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Laguna Beach : Public Hearing Tonight on Parking Lot Proposal

To pave or not to pave will be the question facing the City Council tonight during a special meeting and public hearing to decide whether to turn a large median on a residential street near Laguna Beach High School into a 33-space parking lot.

Meeting jointly with the school board, the council will consider a proposal to turn the landscaped median on Virginia Park Drive into a parking lot to replace spaces that could be lost if a plan to build a new swimming pool on the high school parking lot is approved.

Some area residents oppose the proposal because they consider the median, which is partially covered with trees, shrubs and plants, to be a neighborhood park. As of Monday 61 people had signed a petition to block any plan to create a parking lot there, according to City Clerk Verna Rollinger.

Peter Hale, executive director of the Virginia Park Neighborhood Assn., said the wooded median provides residents the next best thing to an ocean view.

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“It’s a park that is very dear to us,” he said, “For those of us who don’t have an ocean view, we have a green view of our park.”

However, City Manager Ken Frank said the small lot, which he estimated to cover no more than about a quarter of an acre, has not been designated as a park and is nothing more than a stretch of city-owned right of way that could prove to be an inexpensive parking lot.

“It’s really cheap and virtually wouldn’t cost anything,” Frank said. “The land is flat and there is no concrete to remove. Basically, you’d just put some asphalt down.”

Hale said about 35 residents living near the median will attend the 7:30 p.m. meeting, to be held in City Council chambers, to protest the proposal. “We plan for everyone to be there,” he said.

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