Summer has just begun and already South Laguna is feeling a huge increase in day-trippers arriving from inland areas. Our community is seeing impacts from reckless driving, drunken behaviors (both on the beach and on our roads), public urination, and trash everywhere. Our lifeguards are being put in dangerous situations with large groups of hostile young people angry when told they can’t drink alcohol on the beach. Our parking police are vastly under-staffed and the unlawful parking on our narrow streets presents safety issues for our neighborhoods. Any added beach patrols now taking place are before noon when it is evident that these visitors arrive after 1 p.m., and stay until the sun goes down.
Although no one wants to ever consider the concept – carrying capacity, the need for a limit or threshold for tourist activities in a visitor destination – should be a priority for local government. Tourism creates pressures on the natural and cultural environment. It affects resources, social structures, economic activities and land uses. To the extent that these pressures are felt to significantly alter the functioning of the local community, mitigating these impacts should be a major part of Laguna’s public policy agenda. Our city leaders must give increasing consideration to issues such as quality of life, environmental conservation, and sustainable development.
The city of Laguna Beach needs a discussion of and local strategy to determine the capacity of local systems to sustain tourism while at the same time preserving quality of life and safety for residents. I ask that our City Council, city manager, chief of police and representatives from the Orange County Board of Supervisors arrange a meeting with the South Laguna community to discuss what is happening now and what can be done to mitigate the negative impacts that the summer season is already bringing to our community.
Irene Bowie, Laguna Beach