City Council Meeting Wrap-Up

The following is from the City Council meeting of Jan. 24.

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PUBLIC COMMUNICATIONS

The public is allowed to speak on any subject not on the agenda. Speakers generally are limited to three minutes, but the time can be adjusted by the council:

•Speaking on behalf of the Orange County Marine Protected Area Council, Laguna Ocean Foundation Chairwoman Louise Thornton announced that new regulatory signs are being posted, as well as new maps in harbors and at boat launching sites.

She said an environmental training workshop was held last year for various enforcement agencies, and others are planned.

Thornton distributed brochures developed in collaboration with the state Department of Fish and Game regarding Orange County's marine protected areas.

•Wanda Delgado expressed concerns about dangerous behavior by skateboarders on Skyline Drive. She asked the Council to do something to protect the children and noted that Laguna Beach was becoming a destination for an extreme sport.

Councilwoman Toni Iseman said that she would like to revisit the skateboarding issue to review incidents and enforcement of the approved regulations.

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COUNCIL AND STAFF CHAT

Council members and staff report on events they have attended, people with whom they have met and other items of public interest:

•Pietig clarified the funding for the Main Beach Lifeguard Headquarters project, which he said might have been misunderstood in a published account. Costs are relatively close to the estimate provided when the project was approved, he said.

•Councilman Kelly Boyd reiterated that trees, views and safety, as stated at the council retreat are his main goals this year.

Councilwoman Toni Iseman said that one of her priorities, also stated at the retreat, is timely code enforcement.

Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson said one of her biggest goals is to make the Village Entrance finally happen.

•Mayor Jane Egly reported attending the Orange County Mayors Breakfast and said there are plans to connect the open space on both sides of the 405 Freeway so that wildlife would be able to go back and forth.

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Creek erosion contract awarded, 5-0

The council awarded a $16,000 contact to RBF Consulting for the preparation of concept options for the Animal Shelter Creek Erosion Protection Project. Funding for the project was included in the transfer of the available balance on the Animal Shelter Renovation Project to the erosion project, estimated to be $200,000 after final payments are made to the renovation contractors.

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Utility undergrounding formation modifications, 5-0

Recommendations to update city policy on the formation of underground utility assessment districts:

•A petition signed by at least 60% of property owners within the proposed district boundaries.

•A deposit of $500 from each petitioner to be used toward start-up costs.

•A stipulation that the design review process will be completed before the engineer's report is presented to the City Council for approval.

•A stipulation that the sale of bonds will not be completed until all easements required by the utility companies have been signed and recorded, unless otherwise directed by the City Council at the time of district formation.

"The city has been burned," said South Laguna resident Richard Picheney, referring to a district that didn't get sufficient votes by property owners after the city had paid some upfront costs. "This is a great idea."

Village Laguna founder Arnold Hano didn't agree. He would prefer to see a citywide undergrounding project, exempting property owners who have already helped fund a district. Staff was directed to bring the revised policy for City Council's approval within three months.

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Citizen Survey distribution, 4-1; Rollinger opposed

The council approved the distribution of the 2012 Citizen Survey to assess the community's perception of customer service, accessibility of services, and the importance of developing the local economy. Results will be compared to a survey taken in 2007.

The survey is expected to take about four months to complete. Funding was included in the current budget.

Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger opposed the survey because she felt the results would not differ significantly from the 2007 survey and might be influenced by people feeling down.

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Countywide taxi regulations adopted, 5-0

The council adopted an ordinance that brings the city in line with the rest of the county on rules for taxis and cars for hire.

Taxis are vehicles that carry no more than eight people, excluding the driver.

This was the second reading, and the ordinance takes effect 30 days after the approval.

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Coastal Commission modifications to city documents approved, 5-0

The council approved the first reading amendments to the updated land use element and map and the zoning map incorporating modifications approved by the California Coastal Commission.

A second reading is required for passage.

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Project returned to board, 4-0; Iseman recused

The demolition of a South Laguna single-family home and detached two-car garage known as "Stonehenge," was remanded to the Design Review Board to consider a coastal development permit.

Iseman appealed the board's approval of the demolition. The board based its approval on reports by the applicant's consultant and the city's preservation consultants that the historic integrity of the structures had been irrevocably compromised and could find no reasonable alternative to demolition. The vote was 3-2.

South Laguna Civic Assn. opposed the demolition, as did the Heritage Committee, despite the opinions of the consultants.

Iseman was advised by legal counsel to recuse herself from the vote.

 

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NEXT MEETING

The council will hold its next scheduled meeting will be Feb. 7, beginning with a closed session at 5 p.m. The public meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave.

—Barbara Diamond

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