Opinion: Ready or Not – It’s Time!

Joe Hanauer
Joe Hanauer.

By Joe Hanauer

It’s just a few days until the election. Yet surprisingly, people still are wondering if they understand Measure Q.   

The confusion shouldn’t be surprising. First, Q is extremely complicated. Second, California’s ballot measure concept has morphed into competing advertising campaigns that dominated my sound bites, having nothing whatsoever to do with the essence of the proposals.  

Unfortunately, the consequences of most ballot measures are so serious that we really need a measure that outlaws misleading rhetoric, limits the number of pages of a measure, and holds those campaigning accountable for what they say. The seriousness of Measure Q is no exception.

If you’re like many, you may think Measure Q deals with keeping Laguna beautiful or only avoids oversized developments. You wouldn’t be at fault. Measure Q’s sound bites have repeatedly been showing the artist live work project in the Canyon as a size it would prohibit. Not true. 

That project is below the size that would kick in a public vote.

But that’s not all. 

Measure Q has what it calls a Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zone. Q has nothing to do with design, architecture, color, vision, or anything to do with ‘beauty.’ The Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zone is simply a name given to the geography Measure Q is proposing to dominate. Every single commercial area in town, as well as residences within two to three blocks of our commercial areas. They’ll all be subject to Q’s restrictions and a potential public vote.

The crazy part about Q is that it will do the opposite of addressing our town’s beauty. By causing Laguna’s business neighborhoods to be subject to new restrictions, the needed upgrading of our aging and deteriorating buildings will be stymied.

Laguna’s nearly one hundred years old, and we’re showing our age. Changes to our treasures like The Ranch, the Old Pottery Place or the smallest buildings like the 1400 s.f new coffee shop on Broadway are hard enough to get approved without adding the risk, time and cost of a public vote on top of our City’s stringent approval processes.  

You see, buildings typically get ‘beautified’ when ownership changes or new tenants move in. 

But smaller one-of-a-kind dining, fitness and retail concepts can’t take on the risks proposed by Q. Instead, we’ll get the opposite of what Measure Q promises. Only deep-pocket developers will pick up vacant stores and take on the risk and expense of this complex process.  

Q is devoid of the heart and soul you would expect in a Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zone. It’s eighteen pages of highly technical material. 

There’s nothing about a vision for Laguna. But to be clear, the writers and supporters of Q love our town as much as we do. So, how can two such passionate views differ so greatly about how to address Laguna’s future?

Consider the differing approaches to addressing traffic. Q posits that businesses cause Laguna’s traffic problems, and it proposes to put a damper on new shops and dining. And for those who can survive Q’s challenges, these businesses must address 100 percent of any impact they create.  

NO ON Q understands that our beautiful beaches and wonderful Laguna experience attract visitors, not businesses. And NO ON Q believes that beyond shops providing parking, the City must address parking and traffic capacities. There is no word in Measure Q about potential City actions to add parking capacity or to work with Caltrans to improve the capacity of our roads. 

This is just one example of the disconnect between our differing points of view. Time’s run out. It’s time to vote. If you don’t understand Q, go to Citizensforlagunasfuture.com. The entire ballot initiative is there. Please read it. If you do, we hope you’ll agree – Vote NO ON Q.

Joe owns multiple Laguna Beach commercial properties where he’s completed multiple major renovations and remodeling. Among them is the Old Pottery Place and 580 Broadway.

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  1. Mr. Hanauer, you know that Measure Q completely exempts all R1 and R2 residential properties, so your mention that somehow residences would get caught up in Measure Q seems like you are throwing inappropriate doubt and confusion at the residents.

    Even if you pencil out brand new apartment buildings, you can easily fit 22 to 26-unit buildings into Measure Q, so Laguna-sized apartment buildings, low-income or otherwise, are accommodated without interference from Measure Q.

    We all want Laguna to age gracefully. You, like everyone else, know that Measure Q completely exempts any project that does not change the size, height, or type of use of an existing project. Your mentioning that repurposing, remodeling, or even rebuilding what we see today is somehow caught up in Measure Q is false.

    The new dining, fitness, and retail concepts you mention are all just fine with Q. Renew and reuse from the list of current restaurant spaces that are just waiting for the next great concept, including Harley’s downtown. Red Dragon, White House, Tommy Bahamas, and Royal Hawaiian are more examples of restaurants that either have or are in the process of being renewed without interference from Measure Q.

    Measure Q requires the City to carefully monitor the traffic and parking situation in town, and evaluate the needs of commerce. On-site parking requirements in Measure Q are identical to what has been in place here for decades. No more, no less. We all agree that the City will have to develop more parking to take care of the existing deficit. Measures Q makes no judgments regarding who is going to pay for this. All that Q asks for is that going forward incremental new development pays a fair fraction of the cost. The same thing happens in all towns. That is what city planning is all about.

    That is why residents support successful, balanced, accessible business districts in Laguna Beach by voting yes on Measure Q


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