Public Opinion Shapes the Future of Laguna Canyon, Downtown


By Jennifer Erickson | LB Indy

Even as taming congestion and improving road safety became part of the campaign spiel of some City Council candidates, new initiatives to address the issues are underway with a number of opportunities for the public to chime in.

A task force to assess alternatives for improving safety, congestion and access to all users along Laguna Canyon Road met for the first time last month.

John Albritton at the site of Longi's approved live work  project,in Laguna Canyon. Photo by Jody Tiongco
John Albritton at the site of artist Louis Longi’s approved live work project,in Laguna Canyon.
Photo by Jody Tiongco

Describing that inaugural gathering as a sort of orientation, Mayor Pro Tem Bob Whalen, the group’s chair, said the intention was to get input from a broad cross section of the community. And, indeed, the 23-member panel, including representatives from the greenbelt, residents, schools, various community interest groups and commuters, was augmented by the city’s urban planning and traffic consultants, as well as representatives from Caltrans and OC Parks.

Topics discussed included the benefits of roundabouts, cycling paths off the roadway a wildlife crossing at Big Bend, environmental impact, flood control, allowances for public transit, and emergency vehicle access.

Importantly, a community consensus is necessary for the city to seek federal and county funding for any planned improvements.

For the next meeting, task force members agreed to rank their group’s priorities for improvements and city staff planned to report on bike lanes and roundabouts and to research the origin and destination of inbound Laguna Canyon Road motorists. And the city’s traffic consultant will examine how various improvements would affect traffic flow into town.

Information on the Laguna Canyon Road corridor assessment, the task force and meetings is available on the city’s web site. All of the meetings are held in the City Council chambers, open to the public and televised live, with the video available online for subsequent viewing. The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 19 at 5:30 p.m.

In the meantime, residents interested in weighing in on land use downtown and in the canyon will have that chance on Nov. 15. Urban planner MIG will hold a pop-up public workshop from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Ocean Avenue, as part of its role helping update the downtown specific plan that sets development guidelines for the area between lower Cliff Drive and Legion Street. The thoroughfare will be partially closed to traffic to accommodate pilot demonstrations of possible street treatments, paseos, parking, design and land use improvements.

Residents can arm themselves with ideas before heading to the next Laguna Canyon Road task force meeting.


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