City Council Meeting Wrap-Up

Coastline Pilot

The following is from the Laguna Beach City Council meeting of May 4. Present: Councilwoman Verna Rollinger, Mayor Pro Tem Toni Iseman, Mayor Elizabeth Pearson. Absent: Council members Kelly Boyd and Jane Egly. City bonds upgradedCity Treasurer Parisi announced that the Moody's and Fitch recalibration of the municipal bond ratings in April was good news for Laguna. Last year, Standard and Poor's upgraded Laguna bonds to AAA.

Changes made by the rating agencies include a state of California upgrade that has contributed to a 26 basis point reduction in the interest rate paid on the state's general obligation bonds according to the Bond Buyer. Lower interest expense will assist the state in meeting its obligations without tapping into local funds, Parisi said.

Parisi thanked the City Council for assistance with the 2008 campaign requesting that the rating agencies evaluate the debt of municipal entities on the same basis as debt issued by industry, which has resulted in better ratings for municipal debt, she said.

McQuaid sculpture approvedThe council unanimously approved the installation of a glass sculpture and raised steel platform by artist Jason McQuaid at 883 S. Coast Hwy. to satisfy the Art in Public Places requirement, as recommended by the Arts Commission.

The sculpture, 10 feet by 2 feet, includes glass orbs housed within a one-half-inch tempered glass case, standing on a steel platform and surrounded by rocks. It will be internally lighted, which signs are not allowed to do.

Arts Manager Sian Poeschl said the commission did not discuss the issue of internal lighting.

"This is not a sign, it is art," Poeschl said.

The estimated value is $25,000.

Homeless meters OKdThe council approved unanimously the Installation of painted parking meters at the ACT V parking lot, Forest/Laguna Canyon parking lot, and the Broadway Bus Depot for contributions for services to Laguna's homeless population; and approval of the expenditure of $1,800 from the budget established for the Alternative Sleeping Location.

Variance approved for roadThe council reviewed and approved 3 to 0 a Design Review Board denial on April 6 of a project in Bluebird Canyon for a single-family residence, which included a variance for a driveway with a turnaround required by the fire department.

A decision was delayed for further staff evaluation of the possibilities of reducing the amount of hardscape.

After the review staff advised the council that the turnaround is the minimum necessary.

WHAT IT MEANSThe property owners will be allowed to build a 650-square-foot home on the 32,477-square-foot lot, which they once tried to dedicate to the city for open space. The offer was rejected.

The property owners then proposed building a private park, but were informed that the driveway could not be approved without a home on the lot, so they proposed building a 640-square-foot home.

The small size of the home had some board members and neighbors concerned that it was the size of a guest house, leaving room for a larger single-family home at a later date.

To forestall that, the council raised the size of the proposed home to 650 square feet, 10 square feet more than the maximum for a guest house.

Landslide fee waiver extendedThe council approved 3 to 0 a proposal to modify the fee waiver and guidelines for expediting the processing of redevelopment plans of Bluebird Canyon landslide victims. The waivers and expedited processing must be used only in the proper context and do not apply to any illegal construction.

Development has been hampered by an economic downturn that coincided with the completion of repairs to the landslide area and many of the property owners have been unable or unwilling to proceed with redevelopment in the current market.

WHAT IT MEANSProperty owners who lost their homes in the 2005 Bluebird Canyon landslide will be given an extra two years to process development plans for replacement homes up to 3,500 square feet without paying the usual fees.

Bike to Work Week proclaimedThe Orange County Transportation Authority asked the city to promote Bike to Work Week, Monday through Friday, to highlight the benefits of bicycle commuting, including better air quality, reduction in congestion, and good health and fitness for employees and residents.

WHAT IT MEANSThe City Council proclaimed Monday through Friday as Bike to Work Week in Laguna Beach to encourage people to ride bicycles to their places of employment instead of using vehicles.

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