Sounding Off: No. 5 — upgrading public facilities

Editor's note: Laguna Beach City Manager Ken Frank is retiring in December after 30 years with the city. In this column, he shares what he sees as the "top 10" most significant accomplishments of the city administration during the past three decades.


No. 5 on the list of city accomplishments over the last 30 years is upgrading public facilities.

Thirty years ago, the city's infrastructure was poorly maintained. Streets had potholes. Handrails at beach stairways were rusted and the tread on those access ways was worn. Virtually no money had been spent for a decade to repair aging sewer lines. Parks were shabby. Flooding from rainstorms was common. To rectify these inadequacies, over the last three decades the City Council has focused on ameliorating city facilities.

Streets: In 2009, the city completed a 10-year program (which took about 12 years) to resurface every public street in town. This year, about 40% of the streets are being patched and sealed with a thin coat of asphalt; this slurry sealing helps retain flexibility to the asphalt and prolongs its useful life.

Storm Drains: In 1982, the city adopted an updated Master Plan of Drainage and embarked on an ambitious effort to construct new storm drains. New drainage facilities have been installed in the Downtown, Pearl Street drainage basin, Flamingo Road, Starlit Drive, Santa Ana Street, El Paseo, Canyon Acres, Park Avenue, Glenneyre Street, Vista Lane, Blumont Street, Ruby Street, Marine Drive, Ocean Way, Mar Vista, Cliff Drive, Heisler Park, St. Ann's, and South Laguna.

Parks: New, resident-serving parks have been dedicated including Moulton Meadows Park, Alta Laguna Park, and Lang Park. Funds are included in this year's adopted budget to refurbish these three facilities. Mini parks have been opened at Crescent Bay Point, at the top of the "L" Hill, and Browns' Park. Treasure Island Park rivals Heisler Park as a passive view park for walking and sightseeing. View platforms have been created at Thalia, Brooks, Oak and Monument Point. Bluebird Park was extensively refurbished. The High School swimming pool was rebuilt and enlarged. A view park in Arch Beach Heights is about to be dedicated.

Sidewalks: Under council direction to enhance pedestrian accessibility throughout Laguna, many new sidewalks have been constructed including those on Park Avenue, Wilson Street, North Coast Highway, South Coast Highway through the South Laguna business district, Legion Street and Diamond Street.

Sewers: After a decade of total neglect, in the early 1980s the city began to reconstruct sewer collection facilities. An early project was the total replacement of sewer mains in most of North Laguna. Since 2000, the city has spent roughly $18 million to repair and replace aging sewers.

Public Buildings: A state of the art Community/Senior Center has been opened on Third Street. The city's maintenance yard was relocated from the downtown to a modern facility on Laguna Canyon Road. City Hall was remodeled while maintaining its historic facade. In coming years, each of the four fire stations will be completely renovated.

Tot Lots: To meet current safety standards, the city has rebuilt tot lots at Riddle Field, Main Beach Park, Moulton Meadows Park, Bluebird Park, Alta Laguna Park, Lang Park and Village Green Park. Next year, the play equipment at Main Beach Park will be replaced again to maintain it in excellent condition.

Ken Frank is Laguna Beach city manager.

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