After many long meetings regarding the Historical Preservation Ordinance, the City Council voted in favor of forming a Task Force of residents to study and ultimately, make recommendations back to them for action. Council members Steve Dicterow and Toni Iseman volunteered to act as facilitators for the Task force and subsequently interviewed and appointed eleven resident members.
At the first meeting members introduced themselves with a brief bio. Kathy Jensen, representing the city attorney, in answer to a task force member’s concern, reassured that she was representing private citizens, and not just a City Government position. Steve Dicterow stated he didn’t want an artificial Task force timeline or deadline. The direction to the Task force was that it would be assumed that no rules/ordinance were in place and start from a zero baseline, from scratch, to discern what discretion the City has regarding a Historical Preservation Ordinance. Dicterow stated that one of the biggest issues has been the voluntariness of a home being placed on a (historical resource) list or not. Dicterow asked Kathy, “Does the City have discretion or is this mandated by State law?” Kathy Jensen and Laguna Beach Attorney Larry Nokes were invited to prepare their legal findings/ memorandums regarding what is required by the State and by CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act, relating to historical resources.
At the second meeting, Kathy Jensen, discussed the requested legal findings of Rutan &Tucker, the City attorneys. Unfortunately, Larry Nokes, who was also invited to share legal findings, was not given any regular meeting time to go over those findings and was relegated to 4 min. during the public comment section at the end of the meeting.
John Pieteg, City Manager, canceled the scheduled June 27th & July 17th Task force meetings out of a concern for potential litigation. Upon my reading of the memorandums/legal findings of the City Attorney and Larry Nokes there are clearly differing legal views regarding what discretion the City has regarding a historical preservation ordinance. A special meeting of the City Council has been called for July 31st so that the City, as the lead agency, can hear the legal views and vote how to go forward. It is my understanding that the City Attorneys as well as Larry Nokes and perhaps others, will be given time to present their legal findings to the Council. The vote of the City Council will determine the future of the Historical Preservation Ordinance, how the Task Force proceeds, and ultimately, it will determine the property rights of Laguna homeowners. This special Council meeting is Tues. July 31st at 5pm Council chambers, City Hall.
Also published in The Indy on July 19, 2018