The storefronts’ primary problems are a combination of exorbitant rents and the changing nature of commercial retail.
The primary draw for tourists remains what it has been since the town’s earliest days, the ocean and beaches and, increasingly, the backcountry.
People aren’t coming to Laguna to buy things that can be found online or elsewhere, for less money. They admire cute boutique shops and art galleries with interesting things because it is fun and entertaining and, sometimes, will make a purchase.
Large hotel projects won’t change that.
The notion that the currently envisioned hotels will draw an elite clientele, that will buoy the galleries is probably overstated, as only one of these properties is oceanfront. These projects will impact traffic congestion more than anything else and produce rooftop-generated noise.
As properties age, owners should be compelled, or if that is too strong a word, coaxed into maintaining their properties.
It seems as though some commercial owners are hoping that Mo’s projects are accepted with exemptions to current building restrictions, widening the door for their own grand dreams.
Suggestions that Laguna is “dying” are silly, as are the comments I’ve heard that Laguna is becoming a slum.
Thanks for reading my opinion. I arrived in Laguna in 1963 and have followed this discussion for quite a long time now. Change and growth will occur.
Let’s be as mindful as possible as to the repercussions of things like roof-top amenities, that sneak around building height restrictions and have the potential to destroy the ambiance of our existing environment.
John Walker, Laguna Beach
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