What is the single most important issue facing the city?
There is not just one single thing. We need to continue to work on safer bike lanes throughout the city and better pedestrian sidewalks from Diamond Street to Nyes Place. And although the city has achieved 20 percent water conservation, we need to continue on that because this is a very critical situation.
It comes down to the character of our leaders who hire and make decisions…we need to elect officials with character and everything else will follow in it’s way.
Water conservation and sustainability and instilling these values in our children.
We have to deal with the “tale of two cities” where 80 percent of the time it’s our city, and the other 20 percent of the time, there will never be enough parking. We have to look at creative ways of capturing cars on their way in. We also must never lose track that our first obligation is to our residents. We have to solve problems of congestions and public safety. Quality of life ultimately comes down to what our day to day existence is.
We need to work on pedestrian traffic, traffic in general, water conservation, pedestrian bridges in the canyon, more trams and the homeless situation.
Public safety. Strict enforcement of vehicle laws is needed to stop pedestrians and bicyclists from being hit. It is also important to provide part time summer jobs for teenagers.
Robert Zur Schmiede:
Residents need to come first and if we take care of our residents it will be a great place for visitors. Utility undergrounding is very important to safety and should be done faster. There are also six or seven major planning initiatives under way, including an evaluation of the transit system, that may produce ideas to make things more resident friendly. Going forward we need to reduce contentiousness and have more reasonable dialogue.
Vote for me because…
I’m non-partisan and I listen, and I think I probably use more common sense up there than a lot of ’em.
I am honest.
Michele Hall, 47, yoga instructor. Endorsed by Mayor Elizabeth Pearson, Steve Dicterow, Wayne Baglin, Cheryl Kinsman, LB Taxpayers Assoc. and OC Register.
I believe that everything gets better with negotiation; I have creative ideas and I consider the consequences of any decision.
I will listen and work out solutions based on reasonable information, not just opinions.
[answering after Zur Schmiede] “Ditto.”
Robert Zur Schmiede:
I am the most experienced and qualified candidate and I would bring fresh ideas to the table.
If elected what improvements would we see if your vision is fulfilled over next four years?
I think the downtown specific plan is going to be very important to the downtown, and also to other areas like the HIP District and North Laguna. And I would like to see landlords downtown be a little more lenient with their leases. I would like to fill the empty spaces
That depends on what direction our citizens want to go. Do we want to help tourists or residents or both?
I am looking forward to working with the urban planner to determine what can be done with the downtown specific plan. I walked around and talked to shop keepers and they are mostly concerned about the homeless and I would like to work on a countywide task force to help figure out the homeless problem.
A vibrant downtown has both resident and visitor-serving facilities. I believe that we can integrate into local businesses products that attract tourists and residents both. I also propose additional parking at ACT V, along with an incentive for merchants to get their employees to use it.
We need to first work on parking and GPS existing parking. I like lifts in ACT V and at the village entrance and even at Pavilions. I would encourage trams to bring people from ACT V, with maybe an express lane for the tram. I would also look at closing off Forest and seeing how that would work.
I would make sure we return to the rural Laguna Canyon. Second, my job is to protect pedestrians and visitors and residents must feel safe. The answer is in enforcement. I would promote the arts worldwide, promote downtown for merchants and have local events promoted by businesses.
Robert Zur Schmiede:
I would update the downtown specific plan, address parking, accelerate utility undergrounding, and improve community safety, not just traffic fatalities, but also fire safety in the hills. I also want to be a part of a council that works with residents using new ways to get input in addition to the traditional ways.
How can we mitigate traffic?
We need to start getting Irvine and Mission Viejo to offer tram service from their cities. As far as park and ride, offering parking at ACT V might be a little far out in the winter when it gets dark between 4 and 5 p.m. It costs $1 million to run the mainline buses all year and $1 million to run the trolleys over the summer. If you operate the trolleys year round it will drain the budget, so people have to be willing to pay to do that.
Diagonal crosswalks from Broadway south. All pedestrians cross at one time, it allows for right turns all the time and left turns can be made without worrying about jaywalking pedestrians. Also, southbound right lanes on Coast Highway should gradually merge to allow for an extra northbound lane.
Public transport works when it’s available and convenient. The problem is getting people out of the neighborhoods in the hills and to a place were they can access public transport. As far as tourists, better signage helps. I’m in favor of putting mechanical lifts at ACT V. If we can get people to park on peripheral lots and take public transport that will help.
I’m proposing that we double deck ACT V or go below ground to create a sub-deck to catch cars there before they come in. There is no way we could ever accommodate a second in-bound lane into town on Laguna Canyon Road, but a second outbound lane could help. From a sustainability standpoint, we need to drain the town and a second outbound lane will accomplish that.
We can build 35 parking lots and that still won’t solve the problem. Build a structure in the canyon and have uninterrupted trams to bring people in. Also have smart phones telling people where to park. I would love to take the trolley to work. We need to have trolleys go out early and stay out late seven days a week so that employees can park in a structure and take a tram in.
There will not be and cannot be four lanes coming down Laguna Canyon Road. But we have to think of mobility. I offer the Honolulu solution where they use cones to reconfigure more outbound or inbound lanes, depending on the need at a given time.
Robert Zur Schmiede:
I want to know about the actual sources of congestion, particularly in the canyon. Then look at some demand management things we can do to draw down the traffic. I don’t think any once solution presented in the study of Laguna Canyon Road is the solution, but the study is a starting point for discussion.
What is your position on closing the first block or all of Forest Avenue to create a pedestrian plaza?
If you take away parking spaces on Forest Avenue, it will affect the businesses – not the restaurants, but the businesses. It’s a great idea to have it closed once a month like the Chamber used to do and people were packing the restaurants. But it’s a big mistake to close that street down on a permanent basis. It doesn’t make sense to take away that parking.
In Santa Monica they tried it twice and people like the friendly atmosphere with no harassment from cars. I know that type of pedestrian mall has been successful in rejuvenating cities. I have not researched [the topic] diligently…Laguna doesn’t need rejuvenation, but it does need businesses to stay.
It would be great if Laguna turned into a European walking city…but radical change is hard to do…studies show that people walk down the middle and not near the businesses. Start by a compromise, closing off half of Forest and seeing how that works. Maybe also the lower part of Park Avenue.
If we lose circulation on Forest Avenue, we have to think of the congestion that would cause. Putting in pocket parks would still allow merchants to have parking on that street. “I think we have to be business-friendly in these considerations, but a carefully crafted compromise can be effected.
I would like to see Forest closed. In the past it was only done half way. If we do it, do it fully. But there’s got to be a way to improve things for businesses, so that if they give up parking, they gain something through foot traffic. Also you need to look at directing traffic where it can no longer turn onto Forest.
It should have been done decades ago. We don’t need consultants to look at it.
Robert Zur Schmiede:
There doesn’t need to be closure; there could be partial closure…There are several candidates for this type of thing (the area by the library, the lower end of Ocean)…The city has engaged MIG to look at this sort of thing. Whatever is proposed should be done first on an experimental basis.
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