Village Matters

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Recipe for Unifying

ann christoph
By Ann Christoph

When I ran for City Council last fall, my main goal was uniting our city—I wanted to bring people together inspired by lofty goals, listen to residents’ concerns, and work together to solve common problems.

There is another way to bring us together—maybe an easier one: don’t listen to public input and keep charging toward your own targets. Make decisions with council subcommittees meeting privately, bring items to the public for brief review, ignore public comment and adopt the “recommended action.” Speak harshly and make unfair accusations to members of the public who dare to speak. Tell them that those who testify at public meetings are irrelevant, that council members are acting in response to the wishes of the silent majority, those mysterious people who do not attend public meetings.

This makes both the left and right-leaning members of the public angry and resentful, uniting them against a common enemy—the council and city government in general. A simple formula. Why did it take so long to figure this out?

Two weeks ago, Michele Monda, a conservative voice balancing what may be considered more liberal viewpoints of some of the Indy’s other columnists, wrote a column with the same message as mine. “Listening and responding to the public is an important part of governing.”

No, we did not plan this. Rather, frustrations with not being heard seem to be characteristic of our present political condition in Laguna Beach—so it’s not surprising we are both drawing attention to the same problem.

The current object of that frustration is the Mark Fornes’ mushroom-like pavilion being considered by the Arts Commission for the Village Entrance. Objections to it have united people with a broad range of interests and concerns—people who love the rustic feel of the canyon and who think the proposed pavilion detracts from that; those who love the park atmosphere that has just been created and don’t want to fill it with a structure; residents who say that this entrance to the city is the front yard for all of us, it’s a statement of who we are—and they think the Fornes structure won’t represent what we feel about our town. Then there are those who have practical concerns—the cost, speculated to exceed $1 million; the difficulties and cost of maintenance; and need to remove the trees and landscaping that we have just installed and paid for. Another group expressed those concerns at the Arts Commission follow-up meeting on Monday evening. United. Yet the Commission is moving ahead with the project, saying they are in communication with many people who support the project, but who don’t come to the meetings.

Thank you, city, for bringing us together, even though it is in response to things not going well.

We are together in so many ways. We can achieve so many wonderful things in our community, by seeing what needs to be done, moving forward and working hard to make dreams come true. Our nonprofit organizations are our strength, our opportunities to directly make change.

Within the next few weeks we will be having events that support their community improvement missions—The Boys & Girls Club will present a “Night at the Ranch” Sept. 13, the South Laguna Community Garden Park will “Celebrate 10 Years of Garden Magic” on Sept. 28, and the Chamber of Commerce and KX 93.5 will offer “Taste of Laguna” Oct. 3.

Here is where community lives. Here is where the lofty goals come to life.


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

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  1. I agree but the only reason you feel this way now is the council is not aligned with your vocal minority Village Laguna! Welcome to the Majority!

  2. Anne, when you ran for City Council (and lost) your “main goal was uniting our city?” You wanted to listen to residents’ concerns and work together to solve common problems” Wow!! Did your pencil break on that one?

    Everyone knows your goal was to defend the power base that Village Laguna has held for 50 years and make sure that the opposition (me) didn’t get a foothold onto the dais. You and your board members wore your fingers to the bone writing LTE’s and spreading the lies and fearmongering that would set the tone for what was the nastiest election in Laguna’s history. Second, only to the previous one when MJ Abraham and Michael Morris launched an attack on Steve Dicterow that left the town shocked at how mean-spirited and DC-like our elections had become. A new standard for dirty-trick politics had been established that was followed through with Village Laguna’s bulldozer campaign against Sue Kempf and I. Clutching to power and scared that maybe your faithful mouthpiece, Toni could lose with her tired and BS ladled “residents first” mantra, you entered the race. Soon after Village Laguna comrade, Rob Zur Schmiede dropped out of the race (only to return at the last minute) the shit hit the fan. You lost, Toni got in but with fewer votes than a newbie and not far ahead of another newbie. Whew! Not what? Hopefully, the votes will still go Village Laguna’s way? Oh no! They’re not! 4-1 over and over again with Toni toeing the line for Village Laguna and voting against the majority and the residents. Speaking of majority, I loved your line “that council members are acting in response to the wishes of the silent majority, those mysterious people who do not attend public meetings” Hmm…. Should Council just obey the wishes of the 30 or so gadfly that attend every meeting? The 300 or so active Village Laguna members? How about the 23,000 residents? Oh yeah, I forgot, only you and Village Laguna know what’s best for our community. Right? The vocal minority that has had a stranglehold on our community for decades despite the fact that most of you barely pay any property tax.

    Oh, and now you and Michelle Monda are besties! Isn’t that special? When the left-wing hippies and a Laguna Beach GOP leader (disrespected by her own party) can’t win the votes they need to further their myopic agendas, they join forces to take out the opposition. That should work, shouldn’t it? Better dust off your heavy-duty Birkenstocks for this fight Anne. Michelle will turn on you as she turned on the Republicans in a heartbeat. I want front row seats for this fight. Lucky for me the dais is bullet-proof lol

    Anne, I hate to break the bad news to you but here’s where your “community” used to live and where the silent majority’s lofty goals come to life!

    See you Tuesday night!


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