Revisiting an Auto-Free Zone




Friday night’s wonderful Hospitality Night was our annual reminder of how much better Laguna would be if we closed the west end of Forest permanently to cars.


I don’t know anyone who thinks this is a bad idea, except one or two retailers clinging to an old paradigm. The failure of the Chamber’s valiant effort two summers ago was they simply tried too hard and made it into a party that disturbed the merchants, instead of a simple public square with planters, benches and cobblestone. Still, most people loved it.


Of course there are tons of excuses why this can’t be done: merchant protests, Coastal Commission, reduced parking, etc. But wouldn’t a pedestrian promenade, where our community can gather freely, restaurants can spill on to the sidewalks, and the eyesore and gridlock that now exists as a de facto parking lot is eliminated, enhance everyone’s life in our fair town?


If any public official really got behind this, I think the vast majority of this town would support them. And with some real creativity and cojones, it could be done.


Billy Fried

Laguna Beach

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  1. Billy,
    Thank you for keeping this issues in the public’s mind. I think it such a fantastic idea and could be a draw for Laguna. In San Francisco, several streets have what are being called “parklets.” Basically, businesses have been able to install wooden platforms (decks) over 3 or 4 parking spaces directly in front of their restaurant or store. The deck has planters and and bistro tables where customers can enjoy the outside. Here are some pictures.

  2. Unlike the Bier-fest of a few summers ago, I heard no negative comments from merchants about Hospitality night in Laguna. I checked with City Council, Chamber of Commerce but nobody offered a negative word. I strolled up and down Forest Avenue that night and found the restaurants full and stores open for business with lots of foot-traffic. Pedestrian zones encourage walk-in traffic to stores and generate business, and that is another benefit of Complete Streets. I encourage any merchant on Forest Avenue who has a complaint about Hospitality Night to contact the Chamber of Commerce or simply write the Complete Streets Task Force at [email protected] and let us know your issue. Naturally if your store receipts benefit from that night, let us know that too.

    Les Miklosy (Chair)
    Complete Streets Task Force


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