Standing Tall For Rural Preservation



In response to last week’s Speaker’s Corner (“Art Studios are Scarier Than Fires and Floods?” in the Jan. 24 edition).

Well, here we go again. If we speak out against this massive development we’re “mis-informed.” Nowhere does the developer mention the project is a 30-unit apartment building with 47 parking spaces.

Or that his investor partner, Dornin Investment Group, is involved. The developer is creating the fear; we’re just responding to it. We fear the noise, traffic, and impacts of this massive development. We’ve asked for a reduction in size and been fed only rhetoric. The noise will be reduced because the project is so big it will block the sound? Good one!

Then he lists their attempts to “break up the appearance of mass and scale.” We want an actual reduction in mass and scale, not the appearance of one. We’ve been offered no compromise!

The codes are met only by using a gross misrepresentation of our Laguna Canyon Annexation Area Specific Plan, which clearly states small scale. And the home that sits on the site now, a residence, is definitely within the boundaries. So to say “the buildings are not located in the residential area in question” are at best wishful thinking!

The “self-entitled resident” is the developer, not the locals who are being marginalized and ignored.

This is not about artists. It’s about big-money developers creating a loophole, with the city’s help, to build a 30-unit apartment building in Laguna Canyon where none now stand.

To use the “artist” label to promote such a massive intrusion into our neighborhood is a disgrace and shameful.

To claim it’s just “a few” of us that are opposed is just more rhetoric. The officers of our association are unanimously opposed as are two-thirds of the residents of the 30 homes out here. This 30-unit project will more than double the population. Two-thirds of the speakers at the planning commission meeting were opposed to it.

The city’s future doesn’t depend on this project. Nor do its artists. Only the developer’s future depends on this project.

Here’s a quote from a January 2011 edition of the Laguna Beach Independent. “I’m an artist trying to build my livelihood here so I can live and work,” said the sculptor, who put $1.2 million into this project. “The only way for me to do that is to build eight other units so I can rent those out and pay my mortgage,” said Louis Longi.

The cultural legacy of Laguna Canyon is that of a serene and quiet place of solitude that inspired the plein air painters to set up an easel to try and capture what we get to live in every day. It is not a legacy of massive real estate development. Please leave that to Newport Beach, Aliso Viejo, Irvine, and the rest of the county.

Come to the City Council meeting on Feb. 4 and help us save Laguna Canyon from this massive intrusion. It’s a slippery slope to a canyon lined with more over development if this one gets approved. Our fear is that we won’t keep Laguna Canyon rural.


John Albritton, Laguna Beach

The author is president of a canyon homeowner’s group.

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