Tempest in a Teapot
I held my breath while reading the Indy’s “Coastal Commission Hits Laguna Beach Couple with $1M Fine for Illegal Home Construction.” I let out my breath when I realized it wasn’t my wife and me. “See honey, those macramé hanging baskets almost did us in. They have no place in a mid-century modern house. I beg you to quit trying to remake us into the Brady Bunch.”
I felt bad for the other couple. It appears they did not apply for coastal development approval. I can hear the pretend conversation now, “My beloved, I’m going to the store to pick up a six pack and a retaining wall. Please let the Coastal Commission know.” Years and beers later, the wife’s pretend deposition reads, “I swear, I heard my husband say, I’m going to the store to get a six pack and retain a will. Let the postal commissar know. So, I did. I called my cousin in the Moscow post office.”
Geez, my heart goes out to this couple. Miscommunication is the bedrock of my marriage, and we’ve learned to live with it. But a $1 million fine must be putting a strain on things.
So, I’m going to help them by sharing the Indy column, “Laguna Author Creates A Labor of Love for Posterity.” Luckily, a local resident who wanted to know the origins of a copper teapot got hooked on library research (rather than opiates like everyone else). Before she knew it, she was mainlining research about how Laguna Beach got its name.
It’s all about the triangle of land that was later named by the post office as Laguna Beach. This triangle was excluded in the Mexican land grants of 1824. Such areas were called “no grant” land and became the property of the U.S. government and left off maps of the day. The government in the mid 1800s began to survey these no-grant holdings. Then the Homestead Act of 1863 was passed, which aimed to initiate development by placing land into the hands of private parties.
Homesteaders seized the opportunity, not realizing that they were establishing legal precedent to allow future residents to build retaining walls, irrespective of good or bad communications. The Homestead Act does not specifically address spousal communication, but the federal law is clear that no-grant land is to be privately developed. The state Coastal Commission has no legal standing to interfere with home matters between a husband and wife.
I hope this helps the couple from Victoria Beach. The whole matter is simply a tempest in a teapot. The only loose end is that the author/researcher, Jane Janz, never discovered the origin of her copper teapot. It’s still a sensitive area. So, grab a coffee, not tea, and get her new book, “Naming Laguna Beach,” available at Laguna Beach Books.
Crantz tells the Indy that his favorite nursery rhyme was “I’m a Little Teapot,” which he sang, “I’m a little teapot short and stout. Here is my handle, here is my handle. Darn, I’m a sugar bowl.”