Mailbag: Cultural significance important to historical designation

City Councilmember Verna Rollinger's recent commentary regarding "preservation over restoration" of historic buildings and their ability to comply with Mills Act standards disregarded the fact that historic buildings can also be evaluated based on their cultural significance to the city and not just the extent to which the original structure remains intact. ["Heisler Building gets a tax break," Coastline Pilot, Sept. 24.] The Heisler building is a perfect example of a structure that has significant cultural impacts to the city. The Heritage Committee did a fine and thorough job in evaluating the cultural aspects of the project and subsequently voted to recommend approval of the Mills Act to the City Council.

Rollinger is the City Council member liaison assigned to the Heritage Committee and therefore should be attending the Heritage Committee meetings (of which there were about 12 meetings that were never attended by Rollinger) in order to fully understand the complexity and history of the Heisler building as well as any other historical building in the city. Rollinger's attendance at the Heritage Committee meetings would have given her an awareness that the Heritage Committee weighs these issues and problems very carefully because of the fine line between the preservation and restoration of many old buildings in Laguna which are in dire need of total restoration (i.e., bringing them up to current building codes) while preserving the original architectural style/design. Restoring historical buildings is a huge and very expensive undertaking in Laguna and one to which the Heritage Committee is totally dedicated.

Samuel and Pamela Goldstein

Laguna Beach

Editor's note: Samuel and Pamela Goldstein own the Heisler Building.

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Dog park should not be metered

Certainly, there are bigger issues affecting Laguna Beach and the management thereof. However, this issue deserves some attention and is symptomatic of other local government decisions and actions.

While exiting the dog park a few Saturdays ago, we saw the parking police leaving a citation on our car at 5:03 p.m., three minutes after our 30 minutes had expired. As Laguna Beach residents, we find it deplorable that the city targets dog owning residents, who generally spend no more than 30 to 45 minutes at a time at the park. A primary reason for parking meters is to ensure downtown shoppers do not take a space the entire day, which does not happen at the park. Meters should not be used to impart egregious fines to raise city funds for being a few minutes late.

It is reprehensible that the city wants $40 because we did not put an extra 25 cents in the meter. We paid for our time and were three minutes late. Certainly this is neither a reasonable citation nor one the City Council should endorse as being the intent of the parking code, particularly as no parking revenue was lost. Furthermore, we are sure every dog owner in Laguna agrees that there should be no parking meters at the dog park. While it is easy to point out the fact that all we needed to do was put another quarter in the meter, that is not the point. There is no valid reason for meters at the dog park and no reasonable person can argue that Laguna Beach dog owners should be targeted to raise more funds for the city.

Patrick A. Whitfield

Laguna Beach

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The Legislative Analyst does a good job evaluating the issues on which voters are asked to make decisions. As you study the voter's pamphlet, here are some suggestions to help as you make a choice.

Is the issue a statute or a constitutional amendment? Constitutional amendments need the approval of the people for adoption, and require more signatures if they are put on the ballot through the initiative process.

How did the issue get on the ballot? They may be placed on the ballot by a majority vote of both houses of the legislature and the approval of the governor (or by an override of a governor's veto.) They may also be placed on the ballot through the initiative process, by gathering enough signatures to meet qualification standards.

Where is the money coming from to get an issue on the ballot, and to support or advocate against it? Your source is CalAccess.com, which is the public disclosure by the California Secretary of State of contributions and expenditures for and against propositions. Go to the web site, and the information is there. (You can also find donations by the supporters of candidates on this site.)

Ballot issues are asking citizens to make a change in the law. Check to find what the situation is at this time, then make sure you understand how the proposition, if it is approved, would change conditions.

Be cautious of the statements in support of and against the propositions you read in your ballot pamphlet. Those are political statements made to influence public opinion — just as the ads you see on television or hear on radio. Often facts are distorted and not to be trusted. Sometimes they are actually untrue. Often you will see the title of a person making the statement as being a member of a certain group. This does not mean that group has decided to support or oppose the proposition. If the group has taken a position, that information will generally be given.

Being a good citizen in a democracy is a privilege — but along with that privilege comes a responsibility. Get informed! Vote!

Jean Raun

Laguna Beach

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