Opinion: Village Matters

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This Ain’t Chicago

ann christoph

The more we open space we save, the more we preserve the character of our town—the more some are seeing unmined riches. To put it in real estate parlance, those quaint cottages and small unique shops are not producing income from “a highest and best use.” Enterprising opportunists not only see the possibility of fortunes to be made but they’re willing organize a big city type political machine to break down the controls at the city that so far have kept development somewhat in check.

Laguna Beach is a small, sweet city where typical council campaigns raise $50,000 from a few hundred donors. The campaigns use those funds to send out mailers and run ads, mostly talking about the qualifications of the candidates and their goals for the future. Hostile mailers are rare. But since 2018 that has changed. Liberate Laguna Political Action Committee (five major donors) raised $152,000, hired expensive consultants, and blanketed our mailboxes with mailers extolling the wonderful qualities of Peter Blake and Sue Kempf. I was running for city council in that election and at the very end Liberate Laguna let fly a hit piece on me.  Did that deceptive mailer cost me the 250 votes I needed to gain a seat on the city council?  This is what can happen to an unsuspecting candidate running a “normal” campaign.

Both their candidates won and in the last two years we’ve experienced how effective Liberate Laguna’s money and influence can be—with the diatribes of Blake and the supportive votes of Kempf upending design review and the heritage committee, and reducing parking requirements for developers in the downtown while preparing to spend city funds to build a parking garage to make up for those missing spaces to the tune of $14 million.

Now Liberate Laguna is doing their hits early—attacking all candidates who are running against their chosen ones—Bob Whalen and Larry Nokes. 

Last week we all received a mailer with a terrible photo of Steve Dicterow and accusations about his insurance payments. Steve says he was threatened by leaders of Liberate Laguna.

“They said they would “ruin my life” if I ran for re-election.”  Why?  They wanted to control his votes and Steve wouldn’t agree.  Now Liberate Laguna is in Dicterow ruination mode.  That mailer may not be the last hit.

Candidate George Weiss and Ruben Flores are in their sights too. Liberate Laguna has the funds to do polling, so if any of the other candidates look like they may be pulling ahead, expect more hit pieces on whoever that perceived front runner may be. 

Are the main principals of Liberate Laguna just concerned residents who are trying to uplift the “downtrodden community” that they think Laguna Beach is? No. they are not spending all that money just to help out. There is money to be made. When the City, under their influence, opens up the floodgates to national tenants, rents and real estate values will skyrocket—or at least that’s what they hope.

Meantime they are in the process of changing our nice, maybe too naïve town with their sordid manipulations. We don’t need Chicago-like machine politics. Too bad we can’t take all those hit mailers and “Return to sender” at 410 Broadway, Suite 200, Larry Nokes’s office, where apparently Liberate Laguna, and Kelly Boyd all get their mail.

Ann is a landscape architect and former Laguna Beach mayor.

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  1. Here comes sANNEctimonius Christoph spinning lies again. Sorry you lost the election Anne! Maybe it’s because you failed to win the hearts and minds of the voters? How valid was your candidacy if it couldn’t withstand a single hit piece from an unknown PAC? What if your PAC Village Laguna hadn’t launched the hit pieces on Sue and I. You know, the ones with the bulldozers complete with the lies that we were in the back pockets of developers? Remember those? You and fellow Village Laguna lapdog Toni, would have lost by a landslide had it not been for the lies your PAC Village laguna engaged in. Oh, and it hasn’t stopped. You continue to slander us to this day despite the fact that a single shovel hasn’t hit the dirt for development that you’re fear-mongering alludes to.

    Anne, sorry you’re preferred candidates George Weiss and Ruben Flores (Dumb and Dumber) have been outed as frauds. Ruben bought all the time he could successfully squatting for months without paying rent while racking up code violations (you’d know about squatting right? Ten years at the South Laguna Community Garden has made you a pro). Speaking of code violations, looks like George had a few himself. Running an illegal short term rental out of his home, a junk car on racks and he even ignored requests to trim his trees for the safety of drivers’s visibility. How about his small business that we’ve asked about? He also likes to mention that he was an executive and managed people and budgets? Can you elaborate? What we do know is that he’s been involved with some civic groups as a political activist. We also know that he’s been planting on open space with a radical professor (Chris Reed) who was caught using Roundup on our City’s property back in 2016 and last week he was traversing private property while trying to build a pathway up in Temple Hills. Please advise.

    Finally, we all know that you and your supporters are a vocal minority that pay next to nothing in property tax and want to control those who pay the bulk of it. You hypocrites like to espouse civility yet engage in the dirtiest tricks at every election. Unfortunately for Village Laguna in this election, the OC Dems weren’t too happy with you after hearing that you were eating your own to gain ground for the pathetic and radical left-wing nut cases you chose to endorse. You attacked Bob Whalen? Seriously? I’ve never known a more civil politician and I know a thing or two about incivility.

    Anne, please spare us your self absorbed panaceas of how to save our “naive town from sordid manipulations” We know you and you fellow activists over at Village Laguna are the real culprits. Good luck in this election. You’re gonna need it!

  2. Thank you Peter for your post. It does an excellent job reinforcing the impression that your rude, hyperbolic, anti-resident, pro-development rants are not to be taken seriously. Bravo! Well done!

  3. Thank you Peter. Toni did a massive hit piece on me 2 weeks before the election in 2016. Not sure I could have won against the 17 year incumbent, but it was mean, hurtful and full of lies all the same.
    VL members are a group of evil, selfish, controlling and down right nasty humans. What they have put Lisette through over the last weeks is absolutely appalling. I mean, any group that attacks Lisette is pretty has come to an all time LOW!! I pray they are defeated and that Laguna will have a Council that can help pull them out of the next years post-pandemic. Leave it to Ruben and George, it doesn’t stand a chance.

  4. Jerome, As a pro-resident, anti-development, hypobolic, and kind human being, could you please refute any accusations I made in my “rant that’s not to be taken seriously” Let’s start with whether Ruben is being evicted for non-payment of rent and if he owes his landlord almost $50,000. Also, please advise if Ruben and George have code violations dating back years? Finally could you “reinforce” your confidence that these two pathetic idiots are capable of governing our community? Given that we’re 12 days away from the election, this would be a good start. We can get into my other comments “that are not to be taken seriously” after the election.

    I’ll be practicing my best “bravo! Well done!” while I wait lol!!

  5. Peter? What – back for more?


    I love it every time you post! It’s so refreshing to see your little hissy-fits speaking volumes about the disrespect you and your handlers at Liberate Laguna have for Laguna Beach residents!

    I’m sure it’s helping dissuade lots of voters from voting for Liberate Laguna’s latest preferred city council candidates, Whalen and Nokes. Good job!

    More! More! Oh, Please More!

  6. Jerome, my disrespect is aimed at fools like you and Village Laguna. All of you idiots make it easy to win elections for our preferred candidates. Lets see how Ruben and George do next week. The residents aren’t falling for the lies and fear-mongering anymore. Those days went out with your Birkenstocks.

  7. Man, that was a feeble response, Peter. Everyone knows you are much more obnoxious than that. A real swing and a miss! Please try harder. Very disappointed in you.

  8. What, Peter? That’s the best you can do?

    Come on – we all know you can be much more belligerent and obnoxious than that.

    We’re all disappointed in you. 🙁


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