Letter: Time to Change with the Times


I have a certain, call it, contempt for the political “group” that has long dominated Laguna politics. Let’s call it what it is: an organized political party and IRS-registered Political Action Committee named Village Laguna. 

Some thoughts:

1) The Laguna essence – Laguna is one of the few places for OC artists, cultural liberals and general weirdos to live and raise families. 

2) Part Laguna’s essence is an inescapable truth that Laguna has always been progressive. I mean the lowercase “p” progressive ideal – embracing progress. 

Throughout Laguna’s history, the Laguna essence was driven by some of the political ideals Village Laguna once stood for – 35 years ago the party was progressive.

VL, in part, helped shape our fun, weird community in the spirit of progress. 

Unfortunately for VL, progressivism is a moving target. Progressivism has changed, while VL hasn’t. It’s stagnant in its beliefs – beliefs that 35 years ago helped create our essence but now refuse to evolve.  

In the last several years, partly because of that stagnation, VL’s intransigence (ex. VL still is trying to kill The Promenade) has turned it into a minority party. Most locals recognized the party no longer stands for what it used to and have abandoned ship, as made clear because its candidates have not controlled the City Council for almost a decade.   

But today, a handful of VL adherents remain entranced by the party and have lost sight of what the party once stood for. It was progressive and for the Laguna essence. But today, its goal is to lock Laguna in the 1970s version of that. 

And with that stagnation, we must call the Village Laguna party what it is: part of a nationwide, right-wing Nimbyism grasp for power in the face of political unpopularity.  

Cities everywhere are seeing the same thing. Older folks, who used to be on the cutting edge of the culture, and helped shape their cities in that ideal, now see those cities changing. Cities they feel belong to them.

Like the national-level right-wing, Village Laguna needs to hear something.  

We don’t belong to you. We don’t owe you anything. And we no longer want to follow your lead. 

In your last gasp, don’t go the way of DC’s right wing. Stop trying to seize power through minority rule and authoritarianism. Don’t assume that the volume of your voice represents your popularity.  

You claim to want to keep Laguna, Laguna. But the result of your efforts look xenophobic. It looks anti-family. It looks anti-poor. Anti-young. Anti-change. Anti-progress. 

So please stop sending your well-organized team of speakers to heckle the council and city staff during meetings. It wastes hours. It amounts to bullying, and you slowly alienate your few remaining supporters. 

It lacks class.

Michael Ray, Laguna Beach

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  1. Ray, here you go again. You say you have contempt for Village Laguna. Many in this town don’t even want to spend any emotional capital to even have contempt for you. Most if not all simply don’t care about your opinions. Since your acolyte and mentor of your children Peter Blake was soundly defeated you seem to be trying to spew enough vitriol for the both of you. If it makes you feel important keep it up. Is it that the big boys have come into town and you are starting to feel irrelevant? You are getting to act like a one trick pony. But like I said if it makes you feel important keep up the vitriol.

  2. Michael Ray, of all of the people that could possibly tell another person or group that they “Lack Class” it most certainly would not be You. Please take a moment and think about the meaning of “Class”; “showing stylish excellence”. Having said that,

    Michael, do You remember any of the Political Hit Pieces that Your PAC produced and spewed during the past election? Your PAC spent $ 20,000.00 attempting to get Peter Blake re-elected. Peter Blake and You are probably the antithesis of “CLASS”. If you have any question just review Peter Blake at any CC meeting, I assure you you will see a “total lack of class”.

    Michael take a minute and review Your PAC’s published and posted political flyers…
    IE: “Rueben Flores in a doctored image wearing a Toga having a beer” or “Laguna, Wanna Hear Something Scary?” Please take a look at Your past and current “classless” acts and statements, of which there are too many to recount here. The mere fact that you stood by Blake and produced the flyers in support of him is evidence enough for most Laguna residents of Your “Lack of Class”.

    News flash Michael, the pro development threesome that was our CC is gone! The Laguna Beach City Council meetings are now civil, (how refreshing!) The citizens have spoken and we removed the cancer that was Blake from our CC. Citizens opinions and concerns are (we all hope) now being heard and actually considered. So, Michael, please take your Pro-Development agenda and let the current CC work on “thoughtful development” for our community good and not the good of the developers profit generated interests.

  3. Mr. Ray,
    Thank you for stating the obvious. This well organized vocal minority is in the process of suing the City of Laguna Beach (residents & property owners) over the approval of the Downtown Specific Plan & the Historic Preservation Ordinance Update! Also, the Historic Preservation Coalition (created by Village Laguna , Preserve Orange County & others) is suing the “City “ for the approval remodels !
    At the last City Council Meeting (May 16th)the COALITION’s appeal to the Design Review Board approval of a project at 434 Aster St. was heard. It was the last item on the agenda . Mayor Whalen lives nearby so he had to recuse himself. The vote was 4-0 to deny the appeal. Common sense prevailed. So now I wonder if this project will be added to the list of lawsuits against the City.
    In my opinion, property rights are being attacked by these groups. This current City Council, so far , has protected the property owners.
    I would also like thank former Council member Blake for being such an advocate for protecting property rights!

  4. There you go again, a personal attack rather than addressing the issues. VL opposes the promenade and outdoor dining. Why? Discuss that.

    Instead, like right wing authoritarians, you attack the messenger. And thanks, you prove my point

  5. Mr Ray is at it again. As if he & his wealthy cohorts haven’t already chalked-up enough “wins” using their deep-pockets, against those who resist the irresponsible monetization of our home city. I guess he won’t quit until all restraints to over-commercialization, mansion-ization and vitalization-of-commerce are removed. His vision is a Laguna where wealthy speculators are free to build ever larger, intensify without restraint and expand to cater to ever-more visitors. A question to Ray: When would it be enough for you and your pals? 24×7 bars & pubs? Massage parlors and weed shops granted CUPs on-demand? His continued droning on about this topic in an effort to further diminish the reputation of Village Laguna is tiresome and IMO the Indy ought to limit his by-now single-themed & out-sized voice in its pages

  6. Another personal attack. Proves my point AGAIN. Discuss why Village Laguna opposes The Promenade and Outdoor Dining

  7. Mr. Morris,
    The reputation of Village Laguna is diminishing by their stand against property rights & their lawsuits against the City of Laguna Beach!
    The perfect example was the appeal against 434 Aster St. at the end of this past City Council meeting (May16th). The same people (LB HISTORIC COALITION & Village Laguna )saying the same things against a property owner’s DRB approval!
    I sat though the appeal, the property owner was in tears by the end of it! Please go online to te City’s website and watch the last agenda item for May 16 th. Very enlightening!

  8. Mr Ray claims to abhor ad hominem arguments but does this constantly against the organization Village Laguna. He claims to want to debate policy positions but dedicates most of his written words attacking VL, Toni Iseman, etc. So, I don’t take him seriously. Nor should readers IMO.
    As for opposition to the Promenade, here are the complaints I have heard and agree with, which have gone entirely unaddressed (and which Mr Ray will likely ignore in his next responses)…{and I don’t speak for VL since I’m not a member}:

    Making street changes before you know why leads to muddled experiments like our Promenade with no written goals, specifications, requirements, actions, metrics and a lot of disgruntled store owners loosing money. Laguna should know why we are implementing these projects and the architects should be directed what design elements to choose from based on these guidelines. What are the goals and metrics? What are the success criteria? {thanks to LM for this concise distillation}. Our Council rushes to cater to their over-lords in the land-owner/CoC with ridiculous “fixes” intended to help businesses. The moronic “wayfinding signs” fiasco comes to mind; wherein several HIP district business owners convinced council to set aside approx $300K to implement this project which was intended to help visitors (and residents, if you’re gullible) find their way about town. What metrics were put in place to determine success or failure of this idiotic idea? Why was the full project quietly aborted without any public discussion? Why will the enormous expenditure on the Promenade differ, when the lead-up to it exhibits the same failures, the same slipshod approach in planning, as the wayfinding sign debacle?

  9. M. Morris, We know exactly why we made the street change – so we could gather in community instead of lobbing attacks behind a keyboard. The success criteria was to get that dirty, spewing sheet metal off the street and put plants and people there instead.

    Where do you gather in community? NextDoor?

    “Ridiculous fixes?” “Moronic wayfinding? “Fiasco?” “Idiotic Idea?” “Sign Debacle”?

    You actually live in this paradise and are this angry over some signage?



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