Village Matters

By Ann Christoph.

Undecided on Laguna

How must Mitt Romney and his family feel, having fought so hard for so long?  Out there day after day, setting everything else aside, in the spotlight, pushing for his point of view.

Now he and millions of supporters are terribly disappointed.

That story repeats all across the country as everyone settles back down to create a semblance of business as usual.

Aren’t you glad you didn’t answer those mean jokes against your candidate on Facebook with some sarcastic comment?  Even the ones from friends and the much-loved people in your own family?  “How do you starve a welfare recipient? Hide the food stamps under the work shoes.” Or “Re-electing Obama is like backing up the Titanic and ramming the iceberg a second time.” Did you know those close to you across the table at every Thanksgiving were thinking these thoughts?

Still, I am glad I skipped the sarcasm.  Now at least I can still talk to my relatives and friends about other topics.

Are there mean and underhanded and sweet and well-intentioned people distributed across the spectrum of politics? It’s hard to see from one’s own perspective because all the well-intentioned ones seem to be on our side only.

Perhaps the enemy is not the other side, but the people who don’t do anything, who don’t get involved, those darn undecideds who get to decide everything!  Goodness! How could you still be undecided after months of politicking and debate?

Here in Laguna we’ll have two new members of the City Council and we won’t have Measure CC.  Worthy candidates did not win and they and their supporters are terribly disappointed.  Supporters of well-qualified winners rejoice, as they should, and we all look forward to working together toward a better, more harmonious town.

Support of open space preservation seemed universal, even though the details of Measure CC were questioned to death. Now we and the city will be following up on other ways to preserve open space. Opportunities are right around the corner, with one of the large dark green parcels on that open space map coming to the Planning Commission for a development permit very soon.

Both yes and no voters on CC should be there to see that the “other ways of preserving open space” come to fruition.

Laguna Beach doesn’t have a lot of those undecideds, the uninvolved. That is why we are such a great town.  We keep on plugging along optimistically, being directive in our communal decisions, working and donating, making our town better than ever.

P.S. I wrote this column before the City Council meeting on Tuesday. I was full of optimism, feeling that ultimately good will and human kindness will prevail if we can all just make positive contributions and work hard. Now I have to say that my optimism is badly bruised.

This relates to the South Laguna Community Garden and the request for a city allocation of the money generated from the sale of unused South Laguna parkland toward the purchase of the garden park site.  As of the council meeting of Oct. 16 there were three votes (Toni Iseman, Verna Rollinger and Jane Egly) supporting the allocation of funds. However, Mayor Egly stated that she needed to see an appraisal and reports about the soils conditions on the property.  Those items were supplied at the community’s expense as requested for this week’s council meeting. Public testimony was taken, abbreviated because of the late hour. Most of the children had to leave by that time, and we felt we had already addressed all the council’s concerns in previous meetings with extensive public testimony in favor of the garden. Supporters were from many areas of town and many did not have garden plots.

After the close of public testimony, Mayor Egly stated that she had received so many emails against funding the garden from people who said the city shouldn’t spend city money when the garden had only 52 garden plots. That’s why she was going to vote against the garden funding. Apparently now the appraisal and soils information she had asked for were no longer important. There was this new concern. There has been no public testimony opposing the funding and no opposing letters filed with the agenda bills. Is it fair to bring up this new concern at the end of the third hearing after the public had spoken, and to weight the comments from unknown individuals not shared with the public as being more important than the public testimony given within the prescribed format? This is not the democratic process nor is it transparent.

The garden is an optimistic venture. One of the gardeners said, “The reason I garden is that I believe in tomorrow, that the seeds will sprout and there will be a harvest.”

I hope we can bring this spirit into the coming year, resetting the tone. Laguna needs the garden and its life lessons more than they know.

Landscape architect Ann Christoph is a former council member.

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