I’m writing in regards to John Hamil’s recent column in this publication entitled “Keeping Promises.” His letter was written in a response to a letter I wrote regarding the Long(i) Live-Work-Create project we have designed for local artist Louis Longi in Laguna Canyon.
In his letter, Dr. Hamil specifically refutes my assertion that this project conforms to all of the applicable standards of the Laguna Canyon Annexation Plan. It should be noted that the requirements set forth in this reference document are both of an objective and subjective nature. Prior to appearing before the Planning Commission, our project went though a lengthy zoning plan check process where it was confirmed by planning staff that our proposal met all of the objective criteria of the applicable documents related to this development. In effect, no variances are required with this proposal. Objective standards such as parking, building height, conformance to setbacks, biology, traffic, water quality management have all been met.
As with all developmental documents, some criteria is also highly subjective and open to interpretation. This is the reason why in a democratic society we have Planning Commissions, Design Review Boards and City Councils. These commissions often interpret the subjective aspects of the applicable codes with respect to intent and site specificity.
In this case the Planning Commission voted 3-2 to approve our project on Jan. 8, 2014. Implicit in this approval is that the five specific findings required by the Laguna Canyon Annexation Plan for the conditional use permit, that Dr. Hamil references, have been met.
Therefore, while I respect Dr. Hamil’s right to express his opinion, his simply stating that we have not met this criteria is solely an expression of his viewpoint and as we have seen, was not shared by the majority of the Planning Commission members. Even the dissenting Planning Commission members, Rob Zur Schmiede and Norm Grossman, clearly struggled with the position they took on this project.
All things considered, this is a positive development for a community, which cherishes its reputation for being friendly to the arts. Please attend the City Council hearing on this project on March 18 and let your voice be heard. If you can’t attend, please write an email to the council members expressing your opinion.
Thirty-year local architect Horst Noppenberger served on the city’s Design Review Board and is a current LCAD trustee.