I am writing to discuss the deeply disturbing topic of CEQA abuse. The 1970 law may have been a good one aimed at keeping our environment clean. In 2021, it has become outdated and pejorative. Being used as a way to block projects, wield self appointed power by local groups like Village Laguna and their spinoffs and a way for lawyers to make a lot of money. Always at the expense of homeowners. People already burdened with exorbitant property taxes, rapidly rising housing prices (a barrier for younger folks to live here), and cripplingly long waits for permission to build or renovate their own homes.
Witness the Kirby family, A young family with a dream of living in an historic home, fully prepared to return this 1920’s home to its glory, a beautiful example of responsible restoration.
Here’s what happened to their dream: They wasted four years of their lives in a ridiculously slow, tortuous process of forced changes to their plans. Finally approved by the City Council itself, they were excited to start the building process. Then one morning they woke up to a CEQA lawsuit. A lawsuit forecasted to last another costly two and a half years. Bringing the Kirbys to six and a half years before they can even put a shovel into the ground.
I have a few questions:
Why would any family be forced to carry a big mortgage and pay huge property taxes on a house that they cannot live in for six and a half years plus two more years more to complete the obviously pricey renovations?
How can local groups be given so much power and influence over the lives of people who want to live here?
How long before families, the future of Laguna Beach, decide to buy elsewhere?
Who is running this town? The tourists?
Will these issues be addressed? And by whom?
None of this makes any sense to me. Does it make sense to you?
If you agree, speak up! Speak out against the unfair, outdated rules that are governing our town’s progress. Don’t stay silent and allow Village Laguna and their cronies to use the Kirbys as an example of their power and determination to prevent healthy change in Laguna Beach.
Together we can stop the abuse. People simply want to live in a small town, in a well built house that meets their families’ needs.
Mary Williams, Laguna Beach
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