Stu News and KX 93.5 Candidates’ Forum Part III

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Candidates Jorg Dubin, Judie Mancuso, Peter Blake, Toni Iseman, Sue Kempf, Allison Mathews, Cheryl Kinsman, Paul Merritt, Lorene Laguna, and Ann Christoph were given anywhere from 15 seconds to three minutes to answer questions at the Stu News/KX 93.5 Candidates’ Forum. The forum was broadcast on the local station and posted on the Stu News Facebook page. For those who missed it, here is Part Three. 

Question: When our amazing kids grow up, they are often leaving to go to other communities like San Francisco, New York, LA, even Costa Mesa for a variety of reasons (cost of living, lack of creative energy, lack of nightlife, etc.). How do we retain our talented youth to get them to contribute to the future of our town? (45 seconds)

Iseman: “We have to generate a clean economy that would employ the young people, probably technology, and bring them here.”

Kempf: “What we need to do is to get more information from these people. We need to get them to come to Council meetings.”

Mathews: “I think we should have affordable housing. That’s it. Turn commercial space into cool urban lofts, attract people from San Diego to LA, even San Francisco, who are smart, who need a computer and a room to create an empire.”

Kinsman: “Buy some other property in Laguna Beach, rent it, and hold onto it for your kids. Granny flats are one possibility. Maybe we can liberalize the rule for that.”

Merritt: “Let there be some ‘Let it be’ breathing room, so people can enjoy the old Laguna and not the pre-fab Laguna.”

Laguna: “The only thing that’s going to retain the youth is jobs and affordable housing. We don’t really have either, so let’s be realistic. Our census says 60 percent of the people here are over 60. There’s nothing wrong with children leaving.”

Christoph: “I think it’s not really in the scope of the City to manage people’s families.” She opined that finding housing for young folks might be an incentive to stay. 

Dubin: “We’ve turned away from our non-conformist origins to become Mission Viejo by the Sea, and we’ve got to stop this”.

Mancuso: “Let people open up businesses and do all kinds of wonderful things here. The unemployment rate is rock bottom, and I know young people that have moved here, and they’re making more money than where they came from.”

Blake: “This is a great place for young people. It’s just that this [current] Council and Village Laguna have made it impossible for them to start small businesses in this town.”

RAPID FIRE ROUND TWO (15 seconds) 

How many police officers do you think we are short right now, if any?

Kempf: Five

Mathews, Kinsman, Merritt, Laguna, Dubin, Mancuso, Blake: All said more officers are needed, but did not specify a number. 

Christoph: She said her neighborhood doesn’t need very many policemen, although some of the beats are very large.

Iseman: She suggested the City might increase beach patrol officer numbers, which cost less than sworn officers, she said.

Question: Do you support the [Laguna Beach County] Water District returning to its independent status, breaking away from the City? 

Mathews: “No.”

Kinsman: “They should be separated,” said Kinsman, a member of the district commission.

Merritt, Laguna, Mancuso, Blake and Iseman: All agreed with Kinsman.

Christoph: “I have no problem with the Laguna Beach Water District being a part of the City.” (Christoph lives in South Laguna, which is served by South Orange County Water District.)

Kempf: Declined to answer without further study.

Question: Would you support fining commercial landowners whose properties remain vacant past a certain point of time?

Kinsman, Merritt, Dubin, Mancuso, Blake: No.

Christoph: “We need to understand why they’re vacant and try to change that condition rather than just fining them.”

The City has an extra $10 million. What is the first thing we should spend it on?

Merritt: Put it in the rainy day fund and get some more cops on the streets and think of ways we can protect the ocean and the future against international ocean pollution.

Laguna: I would put that money into our emergency fund.

Christoph: “Perhaps the most pressing would be to stop polluting the beach off of Aliso…I think we have to clean our house first.”

Dubin: “I think it should go back to our cultural heritage, the soul of the community.”

Mancuso, Kempf, Blake, Matthews and Kinsman: All would put the money into fire prevention. Blake, Mathews and Kinsman would also spend it on hiring more police officers. Kinsman added lifeguards and sewers to her response. 

Iseman: “In the short run, I would employ some people at City Hall to get caught up on projects, so that people can’t say things take too long.”

Published answers, including paraphases, are limited to those that responded directly to the questions asked.