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Hansen: Fight parking with ideas

December 12, 2012|By David Hansen

It's no secret that downtown Laguna Beach during the summer is a parking lot. Worse, inland day-trippers steer clear of the city because of the related traffic, frustration and overall claustrophobia.

Imagine, however, distributed parking that spreads cars out over a wider area, incentivized by cheaper rates. In other words, maybe Forest Avenue costs more than Broadway, which costs more than Cliff Drive.

Kind of like the Z lot at the airport: You shuttle in but pay far less.

On Wednesday night, the city's planning department and a parking adviser, RBF Consulting, will be unveiling these and other ideas at a public workshop, 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the Suzi Q Senior/Community Center, 380 Third St.

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"There are at least a dozen different strategies that we're going to be discussing," said RBF's Bob Matson, who is helping to create the updated parking management plan.

After this workshop, the proposals will go to the Planning Commission and City Council for consideration early next year.

Other interesting ideas that will be floated involve the free summer shuttle. Should it go year-round? If so, can the dynamic meter pricing pay for it?

Maybe there are alternatives, such as only making the shuttle year-round on Saturdays or other special times.

One issue for local residents is that during the summer, the shuttle is often too crowded. Plus, if you take it downtown and stay late, you're stuck.

"Let's say the last trolley run is at 10 o'clock, but you live in Laguna and you've taken it downtown to do dinner and drinks, and you get out at 11:30," Matson said. "How do you get back because you didn't drive downtown?"

Enter the proposed voucher taxi program.

"You've purchased taxi vouchers from the city and then you simply call a taxi, and the ride home is free," he said.

City Planner Monica Tuchscher is officially driving the parking management plan and hopes these types of suggestions will motivate Laguna residents to participate in the final list. She will be highlighting several ideas during the workshop.

"We're going to be talking about parking time limits, parking information systems, valet, peripheral parking and other things," she said. "Then there's pricing. We could do district-based pricing or dynamic pricing, and we're looking at both on-street meters and off-street meters."

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