Guest Opinion: Best Reasons For “No on Q” Come From Q’s Sponsors



(Ed. Note – This column has been updated after the Indy mistakenly ran an incomplete draft version in the 9/23 print edition. We’ll run the new version in the 9/30 print edition. Many apologies to our readers and Joe Hanauer.)

By Joe Hanauer

The more we hear from the Measure Q’s authors, the more they provide reasons to vote no.

 Consider a Q author’s recent Indy column. He explains how Q actually enables new projects versus freezing change as contended by Q’s opponents. The author describes how Q would permit a 70-room hotel without a vote. This would indeed be a strange hotel. For 70 rooms to be below Q’s size limit and therefore avoid a vote, each room would be a tiny 300 s.f. No need to worry about traffic because the hotel couldn’t rent any rooms. Why? Because nobody could access the rooms since there would be no stairs, halls, and elevators to achieve 70 rooms and still be within Q’s limit. There would be no lobby, dining room, public restrooms, and no bar. Some hotel!

He continues by saying that Q supports St. Catherine’s, which the city is buying. Did he forget that under his Measure Q, because of a use change, St. Catherine’s would require a public vote and up to a two-year delay. Or is he suggesting the city operate St. Catherine’s as a church so a use change wouldn’t be triggered? If these kinds of misstatements weren’t so serious, they’d be laughable.

Among the problem with Q’s public vote mandate isn’t just the time and cost. There’s no assurance a vote will succeed for even the best proposal. Why? Some people always vote no, some oppose any public expenditure, some businesses won’t want competition, and neighbors who may be impacted will vote no. Approval isn’t in the bag.

So, here’s why you hear inconsistent messages from Q. Since I and others have been calling out the serious problems with Q, its authors have been struggling to explain away Q’s flaws. At the same time, Q supporters are going door to door, contending Q only impacts large developments when we know Q sweeps in the smallest. The recently approved coffee shop, the ice cream parlor, and the sandwich shop are each an example of very small projects which would have required a public vote under Q. And they’re each the kind of projects that will delight us.

Ask any of the three people opening these three small spots if they would have proceeded if they had to endure the time, cost and risk of a public vote.

Here’s a further example of the problem with Q. I recently stopped at a Q table outside the farmers’ market. I asked about Q’s several flaws. Their answer – flaws can be corrected later. Really? Changing literally anything in Q requires a public vote with a possible 2-year wait. And if a vote succeeded, would Q supporters look to a provision buried in Q that requires a majority of the electorate to make a change. That’s a majority of the people eligible to vote, not a majority of those who actually voted. Nothing would ever pass.

Q’s authors now say the term electorate is misunderstood and they meant those who voted. If so, electorate should never have been used. There are loads of major provisions in Q just like this one that weren’t sufficiently thought through or intentionally inserted to mislead. 

This is why our signs say, “Don’t Be Fooled – Vote No On Q”. Q may initially have been well-intentioned, but it’s morphed into something terribly flawed and it’s now too late to be changed. Instead of pulling it and coming back with a more sensible version its authors are making excuses for Q which simply don’t fly.

We all love our town including Q supporters. It’s the stringent process that has given us what we love. The process works most of the time. Sure, we don’t agree with every Council decision. But that’s how a representative democracy works. The town we love is a product of a process that works! 

Q is wrong for Laguna. Vote No On Q

Editor’s Note: Joe owns multiple Laguna Beach commercial properties where he’s completed multiple major renovations and remodeling. Among them is the Old Pottery Place and 580 Broadway.

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  1. Mega donor and promoter Joe H and the fake-grass root org Citizens for Lagunas Future that he backs, is following a standard approach that all of the best high-priced political consultants recommend, in order to spread doubt among the voting public.

    Their knee-jerk opposition to the reasonable guardrails that Measure Q would impose reveals a myopic view of Laguna’s future; that our destiny lies solely in an ever intensified tourist beach town. This is such a sad and anachronistic vision. Our future could expand so far beyond this and with proper leadership among the City Council and civic leaders, could change our course. Short of that happening, developers and real estate speculators are following the default playbook, wherein more tourists demand more tourist-focused facilities which they are only too happy to provide (assuming a compliant Planning Commission & City Council). Most voters know the reason commercial developers oppose smart-growth initiatives such as Measure Q. Lack of vision & Profits. Plain. And. Simple.

  2. What Mr. Morris does NOT state: if Q passes:

    Say goodbye to outdoor dining.

    Say goodbye to The Promenade

    Say goodbye to new, small retailers

    Say goodbye to anything new, ever.

  3. Oh dear, it appears Mr. Ray did not read Measure Q thoroughly. If he did he would discover that Measure Q covers GROSS floor space of commercial buildings only—Not sidewalk outdoor dining; not garage spaces; not parking lots—in the count of gross floor space. Measure Q also PROTECTS existing and new retailers since they’re not over 7500 gross square feet of floor space (parking spaces, garages, and sidewalk stuff isn’t part of the count) or 6000 gross square feet of floor space in the DSP (downtown plan area). Measure Q protects our current restaurants and retail stores by discouraging huge new commercial developments squeezing them out.

  4. Michael Morris again hopes to make his case for Measure Q by attacking the people who oppose it, rather than debating the issue. Why, for example, do we need Measure Q’s “reasonable guardrails” in a town that passed America’s first citywide height ordinance in 1971 (source: Arnold Hano) and has had other low-and-slow development guardrails in place for decades?


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