Main Beach Park has lost whatever curb appeal it had. Conceived as a view improvement for the driving public, it never fulfilled its recreational potential.
Some folks think that old Main Beach was a nicer place. It certainly did provide a greater range of recreational opportunities than are available for the coastal resource accessing public to enjoy now.
Today it is a shabby commons. The vista features homeless bedrolls on a yellow spotted lawn, a few pigeons pecking dying trees, and a parade of unshaded benches memorializing the dead.
Recently there has been movement towards building replacement toilets at the south end and maybe replace the yellow spotted lawn with artificial plastic turf.
Can you see the billboard now? “Laguna Beach: where the Astro Turf meets the surf.” Not to mention all the micro-plastic pollution rubbing off that rug.
A real opportunity can be found in the replacement toilets. Mo Honarkar has acquired the Hotel Laguna and most of the Central Bluffs down to Sleepy Hollow. He has stated his intentions to redevelop.
Deferring building the replacement toilets would provide the possibility of including them in the hotel’s redevelopment. Public toilets serving Treasure Island Park are located in the Montage Hotel’s building and are maintained by it.
We could use this approach for new public toilets or capital improvements at Main Beach Park.
There’s always a profit in development projects for the developers. Why not ask, what’s in it for Laguna? Developments can be beneficial for Laguna Beach. It’s all in the details.
Permit approvals routinely require public improvements at developer’s expense. Boardwalks, public toilets, showers, public safety facilities, handicapped access, parking spaces, and park improvements should all be on offer.
We now have an opportunity to extend the boardwalk towards Sleepy Hollow and provide toilets in a new location, greatly enhancing coastal access. Main Beach park was designed and built long before the challenges of global warming and sea level rise were on anyone’s horizon.
This is a rare second chance to revisit Main Beach Park’s design concept and consider the potential effects of sea level rise and the need for shoreline protection into a new design that is more inviting. Improvements that don’t address these issues risk becoming literal sunk costs.
Today’s tattered lawn area offers scant recreational choice. Who would want to sit or let their children play on it? It’s a dog’s toilet and a water-wasting homeless magnet.
Recreational administration and the design of park facilities have come a long way since the 1970s. Laguna can do better.
J.J. Gasparotti moved to Laguna Beach with his family when he was 11 years old. He has loved it ever since.