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Laguna Beach remains virtual until Orange County turns ‘orange’ for state reopening framework

A couple walks past Laguna Beach City Hall.
A couple walks past Laguna Beach City Hall.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Meetings for the Laguna Beach City Council will continue virtually until Orange County is able to enter the third tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework, the council unanimously voted Tuesday.

The third tier, also known as the orange tier, requires new daily case rates to drop between 1 and 3.9 cases for every 100,000 and for test positivity rates to be between 2% and 4.9%. The health equity quartile positivity rate must also fall between 2.2% and 5.2%.

At that time, staff will return with an update.

Orange County is currently in the purple tier, where it remains with much of the rest of Southern California as cases continue to surge upward. The county was previously in the red, second-most restrictive tier until it was pushed back to purple in November.

Historic conservationists filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court, alleging Laguna Beach violated state environmental law when amending its historic preservation program just last summer.

Gov. Gavin Newsom likened it to pulling an emergency brake.

In Laguna Beach, data indicates there have been 628 cases in the city with less than five deaths recorded since the Orange County Health Care Agency began tracking data in March.

Laguna Beach has held its council meeting virtually through Zoom since April, initially discussing the possibility of resuming in-person meetings or to allow for hybrid meetings that would allow for residents to enter council chambers to speak in person on items. Those discussions occurred in July and October.

The City Council also considered the possibility of holding in-person meetings for the council only, with staff and members of the public to participate by Zoom. This option could include the installation of plexiglass at a cost of about $6,500.

Since April, city staff said that the council has held 20 meetings through Zoom and that participants have almost tripled as the community becomes more comfortable with the technology.

Meetings average 197 participants, including staff.

News and notes involving Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Fountain Valley and other parts of Orange County.

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