A long-standing city policy will be revised when Laguna's buses begin to advertise the Laguna Beach Visitors & Conference Bureau's mobile app, "Laguna Beach Travel Info."

The City Council approved the advertisement at the Jan. 29 hearing as more of a public service than an advertisement on city property. The app provides information on dining, entertainment and shopping in Laguna, as well as a real-time location of buses and trolleys, according to Public Works Director Steve May.

"We've had the Ken Frank policy for years and years that we didn't advertise on any city anything — any city buildings, any city trash cans, vehicles," said Mayor Pro Tem Elizabeth Pearson. "It's probably been a good idea in terms of maintaining the look and feel and quality of Laguna. But this is pretty unobtrusive and it helps just about everybody in the city, and I support it."

Pearson said she would not support advertising all over city property, but she did endorse advertising on the interior of city transit vehicles — especially on the trolleys that cater to tourists.

The trolleys cost $1 million to operate for two months each summer and advertising revenue would offset the expense and ensure continued operation, she said.

"I think we ought to pursue it and other things," Pearson said.

Discussions on what would be acceptable ads inside buses and trolleys have been held with the bureau and the Arts Commission. Video ads might appeal to banks, hotels and restaurant, according to Pearson.

"But I think we should maintain what Ken Frank set in motion," she said.

The ad proposed by the Visitor's Bureau will measure about 12 by 20 inches, replacing the same sized decals promoting the sale of Whale Tail license plates approved by the council in August 2011. That will not include the bureau's name, bureau spokeswoman Judy Bijlani said.


Council approves Laguna Canyon project

The City Council approved at the Jan. 29 meeting a proposal by DeeMark Partners LLC to convert a building in Laguna Canyon into living space for art students and a restaurant.

Council review was required because a Coastal Development Permit is needed for the addition to an existing building of a second story that will exceed the 12-foot height limit in the Civic Art District of the Downtown Specific Plan.

The project was not yet recommended for approval by the Planning Commission, which is responsible for reviewing the design in the specific plan area. Design elements such as landscaping, lighting, materials, color palette, location of bike racks and compatibility with the surrounding buildings were not included in the commission's recommendations.

What was recommended and approved was a 2,763-square-foot addition to Building One in the four-building complex at 793 Laguna Canyon Road. The building, currently used by the Laguna College of Art + Design as an art gallery, will be converted to four, 863-square-foot, two-bedroom units and a 1,200-square-foot restaurant with indoor seating for 27 and outdoor seating for 15.

Plans for the restaurant do not include full table service, but will offer gourmet and fresh foods made to order and to go, according to staff. There will be a beverage bar for coffee, tea and juice.

The restaurant will be open to the public, but is primarily intended for the use of the college students and faculty, with options for pre-paid meal programs. Hours of operation will be from 6 a.m. to midnight seven days a week.

A requested reduction in required parking, which is an incentive offered by the city to encourage outdoor seating at eating establishments, also was approved by the council.

Artwork will be proposed to fulfill the city's Art-in-Public Places requirement for commercial developments, said Mark Orgill, speaking for the property owner.