LAGUNA BEACH, CA – July 14, 2021: Laguna Residents First (LRF), a residents’
advocacy organization, officially submitted a ballot initiative to the city today. When voted into law, the initiative would give voters in Laguna Beach the right to approve or deny the development of major commercial projects by a simple majority. A previous effort was stalled last Spring with the arrival of the pandemic.
Voter approval would be required for commercial projects that combine large building lots, provide less on-site parking than is currently mandated, exceed the current height limits, or are larger than 22,000 square feet. The ballot initiative only pertains to proposed commercial projects within 750 feet of Coast Highway or Laguna Canyon Road, as well as other factors. Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Dana Point have passed similar initiatives.
“Large development plans have been proposed in recent years that could adversely
impact Laguna’s unique character and livability,” says Assistant Treasurer Merrill
Anderson. “Residents should have the right to vote on projects that could permanently
affect their ability to commute and safely evacuate, if necessary. Protecting property
values and our quality of life are important.”
The ballot initiative was submitted now so that no special election will be needed: it will appear on the November 2022 ballot if the group is able to get 1,725 signatures (one tenth of city’s 17,242 registered voters). That ballot item would then require 50% from all Laguna Beach voters for final passage. No public money would be involved; the cost of an election and costs to remove a parcel would rest with developers.