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Laguna Beach


Influence city council, obtain land use entitlement, make money

How’s this for a business mission statement: “A key strategy is our ability to add value to real estate through securing land use entitlements that allow properties to be developed. Land use entitlements are approvals from local municipalities…typically, discretionary actions that require approval of the local planning commission and/or city council through a vote of that governing body.”

How’s that for creating value?

How has this worked in Laguna Beach? Liberate Laguna, or Laguna Forward, is a Political Action Committee created to get city councilmembers elected who will make big development easier by changing long established city standards. 

Residents find an obliterated Laguna with relaxed parking requirements for business expansion, while eliminating many public parking spaces, replacing of mature trees with small trees and raiding city discretionary funds primarily to respond to the needs of visitors to Laguna Beach.

The Liberate Laguna 2018 financial disclosure statement details $152,000 of expenditures in getting Peter Blake and Sue Kempf elected to the city council.

The top contributors were Cindy Shopoff, Shopoff Reality Enterprises ($68,000); Michael and Leslie Ray, Sanderson/Ray Developers ($27,000); Mohammad Honarkar, 4GWireless ($20,000); Samuel Goldstein, Radford Ventures ($20,000); and Chris Dornin, Dornin Investment ($10,000).

Goldstein has secured land use entitlements to the Heisler Building, including a rooftop deck that (is) to be ADA accessible (with an) allowed elevator exceeding the city’s 36-foot height limit. 

Dornin has secured land use entitlements (toward) building a 28-unit apartment in Laguna Canyon, not in accordance with the city’s rules and regulations, such as being small scale and rural. 

Honarkar has grandiose proposals for a Cleo Hotel and a Museum Hotel, among other projects.

$152,000 or $250,000 sounds like a lot of money, but really a small investment to influence the city council, secure land use entitlements and make money. Unfortunately, the city council is supposed to represent the residents of Laguna Beach.

Gene Felder

Laguna Beach

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