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Fair Game


2022 was marked by a long list…a very long list…of accomplishments

TJ headshot AugCity Hall sent out a year-end list identifying key accomplishments in and around Laguna Beach for 2022. 

Now, I remind you, this is the result of leadership under Mayor Sue Kempf, Mayor Pro Tem Bob Whalen, Councilperson George Weiss, and departed Councilmembers Toni Iseman and Peter Blake…as well as city staff who worked closely with them.

It is impressive and well it should be. It’s been conveniently listed on nine pages of single-spaced points. 

They run from police funding increases to grants for Laguna Canyon Road improvements including undergrounding of utilities.

They include property acquisitions such as an alternate site for fire station 4, the purchase of the library building from the county, taking ownership of all South Laguna coastal beach properties from the County of Orange and the acquisition of what is described as the “once in a lifetime” opportunity to take control of the St. Catherine’s School Property.

City leadership improved public safety across the board, agreeing to safer communities enhanced by a joint agreement on a shared S.W.A.T. team with the City of Newport Beach; a park ranger program to enforce quality of life issues in our parks as well as to reduce crime therein; there was the creation of the new fire department ambulance program, placing two new basic life support ambulances into service; the expansion of the police K-9 program as well as the addition of a new support dog to assist community members exposed to trauma.

Additionally, there was an expanded list of CERT community events that also saw additional volunteers trained for the benefit of the community during unplanned disaster times; a fully implemented junior lifeguard program without restrictions that served almost 500 children from ages 8-14; plans for reinstatement of a new marine safety rescue vessel fleet; improvements to the lifeguard tower at Moss State Beach; and an assurance of excellent response times to future fire danger by allowing for quick activation of the Emergency Operations Center.

Improvements to the city’s well-being included a new Irvine Cove Lift Station emergency generator that reduces emergency response time during power outages; the completion of a five-year inspection of the city’s 95 miles worth of its sewer system, identifying needed repairs and replacements; education of local plumbers on steps they can take to prevent future sewer spills and more.

In Community Development, implemented were an Historic Preservation Program that provided for a variety of incentives for voluntary inclusion into the city’s Historic Register; an updating of city fees to achieve better cost recovery to offset programs in place; improvements within City Hall to more adequately deal with the public needs; an adopted Mass, Height and Bulk Ordinance, to better regulate large-scale development projects as well as an Ordinance creating new regulations and design guidelines for subterranean parking structures; and the issuance of building permits to begin moving projects forward that include the Laguna Theater, the remodel of the Coast Inn and Coast Liquor, as well as the Pacific Edge and Surf & Sand hotels.

There are also facility and capital improvements that include undergrounding, repair and reseal of a number of streets, the stabilizing of troubled slopes, removal of utility poles and overhead wires, storm drain improvements, community field improvements and more.

The city launched and continued to improve the Laguna Local On-Demand Microtransit service, the trolley system and a pilot trolley program to the Sawdust Festival.

There were also increases in the number of recreation programs offered to locals and an increase in special events throughout the city – from track meets to surf contests to volleyball tournaments, celebrations, a LOVE Laguna event and, of course, the always popular Hospitality Night.

Cultural arts also continued to improve with more free live music programs; a circus and puppet show debuted in our local parks and the ongoing expanded partnerships with the Festival of Arts.

At the same time, City Hall worked with the internal departments to successfully negotiate labor contracts, to host in-person employee health and wellness programs, to create strong recruitment efforts for vital city departments, better training and stronger business practices both through policies and improved equipment.

Today, the City stands stronger with achievements in their financial reporting and accomplishments, along with good communication.

There is lots to be proud of and a lot of thanks to those that made it happen.

View a video of the city’s 2022 key accomplishments below.

And now, it’s time to move forward and continue to accomplish new levels of successes under Mayor Whalen, Mayor Pro Tem Kempf, Councilmember Weiss and newcomers Alex Rounaghi and Mark Orgill.

Let’s join together to make it happen.

• • •

Open casting calls are now taking place for the 2023 Pageant of the Masters. “All ages and sizes needed.”

The following are the dates and times: Tonight (Jan. 6) from 7-9 p.m., tomorrow (Jan. 7) from 7-9 p.m., and Sunday (Jan. 8) from 2-5 p.m. 


To those who love OC politics, this Tuesday, Jan. 10, is the installation and swearing in of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Doors open in the Board Room of the County Administration North building at 8 a.m., with the swearing in at 8:30 a.m., a reception at 9 a.m. and the board meeting then at 9:30 a.m.

The P4 parking lot will be open and free of charge.


Kathy Lajvardi is an accomplished local artist. She has announced the launch of her “empowering series of works born from her influential life experiences and Iranian heritage.” The exhibition opens tomorrow, Jan. 7 at The Grace Galleries, 347 S. Coast Highway, from 6-9 p.m.

Included will be six pieces from her two new series, Unbreakable Queens and Unstoppable

Unbreakable Queens features four amazing portraits of Madonna, Beyoncé, Janet Jackson and the iconic Iranian singer Googoosh, each powerfully depicted primarily in black and white, each topped with a gold crown signifying them as “heroic women leading the charge,” said Kajvardi. 

She continued to outline the impacts each celebrity has had during their own life challenges, including Googoosh, “the Iranian Madonna” who has influenced an entire generation. Googoosh today resides in America and impactfully represents the desire for changes in her tours today throughout America.

The second series, Unstoppable, is comprised of two related pieces, the first is an emerging half lion-half woman recognizing the prior monarchy of Iran, draped in white roses, the national flower of Iran and displaying a reflection in the eyes of the lion that captures the Iranian flag.

It all denotes the darkness and struggle of today’s life on the other side of the world.

The companion piece in Unstoppable also is a haunting display of a somewhat disfigured woman, again draped in white roses and as is customary to all of the pieces displayed by Lajvardi, crowned in gold.

“I’m super excited to share the exhibition with the community and to display this new mixed-medium of black and white pieces on wood topped with resin and pasted with glitter,” said Lajvardi.

The exhibition is expected to reside at The Grace Galleries for at least three months.

You’ll enjoy it…it’s powerful!


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