Letter: The Legacy We Bestow


“After this week’s unveiling of a FBI corruption probe in Anaheim, which exposed a governing cabal centered around the chamber, the city’s resort industry and [Mayor Harry] Sidhu, many residents now understand why they got such a different reception in recent years.” (Voice of OC, May 20, 2022, “FBI Reveals What Many Anaheim Residents Felt For Years, City Hall is Run By The Chamber of Commerce”).

When I read this, I felt it referred to Laguna Beach. So often our council ignores resident concerns in deference to those of the Chamber and developers. It is especially jarring since property-tax-paying residents pay the majority of the City’s bills.

It got me thinking about legacies; what we hope to leave behind. All around us we see the tremendous and hard-fought gifts that were given to future generations through the work of organizations such as Village Laguna, Laguna Greenbelt, Laguna Canyon Conservancy, Clean Water Now, Laguna Bluebelt Coalition, and others. The benefits we and future generations enjoy are priceless. The result of resident action.

What legacies and cultural achievements are our current City leaders and their masters at the Chamber hoping to bestow on future generations? More hotels, restaurants, and bars. More taxpayer-funded parking. More tourism. And the epitome of cultural achievement (according to councilmember Peter Blake): being able to enjoy my fine-dining burrito and margarita on the sidewalk.

I urge a reassessment of these goals. I hope we can elect leaders who preserve our hard-fought legacies and enact policies to improve on what we leave to future generations. Voters can ensure a voice in this future by voting yes on the Laguna Residents First ballot initiative in November. Maintaining the quality of life residents moved here for. A cleaner environment. A charming and quiet corner in ever louder and more commercial surroundings.

Michael Morris, Laguna Beach
Editor’s Note: Michael is a founder emeritus of Laguna Residents First PAC.

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  1. Michael:
    Thanks for including my NGO, Clean Water Now.
    Now turned 25, my personal commitment was that it always be self-sufficient regarding funding. And that we always have a strong element of public education in our actions and words.
    I avoided non-profit status because frankly, bluntly, I didn’t want CWN to owe anyone anything….myself and fellow board members over the years like Temple Hills resident Scott Woodard (The Whaleman Foundation) found the funds.
    90% of them out of my pocket, from my (then) SOC general contracting business and (now) enviro-consultant activities…..boots on the ground, grass roots commitment.
    As you know I’m not a member of your PAC or VL, or any of the others you noted—but I do respect you & your’s levels of passionate community dedication.
    And a funny thing happened starting 25 years ago: We were considered extremists back then, exaggerators and/or outright liars as you’re being accused of. By seated and subsequent City Council members and City Manager’s Frank and Pietig.
    Like we were mindless barbarians at the City’s gate, irrational, set to topple everything in sight, arsonists, anarchists?
    Well, today, I challenge readers to find anyone who doesn’t declare themselves an “environmentalist.”
    Neither myself or CWN changed our message or declared preservation and protection duties, what we felt were our passion’s goals and objectives.
    Our legacy? We set out, we launched into a void due to passivity. None of us, current or former board members and extended families, has anything to apologize for.
    25 years ago we all felt that we needed that swagger, throw down the water quality degradation gauntlet at City meetings, take no prisoners, a “No More Mr. Nice Guy” attitude.
    “Non, je ne regrette rien.”
    I regret none of it, awareness and vigilance levels needed heightening.
    Best wishes on you and your heritage, your legacy.
    Community activism is NOT for the faint of heart.
    “The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing.” Leo F. Buscaglia

  2. Wait, you felt an FBI corruption probe in Anaheim was referring to Laguna? Do you know something we don’t? Otherwise, those are dangerous, irresponsible allegations. And then to conflate the work of resident (mostly environmental) groups with the task of city government is wildly misleading. As for legacy, this Council has achieved something others couldn’t: the beautification and pedestrianizing of Forest Avenue, and a relaxing of parking codes so we can all enjoy more al fresco dining. 83% of residents agree.

  3. The consistent Laguna libs rush to the holier than thou stance is always breathtaking. Legacy? Heck Brad Pitt and George Clooney couldn’t build a hotel. Why should anyone else? But we have fun at out LGBTQ beach, that’s what really counts.

  4. Agree on Billy Fried’s points. The council leadership has improved the downtown and surrounding areas. The Forest promenade and newly remodeled Hotel Laguna – main floor, for example, have brought vibrancy and enjoyment to locals and visitors.

    The future of any town incorporates elements of the existing character with new vibrancy. As voters, we elect officials whom we feel make the best decisions based on a variety of factors, such as land use, height limits, and environmental concerns, to name a few.

    As we look to the future we must focus on safety, especially as it relates to wildfires. The lines and poles need to be buried on the main evacuation routes. If we don’t have wildfire mitigation as a top priority we won’t stand a chance regarding our homes, schools and businesses. As we all know, the loss of life could be catastrophic, in the case of a fire, if one of the evacuation routes is blocked by downed poles.

    I find it mind-boggling that the LTE writer would suggest that a multi year FBI investigation of the Long Beach Mayor, the Chamber, a political consultant and the Angel stadium has any parallel to our city council. That’s really an implausible claim to make simply because you want to get a ballot initiative passed. In this case, the Laguna Residents First Political Action Committee initiative to put development projects to a vote every time a project is under consideration.

    Let’s stick to the facts. We are eroding our democracy when the types of claims made in the ‘Legacy We Bestow’ letter to the editor are being presented as accurate information.


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