Letter: Laguna needs affordable housing


There’s no doubt in my mind that Laguna Beach needs affordable housing. According to the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) from the state of California, Laguna Beach is required to construct 394 housing units, of which 277 must have varying degrees of affordability.

The question then becomes where should these developments be located, and can the developers provide enough parking to avoid putting pressure on neighborhoods already struggling with this issue? A proposal has recently come forward to build 72 units (a mix of studios, 1-,2- and 3-bedroom units) at the Neighborhood Congregational Church on Glenneyre Street at St. Ann’s Drive.

The proposal is for a four-story podium structure with 108 parking spaces on the lowest level. It was difficult for me to tell from the plans I saw if the parking was subterranean or above grade. The development will also include a spiritual center.

So, 108 parking places for a 72-unit (129-bedroom) project leads me to believe that it is under-parked. Add in the existing church goers and the new spiritual center attendees, and things will start to get challenging.

There is also the issue that many surrounding businesses previously leased space in the NCC parking lot to satisfy their Conditional Use Permits. The original CUP for the San Shi Go restaurant space mentioned using 19 spaces in the Neighborhood Congregational Church lot. The CUP for the Red Dragon restaurant required 30 spaces to be leased from the NCC lot. The CUP for Hotel Seven4one required 20 spaces to be leased in the NCC lot. Didn’t the redo of the Holiday Inn also propose leasing space in the NCC lot? When those parking spaces are no longer available, where will those people park? What happens to the CUP’s for those businesses? I know this is early days in the processing of this project, but I believe SB-4 allows for expedited permitting and some flexibility from zoning requirements. Things may move quicker than you’d think.

I hope that Related California (the developers) and the Neighborhood Congregational Church will do the right thing and seek neighborhood feedback. I also hope that they will limit the size (both in number of units and height) of their project and, provide sufficient parking for all of their tenants and proposed additional uses. If done correctly, this could be a win-win for both Laguna and the neighborhood.

Clark Collins, Laguna Beach

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