By Jim Rue
Welcome, traveler. Enjoy your stay in Laguna Beach. We live here. We love the town too. We welcome your appreciation for our scenic views, parks, coves and beaches. We applaud your support for the arts and for the artists, musicians, actors and athletes who live here. We join you in your frequent applause for the best of them, and for the Laguna arts colony as a whole. And part of what you spend in our hotels and restaurants goes to maintain and improve our parks and beaches for your pleasure.
When you come here it truly warms many of us to see you smiling into the sun, reveling in the beauty of the town and the simple fact that you have time off. You are so glad to be here, and we are glad for you. But then you continue arriving in a daily throng. Three million of you pass through Laguna Beach each year, mostly during the summer. That’s a lot of peeps even when everyone is quiet and sitting still. But you don’t sit still.
The tolerance of Laguna locals living among you can be stretched as the summer wears on. It’s understandable that you want to stand on the sidewalk, eat ice cream and gawk at our street musicians or local color. We do that sometimes too. But we don’t trample the greenery. We don’t damage public art. We don’t try to lift merchandise from the retailers. We don’t spray paint or vandalize things. The noise caused by snarling truck transmissions and wheels on pavement is pretty constant near Coast Highway. Then add to that car alarms, horns, stereos, motorcycles, and the sirens of ambulances, fire engines and police cars. Then there are gaggles of exuberant kids on their way to the beach, families arguing over where to eat, traveling hordes of drunks bellowing at one another late at night as they migrate from one bar to another. Early the next morning it starts again. Maybe you can see how this could fray our nerves after a while.
Don’t expect the cast of MTV’s Laguna Beach to come out to greet you. They moved away. There is no border drug war going on here, despite the impressions you may pick up watching movies. Oliver Stone doesn’t live here. Neither do Salma Hayak or Benicio del Toro. But some of us in Laguna are not saints. In fact some highly idiosyncratic individuals live here, just as they have since the early 20th century when artists started moving in. It is the hallmark of Laguna Beach and of artist colonies in general. We are mostly harmless enough. We only ask you to be tolerant of us and we will treat you similarly. Watch for bicycles. And don’t disturb the sea life.
Please be careful, patient and safe in traffic. We will do the same. One pedestrian injury is too many, and it is a horrific and abrupt way to end a vacation. And oh, yes, one more thing. What a drag it is for us to come out on a Monday morning to find our sidewalks and gutters cluttered with empty bottles, cardboard, trash, even garbage and soiled diapers. Diapers! Come on. Who does that? Please pick up after yourself and your dog. Recycle. We do, and we provide receptacles to make it easy for you to do the same. The local constabulary is always nearby if you need them. They can get to a scene so fast it will make your head swim. Treat them with respect if you would like to enjoy your time here. Wear your sunscreen. Smile. And keep coming back!
Jim Rue, who adds to Laguna’s character quotient, is a 22-year resident with writing credits in many publications. He can be reached at [email protected].