City Council Meeting Wrap-Up

The following is from the Laguna Beach City Council meeting of Feb. 28.

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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.

•Gayle Waite, Laguna Beach Woman's Club president, presented a $5,000 check to Community Clinic Medical Director Dr. Thomas Bent. The money was raised at a fundraiser in honor of 2011 Mayor Toni Iseman.

•Bruce Hopping commented that he had been told that Laguna Beach issued more traffic tickets than any other city. He felt that was an abuse of power and suggested that the city should instead focus on the arts festivals for revenue.

• Complete Streets Task Force chairman Chris Prelitz said the group envisions a healthy, prosperous community with safe, friendly, beautiful streets, walkways and bikeways that meet the needs of all residents and visitors. He thanked the council for adding the bike paths and complete streets to its priority list.

•Billy Fried gave a slide presentation showing the bike map he had introduced to the council at the Feb. 7 meeting. He urged the council to add bike racks to its priority project list and showed pictures of artistically designed bike racks in other cities. Max Isles, Charles Alban and Monica Finkelstein echoed Fried's comments.

•Gaby Sunhart suggested planting vegetables rather than grass in front of City Hall.

•Robert Ross reiterated his question about the amount the city had paid in attorneys' fees related to the recent bond sale.

•Eli Grossman denounced the Police Department, the council and the city attorney.

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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.

•City Treasurer Laura Parisi reported that 1,229 property owners in nine of the 15 active assessment districts will have lower bond payments.

Seven districts were included in refinanced bonds, completed last week. Reassessment district 12-1 resulted in new bonds with lower interest rates that will lower the assessments for 723 parcel owners by an average of 17%. The total savings will be $877,000 over the remaining term of the bonds.

Bonds for District 95-1 will be paid in-full two years early. The district's 367 parcels are mostly in Arch Beach Heights. Assessments will be eliminated from tax bills.

Cerritos, Dunning, Terrace Way and Rim Rock are in District 06-1 where there was a construction surplus. The entire 22% savings from the original project is being returned to the 139 district parcel owners.

Parisi said the $595,000 payoffs will reduce the outstanding debt and lower future assessments to the 104 members of the district that opted to have their assessment financed by municipal bonds.

The 35 parcel owners who paid their assessments in advance of bonding, will receive checks for their portion of the surplus refund.

•Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson congratulated South Coast Water District for applying for a grant for a desalinization project at Aliso Creek on a 4-1 vote.

Mayor Jane Egly opined that strong support from the city in favor of cleaning up Aliso Creek helped to influence the vote.

•Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger attended a Laguna Beach County Water District conference on the future of water supplies, which are dwindling, and costs, which are rising. New sources of water are needed and locals should do a better job of using what is available, she said.

•Egly reported that she, Councilman Kelly Boyd and City Manager John Pietig met with Mission Hospital officials, who believe they will be able to make all buildings compliant with state seismic requirements by 2015, which will extend their useful life to 2030.

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CONSENT CALENDAR

Consent calendar items are approved unanimously in one motion unless a member of the City Council, staff or public "pulls" the item, which then requires opening it for public comment and a separate vote.

Among the items approved unanimously:

•Denial of a $5-million claim filed on behalf of David Pahnos and Barry Stephens against the city for malicious prosecution, abuse of process and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The claim states the city has repeatedly persecuted the claimants, including criminal charges that were already dismissed by order of the court.

•Approval of the mayor's participation on the Foundation for the Great Park's Advisory Council and the addition of the position to the list of organizations and committees on which the council is represented

•Award of a $9,000 contract to Sasaki Transportation Services for preparation of an application for a State's Safe Routes to School grant for construction of a sidewalk along Temple Hills Drive from Dunning Drive to Rim Rock Canyon Road.

•Authorization of a bronze wall sculpture titled "Pacific Patinas" by artist Terry Thornsley to satisfy the Art in Public Places requirement for a development at 1191 N. Coast Hwy.

•Purchase of eight vehicles from Rancho Santa Margarita Ford for a total price of $201,671.

•A contract not to exceed $100,000 to RBF Consulting for the preparation of a Downtown and Laguna Canyon Road Parking Management Plan.

Pulled for discussion:

•Creation of a Community Emergency Response Team, ongoing training, acceptance of donations and grants to support future material costs and the appropriation of $2,500 from the General Fund if outside funding comes up short. Approved 5-0.

•Approval of the temporary installation of yarn artwork on a tree at Main Beach Park from June 1 through July 31. Approved 4-0; Boyd recused.

•Approval of contracts for the Glenneyre Street Parking Structure rehabilitation: $427,650 with Fibrwrap for construction; $25,000 with BFL Owen & Associates for construction engineering and surveying services; and a $55,000 contingency fund for incidental expenditures and signage to indicate the price of a ticket for parking over a striped parking space.

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REGULAR ORDER OF BUSINESS

Items require separate discussion and citizen input, if desired, before the council makes a determination.

Allview Terrace and Allview Place undergrounding approved, 5-0

The council approved resolutions and appropriations for Underground Utility Assessment District 09-2.

Recreation and PTC committee members appointed, 5-0

The council appointed Curtis Alderson, Rebecca Meekma and Aaron Talarico to the Recreation Committee and Neil Katz and Michael Schneider to the Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee. All terms end Feb. 28, 2014.

Appointments for two additional members to the PTC will be held April 3 to maintain the nine-member roster.

Flood mitigation recommendations report

Public Works provided a PowerPoint presentation on the installation and location of rain gauges, video cameras and moisture sensors. The next report is due in June. No vote was necessary.

Massage regulations amended, 5-0

The council voted to amend the municipal code related to massages and massage establishments to bring them in line with state regulations.

State law established voluntary certification for the massage therapy profession, which cities are required to oversee and regulate the therapy similar to "professional and personal service" uses.

Disposable plastic bag ban, 5-0

The council gave final approval to a ban on the use by retail establishments of single-use, plastic carryout bags at point-of-sale, effective Jan. 1, 2013.

Sit-down and take-out restaurants were exempted to avoid litigation.

Staff was directed to bring back a report at the end of October on the status of restaurants and potential litigation for possible future action by the council.

CalPERS contract amended, 5-0

The council approved an amendment to its contract with the California Public Employees Retirement System board of administration for the Laguna Beach police employee retirement plan.

The amendment will save the city about $65,000 in the next fiscal year and $130,000 annually after that, Pietig said when the memo of understanding was announced in January.

Nuisance code amended, 4-1

The council gave preliminary approval to proposed changes to the municipal code ordinance stipulating the conditions that constitute a public nuisance and the abatement process.

The goal is to strengthen the integrity and effectiveness of the process, according to Community Development Director John Montgomery.

Staff believes that an update, consolidation and clarification of the ordinance will do that.

The ordination was adopted in 1953 and updated only once, in 1973.

Rollinger voted against the proposal because appeals will be heard by a staff member, not the council.

Pietig's contract extended and amended, 3-2

The city manager's contract was extended from Dec. 13, 2013, to Dec 13, 2015.

Amendments to the contract included Pietig's voluntary proposal to contribute to the costs of his retirement benefits, starting Jan. 6, 2013.

Pietig will contribute the greatest amount among what has been agreed to by the Police Employees Assn., the amount agreed on by the Municipal Employees Assn. or an amount determined for city management employees.

Rollinger and Iseman gave no reason for their opposition to the amendment.

Legislative Consultant hired, 5-0

The council approved a contract not to exceed $60,000 a year with the Ferguson Group to represent the city at the state and federal level and for grant services.

Input on which local projects the consultant should focus will be provided to the council sub-committee of Egly and Iseman.

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PUBLIC HEARINGS

Parking reduction approved, 5-0

Goko Café's request to increase the number of seats in the restaurant, provide outdoor seating, serve wine and beer and get a reduction in parking requirements was approved.

—Barbara Diamond

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