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Update from the Chamber

By J.J. Ballestros

The two questions I get asked most often are “What does the Chamber do?” and “Why should I join?”

The simplest answer is the Chamber represents the interests of business to government. Last month, the City Council approved the Chamber’s request to reallocate the $25,000 granted to the Chamber for Community Assistance and use it to hire an Urban Economist Firm. The firm will provide new data and analysis on retail mix and an overview on our Conditional Use Permit process. It was a priority of the Chamber to use these city funds for this new data, which could also be used for the completion of the Downtown Specific Plan.

The other two major items the Chamber is working on are parking and maintenance ordinances. Reports will be provided as work progresses.

The Chamber also works to build a strong local economy by holding workshops, forums, and events like the Taste of Laguna, Hospitality Night, the State of the City luncheon, the Chamber Golf Tournament and the Chamber Night at the Pageant.

People join for various reasons. For some it is outreach and distribution. Others need assistance with the city on items such as permitting, CUP’s or other key issues. Many people want to learn from other community leaders and network at our events.

We are restarting our Ambassador Program, where people volunteer to help the Chamber with its events and programs. We want to recognize and thank all those people who have helped the Chamber in the past and who will continue to in 2019.

In January, we hired our new Executive Director Paula Arnold. She spent the last 10 years on the Board with the Boys & Girls Club and brings a business acumen, communication skill set and passion to succeed our community will come to appreciate.

We also added our 13th board member, Tyler Russell, from Laguna’s KX 93.5 FM. Tyler’s been a big supporter of business growth and is no stranger to nonprofit work. We welcome his energy, ideas and experience.

The Chamber will have important news on The Taste of Laguna and the Chamber Golf Tournament in the coming weeks. Here are the events coming in the next three months:

Meet the Media Chamber Breakfast Panel – March 19 – Seven7Seven – 7:30-9 a.m.

March Networking Event – March 21 – Laguna Beach Beer Company – 5:30-7:30 p.m.

State of the City Luncheon – May 2 – The Montage – 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

As a nonprofit, the Chamber’s main source of income is through its sponsorships, events and fundraisers. We appreciate everyone who supports the Chamber by becoming members, donating time and attending our events. Our board is intent on becoming a greater resource for all of our businesses in the near future.


J.J. Ballesteros is the president of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce. He and his wife Andrea Ballesteros are principles of the Ballesteros Group, a real estate team with Coldwell Banker Global Luxury. They live in Top of the World and have two boys, Cruz (8) and Christian (5).

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