Petition update

Save the Garden Funding

South Laguna Community Garden Park

Jun 14, 2021 — 

Dear South Laguna Community Garden Park supporter, unfortunately our site acquisition funding is in jeopardy once again. The City Council will cast their votes at the Budget Hearing on Tuesday June 15 at 6:00 PM.  Ask them to vote their continued support!

The most effective way to do this is to Speak out at the Council meeting in person or on Zoom. The more people who show up Tuesday night, the greater our chance of saving the Garden.

Email: Mayor Bob Whalen, Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf, and Council Members Peter Blake, Toni Iseman and George Weiss at CityCouncil@lagunabeachcity.net

Join the meeting in person or on Zoom at:
https://lagunabeachcity.zoom.us/j/97603440658

Or you can phone in: 
Call (669) 900-9128, and wait for instructions. The Webinar id is 97603440658#. 

The Garden funding will be considered under Item #16  Adoption of the Budget.  There are 15 items on the consent calendar which usually go fairly quickly.  Often they adopt most of the items on the consent calendar with one motion.  Sometimes they pull a few off for discussion.  So even though it is Item 16 it will be heard quickly.  Expect a long and boring staff report before they ask for public comment.  They might not even say anything about the Garden.  

The council will also be taking public testimony in person at the council chambers.

Enter rear door, speak on your subject of interest, and immediately exit through the front door. Please note that a face covering must be worn while in Council Chambers, including while speaking. We will not be allowed to gather in the chambers.

Tell them why the Garden Park is important to you and your neighbors.  Here are a few more points:

---They should support quality of life projects for Laguna’s neighborhoods. Residents have demonstrated the importance of the Garden Park by their creative work and contributions. No public funds pay for garden maintenance or programs, but funding is needed to buy the land. Private donations already total $475,000. The City’s contribution of $500,000 is critical.
---Patience is often required for real estate transactions. There is no need to abandon the budget allocation since no funds leave City coffers until a deal is made.
---South Laguna contributes significantly to the City’s tax income—from property tax and Montage bed tax. Returning some of those funds to acquire a neighborhood amenity is equitable.
---The Garden Park serves the whole city and is a prototype for other neighborhoods to emulate.

Here is some background:
The South Laguna Community Garden Park at Eagle Rock Way and Coast Highway was created in 2009 by volunteers with the help of community donations. It is administered by the South Laguna Civic Association (SLCA), which obtained permission of the land owner and permits from the City.

Over 400 gardeners of all ages have grown vegetables and flowers and cared for the Garden Park over the past 12 years. It is open every day as a public park and as Laguna Beach's only Community Garden, is a popular destination for picnicking, viewing, walking among the garden beds, and learning about home-grown healthy foods. The public is invited to educational workshops on garden-related topics as well as to seasonal potlucks, with music from the Garden Band. The Garden Park has been featured in national magazines, and has been visited by groups from as far away as New York and India.

As much as being a place to grow fruits and vegetables, the Garden Park helps grow community and friendships. In this past year as the world battled the COVID pandemic, the Garden Park became even more important. Experts agree that interspersed neighborhood green spaces are the key to thriving in a post-pandemic world. Laguna should build more Garden Parks and our members want to help!

Acquiring the property is critical. The original owner offered to sell the property for a permanent Garden Park, however in 2013 the land changed hands. The present owners are in Saudi Arabia and have finally responded to our about selling the property. SLCA has raised $475,000 toward acquisition, and the City of Laguna Beach has set aside $500,352, ($251,252 of which came from the sale of park land in South Laguna and which was committed to the purchase of the Garden) So many Laguna citizens have dedicated so much to the garden. We are asking the City to support the efforts of its community members who saw a need and volunteered to create what Laguna did not yet have.

This year we added hundreds of California native plants to the slopes surrounding the garden beds. We are already seeing a greater variety of birds and beneficial insects. Please come by and see for yourself!


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