Letter: City Council Should Think Twice About Third Street Parking Structure


A few years ago I had a patient in my practice named Gary Alsot. By profession, he was an accomplished engineer and one of the more informed people I’ve known in financial matters. Some of you long-time readers of The Indy and before that The South Coast News may remember his weekly forum or article apathy named “Just Wondering”.

In his article, Gary would intellectually analyze our city government and specifically the City Council as to the “coming and going’s “ apolitically and write an article which was always made you really think, whether you agreed or not. However, it was always “spot on” as to the subject or discussion.

After reading this week’s news report in The Indy regarding the Council’s initiative of building a parking structure on leased land owned by the Presbyterian Church (and after public outcry, changing directions of the moronic idea of converting our beloved library to a parking structure!) I thought of Gary Alstot and what he would have thought of our now obvious Council’s pro-tourist and forget the local citizens attitude!

I think that it has become more than obvious that a large percentage of homeowners and renters who live in Laguna full time fail to realize that the City is no longer ours, so to speak and the quality of “being a local” is rapidly disappearing.

This is why I’m asking a majority of the City Council why we need to spend more millions in our budget surplus to facilitate having more tourists coming in seven days a week and continue to make the reason we live here more undesirable.

I think if we have that kind of revenue to spend, it certainly could be better employed with our school system, infrastructure or the police and fire departments. Why can’t we let the local taxpayers decide on how this surplus of money should be spent instead of our current council who has lost sight of what’s good for our city! Just Wondering.

Mark Judy, Laguna Beach

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  1. Mark:
    Thanks for remembering Gary and his sharp wit.
    Interesting that a cartoon with few if any words can say so much. Yet his cynicism and skepticism, especially about government, were obvious.
    I told Gary this many many times because I was jealous, couldn’t explain my position as succinctly.
    When I started down my path as an enviro-activist in 1998, Gary encouraged and inspired me by his example as a community watchdog.
    Where I was flamboyant he was cool, calm and collected, my wit outrageous while his sublime, his delivery rarely carried more than a chuckle.
    I gave him a t-shirt from my first NGO, Clean Aliso Creek Association, controversial acronym C.A.C.A., and he cracked up at the juvenile scatological humor (a la South Park) as a way to humorously provoke vigilance.
    He knew the Laguna Beach bred cartoonist who had helped with the original logo, John Lara, but told me right up front that he doubted he’d wear it in public.
    Now semi-retired after decades as a South County general contractor, living quite humbly, I eek out a living as a land use and ecological planning/compliance advisor.
    I owe a lot of this to Gary, who was always there when I had a technical engineering question……..especially if water-related, his forté.
    I ran into him shortly before his death in 2008 at the supermarket across from the Montage (Alpha Beta or Albertson’s back then), told him of my plans to transition from builder to consultant because I’d found my passion.
    His voice was already diminishing (he died of esophageal cancer), but we spent a few minutes just outside the entry doors and caught up. He didn’t express self-pity, was the same guy i met 10 years previously.
    And Mark, full disclosure: I can’t count the number of times I’ve borrowed his signature phrase, “Just Wondering,” to sarcastically drive a point home.
    I sneak it into my environmental submissions to public agencies often, or into my public testimony, plus occasional columns or LTE.
    That and the GOAT coach, John Wooden (also a mid-westerner like Gary), who said “Never mistake activity for achievement.”
    And when you review this ridiculous parking structure proposal, you gotta mull over what in the heck have the proponents been thinking, or maybe with legalization, smoking?
    Just wondering.

  2. Mark Judy, thank you for speaking up! I wish more property owners/residents were aware of this win/win Church, lose/lose Residents costly parking lot development proposal Bob Whalen, Sue Kempf, Peter Blake and City Manager Dupuis brought forward as well as the overall pro-tourists and developer/investor driven direction this City Council Cabal is taking us.

    The November 2022 election cannot come soon enough if we are to put a stop to what’s going on in our city through our own government. Join Laguna voters in making sure these proven special and self-interest candidates and are not reelected and new candidates will commit solidly to working for and on behalf of residents first. Thank you. #StoptheCabal, #TakeBackLaguna2022!, #BlakeOUT2022

  3. Laguna has plenty of parking, Laguna’s problem is too many cars and a policy cabal who think forever-motorists and the brown-baggers will pay any price for more. I think Gary would have agreed, to meet urban goals of small scale, low intensity, preserve the village Laguna must adopt policy level commitment to abandon car-centric planning. Yet we have policy makers who believe motorists and residents will pay $400,000 (after debt JT) per space for Presbyterian Parking. Laguna needs a change in policy commitment, to do that it needs a change in city government. Be careful how you vote.

  4. How about a plan? I’m baffled – I thought the City Council was working on a parking plan. In fact they had a working session with residents about developing it. But then, in true developer backed majority 3/2 Blake/Kempf/Whalen fashion, they come up with this nifty keen parking structure that will benefit no one but the church and cost ridiculous amounts of money and never pencil out financially. Where is the overall plan that this structure fits into? This is just another knee jerk project – act first, plan later. Shame on the council for this boondoggle at resident expense.


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