I’m not sure if the LB Independent is reading from Toni Iseman’s work history or the police blotter, but the questions “Iseman Readies for a Final Mayoral Term,” Dec. 9 edition, raise issues reminiscent of Laguna’s past 20 years. What follows is not a critique of our ceremonial mayor, but an expose of the way our city institution rules Laguna Beach.
“Laguna is a profit center.” You can say that again. Compare our present mansionization to a photograph of Laguna hillsides from 1950. People move here to bury their equity in a hillside home and more people are coming. The downside of prosperity might be traffic, trash, uninformed design approvals. To ameliorate the downside are mobility, pride, qualified personnel.
“Public safety and quality of life.” The candidates used it in their campaigns and voters too receptive so tell them what they want to hear. Public safety is also a jobs program for police and fire, the top two line-items in the city budget. But every time a visitor sticks bubble-gum to a sidewalk doesn’t justify more enforcement at $297,444.89 per sworn officer. Don’t blame negative curb-appeal on visitor trash when private cars litter our neighborhoods, spending 95% of the time parked. Why blame the homeless when the city buckles at every ACLU challenge? Public safety like village entrances and low-income housing make a nice public distraction too. The city looks busy.
“Creating more revenue.” We live in a town where commercial business climate tolerates a 34% vacancy rate but that’s business as usual. Way to go Council, to raise city revenue let’s tax somebody else, captive visitors in our hotels are sitting ducks (6% of visitor total).
“We are facing the struggle of brick and mortar.” Of course we are. So stop fighting facts and accommodate change! Invite relevant businesses that can flourish here not irrelevant gallerias who can’t. We don’t have a theater or a Trader Joe’s but we have a funny hat-shop and a candy store. We can’t find a parking place but we enforce parking requirements from 1940 and invite more cars.
“Passing the baton…residents first.” Acknowledge residents who have demonstrated the skill-set to solve our problems. How about endorsing a resident oversight committee to oversee city shenanigans, like the purchase of a $600,000 property zoned non-buildable for $1.6 million. Do pass the baton to the ROC, they understand the root of Laguna’s systemic problems and have best-practice solutions.
Les Miklosy, Laguna Beach