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Editorial:

Meeting a year of challenge

January 01, 2010

2009 may be remembered as the year when the economy “hit bottom,” and this was a year of struggle on many fronts.

While the year was full of difficulties, there were high notes, in particular the opening of the Senior and Community Center, which over the past 11 months has become a delightful place for classes, gatherings and community meetings of all kinds. The facility’s success can be measured in the fact that membership in the Seniors Inc. has quadrupled since it opened.

As we look ahead to 2010, the economy, local and national, is still sputtering but at least there are signs of life. Laguna Beach fared much better than other cities in Orange County with regard to housing prices, which did not plummet here as they have in surrounding areas and in the rest of the state. Laguna is indeed charmed in that respect.

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Still, there are difficult issues looming in 2010, not the least of which is where to put the Alternative Sleeping Location for homeless people when the ACT V parking lot reverts to its summer use as festival parking at the end of June.

The city now owns another Laguna Canyon parcel, the Verizon lot near the Bark Park, and it appears that lot may be used as a summer replacement, but no proposals have seen the light day for the use of this property.

Another bright note last year was the inauguration of the Forest Avenue Promenade, which delighted visitors and residents with its “Third Thursday” street party last summer. The Chamber of Commerce would like a return of the Third Thursday Promenade this summer, and there is hope it could become a permanent fixture on the 200 block of Forest Avenue if permission can be obtained from the city and the Coastal Commission.

The downtown promenade is just one way the city can help to keep businesses afloat until the economy overall is in full recovery. While a number of galleries closed over the past year, most have been replaced by new, energetic gallerists who are bringing new life to the city’s art scene, a hopeful sign of resilience in this vital sector.

On another front, how the proposed Marine Reserve will play out — with its 6-mile “no-take” zone along Laguna Beach — is another issue we’ll be watching closely, as state Fish and Game officials hammer out the details on how to implement such a zone and present an environmental impact report to the public. The new year always offers the hope of progress and brings the promise of new challenges yet to be met. As always, we’ll be striving to keep you well-informed as it all unfolds.

Happy New Year!


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