Re: “Hansen: Brrr...Let’s rename it ‘Laglooma,’” Coastline Pilot Aug. 2.
Being a resident of Huntington Beach, I totally understand your sentiment. Many times, I can imagine the battle horses of Monty Python tracing through the gray fog, muck and mire of the dreaded marine layer of Bolsa Chica.
One of my best friends and associates works near Glenneyre Street and Laguna Avenue, and nothing suits me better than driving down to his office for a 3 p.m. walk along the boardwalk, all the way to the end of the trail at Cliff and High drives.
But some days, we’re better off staying in his office and amusing ourselves with a game of checkers or building a house of cards than hitting the boardwalk and trying to make our way through the gray bay of haze that we know and love as “Laglooma Beach.”
But then it happens, the Good Lord shines down mercy from heaven for a week, and we all soon forget about the tormenting days we just had.
Thankfully, since this Hansen column, we've been blessed with a few good days of sunshine.
From one coastal brother to another, remember that layer of doom is only here for a while, and then the real reason we all still live, work and flourish here makes itself known, with the breaking of the clouds.
Plans in case parking structure doesn’t pan out
I was thinking about the Village Entrance parking garage that is creeping toward implementation.
What if things didn’t work out as planned and the garage utilization is worse than expected? We should have some backup plans to assure that the structure is some kind of a success, even if parking and congestion relief didn’t come to pass as expected. Heaven forbid that would happen.
What can the City Council do to recoup the major costs of building a parking structure that nobody uses? The city employees would have a posh parking garage, that’s for sure, but they won’t use all the parking levels.
Skateboarders might finally get a skate park right in the middle of town. At least two stories of skating might open the door for a major tourist attraction featuring skateboarders from all over the world.
I’m sure the homeless would flock to the parking garage in the “off season” seeking shelter. Of course that would probably happen regardless of the success. There is more than one way of attracting new people to our town.
Or, if the occupancy is low for a considerable time, several of the floors could be dedicated to serve as a bus station, replacing the current inconvenient Ocean/Broadway location. There would still be enough space open to use as a day-worker camp. Bus service and parking would surely be an attraction. Workers would also be closer to downtown, so their spending would help the merchants.
Maybe the city could offer the cavernous space to the California High Speed Rail Authority and get train service in Laguna Beach. Talk about a tourism bonanza. Train service right to our downtown would turn everything around for the city coffers.
Then there is the exciting thought that an underutilized parking garage would make a terrific covered, year-round farmer’s market for all of Orange County.
A cement cavern like an empty parking garage would have terrific acoustics. I am sure rock concerts could be held there if the parking doesn’t pan out. Of course that brings up the problem of attendee parking. Maybe the Community Center?
Not forgetting the residents, maybe the empty parking garage could be converted to an indoor dog park. Just think how great it would be for the dogs — they could chase tennis balls up and down the ramps.
Food truck rodeos would be a possibility with the additional covered space. TV coverage by the Food Network would put Laguna on the map.
Already Laguna Beach is a major attraction for weddings, but having such a huge covered area would make it a year-round business. Maybe the City Parks and Recreation department could start a catering business for the nuptials.
I will keep the faith that the ideas of the City Council members and their well-paid consultants are not hairbrained like mine so that we have nothing to worry about other than paying the bill.
Council needs to wait for master plan adopted
The City Council has some unfinished business to take care of before moving ahead with its plans for the Village Entrance.
One of the recommendations of the 1995-96 Village Entrance Task Force (of which, as a Planning Commissioner at the time, I was a member) was that nothing be built on the village entrance site until a master plan for the site had been developed and adopted as part of the Downtown Specific Plan.
Since the specific plan is part of the Local Coastal Plan, overlooking this requirement would leave the project out of conformity with the coastal plan and therefore open to challenge.
A lot of the information needed to produce a master plan is already available in the task force’s own research and conclusions, in the studies conducted for the project’s environmental impact report, and in the various recent parking studies. In addition, the council is about to hire a consultant in urban planning to give it advice about how to make the downtown and Laguna Canyon work better.
The information we have so far raises questions about whether this project is the best we can do. Once the urban planner has made his report, we should know a lot more about what we need at the village entrance.
It seems only common sense to wait until all the results are in and then develop a plan reflecting those results before we commit significant resources to any new construction.
Funding Village Entrance is just getting us in debt
I keep hearing that the Village Entrance Project is going to benefit business, but I don't agree.
The parking structure is going to be located outside the business district, and we already know that people want to park on the ground close to stores.
Building it will disrupt traffic and create more congestion and the loss of parking downtown for at least five years. Adding $1 to all parking meter rates can’t be good for business. What’s going to happen to the farmer's market during those five years?
Funding it will create the largest debt the city has ever had over a 25-year period, delaying needed projects (such as flood control and solutions to parking problems the whole length of Coast Highway) and interfering with the city’s ability to meet new challenges.
What might better serve residents and business would be to implement the recommendations of the parking management study, which would produce the equivalent of 200 to 400 parking spaces downtown, where they're needed.
We could still beautify the Village Entrance site without taking on this massive debt and tying the city’s hands in the face of changing needs.
The parking structure is a 10-week solution, and it costs too much. Parking management would be affordable and it would work year-round.
Bobbie Chambers Minkin
Former City Council member,
Parking structure is the wrong solution
Downtown congestion has been a constant theme. And it’s true.
It can take more than 20 minutes to drive from the top of the Third Street hill to Broadway. It should be clear to all (and that means you, too, City Council) that we need fewer cars in town. Unfortunately, the proposed $55 million-plus Village Entrance Project and its car parking structure won’t help.
All those cars have to enter and leave a structure that will be at the intersection that leads to Laguna Canyon Road or points north. Instead, consider the more modest Village Entrance plans proposed in the past. Double deck Act 5 or put peripheral parking at the north and south ends of Coast Highway, accompanied by shuttle service. Keep the cars out of downtown Laguna.
Much mention has been made of the new Irvine Co. developments and their anticipated impact on Laguna Beach. Has the City Council spoken to the Irvine Co. about this? Perhaps the Irvine Co. would be willing to provide a shuttle service into Laguna.
In case any City Council members have forgotten, Laguna Beach has had a history of successful negotiations with the Irvine Co. Let’s see some evidence of action on this front.
About undergrounding, the City Council has finally taken notice of this essential safety necessity. Furthermore, if the poles were removed on Laguna Canyon Road at least one more lane could be added to ease traffic. Undergrounding should be the No. 1 priority for our city.
I hope the City Council will pay attention to the people. And I hope members read Billy Fried’s excellent commentary (Coastline Pilot, Aug. 9) and seriously consider his proposals.
If the council doesn’t show some concrete evidence of being willing to significantly scale down the current Village Entrance plan and consider alternatives, then let the people vote.
Stop depleting canyon aesthetics
I have lived in Laguna Beach since 1965. The scene while driving into Laguna via Laguna Canyon Road has always been beautiful.
I strongly feel that erecting a huge parking structure that will be unused most of the year will make that entrance to Laguna far less aesthetically attractive.
Except for the peak demand in summer, I have found that there is always a parking place available in the current city lot. This, to me, indicates that there is no need for this very expensive white elephant. The huge amount of money needed for this project should be used for other much more useful projects.
Alternative parking spaces exist elsewhere in Laguna. Encouraging their use would expose tourists to business services and shops beyond the downtown area. Canyon parking sites combined with shuttle service can be further encouraged.
Expanding the free shuttle service would be far more practical and useful for Laguna residents and would be a greener approach to the issues.
We fought very hard to keep the toll road from impinging on the canyon entrance beauty, and lost. I, along with many others, don't want this very costly and unattractive Village Entrance proposal to be implemented.
I definitely think the residents of Laguna deserve the opportunity to vote on this issue before it is too late.
Controversial project needs a vote
I’ve been reading the letters to the editor regarding the Village Entrance Project. Some are for it and many are against it, and I’m wondering who the project will really benefit most. Surely not the residents.
By choosing to finance most of the $55-million (interest added) project with a revenue bond, the City Council is able to bypass resident approval. Revenue bonds do not have to go to a vote of the people. However, the project could be put to a vote.
With so much controversy about this project, why doesn’t the council put it to a vote? If all the creative financing concocted for this project fails, we the residents of Laguna Beach will have to make good on the debt. So why not let us vote?
Or does the council majority believe they know what’s best for us and we should just accept their decision?
Laguna BeachCopyright © 2015, CT Now