I have not paid as much attention to local politics as I should have until recently when I became familiar with the proposed social host ordinance. Whatever your opinion on whether such an ordinance is right for our community, we should all be greatly concerned about the process in which it has been brought to council and our school board's involvement in it.
Few residents had heard of this proposed ordinance at its first hearing in June, and the petition opposing SHO, which was circulated at the beginning of October and obtained over 320 signatures in less than one week, shows that few still know about its implications on our kids' safety, our constitutional rights and the city's budget. Yet Councilwoman Toni Iseman is the only one on the council who has expressed an interest in hearing opposing points of view before the planned Nov. 13 hearing.
School board says they endorsed a concept of a social host ordinance. I have searched the board agendas and meeting minutes and have not found a record of any public discussion of ordinance. The Laguna Community Coalition has now stepped up as the proponent of the social host ordinance, yet the coalition lacks representation from Laguna residents and parents.
While trying to uncover the board history on the social host ordinance, I found claims that challengers for the school board are "highly funded single issue candidates" whose "…primary goal is to take control for [sic] the board and push through agenda spending increases for their own financial benefit." After asking for an explanation, I was told that the "single" issue refers to the Thurston Outdoor Classroom and Teaching Garden, a waste of taxpayer money. I have since found out that no district money was to be used for implementation of this project, and that the plans for this facility were developed by a parent who spent many hours — pro-bono — incorporating teacher and PTA input in the design, before the project was abruptly dropped by the district, though I could not find reference of this project on the district website, either.
More telling, however, is that neither of the two challengers running for school board — Tammy Keces nor Dee Perry — appears to have involvement in this "single" issue and would have no financial gain from its implementation, and neither has received "heavy funding" as implied in the statement above.
Unfounded claims against board candidates, general lack of public discussion and record, and unwillingness to move forward with innovative projects sponsored by the community raise serious questions about the current School Board's transparency, their ability to be progressive and to adapt to our kids' needs. The social host ordinance process exposes the willingness of our council, without much understanding of potential consequences, to adopt a law that is being directed with very little public scrutiny or input, even though it will affect the entire community.
I have concluded that decisions in Laguna are being made by an insular group of people on our council and school board, who represent a myopic viewpoint on any given issue. Input from the community is sought only after someone "on the outside" exposes an issue to be controversial. Candidates are endorsed by school board and council incumbents to promulgate the same old ideas and to minimize discourse.
Wouldn't we and our children be better served by school board and council members who welcome community dialogue, are challenged by new ideas, and consider all aspects of a given issue to determine what is right for Laguna? The opportunity to strengthen our community is ours. Vote for a change at both the school district and council level on Nov. 6.
Measure CC is preserves the future
Martha Lydick in her letter to the editor attempted to discredit me and the facts I put in my letter. Over my 26 years in Laguna Beach, Lydick and I have agreed on very little, but what is undisputed is that the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. never had the vision to imagine a greenbelt around Laguna Beach as Jim Dilley did in the 1960s. They never had the vision to replace the gas stations and dilapidated buildings on Main Beach with a park and a window to the sea instead of high-rise buildings or the vision to prevent 3,500 homes from being built in Laguna Canyon. So it's not surprising that they don't have the vision today to support Measure CC, the Open Space Initiative.
I realize that in today's political climate it has become a common tactic to repeat an untruth as many times as possible in the hopes that it eventually is believed as true. Unfortunately, this deceitful behavior sometimes pays off. Perhaps that is what the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. and Bobbi Cox hopes to pull off by repeating the falsehood that in 1990 it supported Measure H, the Laguna Canyon Bond Measure. The association did not support the Laguna Canyon Bond Measure. I have no doubt that Bobbi Cox supported the measure but the association never supported that bond measure, which eventually passed by nearly 80% of the vote, prevented 3,200 homes from being built in Laguna Canyon, and added thousands of acres of open space for all to enjoy. Those bonds are now paid off and its property tax increase has been eliminated.
I invite you to join me now in voting yes on Measure CC, the current Open Space Initiative, and 20 years from now you can truly say you voted for open space and not have to join the revisionists in any false claims.
Vote NO on Measure CC