2024 PAC and 501(c)4 Group Campaign Disclosure Forms

Political Action Committee (PAC’s)

Advocates for Laguna Residents PACS:

Advocates for Laguna Residents PAC (ID # 1455392)

Laguna Residents First PACS:

Laguna Residents First PAC (ID#1421491)

Laguna Residents First (LRF) PACS:

Laguna Residents First (LRF) PAC LB Survey 2024

Laguna Beach Firefighters Association PACS:

Laguna Beach Firefighters Association PAC (ID#1422691)

Laguna Beach Police Employee Association PACS:

Laguna Beach Police Employee Association PAC (ID #1346972)

Village Laguna Inc. PACS:

Village Laguna Inc. PAC (ID#990381)

Village Laguna (Jul 1 – Sept 24 2022) amendment

Village Laguna (Oct 18 – Dec 31, 2020) amendment

Village Laguna (Oct 23 – Dec 31 2022) amendment

Village Laguna (Sept 20 – Oct 17, 2020) amendment

Village Laguna (Sept 25 – Oct 22 2022) amendment

Citizens for Laguna’s Future PACS:

Citizens for Laguna’s Future PAC (ID#1450234)

Laguna Matters PACS:

Laguna Matters PAC (ID#1420991)

LB Taxpayers Association PACS:

LB Taxpayers Association PAC (ID#0352402)

Ballot Measure Committees

The Laguna Alliance / Laguna Beach Company Ballot Measure Committee (ID#145537)

Citizens for Laguna’s Future / Ballot Measure Committee (ID#1450234)

Citizens for Sustainable Laguna Beach / Ballot Measure Committee (ID#1441800)

Residents, local environmental groups band together to halt unauthorized SCE grading

On Jan. 4, Janine Robinson set out on her daily morning walk in the area around Alta Laguna Park. However, what the Top of the World resident saw carved into the wilderness below was anything but routine.

The SCE grading looking north at Top of the World on Jan. 18. Clara Beard/LB Indy

Several dirt paths, approximately 20 feet wide and estimated to be one to two miles long, had been bulldozed into the city-owned open space creating a prominent blemish across the landscape west of Alta Laguna Boulevard and north of Park Avenue.

The SCE grading looking north at Top of the World on Jan. 18. Clara Beard/LB Indy
Robinson, who immediately contacted the Top of the World Neighborhood Association about her discovery, wasn’t the only citizen with raised eyebrows and questions.

Contractors take steps to mitigate potential erosion before the weekend rainstorm on Jan 18. Clara Beard/LB Indy

“Imagine my reaction when my son came running into the house asking why people in bulldozers were ‘wrecking the ground in our front yard,’” A Park Avenue homeowner wrote in an email to the Indy. “How do you answer such an improbable question?”

Contractors take steps to mitigate potential erosion before the weekend rainstorm on Jan 18. Clara Beard/LB Indy
After a week-long flurry of emails and calls back and forth to city and county officials, concerned residents and local environmental groups discovered that not only was Southern California Edison (SCE) responsible for the bulldozed paths, it was doing so without City and Coastal Commission permits.

On Jan. 11, Laguna Beach Interim City Manager Sean Joyce asked SCE to temporarily stop their repairs until the city could learn more about the circumstances.

SCE engineers inspect one of the five electrical poles scheduled for repairs at Top of the World. Submitted photo

“If citizens and environmentalists hadn’t alerted the city as quickly, and the city, namely Sean Joyce and Sue Kempf, hadn’t been so amazingly responsive and got them to stop immediately, they would have kept bulldozing, literally that next day, and could have caused more than double the amount the damage they already did,” Robinson said. “It’s not often the city and environmentalists team up so effectively and successfully and cause an all-powerful utility to stand down—and do the right thing.”

SCE engineers inspect one of the five electrical poles scheduled for repairs at Top of the World. Submitted photo
According to SCE Saddleback District Manager Robert Maystrovich, the public utility company was in the process of necessary repair work in the open space when engineers ran into a series of electrical issues, which, coupled with high winds, created an emergency situation.

“These new circuit loading and reliability risks to critical loads, including City Hall, along with the extreme fire risk caused by the initial weather event, led my team reclassifying this section of work as emergency,” Maystrovich explained in correspondence with Joyce, that he in turn, shared with all concerned parties in an email blast.

“As we shifted into the heavy terrain section, it was determined that the original construction plan to utilize helicopters to remotely fly in construction personnel and material was not viable due to the overgrown native vegetation,” Maystrovich wrote. “As we were without a place to physically and safely land them, this was no longer an option.”

Still, SCE lacked the necessary permits from the City and the Coastal Commission, prompting an emergency meeting with representatives from all three entities on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

“SCE agreed to submit an emergency Coastal Development Permit (CDP) imminently,” interim city manager Sean Joyce wrote in his report update on Jan. 18. “City staff met virtually with Coastal Commission staff this morning to confer about a variety of matters associated with the work performed and planned by SCE associated with its cover conductor project.”

Joyce said SCE has agreed to use helicopters for the pole replacements to avoid any further impacts on the habitat. SCE also hopes to complete its repairs before the threatened coastal California gnatcatcher begins its nesting season on Jan. 31.

SCE reports mitigation and restoration efforts are estimated to take five to 10 years. And with the popularity of Alta Laguna Park and the surrounding trails increasing, residents have expressed concern the bulldozed paths could be mistaken for public trails by visiting hikers, creating erosion.

Laguna Canyon Conservancy President Gayle Waite said she’s learned from meetings with the Southland Region Power in Nature Coalition that electric companies have caused this type of wildland destruction in other parts of California.

“When caught, they (electrical companies) are made to do mitigation, but it is usually too little, too late, and does not seem to stop them from repeating the behavior,” Waite wrote in an email to the Indy. “SCE should be forced to pay a big fine, but then residents and taxpayers will foot the bill and electric rates just go up.”

An SCE spokesperson is scheduled to give a presentation about the pole replacement project and its next steps during the upcoming Laguna Beach City Council meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 5 p.m.

“Laguna Beach city officials and the Coastal Commission should hold SCE senior management accountable since if these repairs were truly emergency ones, how is it possible neither was consulted and made aware of them?” Waite said. “Shouldn’t the city at least been alerted to a potential electrical emergency and have the fire department on notice? The public would like to know.”

LB Indy Letter To The Editor: Laguna’s biggest financial challenge

By John Thomas
Courtesy of Lagauna Beach Indy – for the original article click here

Considering the Strategic Planning the city is currently doing, the question arises: Is this the year that Laguna Beach confronts and addresses its biggest financial challenge?

A large share of the taxes that residents pay are not used to pay for services or capital improvements that directly benefit residents but are diverted to cover the substantial costs the city incurs due to the high number of visitors to Laguna.

A 2017 report showed that, at that time, revenue the city received that was attributable to tourists was $23 million less than the added costs the city incurred due to those visitors.

Since then, the city budget and visitors have grown, so the shortage is likely much greater today.

City leaders and staff have acknowledged this problem, and despite some early efforts, there has been little progress made by residents and visitors in reducing this large subsidy.

Now is the time to act. The City Council could put a measure on the November 2024 ballot to narrow the gap between revenue and visitor costs. The number of ambitious and costly items currently under discussion by the City Council makes it even more important to reduce the visitor subsidy. The aggregate cost of some of these items could exceed hundreds of millions of dollars. Without correcting the drain on city revenue due to visitor costs, it will be financially challenging for the city to proceed with even the most important projects.

Three of the best possibilities for generating meaningful amounts of revenue for the city are:

An adjustment in the business license fee structure that increases city revenue from the most tourist-focused businesses.
Revising the current hotel tax to be on par with one-third of Orange County hotels.
Expanding pay parking for nonresidents to areas within walking distance of the beaches while allowing residents to continue to park for free in residential neighborhoods.
Alternatives would be to either raise taxes on residents, lower the level of city services provided by the city government or borrow a lot of money.

The solution with the biggest potential revenue impact could be a revised business license fee focused on tourist-focused businesses. Though only a small percentage of visitors stay in Laguna hotels and pay hotel tax, approximately 70% of visitors to Laguna spend on food and beverages in town. This means that Laguna’s tourist-focused restaurants are a key point of contact with visitors, and these businesses are an opportunity to create a collection mechanism for visitor revenue to cover visitor costs. These bars and restaurants could be the stars in this effort, Laguna’s toll booth. A business license fee based on 1% of the gross revenue of these restaurants could currently generate over $4 million per year for the city government, and a very high proportion of this revenue would come from the visitors patronizing these restaurants. With time, a visitor-targeted business license fee could slowly increase from one percent to a maximum of 5% over five years and could eventually cover perhaps 60% of the current imbalance.

The revised fees could be designed to have little or no change for primarily resident-serving businesses. And fees for smaller businesses could be much lower than for the larger tourist-focused businesses. As is, our business license fees are among the lowest in California, so there is substantial room to adjust this fee without being out of line.

A second way to generate revenue from visitors is to expand pay parking for nonresidents to areas throughout the city within walking distance of the beaches while allowing residents to continue to park for free in residential neighborhoods.

The third way could be to update Laguna’s current 12% hotel tax to match the third of the hotel rooms in Orange County that charge 15%. As a top Orange County visitor destination, it seems only fair that Laguna’s total hotel tax should align with other top Orange County tourist destinations.

Combining the redesigned business license fee with an increased hotel tax and expanded paid parking areas could, in time, cover more than 75% of the overall shortage, thereby reducing the subsidy of residents to visitors, leaving more city revenue available to serve residents, and freeing up funds for the many projects on the city council priority list.

This is an election year. Now is the time for the City Council to act to close this huge financial gap and reduce the subsidy of visitors by residents. A solution will likely require a ballot measure. And a plan and ballot measure will take time to develop. Now is the time to get started, and the City Council needs to take action to do that.

John is a long-time Laguna Beach resident, business owner, former chair of the Laguna Beach Audit Review & Measure LL Oversight Committee, board member of the South Laguna Civic Association, and member of the South Laguna Water/Sewer Advisory Committee.