Street performer ordinance returning to Laguna Beach City Council

A street performer plays and sings on the Promenade on Forest in Laguna Beach in 2020.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach could close the book on a street performer ordinance introduced last month at the next City Council meeting on Tuesday.

The ordinance, which laid out guidelines for when, where and how street performers could engage in such activities in a manner that did not adversely impact public safety or the ability of businesses to operate, was brought before the council on June 15.

When it returned to the council for a second reading, the item was continued, with the council directing city staff to identify sites at which street performers would be allowed to perform.

“There’s some good things in this ordinance,” Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen said in a phone interview Friday. “Clearly public safety-oriented, not wanting sidewalks blocked and those kinds of things, but just want to make sure we’re not being overly restrictive.”

A staff report for the item states that at least six downtown locations have been identified as places where street performances would be allowable. The bulk of those spots appear along Forest Avenue, Ocean Avenue and South Coast Highway.

The council will also be asked to consider a pilot program for an on-demand neighborhood transportation service. If approved, the ride-share service would go into effect in the fall.

The on-demand transit program could take the place of a trolley service that previously ran in the neighborhoods of Arch Beach Heights, Bluebird Canyon and Top of the World.

Expected wait time for the on-demand service would be 15 to 20 minutes upon requesting a ride, while the old neighborhood trolley came by hourly.

The council will also consider allowing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service use part of the James Dilley Greenbelt Preserve as a restoration site for an endangered species in the Pacific Pocket Mouse.

If approved, an enclosure would be installed. The location of the restoration site would not interfere with public access to the preserve or trails.

Another agenda item asks the council to consider permanently converting a tennis court at Alta Laguna Park into a pickleball court and providing temporary pickleball courts on a second tennis court at the park.

There would be $17,000 taken from the Park in Lieu fund to cover conversion costs if the item is approved.

The conversion of a tennis court to a full-time pickleball court and the use of another for part-time pickleball play does not meet with the approval of at least one community tennis player.

“The tennis community is active and appreciative of the well-maintained courts at Alta Laguna,” Mary Dawe, who described herself as a resident of more than four decades, wrote in a public communication. “Although eight pickleball players can use a single tennis court, the same is not true for tennis. As it is, the noise from the one court utilized for pickleball has a significant, negative auditory impact on the adjacent courts.”

Dawe also alleged that the designated hours for pickleball play are not being followed.

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