It is now known that Mission Regional Medical Center has “outbid”, rather it has undercut, the city for a 7.8-acre parcel of land on Mar Vista Avenue that sits adjacent to the hospital. The property features a popular public trail connecting to Badlands Park and Aliso and Wood Canyons Park. This is a blatant rejection of good neighborliness by the hospital and quite frankly I am shocked that they are already in escrow without any of us knowing anything about this pending purchase.
Many of us in Laguna Beach are greatly concerned because the parcel plays an integral role in Laguna’s open space and greenbelt, hosting the rare and endangered Southern Maritime Chaparral. The proposed purchase of this property by the city of Laguna Beach with Coastal Conservancy funds and the proposed management of it by Laguna Canyon Foundation was about the protection of valuable ESHA (Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Area) not just the purchase of open space.
I had presumed the goodwill and community relations of the hospital would have prevented them from competing with the city, especially after we had already been negotiating with the seller in the first place for some time. The city had openly approved at the City Council meeting on June 7 to adopt the resolution of purchasing this land. The money, $700,000, was already on the table from the Coastal Conservancy for us to pay for this land. When did Mission get in the bidding behind our backs and undercut us? How did this happen?
It appears that the hospital has one overriding motivation: to maximize the financial value of their existing property at the expense of the neighborhood. Now with the pending hospital ownership of this property, instead of the city owning the land as open space, one can only conclude the hospital wishes to develop the land. This is a terrible travesty.
Coming from this perspective, I hope readers of this letter will vote for the open space initiative like me.
Charlotte Masarik, Laguna Beach