Promoters of the Open Space Initiative for Laguna Beach claim the $20 million it raises by imposing additional taxes on every property owner will fund the acquisition of 550 acres of open space. This claim is patently false. Most of the land in question is developable.
The price of developable land in Laguna Beach is on average about $400,000 per acre. At this rate, $20 million will buy 50 acres. This is a classic case of “bait-and-switch.” All Laguna residents should find this flagrant dishonesty reprehensible and reject the initiative if it ever reaches the ballot.
Among Lagunans there seems to be unanimity that we are most fortunate to live in such a physically beautiful place. Indeed, we moved here for that reason.
As much as the ocean views, open space defines Laguna Beach’s character and differentiates us from surrounding cities. Recognizing this in 1990, nearly 80% of us voted to tax ourselves to keep development out of Laguna Canyon and to preserve in perpetuity the natural landscape of the canyon.
The 1990 bond is being retired this year, and now we have the opportunity to save the interior hillsides and canyons of our city with the Open Space Initiative. As technology for building on hillsides improves, we are at risk that the green hillsides that we view from our homes or around town will be filled in with homes.
With a parcel tax of $120 a year proposed by the initiative we can keep our “inner greenbelt” green forever. Keep in mind that this initiative prohibits eminent domain and requires that a fair price be paid for properties offered by willing sellers. I urge you to sign the petition to get this initiative on the ballot. Should this measure pass, the views preserved will contribute to the quality of our lives and may also add to the value of our homes.