I am the son-in-law of Rock Martin and manager of Rock Martin Jewelers on Forest Avenue. Our business, like many others on this street, is service-oriented. We have been in business in Laguna Beach for more than 40 years. As everybody knows, parking in Laguna Beach has been an issue for many years. To hear the suggestion of taking away parking for even one minute seems unreasonable and irresponsible.
We have kept quiet about the Third Thursday [Forest Avenue Promenade] event, considering this only takes place once a month. That being said, we might as well close our doors at 2 p.m. that day because as soon as the street is closed, we have no foot traffic. Any time Forest Avenue is closed we lose foot traffic.
Rock Martin Jewelers stayed open the first Third Thursday event. We should not have. It was a waste of three hours of my life. Not one person walked through our doors the entire night. Many people may enjoy this as a party night out in Laguna. This brings up another concern. Why is it now fine to walk around downtown with open alcohol containers?
There may be studies showing this type of promenade is helpful in bringing more people to an area. We do not necessarily need more people to come to Laguna Beach. We need to figure out what to do with them when they get here. Why in the world would we want to put a giant distraction in the middle of our businesses? We want people on the sidewalks close to the store entryways, not sitting out on park benches in a place that was once valuable parking. Main Beach provides ample space for people who want to come and relax on a bench.
My customers need parking. They love to find a close parking place and run in and do their business. People who go to the pharmacy run in and out. Unlike Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade, Laguna Beach does not have five solid blocks of parking structures backing our main shopping area.
Please listen to our plea. Never close Forest Avenue for any reason.
If we thought closing the street would in any way help our business we would get behind this and back it all the way.
It will not help. It has been tried and tested to no avail.
MICHAEL MCFADDEN lives in Laguna Beach.