Club could get use of Lang community center

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is one step closer toward using the Lang Park Community Center for one of its programs.

The Laguna Beach City Council voted 5 to 0 at its Tuesday meeting for City Manager John Pietig to submit a conditional use permit application for Planning Commission approval, schedule a public outreach meeting and prepare a draft lease agreement.

The club seeks exclusive use of the center's multipurpose room for The Laguna Club for Kids (TLC) program, which offers year-round after-school and summer activities for children ages 5 to 12, a city staff report said.

The TLC program at Bluebird Park (1479 Temple Terrace) has a waiting list of more than 20 children, so the Lang Park Community Center, at 21540 Wesley Drive, would accommodate additional demand, the report said.

Program hours would be 2:30 to 6 p.m. on weekdays during the school year and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer.

To accommodate its programming, the club would make physical improvements to the multipurpose room at its own expense, including installing a restroom not accessible to the public, the report said.

The city uses the multipurpose room and a gymnasium for community activities such as jazzercise, karate and art classes, so some of these existing programs would need to be relocated according to the report.

The programs could be moved to the Boys & Girls Club's main branch at 1085 Laguna Canyon Road. City staff has contacted members of affected groups and will maintain dialogue, the report said.

The Lang center is also home to Anneliese preschool, which leases an adjacent building and conference room from the city for its year-round school and child care programs.

City staff reached out to Anneliese staff at the outset to ensure that the club's programs would not create direct competition or limit the school's use of the community center, playground, or park.

Proposed rent would be $1 per year with the club responsible for all maintenance and utility costs associated with the premises, the report said.

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New fire safety ordinance to be drafted

The City Council voted 5 to 0 for the Laguna Beach Fire Department, the city's Disaster Preparedness Committee and City Atty. Phil Kohn to develop a new defensible space ordinance to address preexisting development.

Laguna's fire department defines defensible space as the required area between a structure and wildland area that — under normal conditions — creates a significant buffer to slow or halt the spread of wildfire to a structure, according to a city staff report.

The fire department has the ability to require that property owners establish and maintain defensible space around their structures, which applies to new developments in a high fire hazard severity zone and each remodel valued at more than 50% of the assessed value, the report said.

A majority of Laguna Beach is in a very high fire hazard severity zone, the report said.

The new ordinance could address defensible space for preexisting development, in which case several issues would need to be addressed including: enforcement and cost, likely changes to the look and feel of the city's landscaping and vegetation, and public opinion and concerns, the report said.

David Horne, chairman of the Greater Laguna Coast Fire Safe Council favors the work going forward to make the city more fire safe.

"I expect this to be a multi-year process," Horne told the council. "There is no quick answer. But if we can begin to make it safe down the road in 10 to 12 years, that's a major accomplishment."

Laguna Beach fire Chief Jeff LaTendresse reminded the audience that the department offers free home inspections for residents.

The council also voted 5 to 0 for the city to adopt the 2013 building and fire codes, though no new local amendments were part of the updated codes, according to a city staff report.

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