Our Laguna: Iseman highlights what's good in Laguna

May 19, 2011|By Barbara Diamond

May is Heritage Month in Laguna and what better time to take a look at what has happened to our town.

Last week, Mayor Toni Iseman spoke to two different groups, the Laguna Canyon Conservancy and the Chamber of Commerce, but her message was identical: Laguna is evolving.

"Our heads should be spinning because of all the changes," Iseman said, speaking to the conservancy.

She lauded some of the changes, lamented that budget constraints have impacted others, and loves the preservation of Laguna's indefinable "village character," including her home, which she said is virtually unchanged since she bought it in 1970.


"We limited smoking, and we took a lot of heat for that," Iseman said.

She said the ocean would benefit from the creation of a marine reserve that will ban fishing for most of the city's shoreline. Abalone will be back and the tidepools will be filled with critters, she predicted.

"We have a new park in Arch Beach Heights," Iseman said. Former City Manager Ken Frank was a master at getting property.

"There is a new hedge ordinance, a new Design Review Board guideline book [that shows how] people can have more space without the look.

"We have an environmental impact report for the Village Entrance. It is massive, but it covers every possibility. And we are going to have a lifeguard building [Main Beach headquarters] at last. It was controversial and that slowed things down, but the project got better."

One of Iseman's pet projects was the installation of parking meters that accept credit cards and the installation of a reverse 911 system that alerts residents to problems.

Iseman said if the system had been in place when the Bluebird Lift Station went kaput in 2008, people could have been called at 7 a.m. and told not to turn on the water.

"It could have reduced the size of the spill by about 80%," Iseman said.

With the installation, the city was able to warn downtown businesses to put up flood gates when the December storms hit last year. Some listened, others didn't, police volunteer Terry Smith said, but they had advance notice.

Iseman is proud of the Quiet Zone in Woods Cove designed to still neighborhood complaints related to late night noise as patrons and employees left Mozambique Steakhouse.

"So now you can't park there without a permit," Iseman said. "We are making the assumption that Laguna people are nice and quiet."

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