Does the Wet Suit You


Picture This

By J.J. Gasparotti

Have you been to the mountain’s top and seen what there is to see? Most folks haven’t. It’s a long journey to see the future. You can catch a glimpse without having to go that far. Just take a ride up to Mariner’s Village on Lido Isle, in New Porsche Beach. This is the place council member Peter Blake cites as a vision for Laguna’s downtown future.

It’s a refreshing change of pace. Most of our leaders, content, just waive their hands about in vague patterns in the air. Mr. Blake takes these descriptive efforts to a higher level when he offers an actual example. You can see exactly what he is talking about.

There’s plenty to see, with more on the way. Mariner’s Village is becoming Urbana wrought on the bay. It is a rendition in real estate development that confirms California’s population has doubled in 50 years.

All these new folks can’t be forced to live and work in the Inland Empire. Mariner’s Village will provide the affluent a place down by the bay shore. This is development in its fullest and most modern sense. It is a clear example of what could be done to downtown Laguna.

If you think downtown Laguna should be a fuller place with a vibrant night life, you’ll love Mariner’s Village. If you like downtown how it is now, not so much.

Mariner’s Village offers one solution to California’s housing shortage by converting a low-rise neighborhood into a dense collection of mid-rise buildings that shout, “An architect drawed me.” Once this place is finished, the only thing village remaining will be the name.

Developers are striving to construct a place that is special and unique when most folks know these places only happen naturally. They aren’t made according to some well-executed master plan. That’s like expecting corporate chocolate chip cookies to taste like the ones grandma makes.

The thing is, we do need more somewhat affordable housing. California’s population has doubled. Our zoning codes were written for a much smaller population. We’re at a crossroads on how to provide that housing. We can try to put it all into an urbanized downtown, like Mariner’s Village.

Or we can spread the load by getting serious about building Additional Dwelling Units in our residential neighborhoods. Encinitas is handing out free, pre-approved ADU plans and waiving permit fees for folks that want to build one in their backyard.

What’s our plan for dealing with Laguna’s share of California’s housing crisis? Let’s not wait for the state to stuff one down our throats.

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


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  1. Thanks for the mention JJ!
    For the record, my inspiration from Mariner’s Village comes from the retail establishments that were specifically curated for a sophisticated resident and a cultured visitor. NOT the hokey Village Laguna types that have controlled our downtown for decades. I am not inspired by the housing which I find too dense and the buildings to high. Newport residents decided on the issue, more power to them. I do like the upstairs residences above retail and the quaint architecture that was left alone in the Mariners Village retail area. A fresh coat of paint (yes, stark white), some new light fixtures, landscaping, and areas that are activated by events geared towards locals and visitors are perfect for a weekend or evening. Haven’t been there at night so I can’t speak to the nightlife. Can’t speak for Laguna’s nightlife either since I’m usually asleep by 9 or 10. I can speak for the excitement I get when I see what they’ve done over there in terms of livening things up instead of allowing the obstructionists to determine their future as we have in Laguna for decades. I look forward to engaging the residents in creating a downtown that truly serves our current residents and not the tasteless frumps of yesteryear that want it left alone, just like they like it! They do know what’s best don’t they? Don’t they?



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