Businesses weigh in on parking challenges

'Newspaper stories from the late 1920s talk about parking problems in Laguna,' says a commissioner.

May 15, 2013|By Bryce Alderton

Noticeable signs and increased parking enforcement are two ways to address Laguna Beach's ongoing parking issues, business owners say.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the draft Parking Management Plan — which aims to maximize parking in downtown and off Laguna Canyon Road — at 6:30 p.m. May 22 in City Council chambers, 505 Forest Ave.

One suggestion — prominently placed signs — could ease parking confusion, said Daniel Reyes, general manager of Nirvana Grille on Broadway Street.


"No one knows what stipulations are with [signs in lots next to buildings]," Reyes said.

Nirvana Grille has about 14 spaces for customers to use after 5 p.m. in a nearby plaza, said chef and owner Lindsay Smith-Rosales.

Customers can park for free during non-summer months, but during the summer a valet is sometimes needed, and parking costs $10 to $15, Smith-Rosales said.

Visitors are confused as to whether they can park in certain spots, said Reyes, who was born and raised in Laguna Beach.

"No one knows what is going on," he said.

Holly Dennison manages Fresh Produce Sportswear on Forest Avenue and is also on the Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee, which advises the City Council.

Customers' fear of finding a parking space has detrimental effects on business, she said.

"Sometimes [customers] don't come because they can't find parking," said Dennison, who has worked at the store for 10 years. "We want people to come and enjoy [Laguna], and not hate us for parking fees."

Fresh Produce's nine employees take the bus and walk to work, she said.

"The local bus is free, if you work in town," Dennison added.

Forest Avenue sees its heaviest traffic from late morning into the early afternoon, and around dinner time, she said.

"You're safe until 11 a.m.," Dennison said. "From 11 [a.m.] to 3:30 or 4 p.m., it's packed. Then there's a lull until 5 p.m. and, 'bam!' restaurants start filling up."

Dennison suggested stronger meter enforcement.

"There's a three-hour limit [on certain meters], but some people stay six to nine hours," she said. "It's important to keep people circulating. I'm for outlying lots that get trolleys [taking people into downtown]. I'm for prime spots [in downtown] costing more."

Meter rates vary, depending on the area.

Laguna has 119 meters — some with 10-hour limits — in the 100 and 200 blocks of Cliff Drive, between Broadway Street and North Coast Highway. Cost is $1 per hour.

Coastline Pilot Articles Coastline Pilot Articles