There is some good news on the economic front this week in the revival of the El Morro RV campground project at Crystal Cove State Park. Work to finish the once-halted project is expected to continue at the end of the month, after the state was able to find buyers for its bonds.
Another tidbit also represents a glimmer of light and movement in the economy: City Manager Ken Frank reports that the state was finally able to pay $75,000 that it owed the city as part of a grant to help fund construction of the senior center. The money had been held back for six months due to the fiscal crisis.
The $10.5-million El Morro project is not only a shot in the arm for the construction trades, but will represent a boon to the local economy when it opens in late 2010. Parks officials were almost giddy with excitement when the project became a reality last year, predicting millions annually to the local economy from thousands of new visitors eager to enjoy the spectacular ocean view RV campground and the now-public beach at Crystal Cove.
The down side is the project is a year behind schedule, so we won’t be seeing any more visitors to local businesses for quite awhile.
But it’s something for local restaurants, retailers and visitor-serving businesses to hang on to while they cope with not just a dismal economy but also the fallout of a summer when the presence of homeless people became not just a burden for residents, service agencies and police, but a deterrent to vacationers.
At hearings Tuesday regarding the plan for a homeless shelter away from the parks and beaches, hotel owners made no bones about the fact that they are losing business as visitors grow weary of encounters with panhandlers and aggressive street-dwellers.
The importance of returning a sense of safety to Laguna Beach is more evident than ever "” it is critical to the city’s economic recovery.
As the homeless shelter begins to take shape in the ACT V site in Laguna Canyon, we hope that the well-meaning folks who hand out food in the city’s parks will take a cue from Councilwoman Toni Iseman’s plea that they instead take their charity to the city-sponsored site, which will promote safety and security for all.