Updated – Council Moves To Censure Councilman Peter Blake

Updated – 08/11/21

Yet another Laguna Beach resident publicly expresses her concern about her interactions with City Councilman Peter Blake and his uncivil behavior.

Resident Peter Blake was elected to the LB City Council in the November 2018 election. He took office in January, 2019. Since that time, friction began to develop between Councilman Blake and LB constituents over his verbal outbursts including professional and personal insults and overall aggressive behavior towards residents when they spoke publicly during city council meetings. The city council, city manager and the city attorney began to receive numerous complaints from residents who expressed fear of being verbally attacked by Councilmember Blake during meetings and shared their feelings that our Council Chambers now felt like a hostile government environment. Some residents stated that they felt as though they were also being insulted and harassed by Councilman Blake in emails from their communications sent directly to other council members.

After months of public turmoil, in September 2019, it became necessary for the LB City Council to create and adopt the City Decorum & Civility Policy. Councilman Blake voted for the D&C Policy but since has refused to abide by it and any other governmental conduct order including Roberts Rules of Order relevant to public official conduct.

Blake has rejected all attempts to address the issue and offer city council members and residents relief from such unruly official behavior has prompted an official censure action based upon the guidelines of City Decorum Policy by newly elected City Councilmember George Weiss. This censure resolution will be heard on March 9, 2021.

Note: The March 9, 2021 agenda item, meeting video footage, all constituent written censure related communications and attachments and the final City Council votes and decision will be added to this site following the meeting.

View Censure item #18 video here.

Media coverage on call for Censure of CC Peter Blake










One example of the disrespect Peter Blake shows for Laguna’s elected officials and residents taken from one of the the above interviews states,

“I’m the only one in a spineless group of council people that stands up and fights back. And yes, I have fought back. And yes, I have at times been brash and I’m proud of it. I have no issues with it whatsoever,” Blake said. “The silent majority in this community, they support me.”

The public pushback about Peter Blake’s behavior has been ongoing for well over two years. Volumes of local public outcry at city council meetings, in local print media and social media platforms exists from various resources such as The Laguna Beach Indy, Stunews, LB/SL Nextdoor, YouTubea, FB and individual private accounts. Other sources will be added to this site as they become available.

LB resident Michael Morris is often a target of Councilman Peter Blake because of his high-level involvement in Laguna Beach civics and his outspoken position on Blake’s behavior. Mr. Morris regularly offers input to the city council on finance and other important issues and is well respected by the community. Mr. Morris is also a founder of Laguna Resident First (LRF), a political action committee formed to give residents a voice regarding major developments and other city impact issues. Video footage on multiple examples of Blake’s in sessions conduct to residents can be viewed here

View an open letter to City Council from Resident Lorene Laguna with video footage of Councilmember Peter Blake’s comments during a council session here

Peter Blake “Mr. Monster” city council vides footage can be viewed here

Here is just a sampling of CC Peter Blake public newspaper exchanges with constituents who have spoken out about his intimidating and behavior.

We are finding that what Laguna Beach constituents are going through with a public official who is a self-proclaimed bully may not be unique. But how it gets handled and resolved is.

What are your thoughts about elected’s behavior? Should they be allowed to degrade voters they have differences with in public and private? Please share your experiences with us.

Guest Article – Coastal Short-Term Rental Supporters Ignore Historic Nuisance Laws

Coastal city Short-Term Rental proponents ignore legally-binding land use
concepts, typically using meritless, fatally flawed arguments at hearings.
They’re good for business? Unfortunately, coastal trends since 2000
are “Commerce first, residents second.” By residents I mean those NOT
owning potential STR parcels.

Favoring commerce over 40+% of the population who rent year-round plus
percentages of full-time owners not wishing to acquire permits, that constitute
an incontestable majority, the commerce tail is wagging the communal quality
of life dog.

Beyond permit fees, there’s no proof that more STR would appreciably increase
general municipal revenue via boarders spending significant taxable amounts
at businesses. Often tenants are extended families and friends. They’ll be
saving money by cooking and drinking at the rental, not out.

They increase or assist public access to our beaches? A classic straw man
argument. Yes, a few hundred more people will be ensconced, but the Cal
Coastal Commission is dead wrong on this one. Otherwise, why allow more and
more parking meters, increasing rates plus climbing violation fees? Aren’t
limited time meters a form of infringement, inhibition or visitation disincentive?
Coastals increasingly allow increased intensification of use for restaurants and
bars without demanding increased onsite parking. Why doesn’t the CCC object
to that, these sites eat up yet more public parking, thus decreasing access,
don’t they?

STR’s homes are their castle, limitations constitute a de facto taking? That
ignores the basics of common civility, public and private nuisance laws traced
back to King Henry III:

“Private nuisance: An unreasonable, unwarranted invasion, where actions of
the defendant cause a substantial interference with another’s use/enjoyment
of their property. Public nuisance: The defendant’s actions materially affect
the reasonable comfort and convenience of life of the community.”

No one has the inalienable right to use their property to the diminishment of
their neighbor(s). Yes, some operators are vigilant and do not abuse the terms
and conditions. The nightmares abound, absentee owners are trying to
maximize income to offset, mitigate their taxes and maintenance. They bought
the parcel without STR rights: Enhancing private revenue models is NOT the
community’s problem.

The sales industry knows this, the Real Estate Disclosure Act of 1987 is explicit:
Seller MUST disclose any adverse condition that COULD affect the value. Listed
housing is theoretically forced to reveal the obtrusive potential if in proximity.
STR actually diminish property values, now THERE’S a fiscal infringement,
irregular taking including tort (litigation) exposure.

*Roger E. Bütow is a professional land use consultant and 46-year
resident of Laguna Beach

Guest Articles – Laguna Historic Ordinance Meeting

The City Council is accepting applications for the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force. The Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force was created by the City Council at its January 23, 2018, City Council meeting.

The Task Force will consist of (9) nine members of the Public selected by two City Council members who will act as liaisons and non-voting members of the Task Force. The purpose of the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force will be to attempt to reach consensus on the Historic Preservation Ordinance and to provide recommendation(s) back to the City Council.

Applicants may be contacted by a City Council member prior to the appointments so please be prepared to make a brief statement about your desire to serve on this Task Force. Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on the Historic Preservation Ordinance Task Force should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or on-line from the City’s website, www.lagunabeachcity.net and file by Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at 5:30 p.m. Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the February 28, 2018 deadline.

Let Laguna Live (LLL) appears to be the only organized effort to stop the adoption of the “revised” historical preservation ordinance. LLL having a meeting for all interested citizens and homeowners in Laguna Beach. Please attend for information about the Historic Preservation Ordinance and how it will affect your property. There are ways you can get involved to keep your property rights intact. The Let Laguna Live! Board and an expert will discuss next steps.

I have written a lot on this subject but let me try to summarize my position. I would like LLL advocate these positions and welcome any support.

Some facts:

  1. CEQA does not mandate any city adopt a historical ordinance, registry, inventory or survey. The City is free to design their own local historical program .. or not have one at all. (I have this in writing from the Local Government & Environmental Compliance Unit
    California Office of Historic Preservation)
  2. All local building permits are exempt from CEQA unless a structure in on the federal state or local “registry.”
  3. Creating an “inventory” or “survey” traps all the homes on this list in the CEQA review process AGAINST the will of the home owner.
  4. Laguna is the only City I can find that requires registered home owners to sign a perpetual contract that can never be terminated.
  5. The proposed ordinance to declare all homes over a certain age to be a “potential historical resources” subjects these homes to time consuming, costly CEQA environmental reviews .. without the owner’s consent or due process.
  6. The Laguna ordinance PROHIBITS an unregistered home owner from filing for Mills Act (a 10 yr contract with substantial property tax reduction) UNLESS the first sign a PERPETUAL contract .. only to learn the City will not grant MILLS ACT. This is a huge disinceti8ve to participate in the historical preservation program.

What needs to be done;

City Council should REJECT the proposed amendments and instruct the staff to draft a NEW ordinance based on simple policy positions:

  1. All applications for Registration should be VOLUNTARY. Any property that is now registered without the consent or will of the homeowner should be allowed to terminate.
  2. The use of perpetual contract should be terminated. Like other cities, registration is voluntary and the regulation of a registered homes is controlled the city code enforcement just like any other permit.
  3. Halt all efforts to create a “survey” or “inventory”. Stop spending taxpayer money on outside consultants who drive by your home and place you on a list against your will. These “lists” serve no purpose other than to encumber homes without due process.
  4. Marking un-registered homes “potentially historical” because of their ages should be rejected.
  5. Process applications for registration with Mills Act concurrently. You get both or you get nothing. Other Cities do this .. Pasadena is the best example.
  6. Draft the new ordinance to minimize CEQA review of historical resources. State that only registered homes are subject to CEQA review .. thus limiting future demolition and remodeling.
  7. Drop incentives such as reduced fees and variances from energy and environmental codes for registered homes. They have little value as financial incentives. Registered homes that violate current energy efficiency laws should be brought up to code to save energy, GHG emissions, fire safety, etc. This is a public safety issue. Safety is more important that preserving an old dangerous structure.

Please feel free to state your own positions and attend this meeting.

Douglas H. Cortez

* Editor’s Note: LagunaBeachCHAT welcomes guest articles on topics of general interest, from respected sources. If a guest article is accepted as relevant and topical, we commit to making no changes (other than spelling and small technical corrections) and will publish the article in its entirety.

Newspaper reports on Hedge Claim Lawsuit

Headline Reads – Tree-Killing In Laguna Beach

The majestic trees surrounding one 10th Avenue oceanview Laguna Beach home perched above Pacific Coast Highway were planted the same year Elizabeth Taylor, Edward Kennedy and Johnny Cash were born—in the months before Adolf Hitler ruled Germany, Japan occupied Shanghai and Franklin D. Roosevelt toppled President Herbert Hoover. At 80 years old, the trees have outlived Taylor, Kennedy, Cash, the Cold War and the New Deal, and on a recent afternoon, they showed no outward signs of looming natural death. But these trees have startlingly selfish and relentless enemies, including an Orange County Register reporter, determined to kill them.

Read the full story here