What $75,000 buys you in Laguna: Park Plaza

Park Avenue Plaza - sounds a lot like a New York City address, right?  But hang tight. The Park Avenue Plaza is not in New York City, but right here in Laguna on our own Park Avenue (actually the little street that parallels Forest that abuts the shawarma falafel stand on the way to the library). Our Council voted unanimously to spend $75,000 for a parklet with tables and chairs for a six-week “experiment” beginning October 21.

The grand vision is that Laguna Beach will be now more like a European village.  Billy Fried, one of the proponents of the plaza stated in a recent column that the aesthetics are “stunning” – What is stunning is how tacky this place looks – colored plastic lawn chairs?  There seems to be a difference in the eye of the beholder here.

The reality is our European village abuts a California highway with millions in car traffic. The trade-off means closing a favorite locals thoroughfare traveled by a car every minute with direct access to Glenneyre and Top of the World.  We will lose eight metered parking spaces with revenue of $1,400 in average weekly parking fees and face the very real possibility of compounding traffic backing-up on already congested Coast Highway that ultimately seems to benefit one private business owner who now has outdoor dining paid for by us.

Photo by Alan Boinus

Park Plaza

Not that wasting money is a foreign concept to this Council. Recall the public threw a collective fit last year when the Council’s other grand experiment in parklets took out at least two parking spaces on Forest in favor of a wooden barricade that many chided looked more like a livestock pen than anything park-like and cost the owner of Alessa restaurant $45,000?!

I asked Steve Dicterow if all this was worth it.  «Can’t people just walk across the street and go to a real park called, the beach?!”  “Won’t traffic back-up if two egresses are removed?”  “Won’t people be ticked-off having to turn left at Legion?”  “Won’t we be burdening library patrons who will find it more difficult to park now?”  And, “If Council wants a test, why couldn’t we try barricades first at a more reasonable cost?”

Steve argued that traffic can be easily diverted onto streets like Jasmine and Myrtle through north Laguna neighborhoods to Rosa Bonheur.  But then, wouldn’t we be backing up traffic at Broadway and still not be anywhere near Glenneyre?

Perhaps the Shawarma Plaza is a good idea.  But then why didn’t Council follow Bob Whalen’s suggestion and work with CalTrans to pull some parking spaces along Coast Highway in order to create a left-turn pocket on Laguna Avenue before venturing with its experiment?  After all, if we are willing to sacrifice eight parking spaces, why couldn’t we sacrifice some for a left-turn lane to benefit residents?  Not coming up with viable solutions before spending taxpayer money or inconveniencing residents dooms what might otherwise be worthy of consideration.  Unfortunately Council’s idea of an experiment makes guinea pigs of us all.

Alan Boinus

Laguna Beach

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillepsie, Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising

949.315.0259

Email: Lynette@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc

949.715.1736