As anticipated, the state is justifiably considering removing state highway status from Laguna Canyon Road, thereby making it a Laguna Beach-owned street.
Caltrans and some of our state and county officials are not willing to retain the liability associated with this 2 1/2-mile killer roadway in the face of repeated public disclosures by Caltrans engineers as to its unsafe character. The repeated warnings by experts of the dangers of this road and the lack of action to correct such problems is ideal grist for multimillion-dollar suits over and above the current 30 litigations.
By removing state title from El Toro Road to the village, they effectively make it a city street, as most all property on each side is in the city of Laguna Beach. The potential ruinous liability is transferred to where it belongs--to those ideologues who think an extra safe traffic lane is not as important as a few acres of brush and who disregard more than 900 accidents and over 30 deaths in the past five years. Unfortunately, with that goes the tacit admission that the city of Laguna Beach wasn’t willing to make the road safer.
Whether the road is given to us or not, our city manager and mayor have made implied commitments to various coastal commissioners that the city would accept the responsibility for nearly $8 million in projects; or it was suggested by various commissioners that some of the projects should be taken on by the city for the commissioners, denial of Caltrans improvements plans.
All of them, and much more, would have been accomplished free to the City of Laguna Beach if the Coastal Commission had not been swayed by a vocal minority.
P.L. JIM SCHLEGEL
Laguna Beach Taxpayers’ Assn. Inc.