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Commentary: Setting the record straight about view committee

June 04, 2013

The Steering Committee of the Citizens for View Preservation and Restoration (CVPR) would like to respond to the inaccurate and misleading statements made in May 29 letters from Lenny Vincent and Anne Cox.

1. We do not condone "intimidation and harassment" at public meetings. We encourage a civilized discussion and we respect all points of view.

2. We believe a "common sense" view ordinance is feasible and that views and trees can co-exist peacefully in Laguna Beach.

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3. For decades, our city has ignored the growing view obstruction problem and sadly too many good neighbors are now engaged in acrimonious fights over views and trees. Experience at other cities with enforceable view ordinances has proven that these disputes decline sharply and lawsuits are now rare. We are mired in lawsuits now. If we do nothing, these fights will only grow. The response to our website (http://www.lagunaviews.net) has been positive and encouraging. Fair minded Lagunans find the current situation intolerable and want a solution.

4. The CVPR steering committee members all own and love our trees and want to preserve the unique green environment in Laguna. We do not believe a fair and common sense view ordinance will lead to widespread removal of trees. The number of trees blocking significant views is a small percentage of all the trees we enjoy. If, as a last resort, a tree needs to be replaced with a view-friendly tree, the result will be just as appealing, green and friendly to the environment.

5. The committee created by Mayor Boyd includes a cross-section of opinions on how to craft a view ordinance. The committee has worked very hard and we are hopeful the final ordinance will be one we can support.

Homeowners, regardless of when their home was purchased, have a right to a view that is a natural part of the property. This has long been the tradition in Laguna Beach from the earliest sale of "view lots" in the hillsides. Joe Thurston developed hundreds of residential lots above the Village beginning in the late 1920s. As recorded by the county in 1930 and issued in his "restrictions" in 1945 he said, "No trees shall be permitted or allowed to grow to such heights upon said premises, in such locations as to obstruct or detract from the view from other properties in such tract." We understand these restrictions may still be included in property deeds.

The fears of widespread destruction of trees, even more lawsuits, and wild real estate speculation expressed by some critics of the view ordinance are unfounded and not what has happened in many other cities where similar ordinances have been adopted. If Lagunans, the view committee and the City Council work together in a responsible way we can enact a view ordinance that will protect important views while preserving the character, beauty and environment we all cherish in Laguna Beach. At the CVPR, we are pledged to help make it happen.

Steve Caporaso, Jeff Thornton, Doug Cortez, Wayne Phelps, Marianne Blume, Greg Gilroy

Citizens for View Preservation and Restoration Steering Committee

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