Letter: Supportive of NCC housing, but on a smaller scale


We support, in concept, the Neighborhood Congregational Church planned aordable housing. We voiced our support to a friend who is a NCC member. Once we received details from the Related California report to the city, which proposed a 72-unit project with an overall size and scale beyond anything imagined – we were quite shocked. 

Our concern is its size and scale. We would be equally apprehensive about this project if 72 luxury apartments or a hotel were proposed for this site.

We realize SB4 allows for maximizing the number of units and a fast-tracked approval process. This new law, we’re sure, will work well in most cities in the state. Laguna, however, is a very small, compact community. There is no other 72-unit apartment building in or close to the Village area— in fact, it will be the largest building in the Village.

New buildings in our small community are best designed and sited so “they fit in.” They work best when they don’t dominate the landscape but rather blend in. Based on documents presented to the city, a three-story structure atop a “platform” doesn’t blend with its surroundings. Out-of-scale buildings – as this proposed building is – can damage a community. It sets a precedent for future developers to ask for variances for oversized three-story buildings. On the other hand, good quality buildings that relate to their surroundings create a good community spirit. People want to live in Laguna because it captures the spirit of an authentic, beautiful town.

The photographs in the Related California report showcase many large-scale projects that they have designed and built. Our concern is that none of their large projects pictured were built in a small, unique community like Laguna. Most are functional buildings with no hint of decoration, which work in a city such as Irvine but are not easily transferable to Laguna. The exception is Alice Court (27 studio apartments) on Glenneyre. Again, the issue is size and scale.

For example, from our living room and terrace, we have a clear view of the entire church property—with the exception of some trees that we have planted. This project would completely dominate and dwarf all the surrounding homes. We propose keeping the project to two stories to harmonize much better with the surrounding structures. We could support that.

John Martelli and Paul Coluzzi, Laguna Beach 

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  1. This appears to be a conflict that the city got itself into. They had already allowed Red Dragon to use this parking lot as part of Red Dragon’s parking mitigation plan to have parking there. This project was already moving forward before red dragon closed down its restaurant, but the agreement probably still remains.

    So if this was going to become housing, where was Red Dragon going to have it’s overage parking? As the city never enforced Red Dragons parking plan as part of their conditional use permit, It appears they never intended to and were just pulling the wool over our eyes.

  2. Mr. Vogel:
    This type of “bait and switch” stuff has been going on for years. A developer or redeveloper gets off-site parking credits, then the owner of the off-site redevelops their property and in essence double dips, i.e., both parties get redundant credit for the same mitigation.
    meanwhile, there are so many grandfathered spaces, most of which no longer exist, that it boggles the mind how jamming too much program (intensified usage activity) has gone on.
    The Coast Inn is a classic example, these developers/redevelopers hire high end attorneys who use the precedents to justify their permits, if they can’t bully their way they litigate.
    These swaths close to the beach are already under-parked (lack vehicular stalls) at least 6 months of the year (our best weather months)…….it’s like a lifeboat, why are we bringing more people aboard when resources are limited?
    In biology, it’s called “carrying capacity,” and we’re already paying the price for having exceeded ours.
    All too soon, we’ll be one big traffic jam, residents held hostage, and nowhere for their guests to park as the spaces are taken up by visitors.
    20 pounds of you-know-what in a 5 pound capacity sack.

  3. The cost of a parking space in 1961 was $2000 (UCLA Shoup), the cost per added space for a parking structure in 2024 Laguna Beach is $192,000 (LB Parking Management Subcommittee). Why would any developer burden their project development costs by maintaining parking requirements from 1960? Stop doing that. The solution for clients, developers and the NCC appeared before this town in 2008: relax parking requirements by adopting COMPLETE STREETS POLICY.


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