Coast Inn Project Needs Rigorous Review

Share this:

The megaproject proposed by an investor group to transform the Coast Inn and Coast Liquor property by dramatically increasing the intensity of use and altering the structures has been a contentious issue for more than a year. The substantial list of major problems with the developer’s project has been thoroughly documented, including: construction that would require extensive structural changes and height variances; only about a dozen parking places for hundreds of daily parking space demands; a huge increase in the facility’s alcohol-serving seats; addition of a rooftop swimming pool and bar; deleterious impacts on the fragile ocean bluff; and enormous negative noise, light, safety, traffic and parking problems for the neighborhood and on Pacific Coast Highway. Throughout the process, the developer has exploited the guise of a “historic restoration” and problematic “grandfathering” requests to endrun a multitude of problems.

After careful analysis, the Planning Commission sensibly rejected the project in a unanimous 5-0 vote. The Planning Commission exposed the project for what it is—a deceptive effort to convert a classic landmark into something that is not a net positive for our city and Laguna’s residents. Sadly, at its Jan. 23 meeting, despite the depth and quality of opposition to the project, the City Council threw the project a lifeline. A meeting was convened by a two-Council member subcommittee on Feb. 12 to allow additional public testimony and to hear from the investor group. Without exception, everyone who spoke at that meeting detailed deep problems with the proposal. The developer’s team sat quietly, likely assuming they could work city staff in private.

Since then, and behind closed doors, it seems the investor group has offered only minor changes, anticipating that a Council majority will overturn the Planning Commission and ignore the public’s objections.

Citizens should actively monitor this project now, before the proposal slides through. Here are the commitments we should require from our City Council and staff (as well as from candidates for the upcoming election):

The revised proposal must:

  • Be subject to a new, full EIR.
  • Meet all city regulations applying to (at least) a major remodel.
  • Not receive grandfathering of parking requirements.
  • Be analyzed by the Coastal Commission.
  • Be circulated to the public well before the Council hearing.

Given the problems, scale and major impacts of this project, anything less would be negligent.


James Danziger, Laguna Beach


Share this:


  1. Many properties in Laguna Beach have grandfather parking, otherwise we would end up without historical buldings and most likely start to look the same as Cornea Del Mar or even Del Mar.

  2. How do Laguna residents to weigh in on this, especially if they are unable to attend City Council meetings?

  3. Adopt Parking Revorm. Three steps to parking reform: 1) Eliminate parking requirements regulating off-street parking 2) charge on-street parking rates to maintain 85% parking occupancy 3) and spend parking meter revenue in immediate neighborhood where collected.

  4. “So, over the summer, the City Council decided to eliminate minimum parking requirements on new development in downtown Santa Monica.

    Here’s why: Parking has a much broader impact on a city than you might expect. It’s expensive to build, it incentivizes car travel over public and active transportation, and it’s been built with abandon, especially in Southern California. Studies show drivers are more open to using public transit, walking or cycling when there’s less access to cheap and easy parking.

    For decades, before lifting this requirement, developers in downtown Santa Monica were required to provide, on average, one or more parking spaces for every unit of housing and approximately three parking spaces for every 1,000 square feet of space run by a new business.

    But guess what? Downtown Santa Monica already has approximately 10,000 parking spaces. And much of it isn’t used efficiently. By one estimate from a downtown local hotel manager, only 17% of its parking is used when the hotel reaches 85 percent occupancy.

    Parking spaces that go unused aren’t just futile and environmentally unfriendly — they’re expensive and are worsening California’s housing crisis. A single parking spot adds 12.5% to the price of an apartment.

    By not requiring new parking, we can lower the overall cost to build new housing, remove barriers to opening businesses, spur the creative reuse of existing buildings and encourage drivers to more efficiently use the spaces that already exist.”

    You’re thinking ‘an eco-narcissist wrote that’, well no the Mayor of Santa Monica did.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here