City News

City Council Highlights: January 7

New Director of Community Development Introduced

At its regular meeting January 7, City Manager John Pietig introduced Marc Weiner as the new Director of Community Development for the City of Laguna Beach. Mr. Weiner is formerly the Director of Planning and Building for the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. He began his new role on December 30.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the community of Laguna Beach and believe in protecting the City’s heritage, history and beauty, while continuing to improve the City’s Development review process,” Weiner said. “As a people person and a problem solver, I am also committed to enhancing customer service.”

Weiner spent the last four years as Community Planning and Building Director for the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, where he oversaw the Planning, Building Safety, Zoning and Code Compliance Divisions. His 11-year career in Carmel includes the development of the Carmel’s short-term lodging and street vendor ordinances, a strategic plan for the department, and working with the local business community to address Carmel’s downtown vacancy rates. Weiner holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from San Jose State University, is AICP certified, and has experience in both current and long-range planning.  

“The role of Community Development Director is key for the City of Laguna Beach and we are fortunate to have Marc come aboard lead our Community Development efforts,” said Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig. “His years of experience in a similar role for a California coastal city, and his experience with the Coastal Commission, will be a great benefit for our community.”

As Community Development Director, Weiner will provide strategic management and oversight for all Department services including Planning, Zoning, Building and Permitting, Code Enforcement and Historic Preservation. He will continue work on large-scale and advanced planning projects such as updates to the City’s General Plan, the Downtown Specific Plan, and continuous work with the California Coastal Commission.

Weiner was selected for the position after an extensive interview process and moved to Southern California with his wife and three children.

City Accepts Donation for “Meet the Bus” Program from Former City Councilmember Rob Zur Schmiede

At its regular meeting January 7, the Laguna Beach City Council accepted a $4,000 donation from former Councilmember Rob Zur Schmiede for the City’s “Meet the Bus” Program. Former Councilmember Zur Schmiede is moving from the City and regulations restrict the use of his campaign funds for charitable purposes. Mr. Zur Schmiede wished to donate $4,000 of his campaign funds for use by the Department of Marine Safety’s “Meet the Bus” Program. The donation would subsidize schools and organizations that are unable to cover the program’s cost.

The “Meet the Bus” Program receives K-12 school groups from across Southern California. Marine Safety Staff meet student participants at the Heisler Park Amphitheatre, where they provide a lecture about California’s Marine Protected Area Network, beach safety and low-impact tide pool viewing methods. Staff then guide student participants through the Monument Point tide pools to explore and identify wildlife living in their natural habitat.

City Council Votes to Exercise Option to Purchase Library Property from County

At its regular meeting January 7, the City Council voted unanimously to take steps to purchase the Laguna Beach branch of the Orange County Public Library property from the County. The County of Orange owns and operates the Library, located at the corner of Laguna Avenue and Glenneyre Street. In 1970, the City entered into an agreement with the County under which the County agreed to build a new library at the site. As part of the agreement, the City deeded a parcel to the County as well as abandoned a portion of Park Avenue to provide additional space for a new Library building. The County also purchased another lot from a private property owner, making the overall Library site composed of four land parcels.

The 1970 agreement provided the City an option to purchase the Library property anytime within 50 years of the agreement up to January 20, 2020. With the deadline quickly approaching, the City Council unanimously voted January 7 to move forward with the intent to purchase and continue exploring the potential acquisition of the Library property. The City would have to pay only the fair market value for the one parcel paid for by the County, as well as any improvements that have been made to that parcel. Those costs will be established following an appraisal. 

The City Council appropriated $20,000 of Library Impact Fees to cover due-diligence efforts relating to the possible acquisition such as the property appraisal, environmental assessment and a property inspection report. Staff will return to the City Council to report on the results of these due-diligence efforts once complete.