(This letter was also addressed to council members.)
As a small business owner and resident in the neighborhood of the Coast Inn, I am deeply frustrated by the opposition that this project has faced since it was announced.
I have carefully reviewed the documentation related to the project, and it is clear that the developer has longstanding entitlements to renovate the property as has been proposed.
The opposition that the project is facing is coming from a small but vocal group of people who are concerned about the impact the project will have on the surrounding neighborhood.
The fact that the hotel and liquor store existed long before most people lived in the neighborhood doesn’t seem to register with the critics.
The argument that there’s not enough parking doesn’t hold up when one considers that ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft have forever changed parking requirements.
And finally, one only has to take a walk from Bluebird to downtown on Coast Highway to see the number of vacant storefronts to understand that our town is facing tremendous challenges as the economy is going through transformational change.
The Coast Inn should be a local gem, and we have a group willing and able to make it happen.
To be clear, a revitalized Coast Inn will be good for our business—more visitors, more foot traffic, more vibrancy in our neighborhood.
But the issue goes far beyond what it means for one business.
At the heart of this is whether or not the city of Laguna Beach will adopt a progressive and business friendly position, encourage sensible development, and acknowledge and embrace a rapidly changing marketplace in order to ensure the health and unique character of our special town.
If it is going to be business as usual, I fear that we will simply become a nice place to live for those who can afford it, and the Laguna Beach most of us know and love will be gone forever.
Don Meek, Laguna Beach
The author is co-founder of The Soul Project