Being a car is a tough existence. Laguna Beach makes me an exile. Special meetings take place about us. Proposals have been made to build a faraway structure where cars like me can be far from view. It makes no difference what color you are. Even if you are pretty, fast or come from a fine family, a car is an outcast in Laguna.
We cars have two problems.
First, In Laguna cars have a proclivity to get lost.
Laguna is vectored in a way that can guarantee getting lost. We have a circuitry of duplicate street names. Laguna has a Temple Hills, Temple Terrace and a Terrace Way. We also have Alta Vista and an Alta Laguna. There is a Summit Way and a Summit Drive. There is a Third Avenue and Third Street. Most of us cars have computerized navigation. This adds to congestion in some parts of town as tourist cars try to find an alternate route to state Route 133. We realize nothing can be done about street names but a remedy to our second problem is attainable.
Second, our main objection is parking conditions.
Taking your human to the post office, art store, or dry cleaner, etc. is no easy task in Laguna. Parking is difficult anytime it’s sunny. A successful city needs resident services. Tourist humans don’t use the services that locals need. How will those businesses survive if locals can’t dependably park? Will lack of parking slowly force services out? A void that will be filled by apparel shops and restaurants too expensive for a local family to patronize? The streets are full of cars like me. Some of the congestion is simply cars that have nowhere to park and are circling waiting for a spot of refuge for a few hours.
The humans can’t seem to solve the problem. Maybe we should try easier things first. I am just a simple car but I have a few ideas.
Change some rules. Some humans in Laguna have smartly sought to not participate in the congestion by driving scooters instead of cars. The problem is that scooters are required to use a full parking spot. There is an opportunity to open up parking spaces by considering the possibility of being able to park on certain parts of the sidewalk or between parked cars where space allows. Give a free parking sticker to scooters.
Create creative parking. Give local cars the option of a centralized place to park. At Third Street and Mermaid there is a parking garage that’s ideal for some locals to park and walk a short distance to almost anything downtown. Last year my humans would park me there. During summer the city began to charge for parking there. Perhaps the city would let residents with parking stickers use those spots and take some cars off the streets of downtown.
Building subterranean parking under the tennis courts at the high school would provide needed summer parking and additional parking during the school year. Especially during plays, football games etc.
There are many parking spaces at churches, banks and other businesses that often sit empty. Can the city come to some agreement with those humans so that those spaces can be utilized?
Public transportation. Many of the cars in town are employees of the businesses in Laguna. Perhaps they could park at the high school or another nearby place where the city could provide shuttle service.
Avoid adding to the problem. Sometimes the humans make the problem worse. The restoration of the building on Ocean Avenue, most recently Sirous and Sons Rug Gallery, was required to only provide 13 parking spaces instead of the 44 normally required for a 126-seat restaurant.
Some say there is no problem with parking of cars in Laguna. They are discounting the problem. They are discounting us, the motor vehicles. The city holds the the keys to the forward progress of building a city where cars have a place. I ask the smart people of this city to make this crooked path straight. We are here; many more of us are coming. Laguna has got to deal with it.
Have the courage to start small so that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of Lagunas car problems, to a city that can see a glittering headlight of progress.
We, the cars, are being wronged. We will peacefully wait in our garages while our burden becomes Laguna’s shame.
Roderick Reed owns REEDesign Interiors in Laguna Beach. He lives in town with his wife Kathy and two sons Mason and Jack. http://roderickreed.com/.