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WATCH: Old Laguna Niguel Courthouse a Playhouse for Skateboarders

The former Laguna Niguel Superior Court located behind City Hall has been vacant for years. It is now appears to be a place where some kids like to hang out unsupervised.

The city of Laguna Niguel offers more than 25 parks and a rather however, it appears the old courthouse may be the preferred choice of some young people. 

This YouTube video shows several skateboarders using the former courthouse at 30143 Crown Valley Pkwy., as a playground and skateboard center. They use the rooftop, and other areas of the vacant building for stunts.

In May 2011, City Manager Tim Casey said, the original blueprint called for a courthouse, firehouse and expanded library next to the new City Hall. But now that the county has backed out because of budget woes, new ideas are in the mix.

Possibilities under discussion for the 18-acre plot include a Coach House-style concert venue, retail shops, restaurants, a sports club, medical offices and educational facilities, he said.

To help with the decision-making process, the city and county held a joint meeting to hear the recommendations of a technical-assistance panel held by the Urban Land Institute, Orange County, in 2011.

The county owns the 18 acres of land in question—but the city controls the zoning. This means any development needs approval from both. 

Some Obstacles to Development

According to the Urban Land Institute report presentated to the city in May 2011, obstacles to consider in a development and zoning plan include:

  • Thirty feet of grassy knoll on the property must be dug up and re-compacted if used for parking.
  • Overall parking space, which might be limited.
  • The property's distance from major freeways.
  • A vocal senior community that might object to changes in lighting or noise.

Development Ideas

Ideas pitched for the plot included:

  • Children's educational attractions.
  • Theme-oriented retail—for instance, retail shops and eateries geared toward bicyclists who could use adjacent trails.
  • Interactive art for children.
  • A music venue similar to the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano.
  • Continuing adult education.
  • An outpatient health care facility, perhaps tied to a larger hospital such as Hoag Memorial or USC.
  • A sports club.

Sustainability and Eco-Friendliness

  • Shared parking.
  • Walking and biking trails.
  • Shops and eateries geared toward health.
  • Civic space that would enable multiple uses such as concerts in the park, farmers markets and festivals.

There is no timeframe on the process or plan for the area, Casey said in May 2011.

"The time frame is impossible to predict.  We are at the start of this process—nowhere near the end.  But this could be fun," Casey said.

Calls to the county were not returned.

Shirley October 23, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Wow, how many parents know their kids are doing this, taking risky chances they WON'T get hurt? How many times do the deputies go there to clear them off the building? Thanks for this article Debbie, many lawsuits waiting to happen to an already strapped county & could affect the wealth of LN..
Debbie L. Sklar (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Shirley: Agree, of all places to skate ... county did not respond to inquiry.
Jami October 23, 2012 at 06:48 PM
They're not actually skateboarding--what they're doing is parkour, which is a kind of urban acrobatics.
Debbie L. Sklar (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Jami: Still looks like they shouldn't be doing it there.
Leonard Kinkade October 23, 2012 at 10:24 PM
The County is responsible for protecting and maintaining this property, failuire to do so is negligence. They should fence off the entire complex and hire security, or properly place no trespassing signs so that the local sheriff can enforce the Cal. trespassing laws. If anyone is injured while on the property, the County and probably the city would be named in any civil suit, Any awards in a civil suit come out of the county and or city general fund. (AKA tax fuinds)
Debbie L. Sklar (Editor) October 23, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Thanks Leonard valuable comments and info, I believe they are now alerted.

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