Mailbag: Wrong Halliburton was noted in column

I look forward to going on the Laguna Coastline SightSeaing Cruise, and I enjoyed the “From Canyon To Cove" column dedicated to it (“Glimpses of Laguna’s hidden history," Feb. 19). I would like to share some information about the Halliburton House.

The contemporary concrete house has no association with Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oil-field service companies and was not built by the founder, Erle Halliburton. One would hope that both this newspaper and former Vice President Dick Cheney would want to correct any mistruths that had been published.

The house, considered one of the best modern houses in the U.S., was built and owned by Sir Richard Halliburton, the famous explorer. The world-traveling adventurer hired William Alexander Levy, a 27-year-old student of Frank Lloyd Wright’s, to design the home.

It was named the Hangover House because of its orientation on a promontory in South Laguna. A quick Google search will acknowledge the name’s intended pun and the personal relationship between the owner and the owner’s ghostwriter/travel partner and the architect.


The late Zolita Scott grew up in the house. A memorial for the local real estate agent will be at 1 p.m. April 10 at Tivoli Terrace.


Laguna Beach

Many Laguna lots could be ‘illegal’


Thank you for the recent article detailing the setbacks faced by Laguna Terrace Park residents in their efforts to purchase their lots (“Mobile home park conversion stymied," Feb. 8).

The article correctly points out that the California Coastal Commission won’t recognize a 1995 lot line adjustment because it was not accompanied by a Coastal Development Permit.

Laguna Terrace Park sits on a 44-acre parcel lawfully created in 1995. Nevertheless, Coastal Commission staff has referred to our parcel as “illegal," “unpermitted" and even “purported," perhaps suggesting that our parcel doesn’t even exist.

This should alarm far more than the several hundred residents of Laguna Terrace Park who simply want the opportunity to buy the lots they are leasing.

Between 1974 and mid-2006, there were about 200 lot line adjustments approved in Laguna Beach without Coastal Development Permits.

The affected parcels are probably in excess of 400, and include places of worship, a city park, a revered city garden, and a property on the National Register of Historic Places. Your own home could very well be among the parcels that Coastal Commission staff view as illegal.

Should you receive a notice of violation from Coastal Commission staff, as we did in 2007, you would likely be obligated to disclose it as a material defect should you wish to sell your property, and if the notice was also copied to the city, as ours was, it would show up in your property file and any Real Property Report prepared for your property.

Again, this should alarm any Laguna Beach property owner.



Laguna Beach

Editor’s note: James M. Lawson is general manager of Laguna Terrace Park LLC.

Few surprises in business survey

Kudos to the Business Assistance Task Force for producing the 2009 Residential Survey. It’s good directional data, though certainly not statistically reliable, especially as the age of the respondents is extremely skewed. Only five people between the ages of 25 and 34 responded (out of 255 completes). Are we to infer that they are just 2% of our population? Or are they just apathetic?

All the more odd because this is the spending demographic that merchants covet, the ones who spend a disproportionate amount of their income going out.

That 179 respondents (70%) were older than 45 suggests that, either Leisure World got mailed instead of us, or the results are heavily weighted to a segment of the population whose psychographics must be factored into the equation "” they have different wants and needs; their wardrobes are full, and they are brand loyal.

I think Mayor Elizabeth Pearson’s assertion that the solution lies in customer service is overly simplistic. Service matters, as we all appreciate


Coast Hardware’s attentive staff. But they also have floor-to-ceiling merchandise "” all of it useful. But can a newcomer survive, with great merchandise and service, paying premium rents in a town whose traffic spikes just three months a year?

I, for one, am not surprised at how many storefronts are vacant. What surprises me is that there aren’t more. I know of one commercial block (with one landlord) on Coast Highway with enormous retail turnover. No store survives more than 12 months. Are they all bad merchants? Or does the landlord just charge too much? Prices have dropped for homes. They must drop for commercial rents as well.

Finally, just because a majority of respondents said converting Forest Avenue into a pedestrian mall wouldn’t encourage them to shop doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea. This idea is designed not just to support merchants (though it would).

A Forest Avenue pedestrian mall is about community building, a town square where we meet, greet and hang out, a single street where the car (and the dreaded concept of convenience) would be subordinated to the human experience.

Judging from the success of the Chamber of Commerce’s Third Thursday closure, and Hospitality Night, it’s clear that this would make Laguna an even more pleasant environment for getting out and walking around. And that would certainly benefit merchants.


Laguna Beach

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