Letter: Recent Laguna Canyon Road workshop an eye-opener


The gummy bears and colored pens on the tabletops set the tone for the May 7 Laguna Canyon Road meeting. The residents were being treated as kindergarteners who had nothing of value to share.

Tom Perez and Circlepoint consultant Susan Harden used deceptive terms, such as “relinquishment” to brush over what they were really talking about: purchasing LCR from CalTrans.

Perez and Harden alluded to previous Cost-Benefit Analysis and PSR reports to support their decisions about negotiating with Cal Trans. They said we could read the 600-page report for more information. They could have started the meeting with key points from these reports, but it seemed they wanted to avoid the elephant in the room.

We were supposed to be distracted by giving our input on types of bike lanes and curbs without having an opportunity to address our real concerns: Why would Laguna Beach need or want to purchase LCR? What is the cost of such a purchase? What are the priorities for changes to LCR?

I don’t often get involved in city issues, but this meeting was an eye-opener. I felt the real issues were being intentionally obscured and that there were obvious efforts to avoid hearing from concerned residents who had real expertise and valuable ideas and questions.

I think the City Council is out of touch with how residents feel and their common concerns. Many residents feel that the City Council does not have the residents’ well-being as their primary focus and instead prioritize attracting more businesses and tourists to town.

As a City Council member, your every decision should first and foremost be for the residents. Ask yourself, “How does this decision make life better for the residents?” We don’t need to spend time and money on making it easier for tourists to travel and park in Laguna. They are already here and they will continue to come!

How about “Residents First” as your mantra, updating infrastructure items such as fixing roads and sewer lines, adding sidewalks and parks, doing fire and evacuation drills and undergrounding utilities? While these items may not attract more tourists, they would improve the lives of residents. We are a small town, and our expenditures on purchasing land and properties in the recent past seem out of line with our budget and our needs.

Anne Ellett, Laguna Beach

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  1. Well said! Look around at our city. It’s suffering from over a decade of our Council majority (Whalen/Kempf controllers) focused on building a bigger tourism industry using our taxpayer revenues and city hall resources to support it and its related businesses instead of residents.

    Unless we get factual answers (not glossy promotional rhetoric) to the financial impact and specifically who benefits from such a costly investment acquisition- residents should demand a voter approval process.

  2. Our current City Council “Majority” is profoundly out of touch with the residents of Laguna Beach. This is evidenced over and over by their disregard, and yes, this is a strong word, but contempt for Us the Citizens. Just look at the POLLS that the INDY conducts, the results of these POLLS are totally ignored by tour CC majority. The current 4 to 1 “majority” is not serving the will of the residents. Quite the contrary.

    It is time for the CC to rethink their direction and start serving Us the Residents as opposed to the developer driven interests that currently exists. It is time for real change in Laguna. It could not happen too soon!

  3. Why in the hell would we want to buy either the Laguna Canyon Road or the PCH within the city limits. Both are now paid for by, I assume, gasoline taxes and perhaps other sources of revenue that come from the entire state residents of California as well as federal taxes. If this total irresponsible act would be approved, I.e., having the state relinquish either or both roads, the burden, some of which is paid for by the 6,500,000 tourists that visit LB would fall on us dumb, fat , cash cows that already subsidize the tourist businesses $25,000,000 annuallly.

    These same traffic geniuses that wanted to build a parking structure on 3rd street now are proposing to eliminate the middle turning lane LCR and make it two lanes coming into LB in the morning and two lanes leaving LB in the afternoon. The shear stupidity of this proposal boggles the mind. Entrance and exit times to all the businesses in LCR would go up by a factor of at least 10! It proves once again that the business and developer friendly majority of the council ( now 4) does not give a damn about those that will pay the bill (we, the residents). As long as they please their benefactors and thus get reelected they will continue to propose such totally irresponsible ideas. And if we, the residents, the do not wake up and elect council members that put the residents first we deserve what we have.

  4. Term limits for city council members are long overdue. Most of them have become empowered with their own special projects and have totally forgotten the residents who they are supposed to be representing. I have voted for many of them (never again). We cannot continue to enable their fiefdom. It’s past time for change.

  5. Kathleen, Thank you. AGREE! It’s never too late to change course when elected officials get this arrogant and far out of balance and stakeholders are being used and abused. Allowing such leadership is downright sad and embarrassing for residents of the City of Laguna Beach.

  6. I for one supported CC Member Mark Orgill during the last election cycle. I donated money towards his campaign. Unfortunately, CC Orgill has become a “follower” of the Kempf, Whalen, and now Rounaghi faction. This leaves the ONE AND ONLY Laguna Beach CC Member, George Weiss to be the voice of the Residents of Laguna. This, and the fact that CC Member Alex R. who ran on “Data Driven” decisions, (LOL) but has proven to be nothing more than Sue Kempf’s liege man. It is time for the merry-go-round to be dismantled. We need term limits, We need to focus on what Us the Residents of Laguna are asking of our Council. We need to have a voice (that is heard) on the direction our town is going.

  7. Claude Morgan, what nonsense. The city council members you love to insult represent what the majority of us want. You are in a minority, as recently demonstrated by the crushing defeat of Measure Q. There are plenty of ways you can still impact city policies. Character assassination is not one of them.

  8. Chris, it is not my intention to “insult” anyone. I am merely identifying that Our CC “Majority” regularly ignores the will of the residents of Laguna Beach. Case in point… The recent INDY POLL asked if residents are in favor of taking over “ownership” of LAGUNA CANYON ROAD. Chris, look at the results and then ask Yourself if We should even be considering such an action.

    Additionally, look at the results of the “ZOOM BOMBING POLL” and ask Yourself if the Citizens of Laguna would like to have remote access via ZOOM re-instituted at CC Meetings.

    Our current CC Council has been backdooring the residents of Laguna too long. The Whalen, Kempf, Rounaghi, and now Orgill faction will continue to shanghai the direction that this City goes as long as they can continue to manipulate Council decisions and ignore the voices of Us the Residents.

    Simple question… Why not put TERM LIMITS to a vote? Do You truly not know why? The above cabal has NO INTENTION of giving up the power of their position(s). There have been way too many dubious decisions by this and the former Council “Majority”. We the Residents need to summon change in the next election cycle and elect representatives that “listen” to the residents and in doing so put Laguna Beach’s future back in the hands of Us the Residents.

  9. Chris, Your response to my LTE states the following, “The City Council members you love to insult represent what the majority of us Want. You are in a minority”.

    I just reviewed the “RESULTS” from the INDY POLL that asked the following: “Should the City purchase the Laguna Canyon Road from Caltrans”? The results of the POLL, 147 Votes, “NO” (or) 127 VOTES. That is 86.39% of the respondents DO NOT WANT TO PURCHASE LAGUNA CANYON ROAD. Yes there are 13.61% of the respondents that think the purchase is a good idea. That is: 13.61%. So my question to You is “Why” is our current CC “majority” still pursuing this purchase? Is it You or the CC Majority or both that are analytically challenged. Is this survey “flawed”?

    So, Chris, who is in the “minority”? Please explain.

  10. Poll results in the Indy and Nextdoor are scientifically meaningless. These are the same polls that gave false hope to Measure Q supporters before the initiative was defeated by an almost 2-to-1 margin.


    You describe “Whalen, Kempf, Rounaghi, and now Orgill” as a “faction.” 4/5ths of the Council is a not a faction, Claude, it’s a super-majority. Since you disagree with them on so many issues, and since they were democratically elected by other locals, you are by definition in a minority. Or a faction, which the Oxford dictionary defines as a “small organized dissenting group….”

    My response to the Zoom issue is “come on down.” If you can’t make it, write a letter and give to someone to read on your behalf.

    My response to local term limits is “Toni Iseman.”

  11. Chris You state in Your response to my questions.
    “Poll results in the Indy and Nextdoor are scientifically meaningless”. The truth… a poll that has 147 participators and over 86% are opposed to the City purchasing Laguna Canyon Road. The results, make Your contention that the Poll is “meaningless” is baseless and pathetic.

    Concerning Measure “Q”, that fight was almost two years ago. Try to keep up.

    Concerning the Oxford dictionary definition of “faction” I stand corrected please insert “coalition”, thanks!

    Concerning “ZOOM”. When the results of a “scientifically meaningless” < (Your words) Poll is taken, and the results are so overwhelmingly in favor of ZOOM CALLS, Your answer is to not acknowledge the results and remove the mechanism. Much like our current City Council "super majority" does in matters concerning Us the Residents of Laguna Beach.

    Your final retort, "My response to local term limits is "Toni Iseman". Really! See Measure "Q" above.

  12. Claude, apparently it’s easier to call me pathetic that to check out the link to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Here’s the opening paragraph:

    “Nonscientific polling
    Straw polls and other nonscientific surveys are based on indiscriminate collections of people’s opinions, while responsible surveys are based on scientific methods of sampling, data collection, and analysis. Yet, because they are so easy to obtain, data derived from nonscientific methods are often confused with responsible survey results. At best, they reflect only the views of those who choose to respond. But they are also used as tools of “spin” by those who wish to put forth a particular slant on popular opinion. Referred to as “voodoo polls” by some polling experts, they lack the statistical significanceachieved through proven sampling methods, and they have grown increasingly prevalent. Given the number of online opinion polls that are nonscientific, communications theorist James Beniger observed that they are just as unrepresentative as call-in polls, pseudo-ballots, straw polls, and the “hands up” of a television studio audience. None of these approaches can properly measure or represent public opinion.”

  13. Chris, I did not call You “pathetic”. I said… “The results (of the Poll) make Your contention that the Poll is “meaningless,” is baseless and pathetic”. So I reiterate Your statement is “pathetic”. 86.39% to 13.61% Even a “Voodoo Poll” can’t get it wrong by that margin.

    I certainly hope that we the Residents have an opportunity to voice our opposition to the multitude of “Costly Projects” that our CC “Super Majority” plans to ram down the throats of the Tax payers in Laguna Beach.

    Chris, let’s see if the Residents get an opportunity to actually decide, before this CC breaks ground on anything else in their unrelenting efforts of “Build & Buy” at the expense and peril of Us the Residents.

  14. The late James Beniger, who passed away in 2016, wrote some of the info cited in the Encylopedia Britannica info some 5-10 years earlier, and I’m not sure that the nonscientific polling extract that Mr. Quilter cites is quite relevant to the Indy’s opinion poll. In general, much of survey research is about opinions and attitudes. Newspaper polls are considered useful in survey research for taking the public’s “temperature” as to prevalent attitudes and opinions on various topics, and are often used as a launching point to shape professional survey research questions. FYI: Even professional surveys can be compromised by the overuse of convenience samples to regular respondents/lists, or poorly constructed survey items that ask questions that are too broadly worded/generalized. (We call that “cooking the data”). It might be useful to refer to academic survey research articles in the journal of Public Opinion Research, etc. in order to find the latest data on polling and survey research rather than an encyclopedia’s entry.

    Editor’s Note: Deborah Laughton is the Publisher of Methodology and Statistics and spouse of Councilmember George Weiss.

  15. Claude, do you think it may be possible that City Council represents the electorate, and the majority of the electorate simply does not share your views?

    I mean I can sit around with three of my friends and talk endlessly about how we want to paint the town pink, and so do 100% of the people we’ve talked to about it, and why isn’t the City doing anything to start painting?!?!

    But turns out 100% of the people we’ve talked to is just the four of us, and the rest of the town doesn’t want to be pink.

    Election results indicate that the majority of the town doesn’t want to be what you and your friends think it should.

  16. Hi Franklin, I do not know what the electorate, that is, the voting constituents want. This is why it is important to place things in front of the voters, as opposed to just putting forth proposals with little to no public input.

    So, why do we not have Term Limits on the ballot? Why not let the voting residents decide? Should we “BUY” LCR? Should we “BUY” PCH? Should we construct multi level Parking Structures? If given the opportunity to “voice” opinions I believe there are numerous people in this town that are opposed to many of the decisions that our CC Super Majority is advancing.

    Just by virtue of the “VOODOO POLLS” that the INDY publishes I am certain that there are more than “four” voting residents that share my view. If it is “election results” You wish for, then, let’s get these issues on a ballot and let the voting residents of Laguna Beach decide.

  17. As long as we dumb cash cows, the majority of property owners who are giving the business, developers and commercial property owners $25,000,000 annually to support the tourists, remain apathetic and silent the inexorable march toward turning LB into a so called “vibrant city” will continue. A small example of what the business oriented majority city council defines asvibrancy is the foolhardy attempt, lead by Mayor Kempf, to make Lower Forest into an open air tavern.

    Having owned a sports bar and I know that outdoor drinking especially during holiday like the 4th of July and Labor Day results in excessive alcoholic consumption. But Kempf and the other three council member bloc do not seem to care about the increase in drunk drivers this will cause. All they seem to care about is attracting more tourists which will cost the residents even more to support them. It’s as if they want to make sure we continue to lead the 103 cities of our size in CA in DUI arrests. For each DUI arrest made 18 more are not caught. But even our so called “data driven” council member Rounhagi doesn’t seem to care. This is but one example where the majority of the council is not interested in the welfare of the residents but only interested in those that keep them in power with their financial support.

  18. How about this poll…just on this letter Franklin..this wonderful post by Anne which I agree with, and the response’s…many replied, 2 are apparently fighting the other 8 that are with Anne..that’s a pretty good response in comments regarding our CC, the only reason Franklin is complaining is because he is debating the polls but still for CC and of course Chris Quilter is always for the CC, no matter what , they could burn his house down and it would be that they just needed to do that…proof of point here ,is that 8 people just in this small post are against the CC and realize they have no respect for the residents with exception of one! As most decisions that are on the Indy poll. The majority are questioning the decisions and spending of the CC, most say they have an agenda, They brought in Alex to be the third vote ( he was really boosted by Sue and taken under wing) sadly he didn’t have the personality to stand up to them..and here we are again!

  19. Franklin –

    “Election results indicate that the majority of the town doesn’t want to be what you and your friends think it should.”

    Sorry to say, but that’s totally your conjecture.

    That may have been more true a year and a half ago, but you can’t prove that now. Things have changed. Residents have seen the color of the spots on those they elected and those markings aren’t correlating with what folks thought they were going to get.

    As you point out, what’s true for the four others you’re talking to may be true for you, but there is considerable disgruntlement with how the City Council majority has been operating without consideration for residents’ interests.

    Who at City Hall asked the community if we wanted to buy Coast Highway? No one. (What was the price tag on that one . . . $300M+?)

    Who at City Hall asked the community if it wanted to shell out $150M to buy Laguna Canyon Road? (And that doesn’t include any proposed undergrounding; who’s asking the community if it wants to pay for that too? No one.)

    Who at City Hall asked the community if it wanted to shell out $13M to build the Presbyterian Church parking structure – possibly coasting as much as $50M by the time it reverted back to the church? No one.

    Who at City Hall asked the community if it wants to spend $4M to build the promenade? No one.

    Who at City Hall formally asked the community how best to use St. Catherine’s? No one.

    Who at City Hall asked the community if it wanted to turn the promenade into a liquor free zone? No one.

    Who at City Hall asked the community to spend that $700,000 recently approved just for the plans for a new parking structure behind the police station? No one. (BTW – notice how the public has been kept totally in the dark about how that’s progressing and how much that’s going to cost?)

    And who at City Hall is paying any attention to the public’s demands for term limits and a return to Zoom call-ins? No one.

    Maybe you’re happy with all this. But as evidenced here, many who are politically aware are not.


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