Laguna Beach to hold public workshop for Promenade, replacing outdoor dining decks

Community members dine on the outdoor decks at the Promenade on Forest in downtown Laguna Beach in June 2020.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Promenade on Forest started as a response to revitalize Laguna Beach’s downtown during the coronavirus pandemic, but with city officials since making a decision to make it a permanent fixture, the next step in the process is around the corner.

Community members are invited to an in-person public workshop to discuss concepts for making the Promenade permanent on Wednesday, May 17 at the Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Center, 380 3rd Street, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

A pedestrian plaza that offers outdoor dining, as well as opportunities to gather and shop downtown, the Promenade was introduced to the Laguna Beach community in June 2020. It has also been a home for musical performances.


An online survey asked community members what they would look for from the gathering space going forward. The upcoming workshop will allow the public to review the design consultant’s conceptual plans before they go to the Planning Commission.

At its meeting on May 2, the Laguna Beach City Council voted 4-1 to replace the existing outdoor decks at the Promenade. The city entered into an emergency contract with Laguna Construction for $260,000 to carry out the project deemed necessary because winter storms damaged the decks.

“We’ve tried to clear the standing water underneath the best we can, but that’s really taken its toll,” Jeremy Frimond, an assistant to the city manager, said. “That really happened with the succession of storms that we saw over the last several months. Really in the first part of winter, while the decks had seen a lot of traffic, they aged in dog years over the last several months.”

Councilman George Weiss, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said the outdoor dining decks represented a gift of public funds that benefited restaurants for the past three years.

Mayor Bob Whalen said he would advocate for “agreements in place with these restaurants to pay what equates to a market rate for this additional space,” likening the city to a landlord for the Promenade’s outdoor dining components. “That’s where I’m at on it.”

City Manager Shohreh Dupuis said that a fee program would be discussed as part of the city’s upcoming budget review.

“Staff is bringing you a fee program on June 13 as part of the budget adoption,” Dupuis told the council. “We already have looked at a couple of different ways to develop the fee program. We looked at multiple cities in California and what they’re charging — all the coastal cities, San Diego. We looked at fair market value on a lease.”