Mailbag: Measure CC is unnecessary taxation

Much has already been written on Measure CC, the Open Space Initiative that would implement a $10 per month per parcel tax to acquire open space parcels. The proponent's arguments just don't stand up to close examination. Their arguments include:

•The law is needed because the city has no money to buy private parcels. The city has an open space budget now and buys land when the opportunity presents itself. In fact, some of the supporters of Measure CC recently asked the City Council for money to purchase a garden plot.

•The law is similar to the Laguna Canyon Conservancy example. There are many differences between Measure CC and the canyon purchase. The canyon land in question was a single large parcel slated for imminent development not under Laguna's control. The targeted land is owned by dozens of individuals, fragmented, steeply sloped and unbuildable under current Laguna regulations.

•The tax is fair and immaterial to Laguna residents. Measure CC will tax more than existing parcels and generate $20 million in revenues. "Fair taxation" depends on who you are. If you are a billionaire living in an ocean front mansion, Measure CC is fair because the tax is immaterial. If you are retired and living in a modest house, Measure CC is an unfair burden. Only the property owners pay this tax, while every registered voter in town gets a vote.

Measure CC sets up a permanent citizens committee. The powers of the citizens committee are not clearly defined. It appears the committee will both review and recommend land purchases and be responsible to ensure all funds are used cost effectively.

Measure CC is silent on who is managing tax revenues that are estimated to be about $20 million.

Management of Laguna's remaining open space is in good hands with our elected officials and staff. Measure CC is not needed and will only lead to waste and problems our city cannot afford.

Learn more about Measure CC. It's not what it seems.

Jill Cooper

Laguna Beach


Let's have an intelligent discussion about election

Our Constitution guarantees us freedom of speech, as enshrined in the 1st Amendment.

However, when exercising that freedom, it is incumbent on the writer of a letter to the editor to be as accurate as possible.

Calling President Barack Obama a "socialist and communist master" demonstrates a shocking lack of knowledge of those two systems.

President Obama is neither a socialist or communist as Mitt Romney is not a fascist. Calling the president those names results in a total lack of credibility on the part of the writer.

Wouldn't it be better to cite five or six reasons to oppose his re-election? Then we all could embark on an intelligent discussion.

Thomas A. Dugan

Laguna Beach


Social host may save a life

Don't spend your time fighting a law that may save your child's life. Your kids are drinking and taking drugs. All you need to do is ask the police for the reports filed just this past year to see how many parties there have been with drunken kids fleeing as neighbors called the police.

And police do nothing but break up the party and send the kids on their way. Those of us who have called the police have also listened as the kids tell each other where to go to the next party. Ask any parent who thought "not my child" and whose kids are now in rehab or worse. However, the most important thing you as a parent can do is know where your child is 24/7. Is it hard work? Yes. Is it worth your child's life? Yes.

Lynn Powers

Laguna Beach


Vote for Whalen a 'no-brainer'

I am thrilled to have a choice for City Council, that of a candidate whose action leaves no question about his commitment to local kids. Among the twentysomething years and a gazillion hours of community leadership, Bob Whalen has devoted 10 years as a Laguna Beach Unified School District school board member, served many years as president of the Boys & Girls Club and SchoolPower and as a coach for AYSO and little league. I'm drawing a blank to think of anyone else, candidate or not, who has demonstrated dedication of his range and depth in bettering the lives of Laguna Beach children.

Whalen has not just served; he has made a difference. All of Laguna's public school students continue to benefit from his leadership in spearheading the 2002 School Bond Measure that has kept our school facilities in excellent shape. As a school board member, he also helped to bring about the fiscally sound policies and practices that our school board continues to employ, and that have become essential, today. As president of the Boys & Girls Club president, I watched as he rallied supporters to respond to the economic challenges that hammered nonprofits in 2008, keeping the club accessible for the many children who enjoy and depend on its services.

In addition to his obvious dedication, I appreciate a candidate like Whalen, who will thoughtfully consider issues facing Laguna, logically balance interests, make long term and big picture decisions, build consensus and take thoughtfully-planned action. Perhaps the diverse range of political perspectives of Whalen supporters is testimony to the belief by many in his character and decision-making skills.

This is a tough race with strong candidates. But for this mom of three, a Whalen vote is still a no-brainer.

Robin Rounaghi

Laguna Beach


Vote for the candidate, not for party affiliation

As election day approaches and with absentee voters already casting their ballots, I strongly urge all Laguna Beach residents to vote in the nonpartisan City Council race for the candidate rather than for party affiliation. That said, I understand party affiliation matters to some voters, and I therefore want to issue this important alert.

By way of background, four of the candidates in the race are Democrats: Jane Egly, Verna Rollinger, Robert Ross and Bob Whalen. Only one major candidate — Steve Dicterow — is a Republican.

It turns out that Whalen, who is one of the leading fundraisers in the council race, has apparently bought his way onto a number of Republican slate mailers in an attempt to fool Republicans into thinking he is one of them.

Such slate mailers are sleazy by definition. In the typical case, an ethically-challenged political consultant will put together a bogus slate. In Whalen's case, the top of the ticket will no doubt feature Mitt Romney as the presidential candidate and Dana Rohrabacher as the congressional candidate — and neither candidate will have to pay to be on the slate. Then, the political consultant finds Democratic candidates like Whalen to buy into spots down the slate for big bucks so they can fool some Republicans.

Democrats in Laguna voting along party lines would do well to avoid Whalen for his turncoat behavior. Republicans voting along party lines should be outraged that Whalen is trying to pass as one of them when there is an actual Republican in the race.

Peter Navarro

Laguna Beach


Town shouldn't lose Animal Crackers

I have been a volunteer and contributor to Animal Crackers Pet Rescue since Gina Katzenbedian bought her business. As most people in town know she is being evicted from her store.

Seriously, there is not an empty city parcel or lot that the city could lease to her. I, for one, and many people I know, could have a fundraiser to buy a mobile home or build something for her to continue her animal rescue.

Please don't let our town lose Gina.

An unhappy citizen of 38 years and yes I do vote.

Marilyn Dillow

Laguna Beach


Vote no on Measure CC

Lagunans want to preserve open space, so Measure CC sounds like a good idea. But Measure CC is not needed.

Laguna has a Local Coastal Plan, LCP. The LCP designates undeveloped canyon/hillside parcels as Residential Hillside, RHP, Open Space Conservation, OSC or Passive Open Space, POS. The LCP states or infers that these properties are unlikely to be developed.

This law will force the city to amend the LCP, General Plan and other ordinances. The California Coastal Commission must approve changes to the LCP.

Measure CC prohibits the use of acquired property for anything but OSC, "trail maintenance and fire safety." Other public uses, such as improved hiking trails, emergency evacuation, community gardens, public parks and bike paths are prohibited. Currently, our elected officials, with public input, can acquire parcels and determine the best public use. This law will place an unreasonable straight jacket on our city government.

The tax ends in 20 years after about $20 million has been placed in a separate account. But the law and the committee never end. The committee can use 0.5% of the balance for expenses. But expenses for buying land will be much higher than 0.5%. The law imposes a cap of 4% for perpetual maintenance. The city will be stuck with the inevitable overruns. If the committee can't find willing sellers, the balance cannot be refunded to the taxpayers.

I surveyed the parcels based on the city's online records. I found large parcels totaling over 400 acres, which matches the proponents' estimates. The driftwood land accounts for over half. The Athens Group offered to donate this land to the city. The city declined citing unacceptable environmental and other risks. Another 40% is already designated OSC or RHP and is under the jurisdiction of the Coastal Commission. It is highly unlikely any of these parcels will be developed.

This leaves less than 40 acres that is RHP and not under Coastal Commission jurisdiction. For years, the city has opposed efforts to develop several of these parcels. These parcels do not justify a new law, new taxes and added layers of bureaucracy. This will only undermine and confuse the current proceedings managed by our elected officials.

Laguna Beach has proven it has the ability to acquire open space land. This law is not needed and will only lead to waste, conflict and disappointment. Please support open space and join me in voting No on Measure CC.

Doug Cortez

Laguna Beach


Egly and Rollinger are part of a brighter future

We have heard for years that in Laguna Beach one person can create havoc. Is it true that Audrey Prosser, a member of the local Democrats, does not like Mayor Jane Egly and caused the group to refuse endorsing her for election? Is it true that county Democrats never contacted Bob Whalen, a long-time Democrat and failed to endorse or list him as a candidate for City Council? Hard to believe.

I write provocative letters, but as I stated early in the game, I am voting for Jane Egly and Verna Rollinger, especially after hearing about Prosser and the Orange County Democrats. I like our city. I like watching the lifeguards talking to people along the shore and explaining to them the power of our waves and the junior lifeguard program is one of the best. I respect the difficult job our fire and police personnel have, dealing with homeless people who are beyond the pale and going on more calls in a day than some Orange County fire departments make in a week. We are lucky to have 60 plus public art installations.

Even the metal bus bench in front of the Hotel Laguna amazes visitors and residents alike. Our 25-plus public parks are fabulous and my two favorites include Heisler Park and Treasure Island Park. Rollinger and Egly have done a great job and we need them for a brighter future.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach


Carefully consider Measure CC before voting

I am responding to the portion of Anne Frank's letter "A real cliffhanger in this election," regarding Measure CC in the Oct. 12 issue of the Coastline Pilot.

Her letter stated: The Open Space Initiative which calls for $120 per year increase in property taxes of Laguna Beach property owners to put in a fund to purchase unbuildable properties. I feel she has put into words one of the reasons we shouldn't waste our tax money. Why should we take off the property tax rolls such properties if they can never be built upon?

She also "In a town where the median income is over $90,000, $120 represents less than what a couple might spend on dinner."

Since median indicates the middle, that means that many of us are below that income amount. As a recent widow, my income is below the median she speaks of.

If the measure was written to charge property taxpayers according to the value of their homes, as was the Laguna Canyon tax measure, I would consider voting for it. I don't consider it fair that I should have to pay the same amount as an oceanfront property. Tenants, your landlords will pass this tax along to you in the form of increased rent.

I ask all local voters to carefully consider Measure CC before voting on it. I will be voting No on CC on Nov. 6.

Sandra Werthe

Laguna Beach


Community garden is city 'at its best'

I am a long-term Laguna resident and love this community for its physical beauty and its character of engagement.

Currently I am chair of the board of trustees of the Laguna College of Art and Design. As the former executive dean of the UCLA College of Letters and Science, I have a longstanding commitment to environmental ecology and aesthetics.

For me, the community garden in South Laguna is Laguna Beach at its best. It stands for values of cooperation, environmental enhancement and education. It is a real jewel and it makes my heart sing every time I see it. I strongly urge the city to take whatever steps necessary to promote and protect the future of this worthy project.

Patricia O'Brien

Laguna Beach


Open Space Initiative is 'well conceived'

Measure CC is on the ballot because concerned citizens took the initiative to devise a method of completing Laguna's inner greenbelt despite the ending of state funds for this purpose. It is on the ballot because concerned citizens gathered thousands of signatures to ensure that this measure would get on the ballot. For the measure to pass, two-thirds of the voters must vote yes on it, a tall order in our current negative political environment. If Measure CC passes, that means there is a broad and deep consensus in our community about the virtue of open space preservation.

Don't believe all the hyperbole, all the exaggerated and frankly preposterous claims, that you read against Measure CC. I've researched this myself and I urge other voters to do the same. This

measure is designed only to keep doing what we've been doing, trying to preserve one important element that helps set Laguna Beach apart from other coastal communities. Greenbelt land would be acquired just as in the past. Nothing would change.

I think $120 a year — when our property values will go up more than that as a result of more open space — is a good investment. But I will be voting yes on Measure CC for reasons beyond financial considerations, for surely if another 400 acres of what now are open hillsides are developed we would lose a lot more than $10 a month.

I support Measure CC because I have found it well conceived and consistent with current practice and because I like what we've been doing and want to finish the job. The benefit of open space, or the loss of it, will be forever and I want the Laguna Beach of the future to retain the same special quality of open space and natural vistas that it offers today.

Lorna B. Shaw

Laguna Beach


Skateboard law furthers 'nanny-state culture'

With the latest proposed ordinance to empower the police to confiscate the skateboards of helmet-less riders of any age and require offending juveniles to undergo a counseling session, perhaps we've finally reached a Gladwell-like tipping point on the intrusion of civic officials into how parents raise their kids in this town.

I have great memories of skating down Agate Street with my son and three daughters on cruiser boards we made together, and my son probably grinded every ledge and rail from Emerald Bay to Three Arch. My kids' safety was always my, and their own, responsibility. Are there risks? Absolutely. Do I worry that something might happen? You bet. Will my kids always follow the rules? No way, and I sure hope not Do I think enforcement of superfluous, ineffective laws like this one is a good use of a police officer's time? No, I don't. Do I want the City Council to get involved? Is that a serious question?

I have watched and supported good citizens, young and old, campaigning respectfully and energetically to the council for at least 15 years to please build a skate park in this town, where multiple viable sites exist, only to be consistently turned town. And then the council members seem to wonder why they want to skate in the streets? If you've ever been to a skate park you would know that 100% of the riders always have helmets on. Seems like the answer to this "problem" is pretty clear.

I'm thankful my kids are all grown and off to college or graduated and living elsewhere, so that they don't have to deal with a second set of parents in the council chambers. I'm also thankful that this issue has come front and center shortly before the elections, so that the residents of this town have a chance to think about whether they want council members who focus on genuine and appropriate civic governance matters or on expansion of the nanny-state culture.

Thomas Berryman

Laguna Beach


Rollinger best qualified for City Council

Prior to this election, I have been removed from active participation in local elections — other than studying the issues and candidates and casting my ballot. However, I have been watching this local election very closely. I am voting for Verna Rollinger because she has the best qualifications to serve on our City Council.

First, her environmental qualifications far exceed those of any other candidate. The Sierra Club certainly thinks so — other candidates applied, but they only endorsed one candidate —Verna Rollinger. The League of Conservation Voters also endorsed Verna.

Verna is also a close friend and advocate for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community. She has a lifelong commitment to inclusiveness and has been endorsed by the Laguna Beach Equality Coalition.

The Laguna Beach Police Employee's Assn. endorsed Rollinger because, "Her hard work and leadership make Laguna a safer place to live." She is the lead advocate on the council for a downtown foot patrol.

She is the only candidate with a consistent track record of voting to preserve and enhance what makes Laguna Beach unique. She marched in 1989 to preserve open space, and now she fully supports Measure CC. Open space preservation is just one reason why Village Laguna members voted to endorse only one candidate, Rollinger.

Rollinger supports our local business community. She served on the Downtown Task Force to help our businesses through the recession, and she is the only candidate who has proposed to pre-approve businesses in the downtown to encourage new businesses we residents need.

Rollinger not only talks economic and environmental sustainability — she votes for it. Chris Prelitz, an accredited LEED professional and founder of Transition Laguna, publicly acknowledged her 30-year track record toward this end.

Other candidates often talk about their support for what makes Laguna a special community. Verna rolls up her sleeves, works hard, and makes it happen. She takes her work seriously and conducts herself in a professional and respectful manner.

Those are among the reasons I will be voting for her; I encourage you to support her as well.

Kate Clark

Laguna Beach


Why you should vote no on Measure CC

The purpose of Measure CC is to provide funding for acquiring undeveloped open space within the city that is currently in private hands. Proponents of the measure concede the space is a mix of developable and undevelopable land. As to the undevelopable land, why should the city even acquire it? Let the owners continue to pay insurance, maintenance and taxes on the property. Owners who wish to avoid those obligations can offer to donate their property to the city. In return, the City can offer a public commendation – but no money.

As for the owners of developable property, it is highly likely they will use offers from the City as the basis for shopping their property to parties willing to pay more for it. Readers may recall that is exactly what happened last year. In that case, the City Council approved a bid from open space conservationists to purchase 8 acres near Mission Hospital. The hospital outbid the conservationists and acquired the property.

The willingness of outside interests to outbid the city to acquire developable property will only increase as we come out of the recession and property values rise. I can foresee a situation where taxes collected under Measure CC languish in an account for years on end because of the city's inability to bid prudently and competitively for developable properties.

One can only conclude that Measure CC places an unnecessary and ineffective 20-year burden on taxpayers and should be rejected. Vote no on Measure CC.

Joseph C. Napoli

Laguna Beach


Rollinger 'stands up and works for Laguna Beach'

I know why I am voting for Verna Rollinger. I trust her. She is quiet mannered and does not spend her energy calling attention to herself. Instead, she works very hard to enhance what is special about Laguna Beach — a vibrant business community, clean beaches and pristine water, a safe place to live, our legacy as an artists' community, and a place that includes people of all walks of life, orientation and heritage.

Rollinger understands that she serves the community. If you contact her about a city issue, she will respond right away. She will hear you out, share what she knows, and help make your concerns known to the City Council and staff, working until the issue is resolved.

She knows more about our community than any other council member. As our elected city clerk for 30 years, she attended every council meeting during that time and kept all of our records. She made Laguna one of the first Orange County cities to give the public access to city records online. She believes that an informed public makes a strong community.

Verna has been working for Laguna's open space, community scale, and inclusiveness since the 1970s. She worked 40 years ago toward establishment of our 36-foot height limit and recently asked the council to reaffirm the ordinance. She marched for open space in 1989 and is the only candidate who strongly supports Measure CC today.

She knows from Laguna's past that lots that may not be deemed buildable today, may be considered buildable in the future. She knows from her experience how important it is to anticipate future problems and act before they become unsolvable.

I encourage you to vote for Rollinger. She stands up and works for Laguna Beach.

Faith Fontan

Laguna Beach

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