By Marc Wiener, Community Development Director
This December marks my third anniversary with the City of Laguna Beach as your Community Development Director, and what an amazing journey it has been so far. We can all agree that Laguna Beach is a special place that must be cared for, and there is a strong sense of civic pride here. My primary role as Community Development Director is to help develop and implement Council policies that will protect and enhance the unique character of our City while also working to ensure a high quality of life for residents. I have enjoyed getting to know this community and continue to make friends along the way.
When I first arrived, there was a long list of projects and policies that needed attention. Three years later, I am happy to report that many of these have been completed or are well underway. Some of the highlights include adopting the Short-Term Lodging Ordinance, Downtown Specific Plan, and Historic Preservation Program, as well as updates to the Safety and Housing Elements of the City’s General Plan. Additionally, we have been successful in fostering a better relationship with the California Coastal Commission and, as a result, have made progress on several long-standing projects and issues.
Moving forward, we will be focusing on a comprehensive update to the Zoning Code. Our goal is to simplify the development regulations, making them both easier to implement and understand while ensuring that neighborhood character is maintained.
Behind the scenes, we have made positive operational changes to the department and are building a culture of teamwork and innovation to better serve you. This year the City Council approved several new positions in Community Development that, once hired, will help expedite project review times and improve customer service for folks at the counter. We also acquired a new permitting system, currently under development, that will allow customers to submit digital plans and applications online and receive real-time status updates. We recently implemented a new queuing system that allows the public to remotely get in line for counter service and receive text notifications when it is their turn. We also offer a development management team meeting allowing applicants to concurrently meet with multiple departments before submitting their applications. Finally, the Streamlining Ordinance will be going into effect by the end of this year, allowing for the approval of minor projects at the counter and, in some cases, help customers avoid the lengthy delay of a public hearing.
Improving customer service and operations is a continuous effort, and I am proud of the progress we have made so far and believe we are on the right track. I applaud our staff, who have been enthusiastic participants in these efforts, all while managing a heavy volume of projects and day-to-day issues. Our vision is to create a model modernized department in terms of customer service, efficiency, and use of technology. We met with a group of local architects on Nov. 2 to receive feedback on how to improve the process and formed a working group to continue the dialogue. Thankfully, we have a supportive City Council and City Manager to help make this vision a reality.
I am honored to serve you as Community Development Director of this amazing City and remain excited about our future.
In Community Spirit,
Marc Wiener, Community Development DirectorView Our User Comment Policy
He’s paid to sit in meetings? What has he really done that I couldn’t do? Just another bureaucrat feeding at the tax trough. Eliminate the department Peter Blake
Thank you, Marc and the entire city staff. You and our City Manager have been a breath of fresh air! Keep up the excellent work.
That’s a lot of progress, Marc. Well done and thanks for the update.