Residents should attend this Saturday’s Special Council Meeting

Everyone who is concerned about property rights must show for the Special Council Meeting on Saturday, Sept 29 at 1 p.m. The Council will decide on the direction for our Historical Preservation (HP) Program.

The program proposed by staff and Village Laguna will continue the current failed and unpopular program. Registration applications have been falling for decades. Why? 1) The City requires a perpetual agreement that encumbers your property forever. No other city does this! 2) The most powerful incentive (Mills Act) is not available until after you encumber your property in perpetuity to the Heritage Committee (HC). 3) The HC is run by political appointees with little expertise. They have the power to impose subjective and arbitrary rules on your home, forever! Lagunans have voted by running away from this harmful process.

Now they want to force your home onto an inventory selected by a paid expert who lives far from Laguna. If your home was built 50 years ago you are “presumed historical”. No choice. You cannot remodel your home without doing an expensive and time consuming “CEQA review”. You will lose your property rights to obtain a traditional building permit. HC now controls your home.

There is a better way. 80 percent of the cities in California have no HP ordinance. Yet many have successful and popular preservation programs based on private incentives and voluntary participation. A good example is Anaheim. Their program is called “Freedom First”. Anaheim has five historic districts and over 350 Mills Act homes, a state record. Anaheim does not use the “hammer” of code enforcement to force you into preservation. They charge no fees and hire no consultants. Their staff is qualified to process applications. Local charitable philanthropies work with the City to encourage homeowners to participate. It works and can work in Laguna.

On Sept 29 please attend the Council Meeting. Urge them to transition Laguna away from the current unpopular ordinance and toward a new 100 percent voluntary, private incentive program that does NOT rely on code enforcement and criminal prosecution for failure to comply. The City has the legal discretion to make this decision. Just ask the 400 cities that have done it.

Doug Cortez

Laguna Beach