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Crystal Cove can be example for El Moro

October 25, 2002

EDITOR'S NOTEBOOK

A year ago July, after the last of the Crystal Cove cottage

dwellers packed their bags, I wrote that there were two options for

that beach that would best suit the taxpaying public, who truly owns

the land.

Those options were to turn the cottages into rustic getaway

retreats for $100 a night, or tear down the cottage save for one or

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two for historic value and turn the place into a campground.

After my column ran, I got a rather sarcastic message from a

former Crystal Cove cottage resident who scoffed at the idea that

anyone would ever be able to stay at the cottages for $100 a night.

If the cottages were available for $100 a night, he'd pick up the

tab, he told me.

Well, my wife and I will be checking the calendar pretty soon as

the state parks officials have unveiled their plans for the sandy

enclave that includes just that -- cabins for $100 a night among

other things.

I don't write this to pat my back, but instead to give a nod to

the state parks officials, former cove resident Laura Davick, Laguna

Beach resident Jeannette Merrilees and Irvine Co. heiress Joan Irvine

Smith for realizing that the best thing for Crystal Cove is to come

up with a plan that gives access to all residents of California, not

just a select few.

Because of their effort and others, Crystal Cove will soon become

one of the prime destination points in the state parks system, I'm

pretty sure of that.

Still, at $100 a night that's a little steep for some.

So as for the campground that I made a pitch for, I think there is

still hope for that just down the road from Crystal Cove at El Moro.

El Moro is a situation that almost mirrors the old one at Crystal

Cove.

A bunch of trailers sit on the beach and just across Coast

Highway. The people in these trailers, much like those who lived in

the Crystal Cove cottages, have known for years that they are on

borrowed time. They are living on state park lands and must vacate

the premises.

Yet, they are now crying the same tune the cottage dwellers did.

It seems like they must have hired the same public relations agency

as the Crystal Cove folks. Here's some of their tall tales:

El Moro's magic is more about the people that live there than it

is about location, they croon.

They say on one hand that the beach will either be ruined if they

leave because of the massive crowds, or on the other that no one

actually uses it anyway so why kick them out?

Some are blaming the big, bad state for being so cruel to evict

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