Letter: Keeping Restoration and Preservation our Development Philosophy

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I enjoyed reading a great column about the good kind of change by Jean Ardell in the Indy. She has great vision and deep knowledge about our history. Whenever I leave Laguna and go east, north or south, I am amazed how protected we are from the urban sprawl that surrounds us. We have always protected our open spaces from development. Yet never have so many developers spent so much money trying to convince residents to change our zoning and other regulations that have taken us decades to adopt. These help assure we stay historic, small scale, environmentally responsible and resident serving.

Last week, one of Liberate Laguna’s leaders asked us in the Indy to compare Laguna to “very charming” Monte Carlo. I first visited Monte Carlo in 1993 and liked it. The developers there must have organized a “Liberate Monte Carlo” because I would not recognize it now. Go to: www.monte-carlo.mc/en/ to see the charming skyscrapers lining the beach, the hundreds of charming 10 story buildings lining their boulevards, their charming casino and other tourist-oriented structures. Does that look desirable? No wonder developers and preservationists cannot agree on a vision for Laguna’s future. They see skyscrapers and “La Dolce Vita” while we see beach homes and garden lifestyles.

Why anyone who loves Laguna and lives here would want to change our traditional development philosophy of restoration and preservation baffles me.

50 years ago, Laguna’s visionary residents decided to prevent radical change from happening and fought off the developers. The result is the wonderful small-scale lifestyle we enjoy today. This struggle continues, but we must be the visionaries this time. If not now, when. If not us, who?

Armando Baez

Laguna Beach

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