Reaction to California Coastal Commission approval of Laguna Canyon artist live/work project


 A Laguna Canyon artist live/work project on the drawing board for almost 10 years was unanimously approved last week by the California Coastal Commissioners.

The project proposed by sculptor Louis Longi and his partner Chris Dornin includes two, two-story buildings, linked by a common deck, sited on 0.84 acres along Laguna Canyon Road. The 28 units will vary in size from 500 square-feet to one three times that size. 

“This will be the most intensive development in town,” said Penny Milne, president of the Canyon Alliance of Neighborhood Defense Organization (CANDO), which opposed the project as proposed. “It is neither rural nor small scale. It is a knife blow to the specific plan.” 

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Photo submitted by Louis Longi

Proposed site of project on the Canyon Road 

Longi said that one of the commissioners said during the Aug 8 hearing that she felt it could be a model for other communities.

“That was good to hear, but I wasn’t surprised at the result [of the vote] because we’ve just let facts rise to the top, we’ve done our due diligence and we haven’t let negativity about the project affect us,” said Longi.  

“This is so great, so exciting for artists and for the community. Finally we can go ahead with planning for studios for our artists, something we’ve wanted for so long. It’s no longer a pipe dream.” 

Eight of the 28 units will be reserved for low-income tenants, as low income is determined by a county formula.   

CANDO members, some of them artists, object to the height and density of the project, claiming it is the antithesis of the rural character of the canyon.

The group has lost at almost every step in the process: The project was approved by the City Council and the city Planning Commission on 3-2 votes and by the Coastal Commission at a hearing in 2015.

However, the commission approval was successfully challenged last year in the Orange County Supreme Court, partially based on unreported ex-parte meetings between commission members and the developers 

Judge Kim Dunning revoked the approved coastal development permit and ordered the commission to reconsider the project, which necessitated the recent hearing.  

“The problem is we have two competing goods,” said city Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson, one of the three commissioners who voted for the project. “We need to provide for our artists who can’t afford to live in town or decide we are not going to be an art colony.”

Johnson said the commission did recommend that occupants should be vetted by the Arts Commission or a Laguna College of Art & Design faculty member to ensure they were all legitimate artists.

Longi said he felt vindicated by the two coastal commission approvals. 

“We’ve essentially received 19 votes for and none against the project,” said Longi, including both commission hearings.  

“Bear in mind that this is not an easy group to convince because they are extremely focused on environmental issues. So people can feel sure that we’ve done our homework.”

Next steps include making sure that the changes to the project meet with local Laguna permits.

“But soon we’ll be able to hit the ground running,” Longi said.

CANDO has no immediate plans to try to foil the project from moving forward, Milne said Saturday. 

“We will take a few days to grieve a little bit and then determine future plans,” said Milne. 

--Lynette Brasfield contributed to this report.

Sunset Serenades begin soon in Heisler Park

Sunset Serenades will return to the Heisler Park Amphitheater on Cliff Drive, Friday evenings in September. 

Enjoy live music overlooking the ocean from 5:30 p.m. to sunset.

Photo by Lynette

Oh joy! Sunset Serenades begin soon

9/8: Tommy Kowalczyk - Rock and Classical Piano

9/15: Jason Feddy sings The Laguna Beach Police Blotter

9/22: Ginger Root - Summer grooves from the Chapman University band

9/29: Jodi Siegel - Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist

This program is funded by the lodging establishments and City of Laguna Beach

Verizon small cell network project will be discussed by Planning Commission on Aug 16 

The Planning Commission will conduct a study session on the proposed Verizon small cell project, which would deploy a network of 18 new wireless facilities within the public right-of-way. The public hearing will be held on the Planning Commission’s Wed, Aug 16, meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers located at 505 Forest Avenue. 

The small cell network would add coverage, capacity and improve connection speeds by servicing smaller neighborhoods with dedicated facilities. The purpose of the study session is to discuss design and siting preferences. The Commission will also consider potential collocation opportunities and review the staking requirements. 

Presently, the Planning Commission has approved four of the new sites, which will be attached to existing or replacement wood utility poles in the Laguna Canyon Road right-of-way.  All small cell applications are subject to the City’s Wireless Communications Facilities Ordinance, which requires a Conditional Use Permit and design review for any new wireless facility. For each application, a public notice identifying the date and time of the public hearing will be mailed to neighbors in accordance with City noticing requirements. 

Planning Commission meetings are open to the public. They are also broadcast on government channel 852 on Cox, streamed on the City’s website, and archived on the City’s website for future viewing. 

To view a copy of the staff presentation for this item, please refer to the City’s website:  It will be available by 5:30 p.m., Fri, Aug 11.

Real Talk event highlights Conflict Resolution at Susi Q Center on Wed, Aug 16

Bahai’s of Laguna Beach & the Interfaith Group will host the third Real Talk Laguna Beach event this year on Wed, Aug 16, at 7 p.m. in the Susi Q Center Community Room. The subject will be Conflict Resolution. The interactive workshop will reflect on the various methods available to reach resolution and bring all groups, races, and religions together. 

Real Talk believes that conflict is normal, and learning to deal with it in a positive way provides an opportunity for growth.

Real Talk’s mission is to have a forum that initiates elevated dialogue that will promote unity in diversity and a safe place for conversation, growth, and improvement, with professionally facilitated group experiences and themes relevant to our community and the world at large. 

The experienced facilitators, Ray Zimmerman and Jennifer Luba Jones, will help participants gain techniques and skills to strengthen the bonds in our community. They will be looking at Restorative Justice, Mediation & the Art of Consultation. They will explore the issues, start the conversation, find common ground, discover solutions, make the process visible, and most importantly, listen.

Ray Zimmerman is a professor of English at Saddleback College, and frequent guest facilitator of Real Talk LB dialogues. 

Jennifer Luba Jones is a senior social worker for Orange County’s Social Services Agency. She collaborates with families, the juvenile dependency court, county programs and various community agencies to provide support to families involved with the Department of Children and Family Services. In her work for OC Human Relations, she served 10 years as a County and Court Mediator and led the agency’s Restorative Justice Program for two years.

This is a free event, however, there is limited seating. Light refreshments will be served. Everyone is welcome. RSVP to Loree Roop,  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Susi Q Community Center is located at 380 Third St.

Lagunans gather on Main Beach to express opposition to racial hatred

Click on photo for a larger image

Photograph by Douglas Cross

Reader Douglas Cross sent Stu News this photo of Lagunans on Main Beach protesting racial hatred last Sunday following the white supremacist/alt-right march in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in violence and three deaths. 

The vigil attracted about 30 people who broke into chants of “Love, not hate, makes America great.”

An introduction to mindfulness and meditation for adults takes place on Wed, Aug 23

On Wed, Aug 23, Marion K. Jacobs and Elizabeth “Betsy” Parker, who both have PHds, will be presenting an introduction to mindfulness and meditation for adults. This is a one-time program for people that are curious about mindfulness, and the opportunity to try simple and relaxing meditation practices.

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Jumpstart your meditation on Wed, Aug 3  

The event takes place from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m, and is located at the Community and Susi Q Center, 380 Third St. 

No prior experience required. Both Marion and Elizabeth welcome anyone who wants to join and further their knowledge about the wellness topic. 

Admission is free, but to attend this class, log on to to register, or call 949 464 6645. 


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