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Entrance project taking shape

Laguna Beach city staff will seek direction from the council Tuesday regarding the scope of the Village Entrance Project and related issues.

In November, the council approved a proposed landscaped pathway that meanders through the Forest Avenue parking lot north to Tivoli Too. An earlier plan for a parking structure was dropped.

Questions remain, however, including what to do with the sewer digester building in the parking lot and whether to re-landscape the Laguna Canyon Road median sooner rather than later, Deputy City Manager Ben Siegel said.

The city estimates the project could cost $14.4 million.


Officials said the project could be funded without the city going into debt.

In the former proposal, the city had earmarked $13.3 million for a Village Entrance Project expected to cost $42 million (including the parking structure).

To pay for the $1.1 million difference, the council voted Jan. 21 for staff to transfer $700,000 from the parking fund, Siegel said.

Staff will seek the council’s direction on where the remaining $400,000 would come from, Siegel said.


Currently the Forest Avenue lot has 168 spots for vehicles. A modest gain in parking spaces — perhaps as many as 20 — might be eked out as the project takes shape, according to Siegel.

Festival of Arts officials are working on their own plans to spruce up their building’s facade and include landscaping for the property that sits across Laguna Canyon Road from the Forest lot.

The city would like to coordinate the Village Entrance design to align with the festival’s plans, Siegel said.

Improvements to the Laguna Canyon median are part of the city’s 10-year capital improvement plan, but city staff will ask the council whether it wants to move forward sooner with the upgrades.

Tuesday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. in council chambers, 505 Forest Ave.


Live-work project

The city will seek council approval to postpone a hearing on an appeal of a 30-unit artist live-work project in Laguna Canyon.


The hearing was tentatively set for Tuesday, but the city will request that the council postpone the matter until March 18 at the request of the applicant, Louis Longi, City Manager John Pietig confirmed in a voice mail message Thursday.

The Planning Commission voted 3 to 2 to approve the project Jan. 8.

Longi, a sculptor, architect Horst Noppenberger and Laguna Beach-based Dornin Investment Group want to build two buildings that would house artists — 11,000 and 7,000 square feet, respectively — on a 36,750-square-foot lot at 20412 and 20432 Laguna Canyon Road, near Canyon Animal Hospital, Laguna Koi Ponds and the Sun Valley neighborhood.

John Albritton, president of the Laguna Canyon Property Owners Assn., filed a written appeal with the city last week opposing the project.

In his claim, Albritton asserts that the project is not small and clashes with the area’s rural character.

The applicants twice revised plans to lessen mass and scale after hearing from residents and commissioners during public meetings.

The project, as proposed, complies with zoning and development standards — the property is zoned light industrial — and satisfies requirements of the Laguna Canyon Annexation Area Specific Plan, according to a city staff report for the Jan. 8 Planning Commission meeting.