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OUR LAGUNA:Whatever happened to ... ?

The New Year seems an appropriate time to wonder “Whatever happened to — fill in the blank?”

For instance: What ever happened to plans for a skateboard park in Laguna that would rival the YMCA’s prototype Encinitas facility? After getting the run-around for years and spending considerable money, the YMCA will probably not even be involved in a downsized proposal that attorney Larry Nokes and architect Marshall Ininns are developing.

In 2000, the YMCA offered to build, maintain and staff the skateboard park in Laguna — all the city had to do was provide the land and front some money for planning costs. Skateboarding kids and their parents loved the idea.

City officials originally proposed locating the skate park in the ACT V remote parking lot on Laguna Canyon Road. (This was at a time when the council had decided not to relocate the city’s corporation yard from Forest Avenue downtown to the canyon.)

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However, during lease negotiations with the Festival of Arts, a city representative dangled the possibility of moving the tennis courts to ACT V as a bargaining chip. The YMCA was informed that the site was not available for their project, even though time and money had been spent on a concept plan for the site. Of course, the tennis courts never were moved, but by then the YMCA was already working on a concept for a new site “suggested” by the council: sharing the Bark Park.

That went over well.

In 2004, the council voted 3-1 to ask Caltrans to review the safety of entrances and exits from the Bark Park and the city-owned Big Bend parcel nearby.

On the advice of then-Mayor Steven Dicterow, YMCA officials declined to modify the agreement to include Big Bend and, as of February 2006, were concentrating on the dog park.

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That fell apart when Verizon proved unenthusiastic about allowing public access over its bridge, at the opposite end of the park from the pet entry. Verizon offered to sell the bridge to the city for $100,000, on the condition that the city create a public street that would provide access to the remainder of the Verizon property and to the proposed skateboard park.

Not happening.

City officials voted to require the YMCA to resolve the access issue — is that a euphemism or what? — because the costs would exceed the city’s commitment.

“We have been bounced around,” said disappointed YMCA spokesman Nokes.

He also said the YMCA did not favor the proposal to break up the park into small components that could be installed in city playgrounds.

“That would be a neighborhood attraction, rather than a city-wide attraction,” Nokes said.

However, two years have passed and sometimes you just settle for what you can get.

“Marshall and I will be working with the city to explore locations in public parks for smaller elements,” Nokes said Wednesday. “This probably won’t be done through the YMCA, probably it will go through the recreation department.

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“We will come up with some designs and run it by the community and see how it goes.”

And so it goes.

Foundation still alive

The Laguna Beach Community Foundation is another public-spirited project that has languished.

In 2003, a committee began to explore the establishment of a foundation that would provide technical information on fundraising for Laguna Beach nonprofit groups.

Founding committee members Michael Pinto, Mary Fegraus, Peter Kote and Wayne Peterson invited representatives of local 501 (c) (3) organizations to a meeting in May 2004 at the Assistance League Chapter House.

Invited participants ranged from arts organizations to organized sports.

So what has happened since then? That question elicited a big sigh from Fegraus.

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“We finally got our own 501 (c) (3) last fall,” Fegraus said. “That was a big accomplishment, but it took forever. Now we need to take the next step, but everyone is so busy.”

“We have to form a board of directors who would then hire paid staff to move forward.”

The committee expects the foundation to deal with planned giving, although outright cash gifts are always the preferred option. Donations could be in the form of stocks, bonds, art work or real estate, which could be accompanied by charitable trusts, gift annuities, life insurance or other methods of giving when getting a tax benefit.

Donors would be asked to designate the organization(s) or field of interest to which the donations should be distributed and over what period of time.

“The goals have not changed,” Fegraus said.

For more information, call (949) 494-0614.

Deja view

Critics of the city’s view ordinance have slipped from view since they held a public meeting in September 2005.

About 30 people attended the meeting hosted by Save Laguna Views, which had publicized the meeting in letters mailed to 5,700 registered voters. The organizers proposed a survey as a first step in forcing the city to revise the ordinance if enough support was shown.

“I would think that the mailer was a survey,” then-Mayor Elizabeth Schneider. “And the number of people who showed up for the meeting is an indication of how difficult it would be to get a majority vote for changes in the ordinance.”

Dave Connell, an avid supporter of a stronger view ordinance, said about 40 view preservationists spent hundreds of hours studying the ordinance, found it lacking and presented their own version. “We generated a perfect ordinance,” Connell said. “It was presented, but it wasn’t ever read.”

Frank Visca, who has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Connell in the uphill battle to gain public and official support for a stronger ordinance, said opponents of the group’s goals are unreasonable.

“I am not going give up this fight until I die,” Visca said.

However, most of the fight has gone out of the fight.

“There was insufficient interest by the electorate in general to move forward,” said South Laguna resident Christopher Toy, who chaired the 2005 meeting. “A handful of people offered to help, but it needed more than a handful.

“I still have the PAC (political action committee) and I file a statement with the city clerk every six months. Our expenditures consist of paying for our post office box and for the one mailer.”

For more information, write Save Laguna Views, P.O. Box 9425, Laguna Beach, 92652.


  • OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond, P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652; hand-deliver to Suite 22 in the Lumberyard, 384 Forest Ave.; call (949) 494-4321 or fax (949) 494-8979.

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