Opinion: What is the LRF Ballot Initiative Really About?


By David Raber

It’s simple. The Laguna Residents First (LRF) Ballot Initiative gives the Laguna Beach City Council better standards to help manage development and preserve Laguna’s quality of life and property values.  Importantly, the initiative gives residents the right to vote on projects which exceed these standards.

Why now? The LRF ballot initiative is needed now more than ever because of how lucrative coastal development has become. Consider that two design concepts for brand-new large hotels in Laguna have been published and reviewed. That large, new apartment building under construction in the canyon demonstrates to other property owners in the canyon what the City is allowing. As Councilmember Peter Blake told us in a city council meeting we need to “just get over it” because there will be others to follow.

But we don’t need to “just get over it.” As Laguna Beach residents it’s our responsibility to set the pace for significant changes to this town. No one else has that responsibility to set the overall direction of how Laguna should work and how Laguna should look.

How about the future? True, Laguna Beach will evolve as California becomes more crowded and complex. We all need to keep up with the times, but what does that mean for our community development process? Laguna is at a crossroads. We need to arm the city with fair standards to help manage that evolution. Some things will never change, such as the only ways in and out of here are Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road, and our beachfront, and visitors.

Look at it this way. The LRF ballot initiative is similar to Newport Beach’s Greenlight ballot initiative that was passed 22 years ago. Newport, with four times Laguna’s population has only triggered three votes of the residents in all of those years. The idea here is not to have lots of elections over the small stuff, but rather to moderate what developers ask for, and what the City Council gives away.
How does it work? This initiative restores Laguna’s height and parking standards that have been in place here for decades, but which have been recently diminished by City Council. This initiative will also set rules regarding building size, traffic, and the combination of lots. The cumulative effect provision requires the City Council to carefully manage how many large projects get approved during a period of time. These are all common-sense standards that are needed for an orderly and fair evolution of Laguna as we step into the future.

The initiative sets standards for commercial buildings and large apartment buildings near Coast Highway or Laguna Canyon Road. The initiative specifically excludes all single-family residences, apartment buildings with fewer than 10 units, and projects mandated by state law.  It also excludes remodeling or restoration of buildings that retain their size, height, and general type of use. That is a big, important exclusion that emphasizes, fully supports, and encourages renew and reuse of Laguna’s current inventory of commercial property.

Some developers would be scared away by this, just like some franchise stores might be scared away. On the other hand, innovative architects, developers, and merchants will welcome this because it preserves the unique value proposition that Laguna offers them.  These people need our help to prevent Laguna Beach from becoming just one more in a long list of predictable, overstacked, overdeveloped coastal towns. We are unique, and the ballot initiative helps us maintain that edge.

Join the more than 2,600 Laguna residents who helped get this initiative on the ballot. Vote yes to assure Laguna’s quality of life, environment, and property values will be protected as we all move forward.

David is a co-founder of Laguna Residents First PAC.

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  1. It’s simple, Dave Raber, the co-founder of Laguna Residents First PAC, is a liar!

    Behind that photo of him from yesteryear (doesn’t he look all woke?), lies a ruthless activist hell-bent on regaining the power and control that Village Laguna lost in 2018. This Ballot Initiative is their way of usurping the voters. Can’t win an election (how can you when your preferred candidates consist of Ruben Flores, Mark Orgil, and Jerome Pudwill?) then you need a Ballot Initiative! This is after all democracy. Isn’t it? What happened to voting for your representatives and having them vote in your interests? Oh yeah, the developers buy the elections and everyone is in their pockets. Almost forgot lol!!

    Dave, please, spare us the threat of highrises, and rampant development. We don’t need a “vote of the people” to approve cool businesses and to have property owners refurbish their buildings. Oh, and thanks for allowing us the right to “remodel or restore our buildings that retain their size, height, and general type of use” We wouldn’t dream of adding an inch of space, height or God forbid, change uses without the permission of the authoritarians over at Laguna Residents First.

    This November, let’s send this fool and his Nanny-State activists and candidates packing!

  2. Or we could send a loud mouth bully who calls everyone liars with whom he disagrees with packing. If only Peter you would get your facts straight – or even look at facts – you might have a smidgen of credibility. As it is, you just continue to spew hate, use the same ridiculous words over and over and call everyone liars, activists or potty mouth names. #BlakeOut2022.

  3. Haha! I guess you could send me packing as you did in 2018? Right? Didn’t I receive the most votes? Wasnt my message the same? Property rights, law and order, and relaxing business restrictions? Wasn’t I the “loud mouth bully” that fought on behalf of the silent majority? I was ahead of my time then and right in time now. Go ahead, Michelle get my suitcase lol! Facts still remain the same. The residents of Laguna are done with authoritarians (Village Laguna/LRF) telling them what to do with their homes and buildings. They’re especially tired of hypocrites like you living behind a gate in a huge Macmansion, telling them that they can’t have the same rights you exercised when you built your huge home with the help of the best entitlement consultant in the business. Nice try!

  4. Thank you David Raber for always being forthright, informative and respectful in your communications and public outreach on city issues and certainly the LRF Ballot Initiative. Voters who value such logical and responsible leadership won’t have a difficult time deciding who’s judgement they should trust on potential mega development decisions – themselves or self-serving PAC developers and their council majorities. It’s a no-brainer IMO.

    If stakeholders are paying attention to the extreme pushback on the initiative coming from these few elected’s/developer supporter’s – they will realize that “their voices about their town and lifetime investments will matter less and less if the peoples choice LRF ballot measure isn’t voted in this November”. And if this happens we will forever be “the LB residents” that failed to continue to protect our once unique and beautiful coastal town from distorted egos and money-driven RE investors/developers and officials who sold us out. It’s hard to even fathom what Laguna Beach local would ever consider taking such an unnecessary risk.

    I hope voters are also paying attention to Peter Blake’s ready, fire, aim attacks on several 2022 city council candidates here. Looks to me like he’s intimidated and starting his usual bullying tactics and more examples of the toxicity we need to flush out and down in 2022. I believe the respected business professionals stepping up fully understand the quantity they are dealing with. They will stick to the topics and concerns we residents/taxpayers are interested in addressing and resolving and do it with inclusiveness, commitment and class. We should thank them for attempting to bring logic, respect, pride and peace back to our city. I sure do.

    VOTE: YESLRFInitiative. VOTE: BlakeOut2022!. VOTE: YESonnewCCleadership!

  5. MJ, you know I’m not “intimidated” and thats the reason you and your fellow activists want me out.

    You call yourself a resident/taxpayer? You’re actually an activist/political predator that lives in the house your husband inherited. You contribute nothing to our city other than creating chaos for those of us who work hard and commit ourselves to the betterment of Laguna.

    The LRF Ballot Initiative is a power grab by Village Laguna/LRF and activists like yourself who want to rob us of our property rights.

    No thanks!


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