(The letter was also addressed to top city administrators and elected officials.)
I write in support of installing the proposed traffic signal at Emerald Bay and Coast Highway. My opinion is informed by personal history. I lived in Three Arch Bay before there was a signal, and even before there was a guard gate on the east side of the highway. My brothers and sister and I carpooled every school day from 1967 to 1981 to Harbor Day School in Corona del Mar. I know intimately the commute through Laguna and past Emerald Bay.
The traffic signal at Three Arch Bay saved my life, literally, a number of times when I would otherwise have been creamed leaving the community or coming back from the beach. I know firsthand that the increase in safety more than outweighs the mild perceived inconvenience of having to stop for a minute to allow traffic in and out of the EBCA main gate.
I have personally seen the aftermath of multiple crashes at Emerald Bay. I have come close to hitting cars and motorcycles coming in and out, and have nearly been hit by cars leaving the community. It seems amazing to me that city has multiple “no left turn” intersections in the heart of town where traffic is usually slower, yet there is resistance to a controlled intersection at Emerald Bay.
My daily commute involves passing the stoplight at Monarch Bay Plaza. Again, I have personal knowledge that this signal is just about the only thing that makes it possible to access Monarch Bay Plaza from during busy traffic.
My experiences convince me of the necessity of a traffic light at Emerald Bay and PCH. There are other practical considerations why the traffic signal project should be approved:
1. City and EBCA Liability. It is a matter of public record there are published traffic studies stating this intersection is an unsafe condition and safety would be improved if a traffic light were put in. As I understand it, obtaining the city’s approval is the last hurdle before the project can proceed. If the city does not approve the signal, it likely would bear primary responsibility because it blocked the project. Please remember that our sister city of Dana Point was compelled into a record-breaking $50 million settlement of a case for injuries two women suffered when struck by a car when jogging on PCH (Neria v. City of Dana Point). A similar lawsuit could force the city of Laguna Beach into bankruptcy.
2. There is Negligible Cost to The City: The EBCA is picking up virtually the entire tab for the work. Caltrans would do the work if it had the money, but it doesn’t. This is a rare chance for the city to “get something for nothing.”
3. It’s the Right Thing To Do: The city and south county have matured to the point where this light is necessary. The perceived inconvenience to a few does not outweigh the horrendous damage across multiple lives that a severe accident would cause.
Carter Mudge, Laguna Beach