Public Vote Initiative on Laguna Beach Development Garners Enough Valid Signatures: Registrar

By Brandon Drey
Brandon Drey
Brandon Drey
Brandon Drey is a California-based reporter for The Epoch Times.
February 9, 2022Updated: February 9, 2022

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif.—A Laguna Beach zoning initiative that would put large-scale developments to a public vote received enough verified signatures, according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

Last year, Laguna Residents First, a nonprofit residents’ organization established in 2020, developed the “Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zoning District Ballot Initiative” to preserve the city’s “heritage and charm” on some development projects along the Laguna Canyon or the Pacific Coast Highway—the only two major roads providing access to the city.

The measure calls to put to a public vote any development that exceeds the city’s current 36-foot height limit, spreads over 22,000 square feet, or increases traffic with 200 or more daily trips. Projects that provide less parking or combine large building lots will require residents’ approval, too.

Of approximately 2,400 signatures collected—or 10 percent of the city’s registered voters—by Laguna Residents First volunteers, 2,001 signatures were verified, qualifying the ballot initiative to move forward, according to the Registrar’s Office.

The city council must decide at its next meeting on Feb. 15 if the measure should be adopted as city law, or hold a vote for the public through a special or general election this year, Anne Marie McKay, the Laguna Beach city clerk, told The Epoch Times.

Other Southern California cities like Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, and Dana Point have enacted similar laws.

Opposers of the initiative say the new law could block any development from taking place, stifling businesses ranging from large hotels to new restaurants.

Proponents say it allows voters more control over the large development in Laguna Beach.

“It is true that very large projects, around the size of the two new hotels being proposed for downtown, would have to win voter approval,” David Raber, principal officer for Laguna Residents First, told The Epoch Times. “But it certainly does not preclude all development.

“If it’s a project that voters like, they will approve it. The [Laguna Residents First] Ballot Initiative allows voters to decide.”