Council favors project without a plan

Arroyo Chico homeowners want to expand but face stiff opposition from neighbors.

September 09, 2010|By Barbara Diamond,
  • Home on Arroyo Chico that has become controversial after two separate projects fell through. Two sets of story poles can be seen above the garage, one pink and one blue.
Home on Arroyo Chico that has become controversial after… (DON LEACH, Coastline…)

An Arroyo Chico family's plans for an addition to their home were shot down at the Aug. 31 council meeting.

The City Council overturned a Design Review approval of a remodel in favor of the Blue Line alternative, for which no plan was submitted either to the board or the council. The board was directed to consider a concept the neighbors supported but the board had rejected in favor of what was dubbed the called the Pink Line Plan. Both the plan and the alternative were named for the color of stakes to indicate heights of the proposals. An approved landscape plan was also questioned by the council.

"This is a very contentious project," said Liane Schuller, city zoning administrator. "It was acrimonious throughout three hearings."

Ellen and Stephen Milner want to enlarge their home at 426 Arroyo Chico.

"I do not believe anyone in Laguna should ever be put through what we have been put through," Ellen Milner said.


Stephen Milner called it "crappola," saying he would no longer be bullied as he stormed out of the council chamber.

Neighbors felt they had been duped by the board, which did not approve the Blue Line alternative they supported.

"This was exactly the kind of confrontations the Design Review Task Force wanted to avoid," said Lance Polster, project architect and a member of the task force.

Until the afternoon of the council meeting, the Milners and their attorney Lawrence Nokes thought they had an agreement with the appellants that would nullify the appeal.

"We were informed on the Tuesday of the meeting that the appellants had turned down or never agreed to the compromise," Nokes said.

Polster said they had no time to rally supporters for the Milners' project.

"We spent quite a bit of time and came up with a compromise worked out with appellant Eva Segovia, her attorney Gene Gratz, the Milners and me," Nokes said.

The compromise included pulling back the garage two feet behind the DRB-approved plan, removing a column and lowering the roof line on the side of the home next to Segovia's property. The proposed changes would not have affected grading or the quantity of dirt to be exported, according to Gratz.

Agreed-on modifications were submitted to the city by Polster in what he called "paste-on changes."

"However, those small changes make an enormous difference in the impact upon the home of Appellant Eva Segovia," Gratz wrote in an e-mail to the City Council, dated Aug. 30.

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