The State of California recently announced that Laguna Beach will receive $500,000 for creek restoration on the City-owned DeWitt property. This parcel lies between Anneliese School and the Sun Valley neighborhood, adjacent to Laguna Canyon Road.
In 2015 Laguna Greenbelt board members Bob Borthwick and Lance Vallery completed a Master Plan document with recommendations to restore and beautify Laguna Canyon and Creek along its 8 mile length. This presentation was the topic for the 2015 LGB Annual Meeting. In April 2015 Bob presented the plans to the Laguna City Council and received unanimous endorsement. This support resulted in a $50,000 grant from the City for creek beautification in the Fall of 2015.
In early 2016 the City requested Bob Borthwick (representing Laguna Greenbelt, Inc.) and Hallie Jones (representing Laguna Canyon Foundation) to assist the City in applying for a River Parkways Grant to further fund the creek restoration improvements. It was decided that the DeWitt property, as identified in the Laguna Canyon Creek Restoration Plan, was a logical parcel that fit the State criteria, and the application was prepared and submitted.
Laguna Creek was determined to be a finalist in the statewide competition, and on May 10, the Evaluation Committee visited Laguna Beach for a half-day evaluation. The project introduction was made by Dave Shissler of the Water Quality Department and Councilmembers Toni Iseman and Bob Whelan. The presentation was made by Bob Borthwick and Hallie Jones, followed by a site visit.
In July 2016 the City was notified that the project was awarded the maximum grant amount of $500,000, which will be combined with $125,000 in City matching funds and $5,000 from the Foundation for Sustainability and Innovation for a total of $630,000. The funds will be used for removing dirt piles and debris, removing invasive species, creating rustic “nature walk” trails, and planting native trees and shrubs that complement the creek and provide wildlife habitat.
Another project that was identified in the Restoration Plan is the upgrading of the James Dilley Preserve staging area. Plans include fence relocation and improvements, improved restrooms, a shade structure, upgraded exhibit storage, and additional native trees and plantings. The City has recently allocated $125,000 to this Dilley project, which hopefully will also include County and other funding sources.