In your article “Council takes a step to the right,” (Coastline
Pilot, Nov. 8) Frank Ricchiazzi is quoted as saying, “When you look
at who the taxpayers endorsed and who Village Laguna endorsed, it is
obvious who is more in touch with the mainstream voters.”
It’s ironic that the Taxpayers Assn. supported people who
supported forgoing about $5 million in tax revenue to the city, which
will delay our receiving any financial benefit from Treasure Island
for four to five years.
At a time when our state, county and our city are facing a deficit
and shortfall in tax revenues requiring budgets to be cut, our City
Council squandered $5 million by paying double the market cost for
our park at Treasure Island.
Yes, we will get the beautiful park we voted for on this site, but
a very bad contract with Athens [Group], very bad management of the
process of creating the park and very bad leadership by our council
has left us with a tremendous loss of revenue that could have helped
pay for some of the many recommended projects within the city that
our new budget cannot fund.
Even after the city staff had allowed Athens to allocate to us
$9.5 million in expenses for building our small park, the council
still had the opportunity to void the contract, since Athens did not
get specific bids for the construction of the park as required by the
contract (they just allocated how much we should pay). But, they
Or, they could have taken Athens into arbitration, but
Councilwoman Cheryl Kinsman said they hate arbitration and wouldn’t
do it. Why not? It couldn’t be worse than what the council has
accepted to pay; arbitration would most likely have been less.
And Councilman Paul Freeman thinks that since we don’t have to
write a check for the amount, but just deduct this amount from
incoming hotel taxes, it doesn’t matter. Five million dollars sure
matters a lot to the city. Councilman Steve Dicterow approved every
request of Athens, helping to run up the bill.
Many good people from Village Laguna and others spoke in front of
the council at every meeting in an effort to control costs on the
park and save tax dollars, but the council was cavalier about it and
Residents of Laguna expect our council to represent our best
interests and expect that our money be spent responsibly. However,
this council and the one before have failed in fulfilling their
And this is not the only project they have squandered. Our sewage
system is in shambles, having been ignored for years by the council
and city manager; we’ve been heavily fined for all the pollution of
our beaches; our infrastructure is eroding; they’ve allowed
mansionization to take over our neighborhoods until we complained;
they paid asking price for the Third Street property instead of
negotiating, as is normal, and then paid the mayor a commission; and
on and on.
It’s time to hold these people responsible for ignoring the good
of the community, and they should realize that they will be more
* JOHN SELECKY is a Laguna Beach resident.