Are voters willing to pay for really great projects in Laguna? You wouldn’t think so after Councilman (Bob) Whalen’s summary comments at the Nov. 12 public hearing. After listening to his comments several times, he seemed to imply that Laguna’s voters are reluctant to issue debt to fund public works projects.
Did he miss an important point for this project that delivered minuscule benefits for the $65 million estimated cost? Does he not remember that projects providing broad community benefits for fiscally sound costs (Main Beach, open space, and the school district) were voter supported?
Furthermore, the attempt by the three council people to ramrod the village entrance project using revenue bonds bypassing Laguna’s voters was a slap in the face to anyone with common sense. Trying to bypass the voters was a blatant attempt for the ill-conceived and currently overpriced project. Perhaps the council should recall that public voting for general obligation bonds to fund fiscally sound projects makes sense. And if projects benefit the entire city they have a better probability of succeeding. This is particularly true with community leader support from the outset. The school district bond issue should provide a model for the council.
It is a proven fact that general obligation bonds supported by voters are considerably cheaper than revenue bonds. Let’s move ahead with a plan to underground and widen Laguna Canyon Road (with sidewalks too); create a long discussed plaza on Forest Avenue; add perimeter parking (including the HIP district); and whatever else is needed to make this a better community for residents and visitors. If it takes a $100 million bond issue, have community leaders support it and get the voters on board.
The Council shouldn’t plan for vast projects with half-vast actions. Please Council, do something rational soon that includes voters support.
Victor Opincar, Laguna Beach