Letter: Are We Losing Our Community’s Soul?

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We used to care deeply about open space and small scale, pedestrian-friendly structures.

In the early ’70s, we adopted a 36-foot height limit for structures. It had broad public support. The city purchased and cleared the land of buildings on the area that was known as “Main Beach Development—Window-to-the-sea”—Main Beach.

In the ’80s, the city focused on acquiring or obtaining development rights on land that expanded open space and park lands. This led to the creation of Lang Park, Moulton Meadows Park and Alta Laguna Park.

In the early ’90s, we voted 79.6 percent to tax ourselves $20 million for an open space/parklands bond. The city agreed to apply that money toward the $78 million purchase of 2,150 acres of open space that was destined for development.

Now, our city seems focused on increased development, greater density and reduced required parking. There is a disdain toward citizens who continue to advocate for a “pedestrian-friendly village atmosphere.” There is instead a cry to “refresh” and add “excitement” by lowing the long held standards of the past.

It is, I am afraid, a rush to make us more like some of our noisy, crowded neighboring cities. There seems to be an effort to lower our standards and the unique atmosphere of our village. Yes, Our Village.


Neil Fitzpatrick, Laguna Beach

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  1. Thank you Neil for taking the time to address this issue facing our town. Laguna residents must speak up about what’s happened in our city since the last election. Lead by CC Peter Blake, we now have a “Laguna’s not good enough” attitude being promoted and a pro-development push to a degree we haven’t seen before. This CC member and his developers are trying to convince everyone that we are in dire need to make serious changes and in such a fast and furious manner, residents heads are spinning. We want well-thought our development. Not wham-bam! And most serious is the fact that he cannot substantiate his claims. When asked for facts, he goes on the attack and threatens residents saying “ I’ll see you at the next CC meeting “ to intimidate those who speak up. It’s shameful behavior and it must be stopped. Our city is at stake.

  2. Thank you for your letter Neil. Who is “Money Mo” anyway? He and his daughter don’t give a damn about the charm of Laguna. Developers have destroyed everything I held dear to my heart. I’ve been reading about this “Bully Blake” person too. These people lack the attitude of a true Laguna longtime resident.

  3. As a 30+ year resident/homeowner of Laguna Beach, I agree with your thoughts. There are some that wish to rush to give the city a new look. Based on the architects design concept renderings, this certainly doesn’t look like the Laguna Beach that was envisioned by the folks who led the charge in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. The plans that have been submitted are nothing short of the look of the Santa Monica 3rd St. Promenade with the promises of more people that will spend more money. It seems to me that the “look” of laguna beach, if left to the “new look” folks, we will have that indistinguishable look of every other beach city that has succumbed to the almighty dollar in lieu of its sense of community. Is that what we have become? Before the city council and the planning commission rush to approve plans that will change the look and feel that has been Laguna for decades, they need to know that in doing so, it will also change its very soul of our town. I understand the need for the tourist dollar and a robust local economy. My question is at what cost and Cui Bono?


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