Restoring a Cathedral of Views


People visit Laguna Beach for the art, yes, but mainly for the climate, the beach, and the waterfront hotels and restaurants that offer beautiful views.

People choose to live in Laguna Beach for the climate, the quaint neighborhood feel and the eclectic styling, but especially for the views.

You see, other ocean-hugging towns have great hotels, shops and restaurants, but our rocky-scalloped coastline and our steep stadium-like topography makes us unique…we have fantastic views. World class views! We, as a town, are a cathedral of views, and each view is like a unique stained glass window in that cathedral.

And yet inconsiderate neighbors have been allowed to grow trees and hedges up and out…unchecked for decades. They have been given carte blanche to stockpile non-native and excessive shade trees and privacy hedges for themselves, while paying no mind at all to the view theft they are committing to those around them. The loss of value is difficult to calculate, as is the loss of enjoyment. And we all suffer the losses since lost value means lost real estate tax revenue, which would have funded our community services and projects. Views are our currency here; they are the coin of our realm.

The council chambers and the Susi Q center have been packed recently by throngs of broken-hearted citizens who have already lost some or all of their views. These aren’t locals who are looking for “view preservation” because they are afraid they may lose views in the future. Those are the next generation view victims who are today sitting at home hoping this gets fixed so they won’t have to get in this fight. No, this year’s view equity meetings are filled with hundreds of our citizens, representing perhaps thousands of impacted views. They have already been damaged and they aren’t going to take it anymore. They, we, insist on full view restorating.

And what of those Laguna Beach residents and business owners that have already had their views stolen by thoughtless and selfish neighbors with inappropriate trees grown to unmanaged heights? Should we use an arbitrary baseline, such as the purchase date of a home as the maximum view that any subsequent owner is entitled to recover? Certainly not. Its ludicrous to suggest that view theft should have a statue of limitations, since there was nowhere for a view victim to turn for so many years.

Shame on the lazy tree owners and shame on all of us for letting this go so long. But don’t compound the problem by grandfathering in and ratifying the overgrowth that exists now. Just because the owner of the home or business lost his view and then died or gave up and moved, shouldn’t absolve the offending tree owner from having to do the right thing and “restore” the beautiful old views.

National forests and parks are a sanctuary for trees that are encouraged to reach the skies and grow so thick as to crowd the sun out of the needle blanketed ground below. Laguna Beach is a world-class cathedral of ocean and canyon views.


Greg Gilroy, Laguna Beach

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