Letter: First of Fiction

Oct 22, 2021

By Jorg Dubin

It is trick or treat time in our fair hamlet and from what I continue to read in our local papers, it seems that more tricks are being played than treats. The rehash of elections past. The non- fact-based missives purported as absolutes is getting childish at best. I do believe that some of our neighbors, friends and fellow residents truly believe that there are not enough firewalls in place in city hall that oversee what can or cannot be developed in our commercial and residential zones to the point where they feel their “Beautiful Laguna overlay zoning district” is the only solution to keeping Laguna Beach safe and sound from evil developers waiting in the wings to intensify all land uses in more then 50 percent of town.

Let’s talk about development for a minute. We all love our theater. Thank you, Mr. Aufdenkamp! We love the Hotel Laguna. Thanks Mr. Underwood! We love the Coast Inn. Thank you, Mr. Smith! We love the Coast Liquor store. Thank you for your design, Mr. Abel. We also love the Heisler building, The White House and Pyne Castle! Guess what my friends, they were all developers and or designers of these great landmark buildings that we all cherish. Would any of these buildings be allowed to be built today here in Laguna? Would they pass muster under the new overlay zone? Would those visionaries of these landmark buildings be vilified as “evil developers” by those residents who want nothing more than to turn back the clock to some idealized time in our history? What would Laguna Beach be without these magnificent buildings? There is an old saying, “People don’t decide issues. They vote for the people who decide issues”.

Don’t like city council. Run for council. Don’t like planning commission? Don’t appoint them. Same with Design Review Board, etc. Let’s talk about fiscal impact of special elections. In the past five years there were roughly 18 projects and currently a dozen pending projects that would have to go before the entire community for an up or down vote. That is 30 projects! A rough estimate of the costs for these special elections in noticing, staff time, voter pamphlets could be up to $60,000.00 each election equating to $1.8 million! Who pays? Residents? Shop owners? Building owners? “Evil developers”? No one in their right mind looking at this additional financial burden to do anything in the city where it is already excessively hard to open a store, new business or remodel / build anything would ever think of bringing viable creative projects to town. New business / development need not apply says Laguna Residents First! We have plenty of firewalls to non-creative over-development: City council, planning commission, design review board, the building department, the fire department, and our coastal commission.

Laguna Residents First Initiative is an answer looking for a problem that doesn’t exist. Nobody on city council or any of the appointed oversight committees wants to aspire to be Huntington Beach or Dana Point. That is pure fantasy and fear mongering and is immature nonsense at best! Creative visionary solutions should be the goal. Not pointless initiatives proposed by the “Lingering Resentment Factory”.

Jorg Dubin, 45-year resident / Laguna Beach planning commissioner

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