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Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot Continues To Lionize A “D” Grade Commercial Facility

Welcome developers! Concerned residents? Not so much
Welcome developers! Concerned residents? Not so much

Louis Longi False Prophet: Allegations That The Work/Live Project Benefits The Environment Are Bogus

“The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.”
— John Kenneth Galbraith

The project, at best, barely gets a passing grade if analyzed and deconstructed by objective professionals. It will do nothing beyond what’s minimal to achieve its goal: Approval by a brain dead and pre-disposed bureaucracy.

Project consultants, and the pro-development City staff for that matter, are not objective; neither are the City’s peer review analysts, their supposed straw men and women. It doesn’t take a “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon” contortionist to figure that out.

It’s not a secret: City Hall has been dominated by pro-development forces for quite some time; the turning point, the watershed event being when the Athens Group money hit town in the late 90s and created The Montage.

Ironically, I don’t personally blame such large corporate developers. What you see is what you get, they’re so big they couldn’t hide if they wanted to. It’s the smaller projects that drop by drop bleed the heart and soul from our heritage.

As for the Louis Longi Work/Live, we still haven’t seen just who actually gets what. That’s because Longi acts if he’s in charge, acts as if going it alone in his manufactured vision quest. He does sort of resemble a carnie hawking tickets outside the two-headed monkey freak show at the traveling circus.

The REALLY BIG $$$ standing behind Longi, casting that shadow of corporate, impersonal gain seems un-investigated by media. That investment group IS the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. Seen anyone from the media actually ask just who will own how much of these two parcels after they’re joined and they break ground?

The cottage industry that followed the Athens Group into our town is what’s disturbing, that’s the culprit. What WAS a community of small, unique homes and businesses morphed into commodification mode. Mansionization, extracting the maximum square footage and creating the largest footprint, the most entitlements allowable under existing ordinances, became rampant.

Architects became developers, general contractors became designers and developers, and today we have no sense of commonality because they’ve sucked the lifeblood out of the bone marrow, what constituted the real Laguna Beach.

Now we’re just a cash cow abomination, our remaining virginal parcels become craven Golden Calves; behold Laguna, the new Whore of Babylon: Naked soil that invites exploitation by uncaring fiscal force land rapists.

City Hall is no longer the litmus test or gauntlet for those with very deep pockets. Now our staff seems to be shareholders, have vested interest in helping get around or through the maze that formerly limited the decimation. The business of City Hall is business, not small neighborhoods or their property owners under siege.

As for the City’s use of peer review to sustain vulnerable supporting analyses generated by developers? Peer review vendors for City Hall, in case you weren’t aware of them, are dependent upon rubber-stamping such new age projects for return business---Otherwise, after one occurrence of leaked, publicized discord, they’d be banished, removed from the City’s list. Dissent == Bye bye.

It’s that “toe-the-party line,” “n’er a discouraging word” logic. No breaking ranks because that would = Admission of fallibility.

Our City never admits that it (or its staff and peer review element) is wrong, in fact you’d be hard pressed to say just when exactly project proponents have ever been found deficient. It seems as if the City never finds a project it doesn’t like. DRB paints a lipstick on a pig and calls it a day.

Lobbyists (yes, Dorothy, don’t be naïve, we have unregistered, unlicensed lobbyists) plus development proponents get oodles of staff’s undivided attention. Then the assistance curve drops off into bleak darkness.

Go to the Community Development counter and guess what: Oppositional NGO reps and private parties find documents mysteriously missing or mislaid. This has, to my knowledge, been going back about 15 years. Hear, see and speak no evil work there.

And it proceeds unabated with the Work/Live. Anyone who REALLY wants to see my scathing debunking of the environmental lapses, the mythologies surrounding this one can write to me. Supposedly public record, I seriously doubt that the City or proponent will share the incredible gamut of glaring omissions and deficiencies I’ve pointed out.

Reading Bryce Alderton of the LB Coastline Pilot, you wouldn’t even get the name correct: It was changed, reversed actually, months ago to reflect the renamed M-1B zoning ordinance, the Local Coastal Plan Amendment (LCPA): It’s the Work/Live, you silly baby boy Bryce, not the Live/Work, but hey, why let trivial things like facts get in the way of writing what amounts to grammar school, MY WEEKLY READER level fluff?

Then too it was the editors who hired celebritard James (Ego-Warrior) Pribram, kept him on for years as a novelty, an homage to functional illiteracy. The same 5 columns just re-written, variations ad nauseam…. maybe the Coastline Pilot is a haven for the mentally challenged?

As a wonderful counterpoint, the Laguna Beach Independent staff has done a very reasonable job of looking deeper and has begun divulging the underbelly of this commercial complex.

As many know, I act (and get paid a fair wage) as a “Devil’s Advocate” for many of my clients: They actually “get it,” their leadership understands that “Yes Men/Women” are actually dangerous. This project remains under-analyzed and misunderstood by the public.

It’s not about  Art vs. Selfish Neighbors. It’s about Greed vs. Core Values.

The headline in the Coastline Pilot above Bryce’s green wash article reads: “Environmental defense.” To repeat an earlier column, you can’t be serious? Covering up .8 of an acre with impervious surfaces is defending the environment?

Goes on to write: “Louis Longi says his 30-unit development would include a way to capture storm runoff…”  Any rookie who has ever read a stormwater permit KNOWS that the capture and detention onsite is mandatory, not voluntary. So nothing is being offered beyond what’s minimally required.

This quote makes you want to barf: “It’s heart-wrenching. To know that I have good intentions and want what is good for the community, it’s hard to swallow.”

C’mon, isn’t that hysterical? Get out the million dollar hankies, poor little developer, sitting on $3 million dollars worth of property, receiving millions more in assistance from a multi-million dollar investment group wants sympathy? I never ever heard Kim Richards of the Athens Group snivel like that, entice and solicit our empathy.

Longi claims that he's NOT a professional developer, which doesn't appear to be true but if it is that's kinda scary, dontchathink? We're supposed to trust a rookie, a novice, that sort of makes it spring training or an experiment, doesn't it?

Stuffing your pockets on the backs of the last best place natives, the remaining small, rural funky-neighborhood is what’s gut-wrenching. That and the sheer audacity in keeping a straight face while uttering blasphemies about intent.

It’s INTENDED to make Longi and his politically influential partners rich. It’s INTENDED to be the lynchpin of some schmaltzy concept called “The East Laguna Art Machine.” As in a perpetual motion, money-making wasteland out of the Canyon’s remaining character, the last open space.

This project is NOT about the intrinsic, the spiritual or abstract values surrounding art. It’s about the crass extrinsic aspects, the materialistic pressures exerted when wealthy, entitled forces join outstretched hands. They are duping not only the public, but gullible media who they’ve turned into free PR flacks.

My prediction? Look for the City Council to act as if they're concerned, as if they've read the environmental objections, as if they've read and understand the Specific Plan (land use policy), as if they really care. 

They'll wring their hands, gnash their teeth, APPEAR to struggle with a difficult, foregone conclusion, feign rational decision because that's what politicians do best---And then, like their hand-chosen lackeys in the Planning Commission, they'll give these wolves everything they asked for in a 4-1 vote. 

Oh, and with an eye out for the 2014 election, kiss and thank the applicant profusely. Maybe those real estate agents who arrogantly, because they sell Laguna, think they own it should put a FOR SALE sign outside City Hall?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Suzanne McClaire February 28, 2014 at 01:43 PM
I enjoyed your comments they are right on the money! Although I was and am a supporter of the Montage, they did a beautiful job, expanded public access, support our town and they brought many jobs with trainings as well. When I read Roger Butow's forced retraction I thought of two things; had someone forgotten about the Right of Free Speech?; did this person realize that bullies are out? People who threaten others with a lawsuit rather than defeating them with facts, do not have the facts to defeat them. So they bully them, threaten them with a law suit; if that isn't a big red flag for the City to stop that Project. Why would the City want to deal with group who threatens people? Limits people's freedom of speech? Bullies people? If they do that to one person they will have no problem doing it to others until they get their way. This group needs to be shown the door.

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