City Council elections are important. This is the level of government that can affect you most directly. There are two incumbents and three challengers for two seats. Verna Rollinger is extremely knowledgeable about the workings of the city of Laguna Beach. Having served as City Clerk for 29 years and now running for her second term on the City Council, she knows the city well and how to get things accomplished. Residents’ concerns, no matter how small, are number one with her. Furthermore, she is leading the effort to make San Onofre nuclear facility accountable: that it fix safety concerns and develop a residents’ evacuation plan before resuming operation.
Jane Egly is a lawyer and a smart lady. She has held a very important role on the present city council – the swing vote. As a supporter of historic preservation I was very disappointed, and surprised at her lack of support for preserving the oldest house in Laguna – a modest beach cottage. She called it a “shack.” “Shacks” in Crystal Cove are doing quite well. Just try and get a reservation. Furthermore, at a recent City Council meeting there was an appeal from a resident to have the full five member Design Review Board review his concerns, instead of the minimum three members that heard his case concerning view issues dealing with new construction in his area. I thought Jane would swing with Verna and Toni in this instance. I was disappointed. However, I was glad to see that she supports the open space initiative.
Bob Whalen has been a respected member of the school board and now serves on the Planning Commission. I was heartened by his positive vote on maintaining the height limitation at a recent Planning Commission meeting. But I was a little taken back when he followed it up with a comment saying that it was a zoning issue and could be changed in the future. Is this comment a harbinger of future votes? I have lived in Laguna since 1966 and understand how important the height limitation has been in keeping the small town atmosphere of Laguna that we all love and that tourists enjoy. I also am concerned about his negative stand on the open space initiative, which calls for $120/year increase in the property taxes of Laguna Beach property owners to put in a fund to purchase unbuildable properties that are voluntarily put up for sale. In a town where the median income is over $90,000, $120 represents less than what a couple might spend on dinner in one of our more upscale restaurants. And don’t forget that open space, both in the canyon and within the city itself, has been an important factor in the growth and preservation of our property values.
What I like about Steve Dicterow is his openness and friendly attitude. I do not share his political philosophy, but I appreciate the fact that I can discuss local issues with him, and that he doesn’t make me feel like I am wasting his time.
We have the makings of a real cliffhanger in this election. Your vote can make a difference! Do your homework, watch city council meetings on TV, read the recaps. And remember: By their votes ye shall know them.
Anne Frank, Laguna Beach