Letter: Liberate Megadevelopers in Laguna

Share this:

As you decide on your votes in the Laguna Beach Council election, there are many bits of information that might influence your choice.

Be aware that much of the information might be coming from “Liberate Laguna.” It should really be labelled for what it is: “Liberate Megadevelopers in Laguna”—five major developers who are spending more than $100,000 on an information blitz. What is their agenda?

They want a Council majority, and the people that these Council members appoint to the Planning Commission, to liberate these megadeveloper’s Laguna projects from:

  • Laguna’s building height restrictions
  • Laguna’s density of development requirements
  • Laguna’s parking requirements
  • Really, anything that prevents their megadevelopment plans in Laguna

Why are these five megadevelopers attacking one candidate, Toni Iseman, so vehemently?

Is it because Iseman is burned out from long Council service? No, anyone who has seen her in action or dealt with her knows she is deeply engaged, knowledgeable, and committed to public service.

Is it because they just want to throw out all incumbents? No, they are quite happy with any incumbent who supports their agenda.

Is it because they are worried Iseman might be re-elected and that she will be a very tough vote to win when they propose multiple megaprojects which require variances from Laguna’s standards that protect our community’s character? Yes, of course.

Is there a lesson for us from Irvine (egad!) local politics? Over the last two election cycles, megadeveloper Five Points and its allies spent more than $3 million to attack quite viciously any Irvine City Council candidates that might hinder their development plans and to advocate Council candidates who were in their pocket. The result: they succeeded in electing a three-person Council majority that has facilitated every megadevelopment proposal that they put forward. The number of building permits approved by Irvine has doubled! Density and traffic are worse. Almost no one in Irvine will claim that the megadevelopers projects have improved the quality of their life in Irvine. Irvine voters finally caught on to the megadeveloper’s expensive and deceptive information blitzes, and recently voted down a scam land swap that Five Points wanted regarding a veteran’s cemetery.

Vote smart. Recognize the real agenda of Liberate Megadevelopers in Laguna before you accept their candidate choices and accept uncritically the overwhelming, million-dollar, deceptive voter information that they are buying and sending to you.

Jim Danziger, Laguna Beach

Share this:
Firebrand Media LLC wants comments that advance the discussion, and we need your help to accomplish this mission. Debate and disagreement are welcomed on our platforms but do it with respect. We won't censor comments we disagree with. Viewpoints from across the political spectrum are welcome here. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, our community is not obliged to host all comments shared on its website or social media pages, including:
  • Hate speech that is racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic slurs, or calls for violence against a particular type of person.
  • Obscenity and excessive cursing.
  • Libelous language, whether or not the writer knows what they're saying is false.
We require users to provide their true full name, including first and last names, as a condition for comments. We reserve the right to change this policy based on future developments.

Scroll down to comment on this post.


  1. Thank you for this analysis. We have been inundated with Liberate Laguna campaign mailers on behalf of Sue Kempf and Peter Blake. No way will we vote for them now that we know the development interests that are backing them.

  2. Someone on FB mentioned that you didn’t mention the names of these local developers.

    (I looked up the contributors to Liberate Laguna PAC on the LB city web site under campaign disclosures)

    It was started and funded by two of Peter Blake’s longtime developer friends in town, Michael Ray, of Sanderson J. Ray Development of Newport Beach, and Sam Goldstein, a real estate consultant.

    The other main sponsors are Mohammad “Mo” Honarker, who currently has at least two hotel development projects before the city, and has recently bought major parcels in the canyon, downtown and north Laguna. (He recently also bought two hotels in Palm Desert for $36 million.)

    Another main one is Bill and Cindy Shopoff, who are real estate developers. I’m not sure who the fifth one is.

  3. Reeks of Village laguna letter writing campaign. #1 this is totally false information, Peter Blake is not in the pac, he primarily wanted to clean up down down, make it easier for residents to remodel has not intention of creating what village laguna writers are says. Vote for toni Iseman if you want the same old crap and spending and homeless eroding our entire town..they are in fear of anyone new coming in and quite frankly call Peter, he is one of the nicest 25 yr residents in town..what a bunch of smear, ashamed for this group.

  4. Lies all to protect Iseman. She will vote with development as long as she is heavily involved remember the giant parking structure she proposed? Have you dined at the new Hotel Joaquin? Well you can’t because it’s for hotel guests only, thanks to Iseman and Village and their anti development push. Vote Iseman and Christoph if you want more vacancies, less parking and more homeless.

  5. Barbara Rathbun,

    The truth is that Peter Blake is longtime, close friends with at least two of these five developers behind the Liberate Laguna PAC–Michael Ray and Sam Goldstein–that is bankrolling his campaign.

    Just ask him.


  6. Janine since #factsmatter how much $ has Blake accepted from Liberate Laguna? And how much $ has Iseman taken from Village Laguna? Why can’t we be friends, Iseman grabs her ankles for her developer friends like Mark Crisrty and we are still awaiting the trail as promised. FYI Sam Goldstein is friends with Iseman and she votes to support most projects once she puts her stamp on it. Remember she supported her own multi story parking structure but fights others.

  7. In addition to the facts in my Letter to the Independent, I’ve been asked to add a few more facts.
    1. I am a political science professor, and local government & politics is one of my fields of study.
    2. I have owned a home and rental property in Laguna for more than 45 years.
    3. I have never been a member of Village Laguna.

  8. Janine is there a limit to how much you’ll lie? Yes, Michael and Sam are longtime friends. No, they’re not “bankrolling” my campaign. I’ve raised $15,000 from residents who believe it’s time to take our community away from Toni, Ann, and Village Laguna. They’re sick and tired of criminal transients committing crimes unabated, the unlawful erosion of property rights over the last 50 years, a pathetic downtown full of retail geared towards low-end tourists. Keep the fearmongering going in the hopes that you will keep your preferred candidates and political action committee Village Laguna in power. It’s not going to work. We’ve had enough!

  9. Peter Blake, kudos to you, Friend. Fearmongering and lies are rampant, and are two of the metiers of NIMBYs who think nothing of property rights, personal freedom, and the futures of our children and grandchildren who desperately want to have their own homes some day. If NIMBYs continue to lie and prevent development, apartment rents and home costs will continue to soar more insanely than they already have. How selfish and shortsighted of these opponents of yours.

  10. One can be blinded by the slurs thrown at Toni Iseman by the Liberate Laguna Mega Developer camp and those they endorse, or one can look at her record. She has been often the lone the minority vote defending the city and adherence to the General Plan, in the face of overwhelming opposition. from those that would exploit our community for their own single minded gain. This has nothing to do with individual homeowners but everything to do with monopolistic commercial property owners and their return on investment.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here