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Laguna Beach City Manager Announces Retirement

After 20 years of service to the City of Laguna Beach, City Manager John Pietig is announcing he will retire in June. The advance notice is intended to provide the City with time to prepare for an orderly transition of City administration to the next City Manager.

Mr. Pietig’s career in local government has spanned 32 years. He has served the City of Laguna Beach for twenty years - first as Assistant City Manager for 10 years, then as City Manager for the last 10 years.

“The City of Laguna Beach is an extraordinary place,” Pietig said. “Our community is involved, aware and very engaged. Together, with the City Council and the City team, we have worked hard to preserve what makes this City so special while also moving forward and acting fiscally responsible in both good and challenging times. It is truly an honor and privilege to serve this special community!”

During two decades of public service to Laguna Beach, Mr. Pietig has managed the City through the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, various floods and landslides.

During his tenure, the City achieved historically low crime rates, addressed homelessness, and navigated recessions, while maintaining the City in sound financial condition.

Pietig also worked with the City team to improve transit and parking systems, increase fire prevention programs, enhance communication with the community, and address long-range planning needs through the Downtown Specific Plan, historic preservation programs and short-term lodging. (2019 file photo.)

Mr. Pietig is particularly proud of the City’s current management team. “This team is performing cutting-edge work in pandemic response, wildfire prevention, crime reduction, transit and parking management, land use planning, virtual City meetings, Leadership Laguna programs, and community dialogue,” Pietig said. “Our City team has exhibited an incredible commitment to serving the public on the front lines of the pandemic. Serving alongside these dedicated public employees has been a highlight of my career.”

Mr. Pietig has also taken leadership roles in numerous large-scale public improvements, including completion of the Village Entrance Project (pictured), retaining Mission Hospital and its emergency room in the City, renovating Heisler Park, completing a walking and biking trail to the fire road between Top of the World and Arch Beach Heights, and construction of a new Lifeguard Headquarters facility at Main Beach.

“All of these challenges could not have been addressed without support from past and present City Council members willing to take the actions necessary to overcome them, along with numerous members of the community who donated their time to serve on boards, commissions, committees and other volunteer programs,” Pietig said, and noted that he is especially appreciative of Mayor Whalen’s collaboration over the last couple of years to address the challenges facing the community.

“Laguna Beach has benefitted tremendously from John’s years of experience, his technical expertise, his work ethic, his understanding of our community and his steady hand in challenging times,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen. “John also is an excellent judge of talent. While he will be missed greatly, he will leave behind a motivated and experienced group of professionals who will keep us moving forward.”

Mr. Pietig started his career with the City of Riverside for 10 years, followed by two years with the City of Alhambra, before accepting a position with the City of Laguna Beach. Pietig will retire at a date to be determined in June 2021.

Laguna Beach Business Assistance Webinar Today at 3:30 p.m.!

The City Council has created the Laguna Beach Small Business Assistance Service and hired Townsend Public Affairs to provide FREE assistance to local businesses and non-profits as they access available resources offered by the county, state, and federal governments.

Now that a second stimulus package has been signed into law, the Laguna Beach Business Assistance Services officially launched this week.

Click HERE to register for today's 3:30 p.m. Business Assistance Services Webinar!

TODAY - Thursday, January 7, 2021, at 3:30 p.m., the City and Townsend Public Affairs will host a FREE webinar to provide more information about the new funding and highlight the help offered by the Laguna Beach Business Assistance Services.

COVID-19 Community Relief Fund Established for Those Living or Working in Laguna Beach

As part of the City's $1.4 million in economic assistance for restaurants, bars, retail & community, the Laguna Beach City Council set aside $300,000 as a matching grant for the Laguna Covid-19 Relief Fund to provide assistance to residents and employees working in Laguna Beach.

Applications for relief will be reviewed and grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded to support those most affected and in need.

Renovation of the south Main beach restroom is scheduled to begin on Monday, January 11 through April 2021. The restrooms will be closed to allow for installation of new fixtures, concrete floors, LED lighting and showers. Temporary restrooms will be provided adjacent to the existing building. For questions, please contact Tom Perez, Project Director, at (949) 464-6688 or tperez@lagunabeachcity.net.

Together, we accomplished much in 2020.

Watch this video for look back at how far we've come as we begin 2021, or scroll through the City's 2020 Year in Review below.

City's Quick and Flexible Responses to COVID-19

Executive & Emergency Orders issued regarding face coverings, swift closure and reopening of beaches, playgrounds, parks, trailheads, public gathering places, City Hall & suspension of Trolley service and recreational programs.

Daily Communication With Residents

We established daily communication with residents through this Community Newsletter to provide COVID-19 updates & information via text and email.

Safe Reopening of City Beaches

Worked with the Governor for the successful and safe reopening of City beaches.

Services to the Community

Safety modifications to City Hall were made to continue service which included installation of plexiglass, entrance health screening and COVID -19 safety protocols for City employees. Community Development modified operations to continue conducting business with the closure of City Hall during the pandemic, and virtual City meetings were established.

Mask Advisor Program

The Public Works and Police Departments implemented a Mask Advisor Program and passed out 21,292 free face masks to date. The City also participated in OC Mayor’s Mask Public Service Announcement.

Maintained Fiscal Stability

Prudent management of City reserves, decisive April budget reductions, and preparation and adoption of a new FY 2020-21 budget in June helped maintain fiscal stability.

Alternative Arts Programming

Alternative arts programming including Band on the Bus, Stage at Forest, Artist Exhibitions at the Promenade on Forest, on-line Beatles Sing-Along, Children’s Coloring Book and workshop, virtual public art dedications and gallery exhibitions.

Economic Recovery

City Council Approves $1.4 Million in Aid for Residents, Restaurants, Retailers, Non-profits and the Community

On December 22, the City Council approved LB Cares, a $1.4 million aid package from City reserves to help residents, restaurants, retailers, and arts organizations. Training programs are also being established to assist the community with accessing aid from federal, state, county and city resources.

Urgency Measures

Ordinance protecting residents and businesses from evictions is passed, and the City Council approved deferral of hotel Transient Occupancy Tax collection.

The Promenade on Forest

As part of the Economic Recovery and Business Development Plan, the Promenade on Forest created a new outdoor dining and retail display area on Lower Forest Avenue in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce.

Temporary Use Permit Program & Waiver of Fees

The Community Development Dept. issues Temporary Use Permits allowing outdoor dining parklets and activities, and the "Think Laguna First," Economic Recovery Webpage and Business Resource Toolkit are created with the Chamber of Commerce and Visit Laguna Beach. Grant programs for local businesses were created in partnership with Supervisor Bartlett’s Office.

Public Safety

Fire Department

A new helicopter water refilling tank was installed along the Fire Road, implemented a new outdoor warning system, and completed an Evacuation Time Study for neighborhoods.

Annual fuel modification was completed with the help of the largest City goat herd in 20 years. $1 Million in state grant funds were secured for fuel modification in South Laguna.

Police Department

For the second year in a row, overall crime in Laguna Beach decreased (2019 stats reported in 2020).

The Police Department issued over 2,236 Loud Noise/Speeding Enforcement Citations in response to community concerns.

The City and LBUSD added a second school resource police officer to the District.

Police partnership with “Ring” grants potential access to homeowners’ camera footage to assist police investigators and protect homes from criminals, intruders and thieves.

Marine Safety Department

A new motorized beach wheelchair was purchased by donated funds and is available during operational hours at the lifeguard headquarters.

S.A.L.T. Program, Ocean Lifeguard Academy & Recurrent Training converted to virtual formats to follow the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines while maintaining regional and national training standards.

Community Development

The California Coastal Commission certified a Short-Term Lodging Ordinance prohibiting STLs in the residential districts & restricting them in commercial districts. Updates were made to the Downtown Specific PlanHistoric Preservation Program and the City's Parking Ordinance.

Facilities & Capital Improvements

Village Entrance Project Completed

Utility Undergrounding Program Progresses

Poles and wires were removed on Crestview Drive in May 2020. Undergrounding districts were formed to underground portions of Coast Highway between Cajon Street and Agate Street and along Bluebird Canyon Drive between Cress Street and Saling Way.

Repaired and Resealed 28 Streets in Woods Cove

Temple Hills Pedestrian Improvement Project Completed

Constructed sidewalk, installed traffic calming measures, and resurfaced the roadway on Temple Hills Drive between Dunning Drive and Rim Rock Canyon Road.

Coast Highway Intersection Improvement Project

Lengthened turn pockets and created all-way (scramble) crosswalks at various intersections on Coast Highway between Aster Street and Legion Street.

Rehabilitated the Beach Stairs and Access at Pearl Street

Improvements Over Laguna Canyon Creek at the Animal Shelter

Constructed major erosion control improvements and new pedestrian bridge over Laguna Canyon Creek at the Animal Shelter.

Laguna Canyon Channel Improvements

Made major repairs and capacity enhancements to Laguna Canyon Channel between Beach Street and the Main Beach Park boardwalk outlet to help prevent downtown flooding.

Completed Sewer Odor Improvements at the Bluebird SOCWA Lift Station

Two Hazard Mitigation Grants from FEMA for generator installation projects at two lift stations were also secured.

Transit & Parking

The City worked to enhance the Laguna Beach Trolley App to more accurately predict arrivals, schedules, and tracking of vehicles.

The Laguna Beach Parking App had more than 25,000 downloads and 600 additional parking guidance sensors were installed throughout the City.

The City Council approved a new multi-year/phase parking rate structure and the City secured $35,000 in Senior Mobility Program funding to help support senior transportation through Sally's Fund.

We Look Forward to Serving You in 2021!

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City of Laguna Beach