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Origin of a Windfall

Editor,

A bit of history will clear up some of the misunderstandings about the reasons the city has recently received $251,251.87 from the sale of property near Camel Point.

In the beginning, the developers of Coast Royal, brothers Joe and Guy Skidmore, were very generous to the people and thus left many beach access ways and park lands to the public, dedicating these properties to the County of Orange. These gifts by the Skidmores were made in 1927, as part of the recording of Tract 831, and the land sat unchanged for some 85 years.

In recent months, county personal decided that this particular park land would never be used as a park; they took steps to sell the land to an adjacent property owner. On Dec. 6, 2011 the City Council consent calendar included Item #14. The staff report for this item explained to the council that the county was anticipating selling this unused parkland, and was giving the city the first right to purchase the property for the $225,000 they had negotiated for the sale to the adjacent property owner. The staff recommendation was that the City Council, “direct the city manager to notify the County of Orange that the city is not interested in acquiring the subject parcel.”

Under ordinary circumstances this consent calendar item would have been approved with no comment from the council or the public.  However, Councilmember Verna Rollinger pulled the item off the consent calendar so that it could be discussed. She asked several questions. Under public testimony, Ann Christoph inquired about whether, under state law, the county should be offering the parcel to the city at no cost.

Months later, after due consideration (see minutes of council meeting on Aug. 7, 2012), the city council directed the city manager to accept the land from the county at no cost to the city.  Next the city offered the land for sale and one of the adjacent property owners bid the $251,251.87, the disposition of which is what is now under consideration.

Conclusion: Except for the generosity of the Skidmores, Councilmember Rollinger’s questions, and Ms. Christoph’s comment, the city would not now have the quarter million dollars.

 

Bill Rihn, Laguna Beach

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