Does the Wet Suit You

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Cabo in Laguna

By J.J. Gasparotti

“All that you touch you change. All that you change changes you. The only constant lasting truth is change.” –Octavia Butler

Preserving and protecting the “Village Character” of Laguna beach has been an exercise in denying the inevitability of change. We’ve said no for decades. It hasn’t worked. Something always changes.

The Diamond Crestview Specific Plan neighborhood exhibits the futility of attempting to stop change rather that regulate and direct it. In the 1960s, the city tried to get the lot owners to pay for upgrading the streets. They refused. The city then decided that lots in the area couldn’t be built on until the owners brought the streets up to city standards and it decreed that the streets were not city streets.

A lawsuit ensues. Litigation lasted about 30 years. Prime ocean view lots in Laguna sat in the freezer. The city lost the suit and the appeal. Facing a big money judgement, equal to a year’s city budget, it settled.

It put in utilities and streets. And it adopted a specific plan intended to regulate development so that the neighborhood would look like it had been developed over the passage of time. It didn’t work.

By the time you could build on those lots, big bucks had colonized Laguna. Bucks so big they shoved aside any constraints and limits that the topography placed on the lots. The end result is homes that are massive in scale and have no resemblance to the goals of the specific plan or the small scale, environmentally sensitive development that it envisioned.

Village character-wise, we would have been better off with the lots being built on over the passage of time.

Before the city bought the land to create the park which forms Laguna’s window to the sea at Main Beach, you could conduct some tourist-oriented business on the beach. You could rent umbrellas, towels, back rests, and aquatic equipment. A cold drink and a hot burger were just steps away at Neil’s on the boardwalk. Fishermen sold fish at fisherman’s cove. But today you can’t do any of this. We’ve said no to business in our parks and on our beaches.

In 2019, it will become legal to conduct sales of food and merchandise in the parks and on the sidewalks of California. Thanks to Senate Bill 946, anyone who wants to sell food or merchandise in our parks can, unless we have a contracted business already doing so. We’ve said no to any reasonable proposition for businesses who wanted to. Now we’ll be open to anything.

I’ll have the Marijuana-infused ice cream please.

J.J. Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11 years old. He has loved it ever since.

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