There’s something fishy about the Liberate Laguna PAC

We know that five big fish real estate developers and commercial property owners have contributed almost all of the more than $152,000 raised by the Liberate Laguna PAC, and that of that, $65,000 comes from related but opaque entities. (Theme for another day.)

They say their five issues are parking structures, design review, term limits, historicity, and commercial building deterioration.

Parking Structures: Why do the real estate developers behind Liberate Laguna want more parking downtown? Here’s one possible reason. The Heisler Building owned by one of the PAC founders, played the game so well that the building was approved for 510 restaurant seats with zero parking. (That’s the building with tenants Tommy Bahama and Skyloft.) Zero. By code, a new 510-seat restaurant would have 170 parking spaces. (Think Javier’s Crystal Cove with acres of parking.) Avoiding building 170 parking spaces saved a bundle – easily $15 million to buy the land and build the missing 170 spaces. (170 is ten percent of all downtown public or private spaces.) The problem is there are 510 people driving around looking for the parking spaces the project didn’t build. 

Design Review: Going through Design Review is no picnic, but last year the city issued 2,162 building permits. Only 249 projects even had to go through Design Review. Of those, nine were denied. 

Score: Approved Permits: 2,162, Denials: 9. Most applications get approved.

Term Limits: Billy Fried interviewed a PAC founding officer, asking if the city could adopt City Council term limits. The PAC officer said the city would have to change from a general law city to a charter city to do that. 

Slim chance. So why pretend?

Historicity: Billy asked about historicity, and the PAC officer told how his application for a porch on his house was denied. Bummer. Is his $22,000 contribution to the PAC about revenge?

Earlier he had written in another publication that he had been bullied by the city. 

Seriously? What do you call $152,000 from five rich folk with a possible grudge? Financial bullying? 

Commercial building deterioration. These folks own commercial buildings. Why are residents supposed to help them maintain their buildings while they collect the rent?

Back to parking: Billy asked the PAC officer if building parking would solve the problem.

His answer: “No.” 

Best answer of the night. 

But why then pretend you can do all these things?

What’s the real agenda? Something doesn’t smell right. Think before you vote.

John Thomas

Laguna Beach