The Indy ran a column June 4 called the “If you build it logic trap.”
It argued “they are coming anyway.” It’s hard to deny that. They will come. Laguna is the very definition of “attractive”—it attracts people.
The argument was that we should plan for that. Again, hard to argue. We should plan for it.
But there is a difference between planning for what is likely to happen and encouraging more of it to happen. That’s the difference. It’s a big difference.
They’re coming anyway. But why go out of our way to entice even more?
You have to figure that if a business builds capacity, the business will do its darndest to see the capacity is utilized. It may not fill up all by itself, but you can bet that there will be a campaign by the business that invested in increased capacity to bring the customers to fill the space that has been created. That means more traffic and congestion.
Laguna is built-out and locked-in—surrounded by the ocean and a sacrosanct greenbelt. It has only three ways in and out of town. Trying to stuff 10 pounds into a five-pound bag seldom works out well.
Widening inbound Laguna Canyon Road (LCR) just makes a wider parking lot out of the road since the jam-up is at the end of the road. And you can’t build a large enough parking structure to accommodate 50,000 visitors on a beautiful sunny summer weekend. A couple of hundred spaces would accommodate about a minute of traffic on LCR. Then what? We’re out millions of dollars and they are still driving around the block.
Aside from the physical impacts from visitors, we know that the revenue the City government collects from visitors falls far short of the additional costs the City government incurs due to the additional demands placed on it due to visitors. Figure the City collects pennies from sales tax—1% of what visitors spend—while the City spends a couple hundred thousand dollars per day to provide public safety and other City services because of all the extra demands on City services from visitors. So, while we’re planning, how about planning on how to get the tourists to pay the City what they cost the City? Otherwise, the residents continue to subsidize every tourist about $4 per visitor per day.
So, they will come, but why encourage more to come?
John Thomas, Laguna Beach