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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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