Letter: Parking Structure at Presbyterian Church


If what I’m hearing is true, I’m appalled that this plan and concept have been so concealed from the residents of Laguna. I’m outraged by the City Council’s audacity to take it upon themselves to decide if and where a parking structure should even be built within the city limits. Many, many, many of us are opposed to the whole concept.

It’s my belief that it’s time you leave the city alone. Stop trying to change it and to make it available to each and every inhabitant on this planet who wants to visit here. We are a small village and want to remain so. This is our home.

Another concern is water at this point in time. I understand the need for our retail stores and restaurants to have customers, but on the other hand the City is asking us to conserve water while bringing more people in to use it. The City Council should be ashamed of themselves. Let our small village rest in peace.

Sue Osborne, Laguna Beach

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  1. Interestingly enough there have been many studies in the science of “induced demand.”

    The bottom line is that if you increase the width and/or number of lanes on a busy highway, you’ll only increase traffic problems because more people will use it for the “easier” accessibility.

    Have to think the exact same thing has to apply to parking.

    If you build it, they’ll just keep on coming and coming and coming.

    Which is precisely what the developers, commercial property owners and business owners want – and which the developer-backed City Council members and Chamber Of Commerce constantly keep pushing for . . . residents, charm and village lifestyle be damned.

    If you seriously want to see change, make sure you DON’T vote for any incumbent City Council members in the next election – it could well be your last chance to help save Laguna.



  2. I’d like someone to explain to me how a parking garage with 133 spaces can cost an estimated 10-12 million dollars when the land isn’t included.You can purchase three or four beautiful homes for that much money – all in.If the city is hellbent on building a parking structure then it should be right next to city hall on the south side of the flood channel.It would provide more parking then the proposed structure on third without the cars having to encroach the downtown any further and could perhaps even support housing on the top since it wouldn’t have to hold church services there ( which all of us who live in the neighborhood are treated to every Sunday.

  3. Jason:
    Agreed, but no subterranean level because it’s a flood plain (prone to filling if the flood control channel and/or LC Road surface tops) plus the groundwater table is very close to the surface there. Making construction, if invasive, an expensive nightmare.
    No scenic view obstructions if set back, and although I’d dislike 2 levels, at least as you’ve noted it would keep the 909-ers, festival, theater, City event or other activity attendees from coming into the central business district.
    Probably as peripheral as most would tolerate or use to underwrite expenses.
    We own that property and although many want such a structure out at Act V, the commuting dynamics to and from there aren’t really practical, especially during off-season when the weather’s not that swift.
    It’s more of an overflow option alternative, not a primary one.
    And those parklets?
    They’re not intended for ALL local merchants: They’re for bars and restaurants, for a specific portion of commerce.
    The City is looking for 90-100 spaces which were already there, now taken away.
    Residents and visitors alike HAD access as a critical element in the decision tree for those seeking parking spaces, proximity that’s now lost.
    Anaheim is in the news, and if you’re paying attention, know why?
    Because its Chamber of Commerce is the actual boss, its shadow governance, not the City Council.
    Here one could add Visit Laguna Beach.

  4. Roger, the development friendly city council troika city council troika of Kempf, Whalen and Blake lead by the city manager have totally abrogated their prime responsibility. They have a legal fiduciary obligation to the citizens of Laguna Beach. That is defined as diligence, responsibility and honesty in all financial transactions. The purchase of the Ti Amo property was totally absent in even cursory due diligence. The city manager with the acquiescence of the troika simply outbid an offer for the property without an appraisal. And now with the giveaway to the Presbyterian Church the city manager decided that the appraisal of the property to be developed that was done by the church was acceptable. Again total lack of due diligence on a $7,180,00 appraisal. Their must be enough trust between the two negotiating teams to allow this to happen. Or it could be something else. When I brought up the subject of total lack of fiduciary governance at last nights meetings and said that perhaps Mayor Kempf and Blake did not understand the requirements Blake immediately objected and Kempf said I was being condescending. That makes the matter even worse. Whalen and our city attorney surely know the legal requirements of fiduciary responsibility and if Blake and Kempf as well as the city manager also knew their fiduciary responsibility then why did they not demand that an independent appraisal and an analysis of the soil be made before proceeding any further? The city manager tried to defend her action by saying that an appraiser did “review” the churches valuation and found it acceptable. This statement was certainly not in the Memorandum of Understanding presented with no warning for approval to proceed at the council meeting on 10 May. The statement reads as follows: “An appraisal of the property value prepared on behalf of t a fair market value of the prope the appraised value as fair and reasonable.” The word that appears to be missing between city and the is missing in the MOU. Again no mention of the review by a city appointed appraiser. And of course no soil analysis of the property even though a high water table was found across the street and there is likely hazardous material in the soil. Either one of these conditions would very likely reduce the cut h valuation of the land. Again this points to a complete abrogation of fiduciary resposibility of the three council members, the city manager and the city attorney in my view. and

  5. Thank you Rodger Butow and Chris Catsimanes for your information and input. Mr Butow mentions Anaheim and its Chamber Boss. Worth staying tuned in to what’s unraveling there and who got caught up in this government corruption.

    IMO – there’s some strong similarities. Laguna’s extreme focus on tourism dollars and catering to special interests have been raised by residents since 2018 when through the efforts of RE/ developer/investor PAC Liberate Laguna now Forward they got pro-development candidates Blake and Kempf elected. Seems the only ones benefitting since then are downtown businesses, Chamber, Visit Laguna and some RE investors.

    Laguna Voters, let’s not wait till we become breaking news. Vote for residents first and transparent leadership in November. #noincumbents2022! #BlakeOut2022!

  6. Elected officials and those they appoint and give tremendous administrative oversight power to (hiring/firing of staff, etc.) are IMHO symptoms.
    My focus has been upon the manipulative causal factors that led to these types of mindless zombies. And how does a town at least recover some of its historical, quaint, quiet funkiness for a few months each year, traffic calmed down to let locals navigate without constant gridlock?
    Example: Why are we giving Visit Laguna $1.5 million/year? Who in their right natural mind believes that Laguna needs more publicity today? We’re branded, done deal.
    Perhaps it could be argued that 20 years ago, when an additional 2% was added to our TOT, I think 1% was earmarked for the Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau?
    I assumed back then that we weren’t as high profile as commercial interests desired. The Montage had barely opened.
    So think of those Visit Laguna (then LBVB) inception days as a mission, a venture, an investment.
    Risky, to me back then, because the Board of the LBVB was and continues to be packed with hotel/tourist business industry insiders. We’re not a priority because we’re already here.
    Well? Mission Accomplished, if we weren’t a world renowned, year round destination resort, we are now.
    So why keep giving Visit Laguna all of that moolah?
    Lost in the shuffle, the glitter, glamor et al is why groups like LRF emerge: We got respite, we had our town to ourselves for months on end during off-season. Now 90% of our residents are afterthoughts at best.
    Now there is no off-season, and with an endless parade of manufactured special events year round (some basically freak shows), our days of inhaling on Memorial Day (omg, here come the hordes), exhaling on Labor Day (Whew! Bye bye hordes), downtown is a veritable circus.
    Laguna is now synonymous with gimmick.
    Maybe some brave City Council candidate will vow to start the conversation, divest and divert that $1.5 million/year to infrastructure and tourist-oriented, community services.
    The City could start with all of those potholes in our streets due to the increased vehicular trips.
    In other words, mitigate the impacts due to the huge influx.
    Let the hotel/restaurant industry underwrite Visit Laguna.
    20 years and $30 million later, let them fund themselves.

  7. Mr. Catsimanes:
    Since you addressed your comments to me personally, let me respond in kind.
    FACT: You wrote nothing that isn’t already widely known, and doubly so for me. Almost all of what you wrote I, like many others, have already written until our eyes bleed.
    FACT: That contaminated groundwater table and soil? It was myself (as founder of CLEAN WATER NOW), (then) water quality engineer Scott Tenney, Gary Alstot (retired wastewater engineer) and Rick Wilson (Surfrider coastal engineer) who halted the large version of the downtown/Canyon Flood Control project circa 2001-2.
    By law, whomever breaks ground MUST pay the expenses to remediate.
    We were to receive nearly $10 million back then in the early 2000s, but that only covered structural improvements……the remediation costs were unknown because the OC Flood/US Army Corps of Engineers EIR stated that the ENTIRE downtown segment, soiled groundwater, from Forest down to the beach, was saturated with hydrocarbon pollutants in high concentration levels. Osmotically, it had permeated the loamy soil in this flood plain.
    I’m the one who “discovered” this startling info in the humungous EIR binders I browsed at our LB Library, in the Water Quality mitigation section.
    We 4 informed the City Council, who then rescinded their initial approval, realizing that we’d be signing a blank check, be on the hook for indeterminate remediation costs. Kinsman and Pearson imprudently wanted to proceed by ignoring the potential 10s of millions of $$$ tab we could have been stuck with.
    P & K called it “free money,” but refused to admit that the remediation caveat could have cost us a fortune of debt, money that we didn’t have.
    All of the contaminated soil would need to be hauled away to a hazardous waste landfill, ALL of the water pumped until fresh water from upstream and the seawater intrusion had replaced the millions of gallons of spoils perched close to the surface.
    And that polluted water would have to have its own treatment plant per Cal EPA because our wastewater system couldn’t possibly handle the daily volumes, nor the Coastal Treatment Plant accept the volume.
    FACT: Over 10 years ago, I wrote a series of columns in LB Patch, all noted those same groundwater and soil conditions regarding LBCC wishing to build a 4 level parking structure, one being subterranean, where our current parking area is next to Laguna Canyon Road.
    I definitely got the CM Pietig’s attention, it was eventually admitted that the conditions still existed and remediations costs unknowable. Google it.
    Let Laguna Vote, one could say a precursor to LRF, carried my input prominently in their educational material, forwarded links to those columns.
    FACT: The contaminants, over the years, due to the flushing and swirling, both due to “king” high tides and extreme rainy events, are no doubt ubiquitous, systemic, throughout the downtown sub-surface.
    This is another reason why I’ve also discouraged 3-4 story structures in the downtown flood plain. As a retired builder-analyst, I know how deep they’ll have to go to erect these buildings.
    That’s not gold they’ll be hitting down about 15-20 feet max.
    I’m not saying that 3-4 storied buildings can’t be built, but the party legally responsible for remediation needs to be addressed.


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