Several weeks ago City Council voted to advance the village entrance project. Council members showed leadership in presenting proposals each having a number of redeeming features. This coming Tuesday, June 11, the Council will consider actions after nearly 20 years of studies, consultants, debate, and consternation, to determine design, costs, financing and to determine the critical path to execution. A combination of an appropriate entrance to our downtown, a beautifully landscaped pedestrian way providing access to our arts district and a generous parking facility comprise what can become a wonderful community asset.
But there continue to be differing points of view regarding how much should be invested, how big is too big for a parking facility and whether or not a park at Forest and Broadway is really needed. On the one hand after nearly 20 years and costs not getting lower, just about every scenario and every point of view have been expressed, yet on the other hand, people’s concerns need to be addressed. Therefore I suggest our council move forward as follows:
- Recognize that someday, one way or another, the corner of Forest and Broadway needs to be improved with an expanded parking facility and beautification. This need won’t disappear with time.
- Regarding massing, scale and character, direct architects to design the largest facility that can tastefully be tucked against the hillside at no greater height than ordinances now permit. Initially, put aside the number of parking spaces. Rather, just focus on design and aesthetics that complement our town and nearby buildings. Then, count the spaces it will yield. If not enough spaces result, don’t go forward.
- Forget the comprehensive park. It won’t be used. Instead, create an appealing and safe pedestrian way and bike paths. With the remaining space (which there will likely be) create additional screened surface parking with landscaping and berms to maximize the aesthetics.
- Secure competitive prices, determine financing methodology, and after securing community input, move forward with confidence to make a decision that will serve the city for many years to come.
We elect council members to make decisions. Some tough, some easier. Sure, some of what I suggest is subjective. But you’ll know what’s right when you see it….that’s why you’re elected. Nearly 20 years is long enough. The council simply needs to make the decision based on facts, not on misinformation, continue to get community input and you’ll receive the support of your citizenry.
Joe Hanauer, Laguna Beach