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Volume 15, Issue 45  | June 6, 2023Subscribe

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Letters to the Editor

District-proposed development not what the city needs

I attended the May 2 LBUSD Open House for the proposed development of new facilities at four campuses. The School District revealed their plans for LBHS in a Facility Master Plan (FMP) calling for new tennis courts, administration buildings, aquatic center, two swimming pools, two parking structures, a performing arts center and Astroturf, for a proposed $88 million. Like most residents attending, I wondered how these campus amenities serve student education – or anyone else during the 10-year construction period when Park Avenue will be a demolition zone.

Given the additional soft costs (legal, EIR, approvals), project estimates for all four campuses will be $150 million while a developer confided in me (that) $250 million is more like it. The FMP Project Timeline shows the feasibility study began in September 2021 with site walks in October 2022; from the complaints I heard it seems like the site walks didn’t include school neighbors.

Our City Parking Management Subcommittee proposed 18 parking lots and 11 new parking structures throughout Laguna because they expect to operate them for city revenue like ATMs. Has the District bought in to the action?

Parking structures were feasible in 1950 Los Angeles, but not in 2023 Laguna Beach. From the FMP, analyzing (Shoup UCLA) the parking structures Lot-A and Lot-B over the structure lifespan, I estimate a present value of $21 million that translates to $160,000 per space for Lot-A and $171,000 per space for Lot-B. That’s the affordable part. The cost per parking space added is much higher; for a comparison see Laguna Streets. It should be evident now there are better alternatives for that expense.

The LBUSD parking structure is misplaced because these structures are not consistent with guidelines written by Laguna residents. The Vision 2030 Plan states our first priority was affordable housing for residents, not condos for cars. Parking structures lead to car intensification when Laguna Beach already has enough cars. Our General Plan says, “remote parking” not “parking structures.” Our Climate Protection Action Plan speaks to reducing the carbon footprint of Laguna Beach; a goal is seeking a new balance among the four modes of transportation: walking, biking, transit and private vehicles. Parking structures do not appear in any of these guidelines.

Over the last seven years enrollment has declined 30% at Thurston and 17% at LBHS. Students are taught to pass driving written tests, but not how to drive safely. In an academic climate of declining grades and missing vocational training facilities, the District project costs for administrative ornaments are unnecessary.

The Facilities Master Plan serves suburban planning for Phoenix, Ariz. not Laguna Beach; we residents seek planning from Aptos, Calif., not Phoenix, Ariz. Our village community needs a comprehensive vision for the future plan of Laguna Beach and binding city commitments to achieve it. Our School District and city should integrate common infrastructure and city services to meet community guidelines and academic needs, but this project plan needs a do-over.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach


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In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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