Laguna Beach hires a design firm to envision the future of Promenade on Forest

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Laguna Beach City Council has awarded a contract for preliminary engineering and rights for the walk on Forest Avenue.

The proposal presented at Tuesday’s meeting was approved unanimously, under certain conditions, after significant public input and lengthy discussion. The city awarded the contract to RRM Design Firm, which will receive $ 376,990 for its services.

Five proposals were submitted. An evaluation committee reviewed the proposals. The other submissions came from Gensler, Psomas, Stantec Consulting Services Inc. and SWA.

Thomas Perez, director of the city’s capital program, said the company will be called upon to draft a programming plan.

It should address areas such as space allotted for restaurants and retail, as well as gathering places and those designated for live performances.

A report from project staff said the programming plan should take into account a wide range of activities and events, including music and dance performances, farmer’s markets and art exhibitions.

Two conceptual alternatives are to be proposed, one of which would involve significant improvements such as street leveling, new lighting and landscaping, reconstructed sidewalks and decorative cladding.

“We feel [the draft programming plan] would be an effort of about two months, then the right would be an additional 10 months, assuming no unforeseen issues arise during this process, and therefore we anticipate the completion of obtaining all the necessary rights d ‘by June 2022,’ Perez said.

Perez added that stakeholder meetings and three community meetings would be held to get public input as the draft programming plan is prepared, and then that plan would be sent back to the board.

Once the conceptual design alternatives are prepared, these will also come back for consideration by the board.

Councilor George Weiss noted some of the improvements to the way he would like the boardwalk to work.

“I want the promenade to look like it’s not intended as a commercial endeavor,” Weiss said.

“I mentioned that I wanted it to be family friendly so families could go. There should be a space for children between 2 and 12 years old, furniture in this space, sizes and dimensions suitable for children, attractions that engage children in science, the arts and music. “

Councilor Toni Iseman and Weiss voted for conditional approval. The terms under which the project considers the issues of cost support, design, parking and traffic were attached to council approval.

“It’s going to happen,” Iseman said. “I just hope we take a critical look at it and make decisions that improve it.”

In supporting the project, Mayor Bob Whalen has indicated that he wants to continue improving the boardwalk, rather than largely reproducing its current version.

“I agree with George,” Whalen said. “I think we really need to think about its programming. I love the idea of ​​energizing some places for kids, and it’s all going to be a result of that process.

Several council members mentioned that restaurants could be invited to contribute to the continued use of the outdoor terraces.

“We did this to get the city going, so I think we can make up for our lost parking revenue by charging restaurant rental fees,” said Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf. “They kind of know it’s happening. They knew they wouldn’t get this benefit forever.

Councilor Peter Blake said he believed the walk was all about dining, adding that he also believed restaurants would be happy to pay for the extra seating. He responded to criticism from the Promenade by again throwing his support there.

“One of the things about COVID, that we all say, ‘Well it’s just because of COVID,’” Blake said.

“No, in fact COVID has finally given us the opportunity to take this risk that we have wanted to take for so many years, and now that we have had the chance to dine out, we are finding that it is so that we want to eat. “

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