City Council Meeting Wrap-Up

The following is from the Laguna Beach City Council meeting of Sept. 21.

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Great Park acquisition supported

The council voted unanimously to send letters to the Federal Aviation Administration and Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein supporting Irvine's acquisition of 1,000 acres of open space north of the Great Park for a wildlife refuge.

"We are trying to preserve habitat," said Laguna Greenbelt Inc. President Elisabeth Brown, who requested the city's support for the acquisition.

The action was added to the agenda as an emergency item that came to the council's attention after the agenda was published.

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Parking Day report

Transition Laguna spokesman Les McClosey congratulated the participants in the PARKing Day event held on Sept. 17. He said the event, which is held in 21 countries on six continents, is designed to call attention to the consequences of a city being overwhelmed by automobiles.

Park-like or recreational settings occupied parking spaces along Forest Avenue throughout the day. Some of the participants were castigated by people who had difficulty in finding parking spaces.

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HIV/AIDS funds allocated

The council unanimously approved the recommendation of the HIV Advisory Committee to allocate direct services HIV/AIDS funds totaling $8,000 to: Laguna Beach Community Clinic — $5,000; Laguna Shanti — $2,000; and AIDS Services Foundation — $1,000.

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Loudspeakers code amplified

The council gave unanimous tentative approval to some changes in the wording of the section of city's municipal code related to loudspeakers as proposed by City Attorney Philip Kahn.

WHAT IT MEANS

If approved at the second reading the code would be amended to prohibit the use of loudspeakers from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. rather than 5 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Wording on the use of loudspeakers near hospitals, churches, schools, courthouses and City Hall was changed to read "Sound shall not be emitted in a manner that unreasonably disrupts, obstructs, impairs or interferes with the normal use and operation of such facilities for their intended use."

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Customer service enhancements

City staff presented 15 recommendations on ways to improve customer service in the Community Development Department at City Hall, 11 of them unanimously approved by the council .

Among the 11 approved:

•Turn no one away even if they come for assistance outside posted hours for service;

•Improve communication with applicants, including notifying all members of the applicant's team when plan checks are completed;

•Improve project management by helping the applicant's team resolve issues as they arise;

•Development of a one-page information/contact sheet, listing who the applicant spoke to, any specific staff determinations, contacts for additional information and to set up appointments;

•Customer service feedback, including call backs by department heads;

•Customer Service Improvement Team to be established, composed of the assistant city manager, community development director and representatives of each division in the community development department and appropriate personnel from the Fire Department and Public Works;

•Annual training for employees in customer service;

•Evaluations of employees' customer service, to be included in annual reviews;

•Coordinated project review that establishes times development staff would be available to meet with staff in other departments regarding potential projects or significant projects underway;

•Quarterly status reports on non-city projects for the city manager and the council; and

•Implementation of customer service goals and standards.

The council also directed staff to evaluate the different systems and costs for a modern computer system for the Community Development Department and its customers and to report back in November; evaluate options to improve signs in City Hall; develop options to reconfigure the City Hall lobby and find space for a receptionist; and prepare an ordinance for council consideration that would eliminate the requirement that revocable encroachment permits must be approved by the council prior to consideration by the Design Review Board.

WHAT IT MEANS

The Community Development Department has made improved customer service a high priority, but Pearson said creating a friendlier City Hall starts with the council.

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TUP requests streamlined

The council approved 5-0 a Business Improvement Task Force recommendation to streamline the approval process for temporary use permits as a way to improve the city's business environment,

WHAT IT MEANS

If approved on the second reading, TUPs for minor, short-term events will be reviewed over the counter at City Hall and approved by the Community Development Department director.

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Plein air parking permits

The council unanimously approved issuing temporary parking permits for members of the Plein Air Painters Assn. during the group's annual invitational competition.

WHAT IT MEANS

The city manager was directed to make 55 parking permits available from Oct. 10 to 18 and to allot five meters on four days in October near the Laguna Art Museum.

—Compiled by Barbara Diamond

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