Guest Column: Chamber News & Updates

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By J.J. Ballestros

The Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual State of the City event on May 2—it was our largest turnout in history. Mayor Bob Whalen shared his desire for elevating the quality of debate in our community. City updates were also given by Community Development Director Greg Pfost, Public Works Director Shohreh Dupuis, and Police Chief Laura Farinella.

I was able to update the audience on the Chamber’s recent accomplishments, current projects, and growth pattern. It was an enjoyable afternoon of learning about Laguna Beach business and community. Thank you to all who attended.

One significant recent accomplishment for the Chamber was helping to get changes in the city’s parking code passed. The adopted changes will help businesses by giving them more flexibility to try innovative strategies without the need to increase parking. The changes include: increased credits (from three to five) for outdoor dining, the ability to sublease space without the need for more parking, the ability to use off-site valet lots, and allowing the purchase of in lieu spaces citywide. In addition, in lieu payments can be charged annually instead of a lump sum, and the money can be designated to support our transit system.

We also had two ribbon cutting ceremonies this past month at Christina Wehbe Photography and McClain Cellars at the Hive. We are always excited to welcome new businesses to the Chamber. As a team, we continue to advocate for positive, thoughtful progress in our city.

Our July 1 golf tournament is almost sold out. We have a few foursomes left, so if you’re interested, contact the Chamber office to reserve your spot.

Next week is our June 11 Leadership Luncheon at Seven7Seven. The luncheon offers an opportunity to join like-minded professionals and network with some of the city’s best.

We are also excited to announce the Chamber will be teaming up with KX93.5 for The Taste of Laguna Food & Music Festival on Oct. 3 at the Festival of the Arts. Our collaboration will merge The Taste of Laguna with KX93.5’s holiday concert. The Taste will host over 30 restaurants and with four cover bands spanning the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. Early bird tickets are on sale now at ​​.

Please contact us with any feedback or suggestions. We appreciate everyone’s opinion, viewpoint and voice. As we grow, we can support more businesses and be a larger resource for our community.

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.

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