Opinion: Rebuttal to “Protect Our Village Without the Proposed Ballot Initiative”


By Michèle Monda

Sam Goldstein does not get his facts straight. He definitely has an agenda and he’s not beneath telling one huge falsehood after another to sell it.

His last column is a prime example. Let’s debunk his “facts” point by point:

  1. I’m not trying to maintain the status quo of a “dying, decaying city”. There are multiple reasons for the city having empty storefronts and an unkempt feel, among them is Sam Goldstein’s Heisler building’s outrageous rent which caused Tommy Bahama to bail before their lease expired. According to a real estate broker’s brochure for the 5,794-square-foot space, “Tommy Bahama occupied the entire 1st Floor space or 40% of the building at a rent of $81 per square foot NNN”. Landlords aren’t held accountable with a maintenance ordinance which I and others have repeatedly requested from City Council. I am for compatible development and have stated that.
  2. I’m not in a “group” with the others listed. One, I’ve never met.
  3. I‘ve never attacked the men he claims I have. I may have disagreements with them but I haven’t attacked them like some of them have me. Mike Ray continually calls me a liar with no proof. I’ve never spoken out against Joe Hanauer.
  4. Village Laguna and Laguna Residents First are not the same organization and aren’t affiliated except in Goldstein’s Liberate Laguna Forward PAC’s mind. I’m not a member of either organization although I did donate to Laguna Residents First.
  5. Big developments are easier now with easing of parking requirements and variances the City Council grants. Remember the variance you got on your roof deck height restriction from the City Council? How about the fact that your Heisler Building—the second biggest commercial building in town—isn’t required to provide a single parking space? Capricious granting of variances by the council is why we need the Ballot Initiative.
  6. I’ve never been against low-cost affordable housing and the Ballot Initiative specifically exempts it. I spoke for the Canyon artist live/work building at council although I’m dismayed by the mass and scale it has become. I spoke for ADUs and Airbnbs at City Council.
  7. I have never read Vision 2030 and I am a huge fan of the arts. I was for placing a large art installment at the Village Entrance and wrote that.
  8. I was against the Village Entrance parking lot precisely because it took away too many parking spots.
  9. Businesses are closed because of the pandemic, online shopping, but mostly because the rents are too high like what Sam was charging to Tommy Bahama. Even Chef Strong cited that as a reason he closed his restaurant, not parking.
  10. Pre-pandemic, I proposed closing Forest Avenue on specific nights, not permanently. I spoke at City Council asking to install bollards so that a Farmer’s Market, Saturday night bazaar and concerts could be featured. I wrote a column to the Indy about that. I have never spoken against the Promenade, although I am unhappy about the loss of parking, loss of meter revenue, cost to taxpayers, and the permanence. And, of course, I like outdoor dining. Who doesn’t?
  11. I’ve never had anything to do with the Historic Preservation Ordinance or spoken about the Downtown Specific Plan. However, the loosening of parking regulations is designed to jam a parking structure down resident’s throats. Sadly, since most buildings are not historic, they could be torn down and another story added with the new DSP.
  12. I haven’t been a party to any lawsuits nor am I affiliated with any group doing that. I have no knowledge of them.

It’s a shame that the Indy lets Sam print such outrageous statements about people just because he wants them to be so. He needs to apologize and start getting his facts straight.

Michèle is a Laguna Beach resident and Treasurer of Laguna Beach Sister Cities.

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  1. Sadly, this tactic is exactly how Sam Goldsteins RE investor/developer and Founder of PAC Liberate Laguna (Now Forward) managed to fool so many voters in 2018.

    Spreading false information and disparaging residents who disagree with his/their agenda and getting away with it. Facts? Who needs facts? Clearly not Sam.

    Thanks for holding him accountable.

  2. As a community, we can only arrive at optimal solutions to civic issues through honest and respectful dialogue, something that Monda attempts here in the wake of Goldstein’s hit piece from last week. What I stated in the comments to his essay then, I’ll share here again:
    “If Jackson Pollock used words instead of paints for one of his creations, it’d end up reading like what Sam Goldstein has cobbled together here. I’m still not sure what’s being asserted in this piece, and whether I should be proud or offended. But I’m definitely confused.”


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