The Great Idea Circus: A Comedy of Study and Stagnation
Ah, the Laguna Beach City Council, a place where great ideas go to be studied to death, only to end up resting peacefully in the graveyard of inaction. Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the greatest show on earth! Grab your popcorn and join me as we navigate the whimsical world of the real “Lagunatics” comedy play.
In the spotlight, we have the diligent members of the city council, who are ever so polite they collectively possess an awe-inspiring ability to transform even the simplest of proposals into epic sagas of paralysis by analysis. Their motto could very well be, “Why act today when we can study it for eternity?” They delve into the depths of every good idea, dissecting it with such surgical precision that the poor concept must wonder if it even had a life worth living.
But wait! There’s more! Enter the scene-stealers, Village Laguna—a pressure group that has a love affair with the city doing nothing, forever and ever. These masters of filibustering grace every council meeting, armed with speeches that last for eons. They engage in verbal gymnastics, discussing everything except the matter at hand. Their aim seems to be to keep the city in a perpetual state of motionlessness, forever trapped in an otherworldly dimension of inactivity.
Of course, that’s when they’re not shuffling one by one to the podium to espouse yet one more cockamamie conspiracy theory about the city manager, the chief of police, the city staff, or anyone else so as to harass them into screaming to the sky, “Oh why, why dear Great Surf God Kahuna, why are you tormenting me?”
But back to the council chambers. It is overflowing with excitement, anticipation and the echoes of a potential great proposal, like the Forest Avenue Promenade. It is so popular city residents flock to it—even though it now is embryonically temporary—awaiting the final design from a well-respected firm, but which design is repeatedly subjected to “citizen participation.” Meaning there are large public meetings for normal citizens to provide input, but primarily manned by Village Laguna members ranting against any and all of it—and, true to their fashion, trying to kill it by claiming it is unapproved by the council (for the record, it is very much approved), demanding yet more studies, and attempting to exploit the cry of “We must save the trees” as a means to create yet another set of obstacles, circling round and round like the mad Red Queen, arrogant and demanding, coercing innocent bystanders to blindly agree with every word she says.
Yet again, back to the council chambers. It is midnight or later. The council has been at it for six hours, bleary-eyed, tormented by the verbal onslaught, wanting only to go home, and finally (usually) bowing to the mad Red Queen, and in a monumental display of exhaustion, decides to…study it yet again. While at the back of the room, the mad Red Queen laughs in victory. Yet again.
And so, my dear audience, we find ourselves in the whimsical world of Laguna Beach’s City Council. Where the art of doing nothing is perfected through the art of studying everything to death.
Michael is a Laguna Beach resident and principal officer emeritus of Laguna Forward PAC.