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Protecting Niguel’s Ridgelines

In regard to Jim Olmsted’s letter (Dec. 2, about ridgeline protection in Laguna Niguel), I must say that I am very surprised by his comments.

As he stated, the negative impact on the community is based upon existing zoning codes and regulations. Surely he’s not suggesting that the zoning laws we have inherited from the county are to his satisfaction even if the strictest and narrowest interpretation possible is applied. Is he saying that neighboring cities that have adopted ordinances to protect their ridgelines are in essence not necessary?

His statement that the Ridgeline Initiative is “back-room” legislation is again surprising, to say the least. I was always under the impression that the initiative process is part of the state Constitution, with the intent that ordinary citizens are given the opportunity to express their desires to the legislative body when this body does not provide the required leadership on a particular issue.

This brings me to my next point. He referred to a carefully drafted ordinance that is supposed to be going through the orderly process of public input, etc., etc. There was one public hearing held on Aug. 14 at which the Planning Commission suggested several modifications to the proposed ordinance.

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That was the last time we have heard about this ordinance, except that the Hillside Development Ordinance is now called the Hillside Protection Ordinance. I sincerely hope and expect that the content of this ordinance, if and when it is adopted, will indeed reflect the title change.

After having four months of additional review, would he perhaps be able to tell us when the legislative body expects to complete this process, so that this ordinance may be applied to the ridgeline projects that are currently under consideration. Adopting a perfect ordinance after the remaining ridgelines are already developed is a little bit late, don’t you think?

Finally, by his comment that one developer is applying for only 32 homes, instead of 161 homes (as approved by the county), and another developer for one giant estate, instead of 116 homes, he is implying that both developers are doing us a big favor.

Tell me, how can the residents of Laguna Niguel enjoy their hiking, bird-watching and sightseeing on preserved and protected ridgelines if indeed these ridgelines are overdeveloped?

The city Administration needs to take the leadership and exercise the responsibility bestowed upon it over a year ago. Remember, as a city, we want to be in control of our own destiny, and the No. 1 concern has always been land-use issues.

The fact is that the city cannot meet the desires of our citizens and, at the same time, satisfy the demands of the developers. If push comes to shove, the legitimate desires of our residents should prevail!

PAUL T. WILLEMS, Laguna Niguel


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