Village Entrance opponents divided about initiative

Resident Paul Merritt announced Wednesday that his proposed initiative to restrict the Village Entrance Project is moving forward.

The city attorney has completed the title and summary of Merritt's proposed initiative as required by election law to get it on the ballot. Merritt plans to publish a notice in the near future.

"'We the People' have now gotten to second base with the ballot initiative, and we are pleased with the steady progress," Merritt stated in an email.

Merritt's initiative has not been endorsed by Let Laguna Vote, a group that also opposes the Village Entrance Project, which has been approved by the City Council.

The group expressed opposition during the public comment period of Tuesday's council meeting and with signs held in the council chambers.

Merritt also stated in his email that he has received unsolicited phone calls about starting a recall election, which he doesn't support. However, at least one resident has requested information from the city clerk about the process.

"I respect and somewhat understand the dilemma of the elected officials," said Merritt, a former Laguna Niguel City Council member. "First, they are committed with the Village Entrance and, second, to appear to back down is not in the cards when a politician thinks their vote is in the best interest of the city."

The initiative, if adopted by a majority of the Laguna Beach electorate voting on the matter, would prohibit the multistory parking structure and a public park and restrict expenditures to $5 million.

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