Letter: Protect Our Village Without the Proposed Ballot Initiative


In last weeks StuNews, Gene Felder attacked me again and several other residents for making political contributions to a local PAC. He claimed that my donations were to make “big developments easier by changing long-established city standards.”

His only proof: I secured land use entitlements to make the E” Rated Historic Heisler Building ADA accessible. Is Gene Felder really against our city creating equal access to facilities for elderly and disabled people? It shouldnt be a surprise when you read Felders political beliefs below.

I will not apologize for my 43 years of efforts to improve Laguna Beach because Im proud of my work to establish the two percent hotel bed tax. Since its passage in 2001, over $18 million in funds has been directed toward the arts. I was also the activist who after 38 years, got an orchestra and music program in all our Laguna public schools and am co-founder of Laguna Beach Live. I have also continued to fight against the corrupt TCA toll roads. And now I am working as a member of the Housing and Human Services Committee to promote affordable housing— something we have not done for more than 20 years and which you and your group have done your best to shut down.

I have fought against entrenched groups that you espouse that are desperate to maintain the status quo. I value and I donate to political candidates who want to move forward. They dont ask me to; I know my own mind and support those who know we need fresh ideas and arent afraid to implement them. I know a dangerously small-minded candidate when I see one, and unfortunately for our community, a pair have seats on our council.

Heres another attack on me that Gene Felder wrote in StuNews March 9, 2021:

“One wonders what vision and development plans Sam Goldstein has for Laguna Beach; in his testimony he described our beloved Laguna Beach as a dying, decaying, totally fragmented city right now with most of our businesses closed.Yikes!”

Gene, I wonder what you have done with your life in Laguna? All I see is your blind support of your wife and her group who have stifled all growth in Laguna Beach since 1974. Only two new commercial buildings have been built in Laguna for the last 47 years—the Susi Q Senior and Community Center and the Montage. All other commercial projects in town were simply remodels.

Now more about you, according to FEC data, in 2020, Eugene (Gene) Felder donated at least $4,700 to Donald Trump and Republicans. What was his motivation?  Was it Trumps attacks on the environment? Mismanagement of the pandemic? The Jan. 6 insurrection? Im curious to know… because all I see with the writings of Gene Felder is the same negative and degrading approach that Donald Trump uses on people. Gene, you make a perfect Trump clone!

I know one thing: Trump donor Eugene (Gene) Felder, and the rest of the proponents of this ballot initiative share a total disregard for truth just like Donald Trump!

Thankfully, the residents of Laguna know better and will soundly reject this bogus initiative and you.

Samuel Goldstein, Laguna Beach

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  1. Mr Goldstein the all time winner in the “how to manipulate the system to my financial advantage and to the detriment of local tax-payers”. He’s the text-book case of using influence and playing the long game to avoid every reasonable commercial development restriction that Laguna has on the books. Once the concessions have been granted and the value of his commercial real estate investments thus dramatically increased, its easy to play the philanthropist and holler about all of his “good works for the community”. What about the liabilities you’ve saddled your neighbors with? IMO Laguna would do well without benefactors like Sam Goldstein.

  2. “Silly Billie”, you’re at it again. Being played like a fiddle by Goldstein. Do you really believe all that “poor me” stuff? If so I’ve got a great deal for you that involves a bridge.

    As for Goldstein mentioning the Montage, instead of having a Surf and Sand structure with a private beach we have a world class hotel that obstructs no ones view, a public beach we can all enjoy and a beautiful public park maintained by the hotel. This happened only because the developer knew the project was going to have an up or down vote by the residents. He therefore made concessions that were deemed acceptable by the residents. That is the type of developer we should have not one that games the system. But unfortunately we have seen the special treatments some enjoy who imply if they don’t get their way (and they are getting their own way) they may just go somewhere else. I have a suggestion; Dana Point or Huntington Beach may be the place to go. Here in Laguna Beach the residents want a voice in projects that will affect not only them but succeeding generations. I know this sounds radical to those used to getting whatever they want but it is we the residents that pay the price for the few that reap the benefits hence the need for the LRF ballot initiative.

  3. Chris Catsimanes: First, you are rewriting the history of the Montage. Second, your idea that those of us who oppose the referendum “are used to getting what they want” is ludicrous. I can only assume that you have never tried to build a home or a business in Laguna.


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