Opinion: Paid Parking at and Around Alta Laguna Park

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By Gene Felder

The City’s Parking, Traffic, and Circulation Committee will meet on April 22 to discuss a proposal by the Top of the World Neighborhood Association (TOWNA):

  • Have marked parking spaces on north end of Alta Laguna Boulevard
  • Have marked parking spaces throughout Canyon Pointe streets, Park Place, and Tyrol Drive
  • Have paid parking in Alta Laguna Park parking lot, north end of Alta Laguna Blvd., Canyon Pointe streets, Park Place, and Tyrol Drive
  • Have sensors installed and add pay-by-app parking
  • Free parking for those having Laguna Beach Shoppers Permit
  • Make no parking on north end of Alta Laguna Blvd. after sunset both sides to Park Avenue

This will not stop the hordes of visitors who due to social media and COVID-19 restrictions have inundated the Top of the World (TOW) neighborhood particularly at the Alta Laguna Park and the nearby entrance to the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park. Particularly on Saturdays and Sundays, visitors come and park. If the proposal is adopted, they will pay to park providing additional income to the City of Laguna Beach.

I have heard no feasible solutions to stop the visitors from coming, but one of the allures via social media is that there is free parking here. TOW taxpayers already pay plenty of taxes deserving of police and fire protection, but if the visitors pay to park significant additional revenues can be provided to the City.

To deter visitors hanging around into the evening, all parking on Alta Laguna Boulevard after sunset should be prohibited on weekend nights.

There’s no need for lots of poles and meters. The City can install a sensor identifying each parking space. There may be pay stations, but importantly people will be able to pay just by the parking app using a smart phone. The collection of the funds paid via the app is more efficient.

Day-trippers typically pay no taxes. One estimate is that this would produce an additional net income to the City of $150,000 per year. The Parking Fund revenue should be used to increase police resources and presence. With smoking, fire is a concern and parking revenue could be used to increase fire department resources. The Parking Fund is discretionary allowing the City Council to spend for any purpose, and in the past, this has included police and fire department positions, transit, open space, etc. Laguna Beach residents should expect that the Parking Fund be used to protect the quality of life of Laguna Beach residents and to mitigate problems caused by visitors.

The paid parking system design should minimize posts and signage, being as aesthetic as possible. We do not want individual meters or poles or pay stations that would interfere with sidewalk movement. Ideally, the City would initiate a pilot Pay-By-App only program. The City’s parking app is much better than last year; under settings, one can choose to “Save Bay Location Automatically”.

Visitors already park on adjacent neighborhood residential streets, but now park for free. If this proposal is recommended by the PTC and adopted by the City Council, the visitors will then pay for parking. It may actually deter a few of the visitors from coming, but, of course, it may cause some to park further into the neighborhood to find free parking. Please voice your opinion at the PTC meeting via Zoom or by emailing [email protected] ahead of time.

Gene is president of the Top of the World Neighborhood Association.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. Through a series of covert moves the Laguna PTC is inviting more traffic to Laguna Beach not less. The more auto infrastructure we build, the more day-trippers we invite to Laguna Beach and our City is incumbent to manage. First we built a road, then free off-site parking, then free Alta Park parking-lot, then direction signage, next parking meters, parking sensors, Social Media parking, Parking Consultants, “Frog Parking”, administrative management, parking police, finally a TOW Parking Garage enterprise. The PTC is marketing for parking meter revenue, not a solution to Laguna Beach mobility. The solution to Alta Park traffic is Complete Streets Policy, the solution for city revenue is a different topic.

  2. There is nothing covert. The Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee is hearing my Action Request in open public hearings. The PTC meeting will be Thursday, April 22, 2021 starting at 6:00 PM. My reasoning is in the Guest Opinion and having no idea how to stop the visitors from parking here, the idea is to at least have them pay. The visitors are parking their cars here now.
    By the way, I opposed and oppose new parking structures in town including the one being studied in Laguna Canyon.
    Gene Felder [email protected]

  3. Gene is right. This is not covert. It is, however, bad public policy and smacks of the type of small town thinking that rears its ugly head every few months in Laguna Beach.

    Parks are built to be used. It’s a reasonable expectation that if you live near a park, people will use the park.

    The basic premise of this whole argument is that people are using the park, parking on the street and that is bad.

    Scratching your head? Yea, imagine I have my family, and invite my mom to come to park, oh sorry mom, you gotta pay…….Volunteers for youth sports…oh sorry….you gotta pay…want to shop downtown…sorry….you gotta pay….want to watch yours kids at the park, and not have a “shoppers decal ( another tax)”..sorry you gotta pay to watch your kids play.

    Is that really what we want Laguna Beach to be? A toll stop for parking revenue?

    Keep our parks free.

  4. My wife and I fully support Gene’s solutions outlined above. The pandemic, social media even Visit Laguna’s magazine encourages people from out of town to visit Alta Laguna Park. Park impacts occur primarily on weekends and Gene’s suggestions address those peak times. As a former coach for soccer and baseball, youth sport practices primarily occur on weekday afternoons where parking is ample. For the vast majority of TOW residents most of the time, scenarios like paying to park aren’t going to happen…except if you’re a visitor. My wife and I have shopper’s permits because we want to support our local retailers and restaurants. It’s possible to obtain up to 4 permits per household at minimal cost. These solutions address the current, ever growing problems and offers a way to help pay for visitor impacts. By doing nothing, the current situation will continue to degrade. Mike Sweeney, Resident since 1961

  5. Get ready for Alta Park LOT – 22
    Laguna Beach is already a Parking Lot:

    All City of Laguna Beach parking meters are priced at $2.50 per hour.

    Lot 1 – Broadway Lot – 226 Broadway Street ($3.00 per hour, 3 hour limit)

    Lot 2 – Peppertree Lot – 322 Forest Avenue ($3.00 per hour, 3 hour limit)

    Lot 3 – Ocean Avenue West Lot B – 243 Ocean Avenue ($3.00 per hour, 3 hour limit)

    Lot 4 – Ocean Avenue East Lot A – 225 Ocean Avenue ($3.00 per hour, 3 hour limit)

    Lot 5 – Mermaid Lot – 348 Glenneyre Street ($3.00 per hour, 3 hour limit)

    Lot 6 – Glenneyre Structure – 501 Glenneyre Street ($3.00 per hour, 3 hour limit)

    Lot 7 – Treasure Island Surface Lot – 30801 Coast Highway ($2.50 per hour, 3 hour limit)

    Lot 8 – Treasure Island Garage – 30993 Coast Highway ($2.50 per hour, 3 hour limit)

    Lot 9 – Fred Lang Lot – 21540 Wesley Drive ($2.50 per hour, 3 hour limit)

    Lot 10 – Laguna Canyon Road Lot – 635 Laguna Canyon Road ($4 all-day flat rate)

    Lot 11 – Forest/Laguna Canyon Lot – 725 Laguna Canyon Road ($4 all-day flat rate)

    Lot 11-E – Employee Lot – 725 Laguna Canyon Road ($4 all-day flat rate)
    **No public parking Monday – Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. – City employee parking only

    Lot 12 – Lumberyard Lot – 521 Forest Avenue ($4 all-day flat rate)

    Lot 13 – Laguna Beach Community and Susi Q Center – 380 Third Street ($4 flat rate after 5 p.m. on Fri and all day Sat-Sun)

    Lot 14 – Hagan Place Structure – 480 Mermaid Street ($4 flat rate after 5 p.m. Mon-Fri and all day Sat-Sun)

    Lot 15- Mission Hospital Lot – 31872 Coast Highway – (Free public parking after 5 p.m. on Friday and all day Sat-Sun)

    Lot 16 – Act V Lot – (Currently closed)

    Lot 20 – Seacove Lot – 31681 Coast Highway (Free parking, 3 hour limit)

    Lot 21 – Legion Lot – 303 Legion Street ($2.50 per hour, 3 hour limit)

  6. Growing city revenue by building parking infrastructure is covert, increasing parking occupancy to reduce auto traffic is illusory.

    Estimated Cost:
    Pay Stations and Sensors / Striping and Signage / Annual Ops & Maintenance
    Proposed Streets & Parking Lot: $150,000 / $20,000 / $25,000
    Parking Lot Only: $45,000 / $2,000 / $8,000

    Missing: Parking Enforcement and Law Enforcement
    Source: PTC April 22 Summary Report
    Parking Apps to reduce parking occupancy is like belt holes to cure obesity.

  7. Why is there concern about tourists parking around a public park?

    Because the residential streets around Top of The World are now being used as a parking lot? What about the congestion on lower Park Avenue?
    Although we are taxpayers, there is frequently no space available for parking our cars in our neighborhood. The spots are used by downtown employees and visitors.

    To focus on one area being bombarded by tourists’ parking is elitist. We live 3 blocks from Main Beach…the most crowded tourist spot.
    Why consider only Top of the World parking issues? We are one small town, look at the bigger picture.

    Pay-for-parking will only cause more impact in your neighborhood, and the tourists will find those free parking spots in front of your homes, just as they have in front of ours. Build more structures and you are inviting more people, ad infinitum.

    The answer to this challenge lies in Complete Streets. Look towards the future and make a change.

  8. Jahn, I agree. This piecemeal approach to visitors and parking problems in our town is not the answer. The fact is the visitor and parking issues in neighborhoods along PCH is by far larger than any of the hillside communities, especially South Laguna and we cannot get any attention for this matter or anything else from the City. Oh forgot…we got about $130,000 in increased trash pick up services on weekends out of the most recent $2M approved by Council over the next two years to address public safety, signs and other issues in other areas of the City. What’s wrong with this picture? It pits neighborhoods against each other. We all pay taxes and all deserve the same considerations.

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