These simple questions put forth by a Planning Commission member last month encompass the heart of the matter concerning the live/work project proposed along Laguna Canyon Road.
They succinctly distill the last seven years of unrelenting compliance on the part of the project’s creators to faithfully adhere to all city and state ordinances, countless code and variance demands, environmental considerations, fire, flood, and safety requirements, structural alterations, engineering adjustments, and mind-numbing, ever morphing requests for modifications and revisions to accommodate neighborhood and city planning concerns.
Louis Longi, the project’s creator and longtime Laguna artist and his architect, Horst Noppenberger, have run a gauntlet of challenges. A feat of pure passion and incomprehensible determination, the live/work project deserves a chance to succeed.
Neighborhood concerns have been voiced and meticulously addressed over the years. Most apprehensions have been affectively mitigated, with the exception of density. Traffic concerns (an outgrowth of density) were diligently handed off to traffic engineers, who were consulted extensively. Requests for impact studies have been completed. Despite reassuring feedback from these impartial entities, traffic and density are still viewed as grounds for dismissing the proposed project.
Density is a realistic worry – one that could negatively impact the quiet canyon neighborhood that I am a part of, but I am willing to take a chance that it won’t.
If Laguna residents and city officials found a way to make humanitarian accommodations for day workers and for our homeless, and offer a safe haven to marine mammals and pets, shouldn’t we also be able to find a way to support and sustain our local artists?
A structure designed by a world class architect on what is now a dirt lot has the possibility of becoming a landmark point of pride. This is a plan for vetted artists to have an affordable space to work from home. The presence of young and old artists in our enclave of quiet seems like a favorable fit to me.
It is a well-considered, painstakingly well-planned effort to open up space in our community for our artists. It is an idea that was hatched in the head and heart of one of Laguna’s own artists, not an outside developer with profit margins in mind. It is a project that has been kept alive by the perseverance and passion of many because it is far-sighted and important.
Few would argue against having an affordable space for our local artists to live and work, especially in a town that prides itself on being an artists community. I believe it is time to take a leap of faith.
Legitimate concerns have been proffered and equally bona fide answers and solutions given. It is time to move forward.
Molly O’Hara Levitta, Laguna Beach