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Group to hear appeals

California Coastal Commission to hold hearing in September to discuss subdivision of Laguna Terrace Park.

August 26, 2010|By Barbara Diamond, coastlinepilot@latimes.com

Editor's note: This corrects the spelling of John Delarroz' name.

The California Coastal Commission will hold a hearing Sept. 15 in Eureka to determine whether the city's approval of a coastal development permit to sub-divide Laguna Terrace Park is valid.

The Laguna Terrace property owner has petitioned the Orange County Superior Court to block the commission from assuming control of the project.

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"I haven't decided yet whether to ask the court to prohibit the September hearing, but I don't think it would make any difference because if the court rules in our favor, it would nullify any action taken by the commission," said James Lawson, general manager of the upscale mobile home park in South Laguna.

A status conference has been scheduled by the court for Sept. 13, at which each side is to present a brief summary of the arguments.

City officials approved in June the permit that would allow the residents to buy the land on which their mobile homes stand. However, the commission ruled the city's action was appealable, which gives it the jurisdiction to negate the city's authority.

"Commissioners will talk at the hearing about whether there is a substantial issue, which is a conflict between the actions taken by the city and the policies of its Local Coastal Program," said John Delarroz, the commission's coastal program analyst.

People who have already testified on the project have standing to submit written requests to testify at the hearing.

Appeals to the city's actions were filed by South Laguna resident Penny Elia, Newport Beach resident Paul Esslinger, father of Steven Esslinger, who was given control of the property after lengthy court proceedings, and Coastal Commissioners Sara Wan and Patrick Kruer.

Elia alleged five bases for her appeal: inconsistency with the California Coastal Act and the city's Local Coastal Program; questionable legality of the general plan amendment; questionable legality of a zoning change; un-permitted development; and illegal grading and alteration of a streambed.

Lawson said the facts don't support Elia's allegations.

"Just show me where and when," Lawson said.

Lawson said the proposal to convert Laguna Terrace into a resident-owned park would be withdrawn if the court rules in favor of the commission, which he thinks is what the appellants would prefer.

"Two commissioners are against the subdivision because it would make the community permanent," Lawson said. "Going to the commission is a non-starter for us."

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