Local Issues

The Laguna Board of REALTORS® is involved with these local City of Laguna Beach Issues:


The Historic Preservation Ordinance

The Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force (HPOTF) meeting was held November 15th. Here is a brief summary of the meeting.

Martina Caron spent about 10 – 15 minutes on the Mills Act, ostensibly bringing some of the newer members up to speed on protocols, standards in other municipalities, etc…

Dan Rosenthal (president/chair) did his best to keep the meeting moving towards a productive goal of providing at least three deliverables for City Council. They debated at length what kind of deliverables, and the conversation devolved and forked several times into backwater issues. At one point a motion was made to temporarily separate the conversation into “residential-only” and “commercial-only” categories so they could focus on the benefits/incentives that each of those categories would respond to best. Some members took issue with the idea given the mixed-use properties in town and wanted to keep the conversation & contemplated incentives unified for both residential & commercial for the time being. The motion did not pass.

One member made the point several times that hardly any other municipalities offer any incentives for historic preservation beyond Mills Act property tax benefits. His point being that any additional incentives that the task force comes up with would be above and beyond the norm. Martina added that many cities tie the Mills Act tax benefit amounts directly to individual property maintenance/preservation cost assessments which are geared to break even. Ie, if it is estimated that annual maintenance on the property will equal $5,000, then the property tax benefit will be no more than that. She pointed out that Laguna does not do that and is the most liberal with its benefits with regard to Mills Act property tax benefits.

“User-Friendly” was the mantra of the evening with regard to the public, the historic housing inventory, the application processes and listing/de-listing properties. Task members all rallied around the idea of keeping things as simple as possible so prospective homeowners would be clear about the impacts of listing their home on the historic inventory, what incentives they could receive, etc…

Surprisingly, there did not seem to be any contingent of members who were opposed to historic home improvements and careful, conscientious development. They all seemed to be in alignment with regard to giving homeowners as much freedom to care for, conserve and develop their historic homes as was reasonable… “reasonable”, of course, being subject to much interpretation and there the conversation devolved into 15 minutes of hypotheticals…

Some of the incentives for listing a home on the register included:

  1. Minimum setbacks at the rear of properties
  2. Application & report fees refunded at completion of successful application/approval process
  3. Possible greater ratio (ie, more than current 50%) of re-buildable structure
  4. Etc


Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance


The Laguna Beach Planning Commission will receive an introduction regarding “proposed changes” to the Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance. The Planning Commission’s review of the “proposed changes” will then be continued to a future meeting where the Planning Commission will provide direction on a draft Ordinance for future Council consideration. The “proposed changes” reflect recent State mandates and public input provided. The proposed amendment is intended to bring the City’s Zoning Ordinance into compliance with State law, which was enacted on January 1, 2017. The intent of the new legislation (SB 1069 and AB 2299) is to address California’s housing shortage by making it easier to develop ADUs, which are believed to provide affordable housing options for family members, students, the elderly, in-home health care providers, the disabled, and other vulnerable populations at or below market prices within existing neighborhoods. The law also addresses development barriers related to parking requirements, waiver of water and sewage connection fees, and exceptions for fire sprinkler requirements. The proposed amendment will also address other development restrictions currently proposed in the City’s existing Ordinance. Some of comments received at the community workshop included support for the creation of affordable second unit housing opportunities for senior citizens, the local workforce, in-home care providers and for younger generations who moved away from their families due to affordability constraints in Laguna. Staff was also asked to research what constitutes affordability as compared to current rental market conditions in Laguna, evaluate incorporation of State Law pertaining to Junior Accessory Dwelling Units (SB 2406), reducing the minimum lot size, increasing the maximum unit size, to clarify unit size maximums for conversion of existing garages to ADUs as permitted by State law, and legalization of nonconforming guest houses that were constructed prior to 1936.


For questions on the topic of Accessory Dwelling Unit Ordinance: Monique Alaniz-Flejter, AICP Associate Planner Community Development Department City of Laguna Beach (949)497-0744




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