The following is from the April 17 meeting of the Laguna Beach City Council.

PUBLIC COMMENTBruce Hopping complained that the audience in the back of the Council chambers cannot hear testimony and council comments as well as the audience in the front rows. He said the loudspeakers should be rotated to improve the sound.


  • City Treasurer Laura Parisi announced that more than $60,000 had been raised by the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Laguna Beach, almost a week before the actual event which was held from 7 p.m., Friday to 7 p.m., Saturday at El Morro Elementary School.
  • Councilman Kelly Boyd announced the Third Annual Dave LaBohn Memorial Spring Classic Golf Tournament, to be held May 14. Proceeds benefit the Laguna Beach High School golf teams and the CSP Youth Shelter. For more information, call (949) 494-3027.
  • Mayor Toni Iseman voiced concerns about the inconsistent quality of the televised council meetings.


    Approved without comment:

  • EDITOR’S NOTE: Consent calendar items are approved in one motion unless a member of the council, staff or public “pull” the item., which then requires opening it to public comment and a separate vote.
  • General warrants totaling $40,000, disbursed March 30; general warrants totaling $1,944,249.44, disbursed April 4; and the March 29 payroll of $573,171.07.
  • Resolution extending the Bluebird Canyon Emergency Declaration, which is valid for only 21 days and must be renewed
  • Revocable license and encroachment permit for construction of a picket fence at 483 Aster St. in the unimproved public right-of-way.
  • Final parcel map approved for 382/384 Loma Terrace, the last step in a process that allows the sub-division of a 9,590-square-foot lot to create two residential condominium units.
  • Direction to staff to write a letter to Caltrans requesting the prohibition of U- and left turns for northbound traffic on South Coast Highway at Legion Street. The Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee unanimously recommended the action.
  • Pulled for discussion:

  • Rescission of a Council decision to uphold a Design Review Board denial of an application for modifications to a previous approval of a project at 867 South Coast Highway, approved unanimously.
  • The council’s denial was based on safety concerns about the proposed spa, later questioned by the applicant’s representative because the issue was not raised until after the public hearing was closed.

    Attorney Gene Gratz pulled the item to speak on his concerns about process.


    “The only possible recourse, once a decision is made, is the courts,” Gratz said. “I am greatly concerned about the procedure.”

    Kohn responded that the action resulted from a threat of litigation and the appellant agreed to the procedure.

    ASSISTED PROJECT REQUIREMENT 5-0The council unanimously approved a design review requirement for an onsite meeting between an applicant and a city planner before a formal application is submitted for staff-assisted projects.

    Design Review Task Force Vice-Chair Gene Gratz said staff is sometimes reluctant to tell an applicant “You’ve got to be kidding.”

    He would like to see that change.

    “Staff knows what will fly and what won’t,” Gratz said. “Their expertise can help the process move along more smoothly.”

    The issue was discussed at the joint meeting the council held with the Design Review Board, attended by task force members last month.

    Community Development Director John Montgrmery suggested the $500 fee for the pre-application meeting could be applied to the fees charged for staff-assisted projects if the project goes forward. If not, the applicant would lose the fee.


    HOMELESS FORUM 5-0The council approved a proposal to hold a Homeless Forum, hosted by the city’s Homeless Task Force or the Housing and Human Affairs Committee after the Festival Season.

    Committee Chair Michael Goselin wanted to hold the meeting sooner rather than later, but Councilman Kelly Boyd, who initiated the task force, was opposed.

    “I have no problem with this [forum] at a later date....but we need to get further along with the task force before we have a public forum,” Boyd said.

    The forum would be designed to educate the community homeless issues and to gather community input.

    “I want to get Newport Beach involved so when they drop off the homeless here, they also drop off a check,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Schneider, referring to reports that Newport Beach police address their city’s problem with the homeless by bringing them to Laguna.

    WEED WHACKS 4-0The council adopted the annual resolution authorizing the Fire Department to clear specified properties of weeds, rubbish and refuse unless cleared by the property owner.

    Costs of the clearing by the department are put on the owner’s property tax bill.

    Councilman Kelly Boyd recused himself because a property he owns was listed as being in need of clearing. Boyd insisted the listing was in error, but was convinced to step off the dais.


    INTERSECTION VISIBILITY 4-0The council directed the Public Works Department to clean up intersections where visibility is impeded by vegetation unless removed by June 5. A property owner’s request to have vegetation removed near his home was denied. Mayor Pro Tem Jane Egly recused herself because she owns property within 500 feet of the disputed vegetation.

    ALIEN INVASION 5-0The council directed staff to begin weeding out pampas grass and other non-native plants that are invading city properties.

    Funding will be included in the upcoming budget.

    A letter from Laguna Greenbelt Inc. President Elisabeth Brown addressing the subject was to be forwarded to the city’s Environmental Committee, which is to prepare an information and identification program on the invasive species for private property owners.