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Mancuso wants to enhance quality of life for Laguna residents

Mancuso wants to enhance quality of life for Laguna residents
Laguna Beach resident Judie Mancuso, seen in January inside the state's Veterinary Medical Board room, is running for a seat on the Laguna Beach City Council. Mancuso has advocated for the well-being of animals and environmental protection issues. (Courtesy of Mark Nunez)

Judie Mancuso has spent a majority of her life advocating for the well-being of animals and environmental protection.

Now she wants to transfer some of that energy into enhancing quality of life for Laguna Beach residents as a member of the City Council.

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Mancuso filed paperwork last week at City Hall indicating her intent to run for one of two open council seats against incumbents Steve Dicterow and Bob Whalen in this fall's election.

Mancuso, 53, has lived in Laguna since 1995 and for awhile was on board with most council decisions.

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But three years ago Mancuso noticed a change. Decisions concerning tourism and business appeared to move through quickly while issues impacting residents' quality of life dragged on without final resolution, Mancuso said.

"The neighbors are disgruntled; I'm disgruntled," Mancuso said. "It has not always been this way."

Mancuso mentioned the current debate regarding short-term rentals, along with substance-abuse recovery centers and sober-living homes, which she said are "popping up all over the place."

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"These are commercial facilities that need to be in commercial areas," she said.

Earlier this year Top of the World Elementary Principal Mike Conlon called for a community meeting after learning of a recovery center near the school.

Residents complained of loitering, littering and drug use, which they attributed to these facilities. Recovery centers carry state licenses and are required to provide supervision and care whereas sober-living homes do not need to provide care and have no limits on the number of occupants.

Mancuso, born in St. Louis, moved to Hollywood when she was 24 and gained business and management skills working in data processing, now often called information technology.

"I can look at these things, analyze them...find solutions to problems and make plans to execute them," she said.

In 2007, she founded Social Compassion in Legislation, a nonprofit that sponsors and supports legislation promoting the care and protection of animals. She is the current president.

Mancuso said one of her proudest achievements was working alongside Los Angeles Councilman Paul Koretz on an ordinance that prohibits businesses from selling mill-bred animals such as dogs, cats and rabbits, which critics claim often live in unsanitary, crowded conditions.

"You could not get someone who is more hard-working and focused," Koretz said.

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In 2006 Mancuso led a grassroots and lobbying campaign against a proposed liquid natural gas terminal slated off the coast of Malibu that was never built.

More recently, she was one of several residents who opposed trapping coyotes in Laguna.

"Residents should take responsibility in learning how to live with wildlife," Mancuso told the council in January. "It is arrogant to think you can sanitize your environment by killing."

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Bryce Alderton, bryce.alderton@latimes.com

Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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