Letter: Special Tract Setbacks Could Be Lost


We want to inform residents about a situation that will wreak havoc on our town if city council does not remedy it. More than 140 homes are about to lose their Special Tract Setbacks that were established 75 years ago. This will affect not only these homeowners but hundreds of their neighbors, who have all relied on these Special Tract Setbacks to preserve views, privacy and the character of Laguna Beach.

Special Tract Setbacks for lots in at least five tracts are delineated in the District Map, adopted by Ordinance 279 in 1947. Since then, all homes built and remodeled have used these setbacks. The District Map, however, has been lost, and the City Attorney has said that if the City cannot find the legal documents establishing these Special Tract Setbacks cannot be found, then the City can no longer enforce them.

If you live on one of these streets or in the general neighborhood of Bayview, Buena Vista, Canyon View, Coast View, Temple Hills, Anita, or Lombardy, then your home may be affected by the elimination of these setbacks. In our case, a neighbor proposes a 1,000-square-foot, 25-foot-high ADU in their front yard using only a 10-foot setback, which will block much of our ocean view. The City’s GIS system and the neighbor’s Real Property Report state their lot has a 20-foot Special Tract Front Yard Setback, but the City is siding with the neighbor solely because it can’t find the District Map.

We are asking the city council to remedy this problem by immediately passing an emergency ordinance reestablishing the Special Tract Setbacks as found in the City’s GIS system. If they fail to do so, this travesty has the potential to affect virtually everyone in Laguna Beach. Email us at [email protected] for more information. Please help us save our community by writing the city council or speaking at the next city council meeting on Tuesday, June 13, asking for an immediate solution.

Mike and Johanna Ellis, Laguna Beach

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