I am proud to call Laguna Beach home, and grateful my wife and I can raise two young children here. There is a sense of community, pride and togetherness that is truly unique to Laguna and what makes our city someplace special. I say this as a resident, a professional and as a student.
In addition to raising a family here, I also make a living owning and operating real estate, focusing on vibrant neighborhoods and communities. I cannot think of a better example than Laguna. But that isn’t a static thing. Laguna’s charm and character is a living and breathing thing that must be nurtured if it is to continue. Impactful real estate must draw upon the strength and character of what makes that particular city, town or street corner special while also incorporating what it wants to be in the future. Meaningful real estate, whether they be homes, retail shops, offices, or parks must draw people in, create positive emotions and foster experiences we want to share—with both others as well as with the place itself.
This was further engrained upon me as a student, both studying urban planning at UC Irvine as an undergrad and as a graduate student at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Preservation and Planning. We are taught to respect and know our antecedents, those things that came before us, but also bring positive change and improve our built environment—whether through safer code, structural enhancements, thoughtful designs, more efficient utilities, sustainable materials and diversity. We cannot do that looking backward.
I was saddened to see the lawsuit brought upon the homeowners of 369 Hawthorne. By all accounts, the homeowners, the Kirbys, went through a several-years long process to do exactly what we all would like to see: a careful and thoughtful plan to protect a historic structure but make it enjoyable for decades more to come. This is an arduous process, who anyone who’s familiar with owning a home or buying a home in Laguna Beach is familiar with, projects are deliberately reviewed by the city staff, elected officials, the public and other interested parties to determine their suitability. The Laguna Beach Historic Preservation Coalition’s lawsuit, once you cut through the CEQA and other distractions, was brought about solely to prevent change. That is the death knell for any vibrant community, hanging on to the past so hard you can’t bear to welcome the future. This is a negative and corrosive mindset that is less interested in preserving anything, but more interested in stopping everything.
We should continue to hold our community to a high standard and demand any project be put to a reasonable and careful review, but welcome smart and positive change to help us continue to grow together.
Yashaar Amin, Laguna Beach
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