Letter: Bulldozed road at Top of the World


The Board of Directors of Laguna Canyon Conservancy understands that Laguna Beach City Council will meet with Southern California Edison (SCE) regarding the pole replacement project that has carved through our open space below the north end of Alta Laguna Boulevard, and behind upper Park Avenue on Jan. 16. We urge you to hold SCE to the strictest environmental standards from this point forward, and to be in compliance with all protocols and California State laws protecting open space prior to resuming the project.

Based on the fact that helicopters have been used for multiple reasons in and around wilderness park areas and open spaces, including to replace telephone poles, we feel the destruction to habitat that has already taken place was unnecessary and that there could have been other less invasive ways to accomplish their goals.

We also urge the council to make sure the mitigation and rehabilitation of this parcel is full and complete. We suggest that there be oversight by both the city and representation of local environmental groups as SCE resumes both phases of this project.

As you know, this parcel of land was dedicated as open space in 1982 in perpetuity as protected open space.

The Board of Directors is aware and appreciative of the City Council’s dedication to keeping Laguna Beach’s open spaces wild and green.

Gayle Waite, Laguna Canyon Conservancy President

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  1. “The Board of Directors is aware and appreciative of the City Council’s dedication to keeping Laguna Beach’s open spaces wild and green.”
    Wow, what world are you people living in, because it’s mostly like “Barbie,” a fantasy, not reality.
    Anyone in touch with said “real real,” aka a realistic assessment of the City’s decades of ignoring the very inventory mapping that would have clearly identified High, High Value and Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas (ESHA) would know that City Council after City Council, with “helpful” input by our City Managers has led us to these ecologically dark, disturbing places.
    Such areas would require radar screen alerts (mass notifications), more scrutiny by DRB, Planning Commission and City Council.
    And FORCE our staff to triage projects when stakeholders waded in. Written notification areas should have been expanded said years ago too. De minimus notices are a hallmark of our City Hall.
    That and bury the project by putting it at the end of a hearing, guaranteeing low physical turnout.
    Any HOA’s in the vicinity or a known protectionist NGO should be pro forma notified as well, as long as they registered with the City Clerk including a contact point (phone, email, etc.).
    THEN a more level playing field and encouragement for stakeholder input would act as real development triage.
    I can’t help but wonder that I’m having deja vu all over again. This isn’t the first time the residents had to be the watchdogs.
    Am I the only one wondering if this clearing, this scouring and grubbing didn’t cross someone’s desk at City Hall, but wasn’t given the attention the local city staff and stakeholder oversight that it should have?
    And unless everyone’s asleep, the City is finally procuring the services of a habitat assessment vendor.
    The City has not only dragged its collective feet regarding such studies but thumb on the scale, hired the vendor with a pre-disposed # of acres to assess: The City claims that there are only 200 acres max. of said 3 categories total of habitat.
    Does that sound right to the LCC Board or staff? If it does, you might be a candidate for City Council or City staff.
    As for the watercourses, which along with habitat status can significantly affect projects (especially those building from scratch), protectionists have been frustrated for years by the City’s INTENTIONAL failure to map these drainage patterns.
    The Cali Coastal Commission is at fault as well: CCC Staff has demanded this mapping going back into the 1990s, yet never dropped the jurisdictional or regulatory hammer, forced through legal instruments within their power to issue an ultimatum: No more Coastal Development Permits until the habitat and watercourse mapping had been performed, peer reviewed by stakeholders, integrated, inserted formally into the Open Space Plan.
    Did this SCE boondoggle not cut through habitat, perhaps severe a drainage pattern in a natural watercourse?
    We don’t know because the City never did the work, archive these items, and hence many City Councils are also to blame.
    These facts make the obsequious, patronizing remarks concluding the LCC LTE revealed for what they are: Congratulating City Hall for things they never accomplished although required to do so.
    When Plans (General, Specific/Special, Open Space, etc.) aren’t updated for decades, why thank undeserving people, reward them with such verbiage?
    As the saying goes, you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. LCC over the years seems to be a combo of both, but thanking City Hall is an insult.
    They’re not green down there: They’re yellow for being so cowardly, the yellow also a caution light to warn us that their failures aren’t caprice, more are on the way.
    Ignoring key environmental elements seems to have been the trend.
    And of course, all of the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth by City Council, the wailing cries of faux, faked pain to gather more votes next time, are quite predictable.
    We’re not a sanctuary City, that’s a lie that’s been repeated until it appears to be a fact.
    The wealthier NGOs like the LCC or Foundation, Greenbelt too, should have used their coffers, their abilities to collect funds and hire attorneys to sue long ago.
    Their respective mission statements look assertive, proactive, warm and fuzzy, yet they’re repeatedly passive, kow-tow to Council.
    Real protectionists know the mantra: Mitigate or Litigate.


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