With Tuesday's approval of a "Quiet Zone" with resident-only parking in the late night and early morning hours around Mozambique, Laguna Beach is embarking on a path that may result in a domino effect of further restrictions.
We agree with City Councilwomen Verna Rollinger and Jane Egly, who opposed the parking program, that if it succeeds in driving patrons away from the residential neighborhoods it will likely only spread the pain to other neighborhoods.
Preferential parking has spread like wildfire in congested cities like Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Santa Monica and parts of Los Angeles. It works when there is a defined population that is inundating the public streets — such as the UCLA student population that crowded out residents in the Westwood area — and when alternate, off-street parking is provided, as was done at UCLA.
If there is no accessible alternative for drivers, they will simply continue the hunt for parking by passing through the restricted zone and into non-restricted zones, thereby moving the problem to other neighborhoods where it didn't exist before. Then those residents will clamor for the same protections from unwanted vehicles on their streets, and so on and so forth.
That said, the fact that this particular zone will allow anyone with a Laguna Beach shopper's parking permit to park on the street — instead of restricting the public streets to residents of the "Quiet Zone" — will mitigate the potential for bleed-over of vehicles to other areas.
City officials are also taking steps to educate the public about the free metered parking available after 7 p.m. on nearby streets. That should help out-of-towners find a place to put their cars out of the zone but still in the commercial area where they belong.
No matter what measure are put in place, restricting parking access won't really help the problem of late-night carousing on the city streets; in fact, it's just possible that many of those who stumble through the wee hours to their cars after a night of imbibing are Laguna Beach residents who will be able to park in the "Quiet Zone."
Perhaps it's a good time for the management of Mozambique and other drinking establishments in Laguna to crack down on over-indulgence by patrons, which will make the streets not only quieter but safer.