Letter: Pay Parking in Our Neighborhoods?

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I have envisioned how my street (Catalina) would be different with the pay-for-use parking spaces proposed by Jim Danziger for all streets within six blocks of the beach. There would be lots of white paint from marking and numbering the spaces. There would be pay kiosks and additional signage. My street is already full of parked cars, every day, mostly from restaurant workers and some tourists. So, the net result of paid parking would be aesthetic degradation of the neighborhood. It would make our residential street look more like Glenneyre. I think that’s too high a price to pay.

I like the idea of congestion pricing as a way to charge tourists their fair share of city expenses. Congestion pricing is a fee levied on a vehicle when it enters a particular area. With its three points of access, Laguna is an easy area to define. Pricing could use the Toll Road transponders. Laguna residents could be exempted electronically. Commuting workers and regular delivery trucks could receive a discounted rate. The city would get a predictable revenue stream. There would have to be negotiations with Caltrans, the Toll Roads and the Coastal Commission, but the city is no stranger to these. Congestion pricing is currently used to diminish traffic in many cities around the world and is currently being studied in Santa Monica. It encourages alternative modes of transport such as shuttles, bikes and walking.

Like Danziger, John Thomas, and columnist J.J. Gasparotti who have written in the Indy on this issue, I think we must do something to correct the imbalance of resident versus tourist costs to the city. But further degradation of our residential neighborhoods, already packed with parked cars, is not the answer. The introduction of iPhone Frogparking, which could lead to the removal of parking meters from our skinny sidewalks, would also enhance the walkability and aesthetics of our city.

Chris Reed, Laguna Beach


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  1. I’m glad that in this edition of the Indy, Chris Reed, Billy Fried, and George Orff have joined the growing voices of citizens who want to find a solution to the serious shortfall of revenue to the City from visitors to Laguna, relative to the costs they generate. Chris takes exception to my suggestion in the Indy (March 8) to convert all residential streets close to PCH to parking which requires visitors to pay. He worries that his Catalina Street will be marred by some white paint, a pay kiosk, and an informational sign. What would not change is that his street will continue to be wall-to-wall parking, with many of the cars belonging to visitors. What would change is that these nonresidents would be obliged to pay to park, thus helping us to recover some of the substantial costs they generate while visiting Laguna. Millions of dollars in revenue to the city is the tradeoff for a bit of paint on the street, a kiosk and perhaps a sign.
    While I recognize Chris’ enthusiasm for congestion charges (and I wrote sympathetically about this user charge), I suggest that implementing such a congestion charge system in Laguna would be extraordinarily challenging, ranging from major legal-institutional problems to substantial technological complexities. But I hope this idea is in the mix, as are the numerous ideas about revenue generation summarized in George Orff’s Indy letter this week. What is critical is that residents in Laguna demand that their elected and appointed leaders confront our fiscal problems and implement solutions that link some revenue streams to the $20-30 million annual subsidy that residents currently pay to support visitors.

  2. Picture a dead-end cul-de-sac with too many parked cars. Now adopt congestion pricing and what happens? Drivers that park pay the congestion price and where do the remaining cars go? They park in neighborhoods where parking is free. Now build a 300 space parking structure in the cul-de-sac, what happens? The day of opening the garage is filled, the overflow park in neighborhoods and the new aesthetics suck.

    Laguna is like this dead-end cul-de-sac, the inlet connected to PCH and the 133, the beach is just beyond the cul-de-sac. Adding car infrastructure or twiddling knobs on parking meters merely changes the behavior of people operating cars.

    Should a village resort operate like a parking lot business? How do you like the aesthetics so far? Why adopt more parking schemes and parking infrastructure when those measures cause the parking problem?

    Laguna needs to think outside the parking box. Adopt Complete Streets Policy and the design solutions to our parking congestion and operating financials will follow.


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