Village Matters


It’s Never Enough

ann christoph
By Ann Christoph

No matter how carefully researched and presented.

No matter how polite.

No matter how heartfelt.

No matter how true.

It doesn’t matter; testimony from much of the public at city hall is discounted. “They’re activists—the real people aren’t here,” a councilmember recently accused. “Liars!” he shouted. “People need to get their facts straight,” said a planning commissioner, without citing what is wrong with the facts presented.

Or we’re too old. “We can’t live in the past. I like to listen to the young people,” Arts Commissioners said.

Or we’re afraid of change, testifiers assert. “Change can be frightening for some people, but we need to embrace change.” As though we Laguna advocates who appreciate what a treasure Laguna Beach is, and how vulnerable it is to being overrun and spoiled, have some deplorable psychological condition that prevents us from seeing the wonderful potential that change can bring.

Laguna Beach is not just any town that could need revitalizing. It’s not like the many towns we drive through on the way to somewhere else—towns that need to be brought back to life because the only successful businesses are payday loans and liquor stores.

Our town has none like it—Laguna Beach and the greenbelt are recognized nationally as a Historic American Landscape. The documentation supporting that distinction notes that our dramatic and scenic landscape is the basis of our development as an arts colony. We have a tradition of unique, now historical architecture, and of environmental awareness and protection that resulted in a distinctive village community and in the protection of 22,000 acres of open space, the Laguna Greenbelt. Millions of people seek out the Laguna experience every year. Hundreds of homebuyers pay a premium to buy a tiny piece of the Laguna dream.

Our charge is not to “enliven,” “put us on the map,” or to “bring us up to date,” but to foster the unpretentious beauty, the qualities that make our community and its environs so lovable for so many—and to protect it from forces that could destroy the delicate balance keeping us from being just any beach town.

Andres Duany, world renown urban planner, warned us when he came to be interviewed to work on our Downtown Specific Plan. “This is a place of extraordinary character, of delicate and fragile character, built over time by very unusual people. I recognize and admire what has been achieved here. And I know what destroys this kind of place. The role of planners is to figure out what can go wrong with a place like this, and vaccinate against it, prevent it from being lost. This place is very fragile, and very, very subject to destruction by the forces of the 21st century.”

Those forces are at work right now, in hearing after hearing at City Hall. And the voices of those who try to stand in the way of those forces, are not only being ignored, but demeaned and discredited.

Ann Christoph is a landscape architect and former mayor and member of the City Council.



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  1. No matter how carefully researched and presented.

    No matter how polite.

    No matter how heartfelt.

    No matter how true.

    Anne, you missed one line:

    No matter how politically motivated the “testimony” is, the Council and staff had better heed your and Village Laguna’s advice.

    Of course, only you know what’s best for Laguna. Right? Fifty years of control is now in decline and your grasping at straws to regain the stranglehold over City Hall. Aren’t most of you really just “activists”? Arent activists who come up to the podium and lie, “liers”? Arent activists who are unqualified to assert opinions as fact worthy of questioning? Oh, you’re just not used to being called out. How dare anyone take issue with a Village Laguna stance? Anne, those days are over! Your choreographed letter-writing campaigns followed with impassioned public comments and then the pontificating by Village Laguna’s 20-year mouthpiece (Toni) up on the Dais have hit a snag. It’s called a new generation! We want more out of Laguna than your Rockwellian fantasies and we’ve won, and earned, the right to change our town as we see fit. Your fearmongering no longer has an effect on us!

    Anne, Laguna, like the photo you’re using to represent yourself on this “column”, doesn’t look the same anymore. It’s in need of change. Actually, you and Village do have a “deplorable psychological condition that prevents you from seeing the wonderful potential that change can bring” We are a new community that aspires to be more sophisticated and cultured than previous generations might have envisioned. Thanks for the warning, none of us aspire to live in a town full of “payday loans and liquor stores” We don’t need you and Village Laguna to save us from ourselves!

    This week three more businesses closed in town. Last week you were at the Planning Commission meeting for the proposed changes to the Downtown Specific Plan which is meant to revitalize our Downtown.These changes will attract the residents to come downtown, shop and enjoy themselves. Your valued suggestion was to have more hanging flower baskets to help the retailers. And then you wonder why the voters said no to you being on the Council?

    Anne, you’re right! There are “forces at work right now” and you will encounter resistance to your archaic policies and the exclamations of your ideas as “fact” will be discredited, and when warranted, “ignored, demeaned and discredited”

    Peter Blake

  2. “Anne, Laguna, like the photo you’re using to represent yourself on this “column”, doesn’t look the same anymore. It’s in need of change.” Face shaming? Really Peter? What is gained from such a vicious comment?

  3. Peter Blake is trying to shame someone over their looks. So pathetic. So wrong for public service. So desperately in need of help.

  4. That’s right! Anne Christoph shames me politically every chance she gets, and I respond in kind. Maybe you felt this column didn’t deserve a return comment? Sorry, I did! I don’t suffer fools and have zero patience for passive/aggressive political activists that think they can berate their oppostion without a response.

    Maybe you should have tried harder to get her elected.

    Peter Blake

  5. “Shames you politically?” Aww, poor baby. I’m afraid that comes with the territory of public office. But to then attack her looks? Unconscionable. What a creep. You owe her and this town a public apology, Blake. But we won’t hold our breath because we already know who you are. Trump much?

  6. I owe no one an apology and will continue to represent my constituents as I see fit. Anne Christoph and Village Laguna have had a stranglehold on Laguna for 50 years and I’m going to break it. I promised it throughout my campaign and in eight months , I’ve delivered. I will continue until the silent majority in Laguna has a voice that’s heard. Spare me the virtue signaling! It means nothing to me.

    Peter Blake

  7. Who criticizes people’s looks?Apologize Now Peter. Do it. Be a man. Swallow your pride and admit you were wrong. Do it Peter, in fact write it 100 times on the blackboard or we will call your mother!

  8. Aaron, I never “shamed her looks” I brought up the fact that she was using an older picture of herself and that she had changed since it was taken. I used it as a metaphor for the change that Laguna needed to undergo as well. Did you even read both the “column” and my response? This “column” is Anne and Village Laguna’s weekly political hit-piece. It’s written in Anne’s formidable passive/aggressive manner and my responses are in my honest/transparent manner. Your opinion as to who’s right or wrong between Anne and I are probably influenced by where your political beliefs are. As a right of center Independent, I make enemies out of both extremes especially the left-wing extremists. As far as getting attacked “coming with the territory” as resident hypocrite Sandy posted, I’m not open to getting attacked and not responding. I’m not anyone’s punching bag!


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