Direct Democracy Comes to Laguna

By Merrill Anderson

God bless California! When the railroad company a century ago used huge amounts of campaign cash to overwhelm the California legislature in order to advance their business goals, the state lawmakers introduced direct democracy for the benefit of all residents.

Then, as is now in Laguna Beach, direct democracy is the remedy for when representative democracy breaks down. Here in Laguna Beach a handful of big developers have flooded local elections with record amounts of cash to advance their business goals and drastically over-develop and change our city forever. One of these developers bragged that he has lined up $1 billion for projects in Laguna Beach.

How did we get to this place? Big developer money has captured two city councilmembers who over the past three years have:

· Browbeat and intimidated residents from offering their opinions in city council meetings, one of whom was censured for vicious attacks on residents.
· Hounded responsible residents from the Design Review Board and replaced them with sycophants for the developers.
· Looked the other way as a big developer proceeded with unpermitted work on the main floor of Hotel Laguna.
· Repeatedly engaged in Brown Act violations in an effort to keep their shenanigans private and away from the watchful eye of residents.
Representative democracy has broken down. Now it’s time for direct democracy, specifically the Laguna Residents First Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zoning District ballot initiative. This ballot initiative sprang from the Laguna Community Summit that brought together 10 local community organizations and when passed will:
· Empower Laguna residents to vote on very large commercial developments.
· Enable Laguna to grow and develop responsibly; honoring our heritage and embracing responsible growth.
· Restore democracy to Laguna
· Continue to allow residential properties (of less than 10 units) to be developed to meet housing needs, including low income.

Please don’t fall for the misstatements about the ballot initiative that will surely come from city councilmembers, city staff and others captured in the financial orbit of the big developers. Read about the ballot initiative yourself by visiting lagunaresidentsfirst.org.

Merrill Anderson, Assistant Treasurer for Laguna Residents First PAC

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