On Jan. 10, 2022, Laguna Residents First submitted to City Clerk Ann Marie McKay 2,679 signatures for a “Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zoning District” ballot initiative. After the Orange County Registrar of Voters certifies that the required 1,835 signatures are valid, the Laguna Beach City Council has the option of accepting the initiative and making it law. If not, likely the initiative will be placed upon the Nov. 8, 2022 general election ballot requiring a majority vote.
The Jan. 11, 2022 City Council meeting produced reports by city staff and a Kosmont Companies consultant. The reason for the ballot initiative is that Laguna Beach residents are being underserved and their quality of life should be better protected. Laguna is a jewel that should be preserved; that’s why we live here and why people visit here. However, the reports are primarily about money, and the ballot initiative inconveniencing developers.
According to Patch.com, Laguna Beach ranks among the best city-like suburbs in the U.S. Laguna Beach ranked 18th on the list and even though Sam Goldstein has been quoted saying that we are a “dying, decaying, totally fragmented city right now with most of our businesses closed” the consultant’s report states “Over the past 10 years, property taxes have grown by approximately 50%, or about 4% per year, however sales tax and hotel TOT [Transient Occupancy Tax] have grown at a faster pace of almost 100%.” So, Sam cannot possibly be right.
Nonetheless, the consultant basically argues that for Laguna Beach to be vital, we need more restaurants and alcohol, more intensification of business uses. Gee, that’s not how we are marketed to the visitors. At the top of the homepage of visitlagunabeach.com, it says: “The artist colony of Laguna Beach is one of Orange County’s hidden gems, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. The city’s topography is unique to other California coastal cities with its seven miles of coves and beaches where visitors can explore sea caves, tide pools, ocean side bluffs, natural tide pools and of course, sandy beaches, all within city limits. Laguna Beach also boasts the most beachfront lodging options in all of California, making it an ideal spot for a beach getaway. Beyond the beach, the city is home to more than 20,000 beautiful acres of protected wilderness”.
The city staff and consultant seem to think the vitality of Laguna Beach is eating and drinking, while I think the top three employers in Laguna Beach are the City, the School District, and the Hospital.
Go to lagunaresidentsfirst.org to support this effort to preserve quality of life for residents, and to donate to the effort.
Gene Felder, Laguna Beach