Mailbag: Council increased property taxes

In response to Mr. Christy's letter to the editor ("Keeping the council candidate honest," Coastline Pilot, Aug. 27, I believe my neighbor needs to check his facts. Mr. Christy asserts that the City Council cannot increase our property taxes and blames me for leading the Laguna Beach resident astray.

The fact is that the City Council has the legal authority—and exercised the authority—to raise each and every property owner's taxes on April 20 of this year. How's that for logic in the middle of a global recession?

Allow me to explain: property tax bills contain three different components. The first portion is labeled General Tax Levy. This portion is controlled by Proposition 13 and is limited to 1% of the assessed value of your home and cannot increase more than 2%, year over year.

The second portion is named Voter Approved Indebtedness. This portion can only be used to repay bonds approved by voters. Current law requires a 2/3 vote of the people to approve bonds, except for schools, which require a 55% affirmative vote.

The third and final component is labeled Direct Assessments. This is the portion that the City Council partly controls and this is the part of the property taxes that our illustrious incumbents voted to increase.

The record speaks for itself, but don't take my word for it. Listen to the incumbents boast of raising our property taxes (their words, not mine) at a City Council meeting: http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/meetings_agendas_and_minutes.asp

Fortunately, we don't have to put up with this anymore. Join me in changing the direction of City Hall this November.

Emanuel Patrascu

Laguna Beach

As a resident and business owner in downtown Laguna for the past 30 years, I am offended by Mr. Petrascu's recent e-mail blasts and comments in the newspapers that the current City Council has done too little, too late to help local business.

I have owned businesses in Laguna Beach for years and have never seen a more pro-active and responsive City Council as it relates to business.

Personally, I have worked closely for several years with the current council members, I call them with my concerns, and I know that they have listened to me and have helped in a number of ways.

Kelly Boyd, when he was Mayor, wrote a letter to every owner of retail space in Laguna Beach to encourage them to work with local store owners on rents. Either to reduce rents or give rent free months, so that the stores could remain open during this recession and difficult economic time. My landlord listened, as he wants his tenants to succeed! I thank Kelly for that.

I called Elizabeth Pearson a few months ago, directly, asking her to add an agenda item allowing outdoor displays to our storefronts during the summer months. The City Council voted unanimously to support this and it has been a tremendous help during a difficult summer. All of the merchants are grateful for this support and we hope it continues.

Toni Iseman has worked for many years to encourage the free trolley system, and parking lots located outside of the downtown area, thus reducing the number of cars that clog the downtown district.

The entire City Council voted to allow free parking for employees of downtown stores, allowing them to park in a lot next to City Hall. This left hundreds of parking spaces available to Laguna residents and customers coming to Laguna to shop and dine.

Mr. Petrascu, I have some questions for you. You tell people you are a board member of the Chamber of Commerce. How many times have YOU gone before the Planning Commission or City Council to help a local business? Have you led the Chamber in new directions to help our local businesses? And why, instead of wasting all of your energy complaining about the current council, haven't you told us what YOU will do to help us?

I appreciate the City Council and the work that they have done. We as store owners need to follow the rules outlined in our business permits. There are those that feel that rules are not made for them, and violators must be held in check. This Council gives business owners a voice. If you follow the rules, and operate within the law, your voice is heard.

There is a reason why people LOVE Laguna Beach! We are a unique community, and the City Council and Planning Commission help to keep our city a destination not like any other! During these difficult times, we need proven leaders! We are blessed with leaders in our current council, and I am thankful for their leadership and dedication to our city.

Heidi Ann Miller

Laguna Beach

[Heidi Ann Miller owns Tight Assets and The World Newsstand.]

Officials delay action on issues

I read the story about the Coastal Commission hearing on the South Laguna trailer park being held in Eureka California ["Group to hear appeals," Coastline Pilot, Aug. 27] and it reminded me of the tactics used by the Ku Klux Klan just after the end of the Civil War. Under pressure by the federal government to extend freedoms to freed slaves, the south, which at the time was under the thumb of the Klan, limited open discussion by distancing government from the people they where expected to serve. A common practice in Laguna Beach. The same management style was used when discussions on banning fishing from the coastline came up for public review and the fishing community felt it waste time to show up. There was a little creativity with the homeless [advocates, that used a frivolous lawsuit like it was a court order.

It's ironic that the Coastal Commission and the City of Laguna Beach are in a showdown over a trailer park. But it should be of great concern for the people who live around Panorama and Emerald Bay. When the reservoir was built on the hill it changed the course of the drainage compounded by a misguided fire prevention program brought about the flooding on Panorama last year. Because critical areas where not protected this year there are already tons of sediment ready to flow down to our ocean again. But most of the water has been redirected so it flows down the side of the Canyon behind Emerald Bay. The rest of the water is directed into the back yard of a lady who has a caregiver. They don't go into the backyard much because the dried mud from last year makes it hard it get around.

The same people who were opposed to Wayne Baglin's plan to stop the city of Laguna from pumping raw sewage into the ocean don't see a problem with the drainage on Panorama. The Coastal Commission is busy setting up their next meeting in China, I think, and under the current bureaucracy both the city of Laguna and the commission will have to come together to solve the problems. Thus leaving both the environment and the community waiting and losing. The bureaucrats who are responsible for the endless delays in both South and North Laguna will never face liability or feel the effects of decisions they make.

John Kreber

Laguna Beach

A respectful distance called for

Cultural centers can do much to promote peace and goodwill on Earth. Should there be a Christian cultural center in Poland? Yes, but not within 1,000 feet of the Auschwitz death camps. Should there be a Japanese cultural center in Hawaii? Yes, but not within 1,000 feet of the Arizona memorial. Should there be an American cultural center in Hiroshima? Yes, but not within 1,000 feet of their ground zero. And finally, should there be an Islamic cultural center in Manhattan? Yes, but not within 1,000 feet of our ground zero.

Richard Moore

Laguna Beach

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