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Mailbag: New homes in Irvine means more problems for Laguna

August 16, 2012

If you think traffic is bad now — just wait. The city of Irvine is in the process of approving more than 10,000 residential units, all within 10 miles of downtown Laguna.

In an effort to raise additional funds for the construction of the Great Park (after wasting uncounted millions of dollars), Irvine is on track to approve 5,000-plus new units by converting mixed-use commercial zones to residential zones. This is in addition to the 5,000-plus units already approved for the Great Park, and an additional 1,200 units approved in the Irvine Spectrum Center.

This will generate billions of dollars for the developers (Five Points for the Great Park and Irvine Company for the Spectrum). Averaging two people per unit, this can add more than 20,000 day-trip neighbors who will visit our town, beaches and parks.

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While that may have positive effects for some local business owners, the negative impacts to Laguna have not been analyzed in the Environmental Impact Report. Irvine says Laguna is outside of the "project area."

It does not take an expert to know that our city will be greatly affected by all this development. Has Irvine offered mitigation money to build parking structures, support alternative transportation, etc.? No way. All of the increase in revenue will be spent on nice new soccer fields for its manicured community.

To be fair to our city, Laguna Beach was not given notice of any of the increase in units; local community members tipped them off. The city is now scrambling to digest the convoluted reports and is in the process of hiring a traffic consultant — more money not being paid by Irvine.

Irvine will also not extend the review period for the city. Developers and Irvine stand to make millions from the additional housing. Irvine can increase funding for the Great Park while Laguna Beach will receive more traffic, stress to our parks, beaches etc.

Do we care? Do we want this additional summer traffic? Can it get worse? We all slept through the development of "Laguna Altura" at the far end of Laguna Canyon — can we afford to sleep through this? Please call your city representatives and say enough is enough. Right now the city needs our support in fighting this project.

Ginger Osborne

Laguna Beach

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Egly and Rollinger support the arts

Take a northbound trolley to Diver's Cove and walk through a totally new Heisler Park and check out these three great and recently installed public art pieces near Monument Point and south of the lawn bowling area.

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