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Top issues to follow in Laguna in 2014

January 02, 2014|By Bryce Alderton
  • The Forest Avenue parking lot is part of the the proposed Village Entrance project.
The Forest Avenue parking lot is part of the the proposed… (Don Leach, Coastline…)

Decisions on development and mobility throughout Laguna Beach figure to tell much of the city's tale in 2014, which will also see three City Council seats become open and two trials take place, one for a 2009 homicide and the other stemming from two deaths in a head-on auto collision.

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10) Common Core rollout: This spring, California students in kindergarten through grade 12, including the Laguna Beach Unified School District, will take revamped practice tests that align with new standards that focus on critical thinking, writing and interpretation. Scores won't count toward a school's official academic ranking until the 2014-15 year, but the tests are likely to provide key insight into how well teachers and students grasp the retooled curriculum.

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9) Possible permanent low-income housing: Friendship Shelter officials are looking at a 2-acre city-owned plot of land in Laguna Canyon as a potential home for the mentally ill. Shelter officials submitted a proposal to the city and are awaiting a response regarding the land near the Alternative Sleeping Location, which provides overnight housing for the homeless. The Friendship Shelter currently provides temporary housing, along with meals and support services, for 32 men and women at its facility on South Coast Highway.

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8) Undergrounding: City staff are expected to return to the City Council in late January or early February with possible options for subterranean utility poles along Laguna Canyon Road, based on a consultant's recommendations. City officials are also looking into a comprehensive undergrounding project throughout Laguna and, as of late November, received proposals from two companies, though that information has not been made public yet.

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7) Hiring an urban planner: Councilman Bob Whalen, Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson and Planning Commission Chairman Robert Zur Schmiede are members of a committee reviewing qualifications and determining what areas an urban planner should focus on. Expect parking and traffic circulation to be at the top of the list.

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6) Aliso Creek restoration: The creek that begins in Aliso Viejo and ends at Aliso Beach Park has cut 20 feet into the ground in some places since the 1970s, causing concern. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to make the creek more stable and less harmful to native habitat.

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