“No” just doesn’t cut it anymore
By Jeff Redeker
Recently, a working group was created and the work product that came out of the committees efforts is the Economic Revitalization Plan. Michele Monda was very critical of the efforts and described them in her opinion column as “Autocracy in Action.” I have to disagree.
First, no one forced the council to vote on the agenda item. The agenda item was split into sections and each section was proposed on its own. All but one of the sections was approved unanimously. The one that wasn’t approved unanimously was approved 4 to 1. Second, the suggestion that residents were not heard from is inaccurate. Every member of the committee is a resident of Laguna Beach. Several are also business owners and/or commercial property owners. I believe their perspectives are very insightful since they are actually dealing with the COVID-19 fall out every day and will be for the foreseeable future. Understanding what the city can do to assist the businesses and the people they employ is incredibly relevant since the vacancy rate continues to rise in our commercial districts, which will require new businesses to occupy those locations.
I understand that persons from special interest groups and political action committees may have felt shutout from this conversation. When creating an advisory group, it is important to select members who have perspective and professional experience specific to the objectives of the committee—not everyone gets selected. City staff and councilmembers work with people who get things done and do not drag out or obstruct any positive change the committee wants to propose for our city. The full council still has the ability to strike down the proposals or send them back to the drawing board. That did not happen in this case, because these are well thought out ideas and temporary changes paid for with the funds already allocated for the Downtown Action Plan.
When looking at any issue in Laguna, there is never unanimous public support. The best that can ever be hoped for is to get 60-70% support for an item. Although there are some businesses who may not be supportive of the Economic Revitalization Plan, it is temporary and certainly worth giving it a try. As a long-time resident, I look forward to grabbing a paper at the newsstand, a coffee at Moulin and relaxing outside on Forest. I would also enjoy grabbing some new board shorts at Hobie’s or Quicksilver and then meeting up with friends for outdoor dining on Forest. I think this is a good idea as a resident that likes to walk and shop downtown regularly.
Anyone can create a committee and propose a plan then contact a member of our city council, who I have found to be accessible. Any council member can take your proposal and make an agenda item out of it. The group of people who are opposed to the Economic Revitalization Plan have no ideas being proposed and to my knowledge, no committee work in process. These people have only one word for all proposals and that word is “no”. Well in the new normal of COVID-19 reality, “no” just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Jeffrey is a commercial banker and 38-year resident of Laguna Beach.