Just because Michael Ray writes something in his column, doesn’t make it true. Given Ray’s track record, you can assume its not.
“Businesses that opposed the promenade…have praised the promenade because it helps their businesses.” Not true. Owners on Forest Ave have said that the lack of parking has hurt their businesses.
Village Laguna had opposed the promenade for decades.” Not true. Village Laguna has not taken a position on this or other Promenade proposals, except that nothing should be made permanent until citizens and businesses are surveyed. Process matters before such a major change is made to our town. Based on consultations with affected businesses, Village Laguna has expressed concerns regarding the impact on non-restaurant businesses, for residents’ loss of parking access to downtown business. Village Laguna members individually are free to declare their positions for or against the Promenade and many have done so.
Village Laguna opposes the latest Promenade project, what Mr. Ray calls “the most popular new city initiative in decades.” Not true. Village Laguna asked the City to do an anonymous survey of residents and local business owners to gather information to be sure residents approve of this initiative before spending almost $400,000 on a consultant to design a permanent Promenade which may cost millions. How does Mr. Ray know it is “the most popular initiative” in terms of a permanent change (and not just a temporary one in light of COVID) unless a survey is done?
Village Laguna opposes outdoor dining. Not true. Too ridiculous an accusation to even merit a response to this canard.
These are the most egregious lies and distortions in Mr. Ray’s column. He and other developer members of Liberate Laguna Political Action Committee must be upset that their darling candidate in 2018, Peter Blake, has acted so disreputably and performed so poorly as a member of the council. He also must be upset that their significant investment in 2020 to elect another pro-development candidate to City Council failed. Now he attacks the community nonprofit member organization every chance he gets.
Laguna residents have heard this before. For 50 years Village Laguna has opposed developers who look to destroy Laguna for their profit and turn it into Dana Point, Laguna Niguel or Corona Del Mar. For this, Ray and other developers are out to smear Village Laguna’s good name. This is but the latest example.
Village Laguna cares about process and citizen input. Before a permanent change is made to downtown, it is important to make sure that the change serves Laguna Beach residents and the businesses that make our town the unique place that we love. The best way to do so is through a survey conducted after the pandemic restrictions end. Our citizens and local businesses can then respond in light of their experience of the Promenade, such as at the end of the summer.
Johanna Felder, Laguna Beach