A Message from Councilman Weiss

For more News and updates from Councilmember Weiss can be found regularly on his website at https://www.georgeweisscitycouncil.org/. Check back weekly.

Hello Fellow Residents,

The March 9th City Council Meeting considered a full agenda of items affecting residents. Here’s a summary; For more details these items go to my homepage:

Laguna Beach Neighborhood And Environmental Protection Plan Passes 5-0
This wide-ranging piece of legislation provides solid programs for improving the quality of life for residents and the community.

Proclamation Recognizes Arnold Hanno’s 99th Birthday;
Mr. Hanno sponsored one of the first ballot initiatives in California history.

Laguna Canyon Foundation Request For Naming Rights Agreement Passes 5-0
To acknowledge a one million dollar donation, the Council voted unanimously to approve naming the Laguna Canyon Foundation headquarters site “The Michael and Tricia Berns Preserve.”

Trolley Service To Return, 2021 Summer Parking Management Plan Passes 5-0
Good news: The trolleys are likely to be back in operation along Coast Highway and into Laguna Canyon Road starting on June 25.

City Council Censures Peter Blake – Vote 4-0
The City Council voted 4-0 (Councilman Blake abstaining) to censure Mr. Blake for violations of the City’s Rules of Decorum and Civility.

Thanks and feel free to email me or call me to discuss anything that migjt be on your mind,

George
949-295-0832

Hello Fellow Residents,

I am posting legislation being considered and decisions made by City Council on my new website. www.georgeweisscitycouncil.org

It’s worth taking a look at for a quick recap of some of the key issues currently being discussed at City Council meetings and for my position on those topics. It also has some quick links to City Government website pages and a current events story on the proposed Rivian Theater.

Open Letter On Councilmember Blake’s Conduct To Residents

Dear City Council,
RE: City Council Agenda Item #18; March 9, 2021

VIEW VIDEO EVIDENCE; SEE ATTACHED
I support Agenda Item #18 to vote in favor of the censorship of Council member Peter Blake to enforce civility policy adopted in 2019. The City Council & City Manager must enforce a reasonable Code of Conduct to restore a professional tone of respect & civility in Laguna Beach City Council chambers. The continued reprehensible conduct and vile outbursts by Council Member Peter Blake often heard interrupting speakers has become intolerable & wholly disrespectful conduct directed toward members of the public. View video below.

It is important to revisit to witness the attitude & reaction by Peter Blake after he listened to his own recorded voicemail. Note that Peter Blake begins to interrupt speaker and then smiles & laughs, appearing to take great pleasure and pride after hearing his infamous vile profanity & threats made directly by Council Member Peter Blake that was left on the voicemail of resident after he took office.

As a matter of public record, the threatening comment & vile profanity left on the voicemail recording was played to City Council during Public Comment in LB City Council chambers.

Unfortunately, Mr Blake does not appear the least bit ashamed of his conduct. Blake appears to have become emboldened over time and his conduct has become increasingly worse for the public to endure.

Mr Peter Blake has demonstrated on multiple occasions that he lacks the character and is unfit to serve in public office. Peter Blake has regularly bullied & intimidated women who speak to oppose his views. Members of the public, especially women, fear being threatened, denigrated and ridiculed by City Council member Peter Blake.

Please restore civility to City Council Chambers and censor the disrespectful language by enforcing the LB Code of Conduct during Public Meetings.

Lorene Laguna

Council Moves To Censure Councilman Peter Blake

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

LA TIMES

VOICE OF OC

STUNEWS

DAILY PILOT

OC REGISTER

VOICE OF OC 

LB INDY

STU NEWS

STU NEWS

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.
2019-2021

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.

LB Chat Publisher’s Open Letter To 2021 City Council

January 19, 2021

Dear Mayor Whalen and City Council Members:

Happy New Year. As the council moves forward in appointing a new city manager this
year, I ask that a professional recruitment firm be hired to conduct an open and extensive
recruitment to fill this important leadership position. Based upon city records, in
2010, Murray & Associates was hired to handle the recruitment process when CM John
Pietig was appointed. In 2012, this same firm contributed to the recruitment guideline
document below. It’s well worth a read.

https://icma.org/sites/default/files/303514 – Recruitment Guidelines for Selecting a Local Government Administrator.pdf

As a longtime resident, I am not convinced that we currently have an internal successor
pool to fill this position that would be supported by the majority of residents. We have
the opportunity to find a city manager with the type of leadership, interpersonal skills
and personality that city employees, residents and businesses desire and deserve. In fact,I would like to suggest that the council ask for some public input on the important attributes of a new city manager to use in their decision making and conduct an outsourced confidential city employee satisfaction survey to identify internal cultural issues that might exist that could provide valuable insight to the incoming administrator. Here’s an example of an employee survey that I found quite impressive. https://www.cityofpensacola.com/CivicSend/ViewMessage/Message/122077

I have personally participated in government employee surveys of this type and the results often surprise city leaders. Also, below is an article titled “It Starts With Civility: Elected Officials’ Role in attracting and Retaining Employees” that speaks to government recruitments, civility and leadership within council chambers. I believe this information critical to achieving positive engagement between public officials and constituents for a healthy and harmonious community.

Since 2018, we have documentation that clearly reflects our city having respect and civility issues that has consumed our civic environment and continues to divide us.
Much time and money has been lost due to a high level of discourse between certain
council members and the public. This is a good article written by two California city
managers who understand the intricacies involved in government recruitment and retention
and the importance of finding a strong administrator who listens and can implement
and execute ideas with the support of council members and the public.

https://www.westerncity.com/article/it-starts-civility-elected-officials-role-attracting-and-retaining-employees

Thank you for your time and consideration. You all have a big responsibility to the
community and I trust that you will take the utmost care in finding the right city manager
to unite and move us forward. Thank you for all that you do for Laguna.

Respectfully,
MJ Abraham
LB Resident

Note: Here’s a copy of my first LTE on this subject. It has been distributed to local media
and will be posted on social media outlets as well. It was published today January
19, 2021 in Stunews.

Include Residents in the Process How disappointing to discover that meetings regarding upcoming CalTrans work in South Laguna were not (until now) publicly held. I hope that the city will not make this mistake when it comes to recruiting a new city manager. An open recruitment process will boost confidence and trust in our local government.

Combined, Ken Frank and John Pietig will have served Laguna for 51 years. This powerful
position is pivotal for the city budget, overseeing projects of all types, coordinating with all outside agencies, and working well with staff and council. I encourage residents to get involved in this next chapter of a city manager and start generating ideas of the type of person we would like to see as our next city manager. The position requires strong leadership and management skills to navigate the often politically charged decisions that inevitably arise.

Laguna has a great climate, attractive compensation and beneCits like Fridays off. For a city its size, this job will be a compelling opportunity, likely generating inquiries from some of the best-run cities in the country. I hope that the council will take its time, include residents and choose carefully.

MJ Abraham
Founder lagunabeachchat.com
Laguna Beach Resident

LB City Elections November 3, 2020

2020 Election Results: (view full results here)
City Council: Incumbent Bob Whalen and newly elected resident George Weiss
City Clerk: Ann Marie McKay

Candidates’ information and statements Here
PACs and Local Organizations Campaign Support Here
Candidate Financial Support Recap-Here

GET TO KNOW LB CANDIDATES BEFORE YOU VOTE THEM INTO PUBLIC OFFICE TO REPRESENT YOU!

Thank you for being an informed voter. Our city’s health and future depends on it!

Laguna Beach Residents – our local leaders affect our daily lives.

Our elected officials represent US.They represent our values, our lifestyle, our space and place within our city, county, state and country. They become our face and our voice.

A council position is the most important, influential and powerful position in our City. It is critical that we understand the broad range of experience and expertise needed for this position and that we select the right individuals to work together to lead.

As we consider the candidate choices in this 2020 election, it is important that we take the time to learn all we can about each candidate before considering them as a top-level public office representative for our City.

Elected Officials Roles and Responsibilities

The responsibilities of our local elected officials include dictating local laws, policies and budgets. This person(s) will make decisions about our money, ocean, properties, roads, trees, traffic, businesses, safety, and quality of life in everything that we see, live and breathe every day.

As important as this responsibility is, local individuals are often elected by voters who know very little about their personal lives, professional occupation experience, successes or failures, interpersonal skills, visionary and leadership skills, and most important their ability to oversee a complicated city government’s operations, assets, multimillion dollar annual budget and other financial and legal activities.

The folks we elect are game-changers. It is up to us to determine if they are the right fit by evaluating their ability to meet our needs. We must explore their qualifications and history with every bit of scrutiny we would give to anyone holding our destiny in their hands because the consequences are great. Their education, experience and success will move us forward, or quite possible risk us becoming stagnant or going backwards.

We must keep in mind that this isn’t a volunteer position or a social membership. It is a paid position with benefits and the person hired to fill it will be in a decision making capacity that will impact our futures. 

Click here for CC compensation/benefits.

Like many of us, individuals who run for CC will be our friends and/or acquaintances. For some, this poses a loyalty issue. We encourage you dig deep this election and ask yourself objective questions such as;

  • Do I continue the status quo in every election? 
  • Do I take the time to find representatives that have proven their value to the community? 
  • Do I elect individuals that have proven they can make sound and logical decisions on my behalf? 
  • Am I pleased with the position and direction my City is going in?
  • Have I reviewed the incumbents voting records?  Do I agree with them a reasonable percentage of time?
  • Have the incumbents listened to the majority of constituents?
  • Do the incumbents lean towards special interest groups?   
  • Do I elect an individual based upon professional eligibility and proven performance ad success or do I elect only friends I know? 

Sounds so simple, right? It’s not. It’s time consuming and often confusing.

Sadly, local voter numbers are in decline. This is hard to understand since local elections give voters the greatest voice and opportunity to be heard. Our local officials are elected to represent the majority, and when a large fraction chooses not to vote, small groups rule and thus bias is prevalent. This hurts us all.

Get Involved. Local elections take place every year and they have long lasting implications.

By choosing the most experienced, trustworthy and transparent representatives, voters can help create and pass laws reflective of how we feel. Local politicians play a major role in all of the decisions that have a direct influence on our day-to-day lives. Our laws, streets, safety, education, thriving and healthy communities are influenced by their ability to leverage our tax dollars and make good financial decisions for us.

Our local elected officials decide how our public safety is managed. They have input as to how our police officers are trained and ensure that self-policing is in place and monitored. Sometimes local citizens take action to make their voices heard as well as keeping the check and balances needed so the majority of interests do not take over.

They’re involved in guiding voters to pass bills that can take precedence over national law. A perfect example of local power overriding national laws can be witnessed in the reform in the use of marijuana in California when voters chose to make marijuana legal for medical or recreational purposes. Supported by local voters, this has had substantial local impacts in each state creating long-lasting effects on economies, legal systems and more. 

Our local politics can shape federal policy. When you elect officials who support the causes you believe in, you become part of making a change at a state level. As states address issues and revise their laws some eventually are adopted at the federal level. The Federal government often waits to see how the new law evolves at the state level to determine its value. They may also nullify state laws if they choose. Our elected officials become our voice at all levels of government.

This election year, we have 5 City Council candidates – 2 are incumbents.  LBCHAT has included individual candidate information and any/all public information documents the may provide you with more insight into each candidate.

Candidate Public Forums:
Stu News Article – Laguna Beach Candidate Forums available here
August 24, 2020 Village Laguna and Laguna Summit Candidate Forum here
September 24, 2020 Canyon Alliance of Neighborhoods Defense Organization(CANDO) Candidate Form here
Laguna Beach Arts Alliance on September 26. For their Forum please request information directly from their website here
Greater Laguna Beach GOP candidates’ forum online on September 30. For their Forum please request information directly from their website here
The South Laguna Civic Association candidates’ forum online on October 5 here
Radio station KX FM 104.7 and the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce will present a virtual forum at 5:30 p.m. on October 9. For their Forum please request information directly from their website here

City Council Candidates:
Bob Whalen / Incumbent* SOQ and Disclosure Forms
Steve Dicterow / Incumbent* SOQ and Disclosure Forms
Ruben Flores SOQ and Disclosure Forms
George Weiss SOQ and Disclosure Forms
Larry Nokes SOQ and Disclosure Forms

City Clerk Candidates:
Ann Marie McKay SOQ and Disclosure Forms
Mariann Tracy SOQ and Disclosure Forms

Political Action Committees (PAC): Disclosure Forms
Laguna Residents First (LRF) PAC
Liberate Laguna (LL) PAC
Village Laguna (VL) PAC
LB FIrefighter’s Association PAC
LB Police Employee Association PAC
Laguna Public Recreational Facilities Conservancy (LPRFC)(PAC)

OTHER: Individual Reported 2020 Campaign Contributions
Sam Goldstein – 2020 campaign contribution 24 hour report Disclosure Forms

CC Candidate Public Background Records – ELECTION 2020
LBChat provides candidate personal and professional information to assist voters in
vetting individuals seeking public office in Laguna Beach.

LBCHAT will publish all public documents related to public office campaigning including:
candidate qualification statements, campaign finance disclosure forms and related
financial information, websites/podcasts, candidate forums, news articles and personal
and professional public information obtained from candidates and through public
information sources. In addition, a Laguna Beach Police contact report listing: arrests,
restraining orders, repossessions and other violations will be obtained in accordance
with the California Public Record Act. Code# 6253 (CPRA)

_______________

LBCHAT Election Archives
2018 Election link Includes incumbent Toni Iseman election candidate information.
2016 Election link Includes incumbents Whalen and Dicterow election candidate information.

LAGUNABEACHCHAT.COM
CHAT stands for City Hall Accountability and Transparency. Our Mission: Laguna Beach
CHAT desires to advance accountability and transparency. We serve residents by
providing them with an open and honest platform to gain knowledge about City officials,
functions and decisions that impact our quality of life and our local community.
We welcome resident/voters opinions and feedback. Please share them with us.
Send to: contact@lagunabeachchat.com.

Thank You. Was this helpful? Please send us your feedback (click here)

Liberate Laguna Backers File Campaign Finance Complaint

Call To Laguna Residents – Register To Vote!

  Laguna  Beach Residents

  REGISTER TO VOTE!

You must register before you can vote. That can be done online. Have your drivers’ license number and the last four digits of your social security number handy. Then click on www.ocvote.com/registration/register-to-vote and follow the easy steps. Same day voter registration will also be available at Vote Centers that will open 14 days before election day, which is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Registrar’s office has done a detailed evaluation and lots of staff training to be ready for safe in-person voting at these Centers. That includes buildings that allow for social distancing at all times, frequent wipe downs, disposable pens and security envelopes, lots of markers, signage, and reminders to keep things flowing safely and smoothly.

CAST YOUR VOTE!

The Voter Information and Sample Ballot booklet mailing to voters begins September 24th. This information will also be available online. Every registered voter will also be sent a ballot by mail.  These come with pre-paid return envelopes.  Mailing of ballots to voters begins October 5th.  

There are three ways to vote and you can track your ballot online to insure it reached the Registrar.

  1. Mail your ballot via US Postal Service mail.
  2. Drop your ballot into one of 110 Drop Boxes that will be available around Orange County. These are tamper-proof, 1,000-pound military grade steel boxes, with a drop slot big enough only for two envelopes, so no hand can reach in. They are open 24/7 and picked up daily or every other day. Phone numbers will also be available at the boxes for questions.
  3. Vote in-person at 167+ Vote Centers around Orange County. This is not the old polling place system. You can vote at any Vote Center that is convenient for you. They will have a full electronic roster to validate your eligibility so your vote will be final, not provisional.

VOTE by Tuesday, November 3, 2020!

BE COUNTED!   Vote early this year. Your vote is so important!  

USPS Mail might be slow. To be counted your ballot must be received

on or before election day, November 3,2020.

Update – Laguna – Quaint, Charming and Uncivil?

Civility Policy Update – “Blake reprimanded for online comments but not apologetic” – Stu News – Click here

Much like the rest of the country, quaint and charming Laguna Beach is faced with the growing concern over respect and civility among city leaders and constituents.
Recently, the City adopted a Civility and Decorum Policy to address the issue, the first in its history.

Laguna Beach’s newly adopted Rules of Decorum and Civility Policy, click here

The media has covered the issue of Laguna’s need for a civility policy.
Local Media’s Comments on City’s Civility issues:

Stu News: Council passes a resolution to reset the button on decorum and civility at public meetings – Click here
Laguna Beach Independent: Council Considers Tighter Code of Conduct – Click here
Orange County Register: Laguna Beach adopts rules of civility applying to leaders and community members at city meetings after months of discord – Click here
Voice of OC: One City Councilman and His Critics Have Laguna Beach in Uproar – Click here

Residents Comments on City’s Civility issues:

Howard Hill comments on Citywide Civility issues – Click here
Mike Morris comments on Peter Blake’s in-office behavior – Click here

Please tell us what you think: leave a comments below!

Peter Blake

Candidate Website here

Form 460 Campaign Funding Disclosure Statements:

Blake Peter – 460 Oct 21 – Dec 31, 2018

Blake Peter – 460 July 1 – September 22 2018

Blake Peter – 460 January 1 – June 30 2018

Blake Peter – 460 September 23 – Oct 20 2018 – redacted

Blake Statement on Endorsements Oct. 1, 2018 – Click here

How Laguna gallery owner Peter Blake got calm, cool, collected – Orange County Register

Meet the man who wants to save Laguna Beach – LA Times

Gallery owner Peter Blake files Intent To Run form – Stu News

Laguna Beach Local News Crowd Queues to Unseat Council Incumbents – Laguna Beach Indy

Stu News and KX 93.5 FM Candidate Debate – Watch here

Steve Robbins Letter –

 

LB City Council Election November 6, 2018

Congratulations to the 2018 City Council Elected officials:
Toni Iseman (City Council Incumbent)
Peter Blake (Gallery Owner) – Billy Fried Interview on KX 93.5 FM Click here
Sue Kempf (Planning Commissioner) 

Candidates’ information and statements here
Candidate Public Information Documents here
Local Clubs and Organizations Campaign Support Forms here
Stu News and KX 93.5 FM Candidate Forum October 2, 2018 – Watch here

Candidate Financial Support Recap- Click here

Laguna Beach Residents – our local leaders affect our daily lives.

Our elected officials represent us. They represent our values, our lifestyle, our space and place within our city, county, state and country. They become our face and our voice.

A council position is the most important, influential and powerful position in our City. It is critical that we understand the broad range of experience and expertise needed for this position and that we select the right individuals to work together to lead.

As we consider the candidate choices in this 2018 election, it is important that we take the time to learn all we can about each candidate before considering them as a top-level public office representative for our City.

Elected Officials Roles and Responsibilities

The responsibilities of our local elected officials include dictating local laws, policies and budgets. This person(s) will make decisions about our money, ocean, properties, roads, trees, traffic, businesses, safety, and quality of life in everything that we see, live and breathe every day.

As important as this responsibility is, local individuals are often elected by voters who know very little about their personal lives, professional occupation experience, successes or failures, interpersonal skills, visionary and leadership skills, and most important their ability to oversee a complicated city government’s operations, assets, multimillion dollar annual budget and other financial and legal activities.

The folks we elect are game-changers. It is up to us to determine if they are the right fit by evaluating their ability to meet our needs. We must explore their qualifications and history with every bit of scrutiny we would give too anyone holding our destiny in their hands because the consequences are great. Their education, experience and success will move us forward, or quite possible risk us becoming stagnant or going backwards.

We must keep in mind that this isn’t a volunteer position or a social membership. It is a paid position with benefits and the person hired to fill it will be in a decision making capacity that will impact our futures. Click here for CC compensation/benefits.

Like many of us, individuals who run for CC will be our friends and/or acquaintances. For some, this poses a loyalty issue. We encourage you dig deep this election and ask yourself objective questions. Do I continue the status quo in every election? Do I take the time to find representatives that have proven their value to the community? Do I elect individuals that have proven they can make sound and logical decisions on my behalf? Am I pleased with the position and direction my City is going in? Do I elect an individual based upon professional eligibility and proven performance ad success or do I elect only friends iI know? Sounds so simple, right? It’s not. It’s time consuming and often confusing.

Sadly, local voter numbers are in decline. This is hard to understand since local elections give voters the greatest voice and opportunity to be heard. Our local officials are elected to represent the majority, and when a large fraction chooses not to vote, small groups rule and thus bias is prevalent. This hurts us all.

Get Involved. Local elections take place every year and they have long lasting implications.

By choosing the most experienced, trustworthy and transparent representatives, voters can help create and pass laws reflective of how we feel. Local politicians play a major role in all of the decisions that have a direct influence on our day-to-day lives. Our laws, streets, safety, education, thriving and healthy communities are influenced by their ability to leverage our tax dollars and make good financial decisions for us.

Our local elected officials decide how our public safety is managed. They have input as to how our police officers are trained and ensure that self-policing is in place and monitored. Sometimes local citizens take action to make their voices heard as well as keeping the check and balances needed so the majority of interests do not take over.

They’re involved in guiding voters to pass bills that take can precedence over national law. A perfect example of local power overriding national laws can be witnessed in the recent reform in the use of marijuana in California when voters chose to make marijuana legal for medical or recreational purposes. Supported by local voters, this has had substantial local impacts in each state creating long-lasting effects on economies, legal systems and more. Our local politics can shape federal policy. When you elect officials who support the causes you believe in, you become part of making a change at a state level. As states address issues and revise their laws some eventually are adopted at the federal level. The Federal government often waits to see how the new law evolves at the state level to determine its value. They may also nullify state laws if they choose. Our elected officials become our voice at all levels of government.

This election year, we have 12 City Council candidates. LBCHAT has included candidates ballot statement for those who submitted them, contact information and any/all public information documents the may provide you with more insight into each candidate. In addition, we prepared an in-depth personal and professional questionnaire and asked each candidate to participate. If they agreed to do so, their questionnaires are accessible under their listing.

We hope that this information along with attending local candidate forums assist you in making the best choices possible for leadership in our City. (Forums click here)

Thank You. Was this helpful? Please send us your feedback (click here)

Liberate Laguna Backers File Campaign Finance Complaint

Coastal Commission Will Vote To Support Laguna’s STL Ordinance

STL Ordinance still in effect… Click here

Guest Letter by Roger Bütow – Click here

On December 14, 2017, The California Coastal Commission (CCC) made the decision to deny the City’s request to prohibit short term lodgings (STL) in residential zones. The CCC approved the City’s request for additional operational standards and to increasing the number of commercial zones that would permit short term lodging. Neither will become effective until the Laguna Beach City Council formally (through public hearing) accepts the Coastal Commission’s changes.

The City is currently operating under its existing STL ordinance which was in effect before it adopted the changes submitted to the Coastal Commission for review in December.

The next step is for the City Council to decide whether to accept the changes adopted by the Coastal Commission, file litigation, and/or to propose modifications to the ordinance in a new request. No decision has been made yet.

Stay tuned for regular updates on LBCHAT. For more details on the City/CCC meeting click here


The Deadline is this Fri, Dec. 8 by 5 p.m. to email the California Coastal Commission stating your support for Laguna’s ordinance banning Short Term Lodging (STL) in the town’s residential zones. If you are in support of this ban then here’s what to do:

1. Address your email to California Coastal Commission at SouthCoast@coastal.ca.gov and copy Marlene.Alvarado@coastal.ca.gov

2. Put on the subject line “Agenda item 19b on Thursday Dec. 14: City of Laguna Beach LCP Amendment No. 1-16 (LCP-5-LGB-16-0055-1 Short-Term Lodgings/Rentals)

3. In the body of the email, state your point of view immediately. One possible statement might be:

 Please grant Laguna Beach’s request for certification of its LCP Amendment No. 1-16 restricting new STLs to commercial zones only.

If you want to follow your general statement in an email with more content, the following are some suggestions.

Possible Topics:

1.    Your own experience with STLs in your neighborhood.

2.     Laguna Beach is already very visitor friendly with plenty of provision for their lodging and recreation and transportation (trolleys). The city funds Visit Laguna (our visitors bureau) with over a million dollars.

3.     Taking care of visitors already costs the city dearly in extra policing, fire and rescue, traffic control, providing parking, trash collection, transportation. Analysis shows that much of this extra cost is footed by resident taxes rather than being covered entirely by visitor spending.

4.     The CCC staff’s argument that more STLs in neighborhoods provides more affordable housing for visitors is merely an assumption. Many STLs charge as much as luxury hotels and many of our hotels are relatively affordable.

5.     STLs increase long-term rental costs, and cut down on available housing of all types, to say nothing of affordable housing. STLs in residential areas cannibalize rental housing stock otherwise available to older, long term fixed-income residents and artists.

6.     A high proportion of residents in Laguna Beach are generally supportive of the Coastal Commission and its mandate—denying our ordinance would be a blow to these supporters.

7.     It is truly impossible to adequately oversee and enforce STLs in residential zones—we and others have tried.

8.     STLs are often detrimental to neighborhoods, requiring residents to confront bad behavior or call the police, late night partying noise, extra trash and parking/traffic, etc. Quality of life for residents is adversely affected by STLs.

9.     Since the charm of Laguna is part of what brings people here, why allow diminution of that very charm?

10.  Many STLs run illegally, not even contributing to the city tax base, and pinning them down legally is surprisingly difficult. Then the fines that can be levied aren’t punitive enough to stop them.

11.  There is plenty of lodging (over 1,000 rooms at only 80 percent occupancy) in the commercial zones near the beach and restaurants. And we even have camping available at Crystal Cove State Park and Doheny State Beach. And this area of beach, recreation, shopping, restaurants and bars is where visitor want to go, so it’s more than reasonable that’s the area they’d want to stay in.

12.  The existing LCP of Laguna Beach prohibits commercial uses in residential zones, and STLs are clearly commercial ventures, as shown by the fact that most of the owners don’t even live in Laguna Beach.

13.  Realtors say being next door to an STL lowers property value. Obviously this alone is of concern to resident homeowners.

14.  Residents report a loss of the sense of security and community that come from knowing one’s neighbors.

ACLU’s Glover v. Laguna Beach lawsuit – Is Past Just Prologue?

When a discussion of the homeless situation comes up among Lagunans, the sense of frustration on all sides is immediately apparent. On the one side, there is the belief that Laguna Beach goes above and beyond what any other municipality in Orange County does to provide year-round facilities for homeless individuals; and as the City is continually being sued into doing more, we become a magnet for ever greater numbers of homeless to descend on us from near and far. On the other side is the sense that Laguna could and should be doing more; that our support for the Alternate Sleeping Location (ASL) is insufficient and that the monies that we spend on police and emergency services directed at the homeless could be better allocated toward providing permanent supportive housing.

LagunaBeachCHAT wanted to look into the issue from the perspective of the current lawsuit that was filed in August 2015 against the City and its police department, by the ACLU of Southern California (et. al.) on behalf of several chronically homeless who are also disabled. This lawsuit is known as Glover v. Laguna Beach and it asserts that the City and Police are violating the following with respect to the Plaintiffs:

  • Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12132 (the “ADA”); 
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (the “Rehabilitation Act”)
  • the 8th (cruel and unusual punishment) and 14th (equal protection) Amendments to the United States Constitution
  • Article I, sections 7 (A person may not be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law or denied equal protection of the laws) and 17 (Cruel or unusual punishment may not be inflicted or excessive fines imposed) of the California Constitution.

In a nutshell, it asserts that the Defendants are violating the rights of the DISABLED homeless because the ASL cannot accommodate them, and because of the City’s approach of giving priority to those it deems as “Laguna Beach homeless” over others is inherently unfair and discriminatory. Furthermore, the LBPD’s criminalization of their activities once they’ve been denied space at the ASL puts them in a no-win situation. (Our City Manager wrote an OpEd in February 2017 about the ACLU lawsuit for the Indy that you can read here. The piece asserts that the lawsuit is frivolous and that Laguna Beach can stand proudly behind its ongoing efforts to accommodate its homeless population).

Thus far, the City has spent $1,071,086.44 (end of March 2017) in defending this latest class action lawsuit in the courts, and it is my guess (as a non-attorney) that the City will ultimately lose if it does not agree to yet more concessions. If we assume this to be the case, perhaps the more enlightened approach would be to work with other local, state and Federal governments, non-profits, churches and other organizations to establish Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) around the region. PSH is defined as housing that provides supportive services such as mental health treatment and case management. Several studies conclude that PSH is the only solution to address the issues inherent with disabled homeless persons. Those same studies claim that it ultimately saves taxpayers money in terms of dollars not spent on police, hospital emergency rooms and the courts. It is important that we work with a coalition of partners to ensure such PSH be reasonably available throughout the Orange County and surrounding areas so that Laguna Beach does not become the sole source and thus a magnet for ever more disabled homeless.

Some Background

In December 2008, the ACLU of Southern California and co-counsel filed suit on behalf of several disabled, homeless individuals challenging the City’s policy and practice of enforcing Laguna Beach Municipal Code (“L.B.M.C.”) section 18.04.0201 against disabled, homeless persons in a manner that criminalized sleeping in all public places at night and conducting “sweeps” of beaches, parks, and other public places at night and in the early morning to wake and harass sleeping homeless persons, as well as other enforcement tactics that targeted disabled, homeless individuals. The City settled the case quickly and as a result, repealed the offending statutes and ultimately established the Alternate Sleeping Location (ASL) run by Friendship shelter. The City contends that the creation of the ASL allows it to legally enforce laws prohibiting sleeping, camping, or lodging in public – despite its small size and limited accessibility, especially for those with disabilities. Funding the ASL are city tax dollars (which amounted to $242,000 most recently) and federal grants, for a total annual spend of approximately $360,000.

Some Numbers

The ACLU’s 2015 Glover v LB claims that the ASL is too small and inappropriate for mentally disabled (too loud, no privacy, etc) and as a result the rights of disabled homeless (as enumerated at the start) are still being violated. The suit claims that there are between 40 and 100 disabled homeless in Laguna who fall into the class. Providing PSH for this number of disabled individuals will no doubt be a very expensive undertaking, one which it is unreasonable and unfeasible for a city the size of Laguna Beach to finance. If we assume PSH with bare essentials to cost $3,000 per person, per month, even the smallest count of 40 persons would cost $1,440,000 annually. If we assume the same ratio of grants-to-city-funds as currently exist for the ASL, that $1.4million would cost Laguna Beach taxpayers $967,000 per year beyond the costs of the ASL.

Residency Test

At the City’s behest, the ASL gives priority to those who can demonstrate that they are “local Laguna Beach residents.” This residency requirement for homeless individuals has an extremely high bar – individuals must demonstrate that an immediate family member currently lives in Laguna Beach, that they attended K-12 school in Laguna Beach, that they leased or paid utilities for residential property in Laguna Beach, or that the LBPD knows them to have been members of the Laguna Beach homeless community for at least 18 months.

An individual who does not meet this City residency requirement can only receive shelter by appearing there in person each night and adding his or her name to a waitlist. ASL staff members draw names from the waitlist to determine who can stay at the shelter on that night. Individuals whose names are not selected in this lottery cannot stay at the shelter, and there is no other legal place for them to sleep within the City. (per Glover v. LB).

It seems that the City is being entirely reasonable in applying a ‘residency test’ for priority placement at the ASL. If not for this test, then the floodgates would open and many additional homeless would make their way to Laguna Beach, claim residence and demand full privileges for services. There are 2 problems with this line of thinking:

  1. The ASL may indeed not be appropriate for disabled homeless, even the subset that we consider our local homeless. The City would still be in violation of the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, the 14th amendment among others, if it failed to accommodate disabled homeless individuals.
  2. Residency Tests – This is fraught legally. When localities have attempted to limit eligibility of benefits by applying residency tests, the Supreme Court has found such residency tests illegitimate. The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that a state/locality can impose residency requirements as a condition of eligibility for fundamental rights only under certain circumstances. A fundamental right is any right that is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. A state must have a compelling State Interest to justify the restriction of basic rights by the imposition of residency requirements. The courts ultimately determine whether the state has a significant interest by examining and Balancing the interests of the state against the rights of the person. Where a residency requirement does not serve compelling state interests, it will be held unconstitutional as a denial of equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Constitution. The courts have addressed residency requirements involving Welfare and public housing benefits, basic medical care, and voting that are based on fundamental rights. Certainly the benefit of a roof is one that the courts would consider as fundamental, and therefore not subject to the imposition of a ‘test’. (Bear in mind too, that the Supreme court has concluded that the constitutional guarantee of personal liberty gives each citizen the right to travel throughout the United States without unreasonable restrictions).

Where To Go From Here

If the City cannot deny services to homeless who consider themselves Lagunans (a phrase one sees frequently in the ACLU’s lawsuit), and if the level of services currently provided by the ASL are not adequate for disabled homeless and in short supply overall it seems that we have few options available:

  • The City could continue to fight in the courts (est cost $500,000 per year)
  • The City could expand its existing homeless services and agree to provide PSH to at least 40 persons at a great additional cost to the taxpayers (est cost of an additional $967,000 per year)
  • The City could look to work together with Federal, State, local governments, non-profits, churches to establish and help support PSH regionally

There are no simple answers to this very complex issue. One could argue that the City made a misstep in 2009 when it settled the original ACLU lawsuit by unilaterally setting up the ASL for “local homeless”. Its legal representation must have known that establishing a residency test to limit those eligible to use the ASL was folly, and that ultimately the ASL’s creation would become a magnet (beyond the natural magnet of good weather and beautiful surroundings).  Instead, it seems that the City Council of the day wanted to make the ACLU lawsuit ‘go away’ via the most expeditious and cost-effective approach then presented to them. This author believes that at the first hint of the earlier lawsuit, the City would have been well advised to start working collaboratively with others to ensure that homeless services would be distributed across the region; services appropriate for homeless with or without disabilities.

As a local taxpayer it is frustrating that the efforts and treasure that our City has directed towards helping the homeless are now being met with demands for ever more. I’m frustrated too, that these efforts and treasure have had no measurable effect on staying ahead of the problem. If we are correct that the City will have to make significant concessions as a result of the Glover v. LB lawsuit, LagunaBeachCHAT strongly advises the City to seek a regional solution of which it will be a part, but by no means go it alone, and one that includes PSH.  Bear in-mind though, that the City Council at the time of the 2008/2009 ACLU lawsuit included current City Mayor Toni Iseman and Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Boyd; so perhaps the momentum towards trying a new approach isn’t there and we will instead see the: go-it-alone/make-it-go-away approach of the past.

You can read the entire Glover v. Laguna Beach lawsuit here.

2017 LB Voter Survey Results

From this page you will be able to view the summary data for the non-demographic survey questions.

As at April 20, 2017

113 responses.  While 113 responses is too small a sample size to be considered significant the data indicate that:

  1. Of the 4 organizational governance choices, Term Limits is the clear leader with 52.56% of respondents indicating it as the #1 issue for improving LB governance. District/Ward elections was #2 with 25%. Click here for details.
  2. The LB “Employee Housing Assistance Program” was very unpopular with 71.56% of respondents failing to support the program whereby the city goes in 50/50 on the purchase of a home for “essential” city employees. Click here for details.
  3. Council Member responsiveness: This question was problematic in that it forced a yes/no/other vote on the respondent’s experience. Yes was 26.97%, No = 50.00 and Other = 23.21%. Some “Others” comments indicated that many respondents had only interacted with 1 or 2 council members, with good experiences and bad. Additional circumstances forced an “Other” response. Click here for details.
  4. City staff responsiveness: This question had similar issues to that of #3. However, it can be stated that the respondents felt that City staff were far more responsive to their concerns than the City council. Yes = 42.73%, No = 39.09% and Other = 18.18%. Click here for details.

To the extent that these results can be extrapolated to the voting residents of Laguna Beach, it seems clear that there is a feeling that Term Limits for our City Council members makes sense.  Given that the majority of our current City Council are on their 4th or more terms, this is not surprising.

Perhaps the most eye-opening result is the super majority of respondents who are against the “Employee Housing Assistance Program”.  The primary justification for this ‘ad hoc’ program provided by the council has been:

  • Certain key employees need to be present in the city at all times in case of an emergency

When one considers the total remuneration of the employees to whom this discretionary benefit has been given, both of these arguments fall flat.  The City Manager’s total package is fast approaching $350,000 annually. The Assistant City Manager/Director of Public Works, and the Fire Chief clock-in at a total package nearing $275,000 and $300,000 respectively. The respondents simply don’t believe that folks earning at these levels could not afford reside in Laguna Beach in some fashion, on their own.

Also, the fact that the program nor the guidelines for which employee roles qualify, has ever been formalized in a policy document leads Lagunans to worry that this is a perq that is ripe for misuse.

Measure LL Oversight Committee Appointments – Pay-to-Play

The Laguna Beach City Council recently made its appointments to the LL Oversight Committee.  Readers will recall that the ordinance that was overwhelmingly approved by local voters on 8Nov16 provided for an “Citizens’ Oversight Committee” made up of appointed residents.  This committee was to review the uses of the LL tax revenues to ensure that the City Council was indeed spending the monies as promised:

  • Public Safety
  • Utility Undergrounding
  • Street & Beach Cleanliness
  • Protecting beaches from pollution

Specifically, the Meaure LL Citizens’ Oversight Committee’s charter is to:

  • Conduct annual audits
  • Review expenditures
  • Provide public reports

LagunaBeachCHAT conducted an analysis of the applicants donations to the Measure LL campaign, as well as donations to City Council members.  The results showed an APPEARANCE of favoritism shown to LL supporters and campaign donors.

If the City Council wanted the LL Oversight Committee to represent an independent voice of oversight, their methodology of appointing big donors and known-LL supporters has completely undermined this intent.

Read more here:  Campaign Donation Analysis of LL Candidates.