Urban Planner Out to Pasture

By Mark Crantz

By Mark Crantz

Three top notch urban design teams and an also ran pitched their visions and credentials to secure the role in shaping Laguna Beach’s development policies in downtown and along Laguna Canyon. The chosen planner is still up in the air. You can tell how faraway the decision is by how high the tent poles are between Cliff Drive and Legion Streets. They’re very high. Bring binoculars.

Over the last year, the village council has been working hard to update the Downtown Specific Plan by collecting information and holding workshops to gather input and suggestions from residents and area businesses in hopes to devise a strategy to preserve and enhance Laguna’s distinct character. City officials and staff narrowed the candidates to three firms who made presentations to them and 50 residents who had to flash current green parking stickers in order to attend.

A fourth firm was eliminated due to an insipid presentation. The firm called City Slickers claimed that Laguna’s distinctive character is just a nice way to describe schizophrenia. The presenter, Dr. Ichiro Sockitoyu, told the audience that they didn’t know what they wanted. Attendees responded with evenly split boos and hurrahs that they switched back and forth with one another for no apparent reason until one inspired attendee pointed out that the 50 attendees had great harmony and should start 12 barbershop quartets for 48 of the 50 attendees in next year’s Music Festival. The two attendees not selected agreed to get married at Seven Degrees next door to the festival in order to complain about the music’s loudness during their impending wedding vows slated for next year.

To move his presentation along, Dr. Sockitoyu agreed to be best man. He went on to explain that some residents wanted downtown shops that sold pillows with something to say, while other residents wanted to eliminate all pillow talk.

According to information gathered in one workshop, some residents wanted to raise taxes to invest in a bio tech firm that has discovered a breakthrough technology that makes trees invisible at a 50 foot distance and only visible within the owner’s yard. Other residents did not want to mess with Mother Nature unless all residents within 50 feet and outside 50 feet agreed to become gluten free. A dozen dissenters wanted to channel the venture capital to the purchase of property that presently holds the community garden in South Laguna.

In summation, Dr. Sockitoyu told the audience to get their act together and decide what they wanted. The audience agreed to disagree with his talking points and voted to eliminate Dr. Sockitoyu and City Slickers with the caveat that Dr. Sockitoyu be brought back at a later time to head another study on the early diagnosis and preservation of urban schizophrenia, a condition that everybody agrees makes Laguna Beach so special.


Mark is a transplant to Laguna from Chicago. He occasionally writes the guest column “Pet Peeves.” His recently deceased Border Collie, Pokey, is his muse and ghostwriter.

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