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Mailbag: City needs a 'viable business district'

March 26, 2013

What is the most effective way for Laguna Beach to raise more revenues other than taxes and parking-fines? That's right honey, put-up a parking lot.

In the interest of maintaining village appeal through zoning restrictions and height limitations, the city has constrained business development to the extent they gross more revenue from parking meters than retail sales.

It should be no surprise the new Village Entrance has a provision for 600 more parking spaces, 140 of them reserved for city employees. Maybe it's time for the business pendulum to swing the other way. Until city management plans and implements a viable business district, Laguna Beach will remain a parking lot.

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Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

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Much more important issues than power lines

I read the story "No citywide will to bury power lines" (in the March 22 issue of the Coastline Pilot) with interest. Having been involved in one assessment district, I well remember the $40,000 I was forced to pay for that to be done in my neighborhood. I also remember how the system is set up so those who benefit from improved views cast votes with more "power" than those who benefit little, resulting in those who benefit little subsidizing those with improved views.

I couldn't help but reflect on something else, though. I also recently read an article about Laguna Soroptimists raising funds to put in wells in India. They cost about $1,800 each. (What I paid to underground in my neighborhood could have paid for 20 wells.) One in eight people around the world has no access to safe drinking water at all. Others must walk for miles to get it. Diseases caused by contaminated water are the second biggest killer of children around the world. It's been said, "No other single intervention is more likely to have a significant impact on global poverty than provision of safe water," according to the Safe Water as the Key to Global Health report in 2008 for the United Nations University.

Some would make the "greatest impact" claim for education. In the same issue of the Coastline Pilot, there was an article about students at our high school raising funds for a school in Kenya. If you want to get "down and dirty" with infrastructure issues, about four people in 10 around the world have no access to a toilet. When schools have no toilets, girls often won't go to school. Contamination from open defecation causes diseases that kill thousands of children every day.

Billions of the world's people have no safe water, no toilet, and no school, yet "visual pollution" from power lines is a big issue to us. I encourage people to forget about the power lines here, and use a little of the money they might have been forced to pay to underground them to help the Laguna Soroptimists or the Laguna Beach High School students to provide basic infrastructure so other people can have clean water, a toilet or a school.

I now live in another place in Laguna. Based on my last experience, I think it's quite possible I would be forced to pay $200,000 or more to underground the utilities here. If I am forced to do that, I will have to cut back on my support of wells, schools, orphans and surgeries for the poor. I think we should be grateful to live in Laguna just as it is. If we want to improve the world, there are much more important issues than power lines interrupting our views.

Stan Frymann

Laguna Beach

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