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Mermaid Store gets OK for ocean-view spot in Laguna Beach

Mermaid Store gets OK for ocean-view spot in Laguna Beach
The Mermaid Store plans to sell mermaid tails and other themed items at its Laguna Beach location at 210 N. Coast Hwy. (Courtesy of city of Laguna Beach)

Laguna Beach is getting a Mermaid Store.

The Planning Commission voted 4-1 on Wednesday to grant a conditional use permit to the store, which plans to sell mermaid tails and mermaid-themed clothing designed by the owners, along with natural bath and body products made by local craftspeople.

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Commissioner Jorg Dubin dissented, saying it would be difficult for city staff to ensure that the store keeps to the percentages of inventory types outlined in the staff report, given the diversity of its merchandise.

The owners, Daniel Raczkowski and Mario Sandoval Jr. of Laguna Hills, said they also will host events for the community, such as “Mer-moms and Mer-mosas.”

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“It seems like it’s a fun and good idea,” Commissioner Ken Sadler said. “I appreciate the effort you’re making to tie it into the ocean and environmentalism and the events that you’ll be providing.”

The store will be at 210 N. Coast Hwy., with a view of the ocean.

“Mermaids are coming right up, washing in with the tide,” Commissioner Susan Whitin said. “I think it’s just in a serendipitous location for your business, and I wish you luck.”

The Mermaid Store opened its first location in Newport Beach in 2017.

Spiritual store denied

Before approving the Mermaid Store, the commission voted 3-2 to deny a conditional use permit to a family seeking to open a spiritual and inspirational goods store downtown.

Art of Inner Peace would have been the third store for the family of Nader Zarrabi, who has other locations in Dana Point and San Clemente. The stores sell mostly gifts and collectibles, as well as clothing, home decor, religious figurines and meditation accessories.

“It’s a kind of a store that is both inspirational and spiritual,” Zarrabi said. “It’s a very general term that doesn’t necessarily mean all religious products. To me, anything that basically brings joy to your life, that makes your life peaceful —– a small fountain that you put on your desk. To me, that’s inspirational.”

Commissioners Dubin, Whitin and Anne Johnson cast the majority votes, saying the store didn’t meet requirements for serving both residents and visitors.

“What is it that makes this uniquely Laguna Beach? There isn’t anything in the application that shows a uniquely Laguna Beach proposal,” Whitin said. “To me, it does not reflect the village character of the downtown. … It doesn’t seem to me reflective of our residents.”

She suggested putting the store in a different zone that would be solely visitor-focused. Zarrabi said he initially looked at locations along Coast Highway but settled on the downtown location at 361 Forest Ave.

Sadler and commission Chairman Roger McErlane voted in favor of the store, saying they thought it was appropriate for the downtown zone.

The commission’s decision can be appealed to the City Council within 14 days.

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