We owe Mr. Mo a debt of gratitude for rescuing the restaurant roof at the Festival of Arts from the stifling cocoon of kitsch that imprisoned it for decades. Now that fabulous concrete wing is free to soar in the sky again.
Two more examples of this roof come to mind. The most iconic being the visitor center at Mount Rushmore, best showcased in the Hitchcock movie “North By Northwest.” There is another example right here in Laguna, high up on Pearl Street. Sadly it has suffered the same fate as befell the Festival’s restaurant with no rescue in sight.
That house was once a classic bachelor pad, a studio with the only interior wall providing privacy for the toilet. It had a conversation pit in the living area where your eye level was just about equal with the top of the fog.
Can you imagine that? Somebody built a studio house in Laguna with all glass exterior walls and no interior partition walls.
That house was built by a man who got rich from the invention of frozen foods. He had enough money not to care what the market would think and built his dream. There is a important lesson here.
Regulation doesn’t lead to creativity. Regulation stifles creativity. In our fear of developers and their potential for greed we have crushed the creative spirit under the heel of our boot.
Regulation has led to a parade of bland-on-bland stucco monsters seasoned with a sprinkling of fake stone accents. They’re about as creative as a tract house.
The iconic buildings in town did not rise from the nurturing hand of regulation. There was no design review when the old Lumber Yard, the tower at Victoria Beach, the Sandpiper building, that house on Pearl and the Festival restaurant were built.
Some folks seem awfully worried about Mr. Mo and his big fat wallet. “He’s buying up the whole town. This can’t be good.” It’s like wanting to invest your hard earned money in Laguna is a bad thing.
So far all that has happened is new life breathed into our decaying commercial sector.
Those that have appointed themselves the custodians of the village character have almost killed the village spirit. We’re now the town of, “do as we say, not as we do.” You can’t cut down trees, but the city can. You can’t have signs, but the city sure does. Perhaps the pendulum has swung too far the other way. What’s next? One big new sign that says, “No Nothing Allowed.”
JJ Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11yrs old. He has loved it ever since.