Cheap Seats at the Pageant

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Years ago, my wife and I bought our first tickets to Pageant of the Masters nearly in the back row. The people behind us asked if she would remove her hat, she did and we all enjoyed the Pageant. A few years ago, while seated about mid-way to the stage, the people behind us suggested we scrunch down in our seats so they could better view the show. I thought it was a joke but they seemed serious. They wanted us to be uncomfortable so they could have a better experience from their less expensive seats.

Last year, we made it to the front row. I left at intermission and when I returned, the person behind me demanded that I not occupy my seat. He declared that he was now used to looking at the stage straight over my unoccupied seat and I owed him this unobstructed view. This was unbelievable! I went to find an usher but all I could find was a member of the Design Review Board and a City Council member. They didn’t back me up. They said I owed it to the person behind me to give them my view. I tossed and turned and woke up in a cold sweat.

Last week the City Council heard an appeal of a project that had been approved 5-0 by the DRB. The neighbors claimed the DRB abused their discretion by not forcing the homeowners to scrunch down in their seat (rebuild the house below street level). The city staff in coordination with the city attorney responded to each allegation and concluded there was no abuse of discretion.

All but one council member voted to deny the appeal. Given that the dissenting council member has a close relationship with main appellant, some were surprised she didn’t recuse herself. She saw things differently than all five Design Review Board members, the other four City Council members, the city staff and the city attorney. She asserted the appellant should get the unobstructed view and the homeowner who paid up for their location should bury their house in a hole if that’s what it would take to accommodate the appellant. Could she really think this way? Even so, the DRB didn’t abuse their discretion so supporting the appeal was like stabbing them in the back.

Beware who might be sitting behind you at the Pageant!


Ryan Huntley, Laguna Beach

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