Beachgoers in Laguna Beach might soon be able to enjoy a cigarette-free coastline as city officials are trying to secure Orange County-run beaches.

Ken Domer, Laguna Beach’s assistant city manager, said the biggest benefit of taking over the beaches is that officials can now enforce the city’s rules along the entire coastline, including rules like no smoking.

To read all of the city’s rules, click here 

“The contract lifeguards for the county are basically looking eyes on the water all the time, whereas our lifeguards are city employees,” Domer said at last Tuesday’s city council meeting. “They’re looking at not just the water and doing an exemplary job, but also the quality of life issues that are on the beach around them.” 

Laguna Beach city leaders asked to take over all County of Orange beaches in city limits last week, almost doubling the amount of coastline the city is responsible for if the plan is approved.

According to Laguna Beach city staff projections, taking over the beach would cost the city around $2.2 million every year, with an extra million dollar cost the first year to fund an expansion of the city’s Marine Safety and Public Works departments.  

While Laguna Beach annexed the coastline south of Treasure Island Beach in 1987, the beaches are still managed by the county, and over the last year the county and city have been talking about ending that arrangement. 

Under the deal, Laguna Beach would take over managing Aliso Beach, Camel Point Beach, Laguna Royale Beach, Table Rock Beach, Thousand Steps Beach, and West Street Beach, along with the Aliso Beach County Park and its parking lot. 

That represents another 11,000 feet of coast the city would be responsible for in addition to its existing 16,000.

However, there’s still a lot of questions on what kinds of changes residents would see at the beach. 

In a statement to Voice of OC, Domer said all the parking spots would be transitioned to the city’s program with the “goal of reviewing the hourly rates charged,” but would not comment on whether or not that meant an increase or decrease in costs. 

The city’s general fund is also set to take on some of the burden of paying for the maintenance, but an exact breakdown of what would be paid for by the general fund, the county payment and revenue from the parking lots themselves was not made available. 

While city and county staff have been in discussion over the proposal for a year, it has yet to go before the county board of supervisors, who would need to sign off in order for the city’s takeover to proceed. 

County spokesperson Molly Nichelson declined to comment on the potential transfer, saying she had to wait on a decision from the Orange County Board of Supervisors. 

As of Friday, the proposal is not on the agenda for the supervisors’ October 4 meeting. 

Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a Groundtruth initiative. Contact him at or on Twitter @NBiesiada.

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