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City hammers Mansionization

-- Barbara Diamond

Big, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

“A 2,000-square-foot house can look like a mansion because of the

design and an 8,000-square-foot home can look like a cottage, putting


a premium on quality design,” said Councilman Steven Dicterow.

It’s the appearance that counts, the City Council voted 4-0

Tuesday, when it endorsed revisions to the zoning code meant to

control “mansionization.” The council did some fine tuning, but


nothing the commissioners couldn’t swallow.

Recommendation to do away with a requirement for three-car garages

for homes with four or more bedrooms or more than 3,600 square feet

and allow tandem parking and lifts to fill parking requirements

caused the council the most pangs, but commission logic prevailed.

A third parking space will be required, but it must be uncovered

unless the applicant can show that an additional covered garage would

not add to the mass and bulk of the structure.


The commission spent more than two years hammering out

recommendations, distilled from 26 public hearings that included the

commission, residents, the Design Review Board and members of the

Laguna Beach Architects Guild.

The goal was to moderate the proliferation of homes that jarred

the neighborhood.

“This brings the expectations of the property owners more in line

with what can be achieved,” said architect Kirk Saunders, who


represented the guild at commission meetings.

The commission defined mansionization as the appearance of height,

mass and bulk as viewed from below and the need to promote and

maintain neighborhood compatibility.

Mansionization is not a word used in the ordinance. It deals with

ways to measure height, clean up the space between a structure and

the property line known as setbacks, get neighborhood cooperation,

and file informative and informed applications for projects that are

appropriate for the site.

It is not about square feet.

The commission emphasized the need for more training for new

Design Review Board members and staff reports on projects.

Councilman Paul Freeman was absent from the meeting.

Park may get $225,000 from conservancy

The California Coastal Conservancy on Thursday unanimously

approved giving Laguna Beach $225,000 to improve Heisler Park.

At the meeting, conservancy members agreed to hand the city the

funding to head off erosion of the bluffs and improve handicap access

to the beaches below.

The city has agreed to match the conservancy’s grant with an equal


The bluff-top park, which includes a lookout popular with

tourists, features a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. About

500,000 visitors use the park per year.

The funding comes from Proposition 40, the resources bond state

voters passed in March.

The conservancy’s Thursday meeting was held in Huntington Beach in

the City Council’s chambers.

It’s Binky blanket time in Laguna Beach

The Southern California Binky Patrol’s Comforting Covers for Kids

will host the sixth annual Bink-a-Thon to produce as many blankets as

possible for ill, abused or disadvantaged children.

Several chapters from the area will meet at Laguna Beach High.

The event will fall on National “Make a Difference Day,” and Binky

Patrol chapters as far as away as Honolulu, Hawaii, Wilmington, N.C.,

and Cocoa, Fla., will hold similar events to benefit children in

their communities.

“The Bink-A-Thon offers a unique opportunity for individuals or an

entire family to make a difference in the life of a child or teen,”

said Susan Roush, Laguna Niguel resident and founder of the


Volunteers can work at several stations including sewing, tying

off blankets with yarn, painting squares or organizing fabric donated

by the Hoffman California Fabrics of Mission Viejo. Wahoo’s Fish

Tacos will provide lunch for participants.

Organizers especially need sewing machines and people who know how

to use them at the event.

Last year, 2,500 binkies found loving arms across the county;

Laguna Beach produced 250 of those. This year the national goal is


The Binky Patrol was founded in 1996 and has grown to include 150

chapters nationwide. Volunteers have delivered more than 175,000

binkies to children and teens in need.

The Bink-A-Thon will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Laguna

Beach High School, 625 Park Ave. Individuals who wish to donate funds

or volunteer as to sew or just help out at the event can call (949)

499-BINK or visit

Officers encourage bike registry

The Laguna Beach Police Department has partnered with the National

Bike Registry to allow residents to register their bicycles online.

“Throughout all of 2001 a total of 14 bikes were reported stolen,”

said Coleen Lawrence, community services officer.

The department hopes that the easy accessibility to the registry

will encourage more residents to register their bikes. Although the

city has an ordinance that requires riders to license their bikes,

the city does not actively enforce that code.

In the event a bike registered with national registry is stolen,

officers can quickly access information and serial numbers. That

information will then be entered into the national stolen property

index and if an officer encounters a stolen bike, they can

electronically track down owner information and theft status.

On the national level, police departments recover about 48% of all

stolen bikes. However, only a small fraction of those bikes are

returned to their rightful owners.

Fees to register a bike range from $10 for a three-year

registration to $25 for a lifetime registration. The National Bike

Registry can be found at For more

information about the program, please call Lawrence at (949)


Parking and traffic are topics of talk

The Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee will host a talk

titled, “Livable Communities, Parking and Traffic ... Connecting the

Dots.” The conversation will be led by Rick Cole, the city manager of

Azusa and former mayor of Pasadena.

Organizers hope residents will weigh in on the issue as the city

is developing a traffic study and the Village Entrance.

“Downtown Laguna Beach could be designed in such a way that there

is no cut-through traffic,” said Michael Hoag, a member of the

committee and founder of Village At. “During the winter there’s a

different feeling than during the weekends or summer.”

The livable cities concept promotes a traffic- or car-free

environment typical of older European cities such as Venice, Sienna

or Munich, Hoag said.

The forum will take place from 7:30 to 9 p.m., Oct. 25 at City

Hall Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave. For more information please

contact Hoag via e-mail at

In honor of Laguna’s Isaac Frazee

The Laguna Beach Historical Society will present Craig Walker who

will talk about Laguna Impressionist, Isaac Frazee. Walker is the

artist’s great grandson.

Frazee was the first documented sketch artist in Laguna Beach in

1878. He and his wife, Bettie, became part of the local scene and in

1921 he created a Native American peace pipe pageant called

Kitshi-Manido. The project raised money to build an art gallery that

over the years has been incorporated into the current Laguna Art


The Frazee’s moved to Laguna full-time in the mid-1920s. The two

houses that they lived in are still standing. The first was at

Lombardy Lane and they built their permanent home at El Bosque, said

Jane Janz, spokesperson for the historical society.

Prior to the presentation, the historical society will hold a

general meeting to elect the board of directors at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 3

in the community room at Wells Fargo Bank, 260 Ocean Ave. The members

nominated for re-election are: Anne Frank, Ed Perry, Eric Jessen,

Gene Felder, J. J Gasparotti, Jane Janz, Karolee Hampton, Nelda

Stone, and Willa Gupta.

Information: (949) 497-6834.