EDITORIAL: Bienvenue, sister city Menton

We think the City Council made a good call when members decided to put aside their grievances and give a thumbs up to making the French city of Menton Laguna’s first-ever sister city.

The sister city idea has been a pet project of the Laguna Beach Visitors and Conference Bureau for some time. Months ago, bureau members had apparently come to an international “meeting of the minds” with representatives of that city, who by all accounts are very delighted with the prospect of partnering up with Laguna.

Then-Mayor Toni Iseman was also in the loop on the effort and joined in on an exploratory trip to Menton late last year, even though she couldn’t give an official seal of approval to the idea.

For whatever reason, proponents kept the sister city idea a secret from most of the council, creating quite a stir and causing a rift when the cat was finally let out of the bag in November.

It was unfortunate that the council in full was brought in to the project so late. Some members expressed their displeasure in no uncertain terms at finding out during a council meeting-in-progress that a sister-city partnership was in the works — perhaps a fait acompli — and for a while it seemed that Menton might be rebuffed. That would have been an international embarrassment, to be sure!

It was too bad that such a worthwhile project got off on the wrong foot, but apparently feelings have been assuaged and everyone is now on the same page.

The city of Menton, on the French Riviera, is much like Laguna Beach, in landscape and in attitude. Photos of the city seem to mirror Laguna’s spectacular Heisler Park, with dramatic cliff views and palm trees. Menton is also arts-oriented, making the cities a perfect fit for cross-pollination.

The Visitors and Conference Bureau is an excellent choice for organizing the program and getting it off the ground.

We eagerly anticipate whatever creative ideas will spring from this cross-continental collaboration, and hope that other sister-city partnerships are also created — without unnecessary drama.