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SOUNDING OFF:New ‘Place’ enhances neighborhood

Regarding The Old Pottery Place: The “Shack” is gone, but the “Place” has proudly taken its place.

Thank you to the owner, the City Council, Planning Commission, Design Review Board, the planning commissioners and all the involved and supportive neighbors who shared our vision and quest to save this historic icon of Laguna.

The alternatives were horrendous for me as a citizen and architect: a hotel developer, a shopping center developer, a drugstore chain and others approached me. The current owner and developer, Joe Hanauer, shared my concerns and was the only one who was willing to contribute back to the town.

With vision, great expense and patience, the owner had a focus to save and restore many of these buildings with a sense of history. I proudly agreed to assist him.

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It is unfortunate that those who obstructed, delayed and offered no real and constructive assistance cannot participate in the celebration of this project. They continue to find fault, judge, accuse and distort reality and the facts.

Regarding the most recent “Parking questions” letter by Mr. Girvin, and in response to his concerns: Yes, Mr. Girvin, the Old Pottery Place is commencing operations and yes, it does have employees. Yes, there is parking on the streets, coincidentally called “public parking” — exclusive to anyone but the public, including shoppers, beachgoers, walkers, employees, residents, guests, etc.

Specific to the Old Pottery Place, Mr. Girvin, the city has an ordinance. This ordinance exists to provide incentives for individuals to save and restore historic structures. If approved, the ordinance allows “up to” a 75% reduction in required parking to those who are willing to take the risk and invest in the structures to perpetuate the history and character of our town.

The Old Pottery Place was one of those projects. City officials, thank goodness, had the vision to grant the developer’s request for a parking reduction. As such, although being granted only a 53% reduction, the parking for this project was approved at 49 parking spaces.

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The developer and his architect did not, as you say, “agree to provide the two-level parking structure as a condition set down by the City Council.” They unilaterally and at their own expense designed and constructed a parking structure and as a result created 33 more spaces than that required.

Who, in this town, would or could provide more parking than that required?

There was no agreement or requirement governing employee parking. The owner can use those extra parking spaces for whatever purpose he chooses. If the historic incentives are not provided and honored, then say goodbye to our Historic Preservation ordinance.

The numerous friends and supporters of this project, who share your neighborhood location — across from a commercial zone — chose to focus on the positives and now see the enhancement of the neighborhood experience. I appreciate their support and their positive attitude and input throughout the process.

In conclusion, Mr. Girvin, and in response to your final comment, “Neighborhoods be aware!": Why not take a walk with your neighbors and friends, and enjoy a cup of coffee or a chocolate treat, an outstanding meal or buy a wonderful book.

Come and enjoy the new Place.


  • MORRIS SKENDERIAN is the architect for the Old Pottery Place and a Laguna Beach resident.

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