Mailbag: Benefits of Village Entrance plan are obvious

I do not understand the bitter and undeserved comments regarding the Village Entrance project financing recently approved by the City Council.

I believe this is another key moment in the history of Laguna Beach that will be seen by future generations as a step in the right direction, exhibiting leadership, foresight and the courage to do the right thing.

It is no secret that the main concerns of residents in Laguna Beach are parking and congestion. In addition to that, more than 1,700 apartments and 5,000 homes will be built off Laguna Canyon Road within the next 10 to 15 years.

Why is it not easy to understand that capturing that traffic before visitors circle aimlessly looking for places to park, exacerbating the problem, is absolutely necessary?

Furthermore, the financing plan puts the burden on those who will be using the parking facility — not the residents who bear the brunt of dealing with congestion. Finally, it is the most appropriate use of parking funds when it comes to municipal finance.

The Village Entrance financing plan is it a visionary step, taking into consideration future Laguna Beach generations. I cannot say that about the naysayers, who seem concerned with keeping the status quo.

Kristine Thalman

Executive director, Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce

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A few questions to add light to Village Entrance

Some residents seem confused about the value of the proposed $50 million, 600-space Village Entrance parking garage.

Here are some questions that might help them to clarify their thoughts.

Can we add parking spaces faster than car makers can make cars? Can we add new parking spaces faster than builders can build new housing on the other end of Laguna Canyon Road?

If we add more parking, will this generate more business for our merchants in the winter time? If we add more parking, will it alleviate auto congestion in the summer time?

Michael Hoag

Laguna Beach

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Money for parking facility doesn't make sense

The City Council mentioned finding a location for a skate park that made sense. I'm not sure we should throw $40 million to $60 million into a parking facility that for 42 weeks out of the year will be enjoyed by Laguna's skateboarding community.

Thomas Heenan

Laguna Beach

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Current view ordinance works well

I am very concerned about the language of the proposed View Restoration and Preservation Ordinance, and fear that the intent is focused exclusively on restoring views and removing trees.

I have been a resident of Laguna Beach for almost 40 years, and I'm very pleased to say most of the special qualities that attracted me to Laguna Beach all those years ago, including the abundant mature trees throughout our community, are still present. If our town is denuded of the mature trees throughout our neighborhoods, it will seriously alter the peace, tranquillity and scenic character of our community.

While the proposed ordinance states "it is not intended to encourage or result in clear cutting or substantial denuding of any property of its vegetation by overzealous application of this ordinance," what will prevent this from happening?

Serious concerns are raised when the No. 1 objective states, "The purpose of this ordinance is to establish a right for property owners to restore a view."

This is not an equitable balance between view restoration and tree preservation. It gives no consideration to old growth, mature trees that existed when many property owners, including myself, purchased their homes. It also gives no view preservation measures that do not involve topping trees to the homeowners' roofline.

While the current view ordinance may not satisfy some, at least it recognizes the considerable contribution that trees add to our environment, for all to enjoy.

People have commented that trees did not exist in Laguna Beach in the 1920s. This may be correct, but we also didn't have houses, asphalt roads, concrete walkways and hardscape throughout the town. The addition of landscaping throughout our community softens the harshness of the man-made additions. Laguna Beach would be very sterile if we were to use the 1920s as a benchmark.

The proposed ordinance would significantly change the unique and scenic beauty of Laguna Beach. Imagine how sterile La Jolla, Santa Barbara and Carmel would be without trees. Laguna Beach without trees would not be the same, either.

It would make sense to keep our current view ordinance but change the enforcement procedure.

Dwight W. Spiers

Laguna Beach

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View ordininance needs to be strong, enforceable

Like decency and sense, courtesy seems to be rarer these days. In Laguna Beach, where views and trees sometimes collide, common courtesy is not common enough.

Imagine for a moment that there were no city ordinances for night time noise or leash laws. If you had neighbors who were being bitten by your dog, kept awake all night by its barking and having their gardens dug up by his daily burial of bones, and they asked you to control your pet, would you?

Most of you would. A few would not. That's why we have to make laws and establish governance using police powers — to protect the innocents from the inconsiderate few.

Now what would you say about the owner of that vicious and destructive dog if he ignored his neighbor's pleas for months, years or even decades? What if, out of pure spite, that dog owner went so far as to demand that the victimized neighbors pay for a fence to be built around his property to keep his dog from doing more harm? And what if the city sent you the bill when the dog catcher had to take the damn dog out of your garden? Would that sound reasonable to you?

And what if the dog owner pointed out that he and his dog had been biting folks, barking all night and digging up gardens in the neighborhood since before you moved in, and you should have known what you were getting when you purchased your home. What if he even admitted that his dog was a public nuisance?

Yet somehow the new dog laws were so poorly drafted that the unintended consequence would be that they would only be enforced against those dogs born after the law was made. So by a terrible twist of fate (or bad faith law-making) this horrible dog was being granted permanent amnesty to continue his awful behavior?

We live in a town that offers some of the most beautiful views on earth.

Courteous and sensible people will continue to have the decency to maintain their trees and shrubs, at their cost, so they don't rob their neighbors of these spectacular views. For the other, malicious few, we need a strong, enforceable view ordinance. An ordinance that doesn't care how long the bad neighbor has been bad, but is a fair and reasonable remedy.

I love my trees and I love my dogs and I get to enjoy them as long as I don't let them hurt other people. It's pretty simple really. Not common, but not particularly complicated either.

Greg Gilroy

Laguna Beach

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