Letter: A Fox in the Henhouse

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Over the past several days, I and fellow volunteers have been walking Canyon Acres and Arroyo Drive and the adjacent Sarah Thurston neighborhood talking face-to-face with homeowners and residents about the most recent threat to the residential character and safety of our beautiful, family-friendly neighborhood. Though we missed a few neighbors, we have spoken with a large majority (over 100), and I hope to catch up with the rest in the coming days. I can tell you this: most of the residents here are angry, and some are furious. Sadly, there were a few who are resigned that the system is rigged against honest, tax-paying property owners.

On Aug. 22, 2017, the City Council approved the establishment of the Affordable Housing Task Force, whose mission is to research and provide recommendations to the Planning Commission for the development of affordable housing. One of the locations that the Affordable Housing Task Force has recently identified for possible high-density development is the large empty lot at the entrance to our quiet, residential (predominantly R1) street: 113 Canyon Acres Drive. This property is subdivided into three lots which were already up-zoned once in 2009 from R1 to R2. The Affordable Housing Task Force is discussing (see minutes) proposing to the Planning Commission to up-zone the property even further to R3 in order to be able to fit higher density housing at that lot.

Here’s the kicker: One of the Affordable Housing Task Force members is Mr. Mohammad Honarkar, a local developer. But Mr. Honarkar is also the holder of a 60-year lease of 113 Canyon Acres Drive. As such, he could directly benefit monetarily from the up-zoning of this property from his ability, as a member of the Affordable Housing Task Force, to steer Planning Commission policy in his favor. Because Mr. Honarkar could gain monetarily from his influence on the Affordable Housing Task Force, he should resign immediately. And if the recommendation to up-zone his property is still ultimately made to the Planning Commission and they approve it, I believe this should be a matter for the District Attorney’s office to investigate.

Steve Tollefsrud, Laguna Beach

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2 COMMENTS

  1. No brain(er)….Conflict of interest for him…whats a matter with people these days ??? You gotta know this already !!!..
    Also …what agencies within the state are kicking in bunch of $$$ as incentive to the city.
    Housing and work-spaces for artists only should be the top criteria for why this needs to happen… pitifully the town needs to do more to keep the artists here. It celebrates 3 Festivals of which the local artists may not always display in them due to certain requirements and restrictions.The town attracts visitors based on the arts..has a growing school of art the size of a small industry taking up the canyon and causing traffic problems and yet the city exploits small artists with the rising economic bracket forcing them out. Relocate the school much further out past ElToro where they can have a sprawling campus with 500 + enrollment and faculty and reclaim their present occupied spaces for small and older artists to work and retro to live.

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