Letter: Regarding Overheard at the Susi Q


I have long been amused with Billy Fried’s obsession with turning Laguna Beach into a European Hamlet. I have yet to see a  European village that could sustain six million visitors a year. Venice Italy has recently instituted severe restrictions on the number of tourists and is charging tourist fees. But that aside, Fried has pointed out an astute observation with his latest column introducing us to Mabel and Fred at the Susi Q Center.  He has clearly pointed out the problem currently facing Laguna Beach. He identified Mabel and Fred as being against rampant development that creates additional traffic on an already critically impacted city.  He also made clear that Mabel and Fred don’t believe that bicycling is the answer to the parking problems (they must think that only elites ride bicycles). But most of all he labeled Mabel and Fred as being suspicious of the City Council, who readily take 59% of the city budget from Mabel and Fred’s property taxes, but if they wish to address the City Council about any concerns, stand a good chance of getting rudely insulted or pushed off to a tightly-controlled Zoom meeting. Since the sales tax (8%) and the Transient Occupancy tax (10%) contribute so little to the budget they must erroneously feel that their needs and interests should be considered in addition to the needs of developers and the tourism entrepreneurs.

The only reason I can think of that Mabel and Fred would want to take time away from their bingo games is that since they are paying so much to the piper they would like to think they are also being heard. Failing that perhaps Mabel and Fred can pass a Ballot Initiative if no other venue is available to them. When a city council requires less of a developer for a hotel renovation than they require of a homeowner to replace a deck then Mable and Fred start thinking that things are out of whack.

In short, Laguna Beach is a magnificent jewel of a city, squeezing it dry with development without regard to the residents should be considered a crime.

Let’s remember the city is here for its residents (even if its only Mabel and Fred) as well as its merchants.

By the way Fried, have you been to Huntington Beach or Dana Point lately?

Mike Monahan, Laguna Beach

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  1. Actually Mike, I’m in Europe at the moment, studying livable, walkable, bikeable hamlets we can model Laguna on. Thanks for the shout out. BTW if you rode a bike you wouldn’t have a parking problem.

  2. If you can prove Laguna has 6 million visitors, I’ll eat my bike. All of these places get less than 6 million visitors: Las Vegas, Bourbon Street, Universal Studios, Palace of Versailles, Acropolis of Athens, Stonehenge, Miami, Orlando, Los Angeles (yes, the entire city), San Francisco, Honolulu, Washington D.C., Boston and Chicago.

  3. Hey Billy, A cursory search for 2019 shows Las Vegas at over 42 million visitors, Los Angeles over 50 million, San Francisco 26.5 million, DC over 24 million, and Orlando at 75 million and so on. No need to eat your bike. Instead I wish you happy riding.

  4. Fried seems to think his assertions are the absolute truth even if their is not not a shred of evidence to support them. Billy, believing something does not necessarily make it true. Please fact check yourself before making provably false statements. You owe it to those that that read your missives.

  5. REPEAT: Laguna Beach has 23,500 residents managing 6.3 Million visitors annually, Cinque Terre Italy has 6,000 residents managing 5 Million visitors. Laguna’s mobility plan is car-centric from 1950, Cinque Terre is a nest of five CARFREE villages. Here’s a comparison of the two visitor destinations. https://lagunastreets.blogspot.com/2019/09/carfree-cities-cinque-terre-italy.html

    Do Laguna residents want to live in a town that ranks cars first and inhabitants fourth – after parking requirements, parking revenues and vehicle fines? Would Detroit suit us better?

    Laguna could solve it’s urban mobility problems by adopting mobility policy from other worldly tourist destinations, or stick with the 1950 Caltrans model of MORE FASTER CARS (MoFaCa). Laguna’s Planning Department is math challenged, which policy will Laguna’s Council choose?


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