Opinion: Why Measure Q is bad for our community

Oct 15, 2022

By Jorg Dubin

Good intentions are often paved with unrealized consequences. A group calling themselves Laguna Residents First has put forward a complex and untenable initiative whose goal is to set guidelines governing development both small and large.

What is overlooked here is that our community has had extremely rigid development standards on the books for decades and hats off to those who crafted them. Decades later many of these guidelines are still in place however we are living under very different circumstances. In fact, the only major development that has occurred in the last fifteen or twenty years has been the Montage resort.

What the Laguna Residents First initiative seems to forget is that we already have some very difficult policies and commercial design guidelines in place in terms of development.

I want to establish a few facts that the proponents of measure Q never talk about.

• Since 2017 to date, there have been approximately thirty-six plus projects that would have been under the purview of measure Q.

• The cost of each special election is broken down by the number of registered voters in each community. Laguna Beach has about 18,500 registered voters. The cost of creating a special ballot for each registered voter is about $4.80 to $5.30 plus about .70 cents for mailing.

• Every time we were to have a special ballot measure election using the numbers from above, each one would cost in the vicinity of $102,000.00 to $111,000.00.

• So, who pays for the almost four million dollars in costs? Mainly the applicant except for city projects like the new fire station. Then it is our tax money going to work! No one who is interested in bringing an interesting business, housing, restaurant or anything else for that matter would ever consider doing a project in Laguna Beach. This appears to be the goal of measure Q. STOP ALL PROGRESS IN IT’S TRACKS resulting in a city of “papered windows and weathered facades”.

Time for a little historical context here. 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! These fine folks were ALL developers! Had Q been in place when these historic buildings were proposed, we would not have any of these landmark buildings we all love and cherish today.

No retail applicant, hotel owner, restauranteur or multi-family home developer would touch Laguna Beach knowing that their project would have to go to a special election requiring a majority vote of Laguna’s registered voters which means around 9300 “yes” votes to approve a project. Let’s not forget that we currently have a design review board, a planning commission, a city council, a coastal commission, a building department and a fire department all of whom are involved in the review process of all new projects proposed in the city prior to any entitlements being given. We already have stringent commercial development guidelines and policies in place and over the last several years they have been better defined and clarified thanks to our community development staff.

Measure Q is a solution looking for a problem. Don’t be fooled by their misrepresented facts! It is wrong for the times and wrong for Laguna Beach. I urge you to vote NO on measure Q in November 2022.

Dubin is a 47-year resident, artist and planning commissioner.

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