Letter: In Support of Bluebird Canyon Farms

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With much attention focused upon the controversial design of the Village Entrance pavilion and Mo Honarkar’s proposed developments, let’s remember that the Sept. 10 City Council agenda includes an appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of the Conditional Use Permit that would permit Bluebird Canyon Farms to host “farming and other educational events and to expand an existing apiary to include 33 beehives.”

This is a project that has been under scrutiny for years by both residents and the city. I attended the Planning Commission meeting on June 19 and found its unanimous decision laudable. The commissioners listened respectfully to those who spoke, discussed options amongst themselves, and came, in my opinion, to a fair and reasonable decision.

The farm consists of about 13 acres of Laguna history, dating to the 1800s as homesteaded land, on which the owner, a local, has restored the derelict sheds and outbuildings in a way that honors our heritage—the buildings are now functional and yet fit into the landscape aesthetically. This is a small urban farm, of the sort that has been cropping up around the country, with the purpose of creating an economically sustainable and environmentally appealing way to grow food. The argument that the C.U.P. as approved is not congruent with other uses within the city ignores the fact that the farm is a unique parcel and deserves consideration as such.

I find the appeal’s other objections highly questionable. Fire safety? The management of the ranch is meticulous; the owner has a vested interest in scrupulous attention to fire safety. I’ll leave the reputed bee droppings on a nearby property to the apian experts. Our house is near the farm, and we have seen no evidence of such droppings, nor have our neighbors. Besides, the farm abuts a large swath of wildland that attracts bees, as do many of the canyon residents’ gardens that are planted to that end. Given the existential threat to bee colonies, this is good practice and should be encouraged.

Noise and traffic concerns? The farm has addressed these concerns ad nauseum. We experience far more traffic and noise from private parties and Sunday afternoon concerts in Bluebird Canyon Park than what the farm would generate under the C.U.P. Although I don’t attend those concerts, I support their public benefit. Live and let live. I ask the same consideration for Bluebird Canyon Farms.

Jean Hastings Ardell, Laguna Beach

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