Mailbag: Season of trolleys winding down

Summer trolleys end at 11:30 p.m. Sept. 2. Take a ride on the south route and explore your town.

Stop at Wesley Drive and walk Treasure Island Park or plop down on one of its four gorgeous beaches.

Check out the almost mermaid, "Voyager" by Linda Brunker, near the underground garage, the nearly 50-foot long "fish" mosaic by Dora De Larioson the wall under Montage's northern swimming pool and the four big picnic tables and five small tables on the green near the gazebo where hundreds watch the Emerald Bay and downtown July 4 fireworks.

Go to Aliso Beach and use the under-highway tunnel to walk up to the golf course for a delicious lunch or breakfast or remember there is the cafe on the sand. Take a short walk south and, waves and tides permitting, you'll come to Laguna's internationally listed West Street "gay" beach.

Another idea is to go to south Table Rock Drive, walk toward the ocean and down 150 steps to Secret Cove, which many say is well worth the steps, and across the street, up Catalina Street one block to a quiet park named the Village Green.

Both the cove and the park are in South Laguna.

Travel to the trolley's south-most stop and visit Salt Creek beach, which has a terrace where smoothies, burgers and hot dogs are served or have a luxe lunch at the Ritz.

Free trolleys was City Councilwoman Toni Iseman's idea and that idea now moves 300,000-plus visitors and locals from here to there with bells ringing all the way.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

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Funding is key for Complete Streets

In April 2010 the Complete Streets Task Force identified sources of grant funding for building street infrastructure in Laguna Beach and delivered them to City Council. Identifying funding is the fifth phase of a five-step program to implement Complete Streets Policy; it identifies federal funding for civic projects such as bike-lanes, pedestrian zones and transit stops.

The Orange County Transit Authority published a map to show the allocation of $9.4 million in free grant money to cities in Orange County. Laguna Beach was allocated no money because city staff did not bother to apply for funding nor prepare for grant qualification. To qualify a municipality must have a Bicycle and Pedestrian Management Plan in place, and an approved project for the grant allocation to apply. Laguna has neither.

OCTA is extending a hand to all municipalities around Orange County and can help us solve our transit problems. All we have to do is choose to participate.

OCTA plans to knit together a bicycle network to serve all of Orange County. "It would be like planning freeways on city borders," Supervisor Shawn Nelson said. "This seems to be a good way to get cities together. ... Orange County will be a master-planned county for bicycle transit."

Les Miklosy

Laguna Streets

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Vote as an informed citizen

On Nov. 6 we will be exercising our right to participate in the democratic process by voting for not only school board members and city council members, but also for state and national officers. Good citizens are informed citizens.

Making better information available is the goal of the Laguna Beach branches of American Association of University Women, League of Women Voters, and the Woman's Club. These nonpartisan organizations will be sponsoring candidates' forums to which all are invited to meet the candidates, listen to their views, and question them about important issues.

For this election, reapportionment has changed our districts. Our former incumbents for the offices of State Assembly, State Senate, and U.S. Congress are running in other districts. In Laguna we have no incumbent for any of those offices. And knowing Laguna as I do, we are not a group of pushovers who will vote for a candidate simply because he or she has a "D" or an "R" after his or her name.

During the primary season, these groups held a candidates' forum for the office of State Assembly. Those who attended have a good idea of how the person elected in November will support or oppose our own personal interests.

Two dates are confirmed for candidate events. A forum for City Council candidates will be held at the Council Chamber at 7 p.m. Oct. 12. At 7 p.m. the following week, on Oct. 19, a forum will be held for the 48th Congressional District with candidates Dana Rohrabacher and Ron Varasteh. All are invited to attend.

Good citizens are informed citizens.

Jean Raun

Laguna Beach

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Thoughts on making Laguna better

In response to recent issues concerning parking/transportation in Laguna Beach — particularly with the new slated Irvine development — I would like to make a few suggestions, which may or may not have been touched upon already.

First, change Laguna from an old-fashioned, car-oriented, parking-meter town, into a modern, cutting-edge, beach-town with improved mass transportation, pedestrian-friendly zones, and an outside piazza/sidewalk atmosphere downtown, such as one finds, for example, in the Mediterranean.

Severely restrict parking inside the entire town, and shuttle people into Laguna by bus, rail or both.

Build underground parking structures if possible on Canyon Road, or else coordinate with the Orange County Transportation Authority to run regular connections between Laguna and the surrounding areas.

On the bus or train provide people with brochures, including detailed transportation maps for getting around, as well as coupons to the many local shops/restaurants that help make Laguna so wonderful.

While they are on the bus or train, make sure to play a video loop on flat screen TVs describing the history of Laguna, including its significance in the arts and surfing communities, while also attuning them to the beauty of the land, and most importantly perhaps, the fragility of the ecosystem.

Show them pictures of whales caught in nets, fish that have swallowed plastic bags, or better yet, a picture of the island of trash floating out on the ocean. How big is it now, anyhow — how many square miles? And while you're at it, make sure to tell them not to leave their food unattended on the beach for seagulls to rip apart and munch on. And tell them to pick up their trash — however many signs and reminders it takes.

Unload all the people near where Laguna Canyon Road meets Forest Drive and then have trolleys/buses/trains running around, perhaps along Coast Highway and Cypress Drive in North Laguna, and Coast Highway and Glenneyre in South Laguna, including, of course, bike and pedestrian lanes converging at this main terminal.

The entire Village Area should be converted into a pedestrian shopping mall, with outdoor seating, decorative landscaping, and an area for artists, musicians, skateboarders and others to perform.

People should be funneled to Main Beach and back through this pedestrian mall, and there should be a giant crosswalk/bridge across Coast Highway, and a major stop to go north or south by public transportation — commuter rail preferably — with stops at all major beaches.

Finally, do away with most of the metered parking sites downtown or make some so exorbitantly priced as to discourage use, and create reserved parking for Laguna residents/workers only, and don't make them pay for it. Every household/ business should be given one or more passes, with an option to buy visitor passes.

In short, coming to and living in Laguna should be a more enriching aesthetic experience. This should be a pedestrian and bike-friendly town, with an emphasis on the arts, healthy living, supporting local businesses, and keeping the environment clean, however many signs, trash cans, or bag dispensers it takes.

Chris Cones

Laguna Beach

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