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Letters to the Editor

It’s been done before and worked, so we should do it again

May I provide perspective on the Laguna Beach City Council consultant’s report claiming any number of dire consequences if the Laguna Residents First initiative passes? I have a unique perspective because I live part time in both cities and I was part of the group that worked to pass Newport Beach’s smart growth Greenlight Initiative in 2000. 

The Newport Beach City Council also made all sorts of grim predictions if Greenlight was approved. We were told that we would have multiple elections every year, that the economy would die, that businesses would never stay in Newport and even that single family homes would be impacted by the initiative. That last statement was a bold-faced lie, but the City Council and their developer friends were desperate to say anything that would make people vote against Greenlight. 

We won that election with 66% of the vote because the residents realized that the City Council was in bed with developers and would never support the residents’ desire to stop overdevelopment.

Fast forward to 2022 and guess what? Newport Beach has a strong economy, businesses didn’t leave and the world as we know it didn’t end. We have had a grand total of three Greenlight elections in 22 years. It turns out that developers know how to read and figured out the requirements of the new law and they just planned developments that stayed within those boundaries. We have plenty of redeveloped buildings that are thriving and plenty of new development that is reasonably sized and economically sound.

Without Greenlight, Newport Beach would look a lot like Marina del Rey. Without the Laguna Residents First initiative, I’m concerned that Laguna Beach will begin to look like Newport. I hope Laguna residents will see that this is a good initiative that will protect Laguna’s charm and character and is deserving of their support. 

Susan Skinner

Newport Beach/Laguna Beach

Thanks to Russell for the Laguna Canyon Foundation piece

Many thanks for the wonderful December 28 article about the Laguna Canyon Foundation hikes. I have been hiking for several years with John Foley and thank you for giving him credit for the incredible photos he takes on all hikes he leads. I was very pleased that on the January 4 hike, which followed Dianne’s article, there were two new couples in the group, both of whom became aware of and interested in joining the hike because of the article.

Keep up the good work! 

Deborah Joyce

Laguna Beach

Initiative seems confusing, so read it closely

I always read things twice, especially if they are generated by Village Laguna. 

Over the years, I have discovered certain things that have given me concern – one big one was their effort to include more than 400 homes on the Historical List without notifying the owners nor getting their permission to do so. Yes, there are benefits to having one’s home on the Historical List but – without giving consent? 

Also, for many years they claimed that they were a nonprofit, when in fact they were making donations for political reasons, especially folks that they were supporting for city council. That oversight was corrected by saying that they are still a nonprofit mutual benefit organization (whatever that means). I still don’t know what their proceeds from the Charm House Tour are intended for. I had even checked on some of the charities that they claimed they donated to – however, in checking, some had no idea what Village Laguna is. 

Of course, for years they claimed that “Green trees don’t burn,” yet they do, as we witnessed in very horrific fires this year and last. 

I will stop here but I know there is more I could write about.

My main concern is for their Initiative that they claim they have the signatures to qualify for the ballot. It does seem confusing and even redundant in some areas. The city does have a height limitation so any new construction must meet that criteria as well as whatever the Coastal Commission has the power to do. 

In my mind, Village Laguna in trying to maintain control of our city, is limiting what can be built, as well as what needs change; our business buildings need to be brought up to standard and provide additional safety for customers, renters, etc. Some of our buildings are out of date including in South Laguna. 

I have heard complaints about all the tourists parking in South Laguna, using the public beaches down there and leaving a mess. Yet no concrete solution to solve that. 

Also, I would think that building a nice new fire station for the safety of the locals or a multi-level parking lot would enhance and bring safety to the community. We have a fire station on Top of the World, also in the Woods Cove area – they are not making any more noise there than they would anywhere else and can provide immediate services to those living close by. 

Other issues? Well, we can read and ponder before the election.

Now, we have Councilmembers Whalen, Kempf and Blake that have done (I may not agree with them all the time) so much and I do feel that they have the interest of the City (oops Village) at heart to provide necessary amenities, upgrades, etc. 

With many insurance companies pulling out of our town (this also happened in the 1993 fire when Ann Christoph was mayor), we are finally addressing some longstanding issues and getting them done through the Fire Prevention/Mitigation initiative. 

Other steps taken will also solve problems on projects previously delayed by the council under a Village Laguna majority when the cost kept going up with each “study” and the probability of injury or death as a result of negligence/delay went up as well. 

I hope the three members can get through this long-neglected list. I am a pragmatic person and this Initiative makes me very nervous as I don’t feel it will solve our problems and, in any case, certainly delay many important solutions.   

Please read it thoroughly and see if you can support it knowing the history of Village Laguna of putting off necessary actions for our town’s safety and future.    

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach