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Laguna Beach City news City of Laguna Beach, California

THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 2021

Laguna Beach City Council Commits $2M to New Neighborhood & Environmental Protection Plan

On Tuesday, March 9, the Laguna Beach City Council approved a new $2M resident-serving program called the "Neighborhood & Environmental Protection Plan," to mitigate visitor impacts to neighborhoods, enhance City services for residents, and add environmental protection programs.

The $2M program will be funded 100% by visitors through the City’s Parking Fund and Measure LL Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenues.

“This action by the Council will better protect our neighborhoods and preserve the natural beauty of our beaches and open space areas. Through numerous neighborhood outreach meetings with our residents and neighbors over the last year, we’ve heard that more police protection, parking enforcement and trash pickup are needed to maintain the quality of life that we all expect. By committing $2 million to this effort, we are confident that we will produce positive and tangible results for our community.” - Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen
Over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has also encouraged Southern California residents to engage in more outdoor activities, which has resulted in a further increase in the number of visitors to the City’s beaches, parks, and recreational trails. As a result, many of the City’s residential neighborhoods are now significantly impacted by visitors parking on their streets, leaving trash behind, and engaging in nuisance behaviors and illegal activities, negatively impacting the quality of life of the City’s residents.

“The ongoing effects of Covid have impacted our trails and beaches as people search for outdoor activities and anything they can do safely,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf, who proposed the program during the City Council’s 2021 retreat. "Over the last few months, we have addressed specific neighborhood concerns tactically by putting out more trash cans and doing more enforcement, but this plan includes more immediate and long-term actions that will continue through the summer months as well. This program is a result of successful collaboration between residents and City staff, funded 100-percent from visitor revenues."

Neighborhood & Environmental Protection Plan Program Service Enhancements:

Public Works and Parking Improvements

Service enhancements include converting City water fountains to include bottle-filling stations at parks, beaches and trails. Additional neighborhood signage discouraging nuisance behavior and littering will be added, as well as more parking options for Alta Laguna, Park and TOW areas to be developed through the Parking Traffic and Circulation Committee and designation of no parking areas in front of Fire Hydrants and on street corners. (Photo: City Staff, Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis and Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf survey parking options at Alta Laguna Park.)

To address overcrowding issues on County trails, the Laguna Canyon Foundation (LCF) will be partnering with the City to provide part time staff on weekends to serve as trail ambassadors from May 1 to Labor Day, 2021 during the busiest visiting hours. The Mayor has also sent a letter to the County requesting additional park rangers.

Enhanced Cleaning and More Frequent Trash Collection

Service enhancements include new weekend "Litter Picker Crews" in South Laguna, North Laguna and TOW and along Coast Highway, and increasing the frequency and duration of public trash collection services at City beaches and along Coast Highway on weekends Additional trash cans will also be added at new locations and service dates extended for increased afternoon trash collection.

Enhanced Safety Provided by the Police Department

Service enhancements include the creation of a permanent Police Department Neighborhood Improvement Team within the Neighborhood Services Division to address neighborhood-based quality of life issues on a macro level adding two new police officers. Police Department service enhancements also include the installation of a gate and two additional cameras in Alta Laguna Park to deter criminal behavior.

Additional Beach Safety Improvements

Service enhancements include additional lifeguard coverage at high-use locations - like here at Crescent Bay Beach, Shaw’s Cove, Victoria/Lagunita and Treasure Island, to have year-round coverage and augmented Marine Safety services for County Beaches in South Laguna to ensure that a high level of service is maintained throughout the year.

City Council also directed staff to develop the following policies as code amendments for consideration by this summer:

  • Prohibiting the use of plastic straws and single-use plastic containers on beaches and trails
  • Prohibiting restaurant distribution of single-use to-go containers in working with Laguna Beach’s restaurants to determine the best timeline for implementation
  • Prohibit the feeding of wild birds in City Parks
  • Prohibiting use of large shade structures on beaches to preserve public safety sightlines
  • Prohibiting storage of bicycles on Main Beach and Heisler Park
  • Expanding prohibition of abandonment of personal property in public spaces
  • Changing the operating hours of non-coastal community parks to close at 10:00 p.m.

The next City Council meeting is Tuesday, March 23.

Improving Orange County COVID-19 metrics could allow OC to move from the Purple Tier to the Red Tier in a matter of days. That means middle & high schools, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and other types of businesses will be able to reopen modified-capacity indoor activities very soon!
This week, the CDC said if you’ve been fully vaccinated, you can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask. In public you should still wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet apart from others, and avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces.

In today's podcast update, Mayor Whalen discusses the County moving into the less restrictive tiers in the coming days and weeks.

He also gives us details on the City’s $2 million dollar commitment to the Neighborhood & Environmental Protection Plan, and how that will be funded.

Hooray! On Tuesday, the Laguna Beach City Council directed staff to proceed with planning efforts for this year's July 4 fireworks display!

City Council Approves Return of Summer Trolley Service!

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Laguna Beach City Council approved the return of Trolley service on the Coastal, Canyon and Summer Breeze routes starting June 25 and operating within the guidelines of State and local health orders.

Increased Trolley Safety Protocols Will Include:

  • All Trolley passengers and drivers will be required to wear face coverings
  • Trolley capacity may be reduced up to 50%
  • Social distancing between passengers from different households
  • Hand sanitizing stations installed on each vehicle
This year, City Trolleys are expected be operated by contracted drivers. Photos Courtesy Mary Hurlbut/Stu News Laguna

Details Coming this Summer on Neighborhood On-Demand Transit Pilot Program

At Tuesday's meeting, the City Council directed staff to introduce a pilot program beginning in Fall 2021, to provide on-demand residential transit service that would replace the now-suspended hourly Trolley service on the three neighborhood routes. Vehicles for the on-demand pilot program are expected to be provided through a contract for service.

Summer Breeze Program to Start Again in June

The City's Summer Breeze Program, which provides free parking near the 133 and 405 freeways, will again provide free parking and transportation to and from Laguna Beach on the Summer Breeze Bus on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. beginning in June.

Caltrans Construction on Coast Highway at Main Beach Starts Monday Night

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is scheduled to replace the 100-year-old box culvert under Coast Highway at Main Beach this spring.

The crumbling 100-year-old culvert located underneath Coast Highway at Main Beach is in need of replacement.

The estimated construction dates are from April 1 until May 28 with overnight pre-construction activities beginning Monday, March 15.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane from 8:00 p.m. until 4:30 a.m. beginning Monday, March 15 to Thursday, March 18 and overnight Friday, March 19 from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.
Beginning April 1, daytime construction work on the project will begin. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction on Coast Highway at Main Beach for the duration of the project. Caltrans crews will be working double shifts as needed to finish by Memorial Day. Adjacent businesses will be open during construction.

Downtown traffic control will be provided by the City of Laguna Beach and Caltrans 7 days/week to help mitigate traffic impacts due to the long-term lane closures needed to complete the work safely and quickly.

For questions regarding the project, please contact Caltrans at (657) 328-6000 or email Darcy Birden at darcy.birden@dot.ca.gov

Two More Opportunities for Public Input Regarding New City Manager at Virtual Listening Sessions

As the City of Laguna Beach undertakes its search for a new City Manager, the City Council wants to ensure the public has an opportunity to provide feedback about the most important qualities potential candidates should possess.

Two Upcoming Listening Sessions will be held via Zoom on:

  • Thursday, March 11: 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. (Will not broadcast on channel 852 or City Website due to a DRB meeting conflict, however, the meeting will still be recorded on Zoom.)
  • Tuesday, March 16: 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Online Survey Also Available!

A report containing all the comments and feedback received will be compiled by the recruiter and provided to the Laguna Beach City Council.

Outdoor Recreation Classes and Camps Scheduled for Spring and Summer

Tuesday, the Laguna Beach City Council directed that outdoor recreation classes and camps be scheduled for spring and summer 2021 in compliance with state and local health orders.

Registration is Now Open for the 2021 Junior Lifeguard Program!

Junior Lifeguards are girls and boys between 8-15, placed in groups by ability and age. Junior Guards have fun while learning ocean safety, rescue techniques, beach activities, physical fitness, and marine safety operations in an environment that emphasizes courtesy, respect, and good sportsmanship.

Junior Guards who are returning from the Summer 2019 program are now eligible to register. Newcomers must pass the required swim test.

For more information, contact Marine Safety Captain Kai Bond, at kbond@lagunabeachcity.net.

Traffic & Safety Laws for E-Bike Operators from the Laguna Beach Police Department

Like other bicyclists, e-bike riders must obey the same traffic laws as motor vehicles by stopping for traffic lights and stop signs, and yielding the right-of-way.

It is unlawful to operate a bicycle (including an e-bike) on any sidewalk in town, on the Main Beach Boardwalk, and within any City park.
Helmets are required at all times for all bicycle riders under 18 years of age and for all riders of Class 3 e-bikes. Operators of Class 3 e-bikes must be 16 or older.

There are State laws that apply to the use of a bicycle, including e-bikes:

  • Type I E-Bike: This e-bike is pedal operated and can reach speeds up to 20 mph assisted by a motor. When the rider stops pedaling, the motor-assistance stops, as it also ends when the bike hits its maximum speed.
  • Type 2 E-Bike: This style is not operated by pedal, with the motor providing all the power. Its top speed is 20 mph.
  • Type 3 E-Bike: The third type is pedal-operated, with the motor helping to power it up to the speed of 28 mph. Only those 16 and older can ride this type.
Riders may be subject to fines of up to $250 for bikes without working brakes or if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. For those between 13 and 21, violations will result in having their driving privileges delayed or suspended for one year.
Be Rattlesnake Aware - During this time of year, rattlesnakes may turn up on local trails, around homes and yards in brushy areas and under wood piles. Generally, not aggressive, rattlesnakes will likely retreat if given room and not provoked or threatened. Most bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally brushed against by someone walking or climbing.
On March 16, between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., SCE will be replacing equipment and cables on Morningside Drive between Bluebird Canyon Drive and Rancho Laguna Road. On March 23 between 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., SCE will be replacing a vault cover at the intersection of Laguna Avenue and Ramona Avenue. Some construction noise can be anticipated. For more information, contact SCE at (800) 655-4555.

Happy 99th Birthday, Arnold Hano!

Happy 99th Birthday to Arnold Hano! (Pictured here with his wife Bonnie.) Arnold was honored by the Laguna Beach City Council this week for all of his community contributions over the years, and proclaimed a "champion of the environment, social justice, and the City he loves." Congratulations Arnold!
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