Editor's note: Laguna Beach City Manager Ken Frank is retiring in December after 30 years with the city. In this column, he shares what he sees as the "top 10" most significant accomplishments of the city administration during the past three decades.
No. 6 on the list of City accomplishments over the last 30 years is: stabilizing the city's financial posture.
When I arrived in 1979, the city was beset by two notable financial difficulties.
First, the city was coping with reduced property taxes because of Proposition 13. Because Laguna Beach was (and is) a municipality that relies heavily on property taxes, the city was reeling from the draconian cutbacks that had been necessary to balance revenues with expenses when the property tax base was significantly depreciated.
Second, the city had recently incurred a debt of $6 million to purchase 520 acres of open space from Rancho Palos Verdes Corporation. Located between Laguna Canyon Road and El Toro Road, this property, which is known as Sycamore Hills, was the subject of litigation over its future development. The city tendered a substantial down payment but could not honor future installments and the city's ownership of the land was in jeopardy.