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Please vote carefully as much is at stake

The Sierra Club did not endorse anyone running for city office in Laguna Beach – not even those that claim to be sensitive to the environment such as Ann Christoph and Toni Iseman. I wonder why?

Have you noticed how much money is being spent this year on midterm elections? Some like P – brochure after brochure – does each donor realize that their donation could have been spent over a time period in support of what P stands for anyway? I wonder how much was collected for each proposition where official anti-taxpaying groups formed – how much they paid in salaries and paper/postage and even the people who created the messages, how much were they paid? How about advertising on TV, radio, etc. That is a lot of money in my eyes. Also a lot of waste – hopefully some of the brochures were recycled. Maybe they can tape over the new Proposition letter or number in the 2020 election and reuse the same brochure – the message is always the same. Isn’t it?

I wonder if these smaller donations have a tax break on their income tax – the big boys do don’t they?

I wonder if the drop in unemployment rate was due to so many people being hired across the country to produce all the “stuff” for this midterm election and we will see more people unemployed after the Christmas holidays. 

Will the winners go around gloating and use their power to make life uncomfortable for those they suspect did not vote for them – locally and across the country? It is getting to be very divisive around here. 

Please vote carefully as much is at stake – not only for us but for future generations. Especially since many messages have changed midstream (did you notice this on the brochures?), were poorly written (on purpose you wonder) so as to confuse the reader/voter, or maybe even contained untruths (I don’t know what to call lies any more).

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

Ann Christoph responds to Liberate Laguna mailers

To set the record straight: I never voted no on the Alta Laguna Reservoir.

For more information see

Ann Christoph

Laguna Beach

To our concerned friends and neighbors

Hasty Honarkar’s ad, first printed in Stu News as a lengthy letter, began on a very somber yet realistic note. Yes, it is clear that this Laguna Beach City Council election put us all into uncharted territory. 

To us, the most dramatic change is that Ms. Honarkar’s father is one of four local real estate developers who amassed a war chest of over $153,000. That is a lot to spend on any campaign, but even more so, and more decisive if you trace where that money has been spent:

1. To bitterly attack the incumbent Toni Iseman, with her excellent track record, putting residents first and saying no to big development interests. 

2. Supporting the two most vocal pro-development, fast-track commercial development candidates, Sue Kempf and Peter Blake. 

3. Coaxing Laguna residents into eliminating the common sense building restrictions that have protected us for years.

4. An unrealistically harsh attack on Village Laguna, the very group which helped fight to save Main Beach from development, and secured height and density limits, exactly what her dad wants to eliminate.

Ms. Honarkar may be correct in stating that her dad is not proposing 10-story structures...yet...but in a total makeover of the block just North of Ralphs he is proposing a new 112-room hotel when the lot’s building code limit is only 80. He is proposing a height exemption which will create a massive wall that we are not exposed to now. He is proposing to cover 90 percent of the lot with a building, far in excess of what is permitted or what we are used to seeing in this town. If Hasty’s dad is able to get away with this then every other developer will want to do the same, and our town will become the worst of what Long Beach has become. Think of it.

Ms. Honarkar, we recognize that you are sincere, but if you love Laguna...will you be able to persuade your father to please take his development dreams to some other town that has already been ruined by following this path? Can you tell him that it is not fair to buy his way into this campaign in such an aggressive manner? We love Laguna Beach for all of its organic imperfections. 

We want developers to leave us alone so our traditional merchants will not be forced out. It is the developer’s dreams for building higher and deeper on the space where they once had their shops that is forcing them out. Please say no to more complete block remodels. Merchants could compete today, but not if their rents are based on the exaggerated value of grounding their shops up and replacing them with a taller, denser building. Leave us and our town alone, please. Take the development elsewhere. Take all of that money spent on a 112-room hotel and buy an election in Irvine.

With positive energy from some of us in your “beloved “ community of Laguna Beach:

Johanna Felder

Verna Rollinger

Charlotte Masarik

Armando Baez

Liz Toomey

Jahn M. Levitt

Response to John Thomas’ recent letters

I find your incessant negative writings of Liberate Laguna in Stu News an insult to our community. How come you didn’t attend and speak at the Billy Fried radio show [last] Thursday night? You seem to believe yourself the “mouthpiece” of reason for Village Laguna, Toni Iseman and Ann Christoph, a.k.a. “no change”. You have lost all of your credibility with me.

Sam Goldstein

Laguna Beach

Vote for Toni Iseman and save Laguna Beach

The first time I saw Toni I didn’t really see her. She was a young princess flitting through the Canyon, coming up for air ever so often to post another Burma Shave rhyme. Her mission was simple: Save the Canyon. 

Today, after twenty years on the council, she is the empress of Laguna with another mission: Save Laguna Beach.

She must do it in the face of another well-heeled operation. Liberate Laguna has come to town with pockets bulging with developers’ money. 

If there’s a simple mantra we have learned over the years it’s three words: quaint, modest, lovely. Liberate has three words, it seems: more, more, more. They seem to want to take Laguna and turn it into Anaheim or Huntington Beach. To them, it seems, the sky is the limit. Many of us feel they will trash all devotion that has made Laguna Laguna. Four, five or six story buildings are on the horizon. In Liberating Laguna, they will get richer. And the Laguna we know will simply get poorer.

Toni Iseman resists all this. That she can’t do it alone doesn’t deter her. That’s where you and I come in. Our message to Liberate Laguna is cease this invasion of opportunistic developers.

We don’t need you and your hired gun architects.

Why this unrelenting effort against Toni? She stands in their way.   

On November 6th I will march to the polls to vote for Toni Iseman again. I urge you to join me. 

Arnold Hano

Laguna Beach

I resent union PACs interfering in elections; vote No on P

I resent the Fire and Police Unions who try to sway voters into voting Yes on P to tax ourselves/residents. I believe that local unions are trying to intimidate and promote by “fire and fear”, and I believe this was evident at these organizations’ safety forum. I believe you were trying to coerce these new candidates for your agenda for more compensation and benefits than you are already receiving from our fine town. I feel that you have manipulated our current City Councilmembers and that they’ll remember your loyalty and endorsements for past – Cheryl Kinsman, Sue Kempf, and Councilmember Toni Iseman – and bow to your Police and Fireman’s Unions. I believe you have used your money solicited from our good residents to further your compensations. 

I am hopeful the residents and new councilmembers elected will not be as sympathetic towards what many believe are your self-serving Unions that don’t care about our residents – just your bottom line (compensations and benefits). I hope residents will see what I saw at your recent Police and Fire Forum, a slanted agenda. The only Yes on P supporters, Toni Iseman and Sue Kempf were applauding I felt was a completely self-serving line of questions you presented. I felt like it was a foregone conclusion before the forum began at Top of the World School who your Unions based in Santa Ana would support – my new candidates already knew that before going into the arena circus show.

Peter, Paul, Lorene and residents will remember and pursue options to bring what I feel is political office manipulation into control. I hope they will look into potential outside sourcing for services from impartial agencies too – OC Fire/OC Sheriffs – who know better to stay out of politics and aren’t busy funding measures like the Yes on P campaign with Council candidates that I feel will give them what they want. A shameful display you put on, I feel, and your City Councilmembers (supporters) were equally culpable in supporting Yes on P with approximately $500,000 worth of City taxpayers’ money in what I feel was a violation of state laws to influence political agendas.

It contrast, Remember President Kennedy’s speech: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Instead of what I feel would be your Police and Fire Unions’ self-serving speech: “Ask what city and candidates can do for us firemen and policemen, and not what our firemen and policemen can do for our residents.”

You work for us in the long run, I hope..,time to rethink your Union affiliation who leads you into this messy position. (IMHO as a former OC Paid Call Fireman – Station 6)

I spent my time remembering the 1993 Fire by donating my time enlarging fuel modification areas adjacent Sunset Avenue behind the hospital, making my neighborhood more fire safe. What did you do all do besides collect a paycheck and promote the Yes on P campaign?

Where are the goats and firemen inspecting in South Laguna? They’re working north of Valido Trail, but how about working wouth, all the way through Upper Three Arch Bay? That area hasn’t been thinned above Eagle Rock to Mar Vista, above the hospital to the Three Arch hilltop – nothing since the 1970s. Move into there now Fire Department/City before next fire season.

Bryan Menne

Laguna Beach

Rep. Rohrabacher and Proposition 6 deserve our support

Democrats’ gas tax costs Californians 12 cents per gallon on gasoline and 20 cents per gallon on diesel. These costs are meant to cover rising transportation infrastructure costs, but are really going toward Governor Jerry Brown’s high-speed railway system. The current budget from Sacramento has increased the costs of the high-speed system to $77 billion. These never-ending increases will hit local economies the hardest. Of course most money spent on this project will end up being wasted as tends to happen with pet projects.

Not only does this tax cost us at the pump, it also hurts industries that rely on transporting their goods. Farmers will have to shoulder the burden of higher cost of transportation, and consumers will see higher prices on produce. Dana Rohrabacher opposes the gas tax and supports voting yes on Proposition 6, which would repeal it. Rep. Rohrabacher and Proposition 6 both deserve our support.

Michèle Monda

Laguna Beach

Vote Yes on Measure P, “for protection”

On November 6, we’ll be voting on whether to underground power and utility poles. Actually we’re voting to pick up a share of the costs or not do it all. So, why vote yes? Who likes more taxes? We’re thinking of this another way: It’s a kind of insurance. No one likes to pay the premiums, until a disaster hits. Then, we’re thanking providence that we did.

We have put this off too long. We need to get serious about public safety. Lately, we’ve had way too many examples of power poles causing catastrophic fires. And it doesn’t take too much to imagine what will happen when the Big One strikes. With only three ways in and out of Laguna, old(er) timers here will remember the dangerous chaos that took place during the devastating 1993 fire.

As longtime Laguna Canyon residents, there have been far too many times we and our neighbors have heard the sickening screech of tires followed by a booming thump as a car hits a pole. It is hard to get such horrific scenes out the mind. And, obviously we can’t to anything about improving Laguna Canyon Rd until the poles are gone. It’s way past time to finally get this done.

Undergrounding is multi-purpose insurance. And, it’s worth it. Please join us in voting Yes on Measure P  (“for protection”) – this November 6. Thanks.

Ann and Charlie Quilter

Laguna Beach

Laguna’s heritage was built on traditional merchants, not “high-end mixed-use”

Most of us feel this place is special, and it’s not just the coastline. Unlike the towns around us, very few of our houses are similar, not many of our streets are straight, our Canyon is still pretty wild, each beach has its own personality, and our commercial districts are comprised of an interesting mosaic of diversity. It seems that each home, each street, each beach, and each shop has its own story to tell. It is a compelling, appealing, fascinating collection.

We become worried when developers pool together to raise $97,703 for the Laguna Liberate PAC to tell us to fast-track commercial development, dilute our design review board, and vote for the two most pro-developer City Council candidates. The developers have already bought major chunks of Downtown and into the Canyon. One of their recent commercial makeovers maneuvered successfully for a 180 parking space exemption. Another one is poised to present a plan to the Planning Commission on November 7th to tear down most of the block north of Ralphs and turn it into a four-story high-end hotel. The current design standards would allow a maximum of 80 rooms, but they are asking us for 112 in an area that is already too heavily congested. Finally, another plan is going to turn the entire block north of the Art Museum into a large five-star hotel. 

Taking that block along PCH, north of the Art Museum, as an example, it was a diverse collection of individual shops and galleries until one person wrote everyone there a check in hopes of turning the organic Laguna collection that was there into his dream of a mega-block. Of course our traditional merchants can’t compete with those high-end ambitions. Of course they are surrendering and leaving town. Their little one-story business can’t compete with multi-story mixed-use slick redevelopment. 

There is no argument that these projects might be of such high-quality that any town might covet them. The problem is that we are not just any town. We treasure that fascinating collection of diversity that has been organically created over time as individual lots were developed by individual owners for different purposes at different points in time. This applies equally to Downtown, South Laguna, and the Canyon. It is one of the last, and best examples of a real town with a real heritage and real diversity. That is the town that we want to protect from a PAC of developers who are set on Liberating it from the residents here. 

David Raber

Laguna Beach

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

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