Ready or not – it’s time!

Nov 4, 2022

by Joe Hanauer

It’s just a few days until the election. Yet surprisingly, people still are wondering if they understand Measure Q.

The confusion shouldn’t be surprising. First, Q is extremely complicated. Second, California’s ballot measure concept has morphed into competing advertising campaigns dominated my sound bites having nothing whatsoever to do with the essence of the proposals.

Unfortunately, the consequences of most ballot measures are so serious that what we really need is a measure that outlaws misleading rhetoric, limits the number of pages of a measure and holds those campaigning accountable for what they say. The seriousness of Measure Q is no exception.

If you’re like many, you may think Measure Q deals with keeping Laguna beautiful or only avoids over-sized developments. You wouldn’t be at fault. Measure Q’s sound bites have repeatedly been showing the artist live work project in the Canyon as a size it would prohibit. Not true. That project is below the size that would kick in a public vote.

But that’s not all. Measure Q has what it calls a Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zone. Q has nothing to do with design, architecture, color, a vision or anything to do with “beauty.” The Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zone is simply a name given to the geography Measure Q is proposing to dominate. Every single commercial area in town, as well as residences within two to three blocks of our commercial areas. They’ll all be subject to Q’s restrictions and a potential public vote.

The crazy part about Q is that it will do the opposite of addressing our town’s beauty. By causing all of Laguna’s business neighborhoods to be subject to new restrictions, the needed upgrading of our aging and deteriorating buildings will be stymied.

Laguna’s nearly 100 years old and we’re showing our age. Changes to our treasures like The Ranch, the Old Pottery Place, or the smallest buildings like the 1,400/sf new coffee shop on Broadway are hard enough to get approved without adding the risk, time and cost of a public vote on top of our city’s stringent approval processes.

You see, typically buildings only get “beautified” when ownership changes or new tenants move in. But smaller one-of-kind dining, fitness and retail concepts can’t take on the risks proposed by Q. Instead, we’ll get the opposite of what Measure Q promises. Only deep pocket developers will pick up vacant stores and take on the risk and expense of this complex process.

Q is devoid of the heart and soul you would expect in a Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zone. Its 18 pages of highly technical material. There’s nothing about a vision for Laguna. But to be clear, the writers and supporter of Q love our town as much as we do. So, how can two such passionate views differ so greatly about how to address Laguna’s future?

Consider the differing approaches to addressing traffic. Q posits that Laguna’s traffic problems are caused by businesses and it therefore proposes to put a damper on new shops and dining. And for those that are able to survive Q’s challenges, these businesses are mandated to address 100% of any impact they create.

NO ON Q understands that our beautiful beaches and wonderful Laguna experience are what attract visitors not businesses. And NO ON Q believes that beyond shops providing parking, the city has an obligation to address parking and traffic capacities. There is not a word in Measure Q about potential city actions to add parking capacity or to work with Caltrans to improve the capacity of our roads.

This is just one example of the disconnect between our differing points of view. Time’s run out. It’s time to vote. If you don’t understand Q, go to

The entire ballot initiative is there. Please read it. If you do, we hope you’ll agree – Vote NO ON Q.

Joe Hanauer
Laguna Beach

More News & Views