I'm an artist. I have had a studio in my home on Sun Valley Drive since 1974.
I have taught at the Laguna College of Art + Design and shown my work at the Laguna Museum of Art, and am actively exhibiting my work in Orange County, Los Angeles and elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad.
Although I support the concept of artist live-work, I oppose this project because it is too big and at the wrong location. It will change the character of the canyon and have a negative effect on the Sun Valley neighborhood.
Creating affordable studios for this city is an important objective and worthy of creative thinking and planning. Artists in our community certainly need to be nurtured and encouraged. If Laguna Beach leaders want to continue to develop the city as an artists community, it is important to engage planners and creative thinkers in making Laguna Beach a place where affordable studios can be found.
These studios can be located in a variety of places rather than concentrating them in one big building. It's time to put some quality thinking and planning into what benefits the artist community and Laguna Beach as a whole without harming one particular neighborhood.
I want the City Council, city planners and other city leaders to develop a comprehensive plan. This project, at this location and at this size, is short-sighted. It is wrong for the Sun Valley neighborhood. It is wrong as a feature of the canyon. The city can do much better than this.
I hope the council will consider scaling back the project to the original concept. Eight or so units would be in the best interests of the Laguna Canyon neighbors and of Laguna Beach.
Stuck in antiquated parking rules
The principal driver in the current Village Entrance proposal is the replacement-parking stipulation dictated by the California Coastal Commission, which aims to ensure public access to a public beach.
But the Coastal Commission allows exceptions to its own rules.
Caltrans stipulates the operation of Laguna Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway through Laguna Beach. There are also exceptions to Caltrans' rules.
The objective of the Laguna Beach Village Entrance is beautification of the city entrance by removing the blight caused by an asphalt parking lot. The objective is lost if we merely pave another parking lot over an existing one.
We have arrived at this decision because we are not creative enough or bold enough to challenge the existing rules. In so doing we are stuck with design practices from the 1950s, and Laguna Beach remains a parking lot.