Guest Opinion: Greg Stewart

Seventy-eight year Laguna resident shares an article he wrote which was published in OC 11-29-2018. Coyote interest and concern in OC is growing.

Here’s what he had to say on coyote-human conflicts which is relevant today.

Urban Coyotes In Laguna Beach

With Orange County urban coyote problems more frequently in the news and to get a better understanding of these events, maybe it’s time to take a look at the history/evolution of coyote-human conflicts in Orange County.

From the mid 1800’s to the mid 1900’s, as wildlands were being converted to agricultural uses in a mostly rural Orange County, coyotes were trapped, poisoned and shot by farmers, ranchers and others as killers of livestock and poultry. The surviving coyotes quickly learned to avoid direct human contact.

By the mid 1900’s, land use in Orange County began changing from humans living off the land to humans living on the land. As agricultural land started giving way to a more suburban less lethal environment for coyotes, Some coyotes soon learned that the risk of nighttime foraging into these new landscapes was a much less lethal and more productive strategy than their past encounters with armed farmers and ranchers.

Suburban areas with an almost inexhaustible supply of trash, pet food and small pets soon proved an irresistible new habitat for opportunistic coyotes living near our cities.

These new suburban coyotes, with little fear of people, soon learned to live in our cities, not just near them. In many cities, nighttime hunting was supplemented with increasingly bold daytime activities. With an ample food source, the number and survival rate of pups increased and populations soared to levels unsustainable in their natural habitat. These young coyotes were taught the art of urban foraging by their parents, who were now skilled at finding urban food sources, which sometimes includes our pets. We now have multiple generations of coyotes living amongst us, with no link to the remaining wildlands that are left in Orange County.

As these coyotes lost even more fear of people, they expanded deeper into our cities becoming more aggressive sometimes taking small dogs off the leash or attacking humans even in broad daylight.

Coyotes now can be found in most Orange County cities, not just those with wildland borders or those places still expanding into wild areas. Some suburban coyotes have morphed into urban predators, living tens of miles from wildlands, deep in some of our most populated areas of Orange County and Southern California.

Below is a list of predictable increasingly aggressive coyote behaviors prepared by Rob Timm, PhD, UC Hopland, CA and Rex Baker PhD, Cal Poly Pomona, CA. Unfortunately, some coyotes in many Orange County cities have already reached number seven on this list.

Predictable Sequence of Increasingly Aggressive Coyote Behaviors

1. Increase in coyotes on streets and in yards at nights

2. Increase in coyotes non-aggressively approaching adults and/or taking pets at night

3. Coyotes on streets and in parks and yards, in early morning and/or late afternoon

4. Coyotes chasing or taking pets in daytime

5. Coyotes attacking and taking pets on leash or near owners, chasing joggers, bicyclists, and other adults

6. Coyotes seen in and around children’s play areas, school grounds, and parks in mid-day

7. Coyotes acting aggressively toward adults in mid-day

Coyotes didn’t have to lose natural habitat to take advantage of our food rich unnatural environment. They will adapt to and take advantage of any environment that will sustain them. Urban coyotes seem to be better at learning to live with us than we are at trying to understand or control them.

Some of our relationship with urban coyotes is similar to our relationship with our pet dogs. Either the dog owners establish themselves as the alpha (dominant) member of the pack (family), or the dog will come to view itself as the alpha member of the pack. In many ways we have failed to exhibit dominant views toward urban coyotes. With many years of passive attitudes towards urban coyotes, why would anyone be surprised that some urban coyotes have developed an alpha attitude towards us, much like unruly, poorly trained pet dogs?

So the question seems to be after neglecting our coyote problem for so long, what do we in laguna beach do now? At this point hazing will have little effect. Likewise removing outdoor pet food, garden fruit and vegetables might have some, if limited impact, mainly due to lack of compliance. Keeping small pets and children indoors would work, but would not be practical or popular. Relocating trapped coyotes is not an option – first it’s illegal, but more importantly, released coyotes would be in conflict with existing coyotes in the release area. Although, it is true that removing problem coyotes will provide new opportunities for other/younger coyotes, much like when we trap and kill the rats and mice in our yards and houses, or pull weeds in our gardens, most of us know new ones will soon fill the voids created by removing the established ones. We remove them to keep them at a manageable level. Unfortunately, it looks like we are left with one unpleasant but necessary solution – trapping and euthanizing the problem coyotes living in our cities.

Guest Opinion: MJ Abraham

MJ Abraham is a retired former City Government Communications Manager & Principal Management Analyst and Art Museum Director living in Laguna Beach since 1970. MJ is the Founder of Laguna Beach promoting Laguna Beach City Hall Accountability and Transparency.

How Safe Do You Feel In Laguna

The City of Laguna Beach Police Department issued a press release via Nextdoor social media on 4/18/2024. The 2023 Violent and Property Crimes report which includes statistic comparisons to 2021 and 2022 is included here for review.

The report comes on the heels of multiple requests by Councilman George Weiss to see the annual crime report as well as residents showing increased concern for crime in their neighborhoods and community. Residents pay for city services and public safety/police protection tops the critical services list.

We should thank CC Weiss for requesting this important public safety information. Note: The 2023 CLB Crime Statistics Report has not been presented to City Council nor the public at this time so no public discussion has take place yet.

Lots of questions arise from a safety report like this. Factors such as public safety manpower, costs associated with the statistics and by whom/where the crimes are being committed would be very helpful. At one time or another we have all experienced the need for police services and eight been pleased or disappointed.

LBCHAT would love to hear from our residents and businesses. What’s your take and how do you interpret the reported statistics? For instance, I personally found interesting the attention to auto thefts – are we actually seeing this many auto thefts within our community or are these auto thefts passing through? Lets hear it all fellow Lagunian’s! It will be good feedback for our city leaders and police chief.

Press Release: 2023 Laguna Beach Crime Statistics Show Overall Decrease in Violent and Property Crimes

LAGUNA BEACH, CA—The Laguna Beach Police Department is pleased to report that the City was safer in 2023, as violent and property crimes decreased overall for the third consecutive year. The 2023 crime statistics show an overall 7% decrease in Part 1 violent and property crimes compared to 2022 and a 9% overall decrease since 2021

The 2023 crime statistics show LBPD observed a 26% decline in auto theft, effectively reducing the number from 47 incidents in 2022 to 35 in 2023. Additionally, there was a commendable 6% decrease in larceny cases. In 2023, there were four more reported robberies than the previous year. Weapons were involved in only two of the robberies, demonstrating that the use of weapons in these incidents is relatively uncommon

“This reduction in overall crime is a testament to the unwavering passion of our police force, coupled with the incredible support of our community,” remarked Laguna Beach Police Chief Jeff Calvert. “While we take pride in this achievement, our mission to transform into the safest coastal community in Orange County remains our top priority. We are committed to sustaining exceptional policing practices and fostering meaningful community partnerships to realize this goal.”

This year’s crime statistics demonstrate the outstanding efforts of our police department and the strong support of our community in maintaining Laguna Beach as a safe and welcoming place,” stated Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf. “The significant reductions in overall crime rates are a testament to our ongoing commitment to public safety. Under the steadfast leadership of Police Chief Jeff Calvert, we will continue working together to uphold and enhance the safety and well-being of our City.”

The Laguna Beach Police Department remains dedicated to providing exemplary service, maintaining the highest standards, and ensuring the safety and well-being of all Laguna Beach residents and visitors. Click here to view the press release on the city’s website.


Guest Opinion: John Thomas

John Thomas 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.


It’s Time To Act! according to resident John Thomas.

Read what John had to say to our City Council about our City financial challenges related to tourism and spending, and the question he poses directly to them – ”How are we going to pay for all the stuff we want to do?”

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 paid by residents is not used to pay for services or capital improvements that directly benefit residents, but is instead diverted to cover the substantial costs the city incurs due to the high number of visitors to Laguna.

A 2017 study 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 those visitors. Since that time the city budget and number of visitors have grown, so it is likely that the shortage is much greater today.

City leaders and staff have acknowledged this problem, and despite some early efforts, there has been little progress made in reducing this large subsidy by residents of visitors. Now is the time to act. The City Council could put on the November 2024 ballot a measure that will narrow the gap between revenue and costs associated with visitors. 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 1) an adjustment in the business license fee structure that increases city revenue from the most tourist-focused businesses; 2) revising the current hotel tax to be on par with one-third of Orange County hotels, and 3) expanding pay parking for nonresidents to areas that are 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 come from 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 1% to a maximum of 5% over the course of 5 years and could eventually cover perhaps 60% of the current imbalance.

The revised fees could be designed to have little or no change for businesses that are primarily resident serving. 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 that are within walking distance of the beaches while allowing residents to continue to park for free in residential neighborhoods. And 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 be in line 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 it is the City Council that needs to take the action to do that.

Supporting Documents below:

1. Full letter to City Council
2. Original Guest Column at the Laguna Beach Indy
3. Balancing the Costs and Revenue Study
4. Coastal City Comparisons
5. City’s Visitors Inpact Report

Do you agree with John? Do you have other ideas on how to address our City tourism
financial challenges?

Guest Opinion: Michèle Monda

Michèle Monda is a resident with a passion for government transparency, fiscal responsibility and accountability.

With an MBA from Wharton Business School and a career in advertising and marketing for major agencies and companies she uses her talents to build community arts; first resurrecting the Laguna Art Museum store and currently developing ArtStart for our landmark Hotel Laguna. She is married with three grown sons, two grandchildren and a feisty cat.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way; it’s called the California Public Record Act (CPRA)

Currently our Laguna Beach City government is anything but transparent. They provide the least amount of information publicly preferring to have you ask for information rather than just have it available. So how do you get it? Happily, there is a process and it’s called a California Public Record Act request (CPRA). It is an extension of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), passed in 1967, has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement.

The California Public Records Act (CPRA) was enacted in 1968 to (1) safeguard the accountability of government to the public; (2) promote maximum disclosure of the conduct of governmental operations; and (3) explicitly acknowledge the principle that secrecy is antithetical to a democratic system of “government of the people, by the people and for the people”. The CPRA was the culmination of a 15-year effort by the Legislature to create a comprehensive general public records law.

The California Public Records Act defines “public records” as “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics.” This includes emails and phone records.

So, let’s say you want to find out how much Laguna Beach has spent on consultants’ studies in the past year. You are entitled to know that information as a member of the public and they have to provide it to you. How do you do that?

Filing a CPRA with the City of Laguna Beach is an arduous multistep process but
actually not complicated. Here’s how it works:
Go on the City website at and click on Government and City Clerk.
Click on Public Records request and search.
Then click on Public records request portal. Agree to go to the external URL.
Click on Public records request which will take you to the form to fill out for your CPRA. When you’ve filled in the form click on submit.

I never said they would make it easy for you. If you’re like me, I get suspicious that they really don’t want you to file a CPRA and give them more work.

The city has 10 days to determine whether the records requested are subject to disclosure under the CPRA. By law they could take another 14 days to determine this but they must inform you of that if they do. Once they inform you if they have records that conform to your request, they will give you an estimate of how long it will take to fulfill that request. And that’s where they can slow walk this all they want. I have found that periodic reminders are a good idea to let them know you are paying attention. I have also found that they take as much time as they can so you have to be patient . . . to an extent.

My personal experience with this process was tortuous. My first CPRA requesting the footage from the City Manager’s traffic stop in November 2022 and attendant records was dismissed outright – they said there was nothing there to produce.

Then I got a First Amendment lawyer involved and used legal verbiage. Magically, while they very much slow walked the release, they decided that there were things that they could publicly release, although not the video. It took many letters to their lawyers, many appearances at City Council meetings and many emails to City Council members to finally get information 3 months later. They finally released a contextualized version of the body cam footage 5 months after my first request. This resulted in the City Manager “retiring” in September 2023, 9 months after my first request. Was it worth it? You bet. Would I do it all over again? Absolutely.

It’s your right to question the government. It’s their obligation to answer you. Use this CPRA process to get the information that you need to determine if they are serving you properly…or serving themselves.

Contact Michele Monda @

Read More Articles From Michele Monda in Local Laguna Beach Media: – Courtesy of the Laguna Beach Indy.

Laguna Beach City Council: A Classic Case Of Tyranny Of The Majority?

The Promenade, Term Limits, Mayors, City Managers, Needless Parking Structures: Will Council Stifle Any Opposition To Its Orwellian Vision?

Courtesy of the Laguna Beach Patch – view article here
By Roger Bütow

Tyranny Of The Majority: Laguna Beach City Council Is A Classic Case
“The tyranny of the majority (or tyranny of the masses) is an inherent weakness to majority rule in which the majority of an electorate pursues exclusively its own objectives at the expense of those of the minority factions. This results in oppression of minority groups comparable to that of a tyrant or despot.” John Stuart Mill (ON LIBERTY—1859).

Although the phrase “tyranny of the majority” is commonly attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville as he pondered the emerging democracy in America in the mid-1800s, Founding Father John Adams had expressed a similar concern nearly 75 years earlier.

In fact, many of the arguments opposing “uni-cameral sovereignty” (singular body rule) led to our 3 Branches of governance, an attempt at ensuring that type of oppression and suppression of dissenting, minority voices did not ever evolve.

Check and balances that lasted until the general election in 2000. As the OC Grand Jury has no dispositive power, barring OC DA or California AG investigations or indictments, locally we’re pretty much stuck with Laguna voter’s bad choices.

Find out what’s happening in Laguna Beachwith free, real-time updates from Patch.
Perhaps Edmund Burke, a contemporary of our Founding Fathers, stated it more succinctly: “The tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny.”

In Laguna, many angry community watchdogs are outraged because they feel themselves to be a unique resistance movement, previously inured to the centralized excesses of power and corruption rampant elsewhere. Which we weren’t, we aren’t, and we won’t ever be.

Like typical cities having only 1 body, there’s nothing to moderate or buffer council dictatorship eras and regimes. Outcomes are inevitable, so yes, tyranny has, is and will happen here.

De Tocqueville rang the alarm bell, the core of this tyranny making decisions for an entire population bases its claim to rule upon majority numbers, not upon ethical correctness or democratic, rational excellence.

One need not go far to find this form of entitled mob rule in City Council Chambers. Personified by the dominance of gavel-hoarders BobySue Whalen and SueyBob Kempf, everything from committee, board and commission citizen appointments, to temporary committees on through delegated City Council member liaisons to said entities reflects despotism.

Which creates, actually guarantees a systemically compromised future.

By themselves, both Whalen and Kempf are pretty much gruel or grits—–bland, colorless and lack any pizzazz unless dosed with a condiment. Which is why they’re not the problem in and of themselves, they’re the pimply symptoms of a festering municipal malaise.

Orgill never did get beyond his developer-friendly mindset, i.e., his real estate roots self. Severing his Mo Money Honarkar relationship was in fact only a superficial not substantial sacrifice, didn’t change or alter him genetically. Look for Orgill to launch his own branded foundation or trust.

He fooled a lot of people who now distance themselves or keep praying that he can be lobbied into being a different guy due to electoral buyer’s remorse. He can’t and won’t.

Rounaghi was a glyph or cipherous gamble, intentionally unreadable, elected on some kind of vague hope for youthful invigorating change and had little scrutiny. You know, a child shall lead them. Instead, he’s the same old bossy personality type who concealed himself, cloaked in younger skin, that got us here via older candidates.

He’s neither new or phresh. He looks more like a lost kid who should be asking if you want to supersize that Mac with fries or produce his CDL to buy booze. His Ivy League schooling plus apprenticeships taught him to be manipulative, superficially appear reasonably neutral. Which he’s not.

The Promenade ad hoc is a prime example: Having appointed the Planning Commissioners who’d preside over possibilities or variations, i.e., a foregone conclusion, a pre-disposed bias has been in place these past 4 years. Who cares if the need is not there, if our dictatorial Council says it is?

Those hundreds of millions of dollars for multi-level parking structures? Ditto, first Planning Commission stops, then bogus, flaccid deliberation masquerading as oversight, then Council majority affirmation. Keep interviewing advisors (and spending OUR money) until the subsequent messenger brings back THE pre-ordained message.

The George Weiss transition of power scuffle and flawed passing of the mayoral gavel fiasco is another. Our Mayor Whalen and Mayor Pro Tem Kempf insulted us, refused to let go of the wheel. They gathered support from the other 2 willing accomplices (Orgill and Rounaghi), both with an eye to THEIR future, not ours, and made sure that Weiss’ path was blocked.

Which not only defied traditionally benign gavel-sharing but ignored the thousands who voted him into office to begin with—he was openly viewed and socialized as a long-awaited, ethical reformer. Which meant silencing or at minimum suppressing any empowerment—–possibly burying the audacious, grass roots, barbarians-at-the-gate rebellion indefinitely.

Being in such a 4-1 minority after Toni Iseman left, he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hell of even becoming Pro Tem. They held the perfunctory hearing with a pre-determined endgame—but insult to injury, all used that venue, couldn’t resist denigrating Weiss as unfit/inappropriate to hold either office, thus nullifying thousands of voters support.

Piling on was pro forma that night, as if any of them was more worthy. Face it, the current council cabal of 4 are “least or lowest common denominator” career politico types and not very bright either. Cunning people get that far gone, not really smart, morally purposed people.

Also arrogant and narcissistic (apparently required traits for politicians), they seem unable to believe that we’re not more accepting and pacifistic.

It might irritate many, but Weiss DOES represent something, he got 5,665 votes…..and that threatening something unnerves and jeopardizes, is a clear and present danger. They let Peter Blake openly excoriate anyone and everyone he chose, but in Weiss’ case they chose to punish him via unworthiness, open denigration and diminishment.

The eventual consequences if Weiss decides to run in 2024? He’ll be portrayed as such a blatant malcontent, a counter-productive extremist and leader of a small vocal group of saboteurs, that he’d be lucky to get re-seated.

The agenda is clear: Regardless if Whalen finally sits down, the fiscal puppeteers behind the rest will try to rotate in more malleable candidates. Kempf, Rounaghi and Orgill will still be tyrants.

Then too, not many first term council people hit the ground running for their first year or so as they observe, orient, decide and then act up, trying to fulfill empty campaign promises they knew were only manipulative tools to get in the door. A newbie will be a marginally not majorly effective agent of change.

“No one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of power is power.” ― George Orwell, 1984

That the Big 4 forced us to witness their heavy handedness barely disguised as democratic, reasonable deliberation was just a sleight-of-hand ruse, for show. Fact is, many of us already knew the outcome: SueyBob as Mayor, replacing BobySue, with waiting-in-the-wings Alex The Man Child as Pro Tem.

A forgone conclusion foolishness which only an imbecile or supremely naive local media would swallow. Which the lazy media not only ingested but promulgated by repeating inflammatory insinuations without even cursory criticism or questions.

Allowing City Hall propagandists preferred, free column space to spew the kool-aid is injury hidden as community, public square dialogue and local outlets are guilty guilty guilty.

The OC Register and Daily Pilot reporters just mail it in, so they barely count. Excepting Voice of OC, investigative journalism has been dead for quite some time in SOC.

Things like those big ticket parking structures, along with term limits, reflect high levels of serious concern by residents. Who cares about these impertinent “Inner Circle Interlopers” as long as they’re in the political will short end?

The point is that like The Promendade, for those taking the WE, THE PEOPLE position, they should be allowed the dignity of some self-determination: By refusing to place these things on City ballots, power is sustained and extended.

Keeping these kinds topics off of Council agendas in the first place is preemptively working for the same power mongers. The majority turn these things into zero sum, winner-take-all scams, disenfranchising the thousands who would resist if they understood the insidious nature of the game.

Ex.: The August 2, 2022 Resolution No. 22.066 repealed Resolution No. 68.88 (passed in 1968) is revealing. Though this too was on the late February 2024 docket to be amended, it gives little with the left hand and takes lots from the right: Two (2) LBCC members needed to get a topic on the agenda but unless a 3 member majority supports that, there’ll be no staff report.

We went 54 years and this never came up, once Shohreh Dupuis & her tyrannical masters and flunkies seized power, something that was never broken suddenly needed fixing?

Without that critical element, by refusing to fund staff or 3rd party, independent consultant research, those 2 minority members are handcuffed and hobbled, hindered right out of the gate.

It’s all being hidden behind smoke and mirrors, false allegations that topics would unjustly require funding the City can’t afford. Public stakeholders expressing frustration at microphones won’t supersede or veto the Tyranny of the Majority.

Several million $$$ in surplus each year and the present tyrants claim lack of funds for deep dives and independent peer reviews of critical projects, policies, protocols, procedures or strategies?

These same tyrants are also trying to manipulate the council meeting consent calendar dynamics. A long standing tradition at all levels of governance here in California, of only placing “non-controversial” on that portion of the hearing was important. In the report from the City Manager at the February 27th hearing he describes these as “routine items.”

16 items (WOW!) were on that consent calendar docket. And about 1/2 were pulled, lending credence to the sense that the calendar is another realm subject to mischief. SueyBob and the CM decided to stack the consent calendar deck, clear the field and limit discussion, an anomaly that obviously for once failed.

The tyranny will continue for at least 2 more years: In December Rounaghi will move into the Mayor slot, Orgill into Pro Tem (classic “positioning”) and regardless of the 2024 election, with SueyBob, a majority will remain intact as a voting bloc.

Wunderkind Rounaghi obviously feels particularly entitled, and will probably be a “one off,” i.e., move on, run for higher office. Typical entitled Laguna-bred brat, his narcissism and sense of self importance is there for all to see.

I’ve sat with him casually, he’s a legend in his own mind already, I didn’t find him especially bright, but then let’s face facts: We’re just the first, the lowest rung on his political career ladder. Writing blank checks, supporting bonds or gross expenditures doesn’t faze him because he’ll be gone.

By 2026 some other pro-acquisition, pro-development, pro-commerce candidate will take his place. By then the majority Council tyrants will have buried us in even more irreversible debt: Purchasing the 133 (Laguna Canyon Road) and Pacific Coast Highway should pretty much drown us.

OTOH, we will have our own “Red Sea” of debt, the majority won’t let those pesky operation and maintenance costs, the additional burdens on our community service departments (more personnel, more $$$), or the insurance premiums for such monolithic, greatly expanded elements hinder or deter.

Oh, and of course the inevitable expenditures for litigation: Between the 133 and PCH, we’ll have not only our city attorney’s busy busy busy but probably outsourced firms to defend against ambulance-chasing personal injury/negligent death lawsuits.

Once the “table is set,” it’s not unreasonable to see several million $$$/year spent on that front.

By December of 2026 the building blocks of our house-of-cards, Ponzi Scheme demise will be in place: Now owning everything within our city limits, our LBPD will be “encouraged” to issue more traffic violation citations, parking enforcement more tickets, and of course those greedy little bastards, our parking meter’s rates will go up.

I’m sure there’s more I’m unaware of, all to pay for the additional encumbrances many of us never wanted.

The tyrants will choose the next City Manager very soon, look for that to close any vulnerability loopholes, any challenges proactively. He/she will be made to understand in advance who holds the whip hand, after all, they only need to be able to count to 3.

With assists come liabilities like the acquisition of South Laguna’s beaches and parks, but the tyrants never consider that it’s our future signing those IOUs. They like large dramatic gestures to ensure their immortality, hold some more ribbon-cuttings featuring their faces, place a few more plaques bearing their imperious names.

The biggest surprise of all? That the reformation-minded locals believe themselves capable of literally blocking the existing regime’s agenda, that they are shocked at the past 12 years of increasing majority oppression….It’ll be 2026 before the window of that counter-insurgency can possibly open again.

Seeing oneself as a martyr, a revolutionary or righteous mutineer, effectively triggering a general population uprising to overthrow despots seems ennobling. Any game plan by locals that isn’t a 3 year commitment will stand little chance of succeeding.

Harsh, highly publicized litigation could have effected this outcome, including here, but no one seems to be able to find the gumption or money for attorneys though the city has been constantly vulnerable via OC Superior Court.

Educating through public comments portions of hearings, via columns, emails, SM or whatnot have obviously been ineffectual as nothing has changed City Council’s mindset, their goals and objectives as “big money meat puppets” dominant.

Podiums and media instruments are now the equivalent of psychotherapy, for venting but not change. The revolutionaries can’t even agree upon a common, coherent agenda among themselves, lacking keen focus hence guerrilla, asymmetrical warfare efficiency. Movements need both clearly delineated planks and strong vibrant leadership, I don’t see either in place at present.

The Tyranny of the Majority has always been here in Laguna like everywhere else, expecting benign or benevolent dictatorships always a highly unlikely scenario. Like the movie “Network,” unless the insurrectionists can overcome both ignorance and apathy, stir up widespread righteous anger with folks manning the barricades at Council, then it’s game-set-match.

If the Council isn’t flipped by November 2026’s election, including tapping the brakes on development (slow growth) and the cessation of traitorous perks plus special benefits for commerce (both highly unlikely due to inertia), then residents will have become full-fledged train wreck spectators.

A crossed-fingers, frustration-laden attitude, praying through the graveyard of broken dreams, wishing for “deus ex-machina” criminal indictments of Council and staff (present & former) over the Mo Money Honarkar dispute is unlikely to occur.

And has everyone considered that we might have to pay to defend those corrupt officials? All so that we could become our worst selves: Homogenized, just like Huntington Beach or Dana Point.

Council hearings will go on featuring the tyranny of “Let’s Pimp Laguna,” and their enabler sycophants as they glamorize upscale bar and restaurant businesses, more wealthy visitors, quickening the demise and death of a once-upon-a-time special place.

Res ipsa loquitur and RIP.

Why No Term Limits In Laguna Beach?

Laguna Beach Residents/Voters – isn’t it time our elected’s allow us to vote on adopting City Council Term Limits?

As a resident and supporter of term limits for elected officials, I spoke at council and sent the written request below to City Officials on November 14, 2023.

Plenty of time to discuss and get it on 2024 ballot. It was ignored. Why?
Dear Mayor and City Council Members,

The discussion on adopting Term Limits has been ongoing for years in our City. While it is rare that I have agreed with Indy columnist Michael Ray, here’s one of his former column messages on the need for Council Term Limits which I and many residents supported via their public comments.

Laguna Beach is one of a small number (3-5?) of cities among the 34 cities in Orange County that has not formally explored or moved to allow its voters to vote on Term Limits for its City Council Elected’s. While there are various term limit examples to review I include here one adopted by the City of San Clemente in 2020 that was overwhelmingly passed by voters.

Read About  San Clemente’s Measure BB 

Since that time many other cities and school boards have moved to establishing Term Limits, in fact, 61 Term Limit measures for publicly elected government officials in California have been adopted in recent years. See:

I believe it’s time our City move forward to adopt City Council Term Limits as well. I ask that the Mayor instruct the Interim City Manager to agendize it for public discussion and determine the most expeditious way to get it before voters. While we are at it, it may be prudent to include Boards and Commissions appointments to Planning and DRB as well.

Thank you for your time and consideration.
MJ Abraham, LB Resident/Founder LBCHAT
I continue to ask our city officials – Why No Term Limits? Voters, you should too.
If you agree, please email LB City Council:

Join other locals who agree:

Resident Sam Goldstein, former Liberate Laguna PAC founder is asking publicly that term limits be put on the ballot too:

Resident Roger Butow (Founder of CWN): Read the Patch article here

CLB Council Serving data / Term Limits by Mike Morris

Guest Opinion on Term Limits in LB Indy by MJ Abraham

Council Members Term Limits Graph

MJ Abraham
LB Resident/Founder LBCHAT

Laguna Residents First (LRF) PAC LB Survey 2024

Opinion: Surveying 2024 priorities for Laguna Beach

By Merrill Anderson

Laguna Residents First conducted an online Survey Monkey poll circulated amongst registered voters in Laguna Beach in January 2024. A total of 370 people responded (12% response rate) to a question about what the top priorities for Laguna Beach in 2024 should be.

Respondents could select multiple priorities and were invited to write comments.

Top priorities: Reducing traffic congestion (61% selected as a priority) and undergrounding power lines in green spaces (52%) emerged as the top two priorities. Respondents supported undergrounding all power lines, starting with the most critical areas, i.e., Laguna Canyon.

To read the full survey for 2024 on the Laguna Beach Indy website – Here

Laguna Beach Voter Guide: What’s On The Ballot, Voting and More

Laguna Beach voters will choose candidates for district supervisors, president, senator and more in the March 5 election.

By Miranda Ceja,
Patch Staff

With the presidential preference primary happening March 5th, most Golden State residents already have their mail-in ballots in hand.

With the presidential preference primary happening March 5th, most Golden State residents already have their mail-in ballots in hand.

LAGUNA BEACH, CA — The 2024 presidential primary election season in California is officially underway, but the real excitement in California comes in the form of down-ballot races, including the race for congressional districts across Orange County.

The election is March 5; most residents already have their mail-in ballots in hand.

With presidential frontrunners former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden expected to win their nominations handily, all eyes in California are on the hotly contested primary race for the seat vacated by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein as well as a slew of local races.

Locally, Orange County voters will decide who they want to represent them in the state assembly and their respective congressional districts.

Here’s a run-down on the races for the 2024 primary election season in Orange County.

Read the full article on The Patch website – Here

Voice Of Laguna Interview with Mohmmad Honarkar Redefines Hearsay

Voice Of Laguna reviews new allegations and brings up those that have long been defined in Superior Court Of California, County of Orange

Tony Fisch

Ed Steinfeld’s radio style is unique. Let the guest talk and praise them. On Thursday, Honarkar in a 39 minute interview shared his opinion, narrative and hearsay about his multiple current lawsuits. Naming many names and even naming resident activists who present facts in council meetings throughout the year. Honarkar made accusations against CM Mark Orgill, mentioned Mayor Sue Kempf and former City Attorney Phil Kohn. Honarkar’s behavior in Laguna Beach since 2021 raises many questions.

California’s “hearsay rule,” defined under Evidence Code 1200, is a law that states that third-party hearsay cannot be used as evidence in a trial. This rule is based on the principle that hearsay is often unreliable and cannot be cross-examined.

To read more on this interview with Mohammad Honarker visit The Patch Laguna Beach website here

LB Indy Letter To The Editor: Promenade Committee – Residents, Business owners

Promenade Committee Should Include Residents, Business Owners
LB Indy Letter To The Editor by Jerome Pudwill, Laguna Beach

Is the City Council majority tone-deaf? Or do they just not care about what residents want?

Mayor Sue Kempf has promoted the promenade since 2020 without giving residents an opportunity to provide meaningful input. This was repeatedly pointed out at the Jan. 23 city council meeting when 20 residents and business owners blasted councilmembers and railed against the two permanent city-defining promenade plans the council majority hoped to approve. Both plans called for removing virtually all existing Forest Avenue trees.

The promenade was imposed on residents, originally advanced without required public notification by Kempf and then-Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis as a temporary fix for four restaurants during Covid.

Part of their justification was based on a survey they took of Forest Avenue businesses (no residents) – a survey never revealed. No mention of how many businesses were surveyed, whether interviewees were landlords, business owners or salespeople, or what questions were asked. In short, no data, proof or evidence – just their word.

Two public planning workshops were eventually conducted. The first consisted of condescending questions such as, “Which style of garbage cans do you prefer?” That workshop ended in infuriated chaos. In the second session, the consultants basically said, “Here are two plans – pick one.” This approach has resulted in wasting a quarter of a million dollars on two unacceptable plans rejected in part by the overpowering public rebuke at the council meeting. Please see those comments at the 3:15 point of the Jan. 23 meeting, which can be found on the City of Laguna Beach website.

Despite having mismanaged the process, the council majority has appointed Kempf to head a new committee to review future promenade development with direction that’s supposed to include residents and promenade retail business owners. Yet Kempf is already espousing her plans and denying others when the idea of the committee is to solicit all possible solutions.

For instance, in the OC Register, Kempf stated, “We want the whole street designated for (liquor sales), where restaurants can serve alcohol without having to rope areas off.” Do residents truly want to turn the promenade into one big bar?

Councilman Weiss said, “The promenade has been in place for three years, yet we have no truly independent data on how many residents versus visitors use it, how long they stay, and what they do – much less its impact on sales.” (So much for data-driven councilmember talk.)

There is no way this “committee” should exist without independent residents and promenade retailers permanently serving on it – not just pro-business councilmembers and cherry-picked city staff designees.

Contact all councilmembers at and tell them what you think.

Silence only encourages them to ignore you.

City Council Candidates November 5, 2024 Elections

City Council Candidates:

1) Judie Mancuso – Campaign Website.
Check out Candidate Community Related Articles and Opinions: Judie Mancuso

2) Hallie Jones – Campaign Website coming soon.
Check out Candidate Community Related Articles and Opinions: Hallie Jones

City Clerk Candidates:

City Clerk Ann-Marie McKay Campaign Candidate Intension 501 statements

Treasurer Laura Parisi Campaign Candidate Intension 501 statements

Media and General Public Candidate Related Articles and Opinions for the November 5, 2024 Election Below: As Available…


Guest Opinions: Tony Fisch

Tony Fisch

Laguna Beach Resident Tony Fisch is President of Tony Fisch Consulting (TFC) a strategic public relations, communications and sales firm specializing in IT, entertainment, eCommerce, gaming, and more. Notable clients include Microsoft, Siemens, Bionime, and local real estate corporations. Tony is an advocate for government transparency. Contact Tony @

What’s next? 2024 is a big year for this city.

Exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or control that makes possible the manipulation of prices and behavior is the definition of public service monopoly.

Are “We The People” of Laguna Beach Whalen’s and Kemp’s Pickle Ball?

This December my property taxes increased by 5%. My 2024 SCE bill also increased by at least 7%. Laguna Beach had a great relationship with SCE and residents got discount coupons, but not anymore. I work from home remotely, so the difference is obvious. Water bills? They’re higher, too. How much severance did our former City Manager and Director of Community Development receive recently? Wiener was fired, yet still received a severance package. Hum.

A large increase in litigation against the city, at least four suits that I know of, comes out of our pockets. Our beautiful city outspends more than Dana Point by a daunting margin. Our payroll is $44 million dollars more than Dana Point’s. Yet Dana Point’s population is 11,000 more than ours.

We’ve had four pedestrian deaths in only two years with no response from the city to solve the high risk of street crossing. Enforced speed limits? Or simply changing a crosswalk’s blinking yellow light (meaning slow down) to red (meaning stop) seems like a no brainer.

Our city management had no idea when I called as to who our phone/internet provider was. It is Frontier, BTW. At the time of my call to solve a problem, Frontier had been installing fiber for 13 months in Laguna.

Laguna Beach has more places to buy alcohol than any matching sized city in California. We have over 140 bars and restaurants sharing 170 Alcoholic Beverage Control licenses. We have the highest number of DUIs per capita among 101 cities closest in population in California. Our elected leadership want to make Forest Avenue’s promenade an alcohol zone where you can walk freely with liquor, ala Las Vegas. There were also plans to cut down over 200 trees in our city, a historically preserved greenbelt (U.S. Library of Congress).

Bob Whalen and Sue Kempf have been Laguna Beach’s Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem for almost 6 years. Each year, the Mayoral titles get exchanged between them. How is baton passing not a leadership monopoly?

Do you feel safe or fairly represented? Do you desire a cycle change in 2024 and 2026? Would you vote for fresh thought and change? Would you support a transparent audit/investigation of our council and city? Anaheim, Bell and Los Angeles did this. The information and benefits to voters were dramatic. I see every reason for residents to call for this. Our council may refuse, but we can petition for it. Ask yourself why they might not cooperate:

1. We lost six senior department heads in just over two years.
2. The City Manager lied to a police officer without investigation.
3. Evidence of body cam video from Dupuis’s traffic stop was “edited” by an outside agency and multiple sources claim the Mayor was aware?
4. Roughly 250 CEQA (CA Environmental Quality Act) exemptions have been issued by our community development director over two years — causing damage to our Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHA) in a coastal zone.
5. These are also violations of CA Supreme Court law. See Banning Ranch vs. Newport Beach requiring all lead agency projects on ESHA property to enforce initial CEQA review, and/or biology for status and, or EIR.
6. Not applying CEQA exceptions to exemptions means there are more state laws and guidelines for development being violated.
7. Piecemealing and cumulative damage is increasing, destroying open land, sensitive areas, wildlife corridors, and canyons.
8. Staff has misrepresented state code and self-manufactured misinformation on-the-fly while advising city council in 60% of meetings.
9. Projects like Sweetwater get approval even when it’s been proven that deadly contamination exists. In this case, causing cancer and lead poisoning. The city supported building it anyway without remediation.
10. DRB members Gibbs, Sheridan, and Weil have led approval of CEQA exemptions without study or expertise as our city attorney, an alleged CEQA expert, sits idle.
11. The city violated FCC law and lead agency guidelines on wireless facility expansion without public notification.

This list goes on. If the election cycle through 2026 does not reverse the current 4-1 vote in city council, our property rights and view equity may be gone, and real property equity will be halved.

You may just see a 2-story, 25 ft. tall ADU in your face, as others have. Since 2018, residential over-development has greatly impacted parking and traffic, wildlife corridors, and canyons. Note new coyote packs hunting daily.

Whoever runs for office needs a platform that addresses these concerns and more. If voters let this continue and we are silent, we get what we deserve.

I was a resident of Los Angeles in 2016, when then Mayor Garcetti cut a deal with the Firefighters Union boss to set up, disgrace, and remove the then Deputy Chief, Fire Marshall because his digital inspection transformation enabled 10 years of inspection backlog to get done in only two years. Old guard crony inspectors were billing inspection double-time, taking millions in taxpayer money. They did not want their payday ruined.

Garcetti gave the story to the LA Times. They never contacted the Chief for comment. The LA Times was complicit in damaging the Chief. Garcetti in turn got $373,000 in campaign contributions and endorsement from the union. I helped the Chief get the real story out and two years later the City of LA settled a defamation case right before I was to be deposed. The Chief received a public apology and over seven figure payment.

If you drink the Bob and Sue Kool-Aid and you backed their four-year support of Peter Blake bullying everyone including voters in 3 Arch Bay, you are aware that there was only 1 vote that was not 4-1 pro development. What’s next? 2024 is a big year for this city.

*The views and opinions of any guest columnist is the sole responsibility of that guest columnist and the columnist or city residents cannot hold LBCHAT or its publisher liable for the views, information or opinions expressed in this section. All items submitted by the public must be approved by LBCHAT’s Publisher prior to publishing on this site.

Laguna Beach City Transparency Items

City of Laguna Beach Transparency Items

CLB Transparency & Compensation – Here

CLB MOU’s/Contracts (City employee organization contracts) – Here

FORM 802: Free Pageant of Ticket Distributions Reporting – Ticket Policy – Here

2023 Reporting Forms

Public Input/ Media Coverage

Laguna Beach Parking Information

Laguna Beach like many other coastal designation cities has its share of parking related issues. It’s been a growing hot topic among city leaders and residents for decades. According to visitor business industry organizations like Visit Laguna, LB now hosts 6 million visitors per year. That’s a lot of vehicle traffic. Accommodating tourists with parking, in or near our downtown and other commercial districts has been an ongoing dispute between City Council Members and Residents. One significant disagreement creating such discourse is if parking structures are necessary and if so where should they be built and who pays for them. Many resident taxpayers feel that if the need is driven by commercial property owners and their businesses, then they should be the primary investors.

To address the parking issue, the City Council approved a master plan subcommittee appointing Council Members Bob Whalen and Sue Kempf to oversee the development of a comprehensive study to identify potential parking structure sites within the city. This effort resulted in the development of the Parking and Transport Demand Management Report which after several reviews by Council and the public was adopted on June 13, 2023.

While the the Council approved of the consultant report, no action has been taken to move forward with any specific locations at this time. Stay tuned. Those interested in giving input on the report and future parking needs should can contact:

Community Development Parking Plan Meetings and Documents 2 – Here

Community Development / Master Plan Subcommittee Report – Here

Final Recommendations and Adoption of the Parking and Transport Demand Management Report. June 13, 2023 Council Agenda Item # 14 – Here

2023-2024 Budget Information and Costs: Wildfire Mitigation and Fire Safety Fund


The Proposed Budget programs $2 million for projects approved for “medium-term” action items. Those projects included the completion of the fuel modification zones at Park Avenue and in the remainder of the City, funding to maintain the fuel modification zones, and incentives to improve the wildfire resistance of existing residences.

Laguna Beach City Fire Safety and Wildfire Mitigation – Here

Pension Costs and Information (2023-2024 Adopted Budget)

Pension costs are expected to increase by about $670,000 next year. Strategies to address presented to the City Council in February 2023, including the issuance of pension obligation bonds. Additional information about pensions can be found immediately following this letter.


The City of Laguna Beach has contracted with the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) for pension benefits since 1945. The City has approximately 298 active and 406 retired employees (members) enrolled in the pension plan. In these plans, members earn service credit towards a lifetime retirement allowance after employment (defined benefit), calculated under a formula that accounts for the employee’s years of credited service, the employee’s “final compensation,” and age at retirement. For example, with 30 years of service, a “3 at 50” safety pension formula provides 90% of final compensation at age 50, and a “2.5 at 55” non-safety pension formula with 30 years of service provides 75% of final compensation at age 55. The CalPERS Board of Administration has absolute authority and fiduciary responsibility to ensure the System’s integrity, the investment of monies, and the overall administration of CalPERS.

An unfunded liability for pension benefits generally exists when the value of all projected benefits payable to members exceeds the projected value of assets available to pay those benefits. The amount can change over time due to changes in benefits, pay levels, demographics, actuarial assumptions, and return on investments. State and local governments, including Laguna Beach, typically reduce their unfunded liability over time as part of their annual required pension contributions.

Risk pooling was implemented by CalPERS effective with June 30, 2003, actuarial valuations to protect small employers (those with less than 100 active members in the plan) against large fluctuations in employer contribution rates caused by unexpected demographic events. Costs are allocated to Pooled plans on the actual increases or decreases to the individual plans. It is the policy of CalPERS to ensure equity within the risk pools by allocating the pool’s experience gains/losses and assumption changes in a manner that treats each employer equitably and maintains benefit security for the members of the System while minimizing substantial variations in employer contributions. If an agency voluntarily or involuntarily terminates its contract with CalPERS, the agency member benefits are adjusted in proportion to the amount the employer can pay, and the plan is moved into a Terminated Agency Pool. This mechanism is designed to protect other agencies by eliminating the unfunded liabilities of employers who cannot, or will not, pay pension obligations.

Several events have contributed to the increase in unfunded liabilities for agencies in the CalPERS system. In 1999, Senate Bill 400 (SB400) passed overwhelmingly permitting more generous pension benefits to employees, both prospectively and retroactively. CalPERS also incurred negative investment returns due to the “dotcom” bubble in 2000 and again in 2008 during the great recession. On December 21, 2016, based on the expectation of lower investment return rates over the next decade, the CalPERS Board voted to lower the discount rate (investment rate of return) from the current 7.5% to 7% over three years. The impact on the City’s budget is an increase in the normal cost by 1% to 3% as a percentage of payroll for the miscellaneous plan and 2% to 5% increase for safety plans. Additionally, the City is expected to experience a 30% to 40% increase in its required unfunded liability payment. These increases are phased in over five years, beginning, and were expected to add approximately $3.0 million to the budget by FY 2024-25.

City Council Actions to Address Pension Costs.

The Unfunded Accrued Liability (UAL) for Laguna Beach as of June 30, 2021 (the most recent information available) for all CalPERS pension plans is $51.2 million. This includes Police Safety of $17.4 million, Fire Safety of $14.4 million, Lifeguard Safety of $1.4 million, and Miscellaneous plan of $18.0 million. The City’s plans are currently 84.1% funded. The City is contractually obligated to enroll all full-time employees in theCalPERS system with few exceptions. If the City Council wanted to offer an alternative pension plan, CalPERS would require the City to terminate its contract at the cost of over $500 million, which is financially prohibitive.

Over the past ten years, the City Council has been proactive in addressing the City’s unfunded pension liability. In 2010, the City Council approved borrowing funds internally to pay off its $10 million CalPERS “Side Fund” for Police, Fire, and Lifeguard safety plans. In 2013, the City Council approved higher employee contributions ranging from 8% to 12% of their salary. In 2014, the City Council approved a strategy to pay approximately $10 million over five years to accelerate the City’s unfunded pension liability payoff. These strategies are expected to save the City $31 million over thirty years and significantly reduce the City’s unfunded liability over time. This is in addition to the State’s pension reform (PEPRA) legislation. CalPERS requires higher contribution rates toward unfunded liability and reduced retirement benefits for new employees intended to completely resolve the CalPERS unfunded liability (including Laguna Beach) in about twenty years.

In 2022, the City Council evaluated the opportunity to issue Pension Obligation Bonds to pay off the City’s unfunded liability. The City Council elected not to pursue this opportunity due to rising interest rates and unfavorable market conditions. There is some concerning news. Recently, CalPERS earned a -6.1% net return on investments for the 12 months ended June 30, 2022. This brings the total fund performance to an average investment return of 6.7% for five years, 7.7% for a 10-year period, and 6.9% for a 20-year period.

City of Laguna Beach Page 12/13 of 276 Adopted Budget.

For more on City Pension Costs, click here

Former City Manager Shohreh Dupuis – Gone But Not Forgotten

Dupuis leaves behind a trail of city government internal and external controversies. Not to mention reaping a retirement package many taxpayers do not support. Lots of questions still exist. An example is the public attention that continues to appear.

CLB Next City Manager Update. Its been reported that the Council starts City Manager interviews in mid-January.

Stay tuned. The public is watching closely to see if Council members Bob Whalen and Sue Kempf attempt to influence or control other members like they did in 2020.

Local Media Relevent to Shohreh Dupuis:
City of Laguna Beach City Manager Announces retirement
LB Indy – Retirement Details
Voice of OC – Retirement Details