Opinion: Laguna Beach City Corner

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A Note From The Mayor

By Sue Kempf

Dear Laguna Beach Community,

I was disheartened when misinformation spread about the future of the Orange County Public Library. Many residents contacted me by phone and by email along with my fellow City Councilmembers, imploring us to “save the library property” after misinformation was sent out that the property was being turned into a parking lot. This deliberate story line was then repeated on Nextdoor, and it began to spread throughout our community like wildfire. Social media platforms, like Nextdoor or email blasts are often not necessarily the source of accurate information.

Here is the truth about the Library: the item scheduled for the April 12 City Council meeting is to recommend approval of the purchase agreement for the Library property and approval of lease agreement with the County for continued Library operations. Per the original 1970 agreement with the County of Orange to build the Laguna Beach Public Library, the City was given the option to purchase the property within 50 years. At the Jan. 7, 2020, City Council meeting in open regular session, the City Council directed the City Manager to send a letter to the County exercising the City’s option to purchase the Library property and to begin the acquisition process which included obtaining an appraisal and drafting a purchase and sales agreement. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these efforts were mutually postponed and then re-started in late 2021.

On Feb. 16, 2022, the Planning Commission unanimously determined that the acquisition of the property was consistent with the City’s General Plan. In that meeting, staff stated that the City was buying the property and leasing it back to the County for continued Library operations.  Nowhere is it mentioned that the library will be bulldozed or turned into a parking lot. To the contrary, our city manager, Shohreh Dupuis, negotiated a further clause in our agreement that requires the County to hold our funds required to purchase the property to be returned to us should we decide to either remodel the existing library or build a new library someday.

I call on each of you and our local media outlets to seek the truth and fact-check statements before you repost, publish news, act, or jump to conclusions based on information provided to you from those with an agenda. When there is an intentional effort to disseminate misinformation, it damages public trust and slowly erodes the foundation of our democracy. I think we can all agree that in Laguna Beach, we are all above this kind of proliferation of untruths.

There is no better reminder that our democracy is something to fight for than what is happening right now in the Ukraine. Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine, and I am proud to be bringing a proclamation of support for Ukraine forward at next week’s City Council meeting. I want to thank our community members for showing their support through the recent rallies around town, this week’s fundraiser that raised over $100,000 to support the Ukrainian Red Cross relief efforts put together by Julie Perlin Lee, Barbara and Greg MacGillivray and Kora Kroep at Laguna Art Museum, and I am thankful for all of the Ukrainian flags I see around town on my walks. That is the Laguna Beach I love— a community that joins together to support each other and our neighbors—even neighbors across the globe, when they are in need.

We have much work to do, and now is the time to come together and move forward as a community.

Sue is the Laguna Beach Mayor and has been a city councilmember since 2018.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. What does “Disheartened by misinformation” mean? Should read ‘When I found out that b.s. was being trash-talked I went nuclear”.

  2. What Sue is NOT saying is this after the 3 year lease agreement ends. She is actually the one spreading misinformation because she knows fully well they can do what they want with it after 3 years and that can include a parking structure. Not cool Ms. Mayor:

    There are two clauses in the City of Laguna’s purchase Agreement of the library property that suggest the this property site may be used for something else: “ITEM 14: In the event that an ALTERNATIVE LIBRARY LOCATION HAS NOT BEEN IDENTIFIED WITHIN TWELVE (12) MONTHS OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS LEASE, the County and the City shall meet and confer and develop a capital improvement plan for the Premises to be funded from the Library Purchase Price Principal (“Capital Improvement Plan”). …IN THE EVENT THAT THE ALTERNATE LIBRARY LOCATION IS IDENTIFIED AND THERE ARE FUNDS REMAINING FROM THE LIBRARY PURCHASE PRICE PRINCIPAL, SUCH FUNDS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR A CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN AT THE NEW LOCATION.”

    “ITEM 9: THE PARTIES UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT THE CITY IS INVESTIGATING THE POSSIBILITY OF RELOCATING THE FREE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY AND RELATED SERVICES TO A NEW LOCATION WITHIN THE CITY (“ALTERNATIVE LIBRARY LOCATION”). IN THE EVENT THAT THE CITY IDENTIFIES AN ALTERNAIVE LIBRARY LOCATION, ANY AND ALL INFORMATION REGARDING THE ALTERNATIVE LIBRARY LOCATION SHALL BE PROVIDED TO THE COUNTY FOR APPROVAL OF THE LOCATION AS A PART OF THE COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM PRIOR TO ANY RELOCATION, WHICH APPROVAL WILL BE IN THE COUNTY’S REASONABLE DISCRETION.” <

  3. Despite Ms Kempf’s denials, those of us who can read are still mightily worried about the City’s intent. 2 sections of the City’s purchase agreement with the County warrant skepticism about the Mayor’s denials:

    “ITEM 14: In the event that an ALTERNATIVE LIBRARY LOCATION HAS NOT BEEN IDENTIFIED WITHIN TWELVE (12) MONTHS OF THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS LEASE, the County and the City shall meet and confer and develop a capital improvement plan for the Premises to be funded from the Library Purchase Price Principal (“Capital Improvement Plan”). …IN THE EVENT THAT THE ALTERNATE LIBRARY LOCATION IS IDENTIFIED AND THERE ARE FUNDS REMAINING FROM THE LIBRARY PURCHASE PRICE PRINCIPAL, SUCH FUNDS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR A CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN AT THE NEW LOCATION.”

    “ITEM 9: THE PARTIES UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT THE CITY IS INVESTIGATING THE POSSIBILITY OF RELOCATING THE FREE COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY AND RELATED SERVICES TO A NEW LOCATION WITHIN THE CITY (“ALTERNATIVE LIBRARY LOCATION”). IN THE EVENT THAT THE CITY IDENTIFIES AN ALTERNAIVE LIBRARY LOCATION, ANY AND ALL INFORMATION REGARDING THE ALTERNATIVE LIBRARY LOCATION SHALL BE PROVIDED TO THE COUNTY FOR APPROVAL OF THE LOCATION AS A PART OF THE COUNTY LIBRARY SYSTEM PRIOR TO ANY RELOCATION, WHICH APPROVAL WILL BE IN THE COUNTY’S REASONABLE DISCRETION.”

    Are these clauses not to be taken at face value? Is this irrelevant legalese that would be included in every real property purchase done by the City? Or are we being mislead?

  4. “When there is an intentional effort to disseminate misinformation, it damages public trust and slowly erodes the foundation of our democracy. I think we can all agree that in Laguna Beach, we are all above this kind of proliferation of untruths.”
    OMG, FOFLOL……..unintentionally comedic, oblivious to reality, or both.
    Notice how she avoids the obvious, the multiple Brown Act violations and disclosed traitorous perks for rich special interest developers, who in their right mind believes that didn’t erode faith in governance, when the DA’s office had to intervene with truthiness? And we should trust her and her ilk?
    Now insult us by claiming that if we’re skeptical, then we have an agenda, I mean, didn’t Kempf and her cronies have one, still do in fact? Doesn’t EVERYBODY have an agenda?
    Hey, guess what Kempf? You’re NOT in Kansas anymore (or in her case Indiana), in my 50 years here I’ve never seen or heard total, “all agree” unanimity. Yet there wasn’t such a high degree of hostility, outright public bitterness and acrimony.
    Kempf is the epitome of homogenization, just an extension of Spineless Bob Whalen’s 2 years as Mayor. And just as out of touch regarding dissension and turmoil.
    Which happened (sorry to dampen your irrationality, Kempf) because the thin Council majority refused to put the gavel in Iseman’s hands, or Weiss’ for that matter.
    And why hasn’t Councilman Blake had wheel watch time, a year at the helm? Chairing can be very educational, a teaching opportunity, one acquires or hones the high art of facilitation as a moderator.
    Historical, civil protocols have always featured passing the seat along, albeit one anomaly was when Elizabeth Pearson remained in the seat during the second Bluebird slide in 2005.
    Candidate Weil looks poised to join the March Of The Oblivious with his “Sí, se puede!” worn out, re-tread jargon.
    Yet over my 50 years, through the upland downs, high tides and lows, Laguna’s essence remained intact until recently.
    Now it feels broken, and it’ll take more than typical campaign rhetoric where everyone sounds like Rodney King, or actually like a real estate agent selling you a tear-down, or a used car salesman in the movie “Fargo.”
    It’s as if facade, a packaged utopia, promo-slickened Hollywood imagery thanks to the Chamber and Visit Laguna now “trumps” the true state-of-the-city: Humpty-Dumpty Land.
    They keep “jumping the shark,” champion gimmicks like the Promenade. Districts? We never needed no stinking districts and who decided the tourists did?
    Wayfinding signs like we’re at Disneyland or Knott’s Berry Farm—-an amusement park as our model.
    Which, btw, every time I’m downtown from around 9-12 noon that Promendade sits pitifully under-used, nearly vacant……No more classic Downtown USA feel it had, Forest is just another wasteland. It DID feel like community, now it seems manufactured, featuring totally bogus corralling and animal pens. What’s next, cowboys on mechanical toy horses rounding them up?
    And “parklets? Oh, puh-lease, dozens of parking spaces lost 24/7/365 to assist a few businesses for what, 8 hours of use at most (2–10 pm)?
    What do locals get? Less access to the area as a function of fewer spaces and circulation nightmares because Forest has been eliminated as a corridor.
    And who said irony died on 9/11?
    The advent of Donald Trump and the beginning of our irrevocable dissolution, both as a nation and here in our own city, are contemporaneously symptomatic of our dystopic future, as Laguna slouches towards Bethlehem.
    The God of Commerce as the slow-moving yet resolute trudging Sphinx, as Laguna dies little by little, piece by piece.

  5. Hello MM and MM (AKA the Frothing Few),
    May I suggest a chill pill, a belly laugh, more smiling, and gratitude at your good fortune to live here? Every week we are subjected to your angry diatribes and conspiracy mongering. Yes we can all read, and nowhere does it say the city is moving the library and building a parking lot. It merely ensures we have the option to do things in the future should the need arise, as the only constant is change. This is excellent governance and city planning – buying the library from the County while we still can, and ensuring flexibility if a better use is ever determined. Like we should do with all public buildings – including the museum. It’s what we should do with Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Rd as well – be masters of our own destiny. But if we were to buy those roads from CalTrans, I’m sure you would postulate that we will put in 4 lane super highways in order to bring in more tourists. Please, for your own self care, step away from your keyboards, take a deep breath, and get outside, where you can marvel at how good you have it.

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