Letter: Regarding Ti Amo Property


“Ti Amo” is Italian for “I Love You.” Maybe that explains the city government’s inexplicable infatuation with Ti Amo as the site for a future fire station. Or park. Or parking lot. Or something. They won’t say for sure what the plan is for the site. Maybe they don’t know. Or maybe they just won’t tell. Some elected officials say we are still considering alternatives, but the staff seems to be going full speed ahead trying to figure out if it can stuff 14,000 square feet of fire station onto a 9,900 square foot site. You know the one about stuffing 10 pounds of stuff into a five-pound bag.  It often ends poorly.

But we now own it. The Ti Amo property. For $2.7 million of your taxpayer money. In spite of there being no appraisal. In spite of wide-spread neighborhood opposition to the choice. In spite of the fact that a number of better alternatives are available. Including larger unproductive vacant sites where nothing would have to be demolished. And, unlike the Ti Amo site, sites that would meet all the City’s own selection criteria. Including the much-preferred attribute of being able to have fire equipment access the Coast Highway from a side street instead of having to pull out and back in directly from the busy Coast Highway.

But then there’s also the classic “You Always Hurt the One You Love.” Maybe that explains the rush to demolish Ti Amo for a fire station. Or something.

What started as a closed session decision with no public input, led to City Council meetings in June announcing after-the-fact the decision to buy the site for some yet to be determined use, and another trying to explain its puzzling choice. With no offer by the City government of a neighborhood meeting—like what is suggested as a first step for home remodeling projects—South Laguna Civic Association organized a Zoom meeting for the community asking for community input. The meeting was attended by over 50 participants and city staff. Virtually all comments from the community opposed the selection of the Ti Amo site for use as a fire station, and felt there were better alternatives available. Never-the-less, on Sept. 6, the purchase closed and days later staff was seen, fire engine in tow, wandering the site.

There is widespread support for a new fire station but not at that location. Why isn’t our City government more interested in what the residents want?

John Thomas, Laguna Beach

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