Unfortunately, Dan Rosenthal’s recent column citing problems with the Laguna Residents ballot initiative leaves a lot out of the narrative. Including that the City Code can be overturned at will by a bloc of just three pro-development, pro-business, pro-tourism city councilmembers—all of whom have received generous political contributions from developers and commercial property owners with vested interests who have consistently put profits first and residents dead last.
For instance, the City Council’s not requiring commercial landlords to provide parking as specified by the Downtown Specific Plan has resulted in major parking problems. The Heisler Building, the single largest commercial building downtown after the Hotel Laguna, should provide 170 parking spaces, but the City Council has said it doesn’t have to provide any. Nada. Zip. Zero. This even after granting the building a height-restriction-busting roof deck. And people wonder why parking is being jammed into neighborhoods and why the City Council wants taxpayers to pay for parking structures that largely profit businesses and commercial landlords?
There are many good reasons the Laguna Residents First ballot initiative is 18 pages long. It is the only initiative that eliminates all the loopholes, weasel clauses, and back room political insider sweetheart deals by giving residents the right to vote on and approve of Laguna’s largest commercial projects (and I do mean major, massive projects—not the small or residential ones, as opponents would love you to believe). Residents would finally get some say in the scope, scale and character of their community—not just developers, commercial property owners and the politicians they’ve funded.
Contrary to Rosenthal’s conjecture that there will be catastrophic collateral damage to the community—it’s just the opposite. Instead, developers and commercial owners will be made accountable for retaining reasonable, human-scale growth that enriches the community instead of catering only to the unrestrained profiteering that increases tourist traffic.
One only needs to look at Dana Point and Huntington Beach to see what results from uncontrolled growth.
If Rosenthal’s prognostications are so dire, I invite his explanation why Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and—sadly and belatedly—Dana Point have all passed highly successful similar initiatives.
I have no idea what Rosenthal’s agendas may be (hidden or otherwise), but I can tell you this—the Laguna Residents First ballot initiative is the only initiative created by and for residents that will give residents a say in the potential overdevelopment of Laguna. Despite developers spending hundreds of thousands to misrepresent, malign, and defeat this initiative—the LRF initiative is the only insurance policy residents have that can protect them from overdevelopment.
Jerome Pudwill, Laguna Beach