Historic Ripoff 3.0
The fog of obfuscation and misdirection generated by the usual mind-numbing presentation quickly filled the chambers during last Saturday’s special City Council meeting on historical preservation.
This fog and the interminable PowerPoint presentation droning on in dulcet tones calibrated to tranquilize the most savage beast did little to defuse the angry mood of the crowd—one in no mood to hear about the need for an involuntary historic inventory listing homes over 50 years old. An inventory which would require the owners prove, at their own expense, that theirs’ is not a historic resource worthy of preservation.
The smell of tar was wafting through the fog. A naked chicken missing feathers could be seen fleeing the premises. Folks were out for blood. They were nice about it. Thanks to council member Steve Dicterow’s be nice campaign, pitchforks and torches were left at home.
All this anger due to efforts to establish a historic inventory that involuntarily places every home in Laguna Beach over 50 years old on it. Didn’t anybody tell the council that folks don’t like to be involuntarily placed on lists? Lists that lead to who knows what.
Didn’t like lists when Senator McCarthy had one. Didn’t like them when Nixon had his and J. Edgar had his, too. The only list folks want to be on is one they got on voluntarily. This town and this nation have a great tradition of volunteering. That’s not what this was.
At last, City Council read the mood and passed the buck by sending the issue to another task force they just formed. Then they exited the room as quickly as possible.
It’s a shame that somebody didn’t bring a big mallet and a wooden stake to beat into the heart of this misguided proposition. That’s the only way to kill bad ideas like this. Instead, the council sent it to a task force whose composition doesn’t reflect the mood of the room or the town.
Ask most folks if they would like their home involuntarily placed on a historic inventory that could lead to permit issues if they want to improve it. They’d say, “No thank you.” But that’s not how the task force stacked up. The task force is 50-50 for and against in a 90 percent against town.
This brings us to the importance of elections. In towns like Laguna, the appointments to commissions, boards, task forces, and committees are done at the pleasure of the majority of the City Council. When you don’t like the decisions, it could be time to change the deciders.
J.J. Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11 years old. He has loved it ever since.