Elizabeth Pearson comes from a military family. She had lived in
18 countries by the time she graduated from high school.
"It was hard to get a sense of community until I moved to Laguna
Beach," Pearson said. "The thing that drives me is my upbringing. You
live in a community, you must give something back."
The North Laguna resident has spent most of her nearly 20 years
here serving the community: as president for three terms of her
neighborhood association, as a board member of Laguna Beach Seniors
Inc. and 6 1/2 years as a planning commissioner. She raised funds for
the Boys and Girls Club and co-founded the Laguna Coalition.
In recent years Pearson has reached outside city limits to create
Clean Water for Kids, that educates children county-wide about urban
run-off and water conservation. She is on the board of the Orange
County Forum and has donated her services to Habitat for Humanity.
This is the marketing company owner's second run for council.
Pearson had raised $16,370 in contributions by Sept. 21.
She did not sign the campaign-spending limit.
Supervisor Tom Wilson, the mayors of Lake Forest and Rancho Santa
Margarita and the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Assn. have endorsed her.
1. With the proposed construction of more than 1,000 parking
spaces three blocks from the Village Entrance to Third Street, what
can the city do to alleviate traffic problems in the area?
In addition to building a parking structure at the Village
Entrance, the city needs to build "pocket" parking lots throughout
the city -- including in the Canyon, in North Laguna, in the Village
and in South Laguna, not only to alleviate the burden tourists have
placed on the neighborhoods. In addition, the city needs to design a
rapid-tram service for easier, reliable use by residents and
tourists. Specifically, the city should identify the six to 10 key
stops that most would wish to access and ensure reliable pick-ups
every six to 10 minutes at each of those stops.
2. How do you feel about putting public funds into private
organizations, like the community clinic and senior center, vs. using
the money for infrastructure, particularly the sewer system?
As it relates to capital improvement projects, there is a new
model that is gaining popularity that I would like to bring to Laguna
Beach. In the city of Orange, I am working with community leaders who
have created a non-profit foundation for the building of public
facilities. The non-profit foundation is able to access funds that
cities cannot access -- primarily grant funding from other
foundations. Laguna needs to access some of its wealthier citizens to
participate on a Laguna Foundation board of directors and assist us
in sourcing funds for the many projects we have before us. I can help
lead this effort.
3. How has the enmity between members of certain political and
community groups affected the city?
I believe that, except for a few individuals, there has been a
mellowing of antagonism between political groups. This has grown from
opportunities that individuals of all groups have had to work
together toward common goals, such as solutions for parking and ocean
water quality -- and a common interest in maintaining Laguna as an
arts colony. All of us have a vision for keeping Laguna quaint and
special, it's just a matter of priorities, and the methods used for
achieving our goals, that vary.
4. What can the city do to help local merchants?
The city can help businesses by streamlining the CUP process,
reducing the expense of licensing and enforcing the ordinances that
are on the books. As someone who served on the Planning Commission
for over six years, I felt it was very burdensome for some types of
businesses to have to come in front of the Planning Commission,
particularly for uses that were clearly allowed uses in the Downtown.
In addition, the city can support the promotion of Laguna Beach to
attract overnight visitors and arts enthusiasts (rather than
beach-going day-trippers, who are usually not shoppers).
5. What can the city do to preserve the Village character?
The two most significant accomplishments of past city
administrations were to impose a 36-foot height limit in Laguna Beach
and to create a sign ordinance that prevented billboards and overly
large signs within the city. Laguna can preserve the village
character by continuing those policies as well as by enforcing the
Downtown Specific Plan. Unfortunately, the city is understaffed in
the area of enforcement, which is something I'd like to see changed.
As a planning commissioner, I was involved in the re-write of the
Downtown Specific Plan, which encouraged quaint lighting, more
flowers and a new parking study. I'd like to be a part of taking
those policies to the next level.