The board of the Laguna North Neighborhood Organization (LANO) opposes proceeding with the village entrance project without a mandate from the voters. t is clear that not enough effort has been made to convince residents who live here and pay the bills that the benefits outweigh the substantial costs. Although Council members generally favor the project, they do so in the face of significant opposition from the community.
We live in a beautiful place, and share it with others who are similarly attracted to its many charms. Visitors have made our community world-famous and contribute to the financial health of our local businesses and cultural institutions. For this, we are grateful.
However, over the years the Laguna Beach experience has deteriorated for residents and visitors alike. The cause is not difficult to determine – too many cars in a central area of beaches, shops, galleries, restaurants, festivals, theatres and a museum. We genuinely welcome the people who visit our town, but not their vehicles that create congestion.
In response to this problem, the City Council has voted to proceed with the construction of a centrally-located parking garage to be designated as the Village Entrance. This is equivalent to serving a glass of water to a drowning man. The congestion arises from too many cars trying to get into and out of town. Welcoming more cars into the center of the action on over-burdened roads may make the problem worse, particularly given the central location of the proposed garage.
The proposed village entrance project may be the wrong answer to the problem and the current and next generation of village residents will pay a steep price for it – $50-65 million over many years. While some funds will be generated from project itself, it is undisputed that precious resources will be used that would otherwise be available for other, more reliably beneficial purposes. It is no wonder that the public’s blood is boiling and passions are running high regarding this development.
Given what’s at stake, the voice of the people should be heard in a referendum on the issue. This will put both sides to the test. If those that favor the village entrance cannot convince a majority of the residents of its merits, there should be no ground breaking. Let those that pay have a say.
Lester J. Savit, Laguna Beach
The author is president of LANO, Laguna Beach North Neighborhood Organization.