Letter to the Editor: Laguna Residents First Initiative Will Protect City’s Charm Like Newport’s Greenlight

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May I provide perspective on the Laguna Beach City Council consultant’s report claiming any number of dire consequences if the Laguna Residents First initiative passes?

I have a unique perspective because I live part time in both Laguna Beach and Newport Beach cities and I was part of the group that worked to pass Newport Beach’s smart growth Greenlight initiative in 2000.

The Newport Beach City Council also made all sorts of grim predictions if Greenlight was approved. We were told that we would have multiple elections every year, that the economy would die, that businesses would never stay in Newport and even that single family homes would be impacted by the initiative.

That last statement was a bold-faced lie, but the City Council and their developer friends were desperate to say anything that would make people vote against Greenlight. We won that election with 66 percent of the vote because the residents realized that the City Council was in bed with developers and would never support the resident’s desire to stop overdevelopment.

Fast forward to 2022 and guess what? Newport Beach has a strong economy, businesses didn’t leave and the world as we know it didn’t end. We have had a grand total of three Greenlight elections in 22 years. It turns out that developers know how to read and figured out the requirements of the new law and they just planned developments that stayed within those boundaries. We have plenty of redeveloped buildings that are thriving and plenty of new development that is reasonably sized and economically sound.

Without Greenlight, Newport Beach would look a lot like Marina del Ray. Without the Laguna Residents First initiative, I’m concerned that Laguna Beach will begin to look like Newport. I hope Laguna residents will see that this is a good initiative that will protect Laguna’s charm and character and is deserving of their support.

Susan Skinner / Newport Beach

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