Several years ago I bought a tape deck. The manufacturer must have employed a poetic writer, for its instructions described the nature of non-sound as it relates to the music machine's performance with the sentence, "Silence is an important part of music."
"Yes," I thought, "silence is an important part of life."
It may be a feeble analogy, but the idea that nothingness has value relates, I think, to the Laguna Canyon issue.
Caltrans wants to cut a wider slice--i.e., a many-laned modern highway--through the pastoral canyon. I suppose they have reasons for wanting a faster, broader thoroughfare to the little art colony by the sea: All the better to arrive at impassable, imparkable Laguna Beach. The Laguna City Council recently voted their unanimous desire: Leave it alone.
I know Laguna Canyon has many special things--wildlife and lakes, for instance--but its specialness, particularly in cement-layered Southern California, is not what it has but rather what it has not. It has lovely nothingness; it has the silence that a civilization needs to punctuate its ever-increasing noise.
If I could buy Laguna Canyon, I'd preserve it forever. I'd reduce the speed limit on Laguna Canyon Road to 45 m.p.h., slowing people down as they travel the seven-mile stretch. That alone would increase the road's safety. As was done with Monterey's Seventeen Mile Drive and Cape Cod's National Seashore, I'd construct small ranger-type posts at each end, outfit polite and smiling "Laguna Canyon Rangers" and charge all but residents for the privilege of driving through. The only "improvement" would be an off-road bike and walking trail next to the road. Every few miles I'd provide picnic and rest facilities. I'd build shaded rustic parking facilities and provide free tram service to and from Laguna Beach.
If my daydream were to become reality, I know it wouldn't have been a ridiculous dream at all.
I support Councilwoman Lida Lenney's efforts to save the canyon.