Letter: Proposed Village Entrance Structure, Pt. 2

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It has become clear that the out-of-scale, out-of-character structure as conceptualized by Marc Fornes would not be a value-added addition to the Village Entrance project.

I would suggest that the Arts Commission selection process was flawed, and the commission’s subsequent communication with Mr. Fornes has been ill-defined, if not deficient, from the very beginning.

Marc Fornes was not provided accurate information or direction by the Arts Commission. Due to no fault of his own, Mr. Fornes took off on a path that was filled with landmines. Until days before his Sept. 23 City Council presentation, his proposal, according to his statement, called for “a space to gather for such events as live music, readings and screenings” or as the chair of the Arts Commission stated, “a place where artists could share their talents through performance and art.” At the meeting, however, the Council made it clear that they had no interest in a structure that would serve as a gathering point for artists, performances, children’s theatre, poetry readings, or public assemblies. Sadly, a review of Mr. Fornes’ website suggests this is exactly the kind of work for which he is noted and widely recognized.

Most, if not all, of Mr. Fornes’ urban installations are dramatically illuminated at night. However, Laguna Beach Municipal Code Chapter 7.70 (www.qcode.us/codes/lagunabeach/revisions/1552.pdf) delineates a very strict policy regarding outdoor lighting. It appears Mr. Fornes was never informed of this policy. The goal of the ordinance is “to prevent or reduce light pollution” and to improve nighttime visibility and ambiance while maintaining safety. To alleviate light pollution, all outdoor lighting is to be shielded and aimed downward. Acceptable shielding, hooding and aiming of outdoor light fixtures are spelled out in the code, and it would be expected that the city would honor the code as written.

Certainly residents whose homes are perched on the hillside above the proposed site as well as the public generally would be offended by glare emitted by any large structural installation.

It is clear that this matter has been mismanaged and needs to be reassessed. Once details of this project began to surface, we have witnessed a tidal wave of public opposition. Rather than kick the can down the road with the false hope that a compatible concept will emerge, the City Council should take the necessary steps to reel it in and direct the Arts Commission to revisit the process and the project. The clock is ticking, but it’s not too late. Rejections are always better than regrets.

 

Randy Lewis, Laguna Beach

 

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