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The Best Legislative Route to Protect Laguna Niguel’s Ridgelines

Re “Needed: Alternative to Protect the Ridgelines in Laguna Niguel” (Letters, Nov. 18): I feel compelled to set the record straight in fairness to the citizens of Laguna Niguel.

Unfortunately, the letter as written leads the citizens of Laguna Niguel to believe that there are numerous undeveloped ridgelines still remaining in Laguna Niguel and that the city is doing nothing to protect the only two ridgelines that actually remain.

The city has, in fact, been processing a ridgeline protection ordinance independent of the ridgeline initiative. The city’s proposed legislation started in an orderly process through the City Council, and the city has conducted public hearings before the Planning Commission. Further, the city has not hastily drafted an ordinance that would have devastating consequences on our young city.

Once the Planning Commission’s public hearing process is complete, the City Council will hold additional public hearings. As with all public hearings, they have been and will continue to be noticed in local papers and at City Hall, thus allowing all residents an opportunity to be heard.

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Allowing citizens an opportunity to comment before an ordinance is adopted as law ensures that the ordinance will reflect the will of the people and that a full, professional analysis has been conducted, thereby avoiding the flaws apparently in the “back-room” legislation proposed in the ridgelines initiative.

For the record, it should be noted that the owners of the two remaining natural ridgeline properties have recently applied to the city for development permits. One proposes a single residence for the entire property, although present zoning would permit up to 116 residences. The other has proposed 32 home sites, yet current zoning would allow approximately 161 homes.

Even if the city never adopts ridgeline protection legislation, the citizens of Laguna Niguel will have ample opportunities to comment through the public hearing process on the last remaining ridgelines, requiring that they be developed in an environmentally sensitive manner.

JIM OLMSTED, Chairman, Laguna Niguel Planning Commission

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