As I approached John Wayne Airport in the pre-dawn darkness, I reflected on how a later-built parking structure completely obscured any view of the stunning airport architecture. Once visible from MacArthur Boulevard, all that can now be seen is a looming multi-story concrete repository for automobiles. Not only is the parking lot a behemoth, it is lit – brightly lit – as must all parking lots be for security.
I immediately thought of our as-yet-built village entrance. The proposed parking structure will forever blight the scale and artistic sensibility of our downtown architecture, and smother its natural backdrop of the steep chaparral and eucalyptus. Because of lighting requirements for safety, it will likely blot out more of our night.
My heart aches at the potential loss of what could be a forward-thinking testament to our city. If we could step back from the idea that the village entrance must be a parking structure, a wide range of more appealing possibilities begin to surface. Why not a park with meandering foot and bike paths with a small performance space? This location between our festivals and our downtown shopping/beach is an ideal area where people could meet, share an outdoor lunch, and sit under the cover of trees within walking distance. Add artist displays and a new home for the farmers’ market and I believe we begin to serve a larger dream than where to stack 200 cars.
How do we really see our Laguna? Are we all about parking? Or can we step back – step out of the box – and consider the overarching sensibility of our community? As we ponder and commit to programs of increased sustainability, let’s pause and revisit what we’d like to experience as we enter our treasured city.
Catharine Cooper, Laguna Beach