Reynolds said the family had no idea the lots were not legal building sites until they sold a nearby property and learned about real property reports. The family bought the parcels between 1939 and 1944, with the understanding that they were legal building sites and have paid property taxes all these years, according to the appeal.
The lots are located between Monterey Street and South Coast Highway, along a pathway used by residents in the area as a safe pedestrian access to the beach.
Reynolds said that when the parcels were purchased, the pathway, known as Aliso Street, was regularly used by vehicles and a right of way providing access to their land and is still held as a public right of way by the County of Orange.
“Although maintenance is infrequent, it can still be used,” Reynolds said.
Residents in the area opposed the request, some of them upset by even the possibility of development of the parcels in the future.
“Neighbors vigorously support staff on this issue,” said resident Greg O’Loughlin.
He said making the lots legal building sites would mean building would happen.
“If they don’t want to build, why do they want permission to build,” said neighbor Debbie Naudé.
Pedestrian safety and expediency was also an issue for neighbors.
“My mother used that [beach] access; I used it; my children used it and my grandchildren use it,” said Isabelle Stires. “If the property is sold and developed, residents will have to go to West Street to get to the beach.”
South Laguna resident Ginger Osborne opined that mixing vehicular and pedestrian traffic is a bad idea.