Letter: Re: Council Candidate’s Business Flouts City Law

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Local businessman Ruben Flores is a candidate for Laguna Beach city council, and readers may have been confused by the front-page article headline.

The article is certainly interesting highlighting that a significant problem for local businesses is their landlords. The article included:

From “$4,000 per month. Since Honarkar’s company took over the property in February 2016, Laguna Nursery’s rent has steadily climbed to $7,850.”

“Laguna Nursery has … use of a garage as an unpermitted office rather than making it available for parking.”

“code enforcement sent a final notice letter threatening to fine Visionscape’s landlord Heisler Laguna, LLC, which is controlled by Mohammad Honarkar, between $100 to $500 per day per violation until the property was deemed complaint.”

“The Laguna Beach Co., another Honarkar corporate entity, has pursued developing the 118-room Museum Hotel. If approved, the project would demolish Laguna Nursery and other buildings on the south side of Coast Highway between Cliff Drive and Jasmine Street.”

Isn’t the City trying to allow merchants and restaurants to utilize outdoor spaces to survive? By comparison, doesn’t this seem minor? “Laguna Beach code enforcement sent Laguna Nursery another letter on Aug. 25 saying it continued to receive complaints of unpermitted outdoor displays on the property and potted plants on the sidewalk. The letter states that records show Laguna Nursery submitted an application for a temporary use permit (TUP) to legalize the displays.” “Unfortunately, the property owner is refusing to sign and therefore, we cannot move forward with issuing a TUP,” Code Enforcement Supervisor Lillian Irish wrote.”

Perhaps the headline should have read “The Landlord of Laguna Beach council candidate’s business flouts city law.” Whatever, I will happily vote for Ruben Flores for Laguna Beach City Council.

Gene Felder, Laguna Beach

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  1. Now Gene Felder, husband of Johanna Felder who is the President of Political Action Committee Village Laguna, comes to the rescue of their endorsed candidate. Gene plays loose with the facts in the hope to spin Ruben’s unethical behavior. Sorry Gene, but Ruben’s bad business dealings date back years both from his current landlord and his previous one. Late and non-payment of rent, code non-compliance, and botched landscaping deals are par for the course. Sorry, no one is “confused” here. It’s Village Laguna realizing that their endorsed candidate’s skeletons just blew the closet door open. Why don’t all of you “supporters” answer the questions asked by the article? Ruben is, after all, going to “bring integrity back to Laguna” lol Did he stop paying rent because of COVID, or did the non-payment of rent start in 2019? Did the code non-compliance start during COVID or years ago? How is the landlord to blame? He asked for fair market value rent? It’s not fair for him to evict a deadbeat tenant? He didn’t want to get fined by the City for Ruben’s flaunting of code?

    Maybe the title of your LTE should be “Village Laguna lies to save their endorsed candidate”

  2. Yes! Thank you. The real story is the doubling of rent over four years by a landlord and developer who has spent tens of thousands of dollars electing City Council candidates (Blake and Kempf) to do the bidding of the developer-funded Liberate Laguna PAC. Ruben Flores puts potted plants on the sidewalk? Who cares. The choice is simple: Flores and George Weiss are the only ones who won’t sell their souls to the big money interests that are bent on monetizing every last feature of our lovely town.

  3. Ruben has no lease and has been month to month since 2016. He has not paid rent since last year yet he still refuses to vacate the premises. This letter to the editor, written by the husband of Village Laguna’s president, who happens to also be a Village Laguna committee member, is an attempt to shift the narrative away from Ruben’s delinquency.

  4. For LB CC member Peter Blake to go to this degree to publicly attack a LB resident/constituent to seemingly disgrace him and influence people is a new low, even for him. Especially since Blake so adamantly denounced the release of public financial information for his buddy CC Steve Dicterow (ran in 2016 CC election) when his bankruptcy status and financial issues were provided to voters during the candidate vetting process. I believe he referred to this action as being a “political predator.’ Gee, didn’t take Blake long to earn a Political Predator title did it? Blake’s has changed his tune and he seems to have time to dig deep into city documents and a developers private business activities to get dirt on a constituent. I think he should resign. He’s showing us just how unfit he is to serve LB constituents.


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