and character .
Louis Weil , a Realtor and Design Review Board member , emphasized coming together as a community to solve “ real world problems ” through the multitude of nonprofits in Laguna to preserve village character . Rounaghi , a Laguna Beach native and chair of the Housing and Human Service Committee , discussed preserving Laguna ’ s coastline , protecting open spaces and taking care of older community members .
Blake said he ’ d like to keep Laguna small , quaint and cultured . Kempf discussed keeping storefronts open , reducing Laguna ’ s population of unsheltered people , and beautification projects . Orgill wants to see a long-term plan for the community aesthetic . Flores answered similarly , emphasizing the need for trees downtown , and finally , Pudwill said he would like Laguna to return to what it was 30 years ago .
“ We need low-rise buildings , locally owned businesses , moderate tourism , mitigate parking , and encourage compatible construction and architecture ,” Pudwill said . “ As Mark [ Orgill ] said , I also agree we need a long-range vision plan , something that we did have at one time , and we don ’ t have anymore .”
Climate change was also on the agenda . All candidates agreed the City could do more to move toward zero emissions and increase sustainability . Blake , however , said the responsibility should fall on the individual to see actual results .
The issue of employee morale and retainment of Laguna ’ s public safety
employees was also tackled . The majority of the candidates agreed the turnover was high , especially in the police department , and the culture needed a revamp .
Village Laguna moderators also asked the candidates how they would achieve transparency after the Orange County District Attorney ’ s Office found significant evidence councilmembers violated the Brown Act during a June 2021 closed session discussion of Hotel Laguna .
Blake maintained the council was never in violation of the Brown Act , while Pudwill , Weil , and Orgill said all closed sessions should be recorded and transparency is of utmost importance . Flores added that incoming councilmembers should be educated on the Brown Act , and Rounaghi said following the law is fundamental . Kempf , who was present at the meeting in question , said the council is trained and constantly reminded about ethics and laws surrounding their position .
Council candidates were also asked to discuss their ideas surrounding the California affordable housing mandate . Rounaghi , who serves as Chair of the Housing and Human Services Committee , said they ’ re looking at solutions that best suit Laguna .
“ Recently to right now , we have our housing element that has not been approved by the state where we need to realistically plan for 394 units with 198 of them being for low or very low-income individuals ,” Rounaghi said . “ I think we need to be very , very serious about this issue and look at the facts , looking at the laws , and making sure that we ’ re meeting housing needs locally so the
state doesn ’ t come in and take over .”
Pudwill added that while they are working toward a plan , he ’ d recommend that the City seek out private and public partnerships , and federal funding for infill housing , new projects , and the adaptive use of commercial buildings . Flores said the issue comes down to city management and Weil and Orgill agreed with Rounaghi , stressing the solution has to be the right fit for the community , but something needed to be done soon .
Kempf said she ’ d like to see the City donate land and work with housing developers to build and manage three potential sites the council has in mind , to convert second-story office spaces , and repurpose some existing or light commercial buildings .
“ If we don ’ t get out in front of this and start actually putting a shovel in the ground , we ’ re going to be told to do it in a way that we might not like ,” Kempf said .
Blake said activists are the reason a plan for affordable housing hasn ’ t been implemented .
“ We really need to just stop and come to terms with the fact that the state will tell us what we ’ re going to do if we don ’ t decide to do it on our own ,” he said .
Next up was the candidates ’ opinion on the ballot initiative advanced by Laguna Residents First PAC contrasted with the new city law on property development . Measure Q would allow Laguna residents to vote for or against significant development projects .
Pudwill was the only candidate who endorsed Measure Q .
“ It ’ s important to me because it
gives residents the right to vote ,” Pudwill said . “ And our developers , we can determine for ourselves what we want the community to look like in the future . We can prevent overdevelopment … the only insurance that we have as citizens as residents of this town , to control our future , is Measure Q . I advise you all to vote for it despite the money that ’ s being spent to smear it .”
Blake , Rounaghi , Weil , and Kempf said the measure was too complicated and would create more problems .
“ It creates obstacles for the city , because when you do ballot box planning , the only way to change it is to go back to the voters ,” Rounaghi said .
The final question posed by Village Laguna moderators asked candidates how they would bring greater fiscal responsibility to city spending .
Kempf and Blake said the City has a sound financial policy and thought it managed its money well . Weil , Orgill , and Rounaghi agreed that keeping an eye on department spending and consultant costs would be worthwhile .
Flores said he did come across poor spending and that the council could do better . Pudwill said he looked at spending civic money like it was coming out of his own pocket .
“ Unfortunately , a lot of those studies are heavy-handed and directed . They ’ re not independent studies ,” Pudwill said . “ They ’ re not anonymous . They ’ re often spun to create a different image than what we ’ re really getting .”
our honor to help tell this story .”
On Sept . 8 at 6:30 p . m . the film “ Orange Sunshine ” will screen at the center . After the film , there will be a discussion with director William Kirkley and members of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love , the so-called psychedelic pioneers of Southern California .
The feature-length 2016 documentary-style film chronicles the Brotherhood , a group of California hippies and surfers that rose to star status within the psychedelic movement . During the 1960s and 1970s , the Brotherhood became the largest supplier of the powerful synthetic hallucinogen lysergic acid diethylamide , commonly abbreviated LSD .
On Sept . 10 at 5 p . m . guests are invited to dress in their hippie best and gather for conversation . At 8 p . m ., singer-songwriter Ryan Heflin will perform a 90-minute concert .
An art and photography exhibition will be on display , featuring photos by Douglas Miller , Jesse Miller , and other artists . The art show can be seen through and including the Nov . 3 Art Walk .
The Gathering series continues with a reading by Bare Bones Theatre of playwright Leo Butler ’ s darkly humorous “ All You Need Is LSD ” on Sept . 13 . The play illuminates the debate over psychedelic drugs that won ’ t go away .
OC Nonprofits Rally for Protect & Preserve Giving Day
A coalition of nine nonprofits — including the Pacific Marine Mammal Center , Laguna Ocean Foundation , and Laguna Canyon Foundation — will partner with the Orange County Community Foundation on Sept . 7 for an online giving day to support the region ’ s open spaces and marine protected areas .
PMMC is committed to marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation , science-based education for youth , and environmental conservation research . Laguna Ocean Foundation will partner this year with Orange
County Community Foundation to raise $ 100,000 to safeguard Laguna ’ s marine protected area and tide pools . Laguna Canyon Foundation advocates for open space , educates the public on the Canyon ’ s environmental value , and conducts habitat restoration and trailwork in the canyons
Laguna Ocean Foundation announced the first $ 7,000 will be matched dollar-for-dollar by an unnamed donor .
For more details , please visit protect-and-preserve-giving-day . ocnonprofitcentral . org .
Laguna Open Volleyball Tournament Returns to Main Beach
The 67th annual Laguna Open beach volleyball tournament will be held Sept . 9 to 11 at Main Beach Laguna in partnership with the California Beach Volleyball Association and the Association of Volleyball Professionals .
2000 Olympic gold medal winner Dain Blanton , will be in the announcer ’ s booth alongside Randy Stoklos . Top men ’ s and women ’ s pro teams
will compete . Local DJ Steve “ The Ruckus ” Whelan will spin tunes .
The Men ’ s and Women ’ s Laguna Open divisions will take the top 12 teams plus another four teams that qualify on Sept . 9 . The main draw will then consist of 16 men ’ s and women ’ s teams competing over the weekend . The top two finishing teams per gender will receive Wild Card bids in the AVP Huntington Beach Tour Series event in November .
The local “ Battle of the Beaches ” will return for the third year . This fan-favorite is a competition pitting the four historic Laguna volleyball beaches against each other in a four-person battle . Victoria Beach will defend their title against Three Arch Bay , Emerald Bay and Main Beach for bragging rights .
The Men ’ s and Women ’ s Laguna Open tournaments will award $ 24,000 in prize money , up 30 % from last year . The tournaments are 100 % volunteer supported with entry fees going directly back into the prize purse . For more details , please visit lagunaopen . org .