Letter: Regulatory Blight in Laguna Beach

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In examining the conditions of the Laguna Beach downtown areas it has occurred to me that numerous buildings are vacant, locked without tenants, and in general disrepair. According to U.S. Housing and Urban Development: “Neighborhood blight and the presence of vacant and abandoned properties have profound negative impacts on afflicted communities.”

Property blight is defined as “the reduction in marketability and value of land as a result of a public sector decision.”

How can this be in Laguna Beach? It has an affluent population, and visitors from around the world visit here.

I have coined the term, “regulatory blight.” It’s an explanation for the downtown blight in Laguna Beach. This term may be a first in urban and regional planning history. Efforts from the top of the town’s political structure, citizens’ committees, and public sector employees are responsible for this unique situation. The question is, “How can this be stopped?”

This is where it gets tough. The efforts of the current leadership group, which has been in control for decades in Laguna Beach, are shameful and their hold on development is sound. Local entrepreneurs and business people are stymied by these efforts. Modifications to this leadership are challenging in that personnel are fortified by wages, benefits, pensions, and representative unions.

I’m not sure how much more this beloved town can take, and I truly believe the worst is yet to come.

Robert Teubner, Laguna Beach


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  1. The city needs to regulate the Friendship Shelter. I was just abused by a black resident from Queens, NY who should not even be in the program. He has been on the police radar for years and is never apprehended. The Shelter is for people in Orange County to have a chance. Not a criminal from out of state using the resources for over 10 years.

  2. Brilliant analysis guest contributor. It is very original of you to blame publicly elected officials for not fulfilling what you see as the optimal solution in your city. Of course, the best public policies and decisions do not please everyone fully. They are constitutive of compromises between people with differing views and this is the foundation of representative democracy and the basis of public value. Perhaps rather than comparing your city to truly blighted ones, you can appreciate the good that has come from the local government and their regulations as well. Blight, by the way, is also a disease that spreads quickly and has a lasting negative effect; that sounds a lot like the anti-government sentiments you discuss too 🙂


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