A new involuntary historic preservation ordinance would create for us a financial disaster.
After a lifetime of voluntarily preserving a 1927 cottage, an involuntary ordinance would create a markdown of at least at $1 million. This is in terms of property value for resale and does not include the additional and impossible burden of trying to keep our tiny cottage in repair in perpetuity as the neighborhood museum.
Our lot is unique in that it is on Victoria Beach and overlooks the Pacific. All of our neighbors have torn down and rebuilt enormous, towering homes that block our views and our light. To take away our property rights forever to use our unique land in a style compatible with the streetscape and the neighborhood seems cruel and undemocratic.
The City of Laguna Beach must be realistic and understand that a crumbling 1927 cottage which was a Sear’s Roebuck type model (not a craftsman cottage as cited) was never built to last forever! This single wall, wood frame house is termite riddled and allows us 1,000 square feet of living space. The original wood windows do not close properly. We hear our neighbors’ conversations and the floors shake when you walk on them. Not being able to park our car off of busy and narrow Victoria Drive to put it in a modern garage is an increasing nightmare with the increased traffic to Victoria Beach (which is now a tourist destination). The driveway slopes steeply to the narrow 1927 garage, making it unusable for any modern car. The garage is integral to the cottage design and according to the architects and historic preservation city staff could never be changed.
Personal safety in our home is now a new and frightening issue as we have recently been subject to our first attempt at forced entry. The cottage design allows us no protection from busy Victoria Beach crowds who are now attracted year around by social media.
After a lifetime of ownership as our home, the City of Laguna Beach wants to wipe away all of our savings with a stroke of their pens.
This potential financial devastation is causing extreme mental fright.
We are asking that the city create a voluntary historic preservation ordinance that gives us the same property rights as all other property owners of Laguna Beach.
Barbara Smith, Laguna Beach
Originally published in The Indy, August 3, 2017