How to reduce Laguna's traffic? Restricting food and beverage delivery trucks might be one option

How to reduce Laguna's traffic? Restricting food and beverage delivery trucks might be one option
Cars travel along South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach in this 2016 photo. Laguna Beach's City Council on Tuesday discussed ways to improve traffic, including restricting the drop-off hours for food and delivery trucks. (File photo)

Restrictions could be on the way for food and beverage delivery trucks in Laguna Beach.

The City Council earlier this week ordered city staff to research the feasibility of relegating deliveries to times of lighter vehicle congestion, one of a few ideas brought by Mayor Toni Iseman about how to reduce traffic.


In a 4-1 vote, council members also directed staff to develop other options to reduce traffic, such as possibly relegating trucks that haul dirt to and from home construction sites to certain streets.

Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Boyd dissented.

Iseman mentioned two occasions when she saw semi-trucks, whose drivers were making deliveries, parked and blocking a northbound traffic lane on North Coast Highway across from the Main Beach basketball courts.

In one case, Iseman said traffic on Coast Highway backed up to Thalia Street.

"That inability to move is a carbon-footprint problem because [the cars] are idling," Iseman said.

“I’m not worried about the UPS [United Parcel Service] driver dropping a box off. I’m talking about the giant vehicles that can’t find a place to be for deliveries.”

Boyd, who owned the Marine Room Tavern at 214 Ocean. Ave. for 25 years, objected to restricted delivery hours.

"To restrict deliveries for times of the day is ridiculous," Boyd said. "Those people are loaded [meaning the trucks with their inventory] the night before. The driver walks in and he is given a schedule. He can't come into Laguna from 8 until 10 in the morning and drop off stuff and say, 'I have to be out of town until 2 o'clock and go somewhere else.'

"And people open at different times of the day."

Council members also directed staff to return with a tiered parking rate plan.

The Laguna Beach Police Department is already working on a proposal for tiered parking fines, police's Civilian Services Administrator Jim Beres told the council.

Under this type of system, fines would be lower for a first offense compared to increased fines for repeat violators. Currently, parking fines, such as blocking a lane of traffic, are a flat rate whether a first or 10th offense, at $43, Beres said.

In a follow-up email, Beres said police may propose increasing that rate.

Police within the next few months will purchase hand-held citation writers with cellular connections that will allow officers to check whether a vehicle has had prior citations, Beres added.

Greater signal synchronization would improve traffic flow along sections of North and South Coast Highway between Aster and Cress streets, resident John Thomas said.

"It always feels like that is where the worst traffic is," Thomas said in suggesting the city place signals at four intersections along the route. "Part of the reason is that the pedestrians who cross where there is not a signal go whenever they want to go, whereas pedestrians that are crossing at signals only go when they queue up and cross as a herd."

Thomas suggested signals be placed at four intersections along that route. If lights turned all at once, then pedestrians at different intersections could cross at the same time, he said.

Iseman said business owners told her that traffic congestion deters shoppers from walking in the door.

"My first obligation is to the residents of Laguna," Iseman said. "My second is to our vibrant business community. The town is only a town because we have a downtown."

City Manager John Pietig encouraged the council to discuss the ideas with the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Twitter: @AldertonBryce