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Laguna Beach

Councilman Peter Blake calls Johanna Felder a liar

Your readers should be interested in an exchange of emails that I recently had with Laguna Beach Councilman Peter Blake.

August 27, 2021, Gene Felder email to Peter Blake:

Councilman Peter Blake,

At the August 24, 2021 City Council meeting, from the dais, you interrupted my wife Johanna Felder from providing public input and called her a liar.

Johanna has a stellar reputation for honesty. What are you referring to?

Your conduct is an addition violation of the City’s rules of decorum and civility, as well as Robert’s Rules of Order. I would appreciate for you to retract your inappropriate comment.

Gene Felder

August 30, 2021, Peter Blake email to Gene Felder:

Gene, actually I waited until Johanna was done with her testimony and then questioned her. I did not interrupt her. I did not call her a “liar” 

Her “stellar reputation for honesty”?

I have the right to question anyone spinning the facts whether its you, your wife, the president of PAC Village Laguna or any activist. If you feel I violated the City’s rules of decorum and civility and/or Robert’s Rules of Order, then I suggest you get one of my colleagues to file a censure.

I will NOT be retracting any comment.


September 2, 2021, Gene Felder email to Peter Blake:

Perhaps this will refresh your memory. [Referring to audio file that was attached from city council meeting]

Your conduct is an addition violation of the City’s rules of decorum and civility, as well as Robert’s Rules of Order. I would appreciate for you to retract your comments.

Gene Felder

September 3, 2021, Peter Blake email to Gene Felder:

Thanks for refreshing my memory Gene!

It gets difficult sometimes to keep track of all the lies that Village Laguna puts out.

To refresh your memory, I mentioned I will NOT retract my statement and that you should have me censured. Maybe George or Toni can get the ball rolling for you lol!!

Have a great day!


September 7, 2021, Gene Felder email to Peter Blake:

You missed the point. The voice memo from the City Council meeting that I sent you clearly shows that my claim that you called my wife Johanna Felder a liar is true and correct.

And that your statement “I did not call her a ‘liar’” is false and incorrect.

The transcript of the voice memo is as follows:

Johanna Felder: “I’m very upset. Peter speaks to people in such a way that is intimidating and I am really upset”

Interrupting Councilman Peter Blake: “Maybe if you don’t lie when you testify, I won’t speak to you that way”.

Johanna Felder: “Peter, stop that. I do not lie.”

Mayor Bob Whalen: “Peter, do not call speakers liars, they get to offer the testimony that they want to offer.”

Please note that the Mayor of Laguna Beach’s comments included “Peter, do not call speakers liars.”

Your conduct is clearly a violation of the City’s rules of decorum and civility, as well as Robert’s Rules of Order. I would appreciate if you would retract your statements regarding my wife’s veracity.

Gene Felder

One should expect Mr. Blake to at least be responsible for his statements.

Gene Felder

Laguna Beach

Plant Man Column

“All doors open to courtesy.” –Thomas Fuller

Ordinarily, I would attempt to wax poetic in this space about our City Hall’s Mediterranean Revival Style architecture, replete with its distinctive, scrolled rafter tails and other details envisaged by Aubrey St. Clair. And, of course, honor the adjacent and stalwart California Pepper (Schinus molle), which was originally planted as a homesteading requirement during Laguna’s pioneer days.

Letter Kawaratani

Click on photo for a larger image

Laguna Beach City Hall – 505 Forest Ave

But today, I would like to offer the perspective of someone who has lived here for a lifetime and is involved in the property development process. It is a poorly kept secret that Laguna Beach is a terrific place to visit and live, and not coincidentally, our property values continue to soar. 

Planning review is often a complex and lengthy process in any jurisdiction, and Laguna Beach is no exception. Most applications are required to transit through the planning review process to ensure project feasibility within the constraints of the Municipal Code and General Plan. The process has the added scrutiny of the Design Review Board, which ensures compatibility with City standards.

The COVID-19 lockdown created an opportunity to reimagine our homes and fueled a desire for improvement projects. The flood of planning and permit applications to the City’s Community Development Department is near historic levels, while staffing levels remain basically static. The number of projects under review by each planner has doubled, and in some instances, even tripled.

Marc Wiener, the Director of Community Development, and his staff are actively transforming their workplace for more efficient and effective operations and additional planners are being added. This will translate to faster review times during the project application process.

During this period of transition, please consider your actions when you’re at the Community Development counter. Courtesy, kindness, and understanding go a long way in making a difficult job easier for everyone. Good projects get approved; please practice patience! See you next time.

Steve Kawaratani has been a local guy for seven decades and likes to garden and drive the Baja Peninsula. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (949) 494-5141.

Steve Kawaratani

Laguna Beach

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