If We Don’t Build It, They Will Still Come



Is there a need for more parking in downtown Laguna?

As a concept plan for a Village Entrance nears completion, naysayers are starting their drumbeat against a need for more parking. I offer some initial first thoughts to make a case that there is a need.

1) A citywide poll of Laguna residents in 2012 conducted by a reputable national pollster concluded that the No. 1 concern of residents is parking, traffic and circulation.


2) No parking study(ies) completed to date by the city have taken into account the 3,000 homes and apartments being opened by the Irvine Company (located on the south side of I-405) or the 4,000-10,000 houses as part of the city of Irvine’s Five Points development to be built — all with access to – and egress from – Laguna Canyon Road.  The good news is all those residents will shop and be entertained in Laguna all year round. The scary news is that we’re the closest beach for them.  Where will they park if they are headed for our downtown?

How can we alleviate downtown congestion?  I can argue that, if the destination of visitors is downtown Laguna, we need to “park” them before they enter the city center (but not too far away from our restaurants and retailers) in a garage just on the edge of town – across from the Festival of Arts grounds:  the Village Entrance.


3) If the Festival of Arts and Playhouse were to make greater use of their venues with year-round entertainment, presentations and events, wouldn’t more parking, close-by, be advantageous to them.


After 18 years of planning and studies for a Village Entrance project — at an expense of $650,000 (not including staff and volunteer time) — isn’t it time to actually “get something done” and gain a beautiful entryway, park and a garage that creates up to 200 more spaces at the edge of the downtown?

If you’d like to see more parking in the downtown, let your voice be heard and join us for a presentation of the Village Entrance concept at Laguna Beach City Hall on March 26 at 5 p.m.  The public is invited.


Elizabeth Pearson, Mayor pro tem

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  1. I’m holding a copy of the LAGUNA BEACH Downtown Specific Plan, on page II-6 it says the parking survey of 1997 shows a total of 1535 public parking spaces were identified in the Central Business District. If the modest growth in parking demand were only 3% per year, by the year 2021 we would double our demand for downtown parking, we would need an additional 1535 spaces for a total of 3070. A parking garage like the one proposed will add 200 more spaces bringing our total capacity to 1735. We are still short 1335 spaces to meet the demand in 2021.

    Instead of building ONE parking garage lets build FOUR identical garages tomorrow at 200 spaces each. Do the math and you will see we are still short 735 spaces to meet the demand in 2021, only 8 years from now.

    We still haven’t considered the parking anomaly from Five Points or the Irvine Company. Maybe now everybody can see a parking strategy based on building parking garages is futile in Laguna Beach. May I add the cost for those SPACES is $10k-$40k EACH depending on proximity to the beach. Don’t like the growth estimate of 3%? Choose a realistic number to satisfy yourself, then start looking for the space to build those parking garages.

    Thank you Ms. Pearson, this example illustrates the parking problem Laguna faces when accommodating visitors and residents driving cars.

  2. I never think of Laguna Beach as a destination because parking is non-existent from an outsider’s point of view. Sure, with local knowledge you know where to squeeze in. Forget it if you don’t have local knowledge. But if there was a 200 car lot up the canyon, and I could park there and rent a bicycle to ride in to town with my family, I would probably be there twice a month with my family to dine and once in a while to visit Dr. DiGiovanni with my son to get his braces adjusted. Instead, I stay in Newport Beach, in Newport Coast and more and more in Corona del Mar with the sharrows installed on the Coast Highway, we can ride our bicycles to destinations.

  3. Thank you Elizabeth. It’s great to see the City in “do” mode. I think this will be a great addition to the city, especially if there are bike rentals and free transit nearby. And adding 200 spaces will allow us to replace Forest Avenue parking with a Forest Avenue pedestrian promenade – two wins in one.

  4. Who’s running Laguna Beach and for whom? If the answer to both is “business owners” then building 200, 400, 800, or a thousand more parking spaces makes perfect sense. And while you’re at it, take the one good idea suggested so far– Forest as a pedestrian mall– and run with it. Turn all downtown into a giant Downtown Disney or sell out completely and build another Spectrum. Tourists will flock– you’ll be the only historic, authentic pedestrian escape in car-choked SoCal. All you’ll need is an 8 story monster crammed into the hillside with 125 spaces at $15,000 each or a measly $15-million. Charge every resident $625 for the privilege of parking in their own town and you’ve fully subsidized your merchants. They’d like that.
    Or you could try for a balanced transportation plan that accommodated both motor and non-motor transportation. You know, ideas that reduce car dependence, make it a little less convenient to drive but reduce danger to pedestrians and bicyclists. But that’d be scary. Guess that’s a non-starter, huh?

  5. The city needs a parking garage installed across from the Play house on city owned property. The sooner, the better. The City should have requested the money from the stimulus package a few years back…

  6. Lets work toghter with the business in town and make strides. The fact is we want those shops. They support our city with tax revenue and are a convinient place to shop and dine. We want the services they provide. Putting your head in the sand and saying we are goind to come up with new ideas just does not work. Come up with the new ideas now. until then it is build baby build. These spots we will build will be for employees to park in. We know they are here for a entire shift. we bus them to town and make a system that works. leaving premium spots for our guest our visitor. We choose to live in a town that we do not want to turn into Disney. then we need to make the tough decisions now. Let see you drive to disney and park in front of your shop. you cant. that is part of our charm. let the customers and vistors park there. Keep small small.


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