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Country Roads Take Me Home

By J.J. Gasparotti
By J.J. Gasparotti

The idea that Laguna Canyon Road is a rural country road is about as dead as John Denver. It may have been one in the past but that was a long time ago.

In the early history of Laguna, the canyon route was the only reliable way to get here. It was a long, dusty ride from Santa Ana down a dirt track in a stagecoach. With the advent of the Coast Highway, built as a military road in 1927, the canyon fell out of favor.

By the time we moved here in the late 1950’s, Laguna Canyon road was still a small road that wound through the wilds and agriculture of south Orange County. It was considered the long way to Santa Ana. If you needed to go to Sears or the county court house, you took the highway to MacArthur Boulevard.

There was nothing out in the canyon except agriculture and a military base at El Toro. The main attraction for the youth of the day was the store at El Toro where rumor had it that even babies in diapers could buy beer.

It was so quiet that we could have drag races on El Toro Road just about any night of the week. Now there’s a million people out the canyon along with two freeways and a toll road. So the thought of this road being a bucolic byway is farce. But this is how we prefer to think of it.

A neighbor saw a guy in a wheel chair waiting at the bus stop on the canyon road by Stan Oaks Drive. He wondered how that person even managed to cross the busy highway to get there. Hard to imagine anybody stopping. There is no cross walk.

Last time there was talk of facing reality and improving the road to four lanes Mayor Kelly opined that it would be a waste to get folks here faster because they’d have no place to park. He must have forgotten about most of the locals who work out of town and do have a place to park once they finally get home.

Bit by bit we are starting to face the reality of the situation. People being run down and killed helps with this process. The need for a pedestrian crossing at the art school being a tragic example.

It is time to recognize that Laguna Canyon Road is a major traffic artery in a huge metropolitan area. It needs to be widened and improved so that it can efficiently and safely do its job.


JJ Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11yrs old. He has loved it ever since.



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  1. During the summer season there is at least one traffic accident per day this is because people are in a helhurry to get out of town.. being more efficient won’t necessarily slow people down. What about the businesses on the south side that want to cross over to the north side?? More signals ? What about deer , bobcat , coyote, and in general people that don’t pay attention to signs or traffic laws ? I say make it into a canal with locks and ferry vehicles through it…or ask Elon Musk to install a hyper-loop shuttle and turn the area by Irvine and the 5 into a huge parking structure and remove the extra vehicle traffic.


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