The Laguna property owners bought 23,000 acres of canyons and hilltops with a bond of $20 million, paid over 20 years. This debt ends this year. This new initiative is asking for another $20 million to buy 550 acres of land scattered around Laguna, which they admit isn’t likely to be developed given the parcel size and rugged terrain. They want us to blindly pay into their fund without giving us any specifics.
In 1990, Laguna Canyon was planned for mass development. We saw the property in question. This initiative declines to identify which parcels claiming to avoid “price escalation”. Vacant lot owners know the value of their land regardless of if they have an offer today or six months from now by the initiative committee. Are these “parcels” the small strips and triangles of city property adjacent to our city streets? These small patches are now maintained by neighbors or the city and much too small to be developed. And, will the committee personally profit from these particular parcels being sold? The property owners in 95 percent of Laguna won’t see any improvement to their views or property values.
The Laguna Canyon Foundation has used the $20 million from the 1990 bond, along with $12 million in park bonds approved by the voters in 2000. They also raised $2.7 million from more than 7,000 donors and $7.8 million in state grants, funds from private land donations as well as federal and city funds to buy and preserve the land within and around Laguna Beach for the last 20 years. This includes the Laguna Coast and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park , Crystal Cove State Park, as well as the City of Irvine’s open space preserve. Let them continue their great work to preserve open space with private donations and donors. Ask the 2,700 voters signing the open space petition to pay $120 a year for 20 years. The Laguna Canyon Foundation already has the committee to investigate possible parcels and all the operational experience. Homeowners don’t want another parcel tax for another self0appointed group to do the same job.
The economy is in a recession, our retirement funds have diminished, and health care is on the rise. Utilities, gasoline, food, and insurance costs have increased. Let each individual decide if they want to donate, whether they own, rent or are just visiting Laguna.
Leslie Davis, Laguna Beach