Local Issues

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


The Historic Preservation Ordinance

October 30, The Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force met for the first time following a short hiatus to allow City Council to help direct us in suggestions for rewriting the city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance.

It was determined by City Council (at a previous meeting) that Historic Homes previously on inventory lists (including E, K and C designations) will now be VOLUNTARY, and in essence those lists will be dissolved. The handcuffs will be off!

Homes currently on the Historic Register (city or state) will remain somewhat bound to regulations set forth by the state and city, and must be maintained accordingly.  There is a slight hint that owners may be removed, but no promises. The amount of those homes currently on the Register are approximately 45.

The HPO Task Force will help implement benefits and incentives to entice owners to apply for inclusion on The Historic Register. Those benefits will be granted after a vetting process, and most likely may include a contract to be signed by the owner.  The process will be quick according to City Council and City Staff.

Owners that agree to put their homes on the Historic Register will be totally VOLUNTARY and, may benefit by paying ZERO fees for the permitting/ planning stages of any improvement.  NO HOME or HOMEOWNER will be subject to DESIGN REVIEW at all.  DRB cannot over-ride any decision whether it be design, setback, neighbors dislike, etc. This is a promise from City Council with the blessing of city attorneys.

Deadline: City council has set a deadline finally!   The Historic Preservation Ordinance Task has 3 months to finalize the above items and submit to City Council by mid-January.   The job will include vetting suggestions to qualify that a home is truly, age cutoff for consideration (1940?, 1960?), and also suggest the incentives that will help draw people to be part of the city’s Historic Register. 

Because some of the incentives may be extremely generous such as relief from setbacks, required additional parking spaces, lot to square footage requirements, etc., it may be difficult to be taken off the list after these benefits have been accepted and implemented.

You may know already, the Mills Act is a huge incentive regardless of what the city offers, saving homeowners a considerable reduction in their property taxes.  The city may loosen requirements on this also.

After February 2019, we hope to have the new Historic Ordinance in force, allowing you all to go about your business knowing exactly what you can tell your buyers about the home they are interested in and also a better understanding of what can and cannot be done to existing homes.  In some situations, being ON the Historic Register may offer much better outcomes for remodeling, especially if you love the style or may be on a smaller lot that would have much more restriction NOT being on the Register.

City council believes it will be our job as REALTORS® to spread the word and help get owners excited about being part of Laguna Beach’s history.

I believe the people have spoken and have made a difference!

More info will be shared as it is announced.


Michael LaRiche,

Historic Preservation Task Force Member



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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