Fair Game



Praying about where to put new affordable housing requirements

According to the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) from the State of California, Laguna Beach is required to construct 394 housing units, of which 277 must be affordable. That’s certainly difficult in a town like Laguna Beach that is mostly built out.

One answer might come from SB 4, the Affordable Housing on Faith Lands Act that provides a streamlined process for religious organizations and non-profit colleges to develop affordable housing on their property.

You see, many faith-based organizations and non-profit colleges are located on lands where multifamily housing is expressly prohibited by local zoning codes. Normally, to change such laws, the landowners would have to go through the time-consuming and expensive process of rezoning in order to add affordable housing, while also opening themselves up to litigation.

SB 4 virtually erases all those factors that complicate matters, by completely streamlining the process, therefore allowing 100% approval of affordable housing development on such land. It’s termed “by-right approval.”

So, yesterday, it was no surprise to receive the following statement from Rev. Rod Echols of the Neighborhood Congregational Church.

Neighborhood Congregational Church (NCC) has been part of the fabric of the Laguna Beach community for 80 years. Like many mainline Protestant churches across the country, NCC has experienced declining membership and the underutilization of its facilities. The members of NCC have been on a several-year journey, exploring how to better use our Laguna Beach property to deepen equity and benefit for our community.

“NCC is going through a process to evaluate reducing the size of our space to make way for affordable housing. Laguna Beach needs more affordable housing for limited-income seniors, artists and many others who work in lower-wage jobs in the city. No new 100% affordable developments have been built in Laguna Beach in the past 20 years.

“NCC has entered into an agreement with Related California, to continue the exploration for the financing and the development of a 100% affordable housing project, complete with an onsite spiritual center.

“NCC is still in the very early stages of the planning process. We will keep the community informed of our progress.”

We’ll keep you posted.

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And this morning (8:30 a.m.) is the grand opening of the new Moss Street Beach Access.

Even if you can’t get there for the ceremony, you should really go by at some point soon and check it out, and see what $1,770,000 can do for changes and updates.

It includes the replacement of the existing stairs, walkways, bike racks and the landscaping is enhanced. The design incorporates colored concrete steps, board-formed concrete retaining walls and black anodized aluminum handrails. The newly vegetated bluff consists of a mix of native and drought-tolerant plants. And, the new stairs have been realigned to create new overlook points which enhance the viewing experience of Moss Point while traveling down to the beach. The improvements also include a new enclosed lifeguard tower.

The money for the project included a contribution secured by State Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine) for $1,225,000.

• • •

Mayor Sue Kempf and I sat down this week to discuss the approval of the fire rings in South Laguna, the goats and the job they’re doing cleaning our hillsides and talked about the Local Housing Trust Fund and what the next steps are. Give us a listen.

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Tomorrow (Saturday, May 18), you might like to check out a reenactment with important and iconic Laguna Beach residents at the Laguna Beach Historical Society’s headquarters – The Murphy Smith Bungalow – from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Enjoy the Bungalow, some goodies/refreshments and meet Bette Davis (starlet); Jack Norworth (lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” Cracker Jack Hall of Fame, promoter of Laguna’s early Little League days); Florence “Pancho” Barnes (first and only airstrip in town, stunt pilot and aviatrix); Frank Cuprien (original plein air artist); the Bungalow’s original resident Vernon Murphy (businessman, bootleg) and its last resident, Blanche Clapp Smith. It’s a chance for family fun and a way to experience Laguna Beach living history through the early 1920s to the late 1950s. The Bungalow is located at 279 Ocean Ave.

• • •

Time to get your tickets and make plans to attend Laguna Playhouse’s “whodunit guessing game,” as they present Holmes & Watson. This final production of the 2023-2024 season begins Wednesday, May 29.

Written by Jeffrey Hatcher and directed by Laguna Playhouse artistic director David Ellenstein, Holmes & Watson is a “fast-paced, thrilling, suspenseful story that will keep you guessing until its final moments,” according to the play’s PR folks.

Ellenstein added, “Before I directed this play, I was not a huge Sherlock Holmes enthusiast, but the play led me to read the Conan Doyle source material and I gained a new understanding for the lasting appeal of the detective. These stories are extremely well written. I became captivated by the detail and specificity of the character and literary style. I became a Sherlock fan. There is a reason Mr. Holmes endures through all sorts of adaptations and across time.”

Sounds like a strong endorsement to me. For performance dates, times and tickets, go to www.lagunaplayhouse.com, or call 949.497.2787.

• • •

Finally, join Laguna Beach Live! for bluegrass music and a delicious BBQ, on Sunday, June 9 from 4-7 p.m. on the picturesque grounds of the Laguna College of Art + Design.

Tickets are on sale now.

This year’s music is provided by Wimberley Bluegrass Band with food by Richard Jones Pit BBQ and wines by Bianchi Winery, who will offer a selection of their award-winning Paso Robles wines, along with Costa Mesa’s master beer maker, Salty Bear Brewing Co. 

Concert only is $25 in advance, $30 at the door, Kids 12 and under go free; Concert & BBQ is $52 in advance, $57 at the door; VIP: $110 (incl. concert, BBQ and reserved table seating).

Tickets are available at www.lagunalive.org, or 949.715.9713.

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Just a reminder: The christening and dedication of the new Marine Safety Vessel, Wave Watch is scheduled for Friday, May 24 at Marina Park in Newport Beach, 1600 W. Balboa Blvd. at 9 a.m.

Following the ceremony, a guided tour of the vessel will be available. Parking will be provided.

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