Laguna Beach is in escrow to purchase property just south of Tivoli Too on Laguna Canyon Road, Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson announced at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Pearson said she approached her council colleagues in closed session and found unanimous support for the privately owned plot of land at 725 Laguna Canyon Road.
"This is a game-changer on the [proposed] Village Entrance [Project]," Councilman Steve Dicterow said. "This is not just a mere announcement."
The land covers nearly 4 acres and costs $5.3 million, City Manager John Pietig wrote in an email.
The property could yield 65 to 75 additional parking spaces and allows for more flexibility going forward with the proposed project, according to Pearson.
"For several years I hoped we might purchase a piece of property for a lot of reasons ... we never know what we are going to need long-term," Pearson said. "It allows us to discuss beautification on Laguna Canyon Road."
The Village Entrance plans currently include a four-level parking structure and pedestrian park in an area near Forest Avenue and Laguna Canyon Road.
The council needs to formally approve the purchase at a later council meeting, Pearson said.
Meanwhile, the council, with guidance from Pietig, selected 6 p.m. Nov. 12 to discuss the Village Entrance Project with members of the public. The meeting will be held at council chambers, 505 Forest Ave.
Dicterow asked if council members could step down from the dais and sit among the public, and Pietig said that would be fine.
Council won't limit musicians at Mozambique
Mozambique restaurant does not need to limit the number of musicians who perform, the council decided.
The council voted 5 to 0 to remove a section of the restaurant's conditional use permit that limited the number of musicians who could perform. The restaurant previously had limited performers to one person Monday through Thursday and a five-person band Friday, Saturday and Sunday, according to a city staff report.
Restaurant managers will now be able to use their own discretion. They will also conduct a six-month trial and report back to the council, as suggested by Steve Kawaratani, a Mozambique consultant.
Mozambique, at 1740 S. Coast Hwy., allows music from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 8 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, the staff report said.
Entertainers are relegated to the inside stage and at no time may perform on decks or patio areas, according to the report.
The sound from live entertainment or amplified music can't exceed 60 decibels before 10 p.m. and 50 decibels after 10 p.m.
Noise from the restaurant isn't the problem but rather patrons who spill out into the surrounding streets after performances, resident Jeff Kaplan told the council.
"Come here on any weekend and the streets are packed," Kaplan said. "People have had a good time. They're partying because they are at a music venue, not a restaurant. It's not [owner Ivan Spiers's fault], and it's not [the council's] fault. It certainly shouldn't be a situation the neighbors have to put up with."
Councilman Steve Dicterow heeded Kaplan's concerns.
"Mr. Kaplan's point is well taken," Dicterow said. "As businesses become more successful, it will impact our neighborhoods. I don't know how to deal with it, but it's an issue we have to deal with going forward.
"It's not Ivan's fault. Employees leave later than closing time and talk to [friends] in front of their cars."
Police monitor the area outside Mozambique from 9 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. every night, Spiers said. Pietig suggested officers who patrol that area submit a report to provide insight on activity.
Mayor Kelly Boyd, who with his late brother, Bo, owned the Marine Room restaurant in Laguna for 25 years, was reluctant to lift the restriction on the number of musicians.
"We and other councils have made concessions to make this place a successful restaurant," Boyd said. "Being in the business myself, I don't like to see places close down.
"It's a unique situation we have. [Mozambique] abuts a residential area. We put up signs to protect neighbors as best we could to keep cars out of the neighborhood, and we still have problems with parking. So I don't know. I'm having a hard time with saying you can have a five, six, seven musicians playing Monday through Thursday."
Mozambique will continue to take its neighbors' concerns seriously and do its due diligence, according to Kawaratani.
"Ivan tells his managers daily, 'If you want to have music, you're going to make people behave,'" Kawaratani said. "It's not just customers but people closing up."
City will enlarge flood channel
The city will take responsibility for enlarging a flood control channel that runs from Beach Street west under South Coast Highway, the council agreed Tuesday.
City Council members voted 5 to 0 to uphold the city's intent to enter into an agreement with Caltrans to rehabilitate the Laguna Canyon Channel, where the concrete has broken up and flaked, exposing steel in places, according to a staff report.
The 85-year-old channel from Beach Street to the ocean is significantly undersized and badly deteriorated in some areas, the staff report said.
The city owns this portion of the channel, except for the area under South Coast Highway, which is owned by Caltrans.
Expanding the channel would increase its capacity by 30% and cut in half the frequency of flooding downtown, according to the report.
Caltrans' portion under South Coast Highway is 4 1/2 feet high, which has caused problems during past floods, the report said.
A car and shipping container became lodged in the channel on two separate occasions. Caltrans intends to request $1.4 million to reconstruct its portion of the channel. The city seeks to take over the design and construction of the entire project.
Laguna Beach's current capital improvement program includes $6.7 million for channel improvements over four years, according to the report.
Part of the council's approval includes the city working with its grant consultant to pursue additional funding for the project.Copyright © 2015, CT Now