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City News

City Council Highlights March 19

City Council Receives Overview of Fire Department Strategic Plan

At its regular meeting on March 19, the Laguna Beach City Council received an overview of the Fire Department’s Strategic Plan, a three-year plan containing vision, mission, values, multi-year goals and strategies to achieve those goals. Through a process that involved a cross-section of the Fire Department, it was identified what will help the Department move forward.

The Fire Chief told the City Council he began the strategic planning process by reviewing numerous prior plans and studies conducted over the past twenty years to get a solid understanding and background for this current effort. On November 8, 2018, the Fire Chief and approximately 25 members of the Fire Department participated in a half-day workshop to discuss the future of the Fire Department. The group discussed the mission, vision, values, goals and strategies for the strategic plan. 

Some recent highlights of Fire Department accomplishments from the last two years include:

- City Council adopted a no-smoking ordinance, prohibiting smoking in all public spaces throughout the community. 

- Laguna Beach received a California Climate Investment Grant for fuel modification along Laguna Canyon Road. 

- In collaboration with the Community Development Department, maintaining and updating the building codes to improve fire safety. 

- Continued to enhance community partnerships with Community Emergency Response Team Program, Fire Safe Council – Red Flag Program, and Ready Set Go.

- Added a Fire Marshal position and three paramedic positions, increasing the total firefighter paramedics to 24. 

- Purchased replacement apparatus and equipment including a new Type III Engine, two sets of extrication tools and set aside funding to ensure all personnel will have a second set of fire safety gear to increase their personal safety. 

- Reassigned three sworn staff Division Chiefs to work a 24-hour shift providing 24/7 operational and administrative supervision within the city. 

The Department’s Mission is to make Laguna Beach a safer community by protecting lives, property, and the environment through active prevention, public education, training, and emergency response. To sustain this Mission, the following goals were presented to the City Council at its regular meeting on March 19:

Goal 1: Ensure effective fire operations, prevention and emergency medical services. 

Goal 2: Ensure reliable and efficient facilities and equipment. 

Goal 3: Support effective administration, organizational sustainability and professional development. 

Goal 4:   Promote fire prevention education and community fire risk reduction. 

To support community fire risk reduction, the Department is actively participating in the Mayor’s Wildfire Mitigation and Fire Safety Subcommittee by identifying and assessing fire risks and developing and implementing the necessary safety measures to protect the community, and enhancing public awareness and responsibility with regards to their role in fire and fuel reduction to reduce fire risk. 

The plan articulates the organizational vision and mission of the department and establishes a set of values, four multi-year goals and strategies for the next three years.  An accompanying implementation action plan set forth timelines and assignments for implementing the strategic plan. This strategic plan was accepted by the City Council as a working document, and is designed to guide the work of the Laguna Beach Fire Department.

City Council Approves Fuel Modification Grant Contracts for Laguna Canyon

In August of 2018, the City was awarded $3.3 million-dollar grant from the State of California for the purpose of developing 55 acres of fuel modification zones and related work in Laguna Canyon.  Coupled with the grant’s required 25% local match, $4.2 million will be dedicated to the project which will provide critical defendable space and fuel breaks around structures in Laguna Canyon and Canyon Acres, as well as habitat restoration.  

On Tuesday March 19, the City Council authorized the City Manager to execute agreements with Nature’s Image is for brush removal and hand crew services, experienced in conducting high complexity fuel modification in high value habitat and have a record of accomplishing quality work in accordance with strict environmental permitting requirements.  The CEQA services contract awarded to Aspen Environmental Group will provide environmental documentation for the grant funded projects.  

This recommended action secures these two contractors for 3.3 years to complete the grant-funded work.  The State reimburses the City for 75% of the grant related expense. The fuel modification project started in January of 2019 and will continue until March of 2022.  

City Council Approves Public Art Installations  

At its regular meeting on March 19, the City Council approved several new Art Installations in the City, including:

-      The installation of “Lunar Tides” by Scott and Naomi Schoenherr and a plaque identifying the donor John Wolf at the Heisler Park amphitheater

-      Temporary installations in Downtown and Heisler Park by artist David Zinn

-      Temporary art installation on the lawn of City Hall by artist Hybycozo

-      Temporary installation of “Super Heroes Changing Station” by artist Robert Holton in the downtown space known as the “Red Telephone Booth"

-      Approval for artist Marc Fornes to develop proposals for the Art in Public Places at the Village Entrance site

City Council Approves Arts Market Study and Considers Future Options for Artist Work/Live Space

In 2016, the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Plan noted the goals of supporting the development of affordable artists live/work, work and production spaces, and the goal of exploring the development of such spaces though the partnership of a non-profit partner, such as Artspace.  In 2017, the City retained the services of Artspace to undertake a Preliminary Feasibility Study and an Arts Market Survey to determine the needs of the creative sector and the development of space-based policies and programs for creatives and new affordable creative space including shared space, private studios and housing. 

During the summer of 2017, Artspace conducted their site visit and explored the context of need, available sites and funding for long-term affordable Artist Work/Live space in Laguna Beach.  Through town hall meetings and individual interviews, Artspace developed a study overview and determined that developing a Work/Live facility lacked feasibility and public support.  The study did determine a need for affordable creative space amongst the artist community. Based on its preliminary findings, in 2018, Artspace developed and collected questionnaires to determine the types of spaces which could be supported along with demand.

The Arts Commission reviewed the reports and recommended the City Council approve the Arts Market Study and proposed implementation with a need to prioritize the goals in the context of the City’s long-term priorities for affordable housing.  On Tuesday, March 19, the City Council approved the Arts Commission recommendation and directed the City Manager to start on the study’s action plan which includes sharing the results of the survey with local developers interested in creative space options, adopting an amnesty plan to allow artists to remain in non-permitted spaces until code adaptations are made, develop a project concept for the multi-use flexible Arts Center, and increase the overall goal of affordable housing units in Laguna Beach. 

Doug Cortez Appointed to Heritage Committee

At its regular meeting on March 19, the Laguna Beach City Council appointed Doug Cortez to serve on the Heritage Committee for a two-year term beginning on April 1, 2019, through March 31, 2021.  Cortez is a previous member of the City’s View Restoration Committee.