LAGUNA NIGUEL : City Giving Up Fight for Monarch Beach

After a string of unsuccessful court battles aimed at reclaiming Monarch Beach, Laguna Niguel officials say they are resigned to being "landlocked" and will give up the fight.

The city has struggled for four years to regain the 1 1/2-mile ocean strip, which was detached from the Laguna Niguel community after Monarch Beach residents voted to incorporate with Dana Point.

The battle for the tax-rich parcel, which includes the posh Ritz-Carlton resort, has been bitter, at times straining the relationship between Laguna Niguel and Dana Point. Residents in Laguna Niguel, which had once been pitched as "Sea Country" by realtors, were particularly stung by losing the city's only link to the ocean.

However, with community support for the legal battle on the wane, Councilman Paul M. Christiansen said this week that city leaders have decided "with deepest regrets" to drop the matter.

"I'm confident that all the citizens of Laguna Niguel will remember that we were ripped off politically of our planned community coastline and its tax base," Christiansen said. "I think it's just deeply unfortunate that the courts and the politicians in Santa Ana caused Laguna Niguel to become a landlocked community."

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