Design Review Failed to Protect His Neighbor’s View



I strongly support the City’s recent attempt to strengthen the View ordinance, as announced in your paper (“Council Sets Sights on View Ordinance,” Jan. 18).  At the same time, I think the city administration needs to get behind it and begin to support its intent. It often does not.

Last fall my neighbor lost a third of his white-water view, a view he has had and worked to preserve during the last 20 years. All due to a remodel on the street below him.

Over 20 years ago he purchased his double lot and bought the double lot below him. He picked the perfect spot on his lot for a white-water view and built his house on it. He then built a spec house on the lot in front of him with a roof line that did not block any of his view. And, he thought he and his wife would enjoy this view for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately the home in front of him to the south was purchased and a remodel was planned. The architect took a smart approach. His first staking was to raise the three-story house so high he blocked almost everyone’s view behind it. Of course he was ordered to lower the house by Design Review, but never brought it down to the requested original height, which is the normal height of the neighborhood.

Instead of taking 80 percent of my neighbor’s view, he now took 30 percent and took the position that he had given a lot back when in reality he took a view that was never his to begin with. Even though every neighbor surrounding the remodel testified against raising the roofline or expanding the existing floors because this blocked views, Design Review said they could live with that in spite of my neighbor’s protests. He appealed to the Council but three council members voted against him saying Design Review does a good job; Kelly Boyd who apparently took a personal interest in the project, Elizabeth Pearson and Jane Egly. So, now construction is beginning, and my neighbor will lose a good portion of his white-water view.

I wonder if Steve Dicterow would be a better chair of the committee to review the ordinance, given that Kelly Boyd doesn’t seem to have the right perspective.

“I can live with that,” is not the attitude needed to solve the view problems of people who actually do need to live with a loss of the view forever.


John Selecky, Laguna Beach

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