I had to laugh by the recent essay signed by 23 notable Laguna business folks headlined with the accusation that “opponents of the village entrance project create fear of new ideas.”
Notably, the “Gang of 23” neglected to mention the minor detail of the $65 million dollar price tag for this project that was as bad now as when it was hatched many years ago. Funny how spending public money can be so enjoyable when it isn’t coming from your bank account.
The Gang of 23 loves to mention Main Beach Park, The Suzi Q Senior and Community Center, and The Montage as comparable decisions by past City Councils. This comparison is questionable since each of these projects benefited the entire City. It is obvious that the village entrance project provides minimal, if any, benefit to North and South Laguna, Mid-Town, or Top of the World, to name a few neighborhoods.
The “Gang of 23” also commented on the “blighted” corner near City Hall and conveniently forgot the other Canyon blight, such as the Edison substation a short distance away. And don’t forget the Forest/Broadway intersection with the mishmash of storefronts that wouldn’t take any prizes for urban beauty for anyone who isn’t nearsighted.
And how about that revenue bond issue, huh? The Gang of 23 loves a high priced bond issue that will bypass voters and potentially cost thirty percent more than general obligation bonds. But hey, it’s not the Gang’s money and not their problem because parking fees will cover all sins. Hmm, or will they? Counting on 25 years of parking revenue to cover a bond issue is fiscally irresponsible considering the many, many future unknowns.
Perhaps the Gang of 23, as hard-core supporters of this impractical and uneconomical project, is not well read on the potential economic loss and gains to California coastal cities caused by rising sea levels. A recent study published in the journal Climate Change stated that “Smaller beaches in towns like Laguna Beach stand to lose $14 million annually because of narrowing beaches while larger beaches in places like Huntington Beach will gain as much as $16 million each year as visitors head increasingly for their more spacious shores.” This might happen fast or slow over the coming years, but it appears likely, unless one is in denial about climate change.
Let’s put this beast out on the table and Let Laguna Vote.
-- Victor Opincar, Laguna Beach