[This letter was originally delivered to the members of the Laguna Beach Planning Commission]
I have been a Laguna Beach resident of over 40years and have been following the Longi project for the last year. I must give the developer credit for making some of the requested changes which have helped improve the appearance of his proposal. However, in my opinion it is still way too large, way too massive and way too close to the highway to suit its rural neighborhood location in Laguna Canyon.
The concept of helping our artists is extremely commendable, but it should not be done at the expense of the character of our town or the pastoral qualities of Laguna Canyon we all worked so hard (and taxed ourselves $20 million) to protect. And we should keep in mind that in the end, this is a “for profit” project.
In my mind, I compare it to a 20-unit apartment building that I own in the city of Costa Mesa. These attractive one-bedroom units range in size from about 630 square feet to about 700 square feet each and are located on a parcel measuring about 465’ x 85’ or approximately 39,400 total square feet. Included are relaxing areas of grass and trees, a swimming pool, a winding road and 20 garages. Comparing this to the project before you, the Longi project is 30 units on approximately 36,500 square feet, a huge increase in density, with the box-like project occupying most of the parcel. Another major difference however is that in Costa Mesa the short 85-foot side of the property faces the street, not the long 465-foot side. Costa Mesa did a good job of not showing the density of the property, and the appearance from the street is that of a smaller, more quaint building. Perhaps most importantly, the location of the Costa Mesa property is in a highly urban environment, surrounded by other similar uses. The proposed Longi project – with a density much higher than the urban Costa Mesa property – is located in a quaint, rural neighborhood of small cottages, adjacent to a 7,000-acre open space preserve. It is starkly out of place.
Finally, I must state that Laguna Beach is known for its beauty. It is one of the reasons we moved here and one of the reasons that others like to visit. A project like the one before you with its size and mass and in the location proposed would harm that irreplaceable beauty by negatively impacting one of the town’s most treasured areas, Laguna Canyon.
Ralph Edwin Haun, Laguna Beach