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Mailbag: Think big with Village Entrance, think arboretum

November 27, 2013

As a long time resident of Laguna Beach I think the concern over the Village Entrance design is valid.

Our town is made of legacies. We have Main Beach, the Laguna greenbelt, festivals and much more. What we do not have, unlike other great towns, is an arboretum to display our special world.

The Village Entrance space is invaluable. Let's put a long-lasting invaluable arboretum there where it should be. It can totally incorporate anything we need — recreation, art displays, cleansing flora, public events, parking and farmers markets.

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Why are we thinking so small? Our downtown is a celebration of life — it needs a landmark signature.

Van Stephens

Laguna Beach

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Take good ideas from people who know

Why did the city obtain the $2,400 appraisal in 2011 when it was thinking about buying the property at 725 Laguna Canyon Road but not when the decision was made recently to buy it for $5.3 million?

Why is the city proposing to buy property for such a radically inflated sum? Being aware of its history and geologic slide issues, I would be inclined to give it less value.

The benefit of increasing public lands is the ability to enable planning, and to revitalize and link our downtown to a viable water source in the canyon.

At preliminary meetings, many talked about early recollections of the intoxicating scent of the orange trees wafting southward from what are now the 405 and 73 freeways and the gently winding road, lined by eucalyptus and 100-year-old oaks, that meandered to Laguna Beach.

People remembered the reflections of the hills in the natural lakes and the thrill of sighting coyotes, bobcats, deer, hawks and vultures as the canyon naturally progressed toward the village. While we cannot replace what was taken, we can, with thoughtful intent and diligence, re-establish some of the canyon's precious identity.

What is incompatible with its narrow and periodically treacherous concourse are buildings — especially those that are out of scale and character or situated in the flood path. Those that were demolished by a flood should never be rebuilt.

Structures should be reserved for up-slope areas. Daylighting the stream and allowing its nutrient-rich habits to have unimpeded flow wherever possible should be encouraged. This can be highlighted by a meandering path, a walkway to be used to enjoy and appreciate the natural beauty of the canyon.

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