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Mixing It Up

By Mark D. Crantz

There are a growing number of residents unhappy with changes to the Downtown Specific Plan. I asked one resident to explain. “I don’t want to talk about it. I specifically agreed to talk with you, if you specifically asked me vague questions that could not specifically be traced back to me. I was very specific about the conditions. Now, leave me alone and go specifically that way.

The Laguna Beach Planning Commission got its first look at the Downtown Specific Plan. This important document will guide redevelopment in the historic core for decades. This 169-page document was self-published on Amazon. It has not sold a single copy and it is last in the category of “Municipal Romance.”

The document that no one wants to read was seven years in the making. The multi-year approach included workshops, resident interviews, stakeholder meetings and City Council and Planning Commission bake sales. One participant said, “The worst cakes I ever bought. Flat as pancakes. Couldn’t even stick a birthday candle in any of them. Made my kid cry. I felt bad for him. Particularly, when the candle that’s “one to grow on” fell over. He looked like his life was over. He’ll need therapy for quite a while.”

The revisions came slowly. For the first two years, no one could agree on where to meet to discuss the Downtown Specific Plan. Some picked Seven Degrees. Others picked the Susi Q. South siders planted themselves in the Community Garden. And a small contingent claimed the Digester Building because they said, “We are the only ones that have our #### together.”

Finally, everyone agreed to meet in council chambers. The gavel banged and the meeting was called to order. The first order of business was to discuss possible changes to the Downtown Specific Plan. The main priority appeared to be the development of affordable housing, particularly for low-income seniors and students. The Digester contingent voiced their dissent. “Why should we help out low-income students who have been in school so long they are now seniors? Why do they get all the breaks while the rest of us got through school in four years, paid off our student loans, got married, bought a house, got divorced, lost the house, bought another, remarried, put mixed-up family kids through college and paid off more student loans? And now we are asked to subsidize housing for another generation of forever students. A south sider from the Community Garden replied, “Yes. That’s exactly right. Elizabeth Warren says so. And she’s going to break up Amazon to assure Laguna is number one in the ‘Municipal Romance’ category.”

These meetings continued for seven years until a consensus was made to change only one thing. Mixed-use development was nixed and replaced with the term mixed-up development. Only then, did everyone agree that the Downtown Specific Plan reflected the real Laguna Beach.

Crantz tells the Indy that he supports metered parklets, where diners are timed and ticketed if they take too long dining.

 

 

 

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