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Graffitied beachfront Laguna estate is an eyesore, residents say

August 10, 2012 |  9:48 am

1,000 steps
Three years after the city vowed that the Chateau Relaxo would be demolished, graffiti and litter continue to plague the abandoned home that sits on the sand of Laguna’s picturesque 1,000 Steps Beach, residents say.

The house has occupied the sands of 1,000 Steps beach for more than 50 years, but in the last decade, residents have complained that the now-deteriorating property has turned into a spot for squatters and drinking, with a wall that has become a canvas for graffiti.

Paradise Cove resident John Arnold said over the last decade he's noticed glass bottles thrown on the beach, discarded cigarette butts, people sleeping and fires being set near the cliffs.

"It's not the pristine beach it was 10 or 12 years ago," he said. "It's no fun to look out your windows and see those words."

Two years ago, a fence was built around the home to discourage squatters who were sleeping on and under the property, which is propped up on stilts, said Director of Community Development John Montgomery.

Laguna Beach resident Russell Garner said he believes anti-littering and anti-graffiti signs should be placed near the property, cameras installed and nighttime patrols increased.

"I'm fed up," he wrote in an email.

"Almost every month we have new instances of graffiti and litter," he wrote in another email. "I don't believe the Police Department has done anything. If they have, their efforts have been a complete failure."

Resident Lupita Niccum wrote in an email that the graffiti has spread from the concrete wall alongside Chateau Relaxo to her own home.

"It's quite obvious the current approach is not working, and the 'powers at be' can't seem to find a workable solution," she wrote.

The property's owner, Gary Groves, is supposed to maintain the house without any graffiti or trash accumulation, Montgomery said in an email.

"The property owner is in the process of preparing plans to demolish the house and the wall," Montgomery said, adding that the owner is cooperative with code enforcement.

Montgomery said that demolishing the house could take several more years, but it's hard to speculate.  The city has not received any finalized plans from Groves, Montgomery said.


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Photo: The Chateau Relaxo in Laguna Beach. Credit: Don Leach / Coastline Pilot