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Elizabeth Pearson: A community leader

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

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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

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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.

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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.

Questions:

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

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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.


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