Malicious trick

Recently, Mayor Steve Dicterow’s personal finances, including the filing of a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy to save his home from foreclosure, were highlighted by a candidate opposing Dicterow in the City Council election. 

Steve has worked diligently, along with the other council members, to create a conservative city budget with built in reserves so that Laguna Beach can weather the next economic downturn. The malicious trick of trying to humiliate and publicly shame Dicterow was a cheap ambush, made in a forum (public communication at City Council) where Steve would not ordinarily have an opportunity to respond. Fortunately, he did respond and did so admirably. 

I appreciate Steve’s time and efforts on behalf of our city. He has my support and vote.

Marshall Ininns

Laguna Beach


McGraw speaks up

As many of you may know, I am running for City Treasurer of Laguna Beach.  There have been many letters orchestrated against me during this process so I felt it was time for me to speak up.

The facts behind my run for office are very simple.  The job of the Part Time Elected City Treasurer has been expanded into something it was never meant to be.  The salary, extra billed reimbursed expenses, overtime and benefits now cost the city close to 160k per year according to www.transparentcalifornia.com.  There is absolutely no need or benefit for the city treasurer to be a CPA, as there are No Tax duties involved in the position.  There is a reason why 4 out of 5 City Council Members are supporting me, as these are the people who know what is truly involved in the job.

My 14 years of operational banking and investing experience and 18 years of detailed bookkeeping and auditing experience consist of exactly what the real job duties are; Banking, Investing and auditing.  There are basically 20-25 investments, mostly CD’s and some fixed income assets that come due each year.
The only way to get this back to where it is intended to be is to make a change.  Money is not my motivation in running for this position. The reason this is so controversial is because since Laura Parisi was appointed in a 3/2 vote 17 years ago, nobody has challenged her-meaning she has never been elected by any other way then default.  When positions like this go unchallenged there is a lack of information that is made public thus allowing things to become something they should not be.  
As a citizen of this community, once I discovered all this information- I felt it would actually be irresponsible of me not to run.

So for the record- this is not personal, this is not about Laura Parisi- this is about fiscal and moral responsibility. This is about a part time elected position that has a term of 4 years. Don’t you think it is time to let it be what it really is?

Anne McGraw

Laguna Beach


Misleading information

Laura Parisi is honest, hardworking and capable of watching our tax dollars.

My family received four cards from Anne McGraw in the mail last week that stated a huge exaggeration of Laura Parisi’s annual salary. This number is a matter of public record and can easily be researched online at the city’s website.  

Somehow Anne either misread the numbers or did the math incorrectly, as she stated that Laura receives almost twice as much as she actually makes. I find it disturbing that someone running for city treasurer, a job that requires reliability and financial savvy can make such a gross mistake and then mail to the voting public, the taxpayers she is pledging to protect, such misleading information.

Martha Simkins Davis

Laguna Beach


Re-elect Parisi

I have always been impressed by the professionalism and obvious expertise of our City Treasurer Laura Parisi, who has consistently earned the confidence of Laguna Beach voters over her many years of public service.

But Laura’s reputation for excellence in the field of municipal finance extends far beyond our city limits.  She has been entrusted by regional and state leaders to serve as the Chair of the Revenue and Taxation Committee for the League of California Cities, Vice-Chair of the Orange County Treasury and Oversight Committee and Board Member for the Local Agency Investment Board for the State of California Treasurer’s Office.

Our community deserves nothing less than the best when it comes to managing and investing our tax dollars.  Laguna beach can do no better than re-electing Laura Parisi as our City Treasurer.

Carrie Joyce

Laguna Beach


Reminding of Vickers’ record

As an involved PTA mom back in 1987 when Jan Vickers was ousted from the School Board by voters, I was astonished to hear that bruising recall election referred to as a “tempest in a teapot.”  That’s historical revisionism at its worst, contrived to help Vickers’ bid for a seventh four-year term.

Vickers was recalled for supporting retention of a fired LBHS varsity football coach, after he first was arrested for illegal marijuana use, then felony cocaine possession and violently resisting police arrest. 

The bad-boy celebrity coach pleaded to keep working with impressionable boys as part of his recovery program.  Vickers chose enablement and codependency over consequences and boundaries.   

She now blames lack of “policy on addiction treatment.”  But as reported by LA Times in 1987 Vickers blamed racism by recall supporters because of coach’s African descent.  

Along with many others, I experienced Vickers’ attack as racial hate speech by a government official targeting citizens’ civil rights.  We’re still waiting for her apology.

Raising three grandchildren, a pre-schooler, one at TOW and one at Thurston, like many parents I stay informed from a safe distance, but civic duty once again requires me to remind voters of Vickers’ record.

In 2013 she voted to move school year start to August without public discussion, double central office senior staff, and 1,000% spending increase for costly outside consultants duplicating new senior staff duties!  

Vickers voted to hire Superintendent’s pals at inflated salaries, soon terminated for failure to perform, including personnel director reportedly fired to avoid sexual harassment charges.

In 2015 she voted to end geometry in middle school, limit science and math acceleration pathways in high school, and end AP honors grade weighting still widely considered for college admissions, hurting my grandchildren and all next generation learners.

Vickers voted in 2015 for $10 million raid on school rainy day fund for spending spree on campus build-out, touted as her legacy in current re-election campaign.  Some or all that funding should have been invested in teachers and students to develop better learning capacity under new curriculum standards for each campus.

We hear she voted herself gold-plated public employee health insurance for decades.  Nice perk.

For my three grandchildren and all kids in our town, in 2016 I am voting for change.

Michele Nelson

Laguna Beach


Vote no on KK

As a mother of multiple children in town, I fell it necessary to speak up about Measure KK.

I was actually somewhat indifferent to this proposition until recently. OC Weekly published an article about one of my favorite beaches, “Thousand Steps”. Apparently, its going to be a great place to get faded, watch blurs of light, pitch black skies and hear those crashing waves.

I look at Thousand Steps beach as a great place to exercise, swim, skim, and hang out with friends and family. But, get high? Is this what Laguna will be turning into if Measure KK passes? Our beautiful beaches have already been victims to carelessness and disrespect by many. Are we really asking for more? For those of you who are fighting to pass this measure, I urge you to sit down and really think about what this potentially could do our town.     

Please don’t say you deserve to have a dispensary in town. We have come so far already regarding marijuana and its use. Anyone with a medical marijuana card can drive to any dispensary to get whatever they want. Even easier, as simple as calling for pizza delivery, you can also have your marijuana delivered. Elderlies unable to drive, one Uber away will get you there safely and quickly! 

I know this as a medical marijuana user myself. It has helped me with some medical issues and I do believe in its use. I just don’t believe as a community we are ready for this, or should welcome it. I don’t see this Measure about helping us who need it, I see it as one that will harm us all. Please vote no on KK.

Melanie Rogers

Laguna Beach


Reaction to third and final presidential debate

Now that the third and final presidential debate is in the rear view mirror, it is a sprint to Election Day.  Some of my Laguna friends have characterized the 2016 campaign as the worst ever while others in town have said it is a watershed event in our nation’s history.

Back in August, I tried to explain the differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton this way:  “I attended a meeting recently where ‘America the Beautiful’ was performed. While I listened to the choir sing, it hit me like a ton of bricks. The differences between GOP and Democratic nominees have nothing to do with politics. They have everything to do with how the two presidential candidates internalize the lyrics of this magnificent song.”  

No matter which candidate wins next month, my hope is we, as a people, can put our differences aside and begin the all-important process of moving this nation forward.  After all, isn’t this what the lyrics “God shed His grace on thee,” “And crown they good with brotherhood,” and “From sea to shining sea” really are calling us to do?  

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


To the point

Just an idea for a larger Community/High School pool.

Install a much larger aquatic center in the district parking lot, (below Park Ave grade at the uphill end of existing lot). Put a parking deck on top as a roof. More swimming and water polo, keep the parking. Repurpose or maintain existing pool.

John Walker

Laguna Beach


Wolff negative tactics a blunder?

Howard Hills was urged not to “go negative” on Peggy Wolff by supporters of both candidates.  So he issued statements praising her volunteerism and pledging to work together if both are elected. 

Wolff and her campaign surrogates responded with a trumped up negative narrative accusing Hills of dishonestly intending an “implied” endorsement of his candidacy by the Superintendent of Schools.  Wolff and her surrogates used reckless, mean-spirited language calling Howard devoid of moral “scruples,” guilty of “bad form,”  “dirty” and “unethical.”  

A local reporter with an obvious agenda inflated this cynically fabricated narrative, forcing the Superintendent to confirm “neutrality” in the election!  That was gratuitous for anyone who passed Civics 101 in school.

Wolff’s “form over substance” logic is absurd.  Suppose the Hillary Clinton campaign issues a press release agreeing with Congressional testimony by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the need for new strategic priorities, with quotes from General Dunford and his official Pentagon photo.  Does anyone really believe that means the JCS Chairman is “endorsing” Clinton for President?

To the contrary, Hills’ ad was focused on the substance of the Superintendent’s call for new School Board governance priorities.  Indeed Wolff’s contrived accusations against Hills’ character revealed her lack of grounding in the very fundamentals of American civics first Hills and now the new Superintendent have urged the Board to address. 

Both Hills and the Superintendent used strikingly similar logic and words proposing governance workshops and training for School Board members and staff.  Hills wanted voters to know he is optimistic about working with the new Superintendent to enhance protocols and restore orderly user-friendly Board proceedings.    

In the real world a candidate for elected office does not want or need “endorsement” by a public employee.  If public employees go on record in an official capacity regarding policy issues, however, candidates are free to agree or disagree and do so often.  

That is one way to inform voters of what to expect from a candidate if elected.  No one understanding the roles of elected leaders and public employees should accept the warped logic of Wolff’s negative tactics or [a newspaper’s] “hit piece” targeting Hills.

Instead of a false “implied” narrative, Peggy Wolff should inform voters whether she agrees with Howard Hills and the new Superintendent about the need for new School Board governance protocols and priorities.

Frank Carri

Laguna Beach


The old pool – the new pool – the next pool

I am a long term Laguna Beach Community pool enthusiast with a long history of the Old and New pool in Laguna Beach.

I taught Swim lessons along with Slim and Swim classes for the Adult Education program in the Old pool, which was located on the Laguna Beach High School campus at that time.  When they built the new pool located across the street they originally needed to subsidize the reason for lap swimming by hiring me to teach “private swim lessons” through the Community Services Department (i.e.: Recreation Department).

The swim program began to grow to private swim lessons, lap swimming, American Red Cross Swim lessons, Recreation Swim and to the children’s swim team program.  At that time my daughter was about 5 years old and was swimming on the swim team which became a popular program!

When my daughter became a little older there was not a girls water polo team so she convinced a friend from Chad Beeler’s Junior Lifeguard program to join the Boys water polo team and they played together with the boys on Chad’s team! 

Because there was not a club team for girls to play water polo in Laguna Beach my daughter was forced to join other club teams outside of Laguna Beach. 

It wasn’t until High School that she could finally play Girls water polo!  Thanks to Chad Beeler and Ethan Damato the Water Polo Program has boomed in Laguna Beach.

Even though I am wrinkled from teaching in the pool and have aged, I would very much volunteer or subsidize my services for another Pool in Laguna Beach!

That is how much I believe in keeping this swim program alive for our children in this community! 

I have spent many years in the old pool and the new pool so why not next pool!

Thank you for your article on the Community Pool.

Nikki Duplisea

Laguna Beach


Voting for Vickers and Wolff

The Laguna Beach school board candidate forum last week was quite revealing. Incumbent Jan Vickers was clear and steady, demonstrating that she knows the job inside and out. I am told Vickers attends each school’s PTA meetings, back-to-school nights, open houses, elementary and middle school promotions. To me, that shows dedication. Former Orange County public schoolteacher Peggy Wolff proved an equally strong candidate. She demonstrated a command of district issues and the touchy subjects that can divide parents and administrators, succinctly explaining her logic. 

The third candidate, Howard Hills, confused me. He was against the use of consultants to help improve curriculum (calling it a waste of money), but he favored (and would spend heavily on) “security” consultants, suggesting our schools were somehow unsafe. He criticized past actions of the school board but had “no opinion” on the merits of the decisions at issue. He brought with him a thick sheaf of papers. It was the LBUSD budget, and he used it as a prop to dramatically wave it in the air and call it “useless.” And in response to nearly every question, Hills mentioned his desire to add “Civics” and “Governance” classes for grades 5 through 12 – without mentioning what courses he would eliminate to make room in the schedule. 

The candidates also differed in demeanor. Vickers and Wolff answered questions directly and cogently. They were thoughtful and courteous. Hills, on the other hand, delivered long answers that exceeded the agreed upon time limits, and kept trying to remake points in response to prior questions. He even argued with the moderator. I found him to be disrespectful.

For all these reasons, I’m voting for Vickers and Wolff.

Rachiel MacAlistaire

Laguna Beach


City’s unfunded pension liability is a serious issue

So the City wants an additional $2 million per year to, according to the City’s informational flyer, “protect beaches from pollution; provide fire and police protection and emergency response services; promote utility undergrounding to prevent fires and power outages; improve the cleanliness of public areas such as sidewalks and streets; and provide other services and improvements in Laguna Beach.  Are these “Vital Services” currently being provided at reduced levels due to budgetary constraints?

Not according to the City.  The home page of the City’s website on October 17 includes (right under the promo link to Measure LL) links to the Street Resurfacing Update (continuing until December), the Top of the World Trail Project (beginning October 24), and the Summit Drive Utility Undergrounding (also beginning October 24). The City certainly has planned well and has the funds for these projects and others.  

In proposing a Two-Year Budget on April 30, 2015, the City Manager stated, “The economic outlook for the City of Laguna Beach is optimistic with moderate growth expected for the next two years. The General Fund is doing well and the City finds itself in a relatively healthy position with many of the City’s revenues meeting or exceeding levels experienced prior to the recession. The revenue projections assume continued moderate growth and that sustained drought conditions will not have a significant impact on the local economy...Overall, the proposed two-year General Fund budget is balanced with revenues exceeding expenditures by $1.3 million in FY 2015-16 and $1.5 million in FY 2016-17.  The 20% reserve remains intact”.  

As late as March of this year, the Director of Finance stated that the “City’s overall financial position is strong,” with a General Fund Reserve of $11.6 million.

So why the need for an additional $2 million per year for the unrestricted General Fund?  Fortunately, the City has already answered that for us.  Back in 2015, the City Manager warned, “Unfunded pension liabilities still remain a significant concern. CALPERS (California Public Employee Retirement System) is forecasting that the cost of pensions will increase over the next five years, and possibly longer, as the CaLPERS Board continues to take steps to stabilize the pension plan.  In 2014, the City Council approved its own strategy to help stabilize the impact of increasing pension costs by augmenting the City’s contribution to the unfunded pension liability by $1.4 million annually. 

However, the City’s plan for safety employees must still be addressed. This will likely require another $1.4 million be added to the budget.”  Again earlier this year, the Director of Finance also warned that, “Long term financial issues include paying down the unfunded pension liability and personnel costs (salaries, benefits, healthcare)”.

Clearly, the City needs unrestricted funds to pay down its pension liability that it freely admits is unfunded.  In drafting Measure LL, it seems that the City Council targeted a small non-voting constituency, “local hotels and other lodging establishments,” and figured that voters would agree to increase someone else’s local taxes by 20%.  

The City’s unfunded pension liability is a serious issue that deserves proper attention, but its solution should not be borne on the backs of some of the City’s most important economic drivers and contributors.

James M. Lawson

Laguna Beach


Measure KK on marijuana dispensaries to be discussed at Village Laguna Meeting

At the Village Laguna general meeting on Monday, Oct 24, Laguna Beach Police Chief Laura Farinella and Councilmember Rob Zur Schmiede will provide information on the adverse impacts Measure KK and marijuana dispensaries will have on our community and how to spread the word in the last weeks before the election,

The meeting will be at the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship, 429 Cypress Drive. The meeting is open to the public, and starts at 7 p.m.

Village Laguna is opposing Measure KK and urging a No vote. If passed, Laguna Beach would be the only city in southern Orange County with medical marijuana dispensaries. If the statewide ballot proposition allowing recreational use of marijuana should pass, these dispensaries would quickly become regional dealerships. The City would have no control over the selection of operators while being responsible for providing the additional public-safety resources that the operation of these lucrative all-cash businesses is expected to require. 

Contributions to the No campaign (made out to “Defeat Measure KK”) may be sent to Together Laguna Can Defeat Measure KK, P.O. Box 5134, Laguna Beach, CA 92652. “No on KK” yard signs, provided by Let Laguna Vote, may be picked up at 1960 Glenneyre Street.

Village Laguna


Campaign signs

Campaign signs are proliferating around town. Must be October!

One series of signs caught my eye: One candidate is campaigning on preserving and protecting the charm and scale of our Village. You can find these hung on hotels, big restaurants and empty lots all about town. 

If I recall correctly, this same candidate is the one who has championed huge parking garages, advocated for turning our neighborhoods into short term rental districts, votes in favor of big mansions in small scale neighborhoods, and always seem to favor big business over the one of a kind local venues.

There is only one candidate in the election who we can count on to be there to prevent the destruction of our charm and scale: Verna Rollinger.

Over the 34+ years that she has served our city as City Clerk and on the City Council, Verna always sided with our residents and neighborhoods and small business. It’s great that she is willing to serve again on the council.

Think about our future. If there is only one candidate you will vote for this November, make it Verna!

Armando Baez

Laguna Beach


Verna can do the math

Can anyone do math?

When you were in high school, you probably took either the ACT or SAT.  And you got a verbal score and a math score.

It looks to me like Laguna Beach is largely led by people with good verbal scores.

But can anyone do math?

Here’s a small example.  

This summer, to great fanfare, the City announced it would try an experiment called the “Summer Breeze” which was a hastily assembled program to lease a parking lot near the 405, and to have OCTA busses carry people for 16 summer weekend days from those parked cars to downtown Laguna and back 26 times per day. 

Cost to the City: $85,000.

The goals were to reduce congestion in the downtown, and to reduce the number of vehicles entering downtown.

The problem is – it is very expensive for what it accomplishes.

While there were a reported 5,428 bus “boardings”, actual cars parked and kept out of the downtown were about 1045 (total) or 65 per day the program was in effect.

So the effective cost of the program was $81.28 (per day) for every car kept out of the downtown.

But to keep 65 cars off the road, we added 26 bus trips.  So we only reduced vehicles in downtown by 39 per day.

On that basis, it cost $134.98 for every net vehicle kept out of downtown.

And the reduction in trips on Laguna Canyon Road was about 2/10 of 1%. That’s one out of every 500 cars.

Environmentally, we probably used more fuel for the bus trips than the cars would have used.

Okay, so it was an experiment, and it’s okay to experiment, but gee whiz -- let’s work on the math.

To make a real difference, how many trips per day would we need to save?  

What would that cost?

On this basis, keeping 1,000 vehicles out of the downtown, at a cost of $134.98 for every net vehicle kept out of downtown would cost $134,980 per day.  

And that would reduce vehicles in downtown by 5% on those days.

Seems pretty expensive.

If the City sent me a check for $134.98 to stay out of downtown, I’d do it.

It’s election time.  Maybe we need fewer verbal skills and more math skills running the City.  Vote for Verna.  Verna can do math.

John Thomas

Laguna Beach


Hiring city consultants – vote for Mancuso

Last Friday 10/14 the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) hosted the Active Transportation Forum. OC agencies share a common mission: to prepare our county planning documents to qualify for state and federal funding for mobility infrastructure. That means if their planning documents are not in order, they cannot compete for funding. In 2016 there was $79 million available in Federal CMAQ grant money up for grabs yet our LB Circulation Element was updated once in the last 42 years. Councilwoman Diana Carey showed the audience six essential preparations her city of Westminster used to qualify for funding, Laguna hasn’t prepared any of them.

Other OC communities are struggling to meet ever-increasing vehicular traffic, so the Metropolitan Planning Organization and SCAG are cooperating to redesign urban settings from cars back to livable environments for people using Active Transportation.

Our speaker Hasan Ikhrata Executive Director of SCAG had advice for city institutions. When hiring planning consultants Hasan said, “provide choices, don’t direct options” which means ask consultants for best design choices, don’t specify the requirements to win the job.  For example to update the Laguna Beach Downtown Specific Plan the hired consultant will read these instructions:  Balance the need to preserve the existing village character and pedestrian orientation with the objective to accommodate the traffic and parking demands generated by tourists.  Wha? That’s like asking to preserve our pedestrian orientation but hide the parking garage.

Our City sells the illusion that if we get the parking just right our traffic congestion problems go away, if we hire the right expert they can work this out. Instead Laguna should hire consultants for demonstrated best practices not for options the city manager prescribes. If our city council cannot exercise oversight on behalf of residents then it’s time for new leadership from a council person who gets it. Judie Mancuso listens to consultants, she knows the difference between compensating for expert advice and paying for a jobs program.

Our keynote speaker was Founder Daniel Iacofano of MIG Consulting - yes that MIG. Daniel explained a benefit of Active Transportation is Real Estate Value Capture:  to revitalize any business district and raise property value, simply reduce automobile and increase walk-in traffic. Parklets done right are a means of creating community space that people are drawn to, hence walk-in traffic. 

Caltrans, OCTA and SoCal cities shared good company at the event, our city wasn’t represented. Laguna needs council members who draw best practices from outside Laguna, vote Judie Mancuso for City Council.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach


Vote for Verna, Judie, Susan and Hillary

Vote for Verna Rollinger and Judie Mancuso for Laguna Beach city council. Mayor Steve Dicterow has done too many dumb things to list here and Bob Whalen and Dicterow have voted to spend $1.5 million on consultants, voted for a giant 500 + garage at our city entranceand the hiring of a new police chief from out of town when one of our cops could have done a better job. 

Dicterow’s latest scheme cost us $80,000 for buses to transport visitors from the freeway to downtown’s bus station and it was a bust. Whalen’s grand scheme to underground utilities caused one lady to tell me she would rather keep looking at the poles and lines than be saddled with a tax bill for years to undergroiund.

Vote for Susan Savary for Congress person. Dana Rohrabacher, a friend of our Mayor Dicterow is a no show too. He has been a congressman for 27 years, has introduced 305 bills and only 3 became law. He has never been a full committee chairman and collected his salary while other federal employees were put on furlough when he voted for the government shutdown. 

Hillary Clinton isn’t perfect, but she is certainly not crazy like Donald Trump who experts say suffers from at least one personality disorder called narcissistic personality disorder, is a serial liar, has ripped everybody off from painting contractors to banks and the IRS. 

Laguna is different. We are dog town, canyon country, a sanctuary for birds, raccoons, skunks, deer,andsnakes.We are a skateboard park because we have the ideal topography for skateboarding.We sponsor one of the oldest surf contests in the world and are proud of our international LGBT friendly beach, West St. 

We are a walking paradise with endless gardens, fabulous parks, remarkable life guards, fantastic public art. We need city council people who care about our people - our history - our traditions and our trees. 

Vote for Verna, Judie, Susan and Hillary. 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach


Putting the Needs of the Residents First, South Laguna Civic Association Supports Measure LL

Ed. Note: This letter was addressed to city leaders

This letter is to convey the decision of the Board of the South Laguna Civic Association to support Measure LL and to convey our appreciation for the efforts of the Laguna Beach City Council and the City staff to begin to address the concerns expressed over this past summer by many residents of South Laguna regarding issues associated with the growing impacts of tourism on the neighborhoods and beaches of South Laguna.

Being able to address the impact of tourism on residents and the need for more financial resources to support these efforts are clearly linked.  

Measure LL, an increase in the Transient Occupancy Tax, will provide additional funds to the City that can fund these additional efforts.  We further understand that the amount of the increase was the result of discussions with representatives of our local hotels, so we conclude that the increase is generally acceptable to the local hotel industry.

Resolution 16.068 adopted unanimously by the members of the City Council on August 30, 2016, states that, if measure LL is enacted, it is the intent of the City Council to prioritize spending options for future Measure LL revenue for the following purposes:

• Protect beaches from pollution;

• Provide fire and police protection, and emergency response services;

• Utility undergrounding to prevent fires and power outages;

• Improve the cleanliness of public areas such as sidewalks and streets; and

• To provide other services and improvements.

Further, a fact sheet distributed by the City further reinforces the City’s intent with the statement that “Our city’s first priority is to protect the safety of our citizens and preserve the quality of life that we all expect in Laguna Beach.”

Therefore, based on the understanding that funds from Measure LL will be used for those purposes, and more specifically, to address the South Laguna concerns referenced above, the Board of the South Laguna Civic Association, discussed the measure at its September 12, 2016, meeting and voted overwhelmingly to enthusiastically endorse and support Measure LL and the use of Measure LL funds as described above.

Once again, we thank the City Council for its recognition of the fundamental importance of the issues of public safety, quality of life, and quiet enjoyment of all its citizens, and the actions it is taking to put the needs of the residents first.

Greg O’Loughlin, President

South Laguna Civic Association


The 6 Million myth

Do six million people annually visit Laguna? That’s a lot.  Some say it’s a highly inflated number. They may be right.  

The city’s website says Laguna attracts over three million visitors annually, but the six million number comes from a Visit Laguna Beach 2007 study estimating 6.13 million visitors annually.  The study was based on 600 on-site visitor interviews, 154 Laguna household telephone interviews, and Laguna hotel performance data.  From that small data source we get, Viola! over 6 million visitors. That’s some arithmetic.  

Why is an accurate visitor count important? Well, that number is used to calculate percentages and the economic impact of tourism on Laguna, like the claim that 94% of all visitors are day-trippers. That’s allegedly 5.76 million day-trippers and just 261,000 hotel visitors. It’s also a number used to support growing the size of government in Laguna, including hiring more police. It’s also a number the city doesn’t want to refute because it wants to raise taxes by passing Measure LL, and pour $2 million into the City’s general fund. Slush.

For comparison, in 2015 the Grand Canyon had 5 million visitors, Yellowstone had 3.8 million, Universal Studios had 7 million, and Knots Berry Farm had 3.9 million. Santa Cruz (population 63,000) estimates 4 million visitors, and the lovely city of Coronado (population 30,000) estimates 2 million. Closer to home, Newport Beach (population 87,000) estimates just 7 million visitors and Surf City Huntington Beach (population 199,000) estimates just 3.5 million.

By comparison, 6 million seems ridiculously high for Laguna. It should not be the number bandied about to support increasing the size of local government, or to support raising taxes, or to demonize tourists, allegedly to pay for all the havoc and burden wreaked on City resources by 6 million invaders. 

The city claims it needs this money for “vital services”, yet page 1 of the city’s own 2015-2017 budget states clearly: “The General Fund is doing well and the City finds itself in a relatively healthy position with many of the City’s revenues meeting or exceeding levels experienced prior to the recession.” 

Say what???

In 2015 LA Times writer David Hansen exposed the 6 million myth.  He wrote that “the 6 million-plus visitors equals an average of 16,794 people per day”….but spreading the average to the peak summer period and “assigning 75% of the visitors to May through September” we get nearly 30,000 visitors daily. The city says “on a summer day, beach attendance can approach 70,000 individuals.”  Really?  

Hansen does the math and asks “where are they parking?” The city has under 2,000 parking spots in downtown and the canyon.  “Even if we count only visitors and are generous with the extended parking, that’s about 20 people per car.  Apparently most of the people who drive to Laguna arrive in party buses.” (Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2015, Hansen: How many people visit Laguna? Good question.)

We need real numbers to help with congestion and encourage transportation methods that don’t involve more cars. With new housing developments beyond our canyon, it’s going to get worse.  But, it’s important the city doesn’t use inflated numbers to justify government expansion, and turn Laguna into an overregulated, over-managed, and over-policed town. 

Measure LL is a money grab to fill the city’s general coffers that the city has already told you are full.  Shouldn’t taxes be raised only when really needed for a funding crisis or for a particular purpose? Measure LL is a slush fund, no matter how the city or councilmembers try to convince you it will only be used for “vital services.” The money has no strings attached, it slushes into the general fund. Promises of an oversight committee and resolutions of intent are nice, but have no binding effect.  

Voting NO on Measure LL will stop the slush fund, force the City to be specific before it asks to raises taxes, and force honesty about whether the true purpose of Measure LL is to float a multi-million dollar revenue bond for an even bigger slush into the general fund.

On a positive note, Visit Laguna Beach has contracted for a new study on tourist estimates, due out in 2017. We look forward to that new study, which hopefully will be more factually substantiated, so that we can plan and act accordingly.

Jennifer Welsh Zeiter

President, Laguna Beach Taxpayers Association


Two for Parisi

In a few weeks Laguna’s citizens will vote on the candidates for City Council and City Treasurer.

While the Council race has understandably drawn the most attention, the position of City Treasurer is equally if not more important. Our elected Treasurer is responsible for over $85 million in City investments (i.e. our dollars) in federal agency securities, municipal bonds the state investment pool and other vehicles. 

Our current Treasurer, Laura Parisi, is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Municipal Treasurer, and a Certified Fixed Income Practitioner in addition to possessing degrees in Accounting and Business Administration with a minor in economics. Under Laura’s stewardship as Treasurer, the City’s investments under management have tripled.

Laura Parisi has the qualifications and proven track record protect and grow our tax dollars. I hope you’ll join us in voting to re-elect Laura Parisi as City Treasurer.

Telitha Holewski and Wayne Gartin

Laguna Beach


Supporting Parisi

A letter published on Tuesday urged Lagunans to “vote locally so special interest groups don’t determine local elections,” and to vote to replace our incumbent City Treasurer.

What the heck is that supposed to mean?

Laura Parisi, our current City Treasurer, has earned the endorsement of many Laguna Beach community leaders including retired City Treasurer Susan Morse, who presumably knows a lot about Laguna’s finances since she served in that office for 18 years.

Laura Parisi has also been endorsed by the Orange County Auditor-Controller, former Orange County Treasurer, the Superintendent of Schools for Orange County Al Mijares, PhD, current State Senator John Moorlach (who represents Laguna Beach), former State Treasurer and Attorney General Bill Lockyer, all of whom were duly elected by voters including many in Laguna Beach. 

And Shari Freidenrich, a CPA and Orange County’s elected Treasurer-Tax Collector, recently wrote to the Laguna Beach City Council: “I have worked with your City Treasurer for the last 16 years in the public sector area. She is highly regarded by her peers and is known for her technical knowledge in a variety of areas, due to her CPA and prior work experience. She has represented the City of Laguna Beach very effectively … I believe that the City of Laguna Beach is lucky to have a CPA as their elected City Treasurer.”

If these are special interests, they’re special because they clearly have our best interests at heart. Laguna voters would be well-served to follow their lead and re-elect Laura Parisi as Laguna Beach City Treasurer.

Julie Sandler

Laguna Beach


Vote for Rollinger

Though I, personally, remain conflicted about this issue, I noted that Mayor Dicterow initially strongly opposed the Planning Commission’s complete ban on STRs (Short Term Rentals). Instead, he pushed to weaken the ordinance by allowing limited STRs in residential zones, thereby making the ordinance impossible to enforce and changing the face of Laguna forever.  After an avalanche of public protest, he flip-flopped and voted with the rest of the council for a total ban.  

Now he’s claiming credit for protecting our neighborhoods from STLs and preserving our village atmosphere.

A few weeks later Mayor Dicterow flip-flopped again. Running for re-election he publicly declares he is for the preservation and charm of LB, (his yard sign says “Retain Laguna’s Charm and Character”), yet he professed to be confused regarding keeping the listed historic house at 337 Hawthorne Road from being removed from the city’s Historic Register (City Council Meeting 9/13). He voted for its removal, which basically amounts to its future demolition.  

Confused Mr. Mayor? Now I am confused.

Please Vote for Verna Rollinger. She is honest and true, says what she means.  She thinks issues through carefully so she doesn’t have to change her mind.   

Lorna Shaw

Laguna Beach

 

Shaena Stabler and Stu Saffer are the co-owners. Shaena is the Publisher and Stu is the Editor-in-Chief.

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