Journalistic integrity was disappointingly lacking in Sept. 4 article regarding Ruben Flores. What a reach to attempt to smear the name of a long-time contributing citizen. Really – a string tying a shade sail to a city tree, or plants in a parkway warrant a sensational headline? The article revealed challenges Laguna’s small businesspersons face daily, and how diligently Flores has worked with city and landlord to make Laguna’s only remaining nursery work in a challenging business environment. During the pandemic, Flores has worked non-stop helping residents turn to organic sustainable gardens and trees.
Unfortunately, the article omitted many issues all renters at that property have faced, including a 10-month outdoor water leak creating a hazardous moss-filled stream through the property – repeatedly reported to landlord and city – with cumulative water run-off of nearly one million gallons.
How can small businesses survive skyrocketing rents? (rent increased 96% in five years – industry standard is 3% annually). Laguna businesses are forced to close when landlords implement tactics too commonplace – raise rates so high to force tenants out. Maybe that’s the point – create blighted areas to pressure the city to allow any redevelopment at all – whatever long-term cost to city character.
Since Laguna tourists spend less than $1 average daily, Council must aggressively protect local businesses. Numerous closures in recent years are due to unreasonable codes and inequitable enforcement. For example – Casey’s Cupcakes was not allowed to serve coffee, have exterior café tables, or even balloons. The shop added panache to Laguna yet because of unreasonable codes, couldn’t remain profitable.
Salient points were missed by focusing only on temporary storefront items, while simultaneously, egregious code violations were promulgated by same landlord at Hotel Laguna, where construction proceeded secretly for months without permits – red-tagged only when illegal construction could no longer be ignored. High value issues forgone to chase non-issues?
Now with Forest Promenade, items you described as “flouting” are being encouraged by the city. Creating a promenade has been promoted for years by Flores. Obviously, his ideas create vitality.
I appreciate neighboring cities, but live here for Laguna’s quality of life… a quality now eroding with unsettling rapidity. Flores wants development to contribute to Laguna’s character with thoughtful, respectful growth.
A 24-year businessman and homeowner, Flores has consistently contributed to make Laguna better. His experience, ideas, and voice benefiting all Laguna is exactly what City Council needs.
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