Letter: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

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We think most people want to know who is suing them. So the founders of Laguna Neighbors thank Cathy Jurca for identifying herself as the founder of the Laguna Beach Historic Preservation Coalition. This was news to us. We had only been able to identify other Coalition members because Ann Christoph, Johanna Felder, Norm Grossman, Becky Jones, Barbara Metzger, Greg O’Loughlin, and Verna Rollinger signed a letter that we found on the Village Laguna website. ( A screenshot is available on request.) Those names are familiar to anyone in Laguna who cares about historic preservation as much as we do.

Jurca and fellow coalition members are involved in two Petitions of Mandamus. One is against the City, in which Village Laguna also is a petitioner, which seeks to overturn the revised historic ordinance. The other is against the City over the Kirby project to restore and add to an historic home on Hawthorne Road. In both cases, the stated issue is CEQA. In both cases, the lawyer signing the petitions is the same. It strains credulity to suggest that these two cases are unrelated.

One of the strangest aspects of the suit against the Kirby project is that the Kirbys met all the requirements of the current (unrevised) historic preservation ordinance, including a 5-0 vote of approval by the City Council. This ordinance was, for all practical purposes, designed by Village Laguna and coalition members decades ago, back when they dominated local politics. Is it fair to sue over a project they don’t like that went through a process they designed? We’re not lawyers, but we think the judge — and any fair-minded person who believes in historic preservation as much as we do — will see this a textbook example of “heads I win, tails you lose.”

Laguna Neighbors is an unincorporated association founded by Pat Gallis, Mary Williams, Dan Rosenthal, Chris Quilter, and Cherlin & Ian Kirby.

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