“Our town-Our Paper” lbindy.com Photo by ted Reckas May 20, 2011 | Volume X, Issue 20 Show to Go On By Ted Reckas The water quality board with authority over coastal waters from Laguna Beach to the Mexican bor-der voted 6-0 to require permits for over-the-water fireworks displays, including the city’s annual Fourth of July show. The new regulation approved last week is the first in the nation to regulate fireworks as a pollution source subject to the federal Clean Water Act, according to David Barker, a 35-year supervising engi-neer with the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board. “The show will go on,” said Laguna Beach’s City Manager John Pietig, adding that the $26,000 dis-play was already in the budget and a contract awarded to Pyrospec-taculars. The new regulation requires cleaning fireworks debris from the area, something already required under a 2003 state law, but falls short of requiring water quality monitoring. Barker said, “This is a first term permit so it’s kind of stepping into fireworks regulations and trying to do so in a way without heavy handed regulation. It’s bringing the discharge into regulation. No water monitoring is required at this time, but as we get info on where the events are held and the masses of fireworks being released, we can come back and re-examine what shows should be doing the moni-toring.” For now, the city must file a no-tice of intent to hold the fireworks display by June 10, then water regulators will grant a $1,500 per-mit. Even though the Laguna Beach show is launched from Monument Point at Heisler Park and over a Budget Improves, Remains in the Red By Rita Robinson | LB Indy After peaking four years ago and then dropping 4 percent to a low of $44.8 million last year, the city’s general fund budget is showing signs of life, City Manager John Pietig said during a City Council budget workshop Tuesday. Even so, the city is projecting a $718,000 deficit, the city’s third year in the red, though revenue is inching toward $45 million in the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2012, Pietig said. Despite a smaller deficit compared to last year’s $1.2 million, Laguna Beach, he said, “still has problems.” “We’re in better shape financially than most of the cities around us,” Pietig stated, “but we still have challenges ahead of us, including increasing pension costs, health costs and who knows what’s going to hap-pen with gasoline and other utility costs.” With $8.6 million in two reserve accounts to cover spending deficits and balance the general fund, Pietig still cautioned the council against overspending. “The city has to address the structural deficit,” he said. Should revenue remain unchanged for the next two years, increased expenses, including inflation, health care and pension payments, would equal deficits of $1.2 mil-lion and $2.1 million, respectively, Pietig calculated. The budget would be balanced by tapping a recession-smoothing account that now stands at $3.9 million and would shrink to $600,000. Pietig said this scenario is unlikely be-cause the City Council is willing to reduce costs and the economy appears to be recov-ering. Even so, municipal employees forego-ing pay raises for a second year, trimming 10 jobs and a hold-down on equipment purchases minimized the current deficit. The consistent economic “bright spot,” said Gavin Curran, the city’s financial budget, page 24 General Manager Kurt Bjorkman and bee keeper Andrea Wilde with Aliso Creek Inn’s newest amenity. Aliso Creek Gets a Little Sweeter Inside Town Crier fireworks, page 24 2 4 6 8 12 18 20 22 By Ted Reckas | LB Indy Aliso Creek Inn added a new suite to the resort property, sited in an exclusive area at the midpoint on its nine-hole golf course. In size and amenities though, the addition behind the maintenance shed comes up short of the typical guest room and mea-sures just four square feet. It’s spacious if you’re a bee, even crowded in 10,000 deep, like the insects now in residence. Kurt Bjorkman, general manager of Aliso Creek Inn, expects the bees to multiply to about 60,000 by summer, possibly produc-ing as much as 70 pounds of local honey. Their output will depend on rainfall and the blooming cycle of various food sources, such as sage, buckwheat, lavender, fen-nel, and wildflowers. Not bad for an initial investment of $140. Guests of Aliso Creek Inn’s sister prop-erty, Montage Laguna Beach, and patrons of Tabu Grill and soon-to-be opened Starfish restaurant may be the first to reap the divi-dends, according to Bjorkman. “I saw bees flying around the property A look at how a school program is raising student performance. See Limelight and recalled friends at other restaurants were harvesting or buying fresh honey from local honey purveyors,” said Bjork-man, who decided to go a step further and become a producer. “A friend of mine is director of sales at Carmel Valley Ranch, which has a honey program, and he really loves that story and the connec-tion with the environment.” Many more restaurant chefs are seeking nearby sources for ingredients, reflect-ing shifting menus compiled from fresh, seasonal products and a growing industry appreciation for sustainable practices. “We absolutely like to get locally sourced food whenever we can,” said Nancy Wilhem, owner of Laguna Beach’s Tabu Grill, top-rated by Zagat patrons, and a new startup, Starfish. “We are a small community and it’s also nice to promote each other.” Aliso Creek Inn is not the first Laguna Beach bee keeper. Bob Cosgrove, a 60-year bee keeper, produces several variet-ies marketed as Aliso Canyon Honey, bees, page 3 A&E Calendar Letters to Editor Limelight Arts & Entertainment Street Beat Schools Sports Inside: See page 5 for more info REAL DEALS foR LocALS Coming on may 27 REAL ESTATE GUIDE Tom Iovenitti, OC Coldwell Banker president from 2005-2010, has signed on to head up business development for Surterre Properties. See Coastal Real Estate Guide COASTAL Instant Indy: get the weekly summary of the new edition. Sign up at lbindy.com.