The Kibitzer

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Make Laguna Rootsy Again

By Billy Fried
By Billy Fried

Besides the usual bromides coming from this year’s class of City Council candidates (“Make our streets safe, protect the environment, preserve the town’s character”), I’ve yet to hear any big, transformative ideas that make my toes tingle. We need things to bring our community together and revel in our uniqueness. Ways to get out of the car, off, and engaged with one another to share this fabulous adventure called life. Forget the big grandiose ideas that will take years to adjudicate, and decades and fortunes to complete.

Here are my top 10 budget-friendly EDIs (Eminently Doable Ideas), in no particular order:

Cannabis Clubs– We voted for it twice, by large margins, but somehow our City Council knows better, waging a campaign of public fear mongering to root out pot before it ever got here. So now, after the half-day adventure to Santa Ana and back to score our medicine, at least give us a place to share it with friends. We have 80 drinking establishments for a drug we know is harmful and kills, but the only place we can legally consume the far safer cannabis is alone at home. It’s ridiculous, and towns like West Hollywood and Palm Springs are permitting legal consumption venues as the state has given municipalities the decision-making power. It’s antithetical to our core values, and with all the vacant storefronts, wouldn’t this be good for everyone?

Electric Bike & Moped Share Systems– It seems like everyday there’s a story about multi-modal solutions in other towns to reduce the impact of cars, and provide more pleasurable and efficient ways of commuting. We could install a station at every neighborhood park, near bus stops, and certainly downtown. It boggles the mind that no politician ever talks about this despite our perfect size and weather, and our unrelenting traffic problems.

Purchase the Movie Theater Already– As long as this architectural treasure and cultural jewel in the heart of town remains shuttered, the city will be blighted, and residents will continue to burn fossil fuel in order to catch a flick. Make a deal with Leslie already. Pay her what she wants or invoke some kind of legal action. Make it a distinctive venue for independent, foreign and local films, plus live music. Put in a patio café or rooftop restaurant, and it pencils economically.

Create a West Coast Art Baselor Biennale – We have everything teed up for an off-season international art week; resorts, weather, restaurants, venues, and artists. Merge it with the Art Museum’s wonderfully under-exploited Art in Nature, with cutting edge installations throughout our natural settings (like Desert X in Palm Springs), and amplify Laguna’s rich artistic heritage. Mo Honaker, your move!

Music Series at the Irvine Bowl: – KX93.5 demonstrated that the venue is phenomenal for live music. The location is stunning – our version of Santa Barbara’s Bowl or LA’s Greek Theater, and it’s a travesty that we don’t have the will to use it more regularly.

Mid-Week Farmer’s Market on Forest: – While we wait to convert lower Park Avenue into a pedestrian plaza, let’s install some hydraulic bollards at each end of Lower Forest to easily close the street on Wednesday nights for a community Farmer’s Market. They do it in Palm Springs, and it’s fabulous.

Legalize Fishing: – It’s been seven years since the MLPA declared Laguna’s coastline a Marine Reserve, but it was promised to be temporary in order to restore the local fisheries. Let’s strike a sensible compromise – a Marine Conservation Area with seasons, limits, and education. Maybe limit fishing to kayaks, free divers, and surf casting (in designated areas). The entire annual take would likely equal a couple of sea lions’ daily diet.  It’s what native Laguna watermen and women have enjoyed for sport and sustenance for over a century.

Some Chill Lounges: – Where is the place for older people to relax after dinner, and meet up with friends? Noisy bars are for kids. Hard stools and chairs are for fleshy derrieres. There is a huge, underserved market for those of us who are noise-addled and have bony butts; we need a quiet lounge with comfortable couches, soft lighting, and super chill house music to put us in the serenity zone.

An Annual “Take Our Town Back” Celebration – It’s no secret that the day after Labor Day is the most cherished day of the year. Those philistine day-trippers who swell our streets are safely back on the treadmill. Let’s celebrate our good fortune in grand fashion with a party the length of Heisler Park. We could stage a Ciclavia, (car-free community bike ride), or a goofy small town obstacle race.

A Jason Feddy Broadcast: – Admit it, you miss the guy, and it’s a gaping hole in our lives. The guy is emblematic of everything Laguna: funny, opinionated, smart and wildly talented. Can we build him a studio, a club, an app, or a monument, please?

Catch the common thread? It’s about connection, meeting and interacting with our marvelous mélange of interesting people. It’s truly what would heal our pernicious divide, and make Laguna once again the funky, cool, inclusive, tolerant, and creative town it always was.


Billy Fried hosts “Laguna Talks” on Thursday nights at 8pm on KX93.5, and can be reached at [email protected]


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  1. Those are all fantastic ideas. Not all of them need a lot of involvement from the city, but for some it’s really a requirement. How can we make them happen if the candidates aren’t thinking this way, but the residents are?

  2. wow, Billy I like your list!! have not been a big fan after your Obama have interviewed some of my friends and ones’ with other views than yours and I appreciate that…point being I agree with your list and want to commend you for that..Bless..

  3. EK you make a great point. My hope is these ideas will spark a dialogue and get some of the candidates on board with them.

  4. Seriously, these are great rootie ideas, I like that they are not houty kooty candy and more for actual residents to interact and appreciate each other, I would like to see true grass roots and leave the CC out..tired of their games and money grabs…just saying
    **we do have some grass roots people that actually have thoughts that are running for council..Peter Blake and Lorene Laguna..grassroots not in anybody’s pocket…dang I love that!


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