For the second time this month, Mayor Kelly Boyd voiced his belief that the city’s largest pending capital improvement project, the estimated $50 million village entrance parking structure and strip park, should not go forward without voter approval.
Boyd’s statement came as part of a “State of the City” address Tuesday, where he, City Manager John Pietig and several department heads described various city initiatives during a luncheon hosted by the Chamber of Commerce.
Ranging from aesthetic makeovers to reconceived regulations and new initiatives, the officials reported on projects currently underway. And all take the stage at a time when Pietig cautioned that city expenses may begin to exceed revenues within the next three years if steps are not taken.
About $5 million was allocated in the recently proposed two-year budget for the long-sought entrance project at the corner of Forest Avenue and Laguna Canyon Road. Promoters expect to finance the bulk of the project through a bond.
The subcommittee comprised of council member Bob Whalen and Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson will update the Council on the status of the project at a special meeting on June 11.
Addressing another hot-button initiative, Boyd commented on “misconceptions” by a number of people who are calling a view equity committee’s effort to draft a new ordinance unbalanced. He encouraged skeptics to show up at the next meetings to see for themselves and to participate in the process.
Boyd said police will receive $30,000 in funding that earlier this year was originally earmarked to expand operation of the canyon homeless shelter in daytime throughout the 10-week festival season. After investigating further, it was determined that the money would be better spent funding a greater police presence downtown in the summer, he said.
Public Works Director Steve May earned the loudest applause by describing a grant proposal to increase the summer trolley fleet and also fund the trolleys for operation on weekends during non-summer months. Undergrounding of utility poles along Laguna Canyon Road should occur in about two years, he said.
Marine Safety Chief Kevin Snow’s presentation included photos of the construction at the new lifeguard headquarters on Main Beach, which he says is on schedule for completion early in 2014.
His was not the only visual presentation. Adding a bit of comic relief, organizers presented a video montage of various city projects in the works. An incognito Boyd (wearing sunglasses) popped up in unlikely places throughout — emerging from a construction site port-o-potty or jumping out from behind a parking meter, a “Where’s Waldo” like crowd pleaser that set an upbeat tone.
Other speakers described progress on various initiatives: a parking management plan that will be presented to the City Council on June 4; an analysis of ways to improve access for pedestrians and bikers along Laguna Canyon Road; the search to fund a money-losing transit system; an update of the city’s mobility plan; and revisions to a landscape and scenic highways element with suggested procedures for tree maintenance, water conservation, fire safety, view preservation, heritage trees, etc. Once updated and approved, the latter will be incorporated into the city’s general plan, according to Ann Larson, the planning manager for community development, who urged residents to look for public workshops in the fall.
Police Captain Jason Kravetz and Boyd both touted the addition of a foot patrol downtown. Officer Zach Martinez walks the beat four days a week, said Kravetz, who also highlighted other department outreach efforts.