September 2, 2022 | Laguna Beach Indy News September 2, 2022 - Page 12

12 lagunabeachindy . com SEPTEMBER 2 , 2022

Measure Q and The Coffee House “ Megaproject ”

Measure Q ( aka Laguna Residents First ) advocates say that their goal is to require a citizen vote on “ megaprojects .” I agree that a citizen vote would be appropriate on truly large development projects . However , of the six “ triggers ” in Q that require a vote , only one relates to project size . The others address parking , project traffic , cumulative traffic , lot size and building height .
If Q was in force today , the proposed 1,450-square-foot coffee house at 500 Broadway St . would should require a citizen vote . The vote is required because , after various allowances , the project would be eight parking spaces short of meeting Q ’ s “ reasonable ”
parking requirements . ( Supporters of Q have long complained that the city is derelict in requiring “ reasonable ” parking , and they believe Q will solve the problem .)
But wait , there ’ s more ! Such a small store does not look like a “ megaproject ” which requires a citizen vote . So , to seem more rational , Q supporters claim , “ Well , we don ’ t mind the parking space shortfall here .” Their proposed workaround is a provision in Q that allows the Planning Commission to waive parking requirements if it finds a “ commensurate public benefit ” ( a coffee house ?) and “ no impact to parking .” The proposed project will turn a four-person office into a 16 seat coffee house . Since it is unlikely the Planning Commission could make a legally supportable finding of “ no impact to parking ,” the owner would have to wait until November 2024 ( unless he wanted to spend over $ 130,000 for a special election ) to see if his “ megaproject ” coffee house would be approved .
With COVID-19 , City Council allowed restaurants to expand their seating outdoors . Most of us feel the Council acted in a timely , sensible , and responsible way . Outdoor dining not only saved the restaurants , it has turned out to be very popular . If Q had been in
force , each outdoor dining expansion would have required a public vote . It would have taken months to organize , campaign and vote , all at a significant cost . In the meantime , many of the restaurants would have closed , probably never to reopen .
Managing a dynamic city such as Laguna Beach takes knowledge , talent , and effort . Imagine if the city were a business that had to secure a vote from thousands of stockholders every time the business wanted to add a new product , service , or make a price change . And the stockholders vote could only occur every two years in a regular election or at a significant cost for a special election .
A required citizen vote to approve many projects — large and small — is not the right solution . We will always have the right to demand a vote on actual ( and rare ) megaprojects , like we did with the Montage Referendum .
The best way to govern this town is to elect City Council members who represent your views . The upcoming election allows voters to choose a majority of the Council . That is the better way to assure that our town continues to be the “ almost perfect ” place that it is .
Cody is a member of the Housing and Human Services Committee .

Lessons from the Eureka Cemetery

Waking up in picturesque Midway , Utah , I asked the Beautiful Wife if she was up for a day trip . The Beautiful Wife was intrigued , even after she learned it was to Eureka , once a bustling mining town , now more a ghost town . People still live there , but the dead outnumber the living . Two of the former are great-grandparents and I felt a duty
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