Peter Blake voted out: “I’m thrilled and frankly lucky”

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By Tasmin McGill, Special to the Independent

When the votes were counted and the race called, Peter Blake lost his bid at reelection for Laguna Beach’s City Council bringing in only 10.59 percent of total votes and landing him in sixth place. The last four years have been tumultuous for Blake, who found himself criticized by residents during open city council sessions and censured by co-council members. Now, after vacating his seat, Blake is back at his Peter Blake Gallery in Laguna ready for normalcy. 

Peter Blake during a recent Laguna Beach City Council Meeting. Submitted photo.

“I’m thrilled and frankly lucky that I didn’t get reelected,” Blake said. “I’d like to go back to being an art dealer and resident of this community.”

Blake never anticipated running for city council but, after seeing what he believed to be oppressive restrictions placed on Laguna residents by Village Laguna, his wife convinced him he could help make a change. 

Blake saw Village Laguna as a powerful presence that needed to be called out, whether it was the denial of building permits or the excessive stipulations put in place before new businesses could establish themselves and flourish. While his approach was often criticized, Blake said that residents knew what they were getting when he received the majority of the votes in the 2018 election. 

“I exhibited all of my personality,” Blake said. “We had 10 debates, and during those 10 debates, it was obvious I […] was there to fight.”

During the first meeting Blake attended following his election, he attempted to remove what he called the most “egregious” Design Review Board members, Caren Liuzzi, Meg Monahan and Lorraine Mullen-Kress. 

“I failed miserably. It was my first attempt at making changes, and I got my ass handed to me basically, but I dusted myself off,” Blake said. “Every single meeting for four years, I made sure that if there was a reason to stand up and fight, I was going to. I was going to spare no one, and I did so.”

Blake would ultimately successfully recruit and appoint new members for the Design Review Board. He would also address the issues that caused him to run in the first place, such as re-establishing residents’ property rights and collaborating with City Hall to streamline the arduous building process. 

Blake said he wanted to get rid of what he saw as Village Laguna empowering itself when it came to how residents could and could not express themselves with their biggest investments – their homes.

Another issue Blake tackled was the homeless population, which he considered a growing community issue. Although what Blake calls “criminal transients” made up a small percentage of the homeless population, they contributed to a large portion of the town’s crime rates – due to Blake’s encouraging residents to report infractions. Recognizing this as an issue, Blake organized 10 seminars where community leaders came to hear concerns from residents.

“I invited key stakeholders. I had Congressman Harley Rouda, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, the Director of the Friendship Shelter Dawn Price, and our Chief of Police Laura Farinella,” Blake said. 

To help deter the small population of transients from returning to the streets of Laguna, Blake said he visited the district attorney’s office in Santa Ana, where a DA was dedicated to the city for assistance. 

“That was our biggest accomplishment that I had during my term,” Blake said. “I would call a perfect storm of situations that we enacted as a state that made it possible for people to do drugs, to steal, and to create a homeless situation which destroyed major cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, and ruined coastal communities close to us like Venice and Santa Monica. I wanted to ensure that didn’t happen to my beloved town.”

Blake is optimistic about the future of the city council and the community. 

“The two people that got elected, Alex Rounaghi is a brilliant young man and brings a voice to a young generation. Mark Orgill is a very smart guy who’s been involved in development in the past and has also been involved in bringing a more cultured visitor to this community,” Blake said. “Everything they need, the seeds have been planted. All they have to do is grow those seeds.”

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3 COMMENTS

  1. This article is total garbage. Blake wanted to win more than anything. He spent $32 per vote and god knows how much his PAC supporters actually spent to try to get him elected. His huge ego is all over this column and that the Indy printed this is astounding. This column is so full of misleading information that I don’t know where to begin. Bottom line – Laguna rejected this bully and really bad councilman. His legacy is that when you disrespect residents they will respond. Bravo Laguna for getting rid of a black mark on our history. Now please, Peter just go away.

  2. Laguna Beach is ‘THRILLED AND FRANKLY LUCKY’ that P.B. lost his council seat – after one term. Fooled us once – but Never again! So grateful that the residents of Laguna voted wisely, and the ‘dealer’ no longer has a microphone to spew his hate from. Even the hundreds of thousands of developer dollars wasted on water boarding residents with mailers and negative ads didn’t work. Now, cooler heads and open hearts can actually exercise ‘Free Speech’, discuss issues, and do the important and sometimes messy work of democracy. And, PB can go back to being a shopkeeper living in the back of his street level storefront.

  3. Indy: not sure why you feel it necessary to give a voice to the overwhelmingly rejected former council member Peter Blake.

    Seriously, haven’t residents been subjected to enough of his ego, arrogance and false accomplishment claims during four grueling years and during the election? Voters didn’t believe him (or his developer friends Laguna 2022 who tried to buy him a seat again) then and still don’t no matter how many times he tries to spew his bs with the help of the media.

    Please let Laguna put Blake and his negative legacy behind us. Thank you

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