Tuesday evening the City Council responded to public requests for two studies into the Laguna Residents First (LRF) ballot initiative. If LRF’s initiative is approved in November, it would call for the public to vote before various kinds of developments can be approved. The request was to provide an economic impact analysis on the City if the initiative were to pass as well as recommendations to better achieve constraints on unwanted developments. The concern expressed by many has been that while the LRF ballot initiative is constructive in calling out developments that should be constrained it accidentally goes much too far and puts handcuffs on “good” projects. By doing so it creates a lack of predictability for those willing to invest in Laguna thereby creating an embargo on needed improvements to our aging commercial real estate stock as well as apartments. The growing seedy appearance of our town would accelerate if the ballot initiative is approved.
The initial response Tuesday evening from LRF proponents is criticism of both studies. It’s somewhat understandable because people are passionate about their LRF initiative. But I’m an optimist. My hope is that proponents will declare victory by celebrating that their work produced a focus on what it is in Laguna that we want to protect and avoid and that the City Council is prepared to address methods for better ensuring this.
We have months to either create an alternative ballot initiative that avoids the current one’s pitfalls as well as consider modifications to the City’s codes that apply to project approvals. My hope is that the passion behind LRF can be re-channeled to best address how to have desired development be promoted and undesired blocked. This should not be a win/lose moment. The LRF proponents did not lose on Tuesday evening by hearing the pitfalls of the initiative. Their goal should be assuring sound development regardless of how this is achieved.
Finally, for those who signed the ballot initiative without knowing all of the detail that’s baked in the document, by signing it you raised the visibility of important issues. You’re totally able to pivot to working together to support a better and more feasible solution. Your signature doesn’t mean you need to continue supporting it as flaws are highlighted nor that you need to vote for it this fall.
Joe Hanauer, Laguna BeachView Our User Comment Policy