The newly renovated ACT V remote parking lot on Laguna Canyon Road is a great addition to the city’s visitor-serving amenities.
ACT V, by the way, isn’t a reference to a theater group. It stands for Abolish Congested Traffic, which tells a lot about why the lot came into existence. (The “V” stands for the five community groups that banded together to make it happen more than a decade ago.)
The gravel parking lot is served by the city’s summer trolleys, giving visitors and residents a place to stash their cars while enjoying free travel around town — particularly to the “big three” art festivals and Laguna Playhouse, nestled near each other in the designated “arts district” about a half-mile down the road.
The open-air trolleys, with their merry bells that are identical (in sight and sound) to those used in San Francisco’s cable cars, are one of the summer delights of Laguna.
Who would have thought that a parking lot could also be a delight — a place to enjoy wonderful public art and a bucolic view of one of the city’s canyons?
The old lot was workable but had its drawbacks. One had to stumble over railroad ties on gravel that did one’s shoes and ankles no good, then wait next to the road with heavy traffic whizzing by.
In the new configuration, seating is above and facing away from the road, toward a tasteful new structure that will be part of the city’s transit maintenance yard within the next year or so. Gravel is still present, but some paved spots are usually available, giving better footing for those who need it.
The only down side to the parking lot project, completed just in time for festival season, was the need to remove a stand of towering eucalyptus trees that shaded and denoted the spot.
But the magnificent glass and metal sculptures by John Barber and Louis Longhi serve as landmarks for travelers and are a fitting introduction to the art colony and arts district.
Market umbrellas were thoughtfully provided for shade. Even the restrooms were upgraded.
City officials are to be commended for creating this welcome — and welcoming — parking spot that makes a trip to the beach, the festivals or the playhouse even more of a treat.