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EDITORIAL:Preferential parking is a bad idea

Laguna Beach is reaching the “tipping point” with regard to parking.

It’s critical that solutions be found to the constant complaint in some neighborhoods that one cannot park in front of one’s home, and that “outsiders” — employees and customers — are ruining the quality of life by arriving early and leaving late, often creating a disturbance as they come and go.

Residents have a right to enjoy their peace and quiet, and business activities should not intrude in an area that was not meant for commercial activities.

But that also works the other way around.

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Residents living next to businesses should not expect the kind of isolated quietude that one gets, say, high up in a canyon, no matter what one has paid for one’s home.

It’s simply irrational — and unfair — for residents living in a business-adjacent neighborhood to complain that business is being conducted in close proximity, that employees and customers are present day and night.

The fact is that parking is a different animal for residents and for business owners.

For the residents, it’s a matter of convenience and privacy to have local streets that are open and free for their use.

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For the business owners, the ability of customers and employees to park within walking distance is a matter of survival.

The revelation that the whisper of a possibility of residential preferential parking in the “flatlands” area was the proverbial “last straw” for the owner of Woody’s restaurant in his decision to close up. His sell out should be a red flag to the community.

Preferential parking is divisive and draconian. It solves one neighborhood’s problems by pushing those problems elsewhere — usually into a neighborhood farther away from the business district that has not experienced such intrusive activities beforehand.

Soon the inevitable follows, and the outlying areas demand relief in the form of yet more preferential parking areas.

Surely Lagunans near commercial districts do not want to drive out local businesses that many can walk to from their homes. That’s what differentiates a “village” from the suburbs.

Many other cities and neighborhoods have grappled with identical parking issues, to better or worse effect.

Here in Laguna, the owners of Mozambique restaurant have been very effective in handling a difficult and divisive parking issue in their area by taking many small steps and simply asking people — customers and employees — to be considerate to their neighbors.

Other business owners — and city officials — should take a cue from Mozambique’s success, before it is too late to turn back the preferential parking juggernaut.

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