Letter: Ballot Initiative Pushback


Michele Monda’s insightful Nov. 12 column, “Seeking Balance With The [Laguna Residents First] Ballot Initiative,” must have struck a real nerve with developers Mo Honarkar and Michael Ray (founding member Liberate Laguna, Sanderson JRay Development)– now they’re out to double team and publicly dump on her in the Indy.  She’s obviously doing something very right.

Honarkar’s paid ad refutes Monda’s charges of the threat of reckless developers and drunk tourists running rampant. Yet there’s no mention of the block-long Museum Hotel monstrosity he tried to push through—one that ignored residents and would have blocked views for hundreds, jammed 116 rooms into a space zoned for 74, added 320 parking spaces at one of Laguna’s busiest intersections, and installed an ordinance-breaking roof deck that would have backed up to apartment and condo bedrooms.

Honarkar didn’t mention that Laguna Beach has one of the highest DUI rates in the State. That rents are so ungodly high that restaurants and bars are about the only businesses that can survive—hence more bars, more drunks, and more DUIs.

More reckless bad actor behavior: during the Hotel Laguna renovation, Honarkar thumbed his nose at four City stop work orders, continuing without permits, plans and often without inspections – despite altering load-bearing members. After almost three years, plans to renovate hotel rooms are nowhere in sight.

In Ray’s fictitious column, he accuses Monda of belonging to his favorite boogieman punching bag, Village Laguna. She doesn’t.

Developers hate regulations like crooks hate cops, so when Ray claims there’s no reason for the ballot initiative, it rings as hollow as a 55-gallon drum.

Ray’s group has spent $250,000 on campaign contributions during the last two elections (that’s $10.87 per resident) to get “pro-business, pro-tourist, pro-developer” city councilmembers (including Peter Blake) elected and overturn the building requirements that have protected Laguna’s charm from overdevelopment.

Ray pretends these contributions have no influence on the City Council, which has muscled in its pro-development City Manager and Assistant City Manager. Even the DA has rebuked them for concealing preferential treatment for Honarkar’s permitless Hotel Laguna renovations.

Ray condemns “The Big Lie” that becomes fact if repeated often. Yet he untruthfully demonizes Village Laguna every chance he gets. He also claims that 30 projects and even minor business alterations would require full city votes. Claims so patently and demonstrably false, they’re outright lies. Yet he repeats them.

Read the ballot initiative at lagunaresidentsfirst.org—then determine who the big liars are. They’ll say, do and spend anything and everything to prevent residents from having a say about oversized, highly-intensified commercial projects.

Jerome Pudwill, Laguna Beach

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  1. Thanks for enlightening the public on the destructive behavior by some going on in our City.

    A Liberate Laguna Forward PAC Founder, Developer and Indy columnist publicly trashing a long-time respected resident and another spending money on an AD to address her concerns?

    What’s next?

  2. You guys at Village Laguna sure can dish it out, but take it? You cry like babies. Instead of calling me names, discuss the issues. Please

  3. I’m confused. Is Mr. Ray suggesting that being referred to as an Indy columnist or a Laguna Forward PAC Founder is calling him names? It would be akin to “calling” me a publisher or an editor. I am—both—just as Mr. Ray is a long-time Indy columnist, and a founder of LL/LF.

  4. Hey Village Laguna, I’ve asked you many times to publicly debate. The radio station has stated they will host it. So come on, what are you afraid of? Your Chair vs Chair of Laguna Forward. You keep dodging and instead call names. Let the light in!!!!


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