Letter: Voluntary Historic Preservation Ordinance

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I read a couple of letters in the press erroneously blaming Village Laguna for creating the lawsuit on the Historical Preservation Ordinance. In these letters, the writers’ argued for keeping the voluntary nature of the process to preserve our historic structures. I think the writers misunderstand why Village Laguna decided to join the region-wide lawsuit.

It isn’t about today or tomorrow and the existing homeowner’s right to redevelop their structures as they see fit even if in the process they destroy the historic quality of the property. I am worried about the future. What comes next when the good owners die, the kids inherit the property, they don’t want the property and they sell to the highest bidder—especially outside developers—to pay the property taxes or inheritance tax levied by Prop. 19, who in turn may well let the property decline. Then, claiming the structure has deteriorated beyond restoration, developers push for demolition and rebuilding, using glass, concrete and steel to rebuild.

This process leads, slowly but surely, to the village losing its historicity and will be too late for us to stop the destruction of our Heritage. Sure, some houses will survive but overall there will be such character change in our neighborhoods from no protection save a voluntary ordinance used to allow developers to pay top price for the chance to tear down and rebuild on prime lots.  Yes, there are many good builders in town but who will be on the Council in future years to protect and preserve our residential areas?

Laguna’s historic structures and neighborhoods are unique in Southern California. Many generations have worked tirelessly to preserve what we have. Village Laguna’s 50-year history proves our devotion to Laguna’s history and traditions while encouraging all to maintain and improve on what we have inherited from Laguna’s past residents.

The City Council made an error in removing the proven process to preserve our history and heritage. The groups united in this lawsuit want to see residents, through our local leaders, involved in the preservation effort to make the Historic Preservation Ordinance better not abandoned. After all, we are in Laguna because we would rather live here than in Dana Point, Irvine or Newport Beach. Let’s preserve this magical place for our descendants like it was preserved for us to enjoy. Thank you.

Charlotte Masarik, board member of Village Laguna

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