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Pearson ready to lead the city again

December 19, 2013|By Bryce Alderton
  • Elizabeth Pearson is the new mayor in Laguna Beach for the next year.
Elizabeth Pearson is the new mayor in Laguna Beach for… (Don Leach, Coastline…)

Elizabeth Pearson didn't want to run for a third term on the Laguna Beach City Council in 2010 but she had a greater purpose in mind.

She wanted to see the Village Entrance project move closer to fruition, as the development was one of her primary campaign issues.

The City Council selected Pearson, 61, as mayor at its meeting last week, almost a month after she announced at a special workshop that she would not support a parking structure at the Village Entrance site — where Forest Avenue and Laguna Canyon Road intersect.

The council unanimously supported Pearson's motion and the project now includes a landscaped pathway.

A collective sigh blanketed council chambers following Pearson's announcement regarding a project that has fueled passions for nearly two decades among residents, many of whom opposed a structure because they claimed it would add to the city's traffic woes.

"I made a commitment in all of my campaigns to try to get a Village Entrance project done and wanted to fulfill my commitment," Pearson said during an interview earlier this week. "I proposed over 2 1/2 years ago to council that we buy land at 725 Laguna Canyon Road [just north from the Forest Avenue lot] as a way to at least have a beautification project at the Village Entrance in anticipation of lots of concerns, misunderstandings, and controversy, so that what ensued could be prevented and I could not get one council [member] to support that."

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With council approval in November, the city purchased 3.8 acres at 725 Laguna Canyon Road for $5.3 million, which could add 65 additional parking spaces.

Councilman Steve Dicterow, a former Laguna Beach mayor, wasn't surprised by Pearson's announcement against the parking structure and said she adhered to her role as a public official.

"Elizabeth clearly stated for a number of months what she wanted [regarding the Village Entrance]," Dicterow said. "She is a good representative of the people and listened to what the public was saying."

Parking will be a key focus for Pearson, who embarks on her fourth mayoral term.

"Downtown needs more parking so I will continue to work on it, and it may take large numbers of people coming to Laguna from new [housing] projects in Irvine for many to agree that more downtown parking is going to be needed," Pearson said.

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