At the end of the first City Council candidate forum on Sept. 6, Councilman Rob Zur Schmiede remarked the city of Laguna Beach has already adopted a Complete Streets Policy. Public remarks like this placate a parting audience and spread disinformation; worse, the remark leads community residents to the wrong conclusion. Let’s review the facts.
To qualify for grant funding assistance, a city must have documents in place the way Los Angeles did in this comparison with Laguna. To date, Laguna Beach has not prepared any of these prerequisite documents and thus could not possibly adopt Complete Streets Policy. Laguna’s latest Transportation, Circulation and Growth Element was adopted in 1992 (26 years ago) and features Model ‘A’ Fords on the cover and Bob Gentry was mayor. In it, there is no reference to Complete Streets Policy.
Laguna’s Enhanced Mobility and Complete Streets Transition Plan, referred to by Zur Schmiede, is not a policy document and thus is not policy. Instead, it is rubber-stamped with this disclaimer:
“The Plan is not intended as a Municipal Code Section or as a component of the General Plan; however, the plan can effectively be used as an informational guide for future Municipal Code and General Plan amendments/updates for the implementation of complete streets technology in the city. The Plan describes practical suggestions and directions for the City to consider additional multi-modal initiatives such as an active transportation plan, a bicycle master plan and a pedestrian master plan. The Plan can also be used to consider and implement multi-modal facilities with future public-works projects.”
Laguna’s Enhanced Mobility and Complete Streets Transition Plan was an 84-page exercise for city staff to generate paper, not policy; it reads like bookmarks to Wikipedia, not a city commitment for action. Costing $118,000 in grant funding, plus consultants’ expense and staff time, the exercise was a jobs program not Complete Streets Policy. If it were policy, the content would be consistent with a complete street, the level of service would count people not vehicles (page 13), SYNCHRO would model roadway users not vehicles (page 28), and a $12 million automobile parking lot would not be disguised as the Village Entrance.
Lorene Laguna is the only candidate to promote Complete Streets Policy. She served on the Laguna Canyon Road Task Force and recognizes adding more auto infrastructure to remove traffic congestion is counter-intuitive, like raising speed limits as a traffic-calming measure.
Les Miklosy, Laguna Beach
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