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Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Thanks LagunaTunes

Kudos to LagunaTunes for another terrific performance on Sunday. Your renditions of ‘80s hits, like “Wake Me Up” and “Beat It,” set the mood, while your versions of ABBA hits, like “Mamma Mia” and “Dancing Queen,” struck all the right notes. Thanks for kicking off the holidays in such a fun and spirited way.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach 

Why no mention of Toni Iseman by Tom Johnson?

I’m wondering why Friday’s edition of Stu News Laguna didn’t have one word about Councilwoman Toni Iseman’s recognition by the city for her 24 years of service on the Laguna Beach city council and serving six four-year terms. I know the publisher Tom Johnson does not live in Laguna Beach, but he’s been publisher of Stu News Laguna for a while now and one would think being a news guy he might have heard of Toni; her choice not to run for a 7th term, how revered she is in community and that the city was recognizing her for contributions to the town. 

On Tuesday night, November 15, there was standing room only in the City Hall chambers as residents came up to the podium to honor Toni for her service.   I’m sorry Tom missed this opportunity to feature Toni and to recognize her and her many accomplishments.

Johanna Felder 

Laguna Beach


In Memoriam

Phil Lawes, 73

In Memoriam Phil Lawes

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of the Lawes Family

Philip Nelson Lawes III, proud Marine, Vietnam War veteran, Laguna Beach resident for nearly 50 years, and a pioneer in the design and installation of solar power in Southern California, died October 23, 2022. He was 73.

Phil passed away at Providence Mission Hospital Mission Viejo from acute respiratory failure. His son, Christopher N. Bosley, a Laguna Beach High School graduate, was at his side.

Phil made the rank of Sergeant in the Marines and moved to Laguna Beach in 1973 after being stationed at the former El Toro Marine Base at the end of his military service. He took his first local job at the 76 Station across from Main Beach at the corner of Broadway and Pacific Coast Highway, then launched a career as a residential/commercial painting contractor and worked on many homes in Three Arch Bay and throughout the community and South Orange County.

In 1978, he founded Insoltech Solar, one of the first residential and commercial solar design and installation businesses in Southern California. His solar expertise literally took him all over Orange County and to far-flung parts of the world, including custom projects in the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs, Central California and Oregon as well as Florida, Baja California, Costa Rica, the Bahamas and Fiji. He was still very active in his career and working on a variety of solar projects until the day he died.

Along with motorcycles and fast, vintage cars like his Shelby Mustang and Porsche 911, Phil enjoyed the nightlife in Laguna Beach, and loved playing pool at such places as Ben Brown’s (now The Ranch), the old Mother’s bar on Pacific Coast Highway and the Marine Room Tavern. He was known to enjoy a martini and many laughs with friends and bartenders at various local establishments, including The Saloon, the old White House, Reunion, the Marine Room and The Wharf. 

Phil also regularly played tennis at local courts including Laguna Beach High School, Blue Lagoon and the Laguna Niguel Racquet Club. He was noted by his opponents for his powerful backhand.

Phil was born on Feb. 1, 1949, in Montclair, N.J., one of six children of Philip N. Lawes Jr. and Ann Williams Lawes. He graduated from Montclair High School in 1967, where he played soccer and tennis, and was a pitcher on the school baseball team. His pitching earned him the nickname “Candle” for his flame-throwing abilities. He attended the University of Vermont and came west after joining the Marines in 1969.

Along with his son Chris and daughter-in-law Kristine K. Bosley, both Newport Beach residents and Laguna Beach High School graduates, Phil is survived by two brothers: Gordon Lawes of Portland, Ore. and Geoffrey Lawes of Vermont, Miami, Fla. and the Bahamas; two sisters: Holly Lawes Cosgrove of Cedar Grove, N.J. and Debby Lawes Pearce of Charlotte, N.C.; three grandchildren: Gavin James Bosley, Bellamy Ellene Bosley and Emerson Lawes Bosley, all of Newport Beach and former partner Connie Bosley, of Newport Beach.


Letters to the Editor

When the ballot box tells us enough is enough

I think it’s amazing how we along with our towns folk made it clear that we don’t need Peter Blake in city government. Historically we are an open society but we do expect respect as we respect others. He didn’t make it, but a young gentleman and two others did. It just shows that we as a town can use the ballot box as one way of saying enough is enough.         

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach 

Pickleball, smickleball…what about us tennis players?

I have nothing against pickleball, but I am told there is now an attempt to convert two more courts into pickleball courts at TOW. It has only been a few months since the last courts were converted. Pickleball is currently popular as were handball, squash and racquetball back in the day and perhaps it will remain so but why destroy tennis courts which cost $120,000 per court when you can build pickleball courts far cheaper elsewhere. For instance, the area which has the basketball court at TOW is rarely, if ever, used.

Evidently, the Lang Park court is being converted to pickleball and there is talk that the middle school is under consideration for courts also, and it’s clear the intention is to convert all the courts at TOW, which would leave us with the high school and the canyon, which is also under threat. During the summer and fall, one or two of the TOW courts are tied up for lessons, which leaves one court open for open play.

Additionally, how many of the pickleball players are actually from Laguna? I’ve met many who are coming in from Aliso and as far away as Riverside. Not sure how we get true numbers on this, but worth asking. Having my tax dollars used to build a destination pickleball center for Orange County doesn’t help with traffic and parking, which is already difficult and getting worse at TOW.

Taking a resource from one group to benefit another doesn’t seem fair. If numbers are the only criteria, then build pickleball courts on the lawn bowling area at Heisler or the baseball field at TOW, both of which get used intermittently by a relatively small number of people. You can imagine how the lawn bowlers and baseball fans would like that plan.

The notion that one of dual-use courts would be for both tennis and pickleball hasn’t played out. The middle court is now used exclusively for pickleball as would certainly be the case in the event that this idea proceeds and the middle and last court in the row of courts are converted.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Glenn Rogers

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

No regrets!

I want to offer my respect and congratulations to the Tuesday night winners of the Laguna Beach City Council race. To Mark Orgill, Mayor Sue Kempf and Alex Rounaghi, I know you will each do good things for our community.

When I was woken up Wednesday morning at 5:45 a.m. by my two boys, I was reminded of my high school soccer coach and his pre-game pep talks. Prior to each game, he would huddle with the team for his rah-rah speech. He would start with strategy, move on to tactics, add some grit and close with his signature of “NO REGRETS.” Meaning, you only regret the element of the game that you choose not to do. At the time, it was about setting your mind right to play the game. 

Yet this lesson was more than just about playing a soccer game. It was a moral message, about a mindset that when in life you make a choice to do something, you do it to your fullest, and about understanding the distinct difference between those two choices. Because when you do something to your fullest, whether you’re successful or not, you will leave the field with “NO REGRETS.”

To my family, friends and the Laguna Beach community, I thank you. I want you to know I am proud of my efforts and experiences throughout this campaign season. I am appreciative of those who supported my campaign, from the start to the finish, or anywhere in between. I am grateful to have met so many wonderful residents and to have shared in positive discourse about our town’s future. 

I have been encouraged that I conducted my campaign independently without attachments to political parties or PACs. I had a message for focusing on families and for bettering our community. I am satisfied, through my campaign, to have brought family-focused concepts back into our small-town political arena.

So, with that I can say, I have “NO REGRETS” for putting my all into this campaign! 

Sincerely,

Louis Weil 

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Be careful what you wish for when it comes to the “D” word and Measure Q…

I know we are not supposed to use the “D” word in Laguna but since there really is no developable land left here, it’s actually all about re-development. I am a proponent of reasonable and responsible re-development. It’s the fresh stream of water that brings oxygen and nutrients to a stagnant lake or community and keeps it healthy.

 I know he’s not going to like this, but let’s take my friend, Joe Hanauer, as an example. Joe is what I call a responsible re-developer and property owner. His re-development of the Pottery Place in 2006 is, (and I think most would agree) a model of charm and character but has a current, updated look, feel and necessities to attract solid tenants. 

If measure Q were in place, this, and because of the ill-constructed “Cumulative Effect” language, smaller (much smaller) projects would require a community vote, in addition to the already overwhelming approval process we have in place. 

No reasonable, responsible re-developer, property owner or small shop owner would, could or will attempt the additional process’ risk, time and costs.

My second problem with Q…our whole democracy is based on representative government. It’s why we have elections. We elect leaders to represent us and our views. The idea of having a community vote on everything is chaos and fortunately our founding fathers understood this principle long ago. We already have systems in place, in fact a very restrictive system and it works, so as my father used to say, “if it works don’t fix it.”

Third and not my last but probably best so I don’t lose you. The Voting Threshold, this was either written naively or deliberately, both are just as bad. Q calls for a “Majority of the Electorate” to approve most any project. The fact is there are about 18k voters in Laguna (this is the “Electorate”), but only 60% or 10,800 of us ever vote. This means a shopkeeper would need to survive the current approval gauntlet, then pay for a campaign that must achieve 80-90% of the votes! Who is crazy enough to make that bet? Certainly not the kind of responsible and reasonable shop owners and property owners we want and need to keep our charming little town healthy and alive. 

Again, be careful what you wish for. Do we really want to stop ALL reasonable and responsible re-development in Laguna? Please Vote NO on Q.

Steve Samuelian

Laguna Beach

Alex Rounaghi explains rejection of outside PAC support

Last week, Ann Christoph revealed that I rejected the endorsement of Village Laguna. She is correct, but it was not for the reasons she stated. I want to explain why I did so – and why I am committed to being an independent candidate and councilmember.

The best part of this campaign has been the time I’ve spent talking and listening to the concerns of residents of our town. I’ve learned so much from our conversations. I’m continually amazed at the talent, kindness and passion that exists for the town that we all call home.

Do we agree on every issue? Of course not. But I believe there is more that unites us than divides us. There is no reason that our community can’t come together and find creative solutions to the complex challenges that we face. But our toxic political culture gets in the way. In this election, there has been an unprecedented amount of spending by independent expenditures. This outside spending fuels misinformation, meanness and unnecessary divisiveness in our beautiful town. 

People are tired of tribalism. That’s why I declined the endorsement by Village Laguna when it was offered to me by Anne Caenn and Ann Christoph after the first candidate forum. I would do the same with Liberate Laguna/Laguna 2022 and similar groups. I will always listen to all stakeholders and find ways to collaborate to find common ground, but I intentionally have chosen not to be labeled. While that decision has cost me tens of thousands of dollars in messaging (mailers, yard signs, newspaper ads, etc.) on behalf of my candidacy, I have no regrets. The endorsement was not worth sacrificing my independence and ability to shape my own message over the course of this campaign.

If elected, I will be an independent councilmember who collaborates with my colleagues and community members across a broad spectrum of opinions. I intend to make decisions based on the merits, rather than any political alliances. When a resident shares an opinion with me, it’s important that they understand I am not on one side or the other. I will have an open mind, listen, work hard and do my best to act in the best interests of Laguna Beach, the city we all love. 

I am so fortunate to have been born and raised in our amazing town and I will continue giving back to this community however I can.

I would be honored to earn your vote.

Alex Rounaghi

Candidate for City Council

Laguna Beach

Way, way too much money spent on the election for a city of our size

Just two months ago Mayor Sue Kempf and Mayor Pro Tem Whalen announced that city ordinance #1675 had been passed. This covers height, parking, mass and bulk or large buildings. This ordinance was to address a few of the issues that are covered in Measure Q in hopes it would show that the city was making defensive progress toward the threat that overdevelopment of Laguna Beach could bring. 

Ordinance 1675’s height and parking provisions only reiterated the height and parking ordinances that were already on the books. The mass and bulk provisions required variegation of color, façades and roof forms every 125’. It still allowed buildings of unlimited size, so its protection added very little to what was already on the books.

Still, the development-led interests were upset enough about the modest protections offered by 1675 that they poured huge sums of money into a “recall” for ordinance 1675 which is known as a “referendum.” 

Last week, the county notified the city that the referendum process was successful. Now the city has two choices. They can either bow to the developer interests and withdraw all of the protections that 1675 offered, or they can put 1675 to a public vote. Either way, 1675 is off the books for now. Developers get to ask for whatever they want. 

Why is this important? Not only did the developers spend tens of thousands of dollars on a referendum for 1675, but they are also spending more than a quarter million dollars on trying to defeat Measure Q and spending an astounding $1.175 million to defeat Measure R and S which regulates hotels in Laguna Beach, including their size.

These interests have also amassed more than $200,000 to oppose those city council candidates in favor of development limits as well as supporting the two incumbents who endorse more development in town. This is being spent on a town of fewer than 19,000 voters. Truly unprecedented.   

Add it all up; an outrageous sum of money. This massive sum is being spent to 1) Nullify the limited protection that city council passed as Ordinance 1675, 2) Tell residents not to enable ballot-imitative-level protections for our town and 3) Elect a developer-friendly city council. Way too much outside influence for a town our size. Because of this threat from developer interests, I am voting Yes on Q, R, and S, as well as for Flores, Pudwill and Orgill.    

David Raber

Laguna Beach

Ready or not – it’s time!

It’s just a few days until the election. Yet surprisingly, people still are wondering if they understand Measure Q.   

The confusion shouldn’t be surprising. First, Q is extremely complicated. Second, California’s ballot measure concept has morphed into competing advertising campaigns dominated my sound bites having nothing whatsoever to do with the essence of the proposals. 

Unfortunately, the consequences of most ballot measures are so serious that what we really need is a measure that outlaws misleading rhetoric, limits the number of pages of a measure and holds those campaigning accountable for what they say. The seriousness of Measure Q is no exception.

If you’re like many, you may think Measure Q deals with keeping Laguna beautiful or only avoids over-sized developments. You wouldn’t be at fault. Measure Q’s sound bites have repeatedly been showing the artist live work project in the Canyon as a size it would prohibit. Not true. That project is below the size that would kick in a public vote.

But that’s not all. Measure Q has what it calls a Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zone. Q has nothing to do with design, architecture, color, a vision or anything to do with “beauty.” The Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zone is simply a name given to the geography Measure Q is proposing to dominate. Every single commercial area in town, as well as residences within two to three blocks of our commercial areas. They’ll all be subject to Q’s restrictions and a potential public vote.

The crazy part about Q is that it will do the opposite of addressing our town’s beauty. By causing all of Laguna’s business neighborhoods to be subject to new restrictions, the needed upgrading of our aging and deteriorating buildings will be stymied. 

Laguna’s nearly 100 years old and we’re showing our age. Changes to our treasures like The Ranch, the Old Pottery Place, or the smallest buildings like the 1,400/sf new coffee shop on Broadway are hard enough to get approved without adding the risk, time and cost of a public vote on top of our city’s stringent approval processes. 

You see, typically buildings only get “beautified” when ownership changes or new tenants move in. But smaller one-of-kind dining, fitness and retail concepts can’t take on the risks proposed by Q. Instead, we’ll get the opposite of what Measure Q promises. Only deep pocket developers will pick up vacant stores and take on the risk and expense of this complex process. 

Q is devoid of the heart and soul you would expect in a Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zone. Its 18 pages of highly technical material. There’s nothing about a vision for Laguna. But to be clear, the writers and supporter of Q love our town as much as we do. So, how can two such passionate views differ so greatly about how to address Laguna’s future? 

Consider the differing approaches to addressing traffic. Q posits that Laguna’s traffic problems are caused by businesses and it therefore proposes to put a damper on new shops and dining. And for those that are able to survive Q’s challenges, these businesses are mandated to address 100% of any impact they create. 

NO ON Q understands that our beautiful beaches and wonderful Laguna experience are what attract visitors not businesses. And NO ON Q believes that beyond shops providing parking, the city has an obligation to address parking and traffic capacities. There is not a word in Measure Q about potential city actions to add parking capacity or to work with Caltrans to improve the capacity of our roads. 

This is just one example of the disconnect between our differing points of view. Time’s run out. It’s time to vote. If you don’t understand Q, go to www.Citizensforlagunasfuture.com.

The entire ballot initiative is there. Please read it. If you do, we hope you’ll agree – Vote NO ON Q.

Joe Hanauer

Laguna Beach

Don’t Be Fooled by the Don’t Be Fooled Stuff that is being spread around regarding Measure Q

Don’t Be Fooled by the Don’t Be Fooled Stuff that is being spread around regarding Measure Q. Here are 10 of the top myths being spread about Measure Q and the corresponding myth busters:

Myth: Measure Q will stop all development.

Myth Buster: Projects that follow the Measure Q guidelines should have few problems being approved.

Myth: It’s too complicated.

Myth Buster: The Measure Q Overlay Zone is actually simple compared to other Laguna Beach zoning laws.

Myth: It’s too long.

Myth Buster: Rather than merely refer to a code section by number, Measure Q restates the existing code section. So, about half of Measure Q is the current Laguna Beach Zoning code. 

Myth: A majority of the electorate is required. 

Myth Buster: The Laguna City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis says, “A majority vote (50% plus one) in favor of the measure is required for passage.”

Myth: Q will hurt small business.

Myth Buster: Just the opposite! Measure Q protects existing small businesses in the downtown from being squeezed out by higher rents that landlords can now easily charge to more intense users like restaurants because the amount of parking the building owners need to provide has been dramatically reduced by the city.

Myth: Cumulative effect item will freeze building.

Myth Buster: Cumulative effect prevents nothing but may change timing of construction to avoid traffic gridlock.

Myth: Measure Q would prevent South Laguna fire station.

Myth Buster: A parcel map could be used. Or a lot line adjustment which is an administrative act that Measure Q does not interfere with. 

Myth: Laguna already has a height ordinance. 

Myth Buster: The existing height ordinance is weak and can be changed by a vote of three councilmembers. Further it is already being challenged by a referendum.

Myth: Measure Q might have problems like Costa Mesa’s.

Myth Buster: Costa Mesa’s problems are housing; Measure Q is not about housing.

Myth: An election could cost more than $130,000. 

Myth Buster: The city’s own February 15, 2022 staff report estimates $8,500. 

In addition to these myths, notice that every single No on Q example involves replacing a general retail use with a restaurant – which is an intensification of use – which causes more traffic, more demand for parking. And the new user never wants to mitigate the negative impacts they create. We have 141 restaurants now. How much more traffic do we want?

Example: Zinc wants to permanently keep seats on the parking lot that were temporarily allowed because of COVID. 

Myth Buster: Zinc can keep the added seats if by using profits from the additional seating to purchase in-lieu spaces to replace the lost parking. That avoids a vote.

Example: Yard Bar.

Myth Buster: There is no issue with the Yard Bar. No vote would be needed.

Example: Wigz Sandwich.

Myth Buster: Wigz received historic renovation parking credits. Q would not change that. No vote would be needed.

Example: Pottery Place. 

Myth Buster: If processed as two distinct projects with the alley running between – which is what it is – Q would not have impacted Pottery Place.

Two more important notes:

Note: Regarding other projects where unmitigated intensification could trigger parking issues, the city can waive some parking requirements and building owners can fill voids with in-lieu spaces. 

Note: And realize that providing parking is the responsibility of the commercial building owner and not the responsibility of the merchant leasing space from the owner.

Question: Why do the opponents make this stuff up?

Answer: If they stuck to the Myth Busters, they know you’d vote YES on Q.

Question: Why have developers put more than $170,000 up to defeat Measure Q?

Answer: Developers don’t want you to regulate them.

Question: Why are politicians against Measure Q? 

Answer: Politicians don’t like voters telling them what to do.

Question: Do Measure Q Opponents oppose all ballot measures?

Answer: Without ballot measures like Prop. 13 your taxes would be much higher.

Question: Will Measure Q impact the 90% of Laguna businesses that are general retail or office?

Answer: No. Any general retail or office use can replace any existing general retail or office use. No vote would be needed to replace a shoe store with a bookstore or to replace a clothing store with a dry cleaner.

Question: What about Laguna’s 141 bars and restaurants?

Answer: New restaurants can move in and replace an existing restaurant of similar service level. No vote would be needed.

Question: By opposing Measure Q, is the Chamber of Commerce hurting its current members?

Answer: Yes. By opposing Measure Q, the Chamber is encouraging new businesses to replace long-time current businesses.

Follow the money. No on Q has raised more than $170,000 from developers and their friends. Why do you think they are trying so hard to avoid over-development?

John Thomas

Laguna Beach

Print shops producing the flyers filling our mailboxes are the real winners of this election

I know with certainty who is going to be the winner in this election. The winner, for all offices, is the printing industry and those who prepare the various cards that arrive in our mailboxes touting (or deriding) the candidates or proposition the group writes about. The stack in our mailbox, with all duplications removed, measures two inches. At a cost of $7,000 per mailer (which is probably low) that pile represents a huge investment. 

I hope that the candidates prove themselves worthy of our trust and votes.

Mike Kinsman

Laguna Beach

Mr. Pudwill is simply wrong when he says that planning commissioners are in the pockets of developers

Mr. Pudwill, facts seem to get in your way when writing letters to the editor. Personally, I would like you to show proof that the city council has appointed pro developer members to the planning commission. Where and from whom did you get proof of that statement? 

You are running for city council and yet all you seem to be able to do is spread a bevy of misinformation and made-up facts to suit your personal agenda. If you can show me and the good folks who serve, and serve well, on the Planning Commission that we are in the pockets of developers as you claim, then I will take back everything I say here and will vote for you. I will put my record and that of my fellow commissioners up against your lack of public service any day. Show me proof of your claims, (which do not exist), or try living in the real world where good people work hard at keeping community moving forward. 

Your lack of respect and facts does a disservice to our hamlet and is something we do not need on city council.

Jorg Dubin

Chair, City of Laguna Beach Planning Commission

Former Police Chief vouches for Rounaghi

As a Republican and 49-year law enforcement leader (former police chief for three cities), I support candidates – regardless of party – who prioritize public safety and get things done. For that reason, I’m urging Laguna voters to elect City Council candidate Alex Rounaghi.

At the county level, I have worked closely with Alex on initiatives related to illegal sober living homes, the fentanyl crisis and law enforcement funding. Alex’s experience/ability, integrity, and his commitment to public safety, would serve him well as a city councilmember. 

Alex is endorsed by the Laguna Beach Firefighters, Laguna Beach Police, the Orange County Deputy Sheriffs and he has my wholehearted endorsement as well.

Dave Snowden

Newport Beach

Vote, vote, vote

I mentioned voting three times in the headline, not to encourage anyone to vote more than once, but to remind people how important it is to exercise one’s franchise on election day. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the refrain, “What’s the use? My vote doesn’t count.” Well, actually it does. 

Sometimes in municipal elections, you can count the vote difference between winning and losing on one hand (OK, maybe two). Just imagine your vote determining who sits on the city council or whether Measure Q passes or it doesn’t. Voting is not a quaint throwback to the 18th century; rather, it is acting out in real time one of this nation’s deepest ideals. 

So, my friends, like I have said so many times before, “Vote.” I truly believe it will pay dividends far into the future.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Judie Mancuso has list of accomplishments to stake her campaign on

For years Judie Mancuso has been a shining star in her tenacious work to help improve our environment, and on the forefront as an animal rights activist. Her record of passing legislation speaks for itself. Although perhaps some residents aren’t listening or really don’t care. And their lack of insight and compassion are problematic for us all, and those creatures who have no voice and suffer in silence.

Judie’s accomplishments are stellar. Here are the facts:

1. Do you like dining on the patio with your animal companion? Thank Judie for that.

2. Do you believe that animal control should be able to rescue animals trapped in sweltering cars? Thank Judie for getting that legislation passed.

3. Because of Judie, California was the first state to ban commercial and recreational fur trapping. Thanks to Judie.

4. California has banned the cruel use of parading and exploiting wild animals as circus props. Thanks to Judie.

5. It is mandated that plant-based meal options are available in California hospitals. Thank you, Judie.

6. Cosmetics sold in California cannot be tested on animals. Thanks to Judie.

7. The onerous puppy-mills can no longer sell their victims…dogs, cats and rabbits…to pet shops in California. Thank you, Judie. 

I am grateful and excited to support Judie Mancuso, and when she is elected, I look forward to all her future accomplishments. What a treasure Judie is.

Jahn Levitt 

Laguna Beach

Measure Q backers trying to protect integrity and beauty of town

To those who are still wondering how to vote on Q, I would ask you to notice who has what to gain. It doesn’t take much investigation to see (read the small print on those flyers) that most of the NO on Q literature has some connection to developers. It’s pretty obvious what they have to gain. Try as hard as you can, you can’t see what we YES on Q supporters have to gain monetarily. 

Almost universally we are trying to protect the integrity and beauty of our town. I’ve already voted YES on Q because I want to protect this unique town from becoming simply another tourist-serving venue, losing much of its charm in the process. I urge you to join those of us who love our hometown with no expectation of personal gain. 

Rosemary Boyd

Laguna Beach

Jerome Pudwill – Why I’m running for City Council

As a candidate for City Council, my platform is straightforward: I want to preserve the quality of life in our beautiful seaside village and restore residents’ rights. 

This election will be one of the most important in Laguna’s history. It will determine how much residents value honest and transparent government, and how much they wish to protect Laguna’s charm from overdevelopment.

The concerns have never been more real. Currently, Laguna is unprotected from overdevelopment. And developers are intent on transforming our resident-oriented community into a tourist attraction.

Developer PACs are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars – mostly on massive amounts of misleading and dishonest advertising designed to defeat resident-serving measures and to elect three of the four development-aligned City Council candidates – which would allow them to retain their controlling three-to-two pro-development voting bloc at City Hall.

This City Council voting majority can override any City building ordinance for size, height, intensification of use or parking requirements. Once a decision is made, it’s irrevocable – just as has been seen in Dana Point.

Further aiding overdevelopment – the City Council majority has appointed many pro-development members to the planning department and design review board. Plus, they’ve helped craft a Downtown Specific Plan that’s stripped away many safeguards and allowed for drastic changes to Laguna’s character.

These threats are precisely why Measure Q’s proposed building standards came into existence.

If developers succeed now, you can be sure to see more, bigger, view-blocking buildings, and more tourists, traffic, parking structures, bars, restaurants and DUIs. We already have 6.5M visitors annually, 65 downtown bars and restaurants and 109 on-sale liquor licenses. Plus, the highest DUI rate per capita in the state. 

This is all great for businesses, but it does nothing to enhance residents’ quality of life. 

Meanwhile, there’s been a dramatic push-back on transparency and residents’ participation at City Hall. One councilmember has been allowed to verbally attack, abuse and intimidate residents at Council meetings to the point that many will no longer speak. 

When 50+ residents protested the purchase of the $2.7M Ti Amo restaurant site as a fire station, the three-to-two City Council completely ignored them and bought it without an appraisal or feasibility study – which would have shown the site was too small for a fire station. This site still sits vacant.

The City Council’s attempt to purchase the library with a purposefully buried clause to possibly tear it down for a business-serving parking lot is deeply disturbing evidence of how little residents are respected.

Laguna needs a change, and the best way to restore balance to City government is to elect candidates who are not beholding to developers or special interests.

As for me, I’m not a developer, a commercial landlord, a REALTOR®, a business owner, or a developer-backed politician.

While I support the business community and compatible development, I also believe in a “residents first government” – negotiating in good faith, with full transparency, and with fair and equal treatment for all.

In these endeavors, I promise to do my best. I ask for your vote.

Jerome Pudwill

Candidate, Laguna Beach City Council

Peter Blake’s knowledge of business earns my support

Given what I have read, seen and been informed of by certain people in this town, I will gladly vote for Peter Blake – he understands the business world, unlike the four candidates that I do not support – I also support Alex and Sue with Peter. 

We cannot allow a certain group and its subgroups to have a position of strength on our City Council. From attending all those city council meetings over the many years – when they have been in power it seemed as though very little was accomplished. With Sue, Peter and Bob so many projects long neglected over the years finally made some headway – with Alex on their team we might be able to catch up on the years of neglect. 

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

A number of reasons to vote Yes on Measure Q

Has anyone noticed that every single example that “No on Q” raises involves a restaurant?

Think about it.

The examples that opponents to Measure Q use never say Measure Q would hurt the chances of someone opening a shoe store. Or a hardware store. Or dry cleaners. That is because Measure Q would not impact someone opening a shoe store, hardware store, dry cleaners or other general retail business. And since 90% of Laguna businesses are either office or general retail, and are not bars or restaurants, that means Measure Q has little or no impact on most future Laguna businesses. 

In fact, Measure Q is unlikely to impact someone who wants to open a restaurant in a space previously used as a restaurant, unless the new restaurant is a much higher intensity (fast food) restaurant replacing a high-quality (tablecloth) restaurant.

The examples used by opponents to Measure Q are always about someone who wants to open another restaurant in a space that is currently not occupied by a restaurant. Simply stated – the examples most used are examples of intensification of land use without mitigation by the developer of the negative impacts created by the intensification. The opponents have chosen to focus on a tiny percent of possible new business creations. And the opponents to Measure Q want you to believe the Q’s impact is much greater that it really is. It’s simply a scare tactic. 

Note that the examples used by Measure Q opponents never replace a restaurant that is moving out of a space occupied currently by a restaurant. They throw in a couple of examples like the Yard Bar where there really is no issue, or Zinc where the wound is self-inflicted because the operator simply does not want to give up seats temporarily allowed during early stages of COVID that are due to expire. Though, those seats could be kept if the operator were willing to replace the parking lost to the temporary seating if the operator were willing to use some of the profits from the additional seats gained to pay for in lieu spaces – which Measure Q allows. 

The most common examples used by the opponents to Measure Q are all restaurants that have replaced an existing retail use without mitigating the impacts created by the intensification of land use – though in many cases there are even workarounds that would exist under Measure Q.

–Slice

–The coffee shop on Broadway

–Wigz

Why is that?

Laguna already has 141 restaurants – 65 of which are Downtown.

That’s twice what the City’s Retail Economist Report says a city of our population could support if the population spent 100% of its restaurant spending in Laguna – which it would not do.

Do we not have enough restaurants?

We are consistently number one (worst) in DUI arrests per capita of the 103 cities in California closest in population to Laguna Beach and there are only five cities in the entire state that are ranked worse than Laguna in DUI arrests per capita – and their combined population is less than Laguna’s. 

We also have far more ABC (California Bureau of Alcoholic Beverage Control) liquor licenses than the State ABC guidelines suggest are appropriate.

And there is a clear correlation between number of ABC licenses and number of DUIs – more bars and restaurants equal more DUIs.

Do we not have enough DUIs?

Bars and restaurants are intense land uses which need much more traffic and parking to survive than general retail stores. Measure Q corrects recent ill-considered changes the City Council adopted for our congested Downtown that essentially allow unlimited conversions of lower intensity general retail uses to higher intensity bars and restaurants without requiring the commercial building landlords to provide enough parking for the greater demand the restaurants will create. 

Are parking problems not bad enough?

Without Measure Q, traffic from more and more restaurants will make our traffic problems worse. Do you remember the city ever addressing additional traffic a restaurant would create?

Is traffic not bad enough?

By allowing virtually unlimited conversions from general retail to restaurant use, the city sets the stage for commercial building owners to push out long-time merchants by demanding the higher rents a restaurant could pay for the same space. Measure Q helps protect existing merchants from being squeezed out in this fashion.

Do Measure Q opponents want to push out existing merchants?

Why would anyone oppose Measure Q? Is it that our buildings are not big enough? Not tall enough? Or that we don’t have enough bars? Not enough restaurants? Not enough DUIs? Not enough traffic? Parking problems aren’t bad enough? We want to squeeze out existing merchants?

If you answered “no” to these questions, Vote Yes on Measure Q.

John Thomas

Laguna Beach

Lies by my party give me an idea that I invite you to share

In (my recent) mail, I received yet another glossy mailer sent out by the Lincoln Club of Orange County. The Lincoln Club describes itself on its website as, “the largest conservative donor network in California.” They brag about registering 40,000 Republicans. 

How strange to be receiving a mailing proclaiming “Laguna Beach Democrats proudly support Peter Blake.” And yet not so strange, given the open sewer of lies our Republican Party has deteriorated into. Honest Abe must be spinning in his grave! The party of the Big Lie. And apparently here in Laguna, also the party of lies. 

Their website states, “Our organization leveraged the most cutting-edge and effective political communications and technology to defeat vulnerable 1st term California Democrat members of Congress….” Apparently lies and deception are “cutting-edge and effective political communications.” 

If you are a Republican with a shred of honesty and integrity left, strike a blow against lies and join me in voting a straight Democratic ticket in November. Send a self-described bully packing too! 

Stan Frymann

(Registered Republican)

Laguna Beach

You can have your own opinions, but you can’t make up your own facts

A few comments regarding India Hynes’s letter about the Assembly District 72 race:

First, Ms. Hynes repeats Diane Dixon’s untrue statement that I am a lobbyist. I am not a lobbyist, I am the founder, CEO and President of a nonprofit that has had 22 sponsored bills signed into law in the last 15 years. Several of these landmark bills have been replicated in other states. Anyone who has been involved in the legislative process knows that this is quite a feat. 

I retain lobbyists to promote our bills, which focus mainly on companion animals, wildlife and the environment. The nonprofit’s work is extremely popular in Orange County and across the state. And more importantly, I am effective and very well-regarded in Sacramento. I will be able to leverage my experience and relationships to have our district’s issues addressed by the legislature and to bring back our tax dollars to Orange County.

Second, regarding campaign contributions, voters should consider that Dixon has received $206,354 from the real estate and development industry, $4,900 from big tobacco, and $16,627 from the oil and gas industry, just to name a few. Such contributions from these special interests never come without strings attached. Dixon has carried the water for these industries on the Newport Beach City Council and (I believe she) will continue to put their interest ahead of the constituents of AD72, if she were in Sacramento. 

By contrast, I have taken no corporate PAC money. Seventy-three percent (73%) of my donations have come from individuals giving $200 or less with the vast majority of those donors living in the district, while only 20% of Dixon’s contributions come from small donors. 

Lastly, Ms. Hynes seems to support candidates who complain about crime rather than those who have a plan to do something about it. I have supported and sponsored bills that are directly related to public safety. I support fully funding law enforcement to make sure those who keep us safe have access to all the latest technologies and other resources they need. Like our first responders, I support the Be Well model and stricter gun safety laws that will keep law enforcement and Orange County families safe by getting weapons of war off of our streets and out of the hands of criminals. By contrast, Diane Dixon is supported by the NRA and others in the gun lobby and is ok with the status quo as per her comments at our candidate forum.

Ms. Hynes can have all the opinions she wants about this race, but she’s not entitled to her own facts. And when you look at the facts, I believe that I am the clear choice for Assembly District 72.

Judie Mancuso

Candidate, Assembly District 72

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Young people getting involved in politics is where the country in headed

More young people are being encouraged to take a seat at the political table and make sure their voices are heard. This is a trend that shows no sign of slowing.

An estimated 700 millennials ran for state legislative seats in 2018, a 300% increase compared to prior years.

The inherent prejudice of some residents not voting for a candidate based on his/her age angers and saddens me. I have been told that a person’s brain does not mature until their 30s. This has been stated by some members of the community, who in my opinion, are intelligent yet misguided. They are spreading this misinformation as fact.

Neuroscientists find that different parts of the brain work best at different ages. That is a fact. Scientists have long known that our ability to think quickly and recall information, also known as “fluid intelligence,” peaks around 20 and then begins a slow decline.” (MIT News)

New ideas and solutions to present challenges must be noted, as we move towards Laguna’s future issues.

1. Sen. Will Haskell (D), 23 years old, was 22 when he won a state senate seat in Connecticut. Haskell received an endorsement from former President Barack Obama and based his platform on stricter gun laws and improving public transportation.

2. In 2017, Rep Jacob Bachmeier (D), won a seat on the Montana Legislature when he was 19 years old.

3. In the fall of 2018, 19-year-old Democrat Kalan Haywood Jr., won his race to become a Wisconsin legislator.

4. In 2018, Selena Torres won her seat for State Assembly in Nevada. She was 23 years old.

5. Greta Thunberg is 19 years old and has brought the environmental issue to the forefront.

6. Malala Youfsafzai was 16 years old when she co-founded Malala Fund Charity, to provide girls with equal educational opportunities.

7. Caleb Hanna was only 19 when he became a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates.

8. Cassandra Levesque is a member of the New Hampshire State of Representatives and is 23 years old. She was elected to public office when she was 19 years old.

9. Einstein made his most important discoveries when he was 26 years old.

What sort of a community have we become when we believe ageist and prejudiced ideas against a young person trying to win a council seat as fact? 

Would I be excoriated if I made a statement saying that anyone over 60 should not be a councilmember because his/her ability to process information during decision-making declines? (Nature Human Behaviour)

One difference: the latter statement is fact-driven. I hope the former is not.

Jahn Levitt

Laguna Beach

The question has to be, what has Blake done for us?

Laguna Beach voters probably have noticed the many Peter Blake banners and signs around town but should note how many are on empty storefronts and construction sites.

Seeing all those signs on those empty stores should remind voters that Peter has been on the city council for four years and has blamed others for this blight but has done nothing to solve it.

There are large Blake banners on the Mo Honarkar-owned buildings along N. Coast Hwy. between Cliff and Jasmine streets and on the Hotel Laguna where he is the operator. There is a Blake banner on that monstrosity in the canyon, the Dornin project, and on buildings owned by Joe Hanauer. Banners on construction sites and possible construction sites tell voters that many of Blake’s supporters are developers. 

Do we really want to reelect an ineffective councilperson, one who favors development and is a bully to boot? 

Johanna Felder

Laguna Beach

Diane Dixon will bring “common sense” to Sacramento

I read Deborah Engle’s letter to the editor (Letters to the Editor, Stu News, 10/18/22) with great interest regarding her defense of local Laguna Beach animal lobbyist Judie Mancuso for Assembly. I think Mancuso’s campaign contributions report from the California Secretary of State’s website tells the story of her priorities. Close to 100 of her contributions are from outside the 72nd Assembly District, with a majority of those coming from the Los Angeles area. We don’t need people from Los Angeles choosing our Orange County elected officials. Los Angeles obviously has enough trouble choosing their own!

At last week’s candidate forum in Newport Beach, Mancuso refused to acknowledge that rising crime is a problem in our neighborhoods. I noticed in Laguna Beach’s crime log that one of her neighbors’ houses had recently been broken into on Judie’s own street. Mancuso obfuscates her position on crime by diverting attention to a vague concern for undefined “hate crimes.” 

I wonder if Mancuso’s environmental goals mirror that of Gavin Newsom, who wants to mandate all Californians to buy electric cars, then sends a public notice the next day warning Californians not to plug in their electric cars or we could have an electrical grid blackout. 

The choice is absolutely clear. We need Diane Dixon common sense leadership to represent us in the State Assembly. 

India Hynes

Laguna Beach 

Who will you vote for?

Who will you vote for? I will vote for someone who understands the essential role the ocean’s health is to Laguna’s quality of life and eco-nomy. 

Does the City Council candidate understand Laguna is discharging 2 million gallons daily, more than 1/2 billion gallons annually, of secondary sewage just 1.5 miles offshore? Do they know about the Southern California Eddy Current and how it transports sewage contaminates to Main Beach and protected coves and tidepools? If Laguna’s wastewater is “safe,” why don’t we recycle it for wildfire protection and routine irrigation of Laguna Canyon, festival grounds and Main Beach?

Laguna Beach is much more than art festivals, gourmet restaurants, itinerant celebrities and gala events. Just about any city can support these features. Few, however, have the natural heritage of a Greenbelt and Bluebelt surrounding our city’s steep, rocky terrain and underwater wonderland.

While debates rage about the next parking structure or development, are we ignoring the real source of Laguna’s survival and success? The ocean determines Laguna’s climate and, ultimately, economy. The Gulf of Santa Catalina offshore retains and re-circulates our careless ocean discharges slowly adding to increases in sea temperatures and sea level rise. 

Without a dedicated, science-based approach by City Council candidates to protecting the ocean, Laguna will incrementally add to climate change negatively impacting the region. A warmer ocean accelerates evaporation and more intensive storms to flood the community and send soil from eroding hillsides, many stripped of vegetation for a wildfire program, to fragile tidepools, kelp forests and essential sea life habitats. 

Let’s vote for our next City Council candidates as if our lives depended upon a healthy ocean. 

Vote for the ocean.

Mike Beanan

Laguna Beach

About Laguna’s new Yummy Dogs

My Laguna buddies Alan (the CPA), Dan (the musician), Jim (the retired dentist) and I love hot dogs. Over the years, we have savored many of them at Papaya King in New York City (Donald Trump’s favorite spot), Wrigley Stadium (where they serve Chicago-style dogs, of course), Pink’s in Los Angeles, T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Puka Dog on Kauai and many other locations. 

Closer to home, we attended the grand opening of Portillo’s in Buena Park back in 2005, and often stopped at Jerry’s in Tustin before it closed. Today we enjoy the dogs offered up by The Ranch and the pushcart near Macy’s at Fashion Island.

I have loved hot dogs since the late 1950s. So, imagine my delight when I read about Yummy Dogs coming to town. If their dogs are anything like the ones I used to order as a boy at Kirk’s in Palo Alto, then you can count on me becoming a regular. I’m guessing that will be true for Alan, Dan and Jim, as well.

For those people who are skeptical, here’s a brief tutorial about hot dogs: Did you know that, according to the Recipe Source, more than 150 million dogs are sold every year in the days leading up to the 4th of July? Presidential candidates running for office often are photographed in front of popular hot dog stands in all-important states like Iowa and New Hampshire.   

How do I know? Because I’ve written about these candidates and the many ways they dress their dogs. One particular story stands out. That’s when Barack Obama told the mayor of Toledo in 2011 to “hold the ketchup” when they were sampling dogs at Ruby’s in Ohio. 

Believe me, there are plenty of stories about which hot dog to order (like Ball Park vs. Koegel’s) and ways to dress them from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin, and from Michigan to South Carolina and beyond.

I don’t know if a presidential candidate will visit Laguna in the next year or two, but I do know this: If one of them does, then I hope he or she will stop by Yummy Dogs.    

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Observations from a lifetime Laguna resident

I am neither pro, nor anti-development, though I strongly oppose large scale, soulless projects. Instead, I consider myself Pro-Laguna. This quirky little hamlet of ours spans the socio-economic, political and lifestyle spectrums. And yet we have always peacefully coexisted by virtue of our collective and loving commitment to this remarkable gem we’re lucky enough to call home. To ensure Laguna continues to thrive while maintaining her unique small-town vibe, we need to be pulling the rope in the same direction. 

That is why I’m voting No on Measure Q.

Most locals (including myself) were shellshocked at the thought of a few overzealous projects that have been proposed recently. That is why “Saving Laguna from Over-Development” resonates within each of us. Thankfully, we already have the most restrictive building and zoning codes in the county and multiple layers of scrutinous public review in place to ensure nothing remotely resembling those proposals is ever built. 

Measure Q will actually jeopardize Laguna’s continued character.

Unfortunately, the “Cumulative Effect” language in Q (25.60.02(e)) could foreseeably discourage the very small and funky businesses we love “WITHIN ONE-HALF MILE” of “DEVELOPMENTS SUBMITTED TO BE REVIEWED” (25.60.02(f)2) FOR A PERIOD OF 8 YEARS. The “Museum Hotel” submittal, which had a Planning Commission review, is a block-long behemoth that could by itself (per the language of the Measure) trigger this “cumulative effect” and potentially force a vote on anything deemed “intensification” (with rare exception) over an area which includes all of Downtown and most of North Laguna. Fresh concept small storefronts and/or food offerings, the kind we want to encourage, will get caught in the crossfire. 

As with any magic elixir, carefully read the ingredients and beware the possible side effects.

I understand what motivated the folks behind Measure Q, many of whom have been friends since I was a Founding Board Member of the Laguna Canyon Conservancy decades ago. And I don’t believe they’re trying to “fool” us. They simply looked to the north and south and saw what can happen when you don’t have restrictive codes like Laguna’s EXISTING safeguards. We all want to ensure Laguna’s unique character survives. To that end I’ve devoted much of my life, time and resources through business, schools and non-profits trying to preserve the delicate fabric of Laguna for my family, friends and for future generations. 

Measure Q is unnecessary and may very well end up doing the exact opposite of what it seeks to accomplish. 

Normally, I avoid writing letters and I hope that taking a No on Q stance won’t cost me a few friendships. But Measure Q is simply too consequential to watch from the sidelines and the people who really know me will recognize that I only want what is best for Laguna. And after reading the language of Measure Q carefully I’m convinced that it would be a mistake we would ultimately live to regret. 

If you really want to Save Laguna, Please Vote No on Measure Q.

Mark Christy

Laguna Beach

Letter demeaning Rounaghi’s age is inappropriate

Unbelievable. Just when political discourse seems to be at its lowest, Village Laguna’s Johanna Felder finds a new low in insulting Alex Rounaghi. She belittles Alex’s age, claiming that one must be at least 34 years old to run for City Council, as she points out that Alex wasn’t even born by the 1989s Walk the Canyon. 

Worse still, she straight up asserts that Alex’s brain has not matured. Seriously, Ms. Felder, you just had to go there? When young adults are often cynical regarding politics, Alex should be encouraged, not belittled or insulted. He also deserves an apology.

James M. Lawson, AICP

Laguna Beach

Best Reason To Vote No On Q is No On Q

Read Q for yourself in your Voters Guide. 

Supporters say it’s only about “Major Developments.” But Q obliquely states Major Developments aren’t only large projects. It lists a number of factors that would cause the smallest project to be swept into the definition of Major Developments. Why didn’t the writers say what they meant? They don’t want change even if it doesn’t expand a site by an inch. That’s what Q says.

Q says schools are exempt from a public vote. But it also says they’re only exempt if the project is solely a school. We need more facilities for our kids, so if a school and a park are proposed the project would need to go to a public vote.

Q supporters state, “…buildings that retain their size, height and kind...” are exempt from a public vote. What is this “kind” stuff? Why hide what they really meant. If the proposed use is different from what it had been, the project will likely need a vote. Clothing store converted to a coffee shop – wait up to two years and risk a public vote after the two years it took to get through the city.

Then there’s the requirement of a majority of the Electorate voting Yes for a project’s approval – not a majority of those voting. Example – if 60% of 18,000 people eligible, actually vote, it would mean 10,800 people voted. Therefore 9,000 of the 10,800 voters would be needed to approve a project. Nothing will ever pass.

The writers of Q say this is not what they meant. Why didn’t they write what they meant…unless they really meant what they wrote. Unfortunately, if Q is approved, any change, even one word would require another public vote...and a majority of the Electorate could be needed to change it. Q will only change if a court mandates change.

There’s more but this will give you a start of what to look for when you read Q. 

But, what’s the problem with a public vote?

1. No small business can wait up to two years after the city’s lengthy process gambling that an expensive public vote will go their way. Small businesses won’t come and locals wanting to expand, won’t. These are the lifeblood of our business neighborhoods.

2. Winning a vote isn’t a slam dunk. Businesses that don’t want new competition will lobby against a project. For projects like the new South Laguna fire station, neighbors who say NIMBY and fiscal conservatives who won’t want to spend city funds will vote No.

3. The only ones willing to risk a vote will be deep pocket developers, just the opposite of what Q says it’s about. Simply another unintended consequence of Q. Large developers will acquire the empty stores actually caused by Q and gamble on a vote. Think about the ads we’re seeing for ballot measures and propositions. That’s what ballots for projects will be like.

4. Voters will be asked to consider environmental impact reports, traffic studies and other complex information intended for trained planners. Imagine, if Q were in place, there would have been more than 30 proposals requiring a public vote in the past five years. Almost all were small.

These are just a few of the issues buried in Q’s 10 pages. If it were only about keeping the 36’ height limit or avoiding block long developments, count me in. But the 36’ is a trojan horse hiding the Q provisions that stop the smallest projects we locals want and will drive this town to further unmitigated aging.

Q is a disaster that we simply can’t let happen. 

Joe Hanauer

Laguna Beach

Good slogans; bad policy

The proponents of Measure Q certainly have catchy slogans – stop overdevelopment and put Laguna residents first. We agree with those sentiments. But catchy slogans do not make good policy and Measure Q is a decidedly bad land use policy for Laguna. We strongly urge you to vote NO on Measure Q.

Good policy measures are the product of a sound first draft followed by a robust public debate and then revisions to address public input, missing concepts, oversights, inconsistent provisions and unintended consequences of the initial draft. Unfortunately, Measure Q was drafted by a small group of individuals without input at public hearings or a chance for others with differing viewpoints to suggest revisions and improvements to it. 

We each served four years on the Planning Commission and have a combined 14 years on the City Council. Neither of us can recall a single city land use ordinance going through the process without revisions. So, it is not surprising that Measure Q, without the benefit of a robust public discussion and revisions to reflect those discussions, has flaws which are too numerous to ignore.    

The key flaws are an overly broad definition of the projects that will have to go to a public vote, a failure to exempt city projects from its provisions, and the hurdles it creates for senior and affordable housing projects. 

The first section of Measure Q, Section 25.060.01(a), states that its purpose is “to ensure that large new development projects do not exceed height, density and parking requirements to preserve the existing scale and atmosphere” along and adjacent to Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road. Had the proponents remained true to this stated and limited purpose, we would likely not be writing this column opposing Measure Q.

But rather than focusing on its stated purpose, Measure Q spreads its wings to encompass a broad range of projects with a six-part definition of “Major Development Project” which require a vote. Only part one of the definition focuses on the size of a project. The other five parts of the definition focus on a variety of other factors. 

The most troubling part of the definition is part six which sweeps in any project that causes a “Cumulative Effect.” It is complicated but this provision will subject many small projects of the type that we want in Laguna to a vote. To calculate whether the Cumulative Effect provision is triggered, you aggregate over an eight-year period all projects more than 3,000 sq. ft. of gross floor area for which a building permit was issued or for which an application was submitted, unless the permit or the review process has been terminated. Once the Cumulative Effect provision is triggered, all projects within the affected area (a half-mile radius) will have to go to a vote unless they meet the definition of the term “Minor Modification of a Major Development Project,” which most will not. If Measure Q is approved, the Cumulative Effect provision will immediately take effect in North Laguna and Downtown, subjecting small projects to public votes. 

Another troubling provision of Measure Q is its failure to exempt city public safety projects from its provisions. Why would it exempt “a public or private K-12 school, hospital, museum, or house of worship” of any size but not a city public safety project? We can’t think of a good reason. 

Please join us in voting NO on Measure Q and urge your friends to do the same. We don’t need it to maintain Laguna’s character. In fact, it will undermine it.     

Sue Kempf and Bob Whalen

Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem

City of Laguna Beach

Who’s behind the flyer supporting Blake but attacking Flores?

I have been the recipient of multiple Peter Blake for City Council campaign flyers over the past days. The flyer attacking CC candidate Ruben Flores is a particularly disgraceful, cheap shot. Enough has been said as to how “unfit” Peter Blake is to serve on the City Council of Laguna Beach and I hope that the voters in our community have had enough of him and we should remove him from office. 

However, the reason for my letter is this, note who is paying for these pro- Blake “Flyers”: “Paid for by Laguna 2022. Supporting Peter Blake and Opposing Ruben Flores for Laguna Beach City Council 2022.” 

So, who is this Paid for Laguna 2022 entity and where are they from? And, what do they do? And, most importantly how much did they invest in Peter Blake’s campaign chest? These are the questions that we need to ask.      

Who: Michael D. Ray

Where are they from: 312 Clay Street, Oakland, California, Suite 300, 94607

What do they do: Real Estate Developer * Sanderson J Ray Development

How much was their contribution: $ 19,850.00

Source: California Form 497 Contribution Report * Report # 093022 * 09/30/2022 * 

When you see those Peter Blake signs think of who is funding CC Blake, who will CC Blake be beholden to. Please vote to remove him on 11/08/2022. 

Claude Morgan

Laguna Beach

The best election money can buy

I want to talk about money in politics – Laguna politics.

The headline in Tuesday’s New York Times reads: “Most voters say, US democracy is under threat.”

This year‘s Laguna Beach election is shaping up to look like “the best election money can buy.”

There are now at least 15 PACs in Laguna Beach – Political Action Committees.

The latest data I can find by searching public filings indicates that the 10 most active PACs have raised more than $1,825,000 in this election cycle – all aimed at Laguna Beach elections.

That’s $175 per Laguna household.

The Big Kahuna is the hotel PAC which has raised a staggering $1,370,000 to fight the hotel union PAC.

But even setting that whopper aside, the next nine PACs have raised more than $450,000 which is still mind-boggling for a small-town election.

That’s a lot of BIG money trying to impact our little town’s election.

Recognize that unlike the rules that limit what individual voters like you and me can contribute to candidates’ campaigns, contributions to PACs are essentially unlimited.

And that’s exactly what’s happening.

BIG dollars from corporations, other PACs, out of town organizations, in chunks of $10,000 or $25,000 and in one case – well over $ 1,000,000.

This is big money versus ordinary voters.

In many cases profit over people. 

Revenue over residents.

While some of the stuff being poured out is merely deceptive, or misleading, or inaccurate – and sometimes worse than that – in all cases there is a reason someone is putting so much cash into trying to get the voters to do something they want you to do. 

And, you can bet that too often, the motive is something other than what is truly in your best interest.

So, I’m encouraging people to apply some critical thinking. 

Ask questions. 

Use your common sense. 

Think about where the money is coming from. 

Who is behind the ad? 

Why do they want you to do what they want you to do? 

What’s in it for them? 

And is that really in your best interest?

Remember Watergate – “Follow the Money.”

John Thomas

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Beware of the Axe of Measure Q

“The forest was shrinking, but the trees kept voting for the Axe, for the Axe was clever and convinced the Trees that because his handle was made of wood, he was one of them.” –Turkish proverb. 

In this election season, as the dirt and the dust swirl, and the mistruths and half-truths continue to pollinate voters’ minds, I encourage every Laguna resident to actually look for themselves at the details and reject Measure Q as an unnecessary and burdensome measure that is a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist. 

Voting for the Axe of Measure Q will result in the strangulation of our town, blight and more vacancies and hacks away at property rights. The existing checks and balances in the current system of our local government are more than sufficient to keep over-development in check, as it has for decades in Laguna. The unintended consequences of Measure Q are clearly seen if voters look at the Laguna Beach Ballot Initiative Fiscal Impact Analysis, page 16, Figure 3.4, which you can find here

These simple projects would have fallen subject to the Axe of Measure Q, requiring a formal vote in an election, and hundreds of thousands of dollars: (1) Ralphs – outdoor display; (2) Royal Hawaiian – outdoor dining; (3) The Pottery Place – additions; (4) White House remodel; (5) Harmony Tea Bar – converting retail to cafe; (5) Slice and Z Pizza – new outdoor dining areas. 

Is that what we want? I know reading the actual language of ballot initiatives is not fun, but if you are going to vote, please get informed. Two city council candidates support the Village Laguna Axe of Measure Q – Jerome Pudwill and Ruben Flores. 

Vote accordingly.

Jennifer Welsh Zeiter 

Laguna Beach

Candidate Louis Weil’s takes on Measures R & S

As a resident of Laguna Beach, I’m urging my Laguna Beach friends and neighbors to VOTE NO on Measures R and S in the upcoming election on November 8th.

The reason I feel so strongly about these measures? Both take aim at the hospitality sector here in Laguna Beach. We all know and love these properties; we visit for staycations, when friends or family are in town, for spa appointments, or when we want to have a fantastic meal out. When they succeed, Laguna succeeds; when they fail, Laguna’s revenues fall, which is bad for all residents.

As I state in my campaign for City Council, I am focused on planning ahead, with a balanced approach that puts residents first without kneecapping small businesses. That’s why I am so strongly against Measures Q, R and S. As the father of two young sons, I care about the future of Laguna Beach for the next few generations.

Measure R would create prohibitive regulations for hotels and resorts simply trying to perform regular and routine maintenance to their properties, which will have a significant negative impact on the beauty and visual appeal of our cherished city. If this Measure R passes, expect to find yourself driving down Coast Highway past one dilapidated hotel building after another. It would be a shame and our property values will certainly decrease as a result. 

This measure was unanimously voted against by our City Council. We as residents should vote No on Measure R so our local hotels and resorts can be maintained in great condition. 

Measure S targets the workplace well-being for our friends, neighbors and family members who work in our hotels and resorts. This measure was already voted against by the majority of our City Council. This union is now trying to mislead the local voters.

Let me be clear: This is not an employee initiative. Laguna Beach hospitality workers would have to pay more than $1,000 a year in dues and their monthly pay would be less than what they make today. In addition, Laguna Beach hospitality employees already have the personal safety alarms required in the measure and they don’t need more restrictions on voluntary overtime. We must vote No on Measure S for the sake of all local hospitality employees.

These measures represent the first time in the history of our community that an outside group has tried to mislead voters to change how we in Laguna live and do business. It’s just plain wrong and we can’t let them do it.

We are proud and protective of our wonderful quality of life, the well-being of our fellow residents and the beauty of our city. We must prioritize the well-being of our friends and neighbors that work in our local hospitality industry. Please join me in voting NO on Measures R and S.

Louis Weil 

Louisweil4citycouncil2022.com

Laguna Beach 

A look at which council candidates make sense and which ones don’t

In this year’s city council election, residents of Laguna Beach have seven candidates to choose from to fill three open seats. 

Running for reelection are two incumbents. One is the mayor, who in the last year has proven she is unable to hold a council meeting without it turning into a circus of incivility. 

The cause of the incivility is the other incumbent running who feels it’s his right to insult and bully all those who disagree with him, including fellow councilmembers.

Then, there is the young man who has lived in Laguna all his 24 years but most of those years he was a schoolchild and for some he was away at college. He wasn’t born yet when we had the Walk the Canyon or the 1993 Wildfire. He lacks personal knowledge of much of Laguna Beach’s recent history or its politics. Also, let us not forget there is the scientific fact that young male brains don’t mature until they are at least 26 years old. 

Next, there is the real estate agent and stay-at-home dad and who, in (Michael) Ray’s words, “has been pushed aside” by the engaging young boy.

Next, we have Village Laguna’s two endorsed candidates, Mark Orgill and Jerome Pudwill. They are both mature longtime residents with families and responsible careers. They both have experience and common sense that the city has been lacking and are dedicated to preserving Laguna’s charm and unique environment. 

And last, but not least, is the longtime resident, businessman and landscape architect who has spoken at many city council meetings about the care and preservation of Laguna’s trees and environment. His opposition, the newest Political Action Committee started by Michael Ray and Cindy Shopoff has sent out the vilest mailer of this election. There has been such outrage in the community over this despicable mailer that the result has been to encourage voting for any of the candidates running for City Council except Peter Blake. 

Johanna Felder

Laguna Beach 

City Council candidate Alex Rounaghi – the future of Laguna

As Laguna residents are battling it out over a development measure, there’s another important issue going on, who will set the course for the future of our city. For the past few years, I’ve gotten to know a visionary candidate through activism events ranging from environmental to women’s healthcare access to voting rights. Alex Rounaghi impressed me from the time we met; that positive first impression has grown into tremendous respect. 

Alex personifies Laguna Beach. His family has lived here for three generations, he was educated here and has served his city since high school. His regard for the delicate balance of our town’s natural beauty and precious resources, the arts, businesses, housing, and traffic and safety challenges makes him the best candidate for new member of our City Council. 

Alex has served this community on various committees including as Chair of the LB Housing & Human Services Committee. He is working on developing solutions to our housing deficits, including resources for residents and seniors.

Additionally, he has expressed that one of his top priorities is climate change and its impact on our town, in particular, the destruction of property and potential loss of life from wildfires. Two recent fires are a reminder that disasters can strike at any moment. Alex will work to get the poles and lines buried on our main access roads in town. That’s also important for our electric grid; not sure about you but my power has gone out multiple times this season.

That’s why I’m supporting Alex. He has ideas to take us into the future. He also has the experience; Alex is a policy advisor to Supervisor Katrina Foley. He has worked on issues like homelessness, airport noise and regulations to ensure more safety in sober living homes. He has developed relationships with local and state office holders that will bring needed enhancements to our community.

Finally, Alex has an incredible amount of integrity. He is a unique mix of intelligence and strong character. He is a well-educated, grounded, passionate candidate with a vision for the future. He realizes we have work to do to be ready for what is coming.

We cannot freeze change in our town. Safety, sources of energy, roads, police and fire services, businesses and housing all need crucial attention. I want another person on our council who works collaboratively, honoring our unique past, to establish a shared vision for our future. Ballots arrived on October 10th; your vote and your voice count! I have every confidence that Alex will listen respectfully and work with his colleagues and residents to enact smart policy and laws to lead our town. Alex Rounaghi is truly the future of Laguna. 

Becky Visconti

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach Democratic Club issues statement regarding Councilmember Weiss’ inaccurate and offensive comments

The Laguna Beach Democratic Club wishes to correct the record regarding inaccurate and offensive comments by Councilmember George Weiss toward two endorsed Democratic City Council candidates. As seen before, Weiss has disseminated false accusations and deceptive assertions to his email list.

It is substandard practice for Weiss to polarize residents and the City Council via email in his attempt to promote his ballot measure. It is unacceptable in campaigning and in conducting city business.

Laguna Beach Democratic Club is proud to endorse our fellow Democrats, Sue Kempf and Alex Rounaghi for City Council. They will work for ALL Laguna Beach residents.

Laguna Beach Democratic Club Board of Directors 

Gwen McNallan 

Peggy Wolff 

Ketta Brown 

Deborah Engle 

Lara Horgan

Mary Carter 

Adam Redding-Kaufman 

Nia Evans

After reading, fact-checking, talking to people, Measure Q is not the answer

As a non-native Californian brought here by good fortune and an even better wife, I am often bemused by the direct democracy approach of ballot initiatives. It’s an odd approach to government and I don’t see a great deal of evidence that it leads to better outcomes. With the hot topic in town turning to Measure Q, I did my research, spoke with people on both sides, and came to a clear conclusion, Q is not the solution.

At the most recent LRF community meeting I had the opportunity to meet the champion of this initiative, David Raber. I have no doubt based on my conversation that David is a fine man and his intentions are good, however I believe his organizational efforts here are misguided. 

By his own admission, under Measure Q, 18 more ArtLofts buildings could be built in the canyon. The great irony being ArtLofts is the most featured project on both the LRF website and their collateral. The reality is that only one building over 20,000 sf has been built in Laguna Beach in the last 20 years. That was the Montage, and there WAS a citywide vote.

The passionate attendees at the LRF meetings will eagerly tell you about their fights through the years to stop the Toll Road, the Irvine Company and the development of Main Beach. I laud those efforts as they have certainly been more positive than negative and are all part of what has created this special place we call home. I don’t believe that anyone in that room wants to prevent a small business from opening or the improvement of one of our tired buildings here in town, but that is what will inevitably happen with Q. 

The repeated phrases of, “We can’t trust this council,” “Developers will ruin this town” and “Measure Q is our only hope to keep Laguna, Laguna” all seem dubious when I consider how much time and effort have gone into their planning and support of Measure Q.

I wish they spent that same time and effort recruiting, supporting and voting for politicians that align with their vision of Laguna. Instead, they pursued something grander, a “fix-all” solution that waters down our elected officials’ authority and creates even more uncertainty in what an already famously complex and time-consuming approval process is.

Elections have consequences and recruiting, supporting and voting for candidates that share our values should be our priority, not usurping their power through layers of bureaucracy. Vote No on Q.

David Remington

Laguna Beach

Controversial mailer should have been denounced

Mr. Blake,

During your tenure as a duly elected member of our city council, I have often been shocked and embarrassed by your lack of civility and common courtesy toward your colleagues and our fellow Laguna Beach citizens.

However, the mailer which I received a few days ago regarding your city council opponent, Ruben Flores, hits an all-time low. I understand that this mailer was sent and apparently paid for by some entity calling themselves Laguna 2022 which clearly states that it is “not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.”

If I were in your position, I would have immediately denounced this hateful and ridiculous attack on an opponent because if you do not, it implies a tacit endorsement of the “trash” that this mailer represents. 

I hope to hear from you shortly.

Gail McClain 

Laguna Beach

Impressed with Judie Mancuso and what she stands for

Like India Hynes (Letters to Editor, Stu News, 10/11/22), I too was once unfamiliar with the breadth of Judie Mancuso’s interests and experience. (She is a candidate for State Assembly in the 72nd District.) 

Then I started paying attention.

After attending a forum, including Judie and her opponent, Diane Dixon, I realized that Judie is incredibly smart and well-informed on all the issues affecting our district. She is up to date on homelessness, climate change and environment and public education, among other concerns, and has plans to address them. 

She is for tougher gun laws and supports a woman’s right to choose. 

More generally, Judie is forthright, energetic and passionate. And most importantly, she knows how to get state legislation passed. 

One just need look at Judie’s campaign contributions to understand where her priorities lie. Of the $230K she has raised, a scant $11,500 or so comes from real estate interests. The majority of her contributors are retirees. 

By contrast, Dixon has raised $417K and $206K of it comes from the real estate/developer community alone. She also received maximum donations of $4,900 from Phillip Morris and Sempra Energy, just to name just a few. A total 60% of Dixon’s contributions come from corporations and organizations and just 40% from individuals.   

Back in the 1950s, candidates who espoused anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-union positions were the norm. Diane Dixon is of that ilk. She has a 92% rating from the NRA and received a “thumbs up” from Orange County Gun Owners.  She supports the NRA line that mental illness primarily accounts for mass shootings. 

She obfuscates her position on abortion in public, but is endorsed as a “Pro-Life” candidate by https://CaliforniansforLife.org

She believes California’s current environmental goals are “unattainable” and says all climate action should be left up to the market (we know where that has gotten us!). Dixon opposes an increase in the minimum wage and wants more “school choice,” which is code for defunding public schools. 

Climate change is here and already having devastating impacts on our world. Many working people in our district are unhoused. Gun violence is a daily reality. Abortion may soon be banned across the country, even here in California, even in cases of rape and incest. Public education is being dismantled and the impact on families in our district, as well as our property values, would be disastrous. 

To me, the choice couldn’t be more clear. I will be voting for Judie Mancuso.

Deborah Engle

Laguna Beach

Mailer was independent of Laguna Beach Democratic Club

A large-format political mailing dropped to Laguna Beach residents this week stating that “Laguna Beach Democratic leaders urge all Democrats to vote no on Measures R & S,” did not come from the Laguna Beach Democratic Club.

The mailer used modified imagery and colors as well as the slogan “Vote Blue” to suggest that the mailing came from official Democratic organizations.

We have not taken a position on Measures R and S as a club. Instead, we urge our members to become familiar with the Measures and to vote as their beliefs guide them.

We Democrats and Laguna Beach residents support our local businesses and business owners, many of which are members of the PAC that issued the mailing referred to in this statement. Some Democratic leaders are for the Measures; some are against. We wanted to clarify that our Club is not urging residents to vote one way or the other on Measures R and S.

Gwen McNallan 

President, Laguna Beach Democratic Club 

Important to note the full name of the group effort behind the irresponsible flyer

(The following is in response to last week’s “Fair Game” column)

I appreciate what you wrote last week about the irresponsible Ruben flyers being sent out. 

You mentioned the committee “Laguna 2022,” but that’s only a partial name of the committee. Their 410 form, filed Oct. 3, 2022, states that they are “Laguna 2022 Supporting Blake and Opposing Flores for Laguna Beach City Council 2022.”

I think it’s important that readers know the full name of the committee and which “team’ is behind these defamatory flyers. 

Diane Armitage

Laguna Beach

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