An interview with Cheryl Kinsman
Appeared in North Laguna Community Association Newsletter, Fall, 2000
(Don't have much time? The highlights are in green!)
In each newsletter, we have brought an interview with a past President to provide perspective on issues facing Laguna Beach. In this issue, we interview Cheryl Kinsman, a City Planning Commissioner. She has been very active in the community and in many organizations in addition to NLCA, and she is currently a candidate for the Council elections in November. Cheryl has served on the NLCA board for over ten years. Cheryl, a Certified Public Accountant, maintained her offices for many years in North Laguna. Current NLCA president Bob Dietrich recently interviewed Cheryl, one of the two candidates for City Council on the NLCA board.
1. Why are you running for Laguna Beach City Council?
Overall, our City Council has done well on many of the big things it has faced, and I am pleased that four of the five current Council members have endorsed my candidacy, including Kathleen Blackburn, Steve Dicterow, Paul Freeman and Wayne Peterson.
However, the Council appears to have lost its focus of late. The fiasco of the Act V lot flies in the face of logic. The Council decided that it would move the corporate yard to the Act V lot, spent over $250,000 of our dollars to accomplish this move, and then decided that the original decision was not such a good idea after all. The Council then voted to rescind its decision to move the corporate yard.
In another situation, the Council decided to use a uniformed police officer to direct traffic at Broadway and Coast Highway. They spent more than $5,000 on this experiment, but did not even ask the police chief if this was a good idea before voting to spend this money. It has subsequently been reported that having the police direct traffic at this intersection did little to ease congestion.
The City Council needs to think before it makes decisions. It needs to decide what is in the interests of the people of Laguna Beach, not just those people who have decided to present their views stridently at the City Council meeting.
As a Certified Public Accountant, I know the benefits of doing financial planning in advance. And while things change as projects progress, all available information should be gathered in advance so boondoggles like those I have cited do not recur.
I can make a positive difference in the direction of the City Council. I have over five years experience as a Laguna Planning Commissioner; have served on the Parking Traffic and Circulation Committee; and am a CPA who understands the finances of the City and of private businesses. Several of the problems that have occurred in the last couple of years might have been avoided had we not ignored the clear signs of financial danger.
2. What kinds of danger?
The Festival of Arts established a negotiating posture that they were going out of business unless Laguna made significant concessions to them. My CPA firm got the financial statements of the Festival and of its Foundation and discovered that not only were they not going out of business, they had $5 million in the bank! The City was completely unaware of this information until we released it.
A few years ago, we were told that the Laguna Art Museum was in dire financial straits, and that the only way to save it was to merge it with the Newport Harbor Art Museum. Again, I got the financial statements for each entity and discovered that the Newport Museum that was on the verge of bankruptcy. The Laguna Art Museum was financially solvent.
Right now, there is no financial expert on the City Council. It is important for someone on the Council to understand finances so the Council is doing oversight on the City Staff, and not the reverse. I have the utmost respect for the City Staff and its abilities, but the Council that needs to be aware of the money available to the Citizens of Laguna, so that the Council can set priorities. I can provide that expertise.
3. What do you think are the main issues facing Laguna Beach this year?
The issues divide themselves into two parts--those required to defend what we have, and those that will enhance what we have. Five issues are paramount as problems or potential problems:
- We must defeat the proposed El Toro Airport once and for all. This is the single issue that will change our Laguna lifestyle more than any other. Planes leaving and arriving over our heads every few minutes will prove a disaster for all of Laguna. One of the latest plans shows planes taking off or landing over North Laguna. Having lived through the test flights a year ago, I know that no part of Laguna should have to put up with an El Toro Airport. I will work to make sure that the El Toro Airport is defeated once and for all. I am pleased that anti-airport Orange County Supervisors Todd Spitzer and Tom Wilson have endorsed my candidacy and have indicated that they wanted to work with me on this issue.
- We must be the national leader in controlling ocean and urban pollution. Past City Councils have allowed our infrastructureŠour sewers in particularŠto deteriorate to the point where we are having monthly sewer spills into the ocean. We have been fined $60,000 because of our infrastructure, and the City has begun the process of replacing our worn out sewer system. We must do more to assure that our ocean remains safe for our recreation and for our pleasure.
- We need to assure excellent public safety services. I am concerned that today our firefighters are telling us that they are not able to give us their best under the conditions they face. Those charges need to be investigated and not just shrugged off. Anyone who lived through the fire of 1993 in North Laguna remembers the fear as the fire crested over the hill on San Joaquin at 12:30 p.m. North Laguna was spared most of the fire damage that our neighbors in Emerald Bay suffered. Still, we should have learned the value of emergency preparedness. I will assure that there are public hearings regarding our public safety services if I am elected.
- We must assure that our downtown is safe from flood. We have seen severe and avoidable floods in downtown over the last few years. We must assure that downtown--and all of us--are safe from these floods. I will make sure that this long delayed project is put on the City's front burner.
- We must examine the City's posture with regard to the Festival of Arts. The current Festival Board has dreams for a Festival outside of Laguna Beach. We should tell the Board to go, and should keep our festival under local control. Our artists and each of us deserve better than this board has provided.
Solving problems is not nearly as much fun as adding new facilities. I believe we are in great need of three different kinds of facilities:
- We need more recreational facilities for our kids. As a soccer and Little League mom, with sons ages 6 and 13, I know that we have too few recreation facilities for our kids. The City and organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA can jointly plan those recreation facilities.
- We need to provide our seniors a better and more accessible meeting place.
- We need more and better shopping facilities for residents throughout our City. North Laguna has many fewer resident serving businesses than it should have. The reopening of the Von's center will help that problem, but we need to make sure that the new Von's center provides the people of North Laguna the same opportunities as a meeting place as the old Vons did. We shopped at Vons; ate at Gina's, Katie McGuires, and Corky's and patronized many of the businesses in the Von's center. The Von's shopping center was a meeting place for North Lagunans. In addition, the Von's center must have a traffic signal and crosswalks for the safety of North Lagunans. I will work to assure those are installed on Coast Highway.
4. What will you do for North Laguna if you are elected?
The City Council completely fell asleep at the switch regarding the North Laguna reservoir. The Water District, using county grading standards, was allowed to proceed with grading a wide road on a treacherous and unstable hillside. In order to recoup this situation, the city now must do two things:
- Move forward with LAFCO to put this area under Laguna's sphere of influence. That will assure that Laguna has control over development in this area.
- Make sure that the Water District restores the hillside to its natural state, as they promised.
In addition, I will work to see that our kids have more playing facilities. Our kids, and equally as important, the neighbors of our parks, deserve to have better playing facilities. This will relieve the load on the facilities we have.
Finally, I will work to assure that the Von's center meets the needs of the people of North Laguna.
I value my association with the North Laguna Community Association and with my many friends and acquaintances in North Laguna. I will work hard to protect the interests of the people of North Laguna if elected.
5. Is there a way for someone to get more information about you if they are interested?
The easiest way for someone with web access to find information is at my website, www.LoveLagunaBeach.com. That site also has my phone number (499-2900) and my e-mail address (Cheryl@LoveLagunaBeach.com). I'm working hard to get the people of Laguna Beach the information they need to make a good choice in this election, and really appreciate the chance to share this information with the North Laguna Community Association!
I want to see more of Cheryl's commentaries--return me to the commentaries page!
Last updated 9/28/00.