In response to a recent article that expressed dismay regarding the total loss of appeal of Main Beach, I took a walk there this afternoon and made a note of what I saw and heard.
Don’t mistake this for a holiday puff-piece, either—this was a cool, breezy day in December, and any relation to the fact that there were only 10 days until Christmas was not evident. I saw giant floating bubbles, strollers (people who walk at a leisurely pace, and the kind that carry children), bicyclists, volleyball players, people taking photographs (lots of selfies, of course), basketball players, people sitting on benches, children in the playground, a guy checking out the lifeguard tower, people pointing at shorebirds, and sand castle construction. I heard bird calls, a debate about whether sunrises or sunsets were more beautiful, rap music, breaking waves, chitchat, and the unmistakable giggles of children.
Sitting behind a banner, which took advantage of the fact that the words “Street” and “Beat” rhyme, were two congenial police officers. They informed me that they have almost exclusively positive interactions with beach-goers, who ask questions like where the closest bathroom is, and what’s a good place to eat. They find Canadians invariably friendly, and often hear foreign languages, mentioning Greek and what might, to some, also be considered a foreign language: English as spoken by Australians. They acknowledged that their presence was in part meant to address concerns expressed by some residents about safety, relating to individuals engaging in illegal or disruptive behaviors. They also explained that this issue had significantly improved, following the institution of new registration procedures and support services at the shelter facility in the canyon, plus the opening of other shelter facilities in surrounding cities.
I also heard from a person working in one of the retail businesses across from Main Beach that the slowdown in business they had seen compared to two years ago nearly matched the drastic decline in the percentage of their customers from the Middle East, which, one has to suspect, has to do with immigration policy, one way or the other, and/or other issues well beyond the confines of Laguna Beach.
So, in revisiting the question about the appeal of Main Beach and “Why would anyone want to go there anymore?” I can suggest at least three reasons: bird calls, giant floating bubbles, and giggling children. Granted, if you are in the sunrise camp, you will be disappointed; this is a strictly sunset venue.
Gary Stewart, Laguna Beach