Does the Wet Suit You

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Winners and Losers

By J.J. Gasparotti
By J.J. Gasparotti

Judge David Carter’s promise of 30 nights in a motel and a caseworker rings hollow, like the old promise of 40 acres and a mule. It isn’t going to change a thing. Look at the response to the actions to help the homeless prompted by his efforts.

The County of Orange announced plans to construct three shelters in separate cities. The reaction was swift and unified. Not in our city, you don’t.  You’re not moving that Hooverville from down by the river to my back yard. The sad thing is His Honor isn’t even working on the real problem.

Homelessness is a symptom. It’s the result of profound dysfunction and a shortage in our housing market. The real problem is we have simply failed to build sufficient housing of all types to accommodate our growing population. Folks are now willing to pay big money for shacks they wouldn’t have given a look years ago. The more limited your means, the more likely you’ll be homeless.

Increasingly complicated requirements to grant building permits have created barriers to building housing. This is particularly true in the coastal zone. We’ve erected these barriers in an effort to preserve our life style the way it was. It worked and my house is now worth so much I couldn’t afford it today.

Take parking requirements. When we don’t like a proposed development, parking requirements are a good way to deny it.  When we like a proposed project we grant waivers or parking credits to approve it. That’s using parking as a way for government to pick winners and losers in the housing market.

Lately the state passed a law that says cities like Laguna can’t use parking requirements to limit the construction of second residential units if the proposed location is within a half mile of a bus route. Our first reaction was to start thinking about getting rid of our bus system.

Some friends are trying to build a second unit above their garage. They’ve been to the city twice. So far the city has two names for what they are trying to do and both aren’t allowed. Never mind that the state has decreed, “ Thou Shalt Build Additional Dwelling Units.”

Based on population, Laguna’s share of the statewide housing shortage is about 2,000 dwelling units. The way we’re foot dragging on doing our share it’s going to take more than 30 nights in a motel before we see any real change. But we’ve got a committee hard at work on it boss.


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


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  1. JJ, your analysis smashes thousands of your fellow Lagoonies right in the face, and is of course equally applicable to many other OC cities. The hypocrisy of pretending to *care* for the poor, but not wanting even one of them in Laguna Beach is something your friends and neighbors simply do not wish to confront or admit. It is symptomatic of the Democratic Party, hypocrisy, and dishonesty, and condescension. And hatefulness.


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