Field of Broken Promises

This letter was addressed to the City Council and city manager.


It is a very sad feeling to realize that you don’t matter; you don’t count. No mention of the fact that these cottages are right smack dab in the middle of my  view (“Open Space Prevails at Big Bend,” April 8 edition). That same place you don’t want to see anything interfere with the view of the meadow, you have just condemned me to two more years of total blockage.

This is a horribly compromised, conflict-of-interest situation. This new developer is following Paul’s Gonzalez’s lead from a year ago in suggesting that he might take possession of the cottages if you accept his plans for a remodel.    Instead of money exchanging hands, a white elephant or three is exchanging hands. You, the council, the city, and design review have accepted his tenuous promise to maybe take the shacks in exchange for a more favorable, more malleable decision process on his own project. That must cloud anybody’s judgment involved.

The city is also compromising itself on the lawsuits stemming from the recent flooding. It was heard that it is illegal to store large containers in a flood zone precisely because they may float free and create destruction for the downstream community, which did happen in the Sun Valley Drive area of the canyon. Well, what do you think these cottages are doing right on the canyon floor, directly below the outflow of a large canyon system above it, which already very, very nearly washed one of the houses out onto Laguna Canyon Road?   Water levels were licking at the bottom of the cottage and one more surge of flash flooding would’ve done the difference and washed it right off it’s supports. I would guess that the city has no permit from the Coastal Commission to store them here?

The city does not keep its promises. That is the message I get from all this. When this all was initially decided, you promised only a year or two at the most. Ha! Now the newly worded promise reads, well, three is okay, and at least two more years equals five years with no certainty of closure  is okay too.

You say the cottages are back in the trees and not a worry.  But to me it is in my driveway, right in front of my church’s alter, or blocking my main view window. This is a sanctuary. I walk that field nearly every day. I eat my lunch on a bench out back nearly every day. I pick up trash every first Saturday along a big stretch of the canyon. This place is beautiful, and the cottages can be ignored for the most part, but over time they have really begun to affect my well being. They piss me off, raise my blood pressure and remind me of how little I actually matter.

You can say I don’t count because I only work here. I don’t live here. I am only a renter here, even though I have been right here since 1982. That’s right, I don’t count. I guess I am just a newbie. So dump on me for another two years. And I will dump my vote on someone else come election time. Only Councilman Kelly Boyd seems to show any common sense on this issue. A person’s sanctuary is more important than ever especially in these enormously stressful times.

Have you looked at them lately? Please do so. The roofs are gone. The siding is gone, the structural elements of the walls are moldy in the damp cold of the canyon for three straight years. What part of them would you keep? Seriously, what part of them would you not have to throw away? Those houses are beyond any economic rationalization. If you want to see them recycled so badly then have the guts to locate them next to your house, to your neighbors. They don’t belong here just because it doesn’t particularly bother you that they are.

Sincerely, but with diminished respect,

Tex Haines, owner of Victoria Skimboards, Laguna Beach


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