Laguna Greenbelt wants every homeowner in Laguna Beach to be assessed $120 a year for 20 years, collecting $20 million in an attempt to acquire the balance of undeveloped lots in Laguna. What we don’t know is which parcels of land will be purchased and for how much? Who is this watchdog committee and how much are we paying them for the next 20 years? Are they property owners that will be directly impacted because they have an undeveloped parcel within their view? Can they decide $20 million isn’t enough and arbitrarily raise it in the future?
Only three types of property owners benefit from this project but everyone who owns a home in Laguna will pay.
Number 1: The homeowners adjacent and above the empty lots. If a property owner or group of neighbors don’t want a lot developed on their street, let them buy the lot and share in the expense of turning it into a park or trail. Let them pay for the yearly weed clearing or improvements.
Number 2: The undeveloped lot owners that aren’t building because their lot is not cost effective due to city building codes and design review. Many lot owners bought their land not knowing how difficult and expensive it is to build in Laguna. The lot is undeveloped because it’s probably not a desirable lot anyway. These property owners would love to unload their junk on us at top dollar.
Number 3: The owner of a desirable lot isn’t required to sell and has every right to build the mansion of their dreams. That is unless the watchdog committee buys the lot at such an exorbitant price, way over market value, making the deal worthwhile to the owner.
This project is not at all like buying the open space in the canyon 20 years ago. That land, if developed, would have impacted everyone living in Laguna with mass population and cars, clogging up our only road in and out of town. That land is now a wilderness park and can be enjoyed by everyone. This “open space” project is made up of parcels scattered around on steep hillsides, mostly unbuildable, and only favors a few homeowners.
Jill Cooper, Laguna Beach
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