Canyon Project, a Gateway to More Development


The promoter of the massive development project in the Canyon says, “I’m not a developer.”

They’re proposing the biggest development ever in our neighborhood, the maximum “allowable”. The Indy article (“Local Investor Doubles Down,” Feb. 28) could have been a brochure for their development proposal.

Twenty-five years ago would you have put Don Bren on the cover of your paper with a fluff piece about Laguna Laurel?

Our neighborhood is a slice of apple pie. Authentic and original like few others left. We envisioned these types of development pressures 25 years ago when writing our Specific Plan. It is being ignored in favor of a massive multi-unit apartment building with all the style of a dormitory. Laguna Beach, please don’t leave us “nothing but the pie tin!” (Our acronym for Put It in Their Neighborhood.)

Proposals like this one in the canyon, plus the 40-unit homeless shelter, plus a proposed new public storage facility at Big Bend, plus the widening of Laguna Canyon Road, will forever change this area. This is the gateway project that threatens to send us down a slippery slope.

This development group has made no outreach to our neighborhood. They haven’t offered to downsize their development proposal despite citywide outcry.

Ken Frank used to say, go talk to neighbors. Get their input and support. Why not this time? Ask what the neighbors think and address their concerns with changes. Not trees, color, and aesthetics, but reduction in size. We need a response other than “then it doesn’t pencil out,” which sounds like a developer/investor response to us.

It is time for answers to the hard questions:

If offered to sell for a profit, will they?

How come no compromise? Could you downsize it to compromise?

In replacing an existing single-family residence with 30 units and 47 parking places, how could this not impact traffic?

How could this improve water quality as your group claims?

Would you consider building closer to town and LCAD?

What about the renter’s exposure to air pollution? Road noise?

Is it designed to withstand a major earthquake? Fire?

Why isn’t The Indy asking and answering these question? Why isn’t the city?

How come this wasn’t in Vision Laguna blueprint?

If a 30-unit apartment is allowable on the M-1b zone, why now?

Why isn’t every M-1b an apartment already? Won’t every M-1b now be ripe for replicating this?

If our specific plan allows, why isn’t the canyon already lined with multi-unit, high-density housing?

Where and when did Laguna Canyon become the location for in-fill development, an area that for the most part is fully built out?

Why is there now approval for multi-tenant housing, which was never part of the zoning mix out here before?

Why did the city redefine the zoning to make such an R-3 development allowable after years of stability and conformity with previous historical development standards?

We’d like some answers. Maybe your reporters could be sent out on assignment to report on the real issues of this controversy.

John Albritton, Ken Lauer, John Hamil and Paulette Cullen

The authors are officers of the Laguna Canyon Property Owners Association

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