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Commentary: City should keep its promises

February 13, 2014|By John A. Hamil

Applicant Louis Longi and architect Horst Noppenberger for the proposed artist work-live project in Laguna Canyon recently wrote commentaries in local newspapers.

As we would expect, they make an emotional argument for this huge, poorly planned and intrusive project. Their commentaries demand rebuttal. The artist's rendering of the proposed project shows a very modern building with trees towering above the structure and canyon hillsides and ridgelines serving as a backdrop, making the building appear to be very small in comparison.

In reality the building's height, length and proximity to Laguna Canyon Road will completely obscure the hillsides and ridgelines on the eastern side of the canyon when viewed from the northbound lane of this "rural scenic highway."

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The opinion piece, like the rendering, distorted the facts about this 30-unit development proposed by Longi and the Dornin Investment Group. This 36-foot high, 250-foot long, 18,000-square foot apartment building (picture a gymnasium almost as long as a football field) dwarfs all of the surrounding structures in our small, quiet, eclectic rural neighborhood. Is this the image we want to project as visitors enter our town?

Historically, the Laguna Canyon Annexation Area (from El Toro Road to the Big Bend) was in the unincorporated part of the county. Laguna Beach induced the residents to join the city by offering sewer hookup and a specific plan; which we wrote with the help of Norm Grossman, then chairman of the planning commission, and Ann Larson, senior planner.

We were assured this specific plan would protect our community from intrusive development. The question is: Will the city keep its promise?

Noppenberger's claim in the Laguna Beach Independent that the opposition to this project is "composed mainly of Laguna Canyon residents in the area of Sun Valley Road" is inaccurate. Although this opposition rightly originated in the neighborhood most directly impacted by the negative consequences of the proposed project, many of our most motivated activists are from other Laguna neighborhoods as well as environmentalists from other cities.

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