Location location location

[Park Plaza]. A solution in search of a problem.

Maybe the grain of positive idea initially but in a poorly thought out, hasty location: Making it a feel-good but irrelevant installation.

Stupid is as stupid does, here for 45 years it never ceases to amaze me how my City finds ways to blow big $$$ on what’s unimportant, minor tweaking while ignoring the larger good for residents: Commerce first, locals second.

(1) Most of the time those chairs/tables were empty. During the pilot/demo phase I went down there two to three times a week at different times of day/evening. Ditto. Many times no one there period, weekends a handful. So few go there on weekdays off-season, locals stayed away in droves, it’s success greatly exaggerated by proponents (many paid and/or on the Chamber/Visitor’s Bureau payroll). Special business interests want it.

(2) Two of the three NGO’s mentioned in support, Beautification Council and Transition Laguna (501c3 public benefit), have had their non-profit status suspended by the State Franchise Tax Board. Look them up. The Chamber is a special interest 501c4.

(3) As a land use/regulatory compliance advisor myself, I see no mention of CalTrans. Hey, City Council? Anything you do to PCH is in their domain, jurisdiction. That includes the obvious re-routing, re-circulation projections. The City paid a vendor to tell them what they wanted to hear/achieve, interesting that two-thirds of the letters were opposed, so they’re ignoring the will of the residents and blowing more of our $$$.

(4) Under CEQA, any potentially significant impacts must be considered, analyzed and mitigated. What LB is proposing will irrevocably, irreparably alter the downtown traffic circulation patterns, and there’s no proof as an improvement. It should have an independent, third-party enviro-analysis/review, not rubber-stamping. And that would include detailed feedback/input from Cal Trans expert engineers

(5) Losing those staging/parking spaces on PCH + parklet will put more stress on visitors trying to pick up/drop off or park family vehicles in proximity to the beach. That’s a Cal Coastal Commission issue because Beach Parking = Public Access. Also, the reduction of approximately 15+ spaces total must be balanced, made up somewhere else: Yet no such plan is included. It should go through the CCC to determine if the combo of parking space los + circulation alterations make Main Beach less attractive/usable/functional. Including amending not only the Downtown Specific Plan but amend our Local Coastal Plan.

(6) Downtown vendor trucks (food, Fed-Ex, OC Library, north side PCH merchants) will no longer have anywhere to park in the early a.m. hours as now. None is allowed in the alley behind The White House/Library, the meter cops chase them off or ticket them. So no staging plan in place or proposed. And look for beach visitors to fudge, use the Library lot, reducing OUR (locals) access to that facility.

(7) This is a poorly critiqued attempt that creates a cold breezeway that will not be utilized at least nine months out of the year while putting stress on other contiguous locations. During poor weather or off hours it eliminates a small yet highly valuable cut-through to assure/relieve circulation stress. And due to the wind pattern, Venturi Effect (air speeding up going through the compressed space), coupled with the car pollution, those who do sit there will be in the shadows bundled up, inhaling concentrated PCH generated particulates.

Our City Council listened to a very small yet vocal sample of residents, came up with something right out of Dumb & Dumber.

Must be an election year when fluff trumps substance.

Roger Butow

Laguna Beach