Head of property owners group appeals live-work project

The president of a property owners association appealed the Planning Commission approval of a 30-unit artist live-work facility in Laguna Canyon to the Laguna Beach City Council, City Clerk Lisette Chel-Walker confirmed Tuesday.

John Albritton, president of the Laguna Canyon Property Owners Assn., claims the project, which the Planning Commission approved 3 to 2 on Jan. 8, violates the area's specific plan and zoning requirements and doesn't jibe with the canyon's rural character, according to a copy of his claim provided by Chel-Walker.

"It's not small scale nor in character with the neighborhood," Albritton writes. "The cumulative impacts need to be addressed."

Albritton listed potential public safety concerns with light, noise, air and water pollution.

The council is scheduled to consider the appeal at its Feb. 4 meeting, Chel-Walker said.

Sculptor Louis Longi partnered with the Laguna Beach-based Dornin Investment Group and enlisted architect Horst Noppenberger on the project, which includes two buildings — 11,000 and 7,000 square feet, respectively — on a 36,750-square-foot lot at 20412 and 20432 Laguna Canyon Road, near Canyon Animal Hospital, Laguna Koi Ponds and the Sun Valley residential neighborhood.

Albritton says the project needs an environmental impact report.

Longi and Noppenberger twice revised the plans after hearing from residents and commissioners. Chris Dornin, president of Dornin Investment Group, disputes Albritton's contention that an environmental impact report is needed.

Residents are concerned the project is too big for that site, that the two buildings clash with the canyon's rural character, and are also worried about consequences if a flood rolls through the area.

In the latest revision, they canceled plans for installing several decks on the buildings and removed three units off the top of the buildings they say lesseons the structure's mass and scale.

The project garnered support from artists who said the city needs a project like this to keep them living in town.

The Feb. 4 council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 505 Forest Ave.

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