Coast Liquor Store remodel on tap for Planning Commission

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An architect’s drawing shows what the building could look like if approved by city officials. Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

The Planning Commission will review permits Wednesday for the remodel of the Coast Liquor property at 1391 S. Coast Hwy., including the addition of a coffee shop with outdoor seating.

Coast Marketplace would include a 1,220-square-foot liquor store and a 1,451-square-foot Better Buzz Coffee shop. The project would also add outdoor tables and chairs for 28 people adjacent to the sidewalk.

“The Coast Liquor has existed and operated at this location for over 63 years,” Architect Marshall Ininns wrote in a letter to the Planning Commission. “The use will contribute to the unique character of Laguna Beach and the qualities that provide the community a sense of identity in that the remodeled historic Coast Liquor Store contributes tot he ambiance of Laguna Beach.”

San Diego-based Better Buzz would sell coffees, teas, and made to order and pre-made sandwiches, salads, desserts, and snacks prepared onsite, according to Ininns’ letter.

A 2,530-square-foot basement on the property will serve as an office for one or more future tenants, according to a staff report.

The project’s applicant, DIG Coast Liquor LLC, is managed by Chris Dornin, who is also overseeing the proposed remodel of the Coast Inn on the other side of Mountain Road.

The Coast Marketplace site is also home to a piece of history from the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, according to a staff report. The cottage was one of several built to house athletes during the games and relocated to Laguna beach afterward. In February 2015, the Heritage Committee recommended the structure’s placement on the City’s Historic Register as a key building.

Dornin has agreed to restore the cottage to its historic appearance and will likely be used as a retail space for beach rentals, beach toys, and other items.

Gaviota Drive residents Terry Meurer, Leah Sklar, and Steve Kothlow wrote in an email to the Planning Commission that they’re concerned about the addition of a coffee shop and office space.

“As much as we would like to see Coast Liquor and Olympic Cottage restored, we must express concerns about the proposes intensification of use, which triggers a high parking demand in the already-impacted neighborhood, intensifies traffic, circulation, trash, and safety issues, and restricts access to the beach stairs at Mountain [Drive],” the neighborhood trio wrote.

Mountain Road resident Julie Ross also criticized the proposed remodel in an email to the Planning Commission.

“You cannot possibly even consider this — 28 new [seats] making it a new restaurant, double the number of businesses and double the square footage with no parking,” Ross wrote. “This is beyond ridiculous and perhaps time for legal action.”

The developer is planning to re-stripe the surface parking lot off of Mountain Road to accommodate 13 parking spaces, instead of the existing 11 spaces.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to meet via Zoom at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. If approved, the project would still need to be reviewed by the Laguna Beach City Council and would be appealable to the California Coastal Commission.

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  1. YES, please! Long overdue for a facelift and new purpose. Many of us WALK( I personally promise to never drive there…) Laguna and would love to have another glorious property such as this for a pit stop, coffee, sandwich and conversation. How wonderful to have outside dinning while watching the beach lovers frolic the sidewalks!

    And Gaviota Drive residences you bought in a mixed-use area of Laguna Beach! Let’s ALL mix use it…you’ve been lured to complaining since the shuttered Boom and Liquor store gave you some quiet, but it gave the rest of us nothing but visual and economic blight at Mountain and Coast.

    If the ocean becomes too loud should we shutter it too…?


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