Council on the Menu for Cafe Owner

City Council candidate Jon Madison in his cafe.
City Council candidate Jon Madison in his cafe.

Jon Madison, owner of Laguna Beach’s Madison Square and Garden Café and a longtime member of the city’s Heritage Committee, last week confirmed rumors of his candidacy by declaring his intention to run for City Council.

Two other challengers so far are also vying for the three seats that will be up for grabs in November. Of the Council’s three longest-serving members, whose terms expire this year, including Mayor Elizabeth Pearson and Council members Toni Iseman and Kelly Boyd, so far only Boyd has definitively announced his intention to seek another term.

A congenial cafe owner, Madison greets clients with smiles and cheerful banter, as well as plenty of treats to indulge their four-footed companions. He certainly has the vote of every dog who has crossed his threshold.

Madison, whose café occupies a historic cottage, is more than just a friendly face when it comes to the matters he cares about, such include safeguarding Laguna’s historic structures. He currently chairs the city’s Heritage Committee, now in the process of re-evaluating the city’s entire inventory of historic buildings. Last May, Madison reported to the council on the committee’s progress in noticing about 500 owners of properties on the inventory about their eligibility to place their dwellings on the historic register. He also described holding public outreach meetings to disseminate information about the process and potential benefits of inclusion in the historic registry.

“Everything is coming together,” Madison enthusiastically noted at the time. “We are getting a lot of positive input regarding historic homes in the city.” The need for such an inventory became apparent last month, after the Coastal Commission approved demolition of a Laguna Beach property whose historic features had been mostly erased by unpermitted remodeling. The inventory’s documentation and a code enforcement officer with knowledge of historical properties could help avoid a similar predicament, Madison said.

Madison generously plays host to fundraisers for numerous local charities amidst his café’s verdant enclave of statuary, wind chimes and fountains. Last July, the Assistance League recognized his efforts by naming him businessman of the year.

Madison’s fellow City Hall challengers include Robert Zur Schmiede, a 12-year appointee to the city’s Planning Commission, and Michele Hall, a yoga teacher and former political consultant.


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