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OUR LAGUNA:How specific should development planning be?

Do folks in North Laguna need or even want a specific plan to control all development in their neighborhood?

That is one of the questions being asked in a survey of Laguna North community association, commonly known as LANO.

Questions also include whether a specific plan should be limited to commercial development along North Coast Highway or also address mansionization concerns by setting a maximum on square footage and lot coverage for residential projects.

“We [LANO board] just thought this might be something we should be looking at,” said Don Knapp, president for three of the last four years. Results of the questionnaire are expected to be completed by next week, Knapp said.

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Interest in developing a specific plan was prompted by proposals opposed by the group for the empty parcel next to Crescent Bay Inn, according to Knapp.

“They tried to put in a huge development and before that there was the Sweetwater project, and an artist live/work project,” Knapp said. “Should we have a plan so developers would know what to expect?”

Arch Beach Heights and Diamond Crestview have specific plans.

“Diamond Crestview was a very special situation,” veteran Planning Commissioner Norm Grossman said. “More than 100 houses were to be built. We had to deal with all the elements of development.”

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Other neighborhoods such as South Laguna Village and Lagunita have zoning overlays.

South Laguna had a specific plan when it was unincorporated and under county jurisdiction.

“We took the plan and worked parts of it into the existing city code when we annexed South Laguna,” Grossman said.

It is still a sore point with some South Laguna residents that the entire plan was not adopted.

Although not mandatory, Three Arch Bay Assn. prefers projects to be reviewed by its architectural committee before a proposal is submitted to the city. Approval by the association does not guarantee approval by the city.

“In the case of Lagunita, we were just trying to protect the character of the neighborhood,” Grossman said.

“Zoning overlays are much easier to get,” Grossman said. “Specific plans have to meet state mandates, such as ownership patterns and consistency with the general plan — a lot of detail work.

“A zoning change does not have that same level of detail. Both still have to have [California] Coastal Commission approval, but a zoning change is simpler to do because we don’t have to go into as much detail about how we defined the area or the rationale for what we are doing.”

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North Laguna already has several zones, including commercial, single- and multi-family residential.

“The neighborhood changes dramatically from block to block in some areas,” Grossman said. “Take Aster Street: the needs at the top of the street are vastly different from the needs of property owners closer to the highway, as is the case with R-1 and R-2 lots.”

An overlay could cover square footage and lot coverage — among the items in the questionnaire, as well as types of businesses, Grossman said.

Specific plans are usually formulated by the residents of the specified area and then submitted to the City Council for approval.

The membership was asked to vote whether they should review any plan before it is submitted to the council.

If the survey shows sufficient interest in the development of a plan, North Laguna non-members of LANO probably will be consulted, Knapp said.

LANO is one of two neighborhood associations in North Laguna. North Laguna Community Assn. is the other one — the difference being that LANO does not take group political positions.

BREAKFAST PLEDGES FATTEN THE POT

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Laguna Beach Seniors made some gains at a breakfast held March 28 at Aliso Creek Inn to raise funds for the Susi Q project.

The Laguna Beach United Methodist Church announced a $1,000 grant and challenged its parishioners to match it. One parishioner has already upped the ante with a $1,000 pledge, also to be matched by parishioners.

Pledges and proceeds from the breakfast will be added to the seniors’ capital campaign to raise $5.2 million for the construction, furnishing and endowment of the Susi Q half of the Third Street project they will share with a community center.

“The purpose of the breakfast was to plant seeds and to explain our vision of what the center will be,” said Ann Quilter, campaign co-chair with Darcy Loveland Bickel.

Bickel also assisted breakfast chair Terri Johnson.

Johnson introduced Quilter; her brother-in-law, Chris, who is a Laguna Beach Seniors board member; Lee Anderson, president of seniors; Kent Russell, who donated funds for the fireplace in the lounge area of the proposed center; and Bickel, who explained ways to help the campaign.

Groundbreaking for the center was held at 4 p.m., Tuesday, and is expected to be open by early 2009 (See story, Page XX).

For more information, call (949) 497-2441.

GREAT PARK CONNECTION

The Laguna Canyon Conservancy is encouraging written support for the wildlife corridor in the Great Park, designed to create a swathe of open space from the Cleveland National Forest through the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park to Crystal Cove State Park and the ocean.

“Environmentalists consider it essential to have it as part of the construction from the beginning,” Laguna Canyon Foundation Executive Director Mary Fegraus said.

Foundation President Michael Pinto will be speaking about the corridor Monday at the conservancy dinner at Tivoli Terrace. Pinto is the vice president of the Great Park Conservancy and vice-chair of the Great Park Conservancy;

“He has been our advocate on the board for the corridor,” Fegraus said.

Written support for the corridor’s inclusion in Phase One of the construction may be sent to Larry Agran and other park board members at Orange County Great Park, One City Plaza, P.O. Box 19575, Irvine, CA, 92623.

Monday’s conservancy dinner meeting is open to the public, but reservations are required. For more information, call (949) 494-6465 by Saturday.


  • 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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