During robust civic debate after the City Council vote to move forward on a village entrance project, members of the Laguna Beach Taxpayer’s Association consulted with elected Council representatives, Chamber of Commerce leaders, as well as organizers of opposition groups Let Laguna Vote and We The People. Both supporters and opponents of the project actively sought LBTA support for aggressive campaigns to either sustain or reverse the Council’s action.
LBTA was honest with both sides, pointing out to supporters our obvious concerns, including the high cost of the project for taxpayers. In discussions with the opposition we expressed equally distinct concerns about the costs and divisiveness of government by referendum, especially when less drastic political solutions were still viable.
While Mayor Boyd’s call for a vote on the project as approved was sound, it would not be required if the City Council recommitted the project to a public planning process sponsored by our elected representatives. Accordingly, LBTA urged the City Council members we consulted to renew the planning process, and it is our understanding and expectation that is what the City Council will do.
Of course, it is still a free country and the opposition may prefer a ballot initiative to reengagement in a renewed planning process. Ironically, if the City Council responds to public input and makes significant changes in the project, the referendum may or may not determine the final outcome of this issue.
Whatever happens next, the LBTA will stand on its principles of fiscal responsibility and good order in public administration. Thus, we believe any village entrance project should be part of an overall downtown development plan that takes into account all known capital infrastructure needs, including water quality, sewage and storm drain upgrades.
Similarly, any village entrance project addressing parking needs should be based on verified findings as to actual impact on traffic conditions. Nor should the cost of compliance with any applicable federal and state regulations be left to guesswork and speculation that may or may not be grounded in reality.
Instead of more highly politicized confrontation, we encourage all concerned to treat this debate as an opportunity for a more practical problem-solving discourse on town planning. That is how we best can serve our community.
Martha Lydick, Laguna Beach
The author is president of Laguna Beach Taxpayers Association