Hallie Jones launches her bid for a seat on Laguna Beach City Council

Hallie Jones, an experienced environmental leader and a third-generation Laguna native, held a campaign launch event at The Ranch on Sunday morning, June 30, with about 70 supporters attending.

Jones, 46, outlined her platform and the priorities guiding her on the council dais. They include preserving Laguna’s open space, protecting its beaches and coastal waters, building climate resiliency, and encouraging smart development that protects viewsheds and our town’s charm while imagining attractive new spaces and welcoming the next generation of neighbors.

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Photo by Elizabeth Swellen

(L-R) Hallie Jones with her campaign team: Barbara McMurray, Cole Hendrickx and Jen Chapman

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Photo by Elizabeth Swellen

Mark Christy, owner of The Ranch, introduced the candidate, remarking on her keen intelligence and leadership experience

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Photo by Elizabeth Swellen

Jones succinctly laid out her platform

The Ranch’s CEO, Mark Christy (also an environmental activist), introduced Jones and discussed the difficulty of a councilmember’s job and his appreciation for those who seek a seat.

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Photo by Mary Jo Winefordner

(L-R) Architect Gregg Abel, Councilmember Mark Orgill and his wife Dora, and Kathy Abel attended the morning event

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Photo by Barbara McMurray

The candidate gets a squeeze from Leticia Christy

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Photo by Barbara McMurray

“Live Laguna, Love Laguna” is the campaign theme, with a heart gesture as its symbol for supporters, which includes Mayor Sue Kempf

In her introductory campaign speech, Jones outlined her chief platform concerns:

Public safety and fire protection:

“Public safety must come first. The risk of catastrophic wildfire keeps me up at night. I was a student at LBHS during the 1993 fire. Those of you who were here remember how the smell of smoke lingered in town for days. That’s real. We need to continue managing the urban/wildland interface, that space between where people live and our open space through the best available science and strategic vegetation thinning.”

Climate change and natural resources:

“We can’t ignore our changing climate and our critical environmental resources. Laguna Canyon has some of the last remaining coastal sage scrub habitat left in the world.”

Infrastructure and development:

“Some of the work I’m most proud of has been around promoting smart infrastructure and development projects in our community. To me, smart development means projects that align with our community values – our environment, the arts, small businesses – and support our quality of life as residents. I was a member of the Laguna Canyon Road Task Force and helped lead negotiations with Caltrans on both the Hidden Valley development and the widening of the 133 at the El Toro Road intersection. While neither of those projects turned out perfectly, they’re a heck of a lot better for our town than they would have been if we hadn’t come to the table and negotiated with Caltrans.”

Affordable housing and small businesses:

“The idea of promoting smart development rather than being anti-development is going to be critical if we want an evolving and thriving town. That’s going to be especially true in two areas – affordable housing and small business development. We need to look at affordable housing solutions that contribute to Laguna’s character. We must seek solutions that build diversity, energize our downtown, and support a pedestrian- and bike-friendly community. I’m going to support creative infill development and redevelopment first. We need to reach our housing goals without compromising Laguna’s character.

Let’s right size our zoning for the community character we want to preserve.”

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Photo by Barbara McMurray

The candidate is flanked by John and Lisa Mansour

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Photo by Barbara McMurray

Debbie and Paul Naude attended in support of Hallie’s campaign

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Photo by Barbara McMurray

Carol Eastman and David Gibson try their hand at the “Live Laguna, Love Laguna” gesture

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Photo by Barbara McMurray

Mayor Pro Tem Alex Rounaghi shows his support

Streamlining permit processes for businesses and property owners:

“A healthy business community is critical if we’re going to have a rich, vibrant community and a healthy economy. We can support small businesses by streamlining processes at City Hall. That goes for homeowners and property owners as well. Let’s make the permitting and development process more objective, less subjective, clear and efficient.”

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Artist housing:

“We must identify and support creative live-work solutions that align with our town’s character. I like this idea of a land trust dedicated to artists’ live-work space – let’s have this be a mission-driven venture rather than rely on the free market, though traditional development has a huge role to play in this, too.”

Preserving open space and building climate resiliency:

“I have over 25 years of work experience in marine and land conservation. Our beaches and trails are among the most special things about Laguna. I’ll work to preserve the remaining acres of open space and implement our climate action plan to help build climate resiliency in town, on our beaches and in the hills. I also think we can, and should, dedicate resources to our world-famous trail system and endangered habitats.”

In conclusion, Jones said, “We’re only going to make meaningful progress in those areas with a City Council committed to rational, solutions-oriented and collaborative problem-solving.”

A product of Laguna Beach public schools, Jones graduated from UCLA and has spent her career in nonprofit management, focusing on land and ocean conservation. She began her career at Santa Monica’s Heal the Bay, which works to protect California’s coastline and waterways and support clean water legislation. Following that, Jones spent a decade as executive director of the Laguna Canyon Foundation, garnering community and financial support for the rich biodiversity hub that is Laguna Canyon. She led a staff of biologists, ecologists and support personnel who educate hikers and work to maintain 26 miles of trails in Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. In August 2023, Jones joined Crystal Cove Conservancy as executive vice president and chief program officer.

Voters are invited to get to know the candidate at a variety of planned events. Besides participating at public candidate forums, Jones’ campaign offers Sunday morning “Hikes with Hallie,” where she will lead small groups on local trails to identify the flora and discuss biodiversity, environmental stewardship, the importance of fire protection and city issues. Her campaign’s emblem is an orange California poppy, the state flower that grows abundantly in Laguna Canyon in the spring. In addition, house parties are friendly, low-key neighborhood opportunities to get to know Jones over coffee, cocktails, brunch or a barbecue. To attend or host a house party, email info@hallieforlaguna.com. For more information, go to www.hallieforlaguna.com.


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