Graffiti remains a problem at Chateau Relaxo

Three years after the city said the Chateau Relaxo would be demolished, graffiti and litter continue to plague the abandoned home, residents say.

The deteriorating property at 32225 S. Coast Hwy. has graced the sands of 1,000 Steps beach for more than 50 years.

In the past decade, residents have complained that the site has turned into a spot for squatters, drinking and a wall graffitied with swear words.

Paradise Cove resident John Arnold moved to Laguna Beach from Boston about 13 years ago. He said over the past 10 years he's noticed glass bottles thrown on the beach, cigarette butts, people sleeping and fires being set near the cliffs.

He regularly photographs the graffiti, which features a number of expletives and drawings, to document it. He's called the police multiple times, but he feels like nothing has been done.

While police answer all calls, ultimately it's code enforcement who oversees such matters.

"It's not the pristine beach it was 10 or 12 years ago," he said. "It's no fun to look out your windows and see those words."

Two years ago, a fence was built around the home to discourage squatters who were sleeping on and under the property, which is on stilts, said Director of Community Development John Montgomery.

Laguna Beach resident Russell Garner suggests the install anti-littering and anti-graffiti signs. He also wants increased patrols at night or cameras installed.

"I'm fed up," he wrote in an email.

"Almost every month we have new instances of graffiti and litter," he wrote in a follow-up email. "I don't believe the Police Department has done anything. If they have, their efforts have been a complete failure."

Resident Lupita Niccum wrote in an email that the graffiti has spread from the concrete wall alongside Chateau Relaxo to her own home.

"It's quite obvious the current approach is not working, and the 'powers at be' can't seem to find a workable solution ... " she wrote.

The property's owner, Gary Groves, must maintain the house without any graffiti or trash accumulation, Montgomery said in an email.

Violations should be reported to code enforcement, he said.

The city cannot install a security camera on private property, despite residents' suggestions.

"The property owner is in the process of preparing plans to demolish the house and the wall," Montgomery said, adding the owner is cooperative with code enforcement.

In terms of a timeline, Montgomery said demolishing the house could take a few years, but it's hard to speculate.

Since 2009, the house has been in ongoing negotiations with the South Coast Water District in regards to the tunnel stabilization and sewer pipeline replacement project, Montgomery said.

The city has not received any finalized plans from Groves, he added.

Twitter: @joannaclay

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World