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Residents to Open Access to Park : Land use: Monarch Point Homeowners Assn. agrees to allow parking on a private road and to pay for a new entrance to Badlands Park. The county had sued after curbs were painted red.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An agreement has been reached between the county and Monarch Point, an exclusive gated community where residents caused a dispute by putting up signs and painting a curb red--a move that blocked access to a public park.

Under the accord, which awaits final approval, the Monarch Point Homeowners Assn. must allow visitors to park near their homes and pay for a new entrance to popular Badlands Park, according to Edward N. Duran, deputy county counsel.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Dec. 07, 1995 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday December 7, 1995 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Orange County Focus Desk 2 inches; 44 words Type of Material: Correction
Badlands Park--A Nov. 24 article about a suit between Orange County and the Monarch Point Homeowners Assn. wrongly suggested that homeowners once blocked access to Badlands Park in Laguna Niguel. Although the association restricted parking along a portion of Isle Vista, the park has always been accessible.

The rift had escalated into a lawsuit brought by the county that was about to go to trial, he said.

“We have reached a settlement in concept,” Duran said, adding that the county is still waiting for a draft of the final accord from the attorney for the homeowners group.

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The disputed red curb is on private Isle Vista Drive, which ends at the entrance to gate-guarded Monarch Point, a community of large, custom homes valued up to $3 million. Monarch Point is on a steep hilltop offering 180-degree views of the ocean and Santa Catalina Island.

It was the enticement of the views and eight-acre Badlands Park that touched off the controversy, county officials said.

In 1992, shortly after the county opened Badlands Park to the public, the homeowners effectively declared Isle Vista Drive--the only access to the park--off limits by putting up “no parking” signs and painting the curbs red.

After repeated demands to remove the red curbs and signs went unheeded, the county sued the 161-member homeowners association, asserting it had violated the development agreement and the California Coastal Act by cutting off public access to a coastal park.

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The homeowners argued that since the road is private, they needed no permission to keep the public out.

Although the settlement allows the homeowners to leave the curb in the cul-de-sac red, it calls for public parking to be permitted along about 125 feet of the straight section of Isle Vista Drive, an area that also was painted red. The red paint will be removed from the straight section of the drive.

A public pedestrian entrance to the park through the Monarch Point private gate also must be kept unlocked, the agreement stipulates.

The agreement also calls for the homeowners association to pay about $28,500 toward the cost of building steps for another public walkway from the cul-de-sac into the park, Duran said.

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Allen Wilion, the defense attorney for the homeowners association, called the agreement “fair and reasonable for all concerned.”

He said the homeowners had offered the public parking on the straight portion of Isle Vista “from the start” and the agreement upholds their right to keep the cul-de-sac private.

“The county gets a benefit and the association gets a benefit. This is a very fair deal,” Wilion said.

The settlement needs to be approved by the Board of Supervisors and the Laguna Niguel City Council, Wilion said.

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