Opinion: Surveying 2024 priorities for Laguna Beach 

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By Merrill Anderson 

Laguna Residents First conducted an online Survey Monkey poll circulated amongst registered voters in Laguna Beach in January 2024. A total of 370 people responded (12% response rate) to a question about what the top priorities for Laguna Beach in 2024 should be. 

Respondents could select multiple priorities and were invited to write comments. 

Top priorities: Reducing traffic congestion (61% selected as a priority) and undergrounding power lines in green spaces (52%) emerged as the top two priorities. Respondents supported undergrounding all power lines, starting with the most critical areas, i.e., Laguna Canyon.  

Middle priorities: Creating more open space, parks, and hiking trails, creating more affordable housing, and reducing crime were each selected by 29% of the respondents. Several residents wrote that the city should stop accessory dwelling units or keep them within height limits, take better care of beaches and erosion, create more bike paths and pedestrian-friendly walkways, control e-bikes, add more pickleball courts and build a second pool. 

Low priorities: Creating more parking emerged as a low priority, especially if the cost of this new parking is to be borne by taxpayers (8% selected as a priority) rather than by those who directly benefit from new parking: commercial property owners and developers (23%). Adding more restaurants and bars (15%) and increasing tourism (4%) ranked low; as both of these were likely linked to increased congestion. One resident commented: “There are simply too many people crowding the city and congesting our roadways. The cost of this is enormous to the people who live here. The current government supports endless growth at the expense of the people who live here.” 

Graph generated by Laguna Residents First.

Half of the respondents added comments, and three major groupings emerged.

Several suggested improving city government with term limits, rotating mayor/pro tem positions amongst all council members, reducing taxes, reducing City Hall headcount, improving the permitting process, and updating the municipal code. 

Make landlords clean up building facades and pay a fine for chronically vacant buildings. 

Use more green energy, increase street lighting, protect Rimrock Canyon, be open to sustainable housing and entertainment concepts, and build a pedestrian sidewalk in South Laguna. 

Laguna Residents First (LRF) is a California PAC No. 1421491 dedicated to empowering residents to preserve and enhance the unique value and charm of Laguna Beach. Merrill Anderson is a board member of LRF and has 40 years of experience in survey research. 

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