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Letter: Vote No On Measure CC

"This law is unneeded, poorly written and will result in waste, conflict and disappointment."

Dear Editor:

Lagunans all want to preserve open space, so Measure CC sounds like a good
idea. But Measure CC is not needed. Here's why.

Laguna's local coastal plan designates approved use on undeveloped parcels
such as "residential hillside protection," "open space conservation," or
"passive open space," which infers that these properties are unlikely to
ever be developed as home sites.

If approved by voters, this new law will alter definitions and rules and
forces the city to amend the local coastal plan, which will require Coastal
Commission approval.  This new law will only lead to turf problems between
the city and the new Citizens Committee.

Measure CC prohibits the use of acquired property for anything other than
open space, "trail maintenance and fire safety". Other public uses, such as
safe hiking trails, emergency evacuation routes, community gardens, public
parks, bike paths, are prohibited forever. Currently, our elected officials
can acquire private parcels and determine the best public use. This law will
place an unreasonable "straight jacket" on our city government.

The 20-year tax on over 13,000 parcels will raise $30 million. But this law
and the committee never end. The committee can spend 0.5% of the balance for "expenses," which are not defined.  But expenses for buying land will exceed
0.5%. The law imposes a cap of 4% for perpetual maintenance. This law is not
self-financing as proponents' claim. The city will be stuck with the
inevitable overruns.

I surveyed the likely parcel targets. I found large parcels, which add up
to over 400 acres that match the proponents' estimates. Accounting for over
half is the Driftwood parcel; the city rejected an offer from the Athens
Group to donate this land, citing unacceptable environmental and other
risks.

Another 40 percent is already designated open space conservation or
residential hillside protection. It is highly unlikely any of these parcels
will be developed under current regulations. This leaves less than 40 acres,
exempt from Coastal Commission jurisdiction, and owned by just a few
individuals. For years, the city has opposed development of several of these
parcels. These parcels do not justify a new law, new taxes and added layers
of bureaucracy.

Laguna Beach has proven means and methods to acquire open space lands. This
law is unneeded, poorly written and will result in waste, conflict and
disappointment. Join me in voting no on Measure CC.

— Doug Cortez, Laguna Beach

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