On June 11, in a packed City Hall meeting devoted to the proposed village entrance, three City Council members voted to strip $15 million from the city’s general, parking, and sewer funds and put residents in debt for more than 25 years. Many residents, such as I, were at this meeting to propose that the citizenry have an opportunity to vote on the village entrance and the costs to complete such a project.
It was a 3-2 vote of the council, with members Boyd and Iseman voting “no” and the majority of the Council…Pearson, Dicterow and Whalen…voting for a revenue bond to finance the proposed village entrance project. As I discovered, a resident vote is not a requirement for revenue bond…so, three members of the council voted for the revenue bond to circumvent a vote by us, the residents. A revenue bond has to pay for itself, legally, so these three council members have promised to institute a $1 per hour parking meter rate increase, as well as promising the taxpayers…us…that residents would back up any short fall with the general fund. Our money!
So, as I understand the decisions made by Pearson, Dicterow and Whalen, Laguna will spend $81 million ($29 million in bonds with interest comes to $81,000,000 plus $15 million cash) to add an additional 200 new parking places. The bond will cost us $2.1 million a year for the next 25 years(!)…and this will be paid for by promised parking revenue generated by raising our existing parking rates $1 per hour. If this doesn’t work…we the taxpayers are somehow obligated.
When you think about this vote by Dicterow, Whalen and Pearson, it seems quite risky to me. Are there no other solutions to our congested village such as satellite parking and trams? Other residents I am sure might not agree with me. But shouldn’t we all have a say? We did not elect these City Council members to spend our $15 million on hand and put Laguna Beach in debt for the next 25 years. As a resident and a homeowner, I am more at ease with putting our city’s future in the hands of my fellow residents.
Shouldn’t we all have a vote on the village entrance, in light of the tremendous costs? And time spent in construction leaving and entering our canyon?
Please permit the residents to vote. It is our tax dollars at stake…and much more.
Jahn Levitt, Laguna Beach