Mailbag: Missed opportunity in street projects

With regard to the $1.6 million street resurfacing project on Pacific Coast Highway and Laguna's residential streets, and the ongoing $10,000 change-order for striping and final adjustments, now would be a good time to recall the updated policy from Caltrans, California's Department of Transportation.

It says "The department views all transportation improvements as opportunities to improve safety, access, and mobility for all travelers in California and recognizes bicycle, pedestrian, and transit modes as integral elements of the transportation system."

This means even small paving projects are an opportunity to make small adjustments to better accommodate all travelers, such as shifting striping to better accommodate pedestrians and cyclists, or in the case of Laguna Beach, providing the stripes in the first place.

Today virtually all the streets planned for resurfacing are finished while the DOT policy goes ignored.

Further, the status quo argues that Complete Streets policy mandated by the state doesn't apply till Jan. 1, so CS policy can be safely ignored till then.

With the prime interest rate hovering at zero, I will argue it is better to comply with Complete Streets policy yesterday than it will be tomorrow.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

Editor's Note: Les Miklosy is chairman of the Complete Streets Task Force in Laguna Beach.

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Village Laguna wields too much power

Over the last three weeks, I've been attacked by three different Village Laguna board members for publicizing voting irregularities in the recent Design Review Board election.

Each attack has quite unintentionally revealed more about both the Village Laguna agenda and the strong control Village Laguna has over a three-vote City Council majority.

In a Nov. 19 newspaper communication, Armando Baez poses this question: "I wonder when any of the city council members became so docile as to be controlled by any person or group as Mr. Navarro claims?"

When, Mr. Baez? How about April 6. That date marks Baez's own quite successful effort at maneuvering the City Council to deny his next-door neighbor on Driftwood Drive the courtesy and right to add a home addition. This proposed addition came twice before the DRB. Both times, the DRB approved it by a unanimous vote, but each time, Baez appealed the decision to the City Council.

On April 6, 2010, Baez prevailed on a 3-2 vote of the Village Laguna Council majority — Toni Iseman, Jane Egly, and Verna Rollinger — and the project was rejected.

Make no mistake about it: This council action was an extraordinary rebuke of the DRB process. In fact, when the council upheld the Baez appeal, everyone at City Hall — from city staff and DRB members to the council minority (Boyd and Pearson) knew that the vote was "political."

This gross miscarriage of justice puts an exclamation point to the claim that a three-vote Council majority now does the bidding of a small but powerful fringe group.

In this Village Laguna coalition, Toni Iseman is the idealist. While one can disagree with some of her land use decisions, at least her consistency deserves respect.

As for Jane Egly, she is the quintessential pragmatist. She creates the illusion of independence from Village Laguna to expand her political base. But Egly can always be counted on for important Village Laguna votes like Baez's political moratorium on his neighbor's home addition or the recent rigged DRB appointment process.

Rollinger is simply the Village Laguna rubber stamp who would not have been elected without the group's support (and the 2008 Democratic coattails of Barack Obama).

It is Rollinger who has, by defeating the lackluster campaign of Cheryl Kinsman, tipped the balance on the council. Now, Village Laguna can have its way with our city.

Here's the bottom line: Whether Village Laguna's demonstrable power is put to personal use by Mr. Baez to protect his property at the expense of his neighbor or whether it is to keep architects off the DRB, it should be clear that Village Laguna wields far too much power for our city's own good.

In the 2012 election, that situation can be dramatically reversed as both Egly and Rollinger face reelection. It is council votes like the Baez neighborhood veto and the DRB vote rigging that voters should remember when they go to the polls.

Peter Navarro

Laguna Beach

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