Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

Mailbag: Chase is an asset to the city

Re: “Out of the Blue: Chase away Chase, too many banks,” Coastline Pilot, March 14.

I don’t think columnist Billy Fried has given a fair description of Chase bank in Laguna Beach.

It’s amazing to have a bank in South Laguna and downtown Laguna. Convenience for locals is, I am sure, the big picture.

Zpizza’s Sid Fanarof didn’t renew his lease, and in not doing so his landlords did their job and put another tenant in the vacant and available space at the Albertson’s shopping center. The office building that became Chase bank downtown is certainly more resident friendly as a bank.


We were customers of Wells Fargo in Laguna Beach for about 20 years. We had four accounts there. Recently we started shifting some money to Chase — we already had accounts with the bank in Newport Beach.

On the day my husband closed all but one account at Wells Fargo Laguna Beach, nobody even asked why, after 20 years, we were leaving?

Service at Chase is incredible — such personal service.

I think the writer is being pretty small-minded. What if another local bashed Fried’s stand-up paddleboard company in a public forum?


Barbara Kastner

Laguna Beach


Girls’ water polo thanks stores

The Laguna Beach High School girls’ water polo team would like to thank Pavilions and Vons markets for their continued financial support.

Teaming up with Pavilions and Vons in the ongoing eScrip and the 10% Back to Schools programs has been amazing for us. We appreciate all that the markets do and their ongoing commitment to our school and girls.

A special thanks to the manager of our local Pavilions in north Laguna, Charles Gnesda, and the rest of his team.

We hope for the continued support and the ability to team up with Pavilions and Vons markets in the future.


Thank you for being a part of an amazing season.

Brian Knott,

eScrip coordinator

Laguna Beach


Live-work meets rules, conditions

I am not a campaigning advocate or a vocal obstructionist to the proposed live-work project in Laguna Beach.

I have, however, been involved with its evolution by attending meetings, listening and reading. Differentiating between facts and fears has been an important part of the process for me.


It seems as if the entities that are responsible for environmental protection and the safeguarding of public safety have all weighed in and ultimately found this project viable and in keeping with all laws, ordinances and codes.

Plan revisions have been made to accommodate a plethora of concerns from innumerable parties, and it seems as if this project is ready for a green light — because it has, in fact, measured up to some extraordinarily tough state and local standards and unrelenting scrutiny.

Density remains the issue that continues to generate the most anxiety, and I too wish the project called for fewer units, but in order to be fiscally feasible, I understand the need for the number.

I am a resident of Sun Valley Drive and a member of the residential community of homeowners that stands to be directly affected by this project. I am willing to give this project the benefit of the doubt — not just because of the public-spirited nature and what it will mean to our community and Laguna’s legacy as an artist’s colony, but also because of what I believe to be the admirable integrity and intent of the people behind it.

It has been a long and tedious journey for this group, but what should be noted in the margins of the proceedings is the lack of focus on monetary gain or political benefit. This is not a money-making venture but one that I feel is truly altruistic in nature.

When money and power are not part of the equation, an idea somehow warrants a second look and a more reasoned consideration. Making room to accommodate something of value is not so difficult when apprehensions are tempered with the idea that there might be a possibility of something good happening when big profits are not the bottom line.

I would like to express my support of this project, along with my belief that some things that have been hard-won ultimately prove themselves to be worth every bit of the fight.

Molly O’Hara Levitta

Laguna Beach


Project is just too big

Although the people opposing the artist live-work project on Laguna Canyon Road have nothing against the artist work-live concept, the majority of us agree that the structures are too large and do not fit in the canyon or at the entrance to Laguna.

We are also concerned about the potentially significant negative affect on the environment and traffic.

So what is the problem with reducing the size so that the project can go forth? Money.

This project is about money; the artists are a secondary concern. This structure has to be specifically this size so that the investors can turn a profit.

There are many artist work-live sites in Laguna but none of this size. If you Google Laguna Beach School of Art, you will see that the school offers many options for student housing. Of course the school supports the project; it has much to gain by doing so.

But is there enough of a housing crisis to justify the negative affect and the increased risk that may occur with the Laguna Canyon project?

The owner and developer have been asked many times to reduce the size but they have been uncooperative and turned a cold shoulder to that request.

I am sure we can come up with a viable solution that would be in the best interests of everyone involved and preserve our beautiful canyon, which should be our main concern.

With all due respect, we oppose this project.

Dan and Veda Thomas

Laguna Beach

Dan is a retired O.C. supervising park ranger


Project harms beauty of canyon

What follows is in essence what I wrote to the Laguna Beach City Council:

I am writing to you regarding the proposed live-work project in Laguna Canyon. I am appealing to you today as a Laguna Beach real estate professional, a board member of the Laguna Canyon Foundation and a passionate admirer of all things beautiful about Laguna Beach.

On one hand, I applaud the concept of a live-work facility to support artists in our community. We owe so much to these gifted, visionary people who have shaped the culture and beauty of Laguna Beach since its inception.

It is only right that we pay back for the countless contributions of the artist community and promote its continued involvement through affordable housing and work space. It is with great pride that I see the city work with such conviction to create an enclave for artists.

On the other hand, I am disheartened with the sheer size and scope of the proposed structure. Laguna Canyon represents one of the jewels of the city — no, one of the jewels of Southern California — and has long been the target for would-be developers.

The open space, landscape, wildlife, vegetation and undeveloped hillsides continue to bring awe to longtime residents and first-time visitors. It is a fragile, precious treasure that needs to be protected. For decades, concerned residents of Laguna Beach and dedicated conservationists have battled to retain what nature created in Laguna Canyon.

I urge the council to reconsider this proposal in the context of the precedent it would establish for future projects in the canyon. Surely there can be a compromise that provides a domicile for our artists without conflicting with the intent of the Laguna Canyon Annexation Area Specific Plan, which is to protect the canyon’s natural beauty.

We owe this to the residents, to the artists, to the visitors of this amazing city and to future generations.

Dave Csira

San Clemente


Building does more harm than good

I have asked each City Council member to consider having the live-work project developer scale back the project to the 12-unit concept that was originally proposed to the neighborhood two years ago.

It would be wonderful to have an artist live-work project in Laguna, and Laguna Canyon may be the perfect place for it, but let’s not have a project that destroys the rural feel of the area, goes against the spirit of the Laguna Canyon Annex Area Specific Plan and sets a precedent for larger-scale development in the canyon.

This may be only the beginning of requests for development in the canyon.

As proposed, the artist live-work project will have 30 units. Only eight will be set aside for low-income renters. That means the other 22 units will be rented out for whatever price the market will bear.

I do not believe that having only eight affordable units is worth the price of forever changing the character of the neighborhood and threatening to pave the way for future out-of-scale development in the canyon.

Johanna Felder

Laguna Beach


Large structure sets bad precedent

I support the arts and embrace the history of Laguna being an artist’s colony. However, the true village entrance to our beautiful city is Laguna Canyon, and the proposed live-work development is a monstrosity at 36 feet high.

These buildings will destroy the rural gateway to our majestic beach community.  

The canyon is a special place that many of us fought long and hard to preserve. This project does not adhere to the spirit of the Laguna Canyon Specific Annexation Plan. If allowed to proceed at its proposed scale, this project would set a dangerous precedent. 

We must preserve the true village entrance and not allow dense, obtrusive development in this very special area that is home to wildlife and inspiring viewsheds.

Michelle Kremer

Laguna Beach


Love artists but not big project

I like art and dislike the live-work project.

There was no opposition to this project when it was eight units — something appropriate in size, scale and character for the site. But somewhere in the twilight, the project morphed into a 30-unit apartment complex.

The project is so large that it appears that part of it will cantilever over Laguna Canyon Creek. And, be aware, when you are looking at the markers, you are seeing only part of the project. The other part is quietly hidden on the adjacent property under trees. If the project stays as is, the trees will have to be removed.

It has been residents’ diligence that has kept projects like this 30-unit apartment complex in check. Opposition to this project has nothing to do with art or artists but something larger — maintaining the character and livability of the community and preventing unruly unbridled development.

Opposition to this project is called preserving the character, livability and artistic character of this community. It’s why people like to come here and why this project belongs in Irvine.

Devora Hertz

Laguna Beach