Why No Siege From Village Protectionists?



Am I the only one who is wondering why the usual protectors committed to preservation of Laguna’s quaint village character haven’t shown up en masse to oppose this project?

When it’s their personal target, they show up in droves, submit lots of letters to the papers. Regarding this project at Laguna’s true gateway entrance? Not so much. Only Jackie Gallagher has been a constant, steady force, working with me tirelessly this past two months.

At a minimum, Laguna Beach City Council member Toni Iseman could have saved the non-affluent Laguna Canyon Property Owners Association their hard-earned $650 by appealing it to the council herself. She could have made that noble gesture at no cost and re-claimed her throne as an eco-protection and village character champion.

As the titular head of a PAC that is dedicated to the preservation of a small town, unique atmosphere, Laguna’s very own Red Queen has inexplicably been M.I.A. Talking the talk but leaving out the walk part, lip service and posing isn’t commitment.

No significant changes have been made in spite of the kool-aid trough ladled for media. The 30 units merely rearranged, it’s as monolithic and non-compliant with the land use prescriptions as planned.

The ratified land use policy document, also known as Laguna Canyon Area Annexation Specific Plan (circa 1991) allows only “small, rural development” and also typifies the area’s setting as “rural seclusion.”

In spite of its clever marketing and bogus altruistic packaging, it is inconsistent with both of those compliance metric phrases. Thirty-one feet high above existing grade and the length of a football field, dominating the skyline and obliterating scenic hills behind it is not “small, rural” and definitely eliminates “rural seclusion” in the neighborhood.

I guess for Toni and the rest at City Hall, out in the canyon is basically “out of sight, out of mind.” Maybe there’s just not enough votes or raw political power (read money) in that neighborhood? Not one Planning Commissioner, upper echelon staff or City Council member lives there, so no internal sensitivity to the zone either.

Just announced LBCC candidate Planning Commissioner Robert Zur Schmiede voted against it, noted its conflict with the agreed-upon development restrictions. The savvy veteran Commissioner Norm Grossman, who helped author the LCAASP, concurred.

Why didn’t Toni take a cue, a valued hint from them? Where, like the flowers, have all of the real protectors gone?

Roger E. Bütow, Laguna Beach


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