Letter: How Laguna became the Big Lots of the coast


You may have noticed in the last few years that Laguna Beach seems to have been taken over by thousands of cars on the weekend that don’t seem to fit here, literally.

PCH has become one large parking lot of cars screeching, honking, and idling loudly at stop lights from Thalia to Broadway. No, it wasn’t always like this. T

his happened during COVID when people wanted something to do in quarantine, and Laguna Beach became the cheapest deal around. Now, millions flock to Laguna from the Inland Empire in search of free parking, free beaches, and a mecca of gelato and ice cream parlors. Businesses have not been helped by this and this is not a demographic that spends money.

So what did the city do? They put their focus into creating a promenade that helps no one, parklets removing further parking, and now are considering a sales tax and other measures to pay for their blank check spending and shortfalls in revenue. Even worse, they got the so-called business and tourism institutions to help them do it. Yep, I am talking about Visit Laguna and the Chamber of Commerce.

As the former treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce and member of the board, I can tell you with certainty that this is the case. I can also attest to the fact that $20,000 was spent of membership funds towards fighting the Measure Q initiative without my knowledge or approval, and that the members should have been notified that their dues and contributions were going to be spent this way.

For the last year, I have shared concerns about dozens of businesses closing down in the city and lack of enforcement of parking as cars park for days without receiving tickets. In fact, while it wasn’t reported to the community, a car sat in front of businesses on Forest for almost five days with a dead body in it. I requested and have analyzed the parking citation and parking meter records, and it appears we are losing tens of thousands of dollars a month in parking revenue and yet the city appears to have hired a pollster to get your opinions on city spending and sales taxes before they drop it on you.

Ask yourself, why are businesses closing down or leaving, and what has the city done to actually help businesses? What has our tourism and Chamber done to help and protect businesses? And, how are the BID dollars being utilized to help businesses? We are losing out on capturing revenue; the city hasn’t proposed new forms of revenue and instead is thinking of ways to tax you more.

But hey, you have a really sexy village entrance at the tune of $12 million and a promenade on the way for millions more. Let’s throw in a parking garage for the golden calf trifecta.

Doug Vogel, Laguna Beach

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  1. Laguna Beach has plenty of parking, the trouble is there are too many motorists. For the past 15-years I have shown city hall the solution to Laguna’s mobility plan for 2030, yet city hall planners and leadership remain stuck in 1940. Plan ahead and take action for the visitors will come, DO NOTHING and they will still come.

  2. Les, If there are too many motorists, than how is there enough parking? If the parking staff would at least enforce the parking, than there might be less motorists. Perhaps we should privatize the parking enforcement so that way we can find dedicated people that don’t feel entitled by unions and benefits.

    The word has got out, that Laguna Beach is the place to go where you don’t have to spend any money for use of the beaches. The city officials claim that they are handcuffed by the coastal commission in having to provide beach access and cannot do anything about parking, but I know that is not the fact. I have spoken to people in the coastal commission. Every one of our neighbors including Newport Beach and Huntington Beach have higher parking fees and are not prohibited by the coastal commission from setting higher parking fees or enforcing them.

    The fact is, in the whole month of July of 2023, there were only three citations written on North Coast highway.

  3. “Now, millions flock to Laguna from the Inland Empire in search of free parking, free beaches, and a mecca of gelato and ice cream parlors. Businesses have not been helped by this and this is not a demographic that spends money.”

    I, too, am outraged that people from a different part of the state come to enjoy the public beaches of our very rich town. Isn’t there some sort of gate or wall we can put up to keep out The Poors?!?

    Let us rally together and save ourselves – we have gotten to paradise – quickly, someone pull up the ladder behind us!!

  4. Doug – exellent LTE. Residents need to wake up to this run away spending spree by the City Council. NO NEW TAXES. Make that HELL NO – NO NEW TAXES.

    We have a $125 Million budget – 10 years ago it was $80 Million. This City needs to learn to live within its means and concentrate on expenditures that benefit the residents, not the tourists.

  5. Franklin, I advocated that Laguna beaches should be enjoyed by everyone for years and that their visits to Laguna helped bolster the rise in property values.

    Tourists do still spend more than residents at local businesses, but they are deterred by the mob of weekend freeloaders. You don’t have to make coming to the beach completely free in order to make it accessible. I actually had two couples come up to me tonight and ask if they needed to put money into the meters because they said they haven’t seen anyone enforce it for days.

    I urge you to check with the current rates are for hotels and ask yourself if this is the normal rate that they would be charging 5 years ago. We have human trafficking at at least three hotels near the village because business is so lousy, that’s what they can get.

  6. Agree! HELL NO – NO NEW TAXES.

    LB Voters – reject any new tax proposals brought forward by this City Council majority who spend our tax monies excessively to benefit tourists rather than residents. We cannot accommodate or sustain their egos and appetites. Vote for change in November.

  7. The visitors will come as they have for 100+ years. The question is should we encourage more visitors by erecting more parking at our own expense? Are our priorities as a community to take care of visitors first, or businesses first, or residents first?
    Keep in mind the city government government favors more growth because it grows their power base.


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