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Our Laguna: Snapshots of the news in 2011

December 29, 2011|By Barbara Diamond
  • Members of the South Orange County Vietnam Veterans Assn. march down Park Avenue in 45th annual Patriots Day Parade in March.
Members of the South Orange County Vietnam Veterans Assn.… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

Laguna Beach began 2011 by digging itself out of the mud. Homes, art studios, businesses, the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter and the Anneliese School suffered damage and destruction in the December 2010 rainstorms.

Recovery was on everyone's mind.

Outgoing Mayor Toni Iseman joked as her term ended that John Pietig had been city manager of Laguna Beach about 12 minutes when the deluge hit. But he responded as if he prepared all of his life for the job. Hands-on didn't begin to describe it.

Downtown was cleaned up in a matter of days. Laguna Canyon took longer, but no lives were lost — God's gift to the city.

Here are some snapshots of what made the news in 2011, culled from the pages of the Coastline Pilot.

Jan. 7: Dede Westgaard-Pike wept as she relived the night of terror and anguish suffered by her Laguna Canyon neighbors Dec. 22. Westgaard-Pike was among the folks who attended a meeting at City Hall to identify, locate and determine the needs of families devastated by the storm. The council and representatives of the Laguna Relief & Resource Center listened.

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Jan. 14: A Planning Commission request for a moratorium on artist live-work projects was approved by the council. The moratorium was requested to allow commissioners more time to address their concerns that some proposed projects do not meet the stated intent of the city's general plan and zoning ordinance. Six projects already in progress were exempted from the moratorium.

•The City Council discussed its 2011 goals and priorities at its annual retreat. Controlling the city budget, while maintaining essential services, was the top priority, although not the only one. Council members listed as short-term priorities the needed repairs to flood-damaged infrastructure, and public and private assistance for disaster victims. For the long term, council members listed public safety, emergency preparedness, viable infrastructure and the ubiquitous traffic and parking problems.

Jan. 21: The California Coastal Commission rejected a local zoning ordinance amendments that prohibited marijuana dispensaries in Laguna Beach. "It is still a valid local regulation, just not part of the Local Coastal Program," City Attorney Philip Kohn said.

Jan 28: President Obama declared the December rains a statewide disaster, loosening federal purse strings for recovery efforts.

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