Letter: Residents Want a Level Playing Field

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While the Laguna BeachChamber of Commerce is a vital part of our community, it is notrepresentative of the majority of Laguna’s residents.In fact, the Chamber represents a small share of our total resident population.

Why is it then that the “State of the City” address is given as part of a fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce? This may be tradition, but makes it sound as if Chamber members and their guests are more important than the rest of Laguna’s residents.For example, the city has prioritized new development projects at the top of its Strategic Projects with the support of the Chamber. I’m guessing that the majority of residents would not share fast-trackingdevelopment as the most important strategic goal of City Council.

A large number of residents feel that local government isn’t responsive to their needs.We heard from residents at past Council meetings of how they’ve become frustrated by their experiences with Design Review.There’s a perception that the city moves large development projects out of the normal planning and design review process, such as the Coast Inn project being reviewed by the City Council instead of the Planning Commission,or Mr. Honarkar’s projects beingout of the normal review process.

There’s the painful fact that the city spent millions of dollars as a result of mistakes on projects like the Llewellyn property, likely to be mirrored with the future liability from building permit approvals of the Katz project.A level playing field is made askew when former city employees or former city commissioners use their connections for the benefit of clients and themselves acting as consultants

Here’s a suggestion: “Town Hall” meetings held by elected officials to share ideas, answer questions and solicit the views of residents during hours when voters can attend.These meetings can be held at the Artist Theater or other venues at low cost.

City Council might be surprised to learn that residents of diverse political views want the same thing from Council: direct communication with residents,greater transparency,andaccountability.

It has to start with setting a level playing field, which takes allresident’s views into account instead of marginalizing them.That only contributes to the incivility we have recently seen. Let’s work to keep all residents involved and informed.It is all of ourcommunity.

George Weiss, Laguna Beach

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you George. Yes, Laguna residents want and need, and are entitled to a level playing field. It is outrageous that our city allows former DRB members to serve as paid consultants before DRB and City Council. Does that sound like anyone oppoing them can get a fair shake? This results in an incredible amount of money having to be spent by anyone involved in the process and skews the process in favor of those who hire those former members. The average resident can’t get a fair shake because they don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on Steve Kawaratani or Michael Wilkes. Just take a look at the DRB hearings and all the shenanigans that have gone on such as manipulation of the process to get a year of continuances. One submitted Engineering reports without signatures or stamps to the city. He damn well knows better but those plans were accepted by the city as true. It’s despicable. It’s an outrage and we should enact a Municipal code section which prohibits former DRB/Planning and CC members from serving as paid consultants. No more sham reports. No more unfair access. It’s time to stop this dirty process and make it work for all citizens not just those who pay these former DRB members.
    I invite anyone who has experienced this or knows someone who has experienced this to leave your comments below. Nothing will change unless all of us speak up.

  2. What seems to be happening, and happening for some time, with our local politics, is in fact what has been happening for a long time with our national politics. And on both playing fields it seems things are at last being exposed.

    The ruling elites are now and have always been opposed to a government by the people, for the people. And the people are becoming restless and angry.

    The ruling elites would love nothing more than to see us turn on each other, rather than to band together and petition the “leaders” with our grievances.

    Conservatives and Liberals and all other reasonable people within that spectrum wish for and are demanding the same thing. We demand that those whom we elect reflect and fight for our interests, above their own or the shady figures who back them.

    We share a common enemy and that enemy is coming at us from within, pretending to be one of us. But they are in fact a far cry from that.

    The majority of the residents of Laguna Beach are good, kind and reasonable people. But the same cannot be said for many members of our elected governing body. And perhaps even more distressing are those nameless and faceless figures who operate from within un-elected governing bodies.

    The marco and the micro are the same. Our community is in many ways a microcosm of America, at this point in history. And maybe it is indeed true that all politics is local. Therefore we must band together locally and force those robber barons who claim to be our voice in government to be loyal to the will of the people, or else be replaced.

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