Letter: City Doing Great Things


I’m hoping you all took the time to read Andrew Turner’s March 2 LA Times article on how our city manager, city leaders and city employees reported a $17 million increase in the city’s operating budget. According to a staff report, the general fund came in $7.4 million ahead of a 20% reserve requirement.

Our city outperformed budget estimates in its parking fund by $2.8 million (naysayers say that parking revenue doesn’t pay for itself), the capital improvement fund by $2.5 million, and the Measure LL fund by $1.6 million (naysayers don’t like or want any more hotels).

Those numbers were driven, in part, by $5 million in hotel bed tax revenue. The operating budget also benefited from an increase in property tax and sales tax. Laguna Beach collected 34% more in sales tax during fiscal year 2021-22 over the previous year, leading to a $1.8-million increase in the balance, with a majority of those funds coming from restaurants and bars. City departments also saved $1.4 million through a combination of cost control strategies and unfilled positions.

This was all done with the help and direction of our incredibly bright and forward-thinking Shohreh Dupuis, our city manager, and three city councilmembers, Sue Kempf, Bob Whalen and Peter Blake. The city councilmembers that you all berated but were voted in by the balance of our community to keep Laguna Beach in the 21st century.

All naysayers and name-callers who seem to love to fight, it’s time to stop fighting and continuing to find fault with our city government. It’s time to join the rest of our city that wants to see Laguna go forward. 

Sam Goldstein, a former PAC member, Laguna Beach 

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  1. Sam the Man, I couldn’t have said it better. The City Manager’s #1 job is to keep the budget balanced, and this $17 million surplus is proof that Ms. Dupuis is doing an exemplary job.

  2. Sam Goldstein it seems that you and Michael Ray are playing tag team to rehabilitate the stature of the City Manager. The main reason that the City budget is healthy is because of the sales of homes on Laguna Beach which had nothing to to with the City Manager. The subsidy furnished by property taxes to support the businesses in Laguna Beach was estimated to be at about $20 million annually in 2018. There was a review of this estimate by the city and it was concluded to be, I believe, within +/- 2%. If anything that subsidy is now likely increased by 10% or perhaps more. Of course you and the business interests support Shohreh Dupuis. I might do the same if I were getting 136 parking spaces at an average of $58 per month. Spaces that cost $125,000 to replace. The CM is in my view not a good steward of our (mostly residents) money.

    Have you forgotten how,under the direction of Mayor Bob Whalen, she and your very supportive rookie councimember Blake were appointed as senior members of a negotiating team to lease airspace from the Presbyterian Church for a parking structure that would give the city 92 parking spaces for FITYY YEARS at total cost including financing that would likely be more than $25 million? And this would give the Church 42 spaces for their exclusive use. You are or were a business person so I ask you to read the Memorandum of Understanding between the City and the Church and tell us what your opinion is. Would any investor ever agree to such an one sided lease? And like the CM’s seemingly panic decision to purchase the Ti Amo property for $2.7 million without an appraisal the $7.4 million dollar valuation by the Church that was used for the basis for the MOU had no independent appraisal by the city. And now the Ti Amo property is apparently being being declared surplus, likely to be sold at a loss. Had the CM been in a private corporation, IMO, she would have likely been dismissed.

    I would say based on the increases in staff and some major IMO missteps she has made, the health of the budget improved in spite of not because of Ms. Dupuis. So it is understandable why you, Michael Ray and others who have benefited, or may in the future benefit, from the largess of the city government at our expense will do whatever it takes to keep the CM in her position.

    I won’t bother to even go into her style of management nor comment about the fortuitous sequence of events following a totally unprofessional attack on four women. The, IMO, libelous attack with no factual basis occurred in a public meeting and has put the City at risk of lawsuits.

    Your tag team “Rehabilitation of the CM” ploy rings hollow to many residents. I wonder when Ms. Shoppoff’s turn will come up? Of course that is to be expected since you lost your chief champion on the council last election. But fear not you have the Mayor and Mayor pro tem firmly on your side.

    I think what I call “cellphonegate” may be a blessing for the residents if the city council would do the right thing and release the records. But instead the ping pong duo of Kempf and Whalen (Mayor pro tem, Mayor, Mayor pro tem etc.etc.etc…) apparently do not have any interest in finding the truth on whether the CM lied to the offficer who stopped as to the use of her cell phone while driving and then lied to the whole city by her account of the incident. Instead the City is using our money to hide the records which would either exonerate the CM or could result in her dismissal.

    So when you call residents that don’t agree with ever increasing subsidies to the business community and the consequential decrease in our quality of life as being “naysayers” I say the more “nays” there are to this total tilt of the city government in favor of the business community the better off we the residents will be. At present all we want is the TRUTH about “cellphonegate”.

  3. Oh, please, Sam and Billy.

    Your blatant self-interests are showing yet again.

    Just part of the chorus to huzzahs for a City Manager who’s benefiting developers, business interests and commercial property owners like yourselves. Champions of more tourism, more development, more traffic and more congestion – all at residents’ expense.

    I’m sure we’ll all be hearing a helluva lot more praises to the heavens from you and your cohorts for our beleaguered, controversy-proned City Manager as she ekes her way towards her June City Council performance review.

    I guess her $400K taxpayer-paid compensation package is a price not too high for others to pay for this pro-business, pro-tourism, pro-development City Manager who’s withholding evidence from the public on the two police investigations she’s personally subject to. (Transparency has never been her strong suit. Much easier helping investors behind closed doors.)

    So let the ballyhooing begin! Jump on the bandwagon with all the other profiteers and spin a big bogus shout-out for our anti-resident City Manager! It’s good for business!

  4. Thank you Chris for that cogent and intelligent analysis. There’s a great article in the Voice of OC published yesterday about the City Manager and lack of transparency and hiding things from residents. All in violation of the Sunshine act making it possible for residents to get information from the cities in which they live.


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