Did everyone else hear what I heard at the last City Council meeting on Aug. 24? The surprising news was that the City was moving forward on the purchase of the Ti Amo restaurant property without an appraisal of the $2.7 million purchase price, and with a rush escrow of 90-days. What’s the hurry? And, why wasn’t there an appraisal?
Since many of us were still scratching our heads as to why an oceanside parcel on South Coast Highway without any side street egress was being considered as a potential site for a new South Laguna fire station with emergency vehicles, it was jarring to hear the Council shrug off the need for a property price appraisal or any full stakeholder meetings with South Laguna residents. Not consult South Laguna? The same folks who used to man (with women and men volunteers) the South Laguna fire station on Second Avenue?
Did I hear accurately that all of the emails and letters about Ti Amo as a potential site for a fire station were negative? Yes, I did read the City Staff past and current reports on why Ti Amo was their first pick for a fire station site, but it read like confirmation bias as in “oh, this site is available, so let’s see how we can find evidence to support that it’s the best one in South Laguna for a new fire station.”
With a few exceptions, there were also a majority of in-person and by phone testimonies against the consideration of this parcel as the future site of a fire station. This is when surprise No. 2 occurred when we heard from Councilmember Peter Blake at the end of all these testimonies that none of the callers or presenters were from South Laguna. What did he hear or evidence did he possess to support this “no South Lagunas label”? Or, was this another of those infamous telepathic power moments that descend upon residents who become councilmembers?
No appraisal and no involvement from the very residents who are to be served by a new fire station? South Laguna deserves better treatment as do the taxpayers who fund these unappraised real estate purchases.
Deborah Laughton, Laguna Beach