Letter: In Defense of Ruben Flores

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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.

Nelson Coates, Laguna Beach

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  1. Agree. The contributions Ruben has made to Laguna Beach are admired and immeasurable. His consistent efforts to improve our town on so many levels surely stands up to the likes of those who merely take…such as CC Peter Blake. Ignore the political predators who make twisted accusations just to promote their narrative and agenda. Don’t let them destroy good people or buy another CC seat in our community. These BIG DEVELOPER SPENDERS will sell out our town as soon as they can after they change it to anywhere USA and they will take their money and run. Do not vote for any candidates endorsed or funded by Liberate Laguna PAC. LB needs a responsible caretaker again. Enough with the attorneys who don’t know how to listen and only know how to spend our money and put in into long-term debt!

  2. How pathetic that Ruben needed his husband Nelson to write a LTE in his defense. Funny how he forgot to mention Ruben’s failure to pay rent since 2019.

  3. Mr. Johnson: obviously you had not been reading the positive reviews by others and choose to only address the one by Mr. Coates…pick and choose doesn’t work and leaves you open to criticism…

  4. I would ask Mr. Johnson to list the contributions he has made to enhance the charm and character of Laguna so we can compare them with Rueben’s contributions.


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