Neighborhood Preferences Ignored in Live-Work Project Dispute



The author’s comments, lightly edited to adhere to print word-length guidelines, were read to the Planning Commission on Jan. 8. 

I’ve been through fires, floods landslides and earthquakes out here in the canyon and this is the scariest thing yet.

I keep hearing “If not here, where?” If this is the last and only place that means you wouldn’t allow this anywhere else. How is that fair to us?

Perhaps you’re saying nowhere. It’s too big for Laguna. Maybe it would fit in the old GTE telephone switching building next to Whole Foods, adjacent to the services within walking distance there such as art supplies, retail stores, galleries, and pedestrian traffic like the Santora building in Santa Ana, which incidentally houses around 30 units.

Why does it have to be 30 units? Because this is not an artist community, but income property. The 30-unit number is arbitrary. And it does not represent small scale, rural feel development.

If our neighborhood isn’t rural then the village isn’t a village. Definitions matter. But regardless, we want to keep our neighborhood feel and this project doesn’t. It will change our neighborhood. And that is why we don’t like it. An arbitrary 30 units will change what our neighborhood wants.

Aren’t you supposed to care about that? Aren’t you supposed to care what the residents want more than what the developers want? It doesn’t fit here. If it doesn’t fit anywhere else then maybe it doesn’t fit anywhere. Show me a neighborhood that wants it.

By the way, one of the reasons you don’t see more of my neighbors down here is because they don’t think it will make any difference. That the idea of representative government is a myth and that money, not the will of the people, will prevail. That the lack of caring about altering the character of an established neighborhood is incurable. So what’s the point?

Me, I come back and say the same thing every time and nothing changes. It’s still 30 units and that I’m just wasting my time thinking you’ll reduce that.

Here’s a quote from a January 2011 edition of the Laguna Beach Independent. “I’m an artist trying to build my livelihood here so I can live and work” said the sculptor, who put $1.2 million into this project. “The only way for me to do that is to build eight other units so I can rent those out and pay my mortgage,” said Louis Longi.

Paulette Cullen, Laguna Beach

The author is secretary of the Laguna Canyon Property Owners Association.



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