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Mailbag: Canyon has had enough homeless problems

As the Coastline Pilot has written, a two-story building that would house the chronically homeless on a permanent basis is being proposed for Laguna Canyon ("Homeless housing proposed for canyon," March 28):

I can tell you that the Alternative Living Shelter has presented more than enough problems to residents in the canyon.

We've had random homeless or mentally ill folks wander into our neighborhoods, sleep on our yards, defecate in the streets, yell at residents and smoke in the open space, which is dangerous in a fire-prone area and should be a concern for all residents.

I think we've endured enough and can't fathom how much worse the situation could be with this proposed expansion.

If another area in the city was considered for this project — say Emerald Bay, Top of the World or Woods Cove — I'm sure the neighbors would be up in arms.

It seems that many non-canyon Laguna residents have a case of NIMBY and are quick to find alternative solutions that won't affect their neighborhoods. The canyon has too often been treated as the red-headed stepchild of our city, and we say enough is enough.

Many residents in the canyon are going to fight this project.

We are not cold-hearted people. We give to charities that help those in need, but we don't want to have to worry about our families, property or safety.

Maria Neill

Laguna Beach

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Group should stop wasting time on fight

How many more baseless appeals are the Laguna Canyon Property Owner's Assn. going to wage against the artist live-work project and at what cost to us local taxpayers, the City Council and the owner-developer?

When you live in a town that is an internationally recognized art colony, isn't it reasonable to assume that a high percentage of our population wants to create an environment that will attract and retain local artists?

For the association to now try once again to derail this project by appealing to the California Coastal Commission creates an unjust burden on the developer and city staff who will get drawn into the fray.

I see shades of the Montage property mess, albeit on a smaller scale. The protests went on for years and drove developers out of town. Had The Athens Group not been able to finally get this hotel development approved, we would still be looking at a broken-down, fenced-in trailer park with no beach access instead of the beautiful oceanfront park and picnic grounds we enjoy today.

Groups that wage these prolonged, expensive and unfounded protests against reasonable and desirable developments should recognize what harm they bring to our town's reputation and what a barrier they pose to developments that make our environment more attractive.

The Longi project won fair and square. Give it a rest, canyon association.

Marilyn Coll

Laguna Beach

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Other cities need to help with homeless

Another homeless shelter would not benefit Laguna Beach residents.

Several years ago, the city came under civil-rights pressure to provide a homeless shelter. It complied and built the "temporary" Alternative Sleeping Location (ASL) in Laguna Canyon. Problems have been ongoing since.

The word is out that Laguna Beach is a haven for homeless people. The homeless now come from everywhere. They're provided with meals, clothing, a place to sleep and the best beaches and weather in the country.

But those who live, work and have businesses and homes in the canyon see and hear fighting, yelling, trash and cigarettes being thrown in the bushes. The creek has been used for bathing and as a toilet. This flows out to pollute our ocean.

The merchants in town are vandalized, harassed and victimized by thieves.

Tourists in and around town who refuse to give the homeless money have complained of being assaulted and yelled and cursed at. Locals and tourists are being panhandled and harassed in our parks and along the beaches.

The lovely scenic bus benches in front of the library are usually occupied by people stretched out sleeping with their belongings strewn all over.

One alley is constantly occupied by people who may be on drugs yelling, fighting, drinking, sleeping and relieving themselves.

Laguna is not responsible for all of Orange County's homeless problems. We are a small community compared to other cities but doing our best. Besides the ASL, we have several other organizations that help the needy.

Why not share the burden on our surrounding cities?

Lee Hoffman

Laguna Beach

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Location of homeless facility should be rethought

The Pacific Marine Mammal Center has publicly expressed concern over the 40-unit homeless shelter proposed for Laguna Canyon next to the facility.

I am against the ruination of the canyon by any and all means and prefer that a comprehensive impact report and potential use study be done.

I am against increasing population and traffic and losing ground impermeability and water with more building. I am against damaging habitats and degrading hills under the guise of art of storage.

I hope we'll not regret promoting a 40-unit permanent facility in a flood plain only to see it swamped by homeless and then flooded.

The homeless are not just Laguna's concern, but everyone's. They move all over the county and country to find what we all want — a better life and comfort.

Though I understand the homeless will, supposedly, be vetted to somehow show their direct affiliation with Laguna in order to live in the proposed 40-unit housing, there will never be enough oversight or enforcement or enough housing. Oversight is not done consistently with any venues until there is complaint, which is too late.

A far better idea, would be to reuse the old city maintenance building, which has an artistically rusted corrugated roof covered by blue morning glories and sits behind City Hall, where at least 40 small units could be added.

It is close to the police and fire departments and within a block of the downtown bus line and community clinic.

For all these reasons and more, I support the Pacific Marine Mammal Center's concerns and ask the city to rethink and plan the canyon's future.

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach

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