Letter: Time to Rein Things In


The facts in Tyler Russell McCusker’s Opinion piece disappeared faster than JJ Gasparotti’s column. “Some people” want Laguna’s revenues to “take a nosedive?” Really? Which people?

Perhaps the “boarded up and struggling downtown” Russell McCusker refers to are the result of rising rents, neglectful landlords and shoppers buying online? Here are the facts: over the last 10 years, sales tax collected by the city more than doubled, according to John Thomas, former chair of the Audit Review and Measure LL Oversight Committee. Thomas goes on to point out that “all the sales tax received by the city from the downtown amounts to less than three percent of the city’s total revenue.” How’s that $14 million Downtown Action Plan looking now?

Since most of the city’s revenue is actually generated from taxes, perhaps taxpayers should have a say in how their downtown looks. Many of us would like to know how much the consulting firm has been paid to date since they started in 2018. Exactly how much money has gone towards a plan that includes such highlights as the loss of mature, healthy trees, sidewalks so wide that they will intrude into the public right of way by two feet, and expensive tree well and soil system?

It’s high time for residents to rein things in. If the proposed ballot initiative requiring voter approval for major commercial projects makes it into the ballot later this year, we will get the chance to do just that. In the meantime, residents will—as they always have—support their community in times of crisis. Our downtown may look different next year but it won’t be because of “local groups trying to stop development.”

Trish Sweeney, Laguna Beach

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  1. Thank you Trish!! great letter, let’s hope all residents get to vote on what is happening in our town, and hopefully it won’t be the 500 out of town subscribers that Tyler Russell from the local radio station has recruited to only represent non intellectual so called upper crusty’s under the age of 50. Voter approval is so needed.

  2. You lost me when you listed John Thomas as the source of your data. Sorry Trish, but this reeks of Laguna Residents First propaganda. Also, is your husband Michael? I heard his interview for DRB. Sorry your group was not able to plant someone on that board. Curious to see who you guys will push for council, please learn from Village Laguna’s constant mistake and support someone with some “fresh” ideas as my grandchildren like to say.

  3. Barbara, for the love of God please get off of social media and get some help. You do not make any sense. They do virtual therapy sessions these days, I saw a commercial for it.

  4. Thank You Trish for a wonderful, dry, and funny first sentence in your letter to the editor. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Best wishes, JJ Gasparotti

  5. Thank You Trish. You pose some very good observations and questions. At this point, truly wishing JJ Gasparotti’s column was back! Laguna Beach will survive and overcome the issues at hand, contrary to the naysayers who started promoting our “dying town” mantra since last year. Our current situation is the most important thing to deal with right now. We must STOP city spending, save our reserves till be see the city depth of the fallout from Covid19 outbreak and figure out how we will pay our unfunded employee pension debt of $63+ million and mounting as we speak!

  6. Thank you Trish! Rather than attempting to realistically asses what the economic climate and hence the expected decrease in revenue the city appears to be going full speed ahead with its spending. It appears that this is seen as an opportunity to pass all the changes to the DSP and DAP while the public is severely limited in its ability to voice any opposition. Eliminating parking requirements while at the same time funding a parking structure study is being tone deaf. Spoiler alert! The consultant will, course, agree that between the loss of the parking spaces at the village entrance and no parking requirements for any new business a parking structure will be required. If a 140 car capacity garage were to be built a reasonable estimate is about $100,000 per space. This cost ($14,000,000) would have be added to the $14,000,000 required to cut down perfectly healthy mature trees to be replaced by saplings as well as other bells and whistles deemed essential by the pro development (any development) crowd and by the the city staff, city manager and a majority of the city council. And by the way a new high tech soil system would be needed which would require that the sidewalks be redone. So just for these two “necessities” the city would saddle the taxpayers with another $28, 000,000 in obligations at a time when we are having a precipitous drop in revenue from business generated taxes. But that is no problem since the property owners are already subsidizing tourism by $20,000,00, a year what’s a few more million? But as long as those that may benefit from this control the city government this is what we have. The LRF initiative would give back some power to have a voice on at least major developments back to the taxpayers where it rightly belongs. Sounds more like the original Athenian democracy to me.


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