I have long been amused with Billy Fried’s obsession with turning Laguna Beach into a European Hamlet. I have yet to see a European village that could sustain six million visitors a year. Venice Italy has recently instituted severe restrictions on the number of tourists and is charging tourist fees. But that aside, Fried has pointed out an astute observation with his latest column introducing us to Mabel and Fred at the Susi Q Center. He has clearly pointed out the problem currently facing Laguna Beach. He identified Mabel and Fred as being against rampant development that creates additional traffic on an already critically impacted city. He also made clear that Mabel and Fred don’t believe that bicycling is the answer to the parking problems (they must think that only elites ride bicycles). But most of all he labeled Mabel and Fred as being suspicious of the City Council, who readily take 59% of the city budget from Mabel and Fred’s property taxes, but if they wish to address the City Council about any concerns, stand a good chance of getting rudely insulted or pushed off to a tightly-controlled Zoom meeting. Since the sales tax (8%) and the Transient Occupancy tax (10%) contribute so little to the budget they must erroneously feel that their needs and interests should be considered in addition to the needs of developers and the tourism entrepreneurs.
The only reason I can think of that Mabel and Fred would want to take time away from their bingo games is that since they are paying so much to the piper they would like to think they are also being heard. Failing that perhaps Mabel and Fred can pass a Ballot Initiative if no other venue is available to them. When a city council requires less of a developer for a hotel renovation than they require of a homeowner to replace a deck then Mable and Fred start thinking that things are out of whack.
In short, Laguna Beach is a magnificent jewel of a city, squeezing it dry with development without regard to the residents should be considered a crime.
Let’s remember the city is here for its residents (even if its only Mabel and Fred) as well as its merchants.
By the way Fried, have you been to Huntington Beach or Dana Point lately?
Mike Monahan, Laguna BeachView Our User Comment Policy