Interests of silent majority need to be heard
Regarding the proposed view ordinance: I moved to Laguna Beach 26 years ago, lured by the overall striking beauty and nonconformity of the city. Surrounding cities, to me, were too uniform and manicured.
I bought a house in South Laguna in large part because of the large pine tree in the front yard and a good view of the ocean. I think it's crazy that someone can buy a house behind me tomorrow, fully aware of my tree and its size, and demand that I remove it or prune it to roof level. If pruned, there would be nothing left of the tree.
Additionally, there is a large tree centered in my ocean view. The tree is about 300 yards from my house. However, I find it absurd that I should be able to demand, as a Johnny-come-lately, that the owner of the tree bisecting my view be compelled to prune or cut down the tree. As a matter of fact, I think the tree makes the section of ocean I do see more interesting. Imagine that.
However, the Citizens for View Preservation and Restoration, as I understand the group's position as presented in our local papers, would support the aforementioned actions.
I think the CVPR proposal is nothing more than a negotiation strategy. By taking an extreme position, one can hope to significantly shift a truly balanced outcome, based on compromise and common sense, toward the extremist's opinion, which might be held only by a vocal minority.
View equity committee member Morris Skenderian is right in wanting to know the interests of the silent majority.
Cameras are a 'disturbing' idea
The whole idea of public video surveillance cameras in Laguna Beach is quite disturbing:
1) It can be abused by the police — not necessarily as a tool to solve crime after it has happened, but rather as a "fishing expedition."
2) It can intimidate the public, including tourists.
3) Protecting "innocent behavior" and privacy are important public trusts we place on government.
While many people may be swayed by the notion of video surveillance in having a beneficial effect to reduce crime, the evidence is really not there to substantiate this.
Notwithstanding that public video surveillance cameras have withstood ACLU challenges, it does not negate the validity of the challenges. I agree with the ACLU about a go-slow approach. It is important to note and distinguish between the use of private video surveillance and video surveillance on public property sanctioned by government with the police as an agent of the government. Nothing is more precious to a free society than the right of its citizens to be free of the watchful eye of "Big Brother."
My suggestion is that if cameras are implemented that the police are given strict regulations about when and how to access said information — that is after a crime has been committed — with a clear purpose of solving said crime in mind.
We cannot stand for nor should we stand for the police monitoring lawful activity and tracking the public simply because of the rationale of "suspicious behavior."