Speaker’s Corner: Dancing the Tango With City Council

Rita Conn
By Rita Conn

On Nov. 12, Delia Horowitz will be the facilitator for the city’s workshop regarding the village entrance. (“Tacking the Intractable Entrance,” Nov. 1 edition.) It would be best if we could all come to the workshop with an open mind and genuinely contribute from a place of trust. However Council history regarding the village entrance project thus far makes this a tall order.

Transparency is the change most of us would like to see from our council.  Transparency is the bridge to open honest communication in relationships. Transparency builds trust and contributes to the deep satisfaction of feeling that we are being heard, understood and accepted. This is what we need from City Council.

However it takes two to tango. We are partners with Council and it is imperative that we also be transparent, open and honest with our communication. It is in this spirit and the desire for a good working relationship with our Council we share the following letter to Delia, the workshop facilitator, not only with our Let Laguna Vote mailing list but with all of our fellow residents and our Council:

I appreciate the openness you show by asking for my help in making this a worthwhile and productive time for all concerned parties.

As I told you at the start of our conversation, in the 40 years that I have been blessed to live in our wonderful city, I have never been politically active and thus while I am a political novice, my personal bias is to seek truth in all transactions, for it is only then that concerned parties can make informed intelligent decisions.

Collaboratively we identified areas of concerns:

  1. Lack of resident trust with council and the generation of ideas that council could do before Nov. 12 workshop to increase trust.
  2. Necessity for an agreed set of facts regarding the village entrance project.

I have consulted with members of our committee. The following represents what we believe holds great promise for a healthy council-resident relationship going forward.

To build trust, council must start being transparent:

Stake the current proposed Studio One Eleven parking structure with story poles just as every resident must do when building a project.

Provide a rendering of the proposed project that offers a more realistic close up perspective instead of the current misleading rendering that offers a distant perspective.

Postpone soils testing on the property until the city knows what they will do with property and support Councilmember Toni Iseman’s Nov. 5 agenda item which states such.

Publicly instruct the city manager to place an agenda item that would rescind council’s vote to proceed with the current village entrance project. While simply instructing the city manager to put the item on a future agenda is no guarantee that at that meeting the council would actually vote to rescind, it would certainly be a gesture of good faith.

Establish transparency regarding Nov. 12 workshop:

Announce the workshop will look at all options including, doing nothing to property, beautification only to property, developing village entrance without Fox Green property, develop village entrance with Fox Green property.

In order for the city to be truly open to all options that come from one or more workshops:

They must not commit nearly half the city cash resources that the Council has earmarked to the village entrance project.

Continue the Nov. 5 agenda item to purchase Fox Green property to a future City Council meeting, and instruct the city manager to go back to the seller and request a 60-day extension of the due diligence period in order to gain time without loosing down payment.

The purchase of the Fox Green property may be a wonderful opportunity for our city. However, the decision to purchase this property before Nov. 12 will limit the city’s flexibility and ability to pursue in good faith the best alternatives that come from the workshop.

Facts that need to be publically agreed upon at the beginning of the workshop regarding the current village entrance project:

Anything other than surface parking only will increases traffic congestion.

The real price of building the proposed village entrance is unknown until the city knows the cost to remedy the toxic soil and determine human health safety.

Farmers narket will never be the same during and after construction.

Coastal Commission requirements for replacing parking that would be lost to a park-like walkway does not just require one-to-one on site parking replacement as we have been told.

The sewer stations in Laguna Beach have a terrible stench that the city has not yet been able to stop. Therefore building the proposed village entrance parking structure around the sewer lift station is foolish until city can be guaranteed that the stench can be permanently stopped.


Writer Rita Conn is chairwoman of Let Laguna Vote.


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