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Cottage demolition approved

Tuesday's hearing marks second time council reverses a Design Review Board decision regarding cottage's demolition.

May 03, 2012|By Barbara Diamond

The City Council agreed Tuesday to permit the demolition of a derelict cottage, overturning a Design Review Board denial and outraging some South Laguna residents.

The council split 3-2, clearing the way for the cottage demolition at 31762 Coast Highway.

South Coast Water District officials claimed the demolition was essential as part of its planned five-year, $50-million project to stabilize a sewer tunnel and pipeline replacement.

It was the third demolition permit for structures on the city's historic inventory that has been opposed in recent months by South Laguna residents.

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"I am aware of the necessity of the tunnel project, but I am also aware of the impacts for five years," said Mary Ives. "We are just asking for one small piece of mitigation.

"Replacing the cottage with Porta-potties or anything else will downgrade the area."

Ives compared the proposed restoration to the rebuilt Crystal Cove cottages on the state-owned park.

"I don't want to say how many cottages we have tried to save at the request of people, and every time we hear how we have to save some cottage, it is always at someone else's money," said Councilman Kelly Boyd, who voted with Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson and Mayor Jane Egly in favor of the permit.

District Director of Operations Joe McDivitt said he sympathized with the desire to save the cottage, but the project needs the entire lot.

The lot will give access to the tunnel rehabilitation project, which provides sewer service to thousands of South County residents, not to mention tourists, McDivitt said. A 100-foot deep shaft, 20 feet in diameter, will be dug on the lot to get to the main project.

"Our construction experts tell us we need the whole lot," McDivitt said.

Pearson said the bottom line is that old infrastructure has to be replaced.

"But please do what you can to make life easier for the neighbors," she told district representatives.

Rancor was expressed by South Laguna residents, who are already riled by the demolition of the cottage called "Stonehenge, and the demolition of parts of Hangover House, once owned by travel writer Richard Halliburton. All three are in South Laguna.

"Elizabeth talks about preservation, but she always votes against it," said South Laguna resident Richard Picheny.

Tuesday's hearing was the second time the council reversed a board decision regarding the demolition requested by the water district.

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