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Letter to Editor: Vote Yes on Measure CC

"What side of history do you want to be on?" asks John Monahan.

Dear Editor:

As you’re deciding how to vote on Measure CC, you may want to think about how you will look back on your vote 20 years from now.  And what side of history you want to be on.

Back in 1968, when the City issued bonds to purchase the land that would become Main Beach Park, a certain group in town opposed City ownership, and wanted the property to be developed with motels, a parking structure and a convention center.  In 1990, a year after thousands walked to save Laguna Canyon, and voted overwhelmingly to issue bonds for the purchase, a small group that claims to represent taxpayers (they don’t represent me or most of the people I know, and we’re all taxpayers) argued against creation of a wilderness park on these lands.  And today, we have the same small group arguing against Measure CC, the ballot measure to help preserve the remaining 400 acres of developable open space around town.

What side of history do you want to be on?  The one that created the spectacular window-to- the- sea at Main Beach that generations of Lagunans have enjoyed, or the one that wanted to clutter Main Beach with massive commercial development?   The one that created Laguna Canyon Wilderness Park, or the one that preferred development of another cookie-cutter Irvine Company “community” in Laguna Canyon?  The one that supported Measure CC and preserved Laguna’s remaining open space, or the one that saw those lands developed parcel-by-parcel over 20 years and lost forever?

Laguna Beach has a proud history of people coming together, regardless of political stripe, and making the right decision at critical moments.  This is one such moment.  Please join the majority of Lagunans and vote Yes on Measure CC.  We need 2/3 to pass it, and every vote counts.

-- John Monahan

Charles October 29, 2012 at 02:09 PM
I have a hair and nail appointment that day - I can't vote. Maybe next time.
Doug Cortez October 29, 2012 at 06:28 PM
These are the same talking points we have heard ad nauseam from the proponents of CC. This law has nothing to do with Main Beach or Measure H. The land was defined, available for purchase and REAL development was eminent. I researched most of the undeveloped parcels targeted by CC. There are about 400 acres, over 28-30 parcels, owned by about 16 persons. 220 acres is the Driftwood property which was offered to the City for free. This land contains hazardous and other risks and the City wisely declined to accept this unlimited liability. Most of the remaining land is under the Coastal Commission approved Local Coastal Plan and is designated "open space". A small amount is outside of Coastal Commission control but will never be developed. Plans to develop these remaining parcels have already been rejected by the City. There is no threat of development. We don't need an unpaid committee of 5 "citizens" to spend $32 million of your money just to buy a few parcels that will never be developed. After 20 yrs the tax ends but the committee and the law continues to burden the City with never ending costs and liabilities. Our elected officials have the means now to buy open space land when it makes sense and the opportunity is real. Meanwhile this land will remain open space, and the liabilities will be with the speculators that bought these parcels many years ago. Please join me and your neighbors who have studied this flawed and useless law by voting NO on Measure CC.
Barbara Picheny October 29, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Measure CC gives the people of Laguna Beach an opportunity to positively impact the quality of life for future Lagunans. It is sad that the "nay-sayers" are busily demonizing the concept and the proponents of this measure. We, taxpayers all, can now make a dramatic difference, as those Lagunans in 1971 and 1991 did before us!! It is time to put political differences aside and support the maintenance of the "inner greenbelt". Barbara Miller
A. Gloria Wolff October 29, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Thank you for your letter. I am voting against Measure CC for the reasons you have stated here. The few people that own these parcels could donate them to the city. Why should I buy their property because they can not develop it? Gloria Wolff
Dean October 29, 2012 at 09:08 PM
No on CC
Doug Cortez October 29, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Once again Barbara Picheny is following the tradition of the Village Laguna proponents of CC. Because someone decided to vote NO we are "naysayers" and "demons". This is NOT a political issue. It is NOT about preserving Open Space. We all want Open Space. It is about all the people working together with our City government and not dividing our community by pushing a special interest law on our community that the people and our elected officials did NOT ask for. It is about good vs bad government. The facts are that remaining open space land will not be developed for all the reasons stated and this perpetual law is simply not rational or needed. Please read the law, study the facts, and vote unemotionally NO on CC. Gloria Wolff has this figured out as to thousands of others.
John Monahan October 30, 2012 at 05:10 AM
Mr. Cortez: It seems like you've spent some time researching the issue, which is better than most, so you deserve a response. Do you really think that these property owners pay their taxes year after year after year because they think their property is NOT developable? Of course they believe they can develop their properties despite zoning and other restrictions, and often they are right. As we have seen with Diamond-Crestview and elsewhere, the only difference between an undevelopable property and a developable one is the landowner filing a lawsuit with the City and watching the City back off. And we have one Council candidate who prides himself on settling the lawsuit and saving the City a lot of money (he doesn't mention losing a lot of open space in the process). Mr. Cortez, I wish you were right on this, but history tells us you are not.
Jill Cooper October 30, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Mr. Monahan, Yes, Mr. Cortez has researched the parcels to be acquired by Measure CC. One of the properties is owned by Mr. Pike at the end of Thurston Drive. Since 1980 he has attempted to get variances to subdivide, was denied, extend the street, was denied, build a huge house and give the remaining land to the city, denied again. The Land Use Plan has been amended since the Diamond-Crestview properties were built with much stricter regulations. The City Council has the power to deny any variance not compiling to city codes. The other large parcel owners are well aware of Mr. Pikes dilemma. Yes, these property owners once had grand ideas to develop but are now stuck with huge liabilities. Let them continue paying their property taxes or give the property to the city.
Doug Cortez November 01, 2012 at 12:59 AM
John: thank you for your comment. I appreciate the civilized and rational tone. Ms Cooper is correct. The owners of these properties (based on city official records) bought these long ago, paid little for them and taxes are very low. Per my research, excluding the Driftwood properties, there are 2 parcels that pay no prop tax, 11 pay <$1K, 8 < $5K. Only 2 pay over $10K. The Pike prop tax is just $1558. These owners can hold on forever and under no duress. 2 are now trying to sell and no offers are coming .. for good reason!. A better solution is to give this undevelopable land to non-profit conservancy (see Silver Lake for a current example, Measure H Laguna), and don't burden the City with these liabilities. Open Space YES, Measure CC No.
Dave Connell November 01, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Doug is right. Measure CC is a power and money grabbing scam. Its about taxing you to buy empty lots and parcels in town. Mostly unbuildable unsaleable land that is already empty and will remain that way. The owners are paying taxes on it so you don't have tool. The Flat Tax is not the way, it is a tax hurts to poor and middle class while favoring the rich. No on CC. Dave Connell
Dave Connell November 01, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Silly boy. The property owners pay the taxes because they have to. The whole thing is bad and the worst part is the Flat Tax. An unjust tax punishing to poor and middle class while favoring the rich. Vote No on this scheme and let the pushers come back in the next election with a better plan and a fair sales or property tax. \
Dave Connell November 01, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Doug is right again. Dave
Jill Cooper November 01, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Measure CC tax isn't necessary whether it's on the parcel owners or a city sales tax. Our bare hillsides are already saved due to the regulations passed by our city council making it impossible to subdivide, extend streets, build larger than the conforming neighborhood with slope ratios, square footage and height limits. The Open Space Initiative, backed by two women on the city council now up for reelection, want to amass a large amount of money to spend at their discretion. Why after passing all these regulations, knowing these last parcels of land haven't a chance in H--- of ever being built, would they back Measure CC? Could it be that several neighborhood associations within Laguna will endorse them if they in return buy property within their neighborhood first? Sounds like a conflict of interest to me. They will have millions at their fingertips to pay more than the land is worth just to appease these specific associations. It will only bail out a handful of parcel owners that see this windfall of cash as a way out of a bad investment. If CC doesn't pass, the most these large parcel owners can possibly build will be one modest home where their land has access to the street and will give the remaining land to the city as open space. One or two more homes in Laguna will not devastate our remaining hillsides. It's selfish of these neighborhood associations to make us pay just to keep one house from being built on their street. NO on CC.
John Monahan November 02, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Doug: thanks for your response. I too appreciate your rational tone. The rest of this comment string has pretty much lost it. I understand that you believe that the restrictions in place on some of the properties will stop some development from happening, but there are ways around the rules, previous landowners have pushed back and won, the pressure to develop will greatly intensify as we come out of recession, and one or two changes on City Council could completely change the rules of the game. We need CC and I'm going to vote Yes. Thanks for having a reasonable conversation.
Doug Cortez November 02, 2012 at 04:17 PM
John: I agree reasonabe people can work together to preserve open space. The groups promoting CC are dividing our community. Today's ads in the papers claim CC is a continuation of Measure H Laguna Canyon Conservation. This is simply not true and creates more division. No one running for City Council will allow OS parcels to be developed. All candidates except one, are opposing CC or have serious reservations about it. One more point. The few parcel owners that have attempted development (and failed) have turned to the courts (w/o success). If CC passes, we will have permanent law that will enable the City to monetize over $30 mm of your money. Will the courts insist the City pay damages to these owners if they have this kind of money in a segregated account for this purpose. Is CC an admission of guilt by the City? CC will ony embolden property owners to sue the City and grab this money. One more reason to reject this bad idea.

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