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Out of the Blue: We aren't obligated to create a parking lot

October 08, 2013|By Billy Fried
  • Officials in New York City have removed some parking to create a bike-share system.
Officials in New York City have removed some parking to… (Billy Fried, Coastline…)

For years Laguna Beach has been held back from making meaningful changes to its infrastructure by the notion that the California Coastal Commission will not allow the city to remove parking without replacing each and every spot, thereby safeguarding fair beach access for all.

This made perfect sense when it came to development along the beach in the 1970s and '80s that relegated access to the privileged few. But it doesn't make sense for today's cities seeking to reduce traffic and parking by getting more people to the beach through multimodal options.

Last week the City Council told us the one thing we could all agree on was the need to beautify the gateway to our city. And that the primary reason for the five-story parking structure was to replace the 400 ground-level spaces we would lose through our beautification project. So the project is ostensibly a park that must have a garage as an offset requirement of the Coastal Commission.

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Only nobody bothered to contact the Coastal Commission. Had officials checked, they would have discovered that the commission no longer requires replacement parking because of the need for compliance with the California Complete Streets mandate.

The commission's main focus is still to ensure beach access. Only now its wants want more walkability, bike-ability and public transit and fewer autos, exactly what our community so desperately needs.

Here it is, in plain view on the website. Section 30252 of the commission's 2013 California Coastal Act (the Public Resource Code on Development), states: "The location and amount of new development should maintain and enhance public access to the coast by (1) facilitating the provision or extension of transit service; (2) providing commercial facilities within or adjoining residential development or in other areas that will minimize the use of coastal access roads; (3) providing non-automobile circulation within the development; (4) providing adequate parking facilities or providing substitute means of serving the development with public transportation."

California is simply enacting what so many cities have already done. Take a holiday to Paris, New York, San Francisco or our sister city, Menton, France, and you'll see the positive effects of this — an increase in tourism, accessibility, retail sales and the sheer joy of being in a place that's more livable.

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