Laguna is in pretty good shape, according to city officials who spoke at the Chamber of Commerce State of the City luncheon, held Tuesday at Montage Laguna Beach.
Mayor Kelly Boyd was the star, with a supporting cast of council members, heads of city departments and chamber leaders.
Boyd was featured in a video, peeking over shoulders and poking into every aspect of community activities, accompanied by The Police's hit song, "I'll Be Watching You."
He also received a Congressional Citation, a flag previously flown over the nation's capitol and compliments from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher presented by Howard Hills.
"Your votes for personal freedom and responsibility, along with limited government, are a legacy rooted in the pioneer spirit of early Laguna, in which your family played such a fabled role," Rohrabacher wrote.
The presentation surprised Boyd.
"I didn't have a clue," he said. "I understand that Michael Kinsman arranged it."
Chamber President Kinsman was unable to attend the luncheon. In his absence, Larry Nokes served as master of ceremonies. He had the pleasure of introducing a U.S. Marine Color Guard for the salute to the flag, led by Councilwoman Toni Iseman. Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau President Karyn Philippsen gave the invocation.
Board member Gregg Abel was tapped to report on the state of the chamber.
"We have had an awesome year," said Abel, chamber Government Affairs Committee chair.
He announced that membership has grown to more than 350, with the goal of reaching 500 members by New Year's Eve.
Other accomplishments include seminars for small businesses on identity theft, shoplifting — "not how to, but how to prevent" — social media, customer service and crisis communication and implementation of a community calendar on the chamber website.
A new group was formed of young professionals who are interested in becoming involved in the city, led by Aaron Talerico. Abel also acknowledged city grants that enabled the chamber to survey 100-plus businesses and bring office equipment up to snuff.
Boyd led off the city's speakers.
"I am supposed to make the State of the City speech, but about half of the staff is here and they want to give my speech," Boyd said.
Nonetheless, he noted the highlights: the 18% reserve funds in the city budget, increased tax revenue, the Planning Commission's effective "Open for Business" program, successful water conservation efforts and revisions to the view ordinance, which he supports.
He also took a stand on the Village Entrance project.
"I will not vote for it unless it goes to a vote of the people," Boyd said. "I am not willing to spend up to $50 million on behalf of the residents without their approval."
City Manager John Pietig spoke about the city budget, which he probably could do in his sleep after wrestling with its preparation, reviewing it for council and the public at a workshop and making revisions.
In short: The city is in recession-recovery mode, with reserves and an allocation for future spending that you don't see many governments able to do, he said.