Letter: The Lowdown on Height Limits


The majority of Laguna Beach residents treasure the current building height limits. We have a human-scaled city that meets our needs and has been recognized as a national historic urban landscape.

Threats loom. Liberate Laguna/Forward PAC developers and their ilk have been chipping away at the height limits that have served our city and residents so well for decades. In the past several years the City has granted developers several minor variances to height limits. Now the developers appear ready for the kill. The developers’ consultant is now guiding the City (as their consultant) to increase height limits across the City.

Here’s the lowdown on height limits: current city code has 12-foot height limits, 24-foot and 36-foot height limits. Councilmember Peter Blake (the developers’ representative) supports a 36-foot height limit across the board. While at first this may sound good, this really means doubling or tripling the heights of buildings in the downtown area (including the building he owns). Would you like to see Ocean Avenue completely replaced by a 36-foot canyon of visitor-serving retail stores? Or Forest Avenue, or anywhere else in Laguna?

If your answer is “no” then please support the resident’s ballot initiative signed by over 2,600 residents that keeps in place existing height limits. Don’t settle for or be fooled by an “initiative” developed by and for developers who co-opted the City into using your taxpayer dollars to distract you from supporting the Laguna Residents First ballot initiative, the initiative that’s by and for residents.

Merrill Anderson
Laguna Beach resident and assistant treasurer for Laguna Residents First PAC

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  1. “Threats loom,” says the authoritarian whose mommy groomed him to run Village Laguna’s nanny state into the future. “The developers are coming and they’re intent on turning our downtown into Miami.” Their tired old mantra remains the same after 50 years.

    This fall Village Laguna’s new proxie group, Laguna Residents First, is attempting to scam the public into believing that their “initiative” will save us from ourselves and the evil developers.What they really want is to regain their power over us and control our future. I frankly cant imagine having these tastless frumps make decisions for my future.

    Peter Blake
    (the develoiper’s representative lol!!!)

  2. Lowdown is right! It’s a lowdown myth that developers are chomping at the bit to overbuild ocean avenue let alone anywhere else in downtown. The fact is is that there are specific height restrictions in the DSP that have not changed. There are specific zones that do allow for second or third stories in downtown however these zones are very limited. The continuation of misinformation and fear mongering is childish and serves no purpose other then to show an intolerance to living in the 21st. century. Laguna 1970 is as far in the rearview mirror as one can get. I would suggest to those LRF folk to stop the fear mongering and start living in the real world with the rest of us where real visionary ideas and facts are what makes for a better Laguna Beach that should be at the forefront of innovation not devolution.

  3. Agree 💯. Thank you for your efforts to educate voters by stating the facts.

    Laguna Beach has been strategically under a pay-to-play siege by developers/investors through their hand-picked elected’s since 2018. Thank goodness they failed in getting their other pro-development candidate Larry Nokes into office in 2020. Thanks to smart and informed voters!

    Laguna Voters don’t be fooled in 2022 either. Reject Peter Blake’s developer-driven and self-interest vision for our city and the deep pocket PAC Liberate Laguna Forward group that got Blake our biggest mistake elected.

    The power to stop them from turning our town into just another over-developed, over-used and over-priced tourist pit stop lies with informed resident stakeholders.

    1. Vote YES on the Laguna Residents First Ballot Initiative. Have a voice on proposed commercial mega-developments.

    2. Reject all candidates endorsed/funded or supported by the developer/investor PAC Liberate Laguna Forward. Let them know that LB voters aren’t for sale.

    3. Reject all council incumbents in 2022. We need unbiased, logical, intelligent professionals and committed Resident-Centric Leadership to oversee our city government administration and budget as we move our city forward responsibly.

    Thank you for listening Laguna.


  4. Threats do indeed loom Peter and you are one of them. You have stated that you want to see 36 ft. height limits in the downtown. Imagine Ocean Ave. all 36 ft. high. I’m sure you do. I’m sure you will try to build on top of your gallery and I’m sure it will kiss the 36 ft. limit. Looking to rent it to pay your mortgage so you can live rent free and we can have an even bigger ugly concrete bunker in the middle of our charming town??

  5. The revised Downtown Specific Plan does not protect the unique mix of buildings, does not ensure current height limits, and does not incentivize commercial property owners to protect existing structures there.

    The DSP’s blended parking will make it harder for retail (restaurants and retail now have the same parking requirements even though restaurants use more spaces) while shifting the burden of parking onto residents, who must now park farther away and ultimately, to be asked to fund parking structures.

    Worse, since most buildings downtown are no longer viewed as historic (from 65 to 27 now), a second story certainly can be added.

    Together, these changes may turn our charming downtown into a bland, anonymous mix of food court, retail and office space seen in Anywhere USA. For those who think “it will never happen here,” the same “nothing to worry about” argument was used in Dana Point a few years ago—which now has several urban canyons of stucco in the Lantern District.

  6. The same song, sung over and over, by the same singer. It is starting to get annoying and frankly quite hysterical. LRF is not a representation of Laguna proper. Remember that voters.

  7. Chris Quilter and Will Radke, are you two representatives of Laguna proper or are you the (self) anointed ones to tell us what is best? Why don’t you all chill out. There is an election coming that will settle the issue. Are you getting panicky that (perish the the thought) the residents may get a voice in the future of the city? You apparently believe that Liberate Laguna/Forward and their cronies have the god given right to tell the 95% of us what is best for us. Reminds me of a verse in the song “If I Were A Rich Man” from “Fiddler On A Roof” which goes “ And when you’re rich they really think you know”. Fortunately the people in Laguna Beach do not necessarily subscribe to this.

  8. The tag team of Blake/Dubin strike. Apparently they fail to mention that ALL BUILDING REQUIREMENTS IN THE LB MUNICIPAL CODE SUCH AS BUILDING HEIGHT CAN BE CHANGED BY A SIMPLE 3-2 VOTE OF THE CITY COUNCIL. And we certainly have the three pro development votes in the council. I hope all residents read the Great Church Giveaway aka the Memorandum of Understanding with the Presbyterian Church in which Blake was the senior member of the negotiating team. It is as if our team which included CM Dupuis was working for the church, in my opinion. The result was an unbelievably poor deal for the city to lease Church property on which the city will build a parking structure. Would you trust anything that he says? And Dubin does not understand the municipal code and how it is changed. Blake correctly signed his name as “the developers (sic) representative”. perhaps he’s trying to get the same type of support from the Liberate Laguna crowd that got him elected in 2018.

  9. No new housing for the un-housed, no new building for Seniors and/or limited income, no new building for downtown and/or living lofts above the Promenade….but hey, we’ve got a
    $5 MILLION boondoggle that was once called Ti Amo and grand plans (and $$$$) for sick seals…..


  10. Hello, I am new to this forum. Am impressed by the blunt way progress is being pressed on this charming ORIGINAL TOWN. One side wants neon and the other cabins… well I believe there is a need to adjust to new times and volumes, but I ask EVERYONE: dont you love to go to Europe? What makes it wonderful? That they can be inside 21 st century, make money, yet they manage to keep their “special places”in almost original state. Wouldn’t it be interesting to check with them about their methods? I am sure, it wasnt giving in to mega modern construction in the middle of Portobello, Rome, venice….. Anyway, I think we have intelligence and enough sensibility coupled with vision, to see that our present vertical and modern tendencies can be “adjusted”to our local creative style, without taking away “our town’s personality”. … of course, and still make money.


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