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Public Spaces Belong to the Public

Editor,

 

How wonderful to live in a village whose concerns focus on beautification. I was pleased to learn that the planning commission voted in favor of recommending to our City Council that the Festival of Art’s proposal to renovate their front facade be approved. I assumed that those 15 public parking spaces, lost in the renovation, would be replaced, returned to the public.  Every resident is aware of how dear our public parking spaces are, but there is something amiss in our wonderful village. Something not transparent in this decision and what it signifies for residents.

As I recall, there were 17 public parking spaces recently created by our city on Cliff Drive. I believed that these public spaces might be used to offset a public project such as the village entrance, and might hopefully reduce pedestrian congestion downtown.

So, why are our public spaces given away to a private, nonprofit organization? Who has decided to “re-gift” our 17 spots? What does the public get in return except the torn wrappings of a gift, taken away?

Before this decision is finalized, shouldn’t the public have an opportunity to discuss how these public spaces might be utilized? Is anyone comfortable with “re-gifting?” Shouldn’t the initial recipients of the parking space presents be permitted to say they want to keep what now belongs to them?

What is the cost of one parking spot in Laguna Beach? On Laguna Canyon Road, our city purchased property to provide an additional parking lot. The cost for purchase and development is estimated to be around $100,000 per space. That seems to indicate we are giving away to a private company $1.7 million. I’m not sure I want to give a private entity that big a gift. Let the residents of Laguna decide. The holidays are not here yet.

 

Jahn Levitt, Laguna Beach

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