Planners, artists to discuss live-work spaces

Artists will meet with subcommittee to help develop suitable ordinance for live-work units in Laguna Canyon.

September 29, 2011|By Barbara Diamond

City planners and artists say they plan to work together to iron out issues with Laguna's live-work ordinance for artists.

Based on recent input from local artists, the Planning Commission will request a year-long extension of a moratorium on artist live-work projects in Laguna Canyon to conduct more research. A commission subcommittee has scheduled three public workshops to resolve issues that have plagued the ordinance.

"The purpose and intent of the artist live-work ordinance is to promote an affordable lifestyle for artists while ensuring that negative impacts on occupants and neighbors are avoided," said Ann Larson, staff liaison to the commission. "The existing ordinance doesn't accomplish these goals."


Workshops for artists, resident, developers are scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 7 in the City Council Chambers, Oct. 13, in the Conference Room at the Community Center on Third Street, and on Oct. 20 in the game room at the center.

For about eight years, commissioners have wrestled with the issues of affordability and qualifications for occupancy in artist live-work units proposed for the Laguna Canyon area, the city's only light-industry zone. They were ready to throw in the towel.

The commission's Sept. 14 agenda included the elimination of artist live-work units as a conditionally allowed use in the M-1A zone, where many of Laguna's artists live and work and combined projects have been proposed.

However, testimony at the hearing revived the impetus for artist live-work units in the canyon. More than 10 artists attended the commission hearing to oppose the proposed elimination of the units. They supported a continuation of the existing moratorium on projects, set to expire in January.

"I have no problem with extending the moratorium," said Linda Dietrich, who serves with Anne Johnson on the commission subcommittee. "I am willing to give it another go."

However, Dietrich said the artists who have in the past provided little input will have to work with the subcommittee to create a workable ordinance. Several volunteered to participate.

"There is a lot of land out there, and we ought to look at the whole area to see what we can do for our artists," Johnson said. "There are a lot of competing uses vying for space, and we have to find a way to make sure the ones we want are there and the ones we might not want are not."

Outer Laguna Canyon was annexed in the early 1990s. Zoning was approved to preserve existing uses as much as possible, Planning Commissioner Norm Grossman said. Those uses included the sale of sheepskins, home businesses, kennels, a religious compound that was later converted to a school, car repair shops and residential projects.

"It's a mess," Grossman said.

The M-1A zone is located roughly from Arroyo Drive along Laguna Canyon Road to Big Bend about where the Third Street cottages were stored and picks up again at Castle Rock and runs to Stan's Lane.

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