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Where do the employees park?

In one of the very many requests for an amendment or change in the conditional-use permit being issued by the City Council to the Old Pottery Place, it seemed that the subject of parking was brought up many times. It seemed as though there was a question as to the adequacy of the number of spaces to be provided.

In one of the last of these sessions, the developer and his architect agreed to include a two-level parking structure, and one of the provisions set down by the City Council was that the parking would be available to employees and patrons on a first-come, first-served basis to reduce the impact of the added intensification of activity in a highly impacted neighborhood.

Now that the Old Pottery Place is commencing operations — including a new restaurant — it is not surprising that from 7 a.m. to around 10 a.m., a number of the restaurant employees can be seen walking away from their cars in the neighborhood to the back door of the kitchen.

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These employees are the morning shift and are in the process of preparing the opening of the restaurant for the luncheon crowd. The restaurant is not open at those hours, and the majority of stores are also not open at those hours, which leaves the parking spaces empty.

A review of the lower level of the parking structure will show that at this time of the morning there are plenty of spaces available. Have the employees been told not to park in the structure?

The developer has been made aware of this but has taken no action to relieve the neighborhood of this additional parking burden. This is a violation of the conditional-use permit.

Now on the upper level of the parking structure, we see a sign at the entrance off of Glenneyre which reads “Reserved Parking - The Old Pottery Place - Customer Parking - Restaurant - shops and offices - Left on Brooks St.”

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We wonder where the employees are to park.

Neighborhoods be aware. There is little or no protection of your quality of life unless you speak up to get some enforcement of the concessions given to these projects that adversely affect the neighborhoods.

TOM GIRVIN

Laguna Beach

Restore the view sheds

Barbara Diamond’s thought-provoking column “Whatever happened to ----?” was just a sign of the times. I belong or have belonged to a wide variety of organizations over the last 50 years or so and they all have one thing in common. That is, many people start off excited to belong and eager to achieve one or more goals of the organization. But sadly, out of all those eager folks, only a few step forward to do the actual work.

As time goes by, even most leaders get discouraged by lack of active participation or exhausted by too large a work load, and active membership fades away as the organizations fail to achieve immediate success. This is just human nature at work, made worse by the multitude of other activities and work demands on people.

For example, the Save Laguna Views organization that Diamond mentioned at the end of her column started with Frank Visca and about 15 eager people researching the problem of view sheds being destroyed by excessive nonnative vegetation.

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They compiled view-related ordinances from all over California and spent several years preparing their own safety and view preservation ordinance oriented to Laguna’s topography and related ocean and canyon vistas.

During this time, I joined the organization when I heard Frank discussing the view destruction problem on the radio. As they went public, the organization grew. Finally, an informal petition was prepared which asked the city to enact the view ordinance we had created.

More than 2,000 people signed this petition and several more joined the organization. After countless fruitless and frustrating meetings with the planning commission and City Council, one of which involved more than 100 supporters, more and more people became enraged, then discouraged and finally inactive. Some were willing to contribute money, but few are willing to do the actual work and spend the necessary time and effort to accomplish such a difficult project.

Most people became convinced that the bureaucracy would never tackle the problem, since it became a political hot potato because a bunch of folks without views made wild silly accusations that there would be trees cut down everywhere and there would be tree police running rampant. Of course, this was nonsense, but this is Laguna, and nonsense often prevails.

However, there were at least four good spinoffs from our efforts. First and foremost was that many growers of excessive vegetation became aware of the damage they were doing to their neighbors and either pruned, topped or removed the offending vegetation. Another was that a landscape plan had to be submitted if a property modification exceeded 50% and that plan is supposed to be reviewed to make sure no vegetation is or will create a view blockage for neighbors. A third was that hedges/vegetation along property lines are required to meet the same height requirements as wood and material fences. And last but not least, the city did enact a view ordinance which, if used by those growing the offending vegetation, could make for harmonious neighborhoods.

Sadly, the city does not enforce the ordinance; it is left to the good will of the involved parties. Therefore, the ordinance is essentially ineffective unless the tree grower voluntarily complies or if the person with the lost views has plenty of money to hire a lawyer and go to court.

As it stands now, I suspect not much will be done with the really fair and effective view ordinance we proposed until several more really active people see that their beautiful view sheds have or are being destroyed by nearby excessive vegetation and pick up the torch to restore Laguna’s once beautiful and unique view sheds.

DAVE CONNELL

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Laguna Beach

All can win in tower dispute

James Pribram’s column (“Drawing Lines in the Sand,” Feb. 16) has no validity to it and was only written for a personal put-down.

He said that the person he was writing about should put an asterisk next to her boast that “I was a lifeguard for 12 years.” The title is lifeguard, whether at a pool, lake, or beach — that was her title and that is what she used.

The issue here is being exposed to the sun elements, whether you sit or stand in the sun all day at a pool, lake or beach. The person he is referring to does not live on the bluff in North Laguna, and the fact that the city allowed the complex built on the rock does not make it right. He is putting out the fear of saving the lifeguards’ lives to get people to approve the project. We can have both. I’m shocked that he finds it OK to drill into our coves and put up permanently unbalanced so-called lifeguard towers.

CHRISTINA NOCELLA

Laguna Beach


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