Police reach memorial funding goal

The Laguna Beach Police Employees Assn. has raised enough money to design and build a public memorial dedicated to two fallen police officers.

Police Det. Larry Bammer, association president, announced at Tuesday's City Council meeting that the group had actually exceeded its fundraising goal.

The association raised $60,000 — $15,000 more than its goal – to complement the city's $10,000 contribution toward a memorial not to exceed $70,000. The council unanimously approved the $10,000 expenditure along with competition guidelines.

The association will work with the city Arts Commission on a design contest for a free-standing sculpture and seating where a planter currently sits near the Police Department entrance at 505 Forest Ave.

The memorial will be dedicated to officers Gordon French and Jon Coutchie, both of whom died on duty — in 1953 and 2013, respectively.

Laguna Beach artists will submit applications noting their related experience, and the commission will select up to three finalists, a city staff report said.

Each finalist will be awarded $300 to meet with a commission subcommittee and develop designs. Finalists will present their designs to the commission, which, along with the association, will recommend a project to the council.

The hope is to complete the installation by Sept. 1, the first anniversary of Coutchie's death.

Applications must be submitted by 5 p.m. March 7 at http://www.lagunabeachcity.slideroom.com.


Rock'n Fish requests denied

A downtown restaurant cannot extend its hours for live, amplified music and dancing and must close its windows and doors when the tunes are playing.

The Laguna Beach City Council voted unanimously to uphold a Planning Commission decision to deny the changes requested by Rock'n Fish, 422 S. Coast Hwy.

Restaurant management wanted to extend the hours from midnight to 1 a.m. Sundays through Wednesdays and from midnight to 1:30 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, according to a city staff report.

Rock'n Fish also asked to eliminate a requirement that it keep its upper-level doors and windows closed when amplified music is playing.

The Planning Commission in December denied those two requests because Rock'n Fish did not provide a noise analysis. The commission, according to a staff report, could not determine whether music or noise would have adversely affected neighbors.

Commissioners did, however, agree to a request to relocate a dance floor to a more centralized area between the restaurant's bar and an existing seating area.

Police said they have not had any issues with the restaurant, though the department reported numerous noise complaints when the Laguna Beach Brewing Co. occupied the space.

Sam Goldstein, who owns the building, said Rock'n Fish management is trying to create nightlife downtown.

"We've had music in the same spot for three years, all amplified, and had no complaints," Goldstein said. "The windows and doors have been open since day one. Why are we all of a sudden having to deal with restrictions?"

Councilman Kelly Boyd said he didn't see the benefit in Rock'n Fish extending its hours.

"I think you're pushing the envelope, encouraging people to drink later at night," said Boyd, who used to own the Marine Room on Ocean Avenue. "If windows create a problem, I would say leave them open until the band plays, then close them."

Citing issues related to patrons leaving Mozambique, also on South Coast Highway, Councilwoman Toni Iseman said the affect on surrounding neighbors may be felt even after the music stops.

"The issue is not about the music," Iseman said. "I walked outside [of Mozambique] and heard nothing. The problem was people who left the restaurant after listening to loud music. Your personal amplifier and tone of voice goes up."


Live-work vote waits on Coastal Commission

In other business, the council unanimously voted to postpone hearing an appeal related to a 30-unit project that would create live-work spaces for artists in Laguna Canyon.

Council members delayed the vote until after the California Coastal Commission rules on changes it requested that the city make to the ordinance that allows the live-work residences.

Coastal commissioners could take up the matter as early as its March 12-14 meeting in Long Beach.

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