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Coastal Development and the 'Merry Ecoists'

August 29, 1993

Twenty years ago the people of Rancho Palos Verdes were getting ready to vote Aug. 28, 1973, on the question of cityhood and their first city council. There were 24 candidates. I slid in by a nose over the sixth-place finisher as the wild card.

When we, the first council, adopted the one-unit-per-acre zoning along the coast and two-per-acre uphill, old heads thought we were crazy and our city attorney worried mightily. Today some new geniuses have materialized out of the sea fog and want nothing built. The council members, and just lately the mayor, in following one of the tightest coastal plans in any urban area of California, are viciously attacked. Where were these geniuses when the going was really tough?

All was well with our great plan until the Coastal Commission demanded we have 15 units per acre on the coast, an RV park, and 200 units of low-income housing. I went to the Sierra Club and asked them to help slay this monstrous plan. They demurred, saying that our coast was slated for development; they supported low-income housing (to kill their elitist image); and they wouldn't play. We eventually sustained our zoning after a massive effort, without even a peep from Gar the Good(son) or his merry band of latter-day ecoists, (John) Sharkey, (Lois) LaRue, (Andy) Sargent, et al.

This band of self-anointed coastal saviors has cost the city real big money, with Mrs. LaRue in first place. Her personal total would make me rich.

Gar the Good swam out of the sea when Marineland folded. He called me and told me he wanted an aquarium built there. It wasn't a far-fetched idea to him since his business was (is?) selling fish books with pretty fish pictures. He doesn't deign to live in Rancho Palos Verdes. He just wants to control it from Palos Verdes Estates.

John Sharkey materialized out of his own Sherwood Forest when he was hauled before the View Restoration Committee because his forest has destroyed the once-sweeping views of his neighbors. He regularly inveighs against the council for not following their rules and doesn't want ANY building on the coastline. He doesn't find it civic-minded to obey the view ordinance that was approved by an overwhelming number of voters. He complains, however, about shrubbery obscuring an entrance gate on the coast.

Andy Sargent lives on a large landholding in a private community at the coastline. His motive seems to be to use the coastal act to maintain his own privacy and make the world safe for horses. If he really loved horses, he wouldn't ride them.

Lois LaRue didn't materialize out of thin air. She's been around for ages. She sallies forth regularly to berate, bore, and insult the City Council. And if that isn't enough, she has taken on the school district and library board. Her neighbors wish she would sally forth with a can of paint and a rake to improve her estate. She has promised to appeal every coastal permit the city issues and she has made good on her promise. Armed with the righteousness of the ACLU, she uses her "constitutionally protected" right to speak ad nauseam at every meeting while the cash register keeps ringing for city attorney and staff time to listen to her fairy tales.

Finally, we come to the reason for this letter. Gar the Good, on behalf of his merry ecoists, wrote a wide-ranging attack on Mayor Susan Brooks for high crimes, etc. I wish to commend her for drawing their absurd criticism. I urge her to ignore their rantings.

ROBERT E. RYAN

Rancho Palos Verdes

The South Bay section of The Times welcomes all viewpoints from readers about South Bay issues. Letters should be as brief as possible and are subject to condensation. They must include signature, valid mailing address and telephone number, if any. Pseudonyms and initials will not be used. Send letters to: South Bay Section Editor, Los Angeles Times, 23133 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 200, Torrance, Calif. 90505.

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