“Whatever civility might be, it has to do with courtesy, politeness, and good manners . . . Courtesy, politeness, and civility are all, in essence, forms of awareness. Being civil means being constantly aware of others and weaving restraint, respect, and consideration into the very fabric of this awareness. Civility is a form of goodness; it is gracious goodness. But it is not just an attitude of benevolent and thoughtful relating to other individuals; it also entails an active interest in the well-being of our communities and even a concern for the health of the planet on which we live.” –P.M. Forna from “Choosing Civility.”
Last Tuesday night, I attended the meeting of the City Council to represent a client in connection with a DRB appeal. We were last on the calendar, so having gotten there early, I sat through almost the entire calendar. Number 20 on the calendar was the Council’s consideration of the city’s acquisition of the property located at 725 Laguna Canyon Road. I knew this was going to be controversial because it is related to the village entrance project, and I had heard that the activists who are against the village entrance project were opposed to the acquisition.
While a number of passionate and civil citizens spoke up in opposition to the proposal, I was appalled as several others engaged in anything but civil discourse with our City Council. These citizens made multiple personal attacks on the integrity of the City Council members—accusing them of fraud, misrepresentations, ignorance, conflicts of interest, self-dealing, lying and cheating.
Whatever one’s feelings are about the village entrance or the city’s purchase of the canyon property, this was just wrong. These fine folks who serve on our City Council for free and spend countless hours working on our behalf deserve better. It is one thing to disagree with decisions made by the Council. Sure, I think they get it wrong sometimes too. It is another to engage in this type of uncivil behavior.
As we move forward with the debate over the village entrance, let us all remember to weave “restraint, respect and consideration” into our communications. Disagree, yes, but with civility please.
Tom Davis, Laguna Beach