Letter to the editor: No on Q for public safety reasons

I urge Laguna residents to vote no on Measure Q for compelling public safety reasons.

Measure Q is a long (18 single-spaced pages) poorly written initiative with serious flaws affecting public safety. First, it does not exclude public projects, including critical infrastructure like fire and police stations. Second, Q’s required vote for public (and private) projects is a majority of the “electorate” which Q does not define, but which Webster defines as “persons entitled to vote”, i.e. all registered voters, not just the much smaller number who actually voted. Using the 2018 midterm elections, where 66.3% of the city’s registered voters voted, a mere 16% “no” vote would kill a critical public safety project. (100 registered voters (the “electorate”), 51 majority votes to approve the project, 66 people actually vote – it only takes 16 “no” votes to fall below the 50% majority).

It’s not hypothetical. Fire Station 4 serving South Laguna is 75 years old, outdated and inadequate to meet the needs of the community. Worse still, the old building is not earthquake resistant and could be lost in an earthquake leaving South Laguna exposed. Replacing Fire Station 4 is one of Laguna’s most pressing public safety needs. Fortunately, the City has located and acquired an ideal replacement property consisting of three parcels that are to be merged into one. This merger submits the project to Q’s public vote because it combines parcels exceeding 7,500 square feet.

Realizing this serious flaw, Laguna Residents First PAC published an open letter to Fire Chief King in Indy last week stating that “the fact is that a simple adjustment of the lot line is all that is needed.” This statement is false.

The Q measure defines “batch merging” as the “merging of two or more parcels”. LRF argues that their own initiative can easily be circumvented (even by the developers they vilify) by a lot line adjustment to create a plot for Fire Station 4, instead of a merge. However, under California law, a lot line adjustment cannot reduce the number of parcels, only add property from one parcel to another (Gov. Code §6412(d)), and the Laguna’s zoning code prohibits the reduction of parcel sizes (Section 25.25.008(A)).

Simply put, a merging of plots, not much line tweaking, is required to develop the badly needed Fire Station 4. Delaying and risking this project by requiring supermajority voting is crazy. Please vote no on Q.

Tom Gibbs, Laguna Beach

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