Our city’s commercial-friendly groupthink has made it official: Welcome to Laguna Beach, the Disneyland of OC beach communities, whether residents like it or not.
Take that Huntington and Newport, yes, we can: We can out-gaudy you, we can deface and clutter our sidewalks better, we can monetize what was once funky, charming and aesthetically unique by homogenizing ourselves with urban blight pennants and poles.
These “make commerce great again” forces have convinced City Hall that theme park type signs and benches, color-coded for carved out, metaphorical districts, might theoretically solve many of the traffic circulation and parking problems.
Branding each district is the equivalent of Tomorrowland, Adventureland, and obviously, this nonsense is Fantasyland. It’s about efficiently propping back up merchandising to the diminishment, to the degradation of formerly quiet neighborhoods.
Within each “land” (aka district) there’ll be theme park type indicators, hopefully directing pedestrians towards “attractions,” otherwise known as rides at amusement destinations. No jive, the planners have termed the sign elements as “attractions.”
A buried, stealthy work-up, little or no public input, let alone stakeholder transparency, didn’t anyone assess it as a hazardous visual distraction for vehicle operators if they try to read while navigating?
Locals are being marginalized, have fallen in city priorities: A stealthy process, hundreds of thousands of dollars being considered for eventual, built-out funding, without extensive oversight consideration.
Locals and veteran visitors alike already know the migrational wheres and hows, so the city should drop the pretense of any enhancement, any benefits we’ll experience.
This wayfinding proposal only helps merchants via increased numbers: Overwhelmed now, if this does work it’ll be for first-time tourists, and increasingly more will try to stuff themselves into an already cramped, confined space.
Signs will purportedly spread, distribute those seeking parking, hence inevitable urban bulging impacts, spilling voyagers into historically lightly impacted zones.
Soon, way upstream, into the residential neighborhoods above Coast Highway, the parking permit programs will become a common municipal necessity, extend from Boat Canyon to Diamond Street.
Ask residents around Mozambique, hostages in their own dwellings. Imagine needing a placard to park overnight in front of your own residence. Whattya know, surprise, like living near Disneyland!
Disruption and distress because City Hall has a solution in search of a problem.
“Laguna Residents First” no longer resonates during decisions: City Hall is definitely “Open for Business,” the commerce flag flying above the common welfare pennant.
This letter also went to city officials.
Roger E. Bütow, Laguna Beach