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LAGUNA BEACH : Homeowners Group Splits on Politics

North Laguna Beach residents dissatisfied with their homeowners association have formed a new community group.

The disgruntled homeowners say they object, in part, to the North Laguna Community Assn. board members’ attempt to politicize neighborhood affairs through endorsements of local candidates seeking public offices. The controversy has simmered in north Laguna for the past year, residents say.

Three candidates in last month’s City Council race were from north Laguna, and association President Don Black has been a council candidate in the past.

Ben Blount and Louis Garfin, president and vice president of the splinter group, resigned from the North Laguna Community Assn. board in April. Blount said he stepped down when the board voted to mail ballots to homeowners seeking approval for candidate endorsements just weeks after endorsements were rejected by the general membership.

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Blount said residents decided to form a separate group after the board refused to release the homeowners association’s membership list. The dissatisfied residents had hoped to use the list for a mailing, he said.

Black said the board attempted to satisfy grievances of the residents but was justified in not relinquishing the membership list.

“I think it’s fine if they wish to do that,” Black said of the new group’s formation. “But I don’t think they should do it on the coattails of an organization that’s been around for 25 years.”

Blount said he believes that allowing an association to make an endorsement when individual residents may have varying opinions about candidates “just divides the community right down the middle.”

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In a statement released Thursday, Bobbie Minkin, former mayor and a vice president of the splinter group, said the original homeowners association has “tried to ram politics down the throats of north Lagunans instead of offering solutions to neighborhood problems. We feel the North Laguna Community Assn. board has lost credibility with its membership, residents and the City Council.”

Association board member William Buckley said that the residents’ decision to form a separate group is “a very satisfactory thing” and that he is not worried about having another association within the community.

Several other Laguna Beach homeowners associations endorse local candidates, including the Top of the World and Temple Hills neighborhood associations, he said.


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