Last week, Village Laguna filed a lawsuit against Laguna Beach to invalidate the new proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance. On July 14, 2020, the City Council approved Resolution 20.049, settling the matter last summer by adopting the negative declaration for revisions to the city’s existing historic preservation program. Councilmember Iseman cast the lone “no” vote. Now Iseman’s group, Village Laguna, seeks to reverse the overwhelming sentiment voiced by residents that private homes shall not be deemed “historic resources” without homeowner consent, unless otherwise required by law. The new ordinance encourages owners to voluntarily participate in preservation and provides significant incentives for those who opt to commit their homes to this purpose. The ordinance recognizes that a home is the single most valuable asset most people own. Laguna homeowners should be alarmed that Toni and Village Laguna – again – seek to force private homes into a historic designation without the owners’ consent.
The inventory was initially created in the 1980s with the express promise that a listing on it would have no impact on residents’ control over their homes. Residents were leery because they had no say over whether their homes would be included in the list, and if they were, what adverse impacts might accompany inclusion. After a literal “drive-by” assessment of a house, it could be placed on the list – and there was nothing the owner could do about it. Still, residents were promised this was not significant and that it would not impact their ownership rights in any way.