Homelessness, public safety, sidewalk vendor regulation and grant funding are on a packed agenda for the first regular meeting of Laguna Beach’s newly configured City Council.
Officials on Tuesday are expected to adopt a resolution reaffirming the city’s commitment to caring for people who are homeless and disabled and announcing a pilot daytime drop-in program at the Alternative Sleeping Location.
The resolution was mandated by last month’s legal settlement between the city and the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued on behalf of disabled homeless people. The settlement, which was approved by a federal judge, requires that the city improve conditions for people with disabilities at the ASL and explicitly support Orange County’s 10-year plan to end homelessness.
Councilmen Steve Dicterow and Peter Blake are calling for more police and marine safety presence at Main Beach and Heisler Park, where there is a lot of “nuisance and criminal activity,” according to a city staff report.
The proposal would open a new lifeguard tower at the south end and potentially the north end of Main Beach, add beach patrol officers and bring more community outreach officers and healthcare workers to the area. The program would cost $155,000 for the remaining six months of the fiscal year, according to the report.
“The overall goal of this increased presence is to create a positive and enjoyable environment for both residents and visitors where they feel safe and free from nuisance and crime-related activity,” read the staff report.
In July, the council authorized Laguna police to staff an information booth at Main Beach Park over the weekends, to handle public safety issues “and other nuisance activity, such as drinking and smoking.”
Also on the consent agenda is a resolution supporting a county ordinance to create a registry of addiction rehabilitation facilities. The registry ordinance, which the Board of Supervisors adopted in October, would require all treatment and recovery centers, including sober homes, to disclose certain business information. The purpose of the registry, according to the resolution, is to hold the facilities accountable.
The city must consider new regulations on street vending, following a recent change in state law that goes into effect Jan. 1, legalizing such businesses. Laguna requires a permit for anyone wanting to operate a booth within 300 feet of the entrance to the Irvine Bowl, home of the Pageant of the Masters.
The city is proposing an urgency ordinance, which requires at least four votes, to define the new regulations. The ordinance would require vendors to apply for a permit and limit their business hours to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It would also prohibit sidewalk vending in residential areas and “roaming sidewalk vending activity” overnight and all day Sundays and holidays.
There are limitations on space too. Under the proposed ordinance, vendors must be farther than 50 feet apart from each other on a sidewalk, at least 100 feet away from a school, place of worship or childcare facility, and 200 feet from a farmers’ market or swap meet. They must also be at least 25 feet from fire hydrants, bus zones, ATMs, city art displays and other public objects.
“The city needs to pass an ordinance to retain as much control as possible to protect the community’s quality of life,” according to the staff report.
In the wake of California’s deadliest fire season, Mayor Bob Whalen wants to form a new subcommittee on wildfire mitigation and fire safety. Whalen’s proposed subcommittee would research Laguna’s current preparedness for wildfires and develop an action plan to reduce the risk.
On Nov. 6, voters rejected ballot Measure P, which proposed a 1% sales tax increase to pay for under-grounding utility lines to reduce fire hazards.
The council is expected to give $633,500 to the Laguna Playhouse to improve the Moulton Theatre, following a meeting of the cultural grant committee last month. Since 2016, the council has awarded matching funds to the Laguna Playhouse and Laguna Art Museum through the city’s Cultural Facilities Matching Grant Program.