Letter: Third Street Parking Structure Makes Sense


I’ve been reviewing the Parking Management Plan that the city council is considering and want to comment on it, particularly concerning the proposed Third Street parking structure opposite the senior center. I’ve lived in Laguna since 1970 and have witnessed many projects that have either been completed or never made it off the drawing board. When the Glenneyre parking structure was first proposed, there was a great deal of opposition to it. I wasn’t a fan, either. It turns out I was wrong. That structure has been a godsend for our community – it made it possible for our Rotary Club to flourish when we met at Hotel Laguna and has energized our downtown businesses. Having learned that lesson, I firmly believe that the Third Street structure would be a similar treasure in that locals will heavily use it for shopping and accommodate the overflow from the senior center and the community clinic. Since the creation of the Promenade, parking in the downtown area has become even more challenging for residents. This proposed new structure will compensate for that loss of parking.

The other plan for a structure at the “village entrance” has been dead-on-arrival for many years, partly because many residents don’t feel comfortable with such an obtrusive, multi-level building in plain sight at the gateway to our city. Third Street, on the other hand, is tucked away in a location that is already a parking lot, and it is shovel-ready today. And it is close to many downtown stores, banks, restaurants, and city and water district offices.

Please consider these benefits when making your decision on its future. Of all the options presented, Third Street is the clear winner and has the least baggage.

I attended the parking workshop last week. It was just another gripe session by the same people in town who want to see no forward thinking or progress. Fortunately, they represent a minute portion of the people of our wonderful town. Most of them couldn’t get their “facts” straight while at the podium. Please listen to the majority of residents who believe this is an elegant solution to our parking challenges.

Jerry Immel, Temple Hills

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  1. Building on Church-owned land, paying them rent and then at the end of the lease, returning the entire structure over to the Church makes absolutely no financial sense for tax-payers. If, despite the Downtown Specific Plan conclusion that downtown has enough parking, if we do build parking, why not build it on city-owned land? This makes far more financial sense. This deal overwhelmingly benefits the Church at great cost to the taxpayer when lower cost options are available. This is a deal made in heaven for the church – somewhere else for the residents.

  2. From a Parking Management Plan we learned Parking Management Subcommittee proposes to construct 18-parking lots and 11-parking structures throughout Laguna Beach including the Presbyterian Church structure. This Plan does not give the amortized costs of construction and other costs so I estimated these given typical project concerns and interest rates. The hourly meter rate to park in those spaces ranges from $12 to $15 per hour just to break-even with the project costs. The meter rates for all eleven structures are posted at Laguna Streets.

    If the Church parking were living space, the rent would be $1650/mo per space-added by this structure. From the MOU we learn the Church will reserve another 41-spaces that generate no revenue, then the cost per space becomes $2700/mo per added-space. These space rents far exceed the value of affordable housing at $1200/mo. Laguna Beach has enough cars. The Parking Subcommittee should spend city staff resources writing Affordable Housing Management Plans rather than building Condos for Cars.

  3. I find it stunning that someone who attended the workshop with the overwhelming number of people speaking against this structure at the church says it’s just a few people griping about it. No – it’s the vast majority of people who have looked at the numbers, at the sweet deal for the church and at the fact that the city first said we have enough parking via their consultants and then reversed themselves, with their consultants, saying we need to build a structure. If they are so convinced we need a structure then for heaven’s sake build it on land we own instead of this crazy give away to a church. Look who was behind this idea – Peter Blake and the City Manager who never got an independent appraisal. The City Manger who put it on the consent calendar to pass the Memorandum of Understanding without resident input. That should tell you all you need to know about why it’s a bad deal.

  4. Mr. Immel must have attended a parking plan workshop in an alternative universe than the one I attended. He claims that:

    ” It was just another gripe session by the same people in town who want to see no forward thinking or progress. Fortunately, they represent a minute portion of the people of our wonderful town. Most of them couldn’t get their ‘facts’ straight while at the podium. Please listen to the majority of residents who believe this is an elegant solution to our parking challenges.”

    What he neglects to mention is that the room was filled to capacity. And when attendees were asked for a show of hands, approximately two-thirds voted to oppose the Presbyterian parking structure. That’s a helluva lotta grippers to be a small minority. And one-third is a ridiculously far cry from his “majority of residents who believe this is an elegant solution.”

    If I remember correctly, there was also an Indy poll where around 70% of those responding were opposed to the project.

    Since Mr. Immel is so fervidly convinced this is a great plan, I’ll have to remain dubious of his rational until he answers these questions:

    • Exactly how will the financing be handled? (Bond money is still paid for by residents.)

    • What will all costs be – including lease, construction and maintenance costs?

    • What will the City’s ROI be as a percentage of its investment?

    • What will be the impact on Third St. – one of Laguna’s already busiest streets – and on the major communities it feeds, including Temple Hills and Skyline?

    • What impact will more traffic have on the town – including public safety and emergency exiting?

    • What impact will more tourism have on safety, policing, the environment and over all quality of life for residents?

    • What other more affordable parking options are available to us?

    • Why build on leased land when we could own a structure on property the city already owns?

    • Are there any improper conflicts of interest on this deal which may exist within City Hall – as in the Mayor being close friends with Ed Sauls, the church’s representative?

    Unlike Mr. Immel, I look on this project as a complete boondoggle – one that’s completely financially unfeasible. The last thing Laguna needs is a glut of more tourists and traffic jams downtown, clogging major access and thoroughfares.

    For many more pros and cons, visit:



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