Laguna Beach puts GIS on Web

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The California city of Laguna Beach has taken its geographic information system to the public by making it available through the city's Web site, a move it hopes will significantly speed local redevelopment.

Laguna Beach is an area of high and increasing property values, but with aging housing stock. Consequently, there is a lot of interest in redevelopment. But it's also one of the most challenging areas in the state in which to redevelop, with multiple natural and environmental constraints.

The city had a GIS since October 1993, when a fire destroyed more than 300 homes. The system has been used for several years on the city intranet, accessible by such people as police dispatchers and the fire officials. It was only when a computer kiosk was installed in the permit office that the public demand was recognized.

"We have a fairly sophisticated public in Laguna Beach, with a high degree of computer and broadband penetration," said John Montgomery, assistant director of the city's Community Development Department. "When the city council called for an upgrade to our Web site, we made one of the components of that the public's access to the GIS."

The site also offers such things as a property's development history, which can go back as far as the 1930s, integrated with the GIS information. The city also is considering combining such things as code enforcement and the ability to download simple building permits.

For those residents who don't have broadband — still a large percentage — the Laguna Beach system incorporates a new compression tool from AirZip Inc. The AirZip Image Accelerator is middleware that intercepts incoming image requests to a Web server, retrieves the requested image, and then delivers it to the user's browser as an optimized image.

In March, AirZip announced a technology agreement with ESRI, whose ArcView product is used for the Laguna Beach system, to integrate it with the GIS vendor's Geography Network service.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.


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