Digging Into Footpaths


Temple Hills Community Association (THCA) is promoting public staircases over existing easements.  Temple Hills Neighborhood Association (THNA) includes members of THCA, the owners of the 12 homes targeted by THCA and dozens of neighbors. THCA does not represent us. Our community does not want “well trafficked” staircases passing a few feet from our homes. The neighbors are not divided. (“Neighbors Divided Over New Footpaths,” Nov. 11).

The Oct. 6 city manager’s report corrects many of the falsehoods contained in THCA’s “newsletters”:

The original intent of the five-foot easements is unclear. The only approved public purpose is “underground utilities”. (not “historic pathways”).

The “adjacent homeowners own half of the approximate five-foot paths  … and are responsible for the maintenance of this property … “.

“These public ways have not been developed for public use  … the City does not consider them publicly accessible”.

“The public ways are considered very narrow  … Construction would be limited to this strip  … And would be approximately 3 ft in width …”

“Opposition … and lack of specificity … could expose the city to litigation…”

There are other pedestrian access ways in the city but “they are wider than five feet”. (in fact, they are two to 10 times wider not counting setbacks).

The city will not allow “informal” development …  Any construction must be “compliant with current public access safety standards”.

“The fire department does not believe the pathways would effectively improve the emergency plan for the temple hills neighborhood.”

No city has ever approved public staircases in situations like this. We must preserve the historical pattern of development including these historic green spaces.  THCA is asking the city to repudiate 85 years of Design Review Board and building permits and covenants with dozens of homeowners. The radical conversion of these easements to public staircases simply makes no sense, generates none of the claimed benefits, and exposes the city taxpayers to huge liabilities.  The city should not waste another dollar of taxpayer money on this fatally flawed idea.

Contrary to the statement under my photo, I accepted the city manager’s offer to serve on a task force of the city’s choosing to investigate alternatives. The Complete Streets Task Force does not endorse this project. We are working with with the Task Force and city to develop common sense alternatives.

Every homeowner in Laguna should be concerned. If a small group can tie up the city staff for months investigating a project that would destroy our rights to peaceful enjoyment of our homes, it could happen to you. This project does not pass the most basic smell test.  For more, see this video:  http://youtu.be/wrw7efFuXB4 .

Doug Cortez, Laguna Beach

Temple Hills Neighborhood Association

[email protected]

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