Laguna Beach breaks ground on cobblestones replacement

A construction crew used heavy equipment to move soil at the Cobblestones area of Main Beach Park on Tuesday. Photo by Daniel Langhorne

Laguna Beach demolished the area of Main Beach Park known as the Cobblestones after city staffers determined the surface was a public safety hazard and couldn’t wait until a planned renovation of the entire park next year.

The City Council voted 3-2, Councilmember George Weiss and Toni Iseman dissented, to approve an emergency contract with Horizons Construction Co. for $153,355 on Tuesday. However, a construction crew was already at work with heavy equipment moving soil around the site by Tuesday morning.

This area is colored concrete that is stamped with a pattern, not individual cobblestones or pavers. The damaged concrete and underlying soil were hauled away for recycling, Public Works Director Mark McAvoy wrote in an email.

“The rate of deterioration over the last few months was substantial and in some places, it was down to basically gravel,” McAvoy said.

Laguna Beach landscape architect Bob Borthwick said it was disappointing to learn that city staffers didn’t move forward with a permeable paver surface instead of stamped concrete, which has fallen out of fashion in recent decades due to maintenance headaches and environmental concerns.

It was also important for Public Works to complete the project as quickly as possible because the Cobblestones is used as a turnaround and loading area for emergency vehicles, McAvoy said.

“That was one of the other issues with closing it for the summer. I don’t recommend that from a safety perspective. It is a useful area,” McAvoy said.

A change in the surface material would have triggered a design review process that would have prevented the Cobblestones from being used for the City’s 95th-anniversary celebration, Fourth of July, and other summer events, City Manager Shohreh Dupuis said.

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