Each year, the City of Laguna Beach lists its key accomplishments for the preceding 12 months. In keeping with that tradition, I have attached a list of significant projects and programs that the City accomplished during calendar year 2017.
CITY OF LAGUNA BEACH
CALENDAR YEAR 2017
Measure LL – Nearly 80% of Laguna Beach residents voted to approve Measure LL in 2016, which increased the Transient Occupancy Tax rate paid by tourists who stay in hotels and other lodging establishments from 10% to 12%. As a result, residents saw improved service enhancements to public safety such as:
Two additional Beach Patrol Officers allowing for an additional 80 hours a week of beach patrol assigned primarily to South Laguna;
One additional Community Outreach Officer for an additional 40 hours a week of working with homeless and mentally ill populations;
Upgrading a fire engine to paramedic status at Station Two to provide paramedic coverage at all four fire stations;
Adding a Civilian Fire Marshal to enhance fire prevention programs and improve turnaround time for plan checks and inspections;
Hiring two additional Marine Safety Officers for an additional 200 days of lifeguard tower coverage; and
Setting aside $1 million annually for utility undergrounding to help prevent fires and power outages.
“America First” Rallies – The Police Department as well as other city departments and regional agencies successfully maintained peace during several rallies on Main Beach that attracted as many as 2,500 protestors and counter protestors.
Local Hazard Mitigation Plan – A plan has been developed for public review and finalization in 2018.
Fire Department Assists with fires Statewide – Firefighters provided assistance to wildfires located in both Northern and Southern California while maintain coverage at all four of the City’s fire stations.
Coffee with a Cop program – Five events were held in 2017 that give the community an opportunity to interact with police officers, ask questions, and let officers know about things going on in their neighborhoods.
Citizen’s Police Academy – The Citizen’s Police Academy graduated its 24th and 25th classes this year bringing the total number of graduates to more than 400 people since the program’s inception.
Downtown Emergency Notification system – A Downtown Emergency Notification system has been purchased to alert residents and visitors in the low-lying tsunami inundation zone in the event of a tsunami, which will be installed in early 2018.
$105,000 Office of Traffic Safety Grant – The City received a grant for a year-long program of special enforcements and public awareness efforts to prevent traffic-related deaths and injuries.
FACILITIES AND CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS
Laguna SOCWA Lift Station – This sewage lift station transmits one million gallons of wastewater per day to the Coastal Treatment Plant, and was rehabilitated to extend its useful life and reliability.
Downtown Cleanliness – Funding from Measure LL was used to add 80 hours per week of sidewalk steam cleaning; augment daily cleaning of Downtown and Coast Highway (litter removal, trash can cleaning, sidewalk sweeping, etc.); and provide an additional 42 hours per week of cleaning Main Beach and Heisler Park restrooms during peak months.
Oak Street & Mountain Road Beach Access– The City completed rehabilitation of these two beach access points and was awarded the 2017 Project of the Year award by the American Public Works Association for this outstanding capital improvement project.
Top of the World Trail Project – After more than 20 years, this trail project, which provides pedestrian and bicycle access to the Fire Road and the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, was completed.
Milligan Drive Bridge – Partnering with the Sarah Thurston Park community, this bridge was replaced and a ribbon cutting was held.
Improvement of City Facilities and Local Infrastructure – The City completed several projects to improve City facilities and local infrastructure:
- Repaired and resealed more than 30 streets in the Skyline, Mystic Hills, lower Bluebird Canyon, and lower Summit Drive areas
- Repaired 12,000 square feet of damaged sidewalk, curbs, and gutters citywide
- Installed 35 accessible sidewalk curb ramps citywide
- Resurfaced tennis courts at Irvine Bowl Park; renovated turf, resurfaced basketball courts, and repainted benches at Main Beach Park; renovated turf at Heisler Park; and improved lighting on Wesley Drive at Lang Park
- Installed new fencing and shade structure at Bluebird Park
- Restriping of tennis courts at Lang Park to allow for not only tennis, but also pickleball
- Extended sidewalk on Cress Street from Bluebird Park to Temple Terrace
- Completed renovations of the former Recreation Building and Police Lobby
Customer Service Improvements – The Community Development Department conducted eleven community workshops; continued implementation of an electronic sign-in system at the front counter; and completed a record number of plan check reviews, building inspections, and customers served at the front counter.
Updates to the Downtown Specific Plan – The Planning Commission has started the final review of these documents to present its recommendations to the City Council in 2018.
Laguna Canyon Planning Study – City Council reviewed proposed modifications to various existing planning documents that focused on zoning and development issues in Laguna Canyon. A proposed implementation timeline will return for City Council’s consideration in early 2018.
Historic Preservation – The Heritage Committee, Design Review Board, and the Planning Commission have provided their recommendations to the City Council to update the City’s Historic Preservation Ordinance and the Historic Inventory. The City Council will be considering these recommendations in early 2018.
Landscape and Scenic Highways Element – The City is developing a new element that will preserve, enhance, and sustain landscape and scenic corridors essential to the City’s unique character. The City Council is expected to finalize this item in 2018.
Accessory Dwelling Unit – The Planning Commission has provided its recommendations to the City Council to update the Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance. The City Council will be considering these recommendations in early 2018.
Neighborhood Trolley Extended Weekend Service – This service launched July 1, 2017 after a successful pilot in 2016, and offers extended trolley weekend hours in the Top of the World, Arch Beach Heights and Bluebird Canyon neighborhoods.
Summer Breeze Bus Service – The City, in partnership with the Orange County Transportation Authority, once again offered free bus service and free parking from a peripheral parking lot near SR-133/I-405 interchange in Irvine to Laguna Beach summer destinations. More than 9,721 boardings were recorded over the ten weekends of operation, which is a 79% increase over 2016.
Trolley Tracker - Major improvements to the Trolley Tracker mobile app rolled out in August 2017. The new Tracker has a system map, displays each route separately, and has real time predictive arrival allowing for easier accessibility.
Summer Festival Transit Service – The City’s Transit Service accommodated 552,119 boardings during the 10-week summer season.
New Coastal Routes – Based on community feedback, the City launched two new transit routes: Long and Short Coastal routes. Both routes make all stop along Coast Highway with the Long Coastal route continuing past Mission Hospital to the Ritz Carlton.
Village Entrance Project – A final project design is anticipated to be reviewed and approved by the City Council in early 2018.
“Smoke-Free Superstar” – The City was awarded a certificate of recognition by the Orange County Tobacco Education Coalition for adopting a smoke-free public places ordinance this year.
Leadership Laguna – The Laguna Beach Community Foundation and the City hosted its second five-week citizen awareness program called “Leadership Laguna” for residents to learn about city operations and how to participate in civic affairs.
Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting – The City received an award for its easily readable and efficiently organized comprehensive annual finance report (CAFR).
Laguna’s Excellent Ocean Water Quality – The 2016-2017 Health the Bay Beach Report Card stated that of the eight beaches in Orange County identified as “California’s Cleanest Beaches for Water Quality”, seven of the eight are in Laguna Beach.
90th Birthday – The City celebrated its 90th birthday.
Hospitality Night – This year’s Hospitality Night was relocated from City Hall to the Peppertree parking lot, which provided for additional event space to celebrate the holidays.
“Park Plaza” trial concept – The City Council approved of a temporary outdoor plaza from October 21, 2017 through January 2, 2018 for people to gather and foster connectivity while enjoying the outdoors.
Five-Year Financial Assessment Workshop – City staff prepared a five-year forecast of revenues and expenditures as a tool for financial sustainability to the City Council.
Balanced Budget – The City Council adopted a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2017-18 while maintaining a 20% General Fund Reserve.
Open Space – The City Council purchased eight vacant parcels totaling 13 acres to be used for permanent open space in Laguna Canyon and Arch Beach Heights.
Cultural Arts Activity – The City and Arts Commission facilitated a number of new initiatives this year including: (a) retained two firms to undertake Artist Work/Live and Creative Placemaking assessments; (b) established a Public Art Review panel and guidelines for temporary public art exhibits; (c) appointed Laguna Beach’s first Poet Laureate; (d) accepted an artist designed bench at the north end of Heisler Park; (e) approved an artist designed bench at the Mountain Road beach access stairway; (f) announced the finding of the Arts and Economic Prosperity report that the Arts generated $95.4 million in direct and indirect spending by non-profit art organizations and their audiences; and (g) presented two marketing workshops for arts organizations and artists.