Letter to the Community: Laguna Gears Up for Summer

Mayor Bob Whalen

Dear Laguna Beach Community, 

As we head into Memorial Day weekend, the summer season is upon us (the sun will come out soon!), and the crowds will follow. The city is gearing up for summer with enhanced services and new staff members to help navigate our busiest time of year. Our marine safety, public works, fire and police departments are all turning it up a notch to make sure that the city is safe and clean. Let me give you a rundown of our plans. 

In March, the city took over operations at all South Laguna Beaches from the County of Orange. Since that time, city staff has been recruiting, training and procuring equipment to provide all services to South Laguna Beaches. The fourth seasonal ocean lifeguard academy will be finished this weekend. At the end of the academy, we will meet the hiring goal for the summer. Out of an abundance of caution, marine safety will be running a fifth academy in June to make sure we are fully staffed throughout the summer. Our lifeguard staff is ready and trained to provide ocean and aquatic rescue, emergency medical response, accident prevention, protection of marine resources and ordinance enforcement to keep the public safe at all Laguna beaches this summer. 

Starting this weekend through the end of September, Laguna Beach Public Works Department will be emptying public trash and recycling cans three times daily and providing four litter-picking crews every weekend (Fri-Sun). Starting June 1, public works will be doubling the number of contracted day porters serving the downtown/Main Beach/Heisler Park areas and doubling downtown sidewalk pressure washing program to four nights per week. Many of these service enhancements, including day porter services and security guards at Aliso Beach and other South Laguna beaches, are a priority for the City Council as part of Laguna’s resident-serving “Neighborhood & Environmental Protection Plan.” The plan is designed to mitigate visitor impacts to neighborhoods, enhance city services for residents and add environmental protection programs. 

Our in-house fire department ambulance service turns one this summer. I am pleased to report that the first year went smoothly, and the service received great reviews for responsiveness and quality. Three state-of-the-art ambulances include the highest level of medical equipment and ensure the best care to the community. Ambulance operators, who are also emergency medical technicians, work alongside the Laguna Beach Fire Department Paramedics on all medical 911 calls providing staffing and services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  

Our Police Department Neighborhood Enforcement Team (NET) has been operating for one year and is gearing up for summer to address crime and quality of life issues throughout our community, especially at our beaches and parks, most impacted by visitors. NET is staffed with a police corporal, a homeless liaison officer, four traffic police officers, parking services officers and park rangers. Currently, six park ranger positions are filled, and we hope to have a total of eight park rangers by summer. Park rangers will focus on education and enforcement at all parks and beaches and address quality of life issues in the neighborhoods. To further enhance public safety, the police department has started a new special enforcement team that will focus on narcotic and vice operations. 

As part of its ongoing efforts to manage traffic, the police department plans to promote a new traffic sergeant by Aug. 1 to oversee its team of traffic officers and will deploy ten traffic aides during the summer months to focus on traffic control in the downtown area during weekends and holidays. 

As the busy summer season approaches, I encourage all residents, employees, and visitors to take a car off our local roads using the city’s free transit services. Both the Laguna Beach Trolley and Laguna Local on-demand services will operate on an expanded summer schedule beginning June 30 through Labor Day. You can find more information, including schedules and routes, at lagunabeachcity.net/transit. Also, be sure to download the Laguna Beach Trolley app, which allows you to view real-time trolley arrival information. In addition, if you plan to visit Aliso Beach this summer, I’m pleased to report that resident shopper permits can now be used in both Aliso Beach parking lots year-round. 

I am very proud of our city team and thankful for everything they do to ensure we all enjoy a safe and happy summer. I hope to see you all out and about and wish you a safe start to another fantastic Laguna Beach summer! 

In Community Spirit, 

Bob Whalen, Mayor 

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  1. I’m left with the impression that City Council (majority) wants to get kudos for addressing problems which they are responsible for exacerbating. Instead of creating a comprehensive “visitor management plan” and focusing on slowing the increase in visitor numbers, they obviously have taken the approach of supporting each & every tactic by the business community to add “vibrancy” to the City and then attempting to guess what the fall-out will be in terms of damage to residents’ quality of life, and trying to staff-up to mitigate this. And of course, LB tax-payers (primarily property owners) are left paying the majority of the bill for this summer-long party.


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