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