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Guide to the Laguna Greenbelt, Inc. Records MS.R.064
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  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing History
  • Organizational History
  • Chronology
  • Collection Scope and Content Summary
  • Collection Arrangement

  • Title: Laguna Greenbelt, Inc. records
    Identifier/Call Number: MS.R.064
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections and Archives, University of California, Irvine Libraries
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 10.8 Linear feet (27 boxes and 2 oversize folders) and 37.2 unprocessed linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1956-1990
    Date (bulk): 1968-1988
    Abstract: Laguna Greenbelt, Incorporated (LGI) is an active non-profit organization founded in 1968 to preserve the open space bordering the City of Laguna Beach, California and comprising Sycamore Hills and five canyons: Aliso, Wood, El Toro, Laguna and Morro. LGI has worked both with and against local governments and private corporations in order to minimize land development of the designated greenbelt. The records include correspondence, legal papers, organizational publications, printed items, environmental impact reports, visual materials and minutes which document the origins and evolution of LGI in its first twenty years. The collection chronicles activities and evolving philosophies of LGI and its members, and it illustrates aspects of Orange County social and political history.
    Creator: Laguna Greenbelt (Organization).


    Processed components of the collection are open for research. Unprocessed additions may contain restricted materials. Please contact the Department of Special Collections and Archives in advance to request access.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Copyrights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    Laguna Greenbelt, Inc. records. MS-R064. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Date accessed.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Laguna Greenbelt, Incorporated in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2008, and 2013. The UCI Libraries is the official repository for LGI's non-current records; future donations are expected.

    Processing History

    Preliminary processing by Joanna Brand of LGI in circa 1983. Full processing and guide for accessions received in 1996 and 1997 was completed by Laura Clark Brown in 1997. A preliminary container list was created for the accession received in 1998 by Alexis Schwarz; edits to this list were made by Deborah Lewis in 2014.

    Organizational History


    This is a brief introduction to the organization and its early years. It is based on information in the records and an unpublished description written by Joanna Brand.
    Laguna Greenbelt, Incorporated (LGI) is a nonprofit environmental organization, founded in 1968 and incorporated in 1970. LGI's projects and strategic goals revolve around the environs of Laguna Beach, California. The organization seeks to preserve 10,000 acres of land for a greenbelt around the city. A greenbelt entails land set aside for agriculture, recreational parks or reserved open space and specifically excludes commercial development. LGI defines Laguna Greenbelt as Sycamore Hills, a land parcel vegetated with mature sycamore trees, and five canyons: Aliso, El Toro, Laguna, Morro and Wood. LGI has initiated and participated in local, regional and state-wide preservation efforts. Working both with and against municipal governments and commercial enterprises, it has promoted and opposed myriad projects affecting the environment.
    This grassroots, citizens' group evolved from an ad hoc committee, the Citizens Town Planning Association (CTPA), formed in 1968 to advise Laguna Beach City Council on the city's General Plan (Municipal general plans govern land use and physical development of land within a political unit's sphere of influence.). Laguna Beach, a coastal city in Southern California, hired private consultants to amend Laguna Beach's General Plan in 1967. Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall, consultants (DMJM), presented the city with a plan which included resort development and a freeway bisecting the city. At a public hearing, residents rejected Laguna Beach's transformation into a major coastal resort city with a population growth projected to triple from its size in 1967. In response, the City Council dismissed DMJM, and CTPA assumed the role of advisory committee on land use. The committee rejected the proposed freeway and supported projects for a Festival Arts Plaza, a shoreline park and a greenbelt buffering the city from urban development.
    James W. Dilley, proprietor of a paperback bookstore and resident of Laguna Beach, sat on CTPA and initiated the subsidiary committee, Citizens for the Greenbelt. Dilley had traveled in Europe where he learned about greenbelts and open space principles, and he became Laguna Beach's primary activist for land preservation and Greenbelt's leader. In 1968, Citizens for the Greenbelt circulated a petition titled "A Matter of Urgency" which opined the need for open space and immediate popular support for the Laguna Greenbelt due to impending threats of urban commercial development.
    Citizens for the Greenbelt gained nonprofit corporation status becoming Laguna Greenbelt, Inc. in 1970 . As a nonprofit corporation, LGI could accept donations for land acquisition and act as a trust. The organization elected a Board of Trustees and established annual meetings for general membership. At annual meetings, Dilley introduced the tradition of reading victory statements which outlined LGI's progress towards open space goals.
    The membership consisted primarily of Laguna Beach residents, but surrounding communities including Irvine, Laguna Hills and Leisure World contributed members as LGI activities expanded and land development boomed in Orange County. LGI's budget relied on donations, bequests and membership dues. The organization held several fund-raising events in its early years to build land acquisition funds and public support, including art auctions in cooperation with local artists, open houses, Greenbelt Week, Dilley Dinners, picnics and other events. In 1970, Beatrice Whittlesy, former Orange County Supervisor, bequeathed two acres of land to LGI. Several members including Dilley and Elisabeth Heckel added LGI to their wills.
    From its inception, LGI has attempted to abate land development in the defined greenbelt and thus participated in numerous law suits as both a petitioner and as a respondent. The group appealed to municipal governments to recognize Laguna Greenbelt within General Plans and to purchase land dedicated to open space. Both Orange County and Laguna Beach recognized the greenbelt concept in 1971, but neither municipal government has provided unilateral support to all LGI projects. LGI did influence the shape of Orange County's General Plan, participating in public hearings and studies for the Plan's Open Space and Conservation Elements. LGI also initiated academic studies on the greenbelt and open space conducted at the University of California, Irvine, and encouraged compilation of environmental impact reports prior to development.
    The scope of the organization's interests extended beyond Laguna Greenbelt to include regional and state issues, including flood control, transportation, waste disposal and coastal preservation. Regardless, LGI's focus remained in Laguna Beach and the surrounding open space. One of LGI's first extensive projects involved 522 acres of Sycamore Hills. In 1968, the owner of the land parcel, Great Lakes Carbon Company, proposed a housing development. Laguna Beach City Council and LGI opposed development and a protracted battle ensued to dedicate Sycamore Hills as open space. Palos Verdes Corporation, a subsidiary of Newport Investments, purchased the land and also proposed housing development. The City Council responded by placing a moratorium on construction in the area. Palos Verdes Corporation filed suit against Laguna Beach, LGI et al. in 1974. In a 1978 settlement, Laguna Beach purchased Sycamore Hills, but in order to fund the acquisition the City Council sold parcels to private developers and to the county for the San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor. James Dilley, long-time opponent of automobiles, express highways and subsequent urban sprawl, and LGI contested the proposed Corridor from the project's inception in 1976.
    Throughout the seventies and eighties, LGI unsuccessfully fought construction of the Corridor, but it did meet many goals to thwart development in the Greenbelt and to protect land as open space. LGI collaborated with various environmental groups and joined coalitions such as the California Planning and Conservation League in 1985. In 1978, LGI and Friends of the Irvine Coast worked together lobbying for an Orange County national urban park in a bill before Congress. Later national involvement in Orange County land use brought proposals for a national athletic fitness center to Laguna Niguel in 1985. Neither project came to fruition.
    In 1985, LGI elected Elisabeth Brown, a Laguna Beach resident who holds a doctorate in biological sciences from the University of California, Irvine, to LGI president, a position she continues to hold as of 1997. In the mid and late eighties under Brown's leadership, LGI continued to combat land developments within Laguna Greenbelt and other projects and proposals seen as posing a threat to the environment. Among numerous activities, it opposed an Aliso Water Management Agency proposal to receive a waiver on EPA regulations for waste water treatment, offshore oil drilling on California coast, and a sales tax hike for transportation improvement, and it fought various elements in San Joaquin Hills Corridor plan. LGI submitted recommendations for a park in Sycamore Hills and continued to hold fund raisers, with its primary mission still defined as the preservation of open space.



    This chronology of events relating to LGI and its activities is based on local and regional newspaper clippings within the collection and is not intended to be either definitive or comprehensive.
    1959 General Plan, City of Laguna Beach.
    1964 General Plan, City of Irvine.
    1966 California State Constitution amended giving legislature power to enact laws pertaining to open space.
    1967 City of Laguna Beach hired Daniel, Mann, Johnson and Mendenhall to update city's General Plan.
      Saddleback College proposed site for campus.
    1968 City of Laguna Beach dismissed DMJM consultants.
      Citizens Town Planning Association (CTPA) organized to combat proposed freeway bisecting city.
      James W. Dilley forms offshoot CTPA committee, Citizen's Committee for the Greenbelt.
      Resolution for preservation of greenbelt around Laguna Beach before Orange County (O.C.) Board of Supervisors.
      First meeting of Citizens Committee for the Greenbelt.
      "Matter of Urgency" proclamation concerning open space in Laguna Beach.
    1968-77 James W. Dilley served as Greenbelt president.
    1969 First LGI brochure published.
      O.C. Board of Supervisors granted agricultural preserve status to Irvine Ranch and Rancho Mission Viejo.
      Sycamore Hills put up for sale.
      O.C. Planning Commission recommended open space park in Laguna Canyon.
    1970 Citizen's Committee for the Greenbelt incorporated as a nonprofit organization.
      Organization renamed Laguna Greenbelt, Incorporated (LGI).
      LGI Board of Trustees established.
      UCI Project 21 to study Open Space in Orange County.
      Laguna Beach City Council planned to apply for HUD open space funds to purchase Sycamore Hills.
      City Manager Joseph Sweany advised LGI to match funds for city purchase of Sycamore Hills.
      Beatrice Whittlesy donated 2 acres of land to LGI.
      Orange County sought federal aid for facility along Aliso Creek for flood control and recreation.
    1971 City of Laguna Beach City Council recognized greenbelt concept in principle.
      O.C. Board of Supervisors recognized greenbelt in concept.
      Greenbelt Open House.
      Greenbelt Week.
      Governor Ronald Reagan recommended two-year moratorium on coastline construction.
      Commercial residential zone hearings in Laguna Beach.
      O.C. Board of Supervisor heard plans for Aliso Creek to remain undeveloped.
      Laguna Canyon Dam hearing.
      Irvine Company coastal plan.
      Aliso Creek Parkway proposal.
      Newport Investments, Incorporated negotiated purchase of Sycamore Hills and planned housing development.
    1972 California Coastal Zone Conservation Act.
      Aliso Water Management Agency (AWMA) water reclamations plan approved by O.C. Planning Commission.
      Newport Investments scrapped housing development proposal.
      City Council of Laguna Beach placed ninety-day building moratorium in Sycamore Hills.
      LGI urged redefinition of Greenbelt to include land owned by Rossmoor Corporation that was scheduled to become Rossmoor Leisure World.
      LGI and Laguna Beach City Council filed lawsuit against Rossmoor Corporation.
      O.C. Board of Supervisors adopted interim open space and conservation plan.
      O.C. Planning Commission approved Rossmoor Leisure World.
    1973 California legislature mandated open space and conservation elements in local general plans.
      Park and Open Space Acquisition Act.
      Settlement agreement between petitioners, LGI and Laguna Beach and respondents, Rossmoor Corporation and Oaklawn Homes.
      Proposal for condominiums in Sycamore Hills by Newport Investments.
      Moratorium on building in Greenbelt extended.
      Flood plain zoning required of future developers in Santa Ana River area.
      O.C. Planning Commission proposed five greenbelts.
      Laguna Beach Planning Commission denied Machu Picchu Laguna Hillside project.
      O.C. Planning Commission recommended multi-million dollar budget for greenbelt in Laguna foothills.
      California legislation granted cities and counties additional six months to adopt general plan elements.
      Coastal Commission approved land and sewage outfall for AWMA.
      Laguna Beach Planning Commission opposed sale of Laguna Canyon City Dump.
      Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce refused to support Greenbelt.
      Sycamore Hills Specific Plan proposals made.
      South Coast Regional Coastline Commission approved Laguna Niguel project for Avco Community Developers.
      California Supreme Court ruling: local governments not required to pay land owners for property designated in general plan for public use.
    1974 Rancho Palos Verdes Corporation filed suit against City of Laguna Beach, city council, planning commission, et al.
      Resolutions made in City of Orange, City of Laguna Beach and in O.C. for tax relief to support open space.
      O.C. Board of Supervisors applied flood plain zoning to Aliso Creek.
      Cooperative Desalting Studies Conference in Anaheim.
      Irvine Ranch Water District received $4.8 million grant from EPA to recycle sewage for irrigation.
      Moulton Ranch proposal before O.C. Board of Supervisors.
      Laguna Greenbelt Task Force to prepare open space priority study recommended.
    1975 Open Space Element of O.C. General Plan.
      Aliso Ridge Zone Change.
      Marcroft Company development in Laguna Canyon Ridge.
      Aliso Golf Course proposed by Public Golf Committee.
      O.C. Board of Supervisors rejected Rancho Buena Vista development proposal.
      Moulton Ranch endorsed by O.C. Planning Commission.
      Irvine, Laguna Beach and Orange County fund study of greenbelt.
      Williamson Act report concerning agricultural preserves from O.C. grand jury.
      Steering Committee created by O.C. Board of Supervisors to study highway system in southern Orange County.
      Rothschild Industries' Woods Canyon development rejected by O.C. Board of Supervisors.
      LGI filed appeal contesting Orange County approval of Rossmoor Leisure World.
      O.C. Board of Supervisors rejected LGI appeal.
      Coastal Zone Conservation Commission recommended ban on beach parking north of Newport Beach.
      Coastal Commission submitted plan for preservation of coast.
    1976 Southeast Orange County Circulation Study (SEOCCS).
      Review of Transportation Element of O.C. General Plan.
      Laguna Greenbelt Study Team Report.
      Irvine Company presented coastal development plan before Laguna Beach Board of Realtors.
      Aliso Creek Corridor Plan studied by United South Orange Coast Communities (USOCC) and Saddleback Area Coordinating Council (SACC).
      Mission Viejo municipal Advisory Council endorsed traffic circulation alternative corresponding with extensive development.
      Irvine City Council called for mass transit as alternative to more roads.
      Orange County Senior Citizens Council endorsed Howard Miller's development plans for low-cost senior housing in Laguna Canyon.
      LGI placed environmental attorney John McCarthy on retainer.
      Palos Verdes Corporation suit against Laguna Beach dismissed by O.C. Superior Court.
      San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor proposed.
      Aliso Ridge development approved by O.C. Board of Supervisors with 145 acres dedicated to open space.
      Saddleback College Trustees approved campus site in Irvine Ranch.
      LGI charged O.C. Senior Citizens Council with public funds misuse in its support of Marcroft senior housing development.
    1977 Thomas Alexander elected LGI president.
      Southern California Golf Association proposed public golf course in Sycamore Hills.
      Newport Investments proposed out-of-court settlement with Laguna Beach for land use in Sycamore Hills.
      Six lawsuits pending on Sycamore Hills land parcel.
      Sycamore Hills zoning ordinance passed by Laguna Beach City Council allowing some development.
      Newport Investments dropped $37 million suit against Laguna Beach.
    1978 LGI hired Michael Scott to serve as executive director.
      City of Laguna Beach purchased Sycamore Hills from Palos Verdes Corporation.
      Congressmen Jerry Patterson and Robert Badham introduced bill for national urban park in Orange County.
      Sycamore Hills Specific Plan.
      Aliso Viejo General Plan Amendment.
      Laguna Beach City Council returned disputed road arteries to Laguna Beach's master street plan.
      Bluebird Canyon landslide.
      Laguna Beach City Council declared Jim Dilley Day.
    1979 State of California gained jurisdiction over Crystal Cove State Park.
      LGI opposition to Aliso Company development.
      Orange Coast National Park proposed.
      Laguna Canyon Flood Control.
      Coast Alliance, a national coalition, formed.
      Irvine Company announced development plans for Laguna Canyon.
    1980 James W. Dilley died.
      LGI ad campaign in City of Irvine "The Public Should Know."
    1980-81 Carl Johnson served as LGI president.
    1981 Former mayor of Laguna Beach, Jon Brand elected LGI president.
      Friends of the Irvine Coast opposed Irvine Company Irvine Coast development proposals.
    1982 MacArthur Foundation Grant Proposal for LGI.
      Carma Sandling Coastal development proposal.
    1984 LGI opposes Proposition A for one-cent sales tax in Orange County for transportation improvement.
      Laguna Laurel Development Project.
      Crystal Cove State Park established.
      Senior Housing Project, Eucalyptus Grove.
      O.C. Board of Supervisors approved Laguna Heights zone change for Carma Sandling development.
      O.C. Board of Supervisors approved Aliso Viejo development.
      O.C. Board of Supervisors approved Laguna Canyon development by Irvine Company.
      AWMA applied for waiver to EPA mandated regulations on sewage treatment.
      Orange County purchased Sycamore Hills from Laguna Beach.
      Laguna Beach sold 62 acres in Sycamore Hills to Canyon Hills developers.
      Terry Timmins elected LGI president.
    1985 Elisabeth Brown elected LGI president.
      LGI joined California's Planning and Conservation League.
      Save Our Sea coalition founded.
      Laguna Beach City Council et al opposed AWMA proposal for sewage treatment waiver.
      South Coast Water District rejected waiver proposal for AWMA.
      National Fitness Foundation proposed athletic training academy in Laguna Niguel.
      Irvine City Council rejected San Joaquin Corridor proposal approved by county.
      AWMA withdrew waiver proposal.
      Laguna Planning Commission approved Hon Development's Niguel Summit project.
      O.C. Board rejected Sycamore Hills project proposal from Kaufman and Broad Developers.
      Laguna Beach Taxpayers' Association filed suit against AWMA.
      Laguna Beach refused to support funding proposal for San Joaquin Corridor.
      Carma Sandling filed suit against Laguna Beach concerning Laguna Heights.
      Save Our Shores organization formed.
      Denny Friedrich hired by the cities of Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach and San Clemente to fight offshore oil and gas exploration.
      O.C. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Aliso Viejo planned community.
      O.C. Board of Supervisors approved fees on developers for highway funds.
      California Coastal Commission delayed Carma Sandling project in Laguna Heights.
    1986 LGI's Sycamore Hills Park Recommendations.
      California Agricultural, Natural and Park Lands Conservation Act.
      Greenbelt Picnic and Open House at Sycamore Hills.
      Moulton Meadows development proposal.
      Country Village development proposal.
      Aliso Viejo LCP Amendment 87-1 Fitness Academy.
      Coastal Commission approved local Coastal Plan concerning land use.
      San Joaquin Hills Transportation Corridor Agency formed.
      O.C. Transportation Committee opposed Orange County toll roads bill in California legislature.
      O. C. Board of Supervisors filed suit against Laguna Beach over Laguna Heights.
      Mission Viejo Company transferred 760 acres in Aliso Creek and Laguna Niguel to Orange County.
      Laguna Beach purchased 59 acres of land between Old Top of the World and Arch Beach Heights.
    1987 Friends of the Irvine Coast support revised Irvine Company development plan for Irvine Coast.
      O.C. Board of Supervisors and Coastal Commission approved Irvine Co. development for Irvine Coast.
      Carma Sandling development proposal for Laguna Heights withdrawn.
      Laguna Beach purchased approximately 236 acres in Laguna Heights from WBM Incorporated.
      Laguna Beach City Council opposed regional park development approved by Orange County.
      California Transportation Commission and Laguna Beach unsuccessfully negotiated expansion of Laguna Canyon Road.
    1988 Proposition 70: Greenbelt Acquisition Priorities.
    1990 General Plan, City of Laguna Beach.

    Collection Scope and Content Summary

    Laguna Greenbelt, Incorporated (LGI) is an active non-profit organization founded in 1968 to preserve the open space bordering the City of Laguna Beach, California and comprising Sycamore Hills and five canyons: Aliso, Wood, El Toro, Laguna and Morro. LGI has worked both with and against local governments and private corporations in order to minimize land development of the designated greenbelt. The records include correspondence, legal papers, organizational publications, printed items, environmental impact reports, visual materials and minutes which document the origins and evolution of LGI in its first twenty years. The collection chronicles activities and evolving philosophies of LGI and its members, and it illustrates aspects of Orange County social and political history.
    The first group of Laguna Greenbelt, Incorporated (LGI) records documents the origins and activities from 1956 to 1990 of the environmental organization. Early materials (1956-1967) pertain to municipal general planning and land use and development in Orange County, California and include reports, pamphlets, maps and Laguna Beach and Irvine General Plans. The bulk of records, organized into ten functional series and ordered chronologically within each series, reflect LGI's first twenty years (1968-1988) of participation in numerous environmental issues, primarily land development in the Laguna Greenbelt, and the organization's evolving environmental philosophy.
    The collection holds a wide variety of formats: correspondence, memoranda, newspaper clippings, newsletters, pamphlets and brochures, articles, minutes, financial papers, legal papers, reports, government information, environmental impact reports, maps, charts, and photographic prints and negatives. The majority of records are correspondence, memoranda, minutes and newspaper clippings created or collected by the organization during the course of business. These materials chronicle LGI's origins, membership, internal activities, positions and views. Legal papers, reports, environmental impact reports, and government information pertain to environmental issues in Orange County and elsewhere in California. Projects involving land development in Laguna Greenbelt from 1970 to 1985, particularly in Sycamore Hills, are well represented in the collection, and other records document regional and state environmental issues such as the coast and waste water treatment.
    The collection's arrangement reflects the documents' format, genre and function. Within the individual series, materials are arranged chronologically. The complexity and overlap of the subjects determined this arrangement and precluded topical arrangement. Researchers should work closely with the Chronology and the Series descriptions to navigate the collection and to locate the available material on specific issues. For example, researchers must consult several, if not all, series to find all available information on Sycamore Hills or coastal conservation. Dates are supplied in the container list to guide researchers, and "n.d." is used to indicate no known date.

    Collection Arrangement

    This collection is organized in ten series:
    • Series 1. Correspondence, 1968-1990. 0.8 linear ft.
    • Series 2. Memoranda, 1969-1987. 0.4 linear ft.
    • Series 3. Printed items, 1963-1988. 0.8 linear ft.
    • Series 4. Minutes, 1970-1988. 0.8 linear ft.
    • Series 5. Financial papers, 1971-1984. 0.4 linear ft.
    • Series 6. Legal papers, 1964-1987. 0.4 linear ft.
    • Series 7. Reports, studies, plans and government information, 1958-1985. 3.2 linear ft.
    • Series 8. Environmental impact reports and statements, 1972-1982. 1.6 linear ft.
    • Series 9. Subject Files, 1967-1988. 1.6 linear ft.
    • Series 10. Visual materials, 1956-1990. 0.8 linear ft.
    The collection also contains four unprocessed additions:
    • Accession 1998.006. Unprocessed addition 1998 container list, circa 1988-1998. 30.8 linear ft.
    • Accession 2001.016. Unprocessed addition 2001, circa 1981-1998. 1 linear ft.
    • Accession 2002.021. Unprocessed addition 2002, circa 1987-1997. 4 linear ft.
    • Accession 2008.013. Unprocessed addition 2008, circa 1985-1997. 2 linear ft.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Friends of the Irvine Coast. -- Archives
    Laguna Greenbelt (Organization). -- Archives
    Coastal ecology -- California -- Orange County
    Environmental impact statements -- California -- Orange County.
    Environmental policy -- California -- Orange County -- History -- Sources
    Environmental protection -- California -- Orange County -- History -- Sources
    Environmentalists -- California -- Orange County
    Greenbelts -- California -- Orange County -- History -- Sources
    Land use -- Environmental aspects -- California -- Orange County
    Maps -- California -- Orange County.
    Negatives -- California -- Orange County.
    Photographic prints -- California -- Orange County.
    Real estate development -- California -- Orange County -- History -- Sources
    Regional planning -- California -- Orange County -- History -- Sources