Laguna Beach’s City Council sent the three Third Street cottages being stored in an open field in Laguna Canyon to the wrecking crew Tuesday night, denying local landowner Scott Tenney’s offer of financial support to move at least one to open space in Bluebird Canyon for use as a community/environmental center.
Tenney said he already has $50,000 set aside for the project that he estimated would require at least 60 days to develop with private funding sources and $500,000 to complete. “Perhaps I’m being a lamb led to slaughter here in terms of this project,” commented Tenney, who envisioned using one cottage as an ecological education center at his 15-acre organic farm. “I realize it’s fairly late in the game here, but if there is a will and a willingness, let’s make a run at this.”
Tenney recently dropped his plan to move a cottage to his Bluebird Canyon property due to the expense of breaking the cottage into segments and using a crane to lift it up onto the hill. Moving the cottage to the city’s 3.2 acres of open space across the street, he said, would cost a lot less.
The council, however, decided that time has run out on the worn and weathered historic cottages, which have been stored in the field at Big Bend next to Victoria Skimboards for four years.
“They were C-rated when they went out to the canyon (the lowest historic rating),” commented councilman Kelly Boyd, “and now I consider them to be D-rated, which stands for demolition. We spent over $100,000 just to move them and then ended up buying the stilts they sat on. To think somebody’s going to be willing to spend over a half-million dollars on an 800- or 900-square-foot cottage, blows me away.” Kelly added that he didn’t like the idea of putting a building on open space.
“In four years, there’s been a lot of 11th-hour proposals to rescue these cottages and they’ve all failed,” commented resident Michael Wilkes, who lives in an historic-rated home. “Now they’re standing in the way of developing Big Bend as a trailhead.”
Wilkes said there are other historic cottages in town that property owners would like to get rid of, some closer to the Bluebird open space site. “These aren’t the last cottages. It’s time to get rid of these cottages. The costs are absolutely exorbitant to move them to anywhere else.”
The Laguna Canyon Foundation has arranged the demolition of the cottages with the Youth Conservation Corps; some of the in-demand redwood lumber will be sold and reused.
The cottages are being demolished to make way for a trailhead and wildlife corridor managed by the Laguna Canyon Foundation.