Recently the Laguna Beach Planning Department approved plans for a house that violates the historic front yard setbacks in a tract on Temple Hills. Why? Because the applicant asked the planners to show them the legal map defining the setbacks for the tract, and the Planning Department can’t find it. The district map, which is used for all the tracts in Laguna Beach, apparently is lost. So the Planning Department went ahead and approved the plans with smaller setbacks than their neighbors.
The Planning Department agrees that the map exists and that other homeowners were told to comply with what everyone knew the setbacks had been since the 1940s, but since the documents are missing, they allowed this one house to use a smaller setback. Imagine how this street will look with all the houses using a larger front yard setback than this one house, which is extremely large and imposing.
This loss of documents could affect hundreds of residents who have complied with city-designated setbacks for years. All someone has to do is say, “Show me the document.” Since the documents can’t be found, the planners will pass the plans with smaller setbacks. If the plans are for an ADU there would be no design review, and the building would commence immediately.
The Planning Commission and City Council need to look at this issue ASAP before people jam giant additions through this loophole. New resolutions need to be made and transmitted to the Planning Department. California ADU laws clearly state that local front yard setbacks must be observed even if the addition is an ADU.
Susan Elliott, Laguna Beach