The City Council has some unfinished business to take care of before moving ahead with its plans for the village entrance. One of the recommendations of the 1995–96 Village Entrance Task Force (of which, as a Planning Commissioner at the time, I was a member) was that nothing be built on the village entrance site until a master plan for the site had been developed and adopted as part of the Downtown Specific Plan. The recommendation was made a policy of that plan and remains there to this day. Since the DSP is part of the Local Coastal Plan, overlooking this requirement would leave the project out of conformity with the LCP and therefore open to challenge.
A lot of the information needed to produce a master plan is already available in the task force’s own research and conclusions, in the studies conducted for the project’s EIR, and in the various recent parking studies. In addition, the Council is about to hire a consultant in urban planning to give it advice about how to make the downtown and Laguna Canyon work better. The information we have so far raises questions about whether this project is the best we can do. Once the urban planner has made his report, we should know a lot more about what we need at the village entrance. It seems only common sense to wait until all the results are in and then develop a plan reflecting those results before we commit significant resources to any new construction.