Letter: Bluff Top Erosion Should be Considered


I wanted to bring to the attention of your readers that the Laguna Beach City Council has passed an ordinance affecting the “development of seven miles of Laguna beach’s coastal bluffs.” This ordinance “reduces the setback from 25 feet from the bluff face to effectively ZERO” with “certain conditions applying.” I believe the erosion of the bluff tops needs to be seriously considered. I would like to also know what the “conditions” would be and to “whom” they might apply? This ordinance was passed by a vote of 4 to 1 for approval by our Laguna Beach City Council. The only councilperson voting “NO” on this agenda item was councilman George Weiss. 

I have been watching video of “bluff top” homes sliding down the hillsides from the Back Bay in Newport to San Clemente, all due to our most recent rains. I do not regularly follow Planning Department Meetings so I, as many Laguna residents, was totally unaware of this ordinance change being put to a vote. Was this ordinance change properly vetted? More importantly, were impacted residents properly “Noticed” by the city?

I believe that the approval of this ordinance should be stayed. Is there any data showing who will be affected? Is there any data showing that the bluffs are geologically able to support development to the face of the bluff? Who will lose their view when a neighbor or an outside developer builds to the bluff face? I am certain that some “Geologist” somewhere confirmed that the bluffs in Back Bay, Newport are just fine. I have been watching homes in San Clemente slide down onto PCH for as long as I can remember. In view of what we have seen happening to properties built on bluffs that were allegedly sound, is this something that we should gamble with in Laguna? I am curious as to why some kind of informational “workshop” or at least an opportunity for the community to have involvement in making this decision has not been offered. We citizens of Laguna Beach need to be assured that the council is working in the best interests of its residents and not making arbitrary decisions discounting community input and consultation. 

Claude Morgan, Laguna Beach

Share this:


  1. Just like the rush to approve The Memorandum of Understanding (another accomplishment of our City Manager with assistance from Peter Blake) for an inconceivably bad leasing agreement with the Presbyterian Church this is being rushed for approval before its impact can even be assessed by the residents. As to who will benefit in the short term there is no question. One of those is surely Mo Hornarkar who now owns a substantial amount of property on the bluff south of Hotel Laguna. Anyone that has seen an artist concept of a block long structure of glass and steel towering 36 feet above the bluff and now being allowed to go to the bluff edge will see how this will forever change what Laguna has been. And what will those of us see when on the beach and look up toward the bluff? This is a fast track land grab mostly benefitting those that have the money and the political influence with the majority city’s elected officials and the City Manager. If you have any doubt just review the favors afforded to t the developer for unpermitted work on Hotel Laguna. Where is the self described “data driven” councilman? We need to demand that the city hire an unbiased consulting firm to look at the potential problems that this ill conceived land grab will have on our city.

  2. Hope the public watches the 3/21 city council meeting on this agenda item. Thankfully, it was pulled from Consent and rescheduled for a public meeting. It most definitely should have been. Community Development Director Marc Weiner’s staff report was inadequate and it appears the only opinions in our city he’s interested in are Realtor’s and Developers. Not acceptable.

    I find it inexcusable that four City Council members supported this controversial ordinance and that it was put on Consent. Was this an attempt to push it through by city management and council members? I hope not.

    After pushback by several informed attendees and callers who professionally addressed the multitude of issues related to this proposed ordinance, I believe the City Council now understands what it means to do their public official due-diligence and the importance of educating and including LB stakeholders in such impactful and long-term decisions. I encourage residents to stay tuned to this ordinance affecting our entire coastline and attend the meeting in April.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here