Re: “Laguna Beach is much more than power lines”: I enjoyed your thoughtful Forum column about underground power lines. Years ago, my neighborhood, Ocean Boulevard in Newport Beach, faced a similar challenge in the “alley” behind our house, which was actually Oceanfront Boulevard. I say “alley” since it looked like one with telephone poles and an ugly abundance of overhead lines going every which way to the degree that it actually influenced our home remodel when we added a second story.
When the possibility of undergrounding was being addressed, the debate was contentious but, in the end, the opportunity of a lifetime to improve the beauty of the neighborhood (and enhance property values) prevailed. Sure, there was cost involved, but not a day goes by without me being thankful for my unfettered view of the sky and hills.
When the undergrounding was completed, the city of Newport Beach gave homeowners another opportunity to dig into our wallets by offering us the option of resurfacing our street with pavers instead of generic asphalt. Again, aesthetics prevailed, and the result was stunning: Oceanfront Boulevard is a jewel, a street that visitors and residents enjoy every day.
Believe me, it’s been worth every penny. I think for those of us who live in coastal cities, there is a tendency to take our privilege for granted, and we grouse about traffic, trash, noise and whatever else that comes to mind that annoys us. The reality is we live in paradise, and there are incumbent responsibilities: We are stewards of the environment, a critical interface between the public and the ocean.
Besides making far-reaching decisions that will affect generations, we have our everyday duty to do what we can to ensure the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. Seemingly mundane tasks like tossing an absent neighbor’s newspaper on his porch, closing a gate that has swung open, or disposing of errant trash we encounter all make a difference. Ideally, we do these things willingly, even lovingly, since every single day we live at the beach is sublime.
A little late for way-finding signs
In 1964 a new home development known as Park Avenue Laguna was built by Leslie Homes on Top of the World (TOW). The homes were single- and two-story family homes, some with ocean views and all featured underground utilities, a two-car garage and private driveway. A three-bedroom, two-bath listed at $25,650; a four-bedroom, three-bath from $30,500. There were four floor-plans and, altogether, 140 homes. Back then Park Avenue was part dirt road, part asphalt. Top of the World Elementary School was in debate and Alta Laguna Park was a one-horse hitch post.
But location, location, location. The homes were far from good Los Angeles jobs and elementary schools. To draw prospective buyers, the development needed to advertise. The developer asked our city for temporary way-finding signs, one at Coast Highway at Legion Street, another at Broadway Street and Forest Avenue.
His request was denied. The homes eventually sold but only after paving Park Avenue and a company bankruptcy. Homebuyers found the TOW development from a newspaper ad or purely by chance. Today, TOW real estate affordability and inventory are low but the city is installing way-finding signs for tourists to find our neighborhoods. Our Planning Commission hopes the signs “will help drive pedestrians beyond the downtown core.”
Oh my, how rules have changed. But it is a little late to direct Laguna visitors into our neighborhoods.
Watch Planning Commission meetings
I have been a proud member of the home building industry for over 40 years and a Costa Mesa property owner for just as long. This city really does have a problem, as does any city that has been under development as long as ours has. Our city has been carved up in ways that would not be considered under current city planning methodologies.
On top of that, we have a similar problem to one that faces our great country and our state: Everyone wants to come here! Not such a bad problem, but one that must be addressed in a thoughtful and impactful way.
I am sure our planning commissioners do their very best to make the decisions they do, however, they do not seem to have the appropriate background to make the tougher land planning decisions. If the Costa Mesa General Plan, zoning regulations, municipal code, etc., are in need of review and updating let’s find the professionals to do it.
On Thursday night, the Costa Mesa Planning Commission decided that while the Small Lot Ordinance (SLO) is working, R2MD lots of 7,260 square feet are a good fit under the SLO but R2MD lots of 6,000 to 7,259 square feet are too small. This is based on, well, just their opinion. No geometry was presented, no example of disastrous projects shown on the screen — just an opinion that may lower the value of properties owned by 566 folks (their figure not mine) by $100,000.
All this while the victims of this decision were home watching TV or reading a book. I suggest that all property owners in this city start attending every Planning Commission or City Council meeting possible before their rights are eroded like what may happen to 566 people if the City Council accepts this Planning Commission recommendation, apparently just keep the NIMBYs at bay.
Rep.’s anti-gay remarks are discriminatory
Re: “Rohrabacher’s anti-LGBTQ comments fall on indifferent Republican ears”: Columnist Barbara Venezia cannot be too surprised at the GOP reaction to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's insensitive remarks. “Do Nothing Dana” has been been trashing political correctness for decades (along with Donald Trump). I used to belong to the National Assn. of Realtors. and I know discrimination when I see it.