Fireworks erupted at the conclusion of the final forum in the 2010 City Council race when Mayor Pro Tem Toni Iseman castigated Emanuel Patrascu for a quote by him on an election flier, which she said was a lie. Iseman was referring to a flier for which she said he had paid to be included that quoted him claiming that she had raised taxes by $11 million.
Quite a feat if true, Iseman said, since the entire council can't raise taxes without a vote of the people.
The flier also quoted Patrascu that he would never raise taxes.
Iseman said, in opposition to Patrascu's position, she proudly supported tax increases to pay for the purchase of property in Laguna Canyon and funding to help pay for the restoration of city infrastructure damaged in the 2005 Bluebird Canyon landslide. Both approved by the voters.
Iseman had been simmering throughout the forum and had tried earlier to respond to a statement by Patrascu, but was stifled by forum chair Piero Wemyss, who had decreed no rebuttals.
Until the last question of the forum, responses had been straightforward, rather than a launchpad for campaign rhetoric.
All questions but the first two were posed by members of the audience, mostly members of the forum sponsors: neighborhood associations representing Top of the World, South Laguna and Temple Hills.
A few written questions were submitted to the candidates and those responses will be published in association newsletters.
South Laguna Civic Assn. President Bill Rihn led the questioners with a query about the relationship of the city with the California Coastal Commission, which has been known to overrule city decisions on development, or try to, and what can be done to improve it. .
"We need to control our own city," said incumbent Kelly Boyd, his voiced raspy from a cold. "I don't think 'coastal' should tell us what we can or cannot do."
Mayor Elizabeth Pearson said the council, not the commission, is elected by the people of Laguna Beach to make decisions.
"But the commission is a factor and, as Toni says, people tend to do business with [those] you get along with. We can work on it."
Patrascu said the commission staff does not play well with others and the city should have control.
"The coast of California would not look like it does without the commission; otherwise it would be wall-to-wall Miami Beach," said Iseman, who served on the commission.
Temple Hills Community Assn. board member Ron Chilcote asked how the candidates felt about road extensions that intrude into the city's open space.
All four candidates said they opposed it. Incumbents pointed out that the city has bought lots that had the effect of blocking some intrusive development.
Bonnie Hano wanted to know how the candidates feel about anti-mansionization regulations with teeth.
Patrascu said he wasn't sure that he wanted a specific ordinance for fear of losing the town's architectural diversity.
"We don't want another Irvine," he said.
Iseman said curbing oversized homes starts with design review and complimented an unnamed local architect who has been known to refuse projects because of unrealistic demands by prospective clients.