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Community Support

With our deep commitment to the community of Laguna Beach, we wanted to bring to your attention the needs of one of our favorite organizations - The Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
Learn how you can help the important mission.
 

On behalf everyone here at The Ranch at Laguna Beach, we would like to offer a huge Thank you to the Laguna Beach Community for your amazing support during this long Coastal Commission review process.  We also would like to offer an additional thank you to everyone who signed our petition or sacrificed their time to make the trip with us up to our Coastal Commission meetings in Newport Beach and most recently Santa Monica.

It is clear that your overwhelming  support went a long way in showing the California Coastal Commissioners that we were simply trying to be good stewards and rejuvenate a property that has been  a treasure to this community for over 50 years.   In the end your support culminated in a 9 to 1 vote in favor of allowing us to bring this gem of a property back to once again be the “Coolest Hotel in Laguna Beach.”  For that we will be eternally grateful.

A quote from our Owner Mark Christy: “There is simply no way we can even begin to tell everyone how much it has meant to us to have your support. There are a lot of reasons that Laguna is such an incredible place, but the primary component is her people. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

 

Letter from our Owner and Principal Mark Christy in response to appeal filed with the California Coastal Commission delaying the completion of The Ranch at Laguna Beach:

First and foremost, I’d like to thank the people of Laguna for their overwhelming support of our restoration here at The Ranch at Laguna Beach (Aliso Creek/Ben Browns). Inevitably, while thanking us for what we’re doing, they offer to help support our efforts and set the record straight on what is (and isn’t) happening on the project.

Perhaps you’ve read that our project was appealed to the Coastal Commission. In finding there may be “Substantial Issue” the Commission neither upheld nor denied the appeal. But it’s a big project, in a magnificent natural setting and a local citizen has requested that they take a closer look. We did not oppose this review because we know that we’re doing right by this iconic property on every level. They’ll soon recognize what the rest of town already knows. That our restoration project is literally the best thing that Laguna, and all of her residents, could possibly have hoped for.

For those of you unfamiliar with this 87-acre property, it consists of a rambling hotel campus, a restaurant/lodge building, a tranquil 9-hole golf course and a pro-shop/office building. The course was built in 1950, with the balance of the hotel/lodge area property developed by Ben and Violet (Vi) Brown in the early 60’s. The Brown family ran the enterprise until selling to an affiliate of the Montage in 2004. This affiliate eventually submitted elaborate plans to tear everything down, move thousands of yards of soil, develop a large hotel including dozens of new homes throughout the canyon and construct an 18-hole course by pushing into Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. For many locals including myself, it seemed overly ambitious for this incomparable setting. So I asked them to please call me if/when they ever decided to sell before selling to some generic national chain. Years later, the call came in. And as a lifetime resident who’d grown up playing this golf course with my dad (and now my son), and one who has nothing but reverence for the setting, I jumped at the opportunity. However our approach to the property would be completely different. We planned on restoring this decades-neglected iconic treasure to its original glory, while incorporating modern functionality required by both the building/safety code and our guests. And that is precisely what we are doing. Nothing more:

  • We are NOT building a new resort but rather are simply restoring the original hotel buildings.
  • While splitting rooms to offer more options to visitors, we’re maintaining the original hotel room footprints, original rooflines and keeping the original perimeter framing of the hotel buildings approximately 98% intact.
  • The work was unanimously approved by the Planning Commission (the subject of the appeal) and takes place entirely within an existing footprint that was 100% developed and virtually completely paved back in the 1960’s
  • We’re replacing the hazardous 50-year old wood siding with fire-resistant materials
  • We’re installing new fire sprinkler systems for the safety of our guests and neighbors
  • We’ve eliminated all of the original wood-shake roofs
  • We’re installing insulation and energy efficient windows utilizing the original openings.
  • Even with the modest new buildings proposed the project entails an over 11,000-foot reduction in the building footprints
  • We’re eliminating over 7,000 feet of paved surfaces and replacing them with natural materials and filtration drains reducing runoff into the creek.
  • We’ve sensitively pruned the decades-ignored vegetation, ensuring the preservation of native plants and proper maintenance. All State and Federal laws regarding protection of nesting/roosting birds were followed during tree trimming.
  • After obtaining all required permits and properly giving advance notice to the appropriate agencies (CA Coastal Commission, US Fish & Wildlife, etc.), we used only their permit-approved restoration methodologies tovoluntarily eradicate invasive non-native vegetation in the creek bed. All work was conducted under the supervision of our on-site M.S. Habitat Restoration Ecologist. No other work in the sensitive creek area has occurred besides this agency-permitted ecosystem improvement.
  • We’ll celebrate and respect the property’s heritage including the original Thurston home site and restore the long-abandoned moniker and community use of the original Camp Elizabeth Dolph which had for decades been a dilapidated maintenance dump covered in refuse. I believe that the site should preserve and reflect its wonderful history and engage the community in the parcel’s special setting.
  • We’re voluntarily converting the hotel landscape irrigation to recycled water using drought tolerant and native plants.
  • We’ve been proactively working with SCWD and SOCWA for months in effort to voluntarily convert the Golf Course to recycled water. They are currently still in the testing stages for the new recycled water facility to ensure proper TDS levels for turf.
  • We’ve hired a regionally-recognized Eucalyptus expert to ensure that trees on the property, including Camp Elizabeth Dolph, are continually monitored and maintained to ensure long, healthy lives as well as visitor safety.
  • We’re voluntarily reducing turf coverage by tens of thousands of feet throughout the golf course to minimize water usage.

We welcome the review. This project stands quite tall on its merits and is widely and enthusiastically embraced by virtually everyone who has seen it. But when it’s characterized that we’re potentially harming the environment, or somehow doing some major development I needed to set the record straight. For example, a letter in this week’s paper claims “powerful special interests fought (the appellants) appeal.” In reality, no one “fought” the appeal. Rather, these “Special Interests” were simply going on record as supporting this project and include such groups as Schoolpower, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach Little League, Laguna Ocean Foundation, One World/One Ocean – Greg MacGillivray, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, The Ocean Institute, Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, Glennwood House, Wheels 4 Life, Grower’s First, and several environmentally focused former City Council Members. We’re humbled that this diverse and unprecedented group has offered to lend their voices to the strong chorus of locals who love what we’re doing.

Our project is an oasis of Laguna Soul and represents an aesthetic and environmental windfall that visitors will love and locals describe as “an answer to Laguna’s prayers.” We have a decades-overdue, environmentally correct and widely supported project with nothing to hide. As a lifetime resident, I’m confident that generations of Laguna residents will look at this property with the same pride I’m feeling right now.

If you’d like to see for yourself, please contact me: mark@ranchlb.com. I’ll be more than happy to take you on a personal tour so you can witness the sensitive restoration and minimal scope of work that is actually involved. You’ll see the loving attention that has gone into every detail of this restoration and recognize it as being the ideal outcome for this local treasure. And if you too want to support this worthy project, please stop by and we’ll let you know how you can help.

Thank you for your consideration.

Mark Christy

 

We offer a sincere THANK YOU to the Local Charitable Organizations, Foundations and Enviromental Groups listed below that are in support of our project. 

Please click the Logos below to read their letters in full:

Laguna Ocean Foundation
One World One Ocean
Wheels 4 Life
SchoolPower
Pacific Marine Mammal Center
Laguna Plein Air Painters
Laguna Beach Little League
Growers First
Laguna Art Museum
Glenwood Housing Foundation
The Laguna Playhouse
The Ecology Center
31106 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
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