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Trolleys are a summer happening

The summer free trolleys and buses are amazing. Not only do they transport visitors from place to place from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m., but lots of Lagunatics, including our younger residents, can go to their favorite beaches, cafes, shops and friends' homes.

Folkways are interesting and the last few years people on the trolleys have been heard singing together and waving to people at trolley stops they don't even know, proving that almost everyone is welcome in Laguna Beach. One night, two years ago, I saw Art Linkletter on a trolley near the Surf and Sand and sometimes you meet old friends.

We should thank Councilwoman Toni Iseman and others who have led the effort to have summer trolleys and buses.

ROGER CARTER

Laguna Beach

No Kawaratani a loss to local paper

I moved here in 1996, and one of the first columns I looked forward to reading was that authored by Steve Kawaratani. He was and remained a presence at Laguna Beach fundraisers and events. Even after he sold his nursery I enjoyed his advice on growing roses in our Laguna Beach climate, growing organic, and other life/garden subjects.

I was shocked to read his final column and felt sadness. Our town has already been changing so much, this felt like the loss of an important piece of our community life. However that shock grew and included outrage to see him replaced by an out-of-area nursery person, Rogers Gardens in ... Newport Beach! Why bother calling this the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot?

This goes beyond sadness. I was already losing interest in the Coastline as it became less and less about Laguna. Adding Newport writers is a slap in all of our faces, even more so to replace a perfectly good writer on garden issues who is every bit "Laguna."

Please count me as a former reader. If I wanted to live in Newport and receive Newport perspectives, I could have done so. I will get my "local" news from the Independent and "Stu News."

MICHELLE REINGLASS

Laguna Beach

Parking issues drove her out of Laguna

I read with interest the column regarding the parking situation in Laguna Beach written by Cindy Frazier ["Going over the line with Laguna parking," May 28] as well as other stories concerning making the business climate in Laguna more favorable.

I would like to voice my opinion about the situation and the reasons why I avoid going into Laguna Beach whenever possible. It's interesting to note that the "powers that be" are wringing their hands and expressing concern about such matters now that the economy has taken a downturn and revenues have fallen. I suspect that there wasn't much concern in years past when times were good.

I know of many businesses that have moved out of the city to places where the rent is more reasonable and the atmosphere is more business-friendly. The parking situation is a big part of that problem. As someone who lives in the area, I have had some first-hand experience with how ridiculously petty the parking enforcement has become. I too have gotten a citation for being parked on the line in the Glenneyre Street parking structure. I never knew such an infraction could be the basis for a ticket.

The situation which prompted me to write, however, concerns one Sunday morning when my housemate and I had gone into Laguna to attend church. We had just pulled into the parking space and were gathering our things and figuring out how much money we had to deposit into the meter. As we were getting out of the car I observed a parking enforcement officer in the process of writing a parking ticket for my car. I explained that we had just parked the car and hadn't even had a chance to put the money in the meter. She didn't give me the ticket but, needless to say, I was incredulous!

I called the Laguna Beach Police Department the next day to complain about the incident. The officer I spoke with didn't seem to understand why I was upset. He said, "Well, you didn't get the ticket, did you?" I replied, "That wasn't the point. I think your parking enforcement officers are being a little over-zealous in performing their duties, don't you?" I don't think he cared. He offered no apology; indeed, his dismissive attitude really irritated me.

My impression of Laguna has not been favorable ever since. The city of Laguna Beach needs to make the parking situation more friendly, not only to visitors but also to the year-round residents as well. I'm sure that there are many similar stories that people could tell you about ridiculous parking tickets issued to people who have had the misfortune to commit some minor parking infraction while their cars were parked in Laguna Beach.

I hope the city will remember that people have other places where they can shop or conduct business. If the city administration really wants to attract people to shop in Laguna and keep more businesses from leaving the city, they had better do a better job of improving the image they currently have.

CHERYL R. PARKER

Laguna Niguel

Slow the building pace for progress

Laguna is not a concept, nor a "debate" topic as some would have us believe. It is a living, breathing place, full of people with diverse values, talents and opinions, challenges and opportunities. To my knowledge, none of us are truly "pro" or "no" build. We are not that polarized, and posturing us that way only halts further progress. Many of us are, however, for "smart" building and innovative, creative solutions within our current codes. Let's re-use existing buildings and parking lots in new ways; help owners and our city to solar panel, insulate and retrofit buildings for long-term energy and overhead savings, plant drought-tolerant plants, etc.

Longtime residents, like Harry Lawrence and the late Ben Blount, helped to craft our codes, signage and building standards. They cleared our littered beaches of signs and businesses, helped the city to buy part of our coastal land and created Heisler Park, a key "draw" for tourists. This, not shopping, is why Laguna is consistently a "top 10" beach in Sunset Magazine.

I, for one, favor no major summer building. That will drive tourists and locals away faster than anything. PCH is far too busy, particularly as a cut-through commuter road, to handle it. Note: In our economy, no one is paying to use the toll roads built by our last state stimulus money; they are using PCH as a freeway instead. In fact, our state is funding million-dollar TV campaigns to promote the toll roads. They are a drain, not stimulating nor revenue-producing.

Knee-jerk responses to a natural economic downturn are not solutions, or is building just "for jobs." In fact, Caltrans' "job stimulus" road repave may well be a key reason for last year's dramatic sales declines. Remember our six months of closed and dug-up streets?

Who says we aren't building anyway? In the past four years, South Laguna has been closed or torn up for all but about two six-month periods, bombarded with building and roadwork projects. Some (like the Nyes sewer upgrade) were long overdue and needed but wreaked havoc on South Laguna businesses, sales, residents and visitors. When combined with other "elective" building; a "nine-month" Catholic School Build (which took 2 years), various street digs for cable upgrades, the Nyes sidewalk redo, and a Caltrans road repave (to name but a few), South PCH has been closed or impassable more than it has been open. That doesn't take into account the many private residence builds closing parts of South PCH for weeks at critical traffic times.

It is a miracle and a credit to our South Laguna businesses, including The Montage, that any are still surviving. They were hit hard construction-wise a year before the recession began, suffering 35% to over 50% business losses, and it has been nonstop since. We have not served them well.

Some of these construction jobs are very positive and were needed, but there is a price to pay, and building too much in one area at a time absolutely has financial ramifications. At the very least, our city's financial revenue contribution projections from such areas must be adjusted downward during and for a "rebuilding" period afterwards. Such areas will take a "hit." City Council, do South Laguna a favor and make it last on your complete streets agenda. We need a break!

JOANNE SUTCH

Laguna Beach

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