Village Laguna appreciates Council’s concern about controlling the costs to the city of processing the Laguna Beach Company’s many major projects. However, we’re afraid, as we were in the case of the proposed $250,000 gift for the same purpose, that its decision to require the company, alone among all applicants, to pay the full costs of processing those projects will lead to the company’s receiving special treatment. Their paying more of the costs may create a tendency for staff to value these projects more than the smaller projects proposed by and for residents and therefore move them to the head of the queue. To maintain residents’ trust, it’s important that staff treat everyone the same with regard to both fees and the processing of projects.
We also question how staff will be able to determine what degree of cost recovery is being achieved without a system for accounting for the time spent on various projects. We were shocked to learn that the city doesn’t already have such an accounting method, which is standard for private business, and it seems to us absolutely necessary to provide justification for charges.
Submittals that don’t follow the Municipal Code and General Plan will undoubtedly consume more staff time, yet without a system that tracks time spent, they will be charged the same as more modest proposals that meet all the requirements.
When the community is already questioning how these projects can benefit the community and its residents, it is important that the city establish verifiable methods for tracking costs and ensure that the processing of smaller projects will not only not be delayed by the processing of projects by the Laguna Beach Company but will be handled more efficiently, as has been requested since long before the Laguna Beach Company came on the scene.
Johanna Felder, Village Laguna President