By Michele Hall
The idea for a village entrance was first hatched way back in 1995 when the then City Council saw a need to beautify the village entrance and began a series of forums and discussions to analyze and explore their options. In 2000, over 1,000 citizens united to form Vision Laguna 2030, which set out to develop a strategic plan that would serve as a “blueprint for action” for the next 30 years.
The plan states that “strategic planning is the process by which a community creates an action plan for making the vision a reality. A vision based on consensus captures the best of what the community believes about itself, what it sees as its greatest assets, and how it intends to care for and build upon those strengths. By doing so, the vision reflects the shared values of the community and how those values are to be expressed. In this way the vision explains where it is we want to go. The strategic plan is companion to the vision—it points the path for getting there. ”
Hmmm… I find that statement very interesting compared to the path we have taken regarding the now proposed village entrance. Do we have a strategic plan regarding the village entrance or have we simply decided that building an enormous parking structure and a park that costs way too much is the answer? The findings of Vision 2030 stated that “without addressing the role of the automobile and public transportation around the city, continued economic vitality and resident and visitor satisfaction will be difficult to achieve.”
Along with Vision Laguna 2030, numerous other studies have been done as well. For example, the Downtown Parking Management Plan, which was worked on for approximately a year. Its purpose, according to Planning Commissioner Norm Grossman, who spearheaded the effort, was to “maximize existing resources.” Again, are we maximizing our resources with the proposed plan?
Today, council members Toni Iseman and Bob Whalen are working on potential significant upgrades to Laguna Canyon Road from El Toro road to Canyon Acres and are working on having the study extend to Coast Highway. On top of that, recently, a subcommittee of Council member Whalen and Planning Commissioners Ann Johnson and Robert Zurschmiede sent a request for qualification for an urban nesigner however the preliminary version didn’t suggest any changes to the village entrance project. Why? Because Council member Elizabeth Pearson white holed the village entrance project and requested it be removed from the overall study. Not really endorsing her statement of “project transparency.”
We have been discussing this issue for years, yet we have not developed a cohesive all encompassing plan to date. These are just a few of the examples of the works that have been accomplished and are being worked on today yet they are not included in today’s proposed village entrance project. An urban designer should be hired and his objective should be to create “continued economic vitality and resident and visitor satisfaction” which is not limited to the village entrance project, but solves our traffic and parking issues, and shepherds us into the 21st century. The possibilities are endless.
Michele Hall is president of the Laguna Beach Republicans.
Editor’s note: Hall intends subsequent submissions on financing options and a vision for Laguna Beach.