I attended the City Council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 16, and was amazed watching the emotions that were present during the debate regarding Mozambique and its request to use all three of its floors to serve drinks and dinners to consumers. Apparently, there have been years of conflict between the owner of the restaurant and the people that live in close proximity of his establishment. From where I was sitting I witnessed applause when local supporters of Mozambique spoke their minds and a smaller, but certainly not less vocal amount of applause from those that opposed its request to do business as they saw was their right. What I took away from the meeting was that parking and noise seems to be the complaint from the local dwellers and that the inability to maximize business potential at Mozambique was the owner’s complaint.
We all love Laguna Beach and believe we feel lucky to call this beautiful city our home. I couldn’t help but wonder why a balance between the two interests was seemingly so difficult to reach.
From my seat, every time someone said something positive about what the owner Ivan Spiers has done for the community and made changes to accommodate his neighbors, I heard whispers about how disgusted they were with what they were hearing. Let me add that not all the residents that were opposed to Mozambique’s request were reacting this way. Thoughtful and rational people expressed their concerns and should be heard as much as the next person.
My wife and I live on a section of Glenneyre Street where there is no street parking. I am within three blocks of over 20 restaurants or bars. We both own cars but have only one parking spot. We also deal with noise from people leaving the village. We deal with it. There are times when we actually have to drive around for five or so minutes to find a place to park. The Quiet Zone near Mozambique has been given special parking restraints that exist nowhere else in the village.
Do we limit Friday night high school football games because its inconveniences some residents with parking and noise? Maybe the summer concerts in Bluebird Park should be discontinued for the same reason. I’m quite sure The Pageant inconveniences many residents with parking and noise impacts.
Spiers has purchased five luxury vans to ferry patrons who need to no more than pick up the phone and request a ride. He has negotiated the rights to use parking lots for valet parking for his patrons and now his employees. It seems to me that he is the only proprietor in town that has taken the concerns of the city to this high a cost.
What I took out of this conflict is that Laguna Beach remains challenged by lack of parking. Mozambique is not the problem. Starting the trolley program in March will ease parking stress and the City Council should be proud of itself for making that a reality. I kept hearing how ‘rules’ need to be obeyed and that and that Mozambique continually breaks those rules. Maybe it’s time to change decades-old rules regarding parking.
Every neighborhood within four blocks of Coast Highway deals with an influx of people wanting to experience the same beauty that we get to live in every day. My wife and I are happy to share this town despite an occasional inconvenience.
Michael Byrne, Laguna Beach
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