Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Amazing Beauty of Orange County: Newport Beach Chips in to Save Crystal Cove

Who said that there are never happy endings? I guess whoever said that never heard about the story of Crystal Cove, and its little village of historic cottages. Once upon a time, this was a place where people would go to get away from it all. This was a place where filmmakers came when they needed an exotic backdrop for their stories. This was a place that still inspires artists to create masterpieces...

But it was all threatened when a few greedy developers decided to turn this bucolic paradise into yet another elite mega-resort along Orange County's "Gold Coast". All around this once rural oceanfront setting, new cookie-cutter McMansions were popping up. It seemed like the one last undeveloped stretch of coastline in Orange County would be gone forever...

Until local environmentalists and old time Crystal Cove residents united to stop this new fit of OC development madness... And offer their own alternative! Fortunately the state finally listened, and agreed to restore the cottages instead of build a resort. Last year, many of the cottages were reopened to the public...
And so far the public has been loving the historic charm of the cottages, as well as the pristine shores nearby.

But still, the work is not over quite yet. There are still about twenty-four cottages that are still in shambles. However, it now looks like they won't be in disrepair for long! (From OC Register)

The demand is there. The money – that's another matter.

But things could be looking up for two dozen highly coveted but vacant beachside cottages at Crystal Cove. To shore up the costly second phase of restoration in the historic bluff-side village, Newport Beach might hand over tax proceeds to a nonprofit that manages the vintage huts.

The roughly $80,000 annual payout – money from taxes on stays at previously restored cottages – would be nominal compared with the estimated $20 million needed to restore the remaining 24 bungalows.

So far the city of Newport Beach (which annexed this entire area some years back) has been collecting fees from the cottage guests, and everyone was wondering what Newport would be doing with all this money. Well, I guess we got our answer: The city will be chipping in to save this little stretch of heaven along the California coast! And already, we're getting a good idea as to what this money will be going toward:

While officials have raised $650,000 for a marine research station at Crystal Cove and $90,000 for an outdoor educational area, Newport's money would be the first devoted to refurbishing the remaining cottages.

Seventeen of those will be converted for overnight stays. One will house a museum, two will be used for park operations and the rest will accommodate the education area.

Newport City Manager Homer Bludau, mindful of the eight-figure restoration cost, called the city's proposed contribution a "goodwill gesture."

City officials hope the money, to be paid annually for at least five years, will add kindling to a fundraising campaign expected to kick off after final cost estimates come out in March. "There's a real (demand for the cottages), and we just think it's the right thing to do," Bludau said.

Well, I'm glad to see that this restoration project is near completion...
Heck, I'm glad just to see the one last unspoiled stretch of shore in Orange County remain unspoiled! Hopefully once this last phas of restoration is completed, we will all be able to enjoy the magical dream of Crystal Cove for many years to come. Finally, we have a happy ending for a uniquely Orange County story!

(This is cross-posted at Calitics, and at my blog. For more info on what's being done to preserve this California dream for future generations, see what the Crystal Cove Allinace is up to. And yes, all these photos are MINE... To share with you!)

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