Letter to the Editor: Sorry, Nextdoor – no easy explanation for Measure Q


I find it very interesting that one of the frequent requests on the website Nextdoor is for an easy explanation of Ballot Initative Q. I would dare say that almost no one can agree on what it says. I would encourage everyone to read it!

You would need a degree in urban planning to understand all of it. Even then, you will find conflicting understanding of what it says. The following is just one problem with the drafting language. It seems to require more than 50% of the “Electorate” to get a project approved. Remember that barely 50% of eligible voters even vote in any election.

Those in favor of Q would argue that that’s not what the intent of the language was. However, it doesn’t matter what they think once the bill is enacted into law. It says what it says.

This would all be very funny if it were not for the fact that none of the language in the initiative could be fixed without another ballot initiative. It’s not like regular City Ordinances which can be fixed with an addendum.

Q is a solution in search of a problem. It will create so much uncertainty that we, the City of Laguna Beach, will be spending a fortune unwinding it.

Sorry Nextdoor, there is no easy explanation. If people don’t read Q, they have no business voting for it. If you do actually read it, you will understand why the folks against it are so up in arms.

Tom Papa, Woods Cove

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  1. Tom, you are getting two facts wrong. First, voter turnout in Laguna Beach for general elections is usually above 90%. The 50% turnout is fake news that the No on Q people are spreading around.

    Second, Yes, elections are decided by the Electorate, but the word Electorate gets used in two contexts. In a broad sense, it means all voters. In the outcome of an election, it means the subset of voters who actually voted. People who don’t vote don’t have a say in the election. That is how all elections work. Falsely claiming that “Electorate” means something else in this context is distorting reality.

    You can also use your common sense. We all watch election returns on TV. Has anyone ever seen an election where the winner was anything other than a majority of the electorate; meaning “All of those who actually voted”? Those members of the electorate who don’t vote in a given election don’t get a say in the election. That is how all elections work.

  2. Is this you, Mr. Papa?


    I’m comforted that if a Virginian lawyer/property developer is opposing Measure Q, 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

  3. Thank you David for this easily understood explanation. In addition to all the good things in Measure Q, all I have to do is look at the amount of outside (and inside developer/real estate) money flowing in to kill Measure Q. That tells me that there is a reason developers/real estate people want it defeated. Outside money should not be this involved in local Laguna politics. They obviously have an agenda. So do I. Stay the hell out of Laguna unless you want to build compatible developments. Which they don’t so they can maximize their investments. So that’s why I’m voting Yes on Measure Q.

  4. The city council acknowledged Measure Q addresses problems that need to be dealt with. In public meetings, they said so then proposed and passed ordinance 1675, a watered-down version of the ballot initiative that attempts to address height, mass and scale. So much for the “solution in search of a problem” argument. Trotting out the old “uncertainty” contention is a time-honored objection for those who benefit from doing business as is. The author did get one thing right: the ballot initiative makes it harder to get around our town’s General Plan and other well thought out guidelines: Measure Q can’t be as easily circumvented as three city council votes. That’s crux of the issue and that’s why the pro-development faction is so upset. If Q passes, the ability to get variances as gifts will vanish. Preventing residents from having a seat at the table in determining Laguna’s future is what this is all about. Just as it was when these same arguments were used to fight the height limit in 1971.

  5. Here is the language in Measure 10 regarding the “Electorate”:
    ‘A majority of the “Laguna Beach Electorate” (commonly defined to mean the total number of registered voters) voting “yes” is required to approve a project.’

    Decide for yourself, but Tom’s assessment seems spot on. Additionally, on Dictionary.com and Wikipedia the term electorate is defined as “the body of persons entitled to vote in an election.” The fact that this term is written as is in Measure Q, as well as that it is already leading to controversial is concerning, and a strong enough reason to vote the measure down.

  6. Another red herring! The word electorate in this context is legally defined as the number of people voting on the issue. If a project were to go before the residents for a vote and only three people voted even it the vote was split 2 for and one against the project would be approved. So please stop the misinformation on this red herring.

  7. I thought I’d join the party…lol

    Tom- Nice letter, I agree with you. Measure Q was very poorly drafted or malicious in intent, both are unacceptable. I find most my friends don’t fully understand it and in fact it took me a couple reads to grasp how messed up Measure Q is. Rather than pat each other on the back, I thought it would be useful to address the counter viewpoints.

    David- If the language was no big deal, then why not change it? In your negotiating with the city the concern about the “electorate” was voiced you could have made a small adjustment, but you didn’t. Your Measure Q is far too overreaching. Costa Mesa did something dumb like Q and now they are trying to undo it. Am I to trust you, a longtime activist with an agenda? Or Councilmen Whalen and the likes of, who has a history of caring for this city and is an attorney and probably has a better grasp on how courts will interpret Q’s language.

    Michael- You should be comforted that an attorney has read all this and given you his professional interpretation. Hating the real estate industry is not just the developer (that takes all the risk), but it hates the workers that build the structure, the professional that manage and maintain, the people that work, live in the new place, and the people that visit those new business…the whole damm economy.

    Michele- Read my comment above to Michel, you’re talking about one the largest industries and drivers of our local economy. I read about you, big mansion, big gate, bigger hypocrite. I vote NO on you and Q

    Patricia- It seemed like the city was trying to do something it didn’t want to do, but rather as a compromise to get Q dropped, in bad faith they LRF didn’t drop Q, so no. I don’t think anyone has proposed a variance…..oh wait your friend and Village Laguna pillar, Joanna Felder, got a variance to build her house, yes? So, you just don’t want other people to get one, don’t worry I don’t think I heard anyone wants to build anything above 36 feet, no one is asking for variance like the Felder’s, I just don’t want to make thing more difficult than they already are.

    Chris- Aren’t you that guy that just squatted on a restaurant property on a Saturday night that I read about in the Stu?! You showed up distributing this poor guy’s business and locals that were trying to have a nice Saturday night out, just because you were “trying” to prove a point. Just to be escorted away by the police, now it looks like you were the one that was misinformed. Quit trying to arbitrarily interrupt the law, you’re not making any sense and it make you look like a dork.

    We as a public have a say in our elected officials to do a job if you don’t like them don’t vote for them. Public participation to me doesn’t mean micromanage every single city employee, this will bring our government to a screeching halt. We need to trust and enable our elected officials to do the job we elected them to do, which is help this beautiful city thrive and flourish. I VOTE NO on Q!!


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