The City Council returned to business at its new location, with a packed audience and a full agenda. Here are the highlights of Tuesday night's meeting.
- The council discussed an ordinance to allow the city to fine residents who fail to control barking dogs. Council members Linda Lindholm and Robert Ming suggested an amendment to the ordinance that would prevent the city from fining a resident for the disturbance more often than every 10 days. The council agreed to the amendment and moved forward unanimously with the ordinance. The ordinance will be put to a final vote at the next council meeting and, if passed, will take effect 30 days following the final vote.
- The council voted 5-1 to prohibit automated red-light traffic enforcement systems on city streets. Councilman Joe Brown cast the dissenting vote. “My plan is to visit six or seven cities about this issue—half that have the system and half that don't—and report back to the council about my findings,” Brown said. “But I can't support this measure.”
- Marine Sgt. Chris Naimon was welcomed home by the Laguna Niguel Military Support Committee with a plaque expressing appreciation for his service to the country. “It's just good to be back in Laguna Niguel,” said Naimon. When asked where Naimon was going next, he said, “Wherever they send me, but it's good to be back.”
Several residents spoke during the open-comments portion both for and against the barking-dog ordinance. One resident, Gregory White, who initially spoke against the ordinance, changed his mind once he learned the details.
“From what I read on the Orange County Register newspaper article, I thought that we would be immediately subject to fines. I think I can say after hearing the facts that I'm on board with you all. I've officially changed my mind,” White said.
Councilman Paul Glaab was happy to see the new ordinance moving forward.
“This is about our most egregious offenders—the ones who refuse to do anything about their animals. The purpose of this ordinance is for those people who will just not take any personal accountability for their pets.”
The ordinance will not affect the initial process that already exists to address complaints about barking dogs but will add fines once those steps have been exhausted if the problem remains unresolved.
The existing complaint process consists of three steps. The first step is a letter sent to inform the animal owner of the noise complaint. The second step is contact from an Animal Services officer to try to educate the owner on different means of controlling barking. The third step is a formal witness packet consisting of statements from at least three neighbors that the animal is causing a problem. If this fails to resolve the problem, the owner of the animal and the neighbor are invited to dispute mediation.
The ordinance would add a three-tiered fining system once the initial process has been exhausted. The first fine will be $100. A second fine will be $200. A third fine will be $500 for any subsequent citations within a 12-month period.