Too Much of A Good Thing
Did you enjoy the fireworks display on the 4th? The city had just enough wind to keep its show visible. Poor Emerald Bay couldn’t catch a breeze and thousands of dollars in fireworks went up in a cloud of smoke. But E. Bay probably gets the better deal with weekend visitors. They’ve got a guarded gate. Laguna doesn’t.
It would be safe to assume Laguna easily had 130,000 day visitors over the July 4 holiday. There were 68,000 just over July 7 and 8. It isn’t cheap to clean up after all these folks and provide for their safety.
The city collects over two and a half million pounds of trash a year from our beaches and parks. We spend $10,000 a month on janitorial supplies for our public restrooms. That is enough toilet paper to pave a new freeway to Riverside.
Laguna averages one DUI a day. Most of those folks were visitors. We had 200 motor vehicle accidents of all types this year and the fire department responded to 2,400 calls for emergency medical service or rescue.
The place where we really see these impacts are the beach. We are challenged with being a small narrow town fronting a long beach with a burgeoning population in cities just inland.
Last year our lifeguards had 359,000 public contacts. There were 4,500 rescues and 21,000 public contacts to save Sammy the Seashell from the collectors bucket. Lifeguards had to contact Brion or his friends about their dogs 6,500 times.
All these municipal services add up. There is some speculation on exactly how much. But these numbers should be good enough for government work.
The average day visitor spends a little under $60 bucks, which results in about 50 cents income for the city. On the other hand that visitor costs about $8 to clean up after and provide for their safety. Each day visitor ends up costing the city about $7.50
That means the Fourth of July cost us almost a million bucks to host all those visitors. Never mind the hoards of friends and relatives at your house.
A recent study concluded that Laguna has 6 million day visitors a year. When you apply the $7.50 cost per visitor to that figure you get to $45 million a year servicing day visitors. That’s half the annual budget. Even a quarter of this estimate is a lot of money.
Think what we could do if our day visitors paid their fair share. No doubt the Coastal Commission will oppose any effort to recoup this day visitor expense.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Let’s turn to our city council candidates for their ideas on this subject. They better have some. It’s a growing problem.
JJ Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11 year old. He has loved it ever since.