Planners evaluating proposed city improvements

Barbara Diamond

City planners will try again on Wednesday to reconcile proposed

projects on Third Street with the city’s general plan.

“We asked (City Atty.) Phil Kohn for a letter that would justify our


ability to vote on the community center and the garage under the

community clinic, since they were not included in the implementation list

of the Downtown Specific Plan,” said Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson.

“We felt we needed more information before we could vote.”


State law requires the Planning Commission to review the list of

public works projects proposed for the coming fiscal year and determine

if the projects are consistent with the city’s general plan. The

commission could not make that finding at the May 29 meeting, but will

revisit the issue Wednesday.

The delay will not affect the passage of the city’s budget for the

2002-03 fiscal year.

At the last meeting, Public Works Director Steve May submitted a list


of 23 proposed projects for fiscal year 2002-03, with a total price tag

of $8.24 million.

The Third Street projects, which include $2 million for the

construction of a community center and $1 million for the expansion of a

proposed underground parking garage beneath the Laguna Beach Community

Clinic, accounted for 36% of the capital improvement program budget for

the coming year. Nineteen percent of the proposed budget was allocated to

citywide sewer relining and spot repairs.


“I think every spare penny we have should be spent on fixing up our

infrastructure that has been neglected for decades,” said Councilwoman

Cheryl Kinsman. “That is not just sewers, but projects such as the

corporation yard where our city employees work in deplorable conditions;

fire station 4 in South Laguna, which cannot hold a modern fire engine;

and the lifeguard headquarters on Main Beach that should be condemned for

the smell alone.

“We do not need a $75,000 study on city facilities to tell us this,”

Kinsman added, referring to a study of city facilities included in the

capital improvement projects proposed for 2002-03.

No money was allocated for the renovation of the Corporation Yard /

Village Entrance projects, which were tied together in a city-sponsored

design contest. Four concepts were selected as finalists. No winner has

been chosen.

“The ludicrous notion that we can put the corporation yard on either

the bottom or the top level of a parking structure is mind boggling,”

Kinsman said.

She favors a parking structure at the Village Entrance and the

relocation of the corporation yard to ACT V.

“There just isn’t enough space for both,” Kinsman said. “And if we

aren’t going to move the corporation yard, we need to fix it.”

Councilwoman Toni Iseman said she thinks the combination of Village

Entrance and corporation yard is an opportunity for the city.

“We are so lucky that these projects came together,” Iseman said. “It

will result in a better project and space utilization.

In his summary of proposed capital improvements for the upcoming

fiscal year, May listed 10 major projects. The proposals include:

* Community Center construction $2,000.000

* Community Clinic Parking Garage Expansion $1,000,000

* Citywide sewer relining and spot repairs $1,600,000

* Laguna Canyon Channel sewer modifications $750,000

* Laguna Canyon Channel Construction $300,000

* Bluebird Park and restroom renovation $900,000

* Alta Vista, Terry Road, Hinkle Place,

* Alexander Road resurfacing $690,000

Money for the sewer and channel projects would come out of the city’s

sewer fund. The $1.6 million sewer relining project money includes a

federal Environmental Protection Agency grant, matched by city funds.

Road resurfacing would be paid from the gas tax fund.

Payment for all the other projects listed by May as “major” would come

out of the city’s general fund, with a $500,000 infusions each from the

city’s Public Employees Retirement System and the parking fund for the

community center construction; a $1-million transfer from the parking

fund for the clinic garage expansion; and $300,000 from the state park

bond and the city’s park-in-lieu fund for Bluebird Park.

A summary of the proposed capital improvement projects is included in

the proposed city budget, which is available on the city’s web site at

o7 www.lagunabeachcity.netf7 or at City Hall.

The City Council is expected to approve the budget at the conclusion

of a public hearing June 18.

* BARBARA DIAMOND is a reporter for the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot.

She may be reached at 494-4321.