Transition Laguna is doing amazing things.
The edible garden installs have been a catalyst in community building.
On April 12, Transition is producing a solar power roundtable with three companies on the leading edge of new technologies that can save homeowners money and reduce our reliance on the grid. It's at 7 p.m. at Bridge Hall of Neighborhood Congregational Church, and it's free.
Then on April 21, Transition and SEEDS are producing Laguna's inaugural Earth Day celebration in conjunction with Nancy Caruso's Kelp Fest. The city has agreed to close lower Park Avenue (at the nexus of Coast Highway and Forest Avenue) for this all day event that includes an Eco-Village, Eco-Lounge and Eco-Expo.
There will be demos on solar cooking, edible gardens, urban composting, water reuse, permaculture, and free guided bike tours of Transition garden installs, plus speakers and music throughout the day.
It's directly across from Kelp Fest and builds on the momentum Caruso has built to create a day of environmental awareness and education. More efforts are in the works, including bike rack installs all over town, more recycle bins in public places, and more movies and presentations. It's wonderful to live among such a committed group of volunteers who love our city so much that they want to make it even better.
Laguna faces dilemma with updating documents
The Laguna Beach Land Use Element is one of seven elements in a General Plan specified by California statute.
In 2008, California's legislature passed a law requiring that, after Jan. 1, 2011, any substantive revision of a Circulation Element of a General Plan — the transportation system of a city — must plan for a balanced, multimodal transportation network that meets the needs of all users of streets, roads and highways for safe and convenient travel.
Known as the California Statute for Complete Streets, the code says the General Plan shall consist of text setting forth objectives, principles, standards and planning proposals to build streets usable by "bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, motorists, movers of commercial goods, pedestrians, users of public transportation, and seniors."
Complete Streets code also says the Circulation Element must be correlated with the Land Use Element. That means that when the Circulation Element is revised to plan for a balanced, multimodal transportation network, it must also be consistent with the Land Use Element. Typically, both must be revised simultaneously to ensure mutual compatibility. Since Laguna's Circulation Element was not updated, it is necessary to update both documents now.
In fact, guidelines from the State Office of Planning and Research tell us the road system proposed in the circulation element must be "closely, systematically, and reciprocally related to the land use element of the plan ..." (case law). Another citation says the elements "form an integrated, internally consistent plan of which all parts are equally weighted in their application ..." (case law). That makes it necessary to amend both elements together. The guidelines say local governments may not amend any one of the mandatory elements of the general plan more than four times in one calendar year. That does not appear to be an issue for Laguna Beach.
So Laguna Beach now faces a dilemma. If the city chooses to delay updates to their Circulation Element, the Land Use Element remains uncorrelated with transportation planning and the General Plan is thereby out of conformance with the code. If the city chooses to update both elements but ignores its obligation to plan for all users of the transportation system, then the city of Laguna is not complying with state law.
Kids, seniors and disabled folks are left out — sometimes in dangerous positions in the roadway risking life and limb. That's not right and it's not legal.
We deserve better.
The writer is part of Laguna Streets.
Food Pantry ready for summer influx
In March, our Laguna Food Pantry provided free groceries to 870 families and individuals, a total of 2,511 people. We hope that the economy soon improves so that our services are no longer needed, but until that time, our all-volunteer staff will welcome neighbors struggling to make ends meet.
Also, as summer approaches, many kids who depend on school for breakfast and lunch are at risk of going hungry. With that in mind, the Laguna Resource Center will increase its purchases from Second Harvest and the Federal Food Bank to ensure that our pantry's shelves and refrigerators are well-stocked.
We're open weekday mornings from 7:30 to 10 a.m., just north of the dog park. All are welcome. No one has to show identification or proof of residence.
The writer is the chairman of the Laguna Resource Center.