Opinion: Laguna Beach City Corner

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City Progress

By Bob Whalen

Dear Laguna Beach Community,

As your City Council, we strive to continually improve your quality of life here in Laguna Beach. Cleaner, safer neighborhoods, beaches and parks were made possible this summer through our new Neighborhood and Environmental Protection Plan. By increasing trash pick-up on our local streets, providing new signage and parking restrictions and enhancing Police and Marine Safety services, we were able to lessen the impact of visitors on our residents. To date, 17 of 22 programs outlined in the plan have been implemented and people are telling us that this program made a difference. Our Police Department also continues to ramp up efforts to reduce loud vehicle noise and has issued 2,608 citations this year for noise violations.

We have also made several enhancements in our Community Development Department intended to benefit residents including streamlining the approval process (which is still pending Coastal Commission certification) and allowing more flexibility in the creation of accessory dwelling units (ADUs). We hope that more ADUs will begin to ease our severe rental housing shortage and create housing for seniors, artists, and family members wishing to stay in Laguna. We have also made it possible to do more business with the Department online rather than in person and added a contract code enforcement officer to respond to illegal leaf blower, construction, and other nuisance type calls on the weekends.

Just a few weeks ago, the City Council extended our successful Outdoor Dining and Parklet Program for another two years, until January 2024 and with 37 restaurants participating, we will continue to enjoy many outdoor dining opportunities throughout the City. The centerpiece of the outdoor program is the Promenade on Forest created in June 2020 to assist local businesses affected by COVID-19 restrictions. With strong support from the community, the City Council initiated a process to develop plans to upgrade the Promenade with permanent improvements and we hope to begin construction in 2023.  To help residents travel to restaurants and other locations in the Downtown we recently launched our Laguna Beach Local on demand transportation program which has received great reviews in the early going.

While all these enhancements are something to be proud of, we realize that there is always more to be done and we want to hear from you with your ideas on how to improve the quality of life in our city. That’s why on Oct. 5, 2021, the City Council approved a comprehensive quality of life survey for businesses and residents and hired independent consultant, Polco, to develop the survey instrument.

The surveys have recently been mailed to randomly selected residents and businesses, and soon all residents will be able to complete the survey by visiting a link provided at lagunabeachcity.net. The survey includes questions about quality of life, important characteristics of the community, services provided by the City and priorities for the future. We ask you please take time to participate as we will use the information collected from the survey at the City Council Strategic Planning Session in February to help incorporate community feedback into our goals for the next five years.

Since starting her role in June, I have been impressed at how City Manager Shohreh Dupuis has taken the initiative and shown she is here to listen and learn from you and from city staff to find ways to enhance our services and make our city an even better place to live and work. As a City Council, we share this passion to serve you and we remain focused on continuous improvement for our residents.

Bob is the mayor of Laguna Beach. He’s been a city councilmember since 2012.

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