The community of Laguna Beach will have a lot on its plate this year.
Fast on the heels of the approval of the senior/community center project, the Village Entrance draft environmental impact report has come out.
These projects will change the face of downtown Laguna in the years to come — and hopefully for the better.
The Village Entrance will include about 600 parking spaces to serve the many visitors who flock to the city’s arts festivals and Pageant of the Masters each summer, as well as providing an inviting entry to the city.
It will dovetail with the Act V parking lot farther up the canyon, which is being redeveloped to house the numerous city services and maintenance facilities that the Village Entrance project will displace.
The senior/community center is likely to become a hub of local activity for the senior set — and juniors as well. As the community “ages in place” in the coming years, the center will no doubt prove its worth many times over.
With construction set to commence in April, those who work and live downtown will have to brace themselves for a period of inconvenience.
As the Village Entrance project moves through the bureaucratic pipeline, long-standing plans by Laguna Playhouse for a larger theater facility will no doubt surface, and there may be other plans in the works for the Civic Arts District that will further enhance the area.
Bluebird Canyon restoration will also be a major priority as the final restoration of “buildable” lots proceeds in the slide zone. This is a slow process, and we won’t see rebuilding of homes on those lots for many months.
Other issues we will be watching closely in the new year are:
Day Labor Center lawsuit;
Permit parking in the midtown area;
Aliso Creek restoration;
Aliso Creek Inn redevelopment;
Boom Boom Room, whose lease will expire in September;
Mansionization and hillside development; and, last but not least,
MTV’s “Laguna Beach” show and its impact on the community and young people here.
As the City Council prepares for its first meeting of 2007, on Jan. 16, we welcome back the two women who have been credited with bringing the moribund Village Entrance project back to life: Mayor Toni Iseman and Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson-Schneider.
These two found a way to bridge their differences and make something good happen.
Their leadership through compromise serves as an example of what can be accomplished through listening and working together.
That’s a good theme with which to start off 2007.