Opinion: We need to listen to each other, not shut discussion down

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By Louis Weil

My supporters and I have been busy working on the Weil 4 City Council campaign since I announced my run for City Council last month. I’ve enjoyed several deep discussions with a variety of people around town on key issues and have been encouraged by all the questions and ideas, which are proof of the passion Lagunans feel about the future of our beautiful town.

I have and will continue to meet with individuals and organizations, as well as attend important nonprofit events. Some of the highlights include discussing fire mitigation strategies and approaches with the Fire Chief, as well as walking the open space with Laguna Canyon Foundation’s mitigation hand crews. I was also impressed with Laguna Canyon Conservancy’s butterfly garden rehabilitation efforts at the Sawdust.

My wife Meghan and I attended the Boys & Girls Club and School Power events where we learned about the great work they are doing to address the needs of, and provide services to support our youth. Listening and learning from our community energizes me!

I believe listening to a wide variety of people to gain perspective is the fundamental responsibility of our city leaders. I am committed to being approachable to ensure I promote a balanced approach and support “right fit” solutions across our community. As an independent, I pledge to serve the Laguna Beach community by listening to different views and not shutting down discussion, with the goal of finding ways to better our community by working together respectfully toward sensible solutions.

At the May 10 council meeting, I heard comments from the dais that were concerning to me, including continued disrespect for the public process.

As a public leader, I will take responsibility to seek the training and information I need to ensure that I am fully cognizant of the issues that are before the council. I view it as my obligation to do my homework, listen before reaching decisions, and prepare my own statements to reflect a fair balance among competing priorities. My approach has demonstrated respect for individual opinions throughout the entire process. It is OK to disagree, but not be disagreeable.

Also, I spoke in favor of the Council’s item 11, on the topic of entering into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to pursue the evaluation and due diligence with regard to a public-private parking structure in the downtown behind the Presbyterian church. I supported the items for two key reasons:

1. I share the view of the residents of Laguna Beach and the Presbyterian Church that parking is a major issue, and we need the City Staff to evaluate opportunities to find “right fit” solutions for parking. This MOU or Letter of Intent is a good starting point for that public process and further analysis.

2. If the analysis pans out and the 90-plus spaces are added to this parking location for public use, it will be of positive benefit to residents. The location will add to the places where resident parking permits can be used. Also, this area is ideally located close to facilities and buildings that serve locals, including City Hall, the police station, the Water District, the Community and Susi Q Senior Center, art festivals, farmers’ market, restaurants, and Hospitality Night, as well as other local businesses, to the benefit of all.

I am encouraged to see this approach, and I look forward to working on this along with other “right-fit” community projects that make for a better, more resident-friendly Laguna Beach. As always, I hope residents will visit louisweil4citycouncil2022.com to learn more about my positions and email me with their questions and comments.

Louis is a Laguna Beach Realtor and member of the Design Review Board.

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