Former Planning Commissioner Greg Vail charged in his recent column (“In Support of Entrance Decision,” Aug. 2) that my interview with Elizabeth Pearson on radio station KX 93.5’s “Clashing Heads” was “less as a forum for community enlightenment and more a ‘red herring’ intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand ….”
“Enlightenment” is not about presenting only one-side. Asking questions with other viewpoints is called journalism. The concerns raised about the village entrance are not about diverting issues from the matter at hand; they are the matter at hand.
Pearson was asked to defend her position about the parking garage, including: 1) it will be the size of a football field, 2) it will take more than five years to build, 3) it will disrupt resident and commuter traffic, 4) surrounding soils may be contaminated and are subject to “liquefaction”; 6) costs may be under-estimated without adequate financing, 7) it would be a drop in the bucket to ease congestion, and 8) the public should vote on a project of this enormity.
Pearson stated that many people don’t support her plan because they feel “we don’t need more parking.” But who has ever said we don’t need more parking? We just don’t need this parking. What has not been reasonably answered is how a parking garage netting 200 parking spaces could ever be expected to ease congestion or solve the parking needs of more than 30,000 cars that drive Laguna Canyon every day.
Mr. Vail should be well aware that the recently presented Downtown Parking Management study laid out strategies to increase parking in the downtown by between 200 and 440 spaces, more than the proposed structure with no need for going into debt!
“[A]s a former planning commissioner, Design Review Board member and participant in the 1996 Village Entrance Task Force that defined the still-current vision for the area,” Mr. Vail should surely remember:
1. The VE Task Force recommended a parking structure and restaurant with a park in front.
2. The cost was estimated at $6.2 million, which translates to about $10 million in today’s dollars (less than one-quarter of the currently estimated $42 million).
3. A $3 million bond was proposed to be paid for by lease payments from the Festival of Arts.
How or why should we assume the cost of this project remain static in light of its history?
To divert attention from the garage, Vail and Pearson claim that the village entrance is ultimately about “beautification.” But can anybody seriously justify the garage monolith as anything that remotely contributes to beautification? No matter how you slice and dice this one, this ain’t a thing of beauty.
Ultimately we can all have a beautiful village entrance and gain the parking we need by double-decking ACT V at a fraction of the cost and at less time to build without disrupting residents and tourists who use Laguna Canyon.
Hopefully, the council will reverse course and spare the public another unnecessary project: having to vote on it.
Alan Boinus, Laguna Beach