Letter: Is the Village Dead?


Hypoxia via exsanguination means bleeding out without being aware or able to avoid it. Out of time, the system shuts down due to lack of oxygen or life force. Similarly, Laguna’s way of avoiding change has led to too many relevant boarded-up properties. The aesthetic difference between nature and ghost town is widening, and thus, becomes increasingly disturbing with every day that goes by.

Don’t be fooled, it is not the Village, but our beautiful nature that still attracts tourists and keeps residents content without having to look at downtown. People are visiting Laguna but don’t spend much time or money because there is nothing interesting or engaging enough in town other than a vibe of abandonment. Without realizing that our town is dead, there will be nothing left to fight for.

The Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) is not the answer either. Even if the council would have voted last council meeting for the “30 years in the making DSP,” it would take the Coastal Commission almost two years to approve it. It is insane to spend energy on a plan that would surely not be realized within the next three generations and probably end up as another parking lot fewer cars.

Laguna needs life-support yesterday. Watch at least some parts of the seven hours of our City Council meeting of Dec. 17, 2019. It shows you the great love and passion for our city and the unbelievable knowledge of many participants that collectively could get us out of any situation. But at the same time, the viewer will likely get sick to their stomach due to the incapability of the people in charge to take this knowledge/wisdom and implement it streamlined in one direction. Take a look above the mountain of micromanaging petty issues. Admit failure so we can move in the opposite direction. The Laguna way got this town in trouble, now it needs a Laguna way out of this mess and to not rely on big state agencies and regulations to be the shapers of this Village.


Michaell Magrutsche, Laguna Beach


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  1. The major issue with Laguna businesses is that they are not able to sustain their rent. This is not a city issue, this is a property owner issue. The “city” is it’s voting population that, to date, has preferred the “small town ambience” that our historical buildings and small streets provide. Folks have prefered less development, or simply remodeling of existing structures.
    Why anybody thinks that massive redevelopment, in the face of Amazon, etc., will lower rents and promote a revitalized down town is not thinking through things completely.
    As you state, most people come here for the scenery, obviously. It is also entertaining for visitors to browse our wonderful galleries and shops, perhaps buying something unique. I have witnessed many folks parking at meters and bringing all their food in ice chests to the beach spending little at any store. I also see people use the parking at Whole Foods and Ralphs, buy a bottle of water and walk out the other door and head to the beach.
    What “revitalization” will do to change this is unclear.

  2. I agree,John. Parking and high cost of rent are basic problems. We seldom see Mission Viejo,Laguna Hills etc. residents. They hate the parking problem. Business owners cannot afford to renovate so Laguna has no “sparkle”.There should be a parking garage in the north end at least . Let’s take care of what we hav before raising new,Las Vega type buildings .

  3. Agree completely about high rents being much of the the problem. One way to mitigate the blight of boarded up businesses is to do what San Francisco is considering: A vacancy tax!
    “Explore legislation that would allow the city and county of San Francisco to impose a vacancy tax on property owners to help mitigate the impacts of the widespread practice of warehousing valuable residential and commercial units.”
    Landlords that are just banking properties or holding out for unreasonable rents would be better off lowering rents and attracting a tenant that can make a profit and stay in business because they’d have a lower overhead.


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