Let Laguna Live was formed in 2016 by Larry Nokes, a real estate attorney and City Council candidate, to bolster support for a campaign to dismantle Laguna Beach’s historic preservation protections. On Aug. 11, the City Council began that process on a 4-1 vote, despite substantial evidence that the environmental review of the proposed changes is inadequate and violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The next step, as Mr. Nokes knows, is for the California Coastal Commission (CCC) to review the changes because they require amendments to Laguna’s Local Coastal Plan. Unless and until the CCC approves, Laguna’s historic preservation program remains exactly as it has been for years: properties on the Inventory are considered historic resources under CEQA and properties that are eligible for the local Register are historic resources whether or not owners believe they are historic.
It is distressing to witness an organization created by and so closely associated with a City Council candidate and attorney urging members to ignore the law. A Let Laguna Live email sent on Aug. 24 announced that “While the ‘inventory’ has now been pronounced dead, there is a push to continue to sow confusion as to inventory listed properties by having the city Staff continue to apply hidden restrictions. We must now make sure that the will of the community and the clear action by the Council is carried out on a staff level. The implementation and application of this ordinance by the staff will be important, and the next several months are critical in making sure that the professional planning and zoning staff people clearly understand the message.”
City staff do not propose to “sow confusion” by continuing to treat inventory properties differently; rather, they propose to follow the law. The directive from Let Laguna Live advises property owners to skirt the law and to bully staff into doing so before the CCC has conducted its review.
I hope that Mr. Nokes will disavow Let Laguna Live’s efforts to bypass the legal process and make sure its members “clearly understand the message” that nothing has yet changed. Perhaps he can do so on these pages.
And incidentally, the “will of the community,” by something like a two to one margin, was to maintain existing protections to ensure that our “Historic American Landscape” is preserved and protected.
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