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Out of the Blue: The dream of a traffic-free Laguna

February 20, 2014|By Billy Fried

Imagine a not-too-distant future when traveling around and in and out of Laguna without a car is a cinch.

A future when visitors prefer to park in peripheral lots because that is the most enjoyable and sensible way to visit our town. Or just train in, because gas is so scarce and expensive, and it's just more civilized.

And with peripheral lots, a vast network of sustainable, public transport leading to downtown — light rail, trolley, streetcar, bike, electric bike, foot — just makes sense. Plus we'll be charging something like $10 an hour for the privilege of downtown-adjacent parking, an added incentive.

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And what a treat to experience a car-free, pedestrian-only downtown, laden with trees, seating, lighting, playgrounds, public commons. A 21st century, forward-thinking green city that subordinates the future fossils known as cars to the human experience.

Here is what else I envision:

For people entering from the east, there is satellite parking along Laguna Canyon Road, starting at the major new housing developments in Irvine. Parking would also be available adjacent to the 405. And Act V would be the site of a multilevel parking garage.

Travel into town is seamless with the light rail system, which ferries residents from and to the Irvine Amtrak station.

Once you arrive at the beautifully landscaped Village Entrance, you cross the street over the wonderful foot bridge with the "Welcome to Laguna, A Green City" sign.

Traffic beneath flows beautifully without the pedestrian crosswalk and with the addition of a roundabout at the intersection.

Now hop on the old-fashioned street car for a lovely jaunt down Ocean Avenue, your portal to the Pacific. Or rent a bike from the kiosk.

If shopping and a leisurely stroll is more your bag (paper, not plastic), walk the lovely pedestrian-only Ocean, Beach and Forest avenues, delighted by the outdoor seating, lovely planters and tantalizing window shopping.

You beeline over to Forest, where café tables spill into the street, acoustic musicians and performance artists entertain the crowds, and merchants are delighted by the lingering foot traffic. For a minute you think you're in our sister city, Menton, France.

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