Two realities have become clear in regard to the parking structure and other improvements proposed for the village entrance: this is a landmark project, and no broad consensus exists.
The project will impact the city of Laguna Beach for decades to come— aesthetically, environmentally, and financially. However, despite untold numbers of public hearings, no from-the-ground-up analysis has been undertaken for the project, ever. Even the 1995-1996 broad-based citizens’ task force did not have the authority to examine what would be best for the site. The group worked under a mandate from the City Council stating any project considered must include a parking garage containing at least 350 spaces.
Serious questions exist. Is this the right site for an enormous garage? What will be the effects on traffic, congestion, air quality, and the ACT V parking/ tram program if the planned garage is built? Will the garage be a half-full white elephant during most of the year? Aren’t we offering an old world solution for a new world problem? Can more effective, less costly solutions be found? Should we be raiding our sewer and capital improvement funds to use for this project rather than improving the rest of our infrastructure and upgrading our sewers?
We have been told that Council members will be taking an in-depth look at the project and listening to the public on Oct. 1. Unfortunately, I don’t have much faith that the October meeting will be anything more than window dressing for decisions they’ve already made. After all, in discussions about hiring a consultant to analyze the parking/traffic/congestion issues, as well as the aesthetic and economic ones along the entire length of Broadway and Laguna Canyon Road, individual Council members have said the village entrance site should be left out of any such analysis.
We deserve better. We need a complete re-evaluation of the project and the right to vote on the proposal once that analysis is completed.
Becky Jones, Laguna Beach
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