I am writing to share my concerns as a resident. It has been brought to my attention, that prior to a community event, a councilmember was actively petitioning residents for signatures on behalf of the Laguna Residents First (LRF) Political Action Committee (PAC). This action poses two questions. Is this a conflict of interest due to that councilmember’s public role? What is the initiative?
Although wearing a LRF PAC logo T-shirt and carrying a clipboard may not be illegal, these actions should be concerning and viewed as a potential conflict of interest. It is one thing for a councilmember to bring items forward directly or endorse elements involving the community, it is another for that councilmember to be advocating directly for a PAC.
This Founder Emeritus clearly is not Emeritus. This is not the first time this councilmember made his decision prior to a public hearing. Could this be grounds for recusal if relevant matters from the PAC fall before City Council?
The Laguna Residents First PAC ballot initiative recommends further restrictions to the development standards for size, parking, daily trip counts, and more. If updates are needed these changes should be vetted through the public process. It appears that this initiative is being proposed without public, city staff, or professional input. The initiative has serious implications for Laguna Beach’s vibrancy and vitality. Please read the fine print prior to signing.
My understanding of this initiative is that the organizers of the PAC believe this is the only way to “Save Laguna Beach.” By purposing this to keep life and business frozen in a time capsule… as fear of change may be damaging. The stance of, “build nothing, change nothing” is likely not the correct position. The PAC is even positioning this as way of “Beautifying Laguna.” To my knowledge, nothing in the document involves beautification, design, architecture, or even landscaping. Instead, it exposes the clear intent for a PAC to assert unnecessary controls on our community. It therefore bypasses our elected City Council leaders, staff, standing policies, and public opinion for future decisions.
This proposal will also further complicate our already complex general plan, LCP and municipal codes. It would not fix them or help create a better Laguna. The overlay zone could impact over 7,000 publicly- and privately-owned lots and may conflict with state law. This could potentially lead to greater controversy, delayed permits, taxpayer confusion, and litigation.
In 2014, the City of Malibu passed Measure R, a voter-based initiative that would restrict development of large-scale, mixed use commercial developments of over 20,000 square feet, with voter process. Three years later, the courts overturned their initiative, costing Malibu increased staff time and legal fees. The residents clearly ended up last in this scenario, not first.
I strongly believe that making development changes to Laguna Beach’s commercial and residential properties takes a delicate balance. This balance includes the voices of all property owners, neighbors, staff, and community members. This process must be transparent and involve the entire community. All residents should be heard in creating the Laguna Beach vision.
Again, please read the initiative carefully.
Louis Weil, Laguna Beach
Editor’s Note: Louis is chair of Laguna Beach’s Design Review Board.View Our User Comment Policy