That eyesore "scrappy open space" you mention in your opening is the precious result of hardworking local environmentalists, as well as some 8,000 Laguna residents, who resisted, marched and fought to keep it just that way. Thank God it is undeveloped.
Those untouched lands are a defining characteristic of the beauty of Laguna Beach that not only serve as a small, yet much-appreciated, home for our local wildlife friends, but also serve as a place to find peace of mind for many trailgoers.
When I take my trail run down the Woods Canyon beginning from Top of the World, I look to my front and to my right and all I see is sprawling suburbia. I gag a little.
I look to my left and all I see is natural landscape, those lovely rolling hills whose simple presence fills my heart with warmth. In that moment, I so love that I come from a place where people made sure we took a different path than Aliso Viejo or Irvine.
Another curious noteworthy part of your article draws an inappropriate similarity of the canyon to Appalachia. This is not to say that Appalachia is not valuable or that its people are any higher or lower than people of Laguna, just to say they are culturally not the same.
If by your comparison you mean to hint that the canyon is a poor area of Laguna, again I disagree. Sure, most canyon residents don't have an ocean view or Lamborghinis in their driveways; its residents are of a, more or less, middle-class income. I find that canyon folk live happy lives and love their homes and appreciate their families.
In any case, poverty is only a condition of your mind anyway; you are not your money.