Residents are encouraged to send comments on agenda items to City Clerk Lisette Chel-Walker at All communications must be received by noon Tuesday.

Residents can also call in at (669) 900-9128 to listen to the meeting and comment during designated periods. While calling, dial 98843693036# and press *9 to comment on an item. Time for remarks may be limited.

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