It's going to take a Village Entrance

October 01, 2004

Tom Ahern

Longtime Lagunans have told me that the Village Entrance concept has

been promoted for more than 30 years and have described how

frustrated they were when the City Council did nothing about the 1995

report of the Village Entrance Task Force and when it continues to

make progress at a glacial speed.

A major reason that there has been no action is that the city does


not have enough money to build a decent Village Entrance, because

instead of using the tens of millions of dollars collected on parking

(more than 14% of the general fund) for this parking-related project,

it uses the parking money as an emergency fund to cover other

unfunded projects. If we wait until the city amasses enough to build

a noteworthy Village Entrance, the current seniors at the high school

will be grandparents.

There is a better way: Let a developer create a notable Village

Entrance that would include shops and restaurants, plus 800 parking

spaces in excess of the spaces needed for those businesses. It would

be created following strict rules to make sure that it would be

consistent with the village character and a number of developers

would vie with their proposals for the best possible project. We

could require that the project include a teen center and possibly a

senior center. Design would have to be consistent with the village

character and chain stores discouraged, to keep Laguna a mall-free

zone. This would involve a long-term lease of the land to that

developer. This idea has many advantages:

* It would create a place for Lagunans to gather year-round,

increasing the sense of community. It would be a place for them to

park without worrying about orbiting looking for scarce spaces.

* It would take 800 net cars off the streets. As the nearby

population grows, they will come to Laguna. It is better that we have

them park on the edge of Downtown than fighting us for parking


* The Festival of Arts would be ecstatic. The city inaction on

parking was a major reason cited by Sherri Butterfield and the Gang

of Four for their attempt to move the festival and pageant to San

Clemente. The playhouse also would appreciate the much needed


* Development fees would pump huge amounts into the city coffers

(assuming the city government does not yield as it did on Treasure


* Revenues from sales taxes, business-license taxes and a piece of

the parking action would pump even more money into the city treasury

year after year. (Under the current proposal for a city-run Village

Coastline Pilot Articles Coastline Pilot Articles