Artists’ Work/Live Project Stalled Again


A scheduled appeal of a decision approving a hotly debated artists’ work/live project on Laguna Canyon Road was put off by the City Council on Tuesday.

John Albritton at the site of the disputed project. Photo by Jody Tiongco
John Albritton at the site of the disputed project.
Photo by Jody Tiongco

Opponents, mostly residents of nearby Sun Valley Drive, maintain that the 16,192-square-foot structure spanning two adjacent lots at 20412 and 20432 Laguna Canyon Road violates the Laguna Canyon Annexation Area Specific Plan and filed an appeal.

So did the project’s proponent, sculptor Louis Longi, who dismissed the argument that the mass and scale of the project violates the specific plan, which includes a light industrial zone.

The Planning Commission approved the 30-unit project by a 3-2 vote on Jan. 8. The public hearing over the appeals was scheduled this week.

In the meantime, local resident Roger Butow, now a consultant to the Sun Valley residents, discovered that the city’s artists’ work/live ordinance, which allowed for the project’s zoning, had not yet received required certification by the Coastal Commission.

According to principal planner Carolyn Martin, the city amended the ordinance in July 2012, which required an amendment to the local coastal program that in turn required certification by the Coastal Commission. City staff applied for certification to the commission, which called for minor modifications.

Louis Longi
Louis Longi

On Jan. 21, two weeks after the Longi plan received approval, the City Council formally adopted a local coastal program and artists’ work/live amendment incorporating the modifications suggested by the Coastal Commission staff. Since the Coastal Commission pushed its review of the item to its March 12-14 meeting, the Council on Tuesday put off setting a new date for a public hearing over the project’s appeal, awaiting the commission’s official action.

The same point should nullify the Planning Commission’s initial approval, said project opponent and Sun Valley resident John Hamil, vice president of the Laguna Canyon Property Association, who called for a new Planning Commission hearings starting from scratch.

Picking up on Hamil’s point, Mayor Pro Tem Bob Whalen questioned the validity of the Planning Commission’s original decision, which, too, preceded the Coastal Commission’s action on the city’s zoning amendment.

City Attorney Phil Kohn believes the matter would be moot if the Council hears the appeals after the Coastal Commission acts.

Even so, Whalen asked for a memo from staff attesting to whether or not the appeal was properly before the Council. “I just want to be on firm footing,” he said.


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