Laguna Beach to Consider Raising Salaries for City Council Members and Other Bodies

JESSICA RUIZ, Voice of OC

Laguna Beach City Hall.

Laguna Beach City Council members are set to vote Tuesday on a number of options for higher pay for themselves and for those serving on some other panels.


Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Youth Media program, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Digital Editor Sonya Quick at [email protected].


Members of the council, planning commission, design review board, and arts commission are compensated every month for their services. With eight members on the arts commission and five members on each of the other panels, four options are under consideration for the new pay.

According to a staff report, option one includes an increase of compensation by the growth in the consumer price index, which is 5%. Option two involves increasing compensation by matching the salary increases other city employees received over the past two years — 2.5% in July 2019 and 0% in July 2020. Option three consists of increased pay by 5% each year. And lastly, the fourth option is making no changes.

City Council members’ current monthly compensation is $908 while both planning commission and design review board members receive $392 each and arts commission members are compensated $137 monthly.

If option one is approved, the monthly compensation will increase to $953 for council members, $412 for both the planning commission and design review board, and $144 for the arts commission, with a total annual cost of $5,900. Option two would increase compensation to $931, $402, and $140 respectively, with an annual cost of $3,000. Lastly, option three would increase salaries to $999, $431, $151 respectively, with an annual cost of $11,800.

If an option is approved, the new compensation will take effect Nov. 1 for commissioners and board members and Dec. 9 for council members. According to the staff report, any pay increase will require additional funding for this year and will be incorporated in future budgets. The city estimates there will be enough savings in the City Council and department budgets this year to fund the compensations due to savings in travel because of COVID-19.

The City Council is set to take a first vote on its compensation Tuesday and, if approved, will then take a final vote later.