I agree with Billy Fried as to the parking situation here in Laguna Beach. If the City builds more closed-in parking, they (tourists) will be induced to come into town to “look for a space.” Better to make parking for tourists downtown so onerous that they will park at the periphery of the City in designated lots and take the shuttle into town. We certainly don’t need more downtown parking structures to accommodate tourists.
Laguna is already spending about $20,000,000 more for additional fire, police, paramedic, public works and marine safety than the tourists contribute. This money comes from your property taxes. So the last thing we need to do is to encourage more tourists to come to Laguna. This money, if not spent on tourists, could be used elsewhere. For instance, to fund unfunded City worker pension liabilities.
A better approach might be implementing taxes and fees to cover the city’s excess costs to accommodate tourists. Some suggestions include gross receipts tax on bars and restaurants, an increase in sales tax (tourists pay about 75 percent of sales tax), an increase in bed taxes, and a surcharge on Pageant, Sawdust, Art A Fair admissions. Why should taxpayers pay for tourists when 95 percent are day trippers?
George Orff, Laguna Beach
I whole-heartedly agree with Mr. Orff. If we create more parking, it will indeed just be that bigger incentive for more visitors. Aren’t 6.5M already enough?
Where is it written that we have to be providing anyone and everyone with parking? As problematic for residents as it may be, a limited number of parking spaces may well be the solution to overtourism.
As for a better use of taxpayer dollars, it’s important to remember that we’re taking over South County beaches, plus there’s the cost of St. Catherine’s and its renovation, and there’s the new South Laguna fire station to think about. Meanwhile, there’s talk of taking over Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road from Caltrans, undergrounding electricity and widening Laguna Canyon Road. And South Laguna Beaches still can’t even get a public restroom.
But the City Council sure wants residents to spend $55.6M on the Presbyterian church parking structure that we’ll never own and have to split the profits on – a parking lot that will further congest downtown, tie up Third St. possibly for over a year, and ultimately increase business and property values for commercial landlords on the taxpayer’s dollar.
I too have been advocating for some sort of tourist use tax – again, why should residents be paying $20M a year for tourist services when tourists should be paying their own way?