The Laguna Board of Realtors and Chamber of Commerce held a fast-paced forum Oct. 4 in the City Council chambers.

Topics covered included homelessness, development, trees, historical preservation and issues facing young families.

Laguna Beach businesswoman Joan Gladstone moderated the forum, which included no opening statements and only two minutes for closing statements.

Candidates Steven Dicterow, Jane Egly, Verna Rollinger, Robert Ross and Robert Whalen discussed their long-term solutions to homelessness in Laguna and how they would reduce the cost of the Alternative Sleeping Location.

"The problem didn't need to be fixed with that place in the canyon," Ross said. "We could use empty buildings."

All of the candidates, except Rollinger, said the county and the state needs to get on board; the burden is too heavy for Laguna to carry alone.

"They are citizens and deserve city services," Rollinger said. "I am extremely proud of what the city has done."

Egly, Whalen and Rollinger support permanent housing for the homeless

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Development

The Design Review Board got a favorable review from all candidates.

"Problems are inherent in design review," Dicterow said. "Applicants want something. Neighbors don't."

He credited the Design Review Board Task Force with easing some of the tensions.

Whalen said council appointments determine the board's interpretations of city regulations and effectiveness.

He recommended proper staff assistance to the board.

Uniform guidelines don't work in Laguna, according to most of the candidates.

Dicterow said different neighborhoods have different guidelines.

The guidelines are uniform, they just aren't applied uniformly, according to Rollinger.

Egly said the city has a helpful handbook on design and construction guidelines. Property owners need to understand that maximum lot coverage or square footage is not guaranteed.

"If they want to build a 6,000-square-foot house on Oak Street, it won't happen," Egly said.