Opinion: Outside In

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A Modest Proposal

By David Weinstein
“But as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal, which, as it is wholly new, so it hath something solid and real.” – Jonathan Swift

I must commend the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and the other powers that be. They’ve made Laguna Beach one of the top tourist spots in the country. Of course, they’ve had some help. All those selfies and photos on social media of “Endless Summer” waves crashing on a pristine beach, or the last rays of a crimson sun setting into the tranquil pacific haven’t hurt the cause either.

But what if you live in Laguna Beach, it’s high tourist season, and you need to run to the store for a quart of milk but you’re not quite up for an undertaking as vexing as the Quest for the Holy Grail? According to my Laguna friends, it’s quite frustrating. And while a dozen or so websites such as the “Top Ten Best Things to do in Laguna Beach” tout the city’s unrivaled attributes and help bring in much-needed municipal revenues and cash to the local merchants, they do so at a cost to residents. The town and its citizenry may have literally become victims of their own success.

Though the city didn’t take me up on my offer to rent my old VW van for a team building exercise or, as I suggested, pattern the City Manager search after the Bachelor/Bachelorette TV series, I am going to give them another shot at a radiant idea. How about a website to voice the things that people don’t like about Laguna Beach? A means to counter the positives and dissuade all the outsiders from visiting or moving here. Of course, this may involve misinformation and subterfuge, but what doesn’t these days?

Here’s my first crack at a list:

The Top 10 Things to Hate About Laguna Beach:

  1. Everyone at the beach looks better than you in a bathing suit.
  2. You may have to walk from Aliso Viejo to find a parking spot to visit the beach.
  3. The cheapest mixed drink in town costs over $20 (except at the Dirty Bird).
  4. The ratio of donut shops to people is the worst in the nation.
  5. The leading cause of death or injury is being run over by a 13-year-old boy on an electric bike.
  6. A weekend stay at a local hotel is more expensive than the annual tuition at an Ivy League college.
  7. The wait for a table at the Cottage Restaurant on weekends is longer than the wait to find a matching kidney donor.
  8. It’s easier for a radical Jihadist to obtain U.S. citizenship than it is to get a building permit.
  9. It’s so expensive to live in Laguna there are now many more art collectors than artists.
  10. Councilperson Peter Blake has been appointed the City’s new Goodwill Ambassador.

I know what you’re thinking. What a detestable list. But it’s all in pursuit of a noble cause—preserving paradise. I’ve come up with other ideas, but they all seemed worse. One was spreading a rumor about a new disease specific to Laguna Beach—Surf Toe.

It’s passed to unsuspecting sunbathers by infected sand crabs. It causes intense and painful swelling of the big toe. And if you are unfortunate enough to get the “Long” version of this disease, well, you can send those Manolo Blahniks to the resale store and forget about ever fitting into those retro Air Jordans again. However, I jettisoned this idea because it will probably wind up as political as the whole COVID-19 thing.

If you’re thinking about going online and registering all the prime domain names for websites to disparage Laguna Beach, I applaud your ambition but you’re too late. I’ve already reserved the good ones. However, you may still be able to get in on the ground floor of this scheme, but it’s going to cost you. Maybe as much as a paint job for an old VW Vanagon.

And finally, feel free to send in your gripes for the “Top Ten” list. All the locals trapped in their homes this summer will thank you if you do.

David is a resident of Newport Beach, and his column often appears in the Laguna Beach Independent.

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