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Forum focuses on development

City Council candidate debate centered on Village Laguna and the issues important to the residents there.

September 23, 2010|By Barbara Diamond, coastlinepilot@latimes.com

City Council candidates were given a week to bone up on answers to the questions prepared for the Village Laguna forum, held Sept. 16 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

The questions related to issues of particular interest to Village Laguna: neighborhood preservation, a park at the Village Entrance, making Laguna more pedestrian friendly, support for the Downtown Specific Plan, ways to keep downtown businesses successful and how Village Laguna and residents could help. Two additional questions from the audience were tacked on at the end.

"Issues were prioritized at the annual Village Laguna picnic," moderator John Monahan said. "Homelessness came in last."

Monahan said the rules of the forum prohibited the candidates from questioning one another, and he would call the cops if one candidate threatened to take a swing at another.

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Former Mayor Ann Christoph and former Design Review Board member and Planning Commissioner Barbara Meztger were in the on-deck circle for Village Laguna after the candidates had their at-bats, prepared to make comments on the issues or candidates statements.

Christoph said the unusual format was developed in hopes of making the forum a positive experience.

Candidates were asked first to prioritize their goals for the next four years if elected, how they expected to accomplish those goals and how the community could help.

The incumbent candidates reprised their past accomplishments, reiterating what they said in opening statements at the Chamber of Commerce Forum on Sept. 15, information available on their websites or in the fliers, before looking to the future.

Kelly Boyd said he wanted to see more of the homeless become eligible for Friendship Shelter — 16 have taken the step toward the mainstream this past year — and to make City Hall more user friendly.

Mayor Elizabeth Pearson said she will continue to concentrate on the city's economic welfare, a friendlier City Hall, support for the arts and the preservation of the residents' quality of life.

Mayor Pro Tem Toni Iseman's goals include undergrounding utilities in Laguna Canyon to ensure a safe egress in case of disaster; year-round free shuttles, at least on weekends to start; and keeping houses "not oversized."

Challenger Emanuel Patrascu listed three goals: revitalizing the local economy, stabilizing the city's budget and public safety.

"That first question is such a softball, so I threw in a twist," Monahan said.

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