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MAILBAG

Council needs to act on parking problems

The City Council needs to stop bowing to the special interests of the city manager and start enforcing the current municipal code. In the articles in the local papers regarding the City Council’s consideration of new parking code changes, it was reported that “The Council was leaning toward support of the (Planning) Commission position when the City Manager Ken Frank intervened.”

As for the situation with the Surf & Sand wrongfully using their north parking lot for events without a permit, one reporter stated it was “alleged” this was occurring. In fact, there is extensive documentation including several photographs and copies of correspondence from council members and the city manager who have confirmed this has been occurring.

Councilwoman Jane Egly stated she was “irritated that we get no credit for improving the situation” because “they no longer have weddings.”

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With all due respect, the absence of a bridal gown and a clergyman’s collar has not improved the parking situation as she states. In February 2006, the Surf & Sand used the lot for a party instead of for required parking on one day.

In February 2007, it was used on four days for parties instead of parking. In October 2005, it was used on two days for events, while in October 2006; it was used on four days. In September 2005, it was used on five days, while during September 2006; it was used for events on six days.

Simple math would show this is not an improvement. The details and photos and copies of the city correspondence can be found at www.woodscove.net.

The fact that the city manager has made a “deal” with the Surf & Sand to not be required to apply for a CUP/TUP for several events in their parking lot is a crime and the other businesses in this town should be enraged.

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Thank you to Mayor Toni Iseman for taking a stand on acknowledging this wrong that the city has knowingly allowed for over two years now.

The neighborhoods have been more than patient. We hope your words will be backed up with action. That is all we have been asking since February 2005.

GREG SLEVCOVE

Laguna Beach

City is not business or visitor-friendly

Chinese Contemporary Art Gallery is gone. Baskin Robbins, the Jolly Roger, the Chapleau, the stationary store across from Albertsons, Laguna Brewery, Oak St. Antiques and many other businesses are gone.

Their former spaces have been empty for months and the City Council is raising parking lot fees to $2 an hour downtown, and will probably raise meter rates as soon as they can get away with it.

There is a perception in Laguna Beach, right or wrong, that landlords are gouging tenants — with reports that some rents are being raised 60% per year. The perception is that many landlords are greedy. So is the city and the city council.

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If rents are being raised unfairly, the council should investigate. Raising parking lot rates is not a helpful move for downtown business. The council should be doing whatever it can to help downtown business.

It’s unbelievable the council plans to spend $250,000 on another traffic and parking study. Downtown Laguna should be pedestrian friendly, and it is not. Walk signals should be automatic.

Some signals, like Laguna Avenue and South Coast Highway are green so long that visitors attempt to run across the highway. How will $2 per hour affect the typical visitor to Laguna on weekdays and in the fall, winter, and early spring and will that visitor return?

Gentrification is slowly killing Laguna Beach, but then, maybe a lot of Lagunatics are tired of the crowds and $2 or $3 a hour to park in Laguna will keep them away.

ROGER CARTER

Laguna Beach

Construction at ‘critical mass’

Construction continues on the four-lot development on Ceanothus Drive in South Laguna. During the excavation stage the city imposed requirements for hours of operation and staging which appear not to have been imposed thus far during the construction phase. There is no on-site monitor as there was during the excavation phase. Mr. Harris’ presence ensured at least a modicum of decorum and compliance. Now there is none.

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The result is predictable -- continued disruption in our neighborhood from Holly Drive to Upper Ceanothus. Contractor employees parking legally and illegally all along Alta Loma and Ceanothus, making it difficult and sometimes impossible for those of us who live there to find parking spaces.

Cement trucks and other heavy vehicles are allowed to proceed up the hill two at a time and cause 20-minute or more delays for neighborhood traffic and other regular commerce.

Neighbors have endured harassment from those on site who show complete contempt for us. Employees leaving the work site spit, swear, yell, litter and otherwise lack common courtesy.

Everyday commerce is delayed, to say nothing of health and safety concerns. Under the present circumstances, we believe that emergency vehicles would be significantly impeded getting in our out of this neighborhood

We continue to be concerned about the surrounding environment and also understand that the city’s inspector has already fined one or more of these developers for violations of erosion control mitigations.

These problems not unique to the Ceanothus development -- we have the same narrow streets, switchbacks and scarce parking all over this city. Along with the congestion, however, we need to address the number and timing of construction projects being done in our neighborhoods.

Construction activity has overwhelmed our neighborhood. There must be room for consideration of just how much one neighborhood can bear and Ceanothus is at its limit.

Only by viewing construction activity in the larger context of community or neighborhood, rather than lot-by-lot will we begin to really address and balance the right of residents to peace and quiet with the right of those who wish to build.

Right now there are two more projects in the Ceanothus area in the pipeline that would obstruct traffic in three locations along the one road in and out of this area.

This is a recipe for disaster and I hope the Design Review Board will help us avoid it.

In the meantime, I advocate that we take a good, hard look at the concept of “queing”. As explained to me, this is a method of pacing construction within a given area. This would lessen congestion and perhaps mitigate some of the impacts many of us are feeling as a result of the four-lot Ceanothus development currently underway. Queing might also provide the city with something else it needs — a long-term common sense solution to development.

PAMELA MIDDLEBROOK

Laguna Beach


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