Letter: Village Laguna Letter to City Council

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At the last City Council meeting, Village Laguna provided the City Council with a letter demanding that it cure and correct a recent Brown Act violation by conducting an open and public meeting on the Hotel Laguna. Village Laguna’s letter pointed out that the Council had violated the Brown Act at its June 29, 2021, meeting by holding an illegal closed session on the Hotel Laguna and by conducting an illegal secret vote. Village Laguna therefore is pleased that the Council is acknowledging its Brown Act violations by acting promptly to cure those violations by holding a public hearing on the Hotel Laguna.

We hope that the Council’s acknowledgement and cure of its Brown Act violations will lead to the Council becoming more transparent and open to public involvement. Up until now the only public review that has taken place on the Hotel Laguna is an administrative design review hearing on Feb. 25, 2021, which has now been invalidated by the appeal to the California Coastal Commission. We also note that the only parties notified of that hearing were those within the 100-foot noticing area of the hotel. Village Laguna was not notified. We submit that this is an inadequate public process for a project as important as this one.

Since providing you with our cure and correct letter, we have been informed of other instances where the Council has met in closed sessions under the litigation exception where the focus of the closed session was a matter that should have been heard in public. We are hopeful that this current incident will cause the Council and its advisors to refocus on their obligation to conduct the public’s business in open and public meetings and to rely on closed-session exceptions only in those very limited instances where the law so provides. Also, we would remind you that the day before the June 29, 2021, meeting when the Council violated the Brown Act, we sent you a letter urging you not to conduct deliberations on the Hotel Laguna in closed session. Had you heeded our request, much time, energy, and anguish would have been avoided, and the Council’s reputation would not have been tarnished by hearing an important matter in secret. Our hope is that this unfortunate incident leads the Council to recognize and acknowledge that the public is an important partner whose admonitions and advice merit serious consideration.

Anne Caenn

President, Village Laguna

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