Park Avenue Plaza sounds a lot like a New York City address, right? But hang tight. The Park Avenue Plaza is not in New York City, but right here in Laguna on our own Park Avenue (actually the little street that parallels Forest that abuts the shawarma falafel stand on the way to the library).
Our Council voted unanimously to spend $75,000 for a parklet with tables and chairs for a six-week “experiment” beginning Oct. 21.
The grand vision is that Laguna Beach will be now more like a European village. But the reality is our European village abuts a California highway with millions in car traffic. The trade-off means closing a favorite locals thoroughfare traveled by a car every minute with direct access to Glenneyre and Top of the World. We will lose eight metered parking spaces with revenue of $1,400 in average weekly parking fees and face the very real possibility of compounding traffic backing-up on already congested Coast Highway.
Not that wasting money is a foreign concept to this Council. Recall the public threw a collective fit last year when the Council’s other grand experiment in parklets took out at least two parking spaces on Forest Avenue in favor of a wooden barricade that many chided looked more like a livestock pen than anything park-like and cost the owner of Alessa restaurant $45,000.
I asked Steve Dicterow if all this was worth it. “Can’t people just walk across the street and go to a real park called the beach?” “Won’t traffic back-up if two egresses are removed?” “Won’t people be ticked-off having to turn left at Legion Street?” “Won’t we be burdening library patrons?” And, “If Council wants an experiment, why can’t we test barricades first at a more reasonable cost?”
Steve argued that traffic can be easily diverted onto streets like Jasmine and Myrtle through north Laguna neighborhoods to Rosa Bonheur. But then wouldn’t we be backing up traffic at Broadway and still not be anywhere near Glenneyre?
Perhaps the shawarma plaza is a good idea. But then why didn’t Council follow Bob Whalen’s suggestion and pull a parking space on Coast Highway in order to create a left-turn pocket on Laguna Avenue? After all, if we are willing to sacrifice eight parking spaces, why couldn’t we sacrifice another one for a left-turn lane to benefit residents? Unfortunately Council’s idea of an experiment makes us all guinea pigs.
Alan Boinus, Laguna Beach