I attended a portion of the City Council special meeting on the Village Entrance project. It was obvious the City has heard the concerns of the citizens and has spent a lot of time and money preparing for this meeting. It was well organized and the Council Chambers were filled to overflowing with citizens interested in putting forth their ideas of what the City should do.
Two things very quickly became apparent; the first being that the majority of those attending did not want a parking structure or for the City to go in debt building a Village Entrance. The second is that with countless ideas being presented it is critical that the goals be prioritized since it not possible to incorporate most of them.
For me, and apparently for a lot of others, the priority is to minimize costs and no indebtedness/tax increases. The second priority is to retain and hopefully improve the number of surface parking spaces. My third priority is that any planned changes do not result in even temporarily reducing the number of current spaces while whatever improvements are being created. The fourth priority is to minimize any additional or improved walkway both in size, cost, and landscaping, (A sidewalk already exists between the highway and the main parking lot. A low cost attractive hedge along the perimeter of the parking area should suffice for appearances without eliminating existing parking spaces.)
It should be noted by those pushing for a major heavily landscaped walkway is that it will seldom be used and could become very dangerous for a multitude of reasons, even if well lit. The City and some other folks were concerned with the old sewer plant, pumping station’s odors, and tearing down some heavily used City structures. The City cannot please everyone and that is why common sense prioritization of goals is needed and should be based on maximizing functions and reducing costs.
One person emphasized that the so-called Village Entrance is just that: an entrance that people pass through to get home, or for visitors to get to town and beaches. In summary, the best thing we can do for residents and visitors alike is to change that six miles of two lanes of congestion into four lanes of safe, unstressed travel.
Dave Connell, Laguna Beach