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Preservation and Cultivation With the DSP


Learning about legislation at the federal and state levels is intriguing. Bills are largely-scaled, dramatic, sometimes even bipartisan. But even then, I sometimes find it hard to equate such a large bill to my everyday life. I thought about legislation that I can clearly see affects me or my community directly. And that led me to the Laguna Beach City Council (LBCC).


Honestly, my first thought was, what do city councils even do? I had never heard about city council work in everyday conversation. I had never seen city council work reach my New York Times morning brief—unless it was a big city, like New York or Chicago. But my reaction of ignorance really speaks to the fundamental work of a city council like the LBCC. City councils work tirelessly work to improve their cities, but behind the scenes.


I took a look at Laguna Beach City Council in particular, and I found the Draft Downtown Specific Plan (DSP), a planning document geared towards guiding growth, design, and development standards in downtown Laguna Beach. Basically, the DSP focuses on preserving and enhancing the unique downtown character of Laguna Beach.


The DSP identifies many specific priorities for public improvement, but I only want to focus on a select few (in the interest of time and significance).


Firstly, the DSP lays out a plan that increases the opportunity and diversity in housing and housing prices. Through mixed-use development and the conversion of existing second story buildings, the DSP increases flexibility in development standards by allowing higher building heights and simplified parking requirements to meet growth.


Secondly, the DSP focuses on rebranding the Civic Arts District and Arts District as a means to encourage an increased focus on art and culture, and a nurturing of creativity.


Thirdly, the DSP updates the flexible criteria and development standards for proposed planning developments that integrate public amenities and benefits in special planning areas.


This, in a nutshell, describes the preservation efforts made on the behalf of the Laguna Beach City Council. As someone who does not live in Laguna Beach but spends much time there, I think the DSP will help to develop the quintessential character that Laguna Beach is popular for.


The 2019 DSP is an update on the originally drafted 1989 DSP, which was last updated in 2000. The full draft of the DSP was released in early August 2019, and was recently reviewed by the Planning Commission Meeting.