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Proposed Development Lacks Foresight

Editor,

In response to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center’s concern for the proposed 40-unit homeless shelter in Laguna Canyon next to their facility: I spoke against the artist work/live (as an artist, art educator and former arts commissioner) and against the Big Bend storage box that is larger than its lot size (as a resident and supporter of Laguna Canyon’s natural entry into the village).

And though I am not sure how the Pacific Marine Mammal Center would be impacted or the reasons it could be shut down, I am against the ruination of the canyon by any and all means before a comprehensive impact report and  potential use study can be done.

The homeless are not just Laguna’s concern, but everyone’s. Why this city and other well-intentioned people who dedicate themselves didn’t connect with the cities of OC and the Great Park when there were closed barracks to rehab, where “V” (victory) gardens and other work-to-live projects could support themselves and to build an OC general hospital to treat those in difficult circumstances shows lack of foresight and thought.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope we’ll not regret the overwhelming need, emotion and kindness promoting 40 units in a flood plain only to see it swamped and then flooded, an epidemic and endemic reality at tipping point that will hit Laguna hard.

If it also means schools will shun the PMMC and dry up funding, severely crippling decades of effort to restore marine life and educate children as future stewards, the PMMC should publicly speak out.

A far better place (as would be for artist’s work/live) is reuse of the old city maintenance building that has that “artistically” rusted corrugated roof covered by blue morning glories behind City Hall and the parking lot where there could be at least 40 small units designed as accommodations and no need to bus homeless to a housing site or endanger them by walking on the canyon road. It is close to the police and fire departments, within a block to the downtown bus line and community clinic. The climate is more temperate in a location with less potential for storm surge and flood damage.

For all these reasons and more, I support both PMMC’s concerns and the homeless, asking once again for our city to rethink and plan the Canyon’s future and entry into Laguna Beach.

Leah Vasquez, Laguna Beach

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