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City News

City Council Highlights: February 25

City Council Files Amicus Brief in Support of City of Costa Mesa

On Thursday, February 27, the City of Laguna Beach filed an amicus brief supporting the City of Costa Mesa’s efforts to stop state and federal authorities from using the Fairview Developmental Center as an isolation site for individuals who tested positive for coronavirus from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.  The cities of Newport Beach and Huntington Beach and the County of Orange also filed similar support for the City of Costa Mesa in opposition to this plan.

Late on Friday, February 28, the Federal Government abandoned its plans to use the Fairview Developmental Center as a coronavirus quarantine site.  A Central District Judge then dismissed Costa Mesa’s lawsuit as moot.

 “We fully support and appreciate the quick decisions made by the City of Costa Mesa to protect the health and safety of all our local residents,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen.  “Our number one priority is protecting the public.”

City Council Receives Update on Coast Highway Intersection Improvements

Interim Director of Public Works, Manuel Gomez, gave a presentation to the City Council and gave a brief update on the Coast Highway Intersection Improvement project from Broadway to Legion Street at the February 25 City Council meeting.   Key features of the Coast Highway Intersection Improvement project are the extension of the left turn pockets, modified crosswalks, and all-way pedestrian crossings.  The project begins in March, and construction should be completed by May 22, 2020.

City Council Approves Mid-Year Budget 

The mid-year budget was unanimously approved by the City Council on Tuesday, February 25 2020.  Among the recommended appropriations, the City Council approved $31,000 to continue existing holiday lighting Downtown and appropriations of $100,000 toward the Aliso Creek Estuary Restoration Project, $25,000 to the Chamber of Commerce, $4,500 for a new pool pump, and $5,000 for the dues owed the Orange County Housing Finance Trust. The City Council did approve the allocation of $1.6 million for the Downtown Action Plan, but didn’t direct staff to proceed with specific projects yet.

City Council Votes to Preserve Digester Building

At its regular meeting on Tuesday, February 25, the City Council voted to restore the City’s 88-year-old Digester building.  The City Council approved spending $930,000 to preserve the structure: $101,000 of which comes from the Village Entrance Project funding, $629,000 comes from the Parking Fund and the remaining $200,000 is a donation from local residents Greg and Barbara MacGillivray. The City Council also approved funding for sludge removal in the building.

The plans for preservation of the Digester include weatherproofing the 88-year-old building, repainting and patching and restoration of a staircase on the building’s tower. It will continue to be used as evidence storage for the Laguna Beach Police Department. 

City Council Receives North Coast Interceptor Transmission Pipeline Assessment and Options for Sewer Rate Increases

At its regular meeting on February 25, the City Council received an assessment of the North Coast Interceptor (NCI) Wastewater Transmission pipeline and options for sewer rate increases.  The City Council authorized the City Manager to conduct a protest vote process to seek a one-year, 10% rate increase effective July 1, 2020.  They also approved funding for an NCI Reliability Assessment Study with recommendations regarding possible future improvements to the pipeline and associated rate increases.  

The proposed increase replaces a previous City Council decision of a series of 6% increases approved last year that was scheduled to last through fiscal year 2024. The City Council members will revisit the matter next year following additional review of the NCI Reliability Assessment Study.