Out of the Blue: The garage to gridlock

Not building the Village Entrance parking structure won't be career suicide for city officials.

July 25, 2013|By Billy Fried
  • San Francisco is removing parking in favor of parklets like this one.
San Francisco is removing parking in favor of parklets… (Billy Fried )

"We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there 'is' such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action." –The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A turning point came in last year's presidential debates when Mitt Romney accused Barack Obama of weakening our defense by funding fewer naval ships then we had in 1916.

Obama responded that the nature of our military had changed, that we had things to mitigate the volume of warships needed, like ships that planes launch from, and ships that go underwater and carry nuclear warheads. He added that we no longer used muskets with bayonets. Which brings us to the Village Entrance parking structure.

Back in the early 1990s, when the Village Entrance (beautification and parking) Project was first approved, the fax machine was a space-aged device. People still hand wrote letters. And mailed them. We paid for music.


We didn't know about climate change, declining energy supplies, or that a great worldwide campaign would germinate to reduce our dependence on cars by retrofitting cities and towns with bike and pedestrian paths, car-free zones, promenades, parklets, and traffic calming measures. These cities weren't adding more parking lots. They were covering them with bike lanes, pathways, sofas and lawns. To paraphrase Joni Mitchell backwards, "they pulled down parking lots and put up a paradise." 

It's time for a public mandate to make Laguna less dependent on cars, easier to traverse with alternative transit, more connected to community, safer for everyone, and easier to evacuate. Part of that plan is an "outside-the-car" solution for moving more visitors in and out of town efficiently.

Cities with far more complicated infrastructures than Laguna — like L.A., New York, San Francisco and Paris, have begun enormous initiatives to relieve oil dependence, traffic congestion, pollution, parking scarcity and human isolation with healthy ways for the public to travel, interact, and gather.

L.A. has greater distances than us, San Francisco more hills, New York more congestion, and Paris more baguettes, yet they have all addressed issues of mounting congestion (and obesity) the same way: by reducing the footprint of cars rather than increasing it.

Coastline Pilot Articles Coastline Pilot Articles