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SOUNDING OFF:Tahoe fire a lesson for Laguna

My sympathies are with the Tahoe homeowners who lost their homes and dreams in the horror of the Tahoe fire. Many of the residents there blame the draconian restrictions placed on fuel modification in their area. This should be a wake-up call to us in Laguna Beach.

We are surrounded with dry hills waiting to burn. Some of the arguments for not cutting trees and removing deadwood may be environmentally sound (both in Tahoe and Laguna Beach), but when there are homes adjacent to open space we sometimes need to compromise on environmental restraints.

I am really afraid of fire behind my home. We live in a condo complex on Ocean Vista, straight up the hill from the Montage Resort.

The hill behind us is open space; our homeowners’ association owns a small strip of that land bordering our property, and the Athens Group owns the rest of the hill "” some 200+ acres.

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We have tried to work with Athens for more than a year to collaborate with them on fuel modification of the hill, which is covered with dry acacia, dry grasses and deadwood; it is literally a tinder box.

Athens has refused (in writing) to do anything about fuel modification on their land, claiming that the city has too many restrictions and permits.

I find this totally irresponsible. Athens wants to overbuild the Aliso Creek Inn site and build mansion lots in Driftwood estates "” both of which practically surround our complex, and they claim to be good neighbors to South Laguna Beach residents, but their actions in this matter belie their talk. They take but are not willing to give.

I also fault the city for restricting fuel modification. They refused to put goats on our hill and they do have unreasonable restrictions and impossible-to-get permits. In addition, city council and staff do not appear worried about fire.

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I noted when the results of the city residents’ “Satisfaction Survey” were published in the local papers (“Survey: Lagunans happy overall,” Coastline Pilot, May 18), council members were pleased with the results, even though the report shows that 47% of residents do not feel safe from fires.

Nearly half those surveyed are afraid of fires in Laguna Beach and the council chooses to turn a blind eye/deaf ear. Amazing and appalling!

We need to get on the City Council to face the real threat of wild fire on our hills. They could begin by forcing the Montage to clean up their hill.


  • ALISON KING lives in Laguna Beach.

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