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City News

City Council Highlights April 2

Laguna Beach Lifeguards Honored for Saving Swimmer

At its regular meeting on April 2, the Laguna Beach City Council recognized Community Services Pool Lifeguards Ryan Ballance and Camron Hauer for their successful rescue of a drowning swimmer at the High School and Community Pool on February 25, 2019. Mayor Bob Whalen said the two lifeguards responded quickly to rescue the drowning swimmer, who was able to regain consciousness before being transported to the hospital. Thanks to the quick response by Ballance and Hauer, the swimmer made a full recovery with no lasting heart or brain damage.

City Creates Additional Public Parking Through Partnership with Local Property Owners

At its regular meeting April 2, the City Council approved a parking lot lease agreement that will provide for additional public parking at 303 Legion Street (the parking lot across the street from Legion Laundromat.) The five-year agreement between the City and the property owner will create nine additional public parking spaces at the site.

“The City of Laguna Beach is continually looking for ways to create more public parking by partnering with local property owners and businesses through shared parking agreements, as directed in the City’s Parking Management Plan,” said Shohreh Dupuis, Assistant City Manager and Director of Public Works.  

As always, Laguna Beach residents with valid Shoppers Permits can park at the lot for free.  The spaces will be metered pay-parking, and available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. during off-season and from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. during the summer.  

City Council Approves Smart Parking Guidance System to Reduce Traffic Congestion

At its regular meeting on April 2, the City Council approved a plan to install a Smart Parking Guidance System throughout the City, with a goal of improving traffic flow by guiding drivers to open parking spaces in lieu of circling to find one. The system, which drivers will access through a smart parking smartphone app, will not only help them find available spaces but also provide the City occupancy data and will integrate with exiting City parking systems (meters, pay stations and enforcement.)

The app will show available parking in lots and on the street, alleviating unnecessary traffic circulation, congestion and parking emissions.  It will also provide the City with valuable data on the origin of trip for those visiting Laguna Beach and how often they repeat their trip to the City.  Customers will be able to use their phones to pay for parking through the app, which will also alert customers before their parking time runs out.  The app will alert parking enforcement for any spaces that are occupied over the time limit.

“With the smart parking technology, the City will be better poised to monitor and improve the efficiency of its parking program to achieve an optimal 85% occupancy rate,” said Shohreh Dupuis, Assistant City Manager and Director of Public Works.  “The smart parking data system will allow us to use analytics to make informed pricing and resource decisions.”

The City Council awarded a contract to Frogparking for the installation of the system and allocated funds for operation, maintenance and marketing of the project.  The project is funded from the City’s Parking Fund, which has seen a 32% increase in revenues over the last five years due to increased parking rates and demand.  The smart parking system installation is anticipated to be partially completed by summer of 2019.

Ocean Avenue One-Way Conversion to Improve Traffic Flow

At its regular meeting April 2, the City Council voted to convert Ocean Avenue into a one-way from Beach Street to Coast Highway. 

City staff outlined the benefits of converting Ocean Avenue to one-way from Beach Street to South Coast Highway – including opportunities for angled parking which would create an additional ten parking spaces, offsetting the proposed loss of eight spaces in front of Main Beach Park associated with the Coast Highway intersection improvement recommendations approved by the City Council in March of 2018.  The net surplus of two spaces could provide for additional loading or short-term parking, reducing the number of delivery trucks or ride-share vehicles that currently stop in the middle of the street.

The one-way conversion will also add a second turn lane onto Coast Highway that would separate the traffic turning right and left and reduce congestion at the intersection by expediting turning from Ocean Avenue.  Traffic modeling suggest the conversion to a one-way will help improve overall circulation downtown.  The crosswalk will also be moved to the north side of the intersection.

“It’s going to improve traffic flow and delay at this intersection,” said Shohreh Dupuis, Assistant City Manager and Director of Public Works.  “The pedestrian movements will significantly improve because you will have a separate timing for pedestrians to cross, completely clear the intersection and the cars can move freely.”

An online survey about the proposed conversion was distributed via workshop notices and social media, and the majority of the responses received were in support of the one-way conversion.    The City Council voted to proceed with the one-way conversion of Ocean Avenue and have staff report back to the City Council one-year after its implementation.

Sculpture Installation Approved for Thalia Street Beach Access

On January 9, 2018, the City Council approved the concept of a public art project for a site at the Thalia Street beach access.  At that time, the Council accepted a $30,000 donation from Greg Nathanson and family for the project. 

At its regular meeting on April 2, the City Council approved the installation of “Thalia Column” by Randy Colosky at the Thalia Street beach access site as recommended by the Arts Commission.  The piece is an 8-foot high ceramic column of colorful horizontal stripes, and will be located on a landing area of the new beach access stairway. A plaque identifying the donor Greg Nathanson and family will also be located at the site.