Letter to the Editor: Measure Q bad for Laguna Beach


I have never developed commercial property in California. Nor, probably, shall I ever. So, please don’t assume that I’m motivated by some commercial self-interest. I am against Ballot Initiative Q because it’s bad for Laguna Beach.

As I’ve said in an earlier letter to the editor of the Indy, I believe that the folks who favor the initiative are well-intentioned. But, this is not the right approach. Once an initiative is passed, it can only be fixed by another initiative.

Populist initiatives can sound convincing. “Leave it to the People.” But, there is a good reason that we are a “democratic republic.” We are supposed to elect people who reflect our collective will. The laws they pass have consequences. If they pass bad laws, you replace them (the laws and the representatives). This distrust of the system is very destructive to our social fabric.

What shall we vote on next? Whether or not a bank can open on Ocean Avenue? Where we buy our fire trucks? It is a slippery slope.

And, it is a very expensive undertaking. The City (we citizens) will incur the added burden of conducting these votes. It will add significant expense to any project that is subject to it. So, when you wonder why rents are so high; and why your kids can’t afford to shop and live here, this will be a shining example.

One example of a bad requirement in this proposed law is the one requiring a traffic study. I was told that this will cost a minimum of $50,000. That’s just added to the costs of a project. And, it triggers the voting requirement at 200 cars a day. That might sound like a lot of cars to some folks, but it’s not. It’s under 10 an hour.

And, when we realize what a bad idea it was, we can’t just fix it. We need to have a whole new referendum.

So, Laguna, please just say “No to Q.”

Tom Papa, Laguna Beach

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  1. Is this you, Mr. Papa?


    I’m comforted that if a Virginian lawyer/property developer is opposing the LRF Ballot Initiative, that it must really be in the best interests of non-developer LB residents. It’d be great if everyone with a business/financial interest in development and increased tourism was honest about this when commenting on the BI or other development/tourism topics.

  2. Michael Morris: I know scores of people who, like me, have no “business/financial interest in development” and oppose Measure Q. For starters, we don’t think it’s good for democracy to pass laws we don’t need. We oppose over-development, and having been around a lot longer than you have, we also have seen how well our decades-old low/slow growth policies have worked to prevent it and to protect Laguna’s unique qualities. We support the Council’s decision to further strengthen those policies with Ordinance 1675.

    We know you don’t trust our democratically-elected City Council to get it right, but on what basis should voters decide you know what’s best for us? You are a founder of a self-appointed group of un-elected amateurs who have written a complex land-use initiative that you want us to believe will fix what you believe is wrong with the town. No one I know was involved in the process, certainly no one on the Council except George Weiss, no one on the Planning Commission, all of whom oppose Measure Q, no one on a city commission, no one on the City staff with professional land-use experience.

    Why should the voters trust you more than all of them?

  3. It’s fascinating to hear that Measure Q is written by amateurs since the zoning language in it is lifted directly from Laguna Beach’s zoning codes. Is Mr. Quilter or these others saying that our zoning codes were written by amateurs? Please define what makes someone an expert.

  4. Why is it that most residents in Dana point wish they passed their ballot initiative before all the big block apartments were approved? And why is that Costa Mesa and Newport Beach that have had decades of experience with similar measures are not going bankrupt due to lack of development money as the fear mongers tells us that is the fate of Laguna? In the case of Mr. Quilter as well the the other would be patricians of Laguna Beach it seems that they hope the great line from the song in “Fiddler on a Roof” which states “and when you’re rich they really think you know” applies to Laguna residents. It does not. We lowly mortals i.e the residents are tired of subsidizing the business interests and the developers of this city to the tune of $25 million dollars annually for the tourists that greatly increase the DUI arrests, trash our city and decrease our quality of life. If the these, what I call “TAKEHOLDERS” and certainly not the primary stakeholders who are, we, the residents, would not need that annual subsidy they might garner more sympathy. But the would be patricians club are after even more subsidies as witnessed by Mr. Quilter’s ringing endorsement of the disastrous lease agreement with the Presbyterian Church to build a parking lot based on a 53 year lease at the end of which we (the city) get nothing and the Church gets a structure valued at $45 to $50 million dollars. Looks like the “good ole boy network” or would be patricians are alive and well. I wonder if Mr. Quilter is as good a friend with the chief negotiator of the Presbyterian Church, Ed Sauls as Bob Whalen is reported to be. And please Mr. Quilter no more condescending pats on the head to those that put in a tremendous effort to craft Measure Q primarily using the requirements in the Municipal Code in order to give us who are now voiceless a voice.


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