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Disclaimer: Letters to the Editor do not necessarily represent the opinions of Stu News Laguna but rather the opinions of the letter writer.

Balboa Island residents approve funding for undergrounding their utilities

I was surprised to learn that Balboa Island has approved funding for undergrounding their utilities. I had to read it twice. Yes, every area can succumb to horrific fires – but if I were to put a list together, I would put Laguna Beach closer to the top than Balboa Island. Probably wouldn’t be as expensive as the proposed plan, which was turned down by some, well…I won’t go there. I truly hope that part of the agenda in making our city as fire safe as we can looks again at this project. With so many businesses/people living in that part of Laguna Beach that is also a significant transportation corridor and that the a fire can go uphill and strike Top of the World, etc. I think it behooves us to bring this to the forefront and perhaps actually become a priority soon. As we have seen it is not just the financial damage for some, but it is emotional and physical damage for all of us. 

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

Who decided Laguna is supposed to look a certain way? The answer to that question

At the Planning Commission meeting on the Cleo Street project on Wednesday, Nov 7, 2018, someone attempting to defend the project against charges of incompatibility with the neighborhood asked rhetorically, “Who decided Laguna is supposed to look a certain way?” The answer to that would be “More than in most places, the community,” and this distinctive idea goes back to the town’s beginnings. 

The plein air painters had set the tone by helping spread the word about the beauty of Laguna, and early residents took every opportunity to preserve and enhance it. In 1925 the Woman’s Club launched a campaign to make it “the Paradise of the Pacific,” distributing 700 trees for planting on Arbor Day. Photographs of new houses “in the Laguna spirit” were often featured in the newspaper, and artists such as Anna Hills and Frank Cuprien played key roles in city planning. The city’s first improvement project was announced in the South Coast News for February 1931 with a rendering of the proposed building and the headline “NEW LAGUNA SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT IS ATTRACTIVE IN DESIGN.” The city’s first land use plan, adopted in 1940, included restrictions on building size, and its 1959 General Plan called for “keeping residential and commercial development in the central area low.” When the planning commission proposed a maximum height of 50 feet in 1971, a citizens’ group circulated petitions for an initiative that would limit buildings citywide to 36 feet, and 75 percent of the voters said yes. 

In the course of the seventies, as development around it intensified, the city found additional ways of preserving its character, including a program for preserving heritage trees and a historic register that today includes more than 300 homes. Design review of proposed development was required as early as 1972 and extended to residences in 1986. In the early 1970s Fred Lang led the South Laguna Civic Association in preparing the South Laguna Specific Plan, which led to the creation of the Village Green and the preservation of the hillsides. The Downtown Specific Plan, adopted in 1989, was designed to protect the downtown’s small scale and variety of shops and services. These measures have been kept up to date over the years, and at the meeting November 7 it was apparent that community concern about how Laguna is supposed to look is alive and well. 

Johanna Felder,

President, Village Laguna

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