I want to express my appreciation for Laurence P. Nokes’ excellent guest column in your Nov. 25 issue in which he provides a sensible solution not only to simplify the historic preservation rules but to make the process for adopting them more equitable.
We recently discovered that our Laguna residence is identified as a “Key” property on the Laguna Historic inventory. This identification apparently arose from some informal inventory that was taken in 1981, several years after we had acquired the property. We had never been notified, consulted or informed in any way of this designation, nor had we been advised of the implications of being on the inventory.
We have recently been made aware that various studies, workshops, draft ordinances and hearings have been in process to update the city’s regulation of historic properties. In my effort to try and understand all this, I attended a presentation of a proposed ordinance to the Design Review Board and was directed to the city website where I found a morass of history, documents, proposals, etc. all of which to one unfamiliar with the jargon was largely unintelligible.
Thanks to Mr. Nokes’ column, however, one thing is abundantly clear. The way the process is headed, if the current draft ordinance is adopted, our property and the property of hundreds of other Laguna residents will become permanently subject to severe restrictions on how it can be used, upgraded or developed. And this without our ever having had an opportunity to object, provide input, opt-out or other due process.
My wife and I love the Laguna village atmosphere, and we have taken pains in our remodeling efforts to maintain our home’s original charm and character. We understand and share the importance of protecting truly historic properties, but the process for accomplishing this must be clear, understandable, fair and participatory.
I think Mr. Nokes’ proposal accomplishes this, and we would urge the Planning Commission, City Council, and whatever agency is involved to adopt the approach he suggests.
James Hamilton, Laguna Beach
Originally published in The Indy on December 2, 2016