City Council Meeting Wrap-Up

The following is from the May 1 City Council meeting:


Extraordinary Business

Mayor Jane Egly presented a proclamation to David Horne's service to the city as long-time chair of the Laguna Coast Fire Safe Council and procurer of grants to fund programs that help protect the city from fire.

"I would like to give you a fire engine, but I will give you a proclamation instead," Egly said.

The proclamation extolled Horne's efforts that helped fund the Red Flag Patrol and Fire Alert Flag Program, which provide "extra eyes" to the fire professionals during Red Flag conditions and alerts passing motorists via the flags.

Funding also was provided for the "chipping" program to assist in the removal of excess residential vegetation, the Water Wise and Fire Safe Garden at the Laguna Beach County Water District offices on Third Street and the Wildland Urban Interface Watchers, who monitor the solar-powered, computer-linked cameras strategically placed in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.

"I am stunned," said Horne, who recently retired as chair of the Fire Safe Council. "I didn't think anyone noticed.

"I was here tonight to introduce my replacement, Dennis Grzeskowiak, who applied for the PTC and luckily you didn't appoint him."

Horne, an academic, said he gave himself the title of chair emeritus.

"He's got a proclamation and I am feeling inadequate," Grzeskowiak said.


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.

• Lesley Domiano announced that 450 swabs were gathered in Laguna Beach in response to her plea for bone marrow donors for herself and others in need of a transplant. Donate Life personnel said that 10 to 30 prospective donors generally sign up in a drive.

Domiano expressed her thanks to the prospective donors 16 and older to 60 or younger, who signed up in the three drives organized in Laguna.

"I am so lucky to be part of this community," said Domiano, although no match was found for her in the drives.

•Eli Grossman, who has filed claims against the city, continued his verbal attack on the Laguna Beach Police Department, city staff, the city attorney and the City Council.

•Bruce Hopping asked residents to vote for Verna Rollinger and Lisette Chel in the November election.

•Tom Cataldo, who described himself as founder and unpaid CEO of the Better Vision for Children Foundation said he is trying to find a city to help prevent blindness by testing children at a very early age.

•Mike Beanan thanked the council and the community for supporting the third annual Kelpfest, and presented the council with artist-designed T-shirts that he displayed, along with posters for the event.

"We are trying to organize 'plein mer' art by artists who are passionate about the ocean," said Beanan, who was using a play on the plein air art that put Laguna on the cultural map.

Beanan said the kelp forest is important for survival as kelp probably produces more oxygen than any other plant.

Visit to view pictures of this year's event as well as to order memorabilia.

•Robert Ross expressed concern over the possibility that the Coastal Commission thought it had authority to cause residents to remove additions that may have been added legally years ago, but do not conform to current Municipal Code regulations.

He also said some homeowners are encroaching illegally into city rights of way, narrowing streets and allowing homeowners to use property on which they were not paying taxes.

•Ann Christoph thanked the Fire Department for participating in the Community Garden event the previous Sunday. Retired Capt. Eugene D'Isabella drove the city's venerated Seagraves pumper to the event and children had a wonderful time checking out the firefighters' equipment and the truck.

Christoph plugged D'Isabella's crusade to find dedicated housing for the Seagrave.


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 Manager John Pietig announced that the Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2012-2013 is available and will be discussed at the budget workshop at 3 p.m. Tuesday, prior to the regularly scheduled council meeting.

*Councilwoman Toni Iseman congratulated the Laguna Beach Sister Cities Assn., of which she is a founding member, for the event held at Sandra Jones Campbell's studio.

She also attended the Boys and Girls Club breakfast, the Orange County League of Cities meeting where a legislative analyst from Sacramento spoke about California's financial position, the Historic Society presentation on Pancho Barnes and the No Square Theatre's production of "Blue Skies," featuring Irving Berlin's music.

Iseman reported that the Beautification Committee has specific ideas on how to fluff up the town.

•Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson announced many events will celebrate Laguna history in May, officially the city's Heritage Month, which started with the kickoff at Jon Madison's Madison Square Garden Cafe.

•Mayor Pro Tem Rollinger reported that she attended most of the same events as Iseman, as well as the Kelpfest and the first annual Earth Day Festival, Grapes for Grads that raises money for scholarships for high school graduates and Laguna College of Art & Design students, the Environmental/Sustainability Committee's second meeting and she met with LCAD President Jonathan Burke.

Rollinger also attended a five-hour Nature Reserve of Orange County planning session about what members hope to accomplish. The group uses mitigation money to restore open spaces all over Orange County, she said.

•Egly reported that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had replied to the council's letter of concern regarding San Onofre. Their response is posted on the city's website and indicates that the NRC has a plan for the spent fuel and feels that the situation is not as dangerous as people think, Egly said.

She announced with pride that Smithsonian Institute named Laguna Beach as one of the top 20 cities in the United States with a population of 25,000 or under.

Egly called attention to the city's brochure regarding changes in lawn watering regulations, but shushed any announcement as premature that the city had won the Mayor's Challenge for reduction of water usage in cities across the country.


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:

•Interviews of applicants and appointments of four members of the Disaster Preparedness Committee to be held at the June 19 council meeting for terms ending June 30, 2014.

Applications must be submitted to the city clerk by 5 p.m., June 12.

•Resolution ratifying the Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the Laguna Beach Marine Safety Assn.

The MOU extends the current MOU through June 30, 2013.

•A $31,545-per-year contract with Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co. LLP for audit services through June 30, 2014, with the option of auditing the city's financial statements for each of the two subsequent fiscal years.

The company was recommended by a committee that included Treasurer Laura Parisi, Director of Finance and IT Gavin Curran, Assistant City Manager Christa Johnson, and Finance Officer Nancy Pauley, who reviewed proposals submitted by four qualifying firms.

The company replaces Mayer Hoffman, McCann P.C., which audited the city's financial statements for 13 years. The contract expired at the completion of the 2010-2011 audit.

"Thirteen years is a long enough time that a fresh look at the books was a good idea," Curran said.

•Interviews of applicants and the appointment of one resident to the Recreation Committee at the June 5 council meeting for a term ending Feb.28, 2014.

Applications must be submitted to the city clerk by 5 p.m., May 29.

•Appropriation of $1 million from the un-appropriated Street Lighting Fund balance for the purchase of Public Utility Commission Rule 20A credits from other cities.

The credits, which cost 50 cents per $1 of credit, will be added to the city's allotment to help fund undergrounding of utilities in Laguna Canyon, considered to be a protective measure against down poles that could start fires or block egress or exits during an emergency.


Regular Order of Business

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

Creek erosion protection meeting, 5-0

The City Council approved a staff meeting with the public to scope alternatives to protect against the erosion of Laguna Canyon Creek at the Animal Shelter and begin the required California Environmental Quality Act process.

Staff presented four preliminary proposals for council to evaluate.

"We are looking for feedback from the council," said Public Works Director Steve May.

All five council members turned thumbs up for Proposal No. 2. Two council members said Proposal No. 1 had merit. Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson was the only one who looked favorably on Proposal No. 4. No one liked No. 3.

The proposals are posted on the city's website,

Staff will return to council in September with recommendations for a project, a budget and projected schedule.

Modifications to TUP rules, 5-0

The council approved California Coastal Commission required modifications to the city zoning ordinance and an amendment to the Local Coastal Program related to temporary use permits.

"This came out of the Business Task Force to make it easier for businesses to get over-the-counter TUP approval," said Pearson, who co-chaired task force.

The council also adopted a resolution requesting the commission to certify Local Coastal Program Implementation Plan amendment 2012-5.

Civic Arts District expansion, 5-0

City staff will prepare a report to the council on a proposal to amend the Downtown Specific Plan to include ACT V and the Laguna College of Art & Design in the Civic Arts District.

The expansion on the northwestern side of Laguna Canyon Road was one of the priority projects confirmed at the Feb. 28 council meeting.

"We adopted the Civic Arts District over 10 years ago and one of the things we wanted to do but couldn't was include the college," said Pearson.

At that time, the city did not own the land on which the college and parking lot are located. The area was subsequently annexed, making the expansion possible.


Closed Session

Conference with legal counsel on anticipated litigation, including the operation of the Alternate Sleeping Location and whether to initiate litigation on hedge height claim enforcement

Conference with real property negotiators on the price and terms of agreement for the lease of the Irvine Bowl Park, most often referred to as the Festival of Arts Grounds, and for the lease of the Laguna Playhouse

Rollinger, Boyd and Pietig are negotiating on behalf of the city.

Any action taken by the council in closed session must be reported publicly. None was announced.

—Compiled by Barbara Diamond from information provided by the City Clerk's Office

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