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Laguna Beach


Historical Preservation Ordinance: CEQA’s role is misunderstood

Please attend the Council meeting, Dec. 16 [at] 9 a.m.  The Planning Commission ordinance revisions expand the definition of an “historical resource” under the CEQA law. Hundreds of homes Laguna will become subject to time consuming historical reviews at your expense.

CEQA grants each city the legal right to enact, or not, an historical preservation (HP) ordinance, in their sole discretion. There are over 500 cities in CA. The CA Office of HP reports less than 100 cities have HP ordinances. Ron Parsons, State Historian told me “there is no legal requirement that a city have a registration program or an inventory”.  Over 400 cities have opted not to have a HP law. 

The proposed revisions build on the flawed 1981 survey. Using the drive-by opinion of a paid consultant the list is now about 1018 and each is “recoded”. This list includes some of 298 homes now on the old “registry”. This means over 720 homes will be “un-registered” but designated a HR against your will. It gets worse. All homes over 70 years old will be treated as HR’s. In time, thousands of homes will become subject to costly historical reviews. You will be “presumed guilty” and forced to defend your home at your expense. All based on an arbitrary consultant’s opinion.  Dozens complained about this at the PC meetings, but some commissioners said Sorry, CEQA is making us do this!”  Not true.

The ordinance requires registrants to sign an undefined “agreement”. The actual agreement (not on-line) co

mmits all current and future owners to accept control of your home by the City ... forever! It appears Laguna may be the only city with this onerous agreement. It denies due process, excludes the   right to terminate, and forces you to accept change of law risk. It conflicts violently with the 10 year Mills Act contract.

The City Council should reject the revised ordinance, suspend it, and instruct the staff to design a new ordinance which respects homeowner rights and immunizes owners from unwanted CEQA controls. All registrations should be strictly voluntary. There is no need for expensive inventories or surveys. Mills Act contracts should be the only incentive. Stop the practice of forcing a homeowner on a perpetual registry before they can apply for Mills Act. Other cities don’t have this disincentive.

Other cities have preservation society charities (Laguna has none) which has proven that the historical character can be preserved by voluntary actions and residents who love our history. Design Review has done a good job of protecting each of us from a neighbor who wants to “mansionize”, block iconic views, or disrupt the historical pattern of development. Other than a voluntary registration/Mills Act program, we don’t need this complicated, unfair, over reaching “revised” ordinance. 

Doug Cortez

Laguna Beach


Is it just me?

Is it just me that thinks the City has favored the commercial property interests over the resident homeowners?

Is it just me that thinks closing Park Avenue is a bad idea? The Police say the traffic count was low, so no damage done. However, the traffic count was low because that street is used primarily by locals. It’s our relief valve, traffic wise. The City says the new park can be used to allow bar patrons to “sober up” and have allowed it to be open until 2:30 a.m. What a slippery slope. My recollection is that recently the police chief found that allowing the bars to remain open later created a uniformity. That’s great! Bars open longer means more drunks later, but no worry, go to our park to sober up. Thanks.

Is it just me that is disturbed by the fact an “anonymous donor” provided $10,000 to improve the new park? That park is a city street. That is the citizens property. Who gave the money and what’s their agenda? Why is the city accepting anonymous money? The last time we saw anonymous donations was when there was a ballot referendum to allow a marijuana shop in the city. The voters spoke up and shut that down.  Furthermore, if we are now into closing streets, I live on a cul-de-sac and I’m sure my neighbors would “donate” monies to close our street off to outside traffic.

Is it just me that cannot understand why the city is proposing to spend $7,000,000 on a village entrance and another $30,000,000 for a parking garage? We need more tourists and day trippers? I think most residents would say no. The commercial interests would be the only ones to benefit. 

Is it just me that thinks the city should be looking at the big picture issues such as 1) the movie theater has been closed for years; 2) Hotel Laguna is about to close down; and 3) Irvine Company will soon build something like 1,100 apartments at the intersection of 133 and the 405?  

Is it just me that feels the city, which has a massive budget, is wasting our monies on closing useful streets, grand entrances, garages and so much other nonsense it’s hard to keep up? I think the city needs to stop wasting our resources and use the massive tax flow for the benefit of the residents.

Is it just me that feels that a city of this caliber should have a first-rate family recreation center including indoor basketball, fitness center, rooms for yoga, Pilates, spinning etc? The city can find real estate and funds for expensive items that generally benefit the commercial interests. Why can’t those funds be applied for the benefit of the residents instead?

If it’s not just me, I suggest the residents speak up and let their concerns and wishes for the use of their tax dollars known.

James Bridy

Laguna Beach


Keep Park Plaza; underground utilities

I feel [the plaza] it should be on Forest but support the continuation of Park Plaza and hope eventually it will end up on Forest. This would require the merchants who are entrenched on the way it has always been and fearful of any change to gain confidence. Is that possible? Keep Park Plaza. This is Laguna Beach. Unlike suburbia we are a community with a town center and need a plaza type place to meet, relax, have a cup of coffee.

On the topic of undergrounding...

Imperative major routes are undergrounded without any delay. If we need to evacuate with only two routes this could be a problematic, at best, but the possibility of downed poles (and it only takes one) requires that we must think safety above all else. I would like to see the entire city undergrounded with reservations on who pays. My neighborhood, amongst others, is already undergrounded at our cost. I feel we’ve paid and shouldn’t pay for everyone else who hasn’t stepped up to the plate.  Costs should be meted out by neighborhood property assessments.

Kathleen Jepson-Bernier

Laguna Beach


Time to follow New York’s example in reducing smog?

From the website of the City of New York: “You can report an idling vehicle, other than an authorized emergency vehicle, that is parked with its engine running for more than three minutes, or parked next to a school with its engine running more than one minute.”

In other words, you can receive a ticket if you let an engine run for more than three minutes while your vehicle is parked. 

In Laguna Beach and elsewhere, I have seen vehicles-cars and trucks, with engines running while stopped for 20-30 minutes. Since there appears to be a problem with a change in climate around the world, with the destruction of 400 acres of forest per day, fires & smoke almost everywhere in California, and the refusal of certain segments of the U.S. population to admit that there is a problem, perhaps the City Council of Laguna Beach might consider copying the law from New York.

The naysayers and tobacco industry said that to deprive cigarette addicts from smoking in long, steel tubes seven miles in the air, was unfair. Eventually, governments could no longer ignore reality, and prohibiting smoking in airplanes, restaurants and bars became the norm, and not many suffered because of this. 

The auto industry fought tooth and nail to prevent regulations that would require seat belts in vehicles, proof notwithstanding, that such laws would save many lives. Fortunately, common sense prevailed and we always buckle up when driving.

So, how about if the City of Laguna Beach addresses this problem? The City, to its credit, has outlawed smoking on the streets, so can we go a bit further and let citizens know that it is not right to sit in a vehicle with the engine running, polluting the air, and contributing to a degradation of the climate?

Common sense has worked. May it continue.

David E. Kelly

Laguna Beach


Obituary

Joseph M. Petrovich

February 4, 1926 – December 3, 2017

Upon announcing his passing, his youngest son referred to him as his “Mentor.” He, in fact, was a mentor to many people thanks to his common sense and his frank honesty. Joe passed away just two months short of his 92nd birthday. He lived a full life.

He was born in Los Angeles, California one of five children - three sisters and one brother. His dream was to play professional baseball. After high school he joined the Army while World War II was in full force. He was stationed all over including Okinawa, Japan. He remembered VJ Day extremely well as that was the event that sent him home to his family. He started college at Loyola Marymount University and then earned his degree in Engineering from the University of Southern California.

He moved his family to Laguna which included two sons, Joey and Chris. Both boys went through the Laguna School system where Joey excelled in music becoming a local icon and Chris excelled at sports. Joey, unfortunately, passed away almost 14 years ago in a big blow to the family. Although three very different people, they bonded through baseball.

Joe is survived by his sister Cecelia, his youngest son Chris and his granddaughter Jade (15). Joe adored his only grandchild. No memorial services are planned. However, as a way to honor the Petrovich family, a GoFundMe account has been created to fund the existing Joey Petrovich Songwriter Scholarship at Laguna Beach High School. 100 percent of the donations will go into the scholarship to help young musicians.

Donate here: www.gofundme.com/Joey-Petrovich-Songwriter

Short term lodging is a danger to the future of our town

In the recent spate of comments about Short Term Lodging on the social network website Nextdoor, who see STL as a boon to Laguna Beach and are full of ridicule and condemnation for Village Laguna, City Council and Staff, sadly lacking is a consideration of what this might mean for the long-term future of our town. 

Consider this:  Our Sister City, St Ives, in Cornwall, England, no longer has a stable, long-term residential soul like ours and is deemed a ‘ghost’ town by many, because the unchecked proliferation of Short Term Lodging resulted in fewer permanent residents and more absentee owners with homes vacant except in the lucrative, summer rental months. Because of this STL invasion caused primarily by recent online media, the St Ives Council finally held a referendum that was passed by 80 percent of its residents, to restrict the purchase by absentee owners of second and third new homes. The High Court of England ruled in favor of the referendum last year. 

In light of results like this, please think about the future of Laguna, not now, not tomorrow, but in five or 10 years.  We may well go down a similar path and become a town with no soul, like picturesque St Ives or hip Balboa Island, if we allow unlimited Short Term Lodging in our residential areas. Our supply of long-term affordable rentals will be drastically diminished, and we will become just a place of profit-making short-term rentals.  We should beware those unintended future consequences, and work together to protect our residential neighborhoods from rampant commercialism before it’s too late.

Charlotte Masarik

Laguna Beach


New shared use community path is an immediate public health concern due to high risk of pedestrian/bike collision

Last Friday morning I was walking my youngest daughter to Top of the World Elementary School. We were at the base of the new path that connects Sommet du Monde with Alta Laguna Blvd, when seven mountain bikers tore down pedestrian only path at high speed. I had to push my daughter rapidly into the fence. We were both very shaken. We were all very fortunate that no-one was seriously injured.

I am aware that mine is not the first experience of a near collision. This is a shared community path and is the only route to TOW school from Arch Beach heights community. The near accident occurred at the base of a steep incline which is a blind spot. The multiple signs for bikers to dismount and walk this short connection path are not effective enough.

I believe it is now a more dangerous pathway for all users than it was before. For the sake of our community can we please have some form of a physical barrier to divide the path safely. I have already spoken to the City Council representative responsible for the path planning. I am concerned that no action will take place and that it’s only a matter of time until a serious accident occurs. In the mean-time I urge our community to be careful on this path.

Kirsten Rogers

Laguna Beach


Obituary

Catalina Raine Kollock

November 14, 2017 – December 16, 2017

Catalina Raine Kollock was born with tremendous love at home on November 14, 2017. On the morning of December 16, 2017 she passed peacefully from this world surrounded by her loving family. 

Catalina Raine is a perfect angel. She is a beautiful ray of light who is loved deeply by family and friends. In her brief time on this earth, her radiant soul touched the lives of so many. Though she is no longer with us in body, her spirit will forever live on in all of our hearts.

Catalina Raine will always be cherished and loved by her mother and father, Teresa and Ryan, her brother Jackson, her three sisters Layla, Stella, and Scarlett, her grandmother Donna, her great grandmother Gloria, her uncle Joey, and so many more who were blessed to know her.

Memorial services will be held at Neighborhood Congregational Church in Laguna Beach on Friday, December 29, 2017 at 3 p.m. followed by a brief reception at Bridge Hall. The family requests that guests please dress colorfully and avoid wearing black.

In lieu of flowers, the family would be eternally grateful for donations to their GoFundMe www.gofundme.com/kollockfamily, Paypal (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), or Venmo www.venmo.com/Ryan-Kollock.

All of these will help support the family in these trying times.


Sign numbing

For a City with the strictest sign code, we sure do love electronic message boards! These PD signs are meant to warn drivers of dangers related to traffic, accidents, etc., yet the LBPD inexplicably has decided to use them constantly, at several locations in, out and around town, to display such helpful messages as “Have a nice day!” and “Happy Holidays!” Really? This is the “look” we want for our town? Now we are numb to the signs, so if they do display useful messages for their intended purpose, we won’t pay any attention! And as a bonus, they increase the danger to cyclists, by forcing them into traffic. Thanks LBPD! 

Ann Marie McKay

Laguna Beach


There are solutions to the short term lodging challenges

Thanks to the City staff, appointed and elected Laguna Beach officials, and all those involved for all the time and effort spent developing for Laguna a fair, balanced, and equitable approach to the issue of short term lodging.

After all that effort, is must be frustrating that late in the day at its hearing last Thursday, after hours of detailed deliberations over a few parking spaces in Malibu and old pipes at Playa Vista, the Coastal Commission announced that they only had the room until 7:00PM and that the hearing on Laguna’s adopted ordinance would be constrained by that time limit.

The result was short shrift given to all sides in a hurry-up hearing of Laguna’s request for certification of an amendment to its Local Coastal Plan incorporating the short-term lodging ordinance the City has adopted unanimously after many months of and thousands of hours of citizen and City debate.  (And not that many issues in Laguna result in unanimous opinions.)  Whether a more extensive hearing of an issue with widespread consequences for many communities throughout California would have led to a better decision is debatable, but what is not debatable is the appropriateness, or actually lack thereof, of the manner in which the hearing was held.

While most Californians understand the mission of the Coastal Act is to assure there are no gates or fences impeding physical coastal access, the current Coastal Commission seems to be embarking on its own social engineering mission, 1) aggressively broadening its scope by stretching definitions and 2) imposing unfunded mandates on local communities.

Its current efforts to reinterpret the word “access” as more than physical access to include a requirement that local communities provide unlimited affordable vacation accommodations to anyone who wants a day at any specific beach of the visitor’s choosing at any time of their choosing at a price the visitor can afford reflects both these issues.  The stretch of the definition is obvious. 

An unfunded mandate is a requirement by one level of government that another level of government perform certain actions with no funds provided to do so.  In this case, the state requires cities to do something costly and requires the city to absorb the cost.  That the Coastal Commission is doing this to local communities is less obvious, but no less consequential.

While visitors bring additional revenue to a community, visitors also bring additional cost. The problem is, in Laguna’s case, the additional cost far exceeds the additional revenue. Because Laguna graciously hosts so many visitors annually, compared to other cities in California with our population, the cost to run the government of the City of Laguna Beach is roughly three times the cost to run cities of similar size with little or no visitor impact. The shortage is made up by the residents with funds paid by local residents that should be used for local resident needs that are instead diverted to cover the extra costs due to visitors.

There are solutions - -two of which are:  The State of California Coastal Commission can rein back in its overreach and work for reasonable balance between visitors and residents. And the State of California can provide the funds to the local communities that will cover the additional costs resulting from the state’s requirements. By the way, that number – the shortage -- is about $25,000,000 per year or something like $2,000 per year per Laguna household.

John Thomas

Laguna Beach

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