Mahatma Ghandi, on the Dynamics of Change

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Niccolo Machiavelli, on the Trials of Change

“There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to institute a new order of things.”

Pablo Picasso, on the Meaning and Purpose of Life

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.”


Share Button


Laguna Canyon Project:

Facilitating an Open Space Purchase Agreement and Directing a Bond Campaign



A longstanding, contentious dispute over development in Laguna Canyon, California—a largely unspoiled coastal canyon roughly equidistant between Malibu and Mexico—was coming to a head in the late 1980s, after The Irvine Company won Orange County approval for a large planned community. After popular protests and legal maneuvers, the parties to litigation and other stakeholders agreed to hire a facilitator, hoping to resolve the conflict one way or the other.



I was jointly retained by The Irvine Company, Orange County Board of Supervisors, the cities of Irvine and Laguna Beach, Sierra Club, Audubon Society and local community and environmental leaders. Initially I managed opinion research, the outcome proving helpful in framing our talks. The key to success may have been this beginning: longtime rivals agreeing on polling questions, one after another… as a prelude to negotiations.



I facilitated six months of multi-party negotiations. One early challenge was agreeing on assumptions of value. The Irvine Company ultimately agreed to sell its Laguna Canyon property over five years — for preservation in lieu of development — at a substantial discount from what the parties to the negotiation agreed was fair market value. Environmentalists agreed, should they ever fail to pay on time for the next phased parcel take-down, to waive their rights to legally challenge any phase of the company’s County-approved build-out. After facilitating this agreement, I was hired to direct a related property tax bond campaign that received 79.7 percent voter approval, third highest in California history. Laguna Canyon now is part of a 22,000 acre coastal park, the second largest urban wilderness greenbelt in the country.




Share Button