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Stu on the Street: In which we ask regular Lagunans for their opinions on local issues…today it’s traffic

Compiled, written and photographed by Suzie Harrison

Stu on the Street is our new series that features Laguna residents. It’s focused on finding out your views about local issues that affect you personally.

It’s not a scientific survey, of course, simply a snapshot of opinions from regular folk, not just the usual movers and shakers around town. 

So in the weeks to come, be on the lookout for your friendly local reporter on the Stu on the Street beat.

(And as always, we welcome Letters to the Editor!)

First up, I thought it would be a good idea to kick it off at a local hangout, Taco Loco, a staple in the community for 30 years. 

I posed the question, “What do you think would mitigate, ease, or help solve the traffic problems in Laguna Beach?”  

Gonzalo Rebollar, founder and owner of Taco Loco: Trolleys plus remote three- or four-level parking structures make sense

“I think they should increase the parking in the Canyon with parking structures that have four or five levels. It’s not going to alleviate the traffic. The traffic will continue because the population is growing in Orange County. And here in Laguna, with such famous beaches, it’s the heart of Orange County. The only way they can alleviate the problem is creating more parking structures, and they have the space in the Canyon to do it. 

“They do it really well with the trolley system. They do well directing traffic so the traffic moves faster. But it’s not going to alleviate the traffic situation until they increase parking. 

“They need to bring people in on the trolleys. Downtown parking doesn’t help the problem. There’s miles and miles of bumper to bumper traffic coming into town. They could build a public parking structure like they did at the Irvine Spectrum. They need to buy structures and the structures would pay themselves off in time by charging $5 or $7 for parking. 

“It would be a good idea for them to buy parking strucures in various locations. Besides the Canyon, they could buy structures north of Laguna in El Morro and south by Salt Creek Beach. There’s also open land near El Toro. There’s a lot of open spaces where they could build parking structures. They need to look for the long term. They need to get serious about it.” 

Marcel Mead, artist: Make the outbound Canyon Lane two lanes and add more traffic cops to keep the traffic flowing

“They need to make the outbound Canyon Road two lanes, not the inbound, keep the inbound one lane. And then time the lights all thoughout town. And they need to have more traffic cops to open up the spots that get locked up to keep the traffic flowing when it’s jammed, whether it be El Toro Road or whether it be Broadway, anywhere throughout town, especially downtown. That helps when they are down there keeping the flow going when it gets locked up on Third Street and Forest. They need to have more to just open it up. But the trolleys definitely help.” 

James Willis, Taco Loco: Organizing the trolley system around parking structures makes sense

“I think more trolleys would help with the traffic problem. I don’t think they really expanded it enough to put a dent in the traffic coming into town. It could help if they could build public parking with a parking structure outside of town and expand the trolley system, so more people would be coming in on the trolley instead of driving into town. That and organizing the trolley system around the parking would probably help a lot.” 

Terrell Anansi, artist, singer, writer: Streets need to be rerouted and some widened to avoid bottlenecks

“One of the main things that I think is the problem with our traffic here in town is that it all ends up downtown, Forest Avenue. And then you have a bunch of one-way streets. So it’s supposed to be circular, but it doesn’t quite work that way. Somehow our population has grown larger than the structure of our city. 

“I don’t know what can be done to change it. But some of the streets need to be cut off or rerouted or something done because everything ends up being in one big circle that creates a big mass of cars not getting anywhere, not going anywhere, and bottlenecked. It’s all these bottlenecked sections of town where it just takes you forever. 

“I live on Park Avenue and sometimes I can’t just get out of my house to get downtown. That’s crazy. And it will take me what, an hour to get downtown, which is crazy. And then, it’s quick sometimes. I don’t know if they want to tear up the streets and rebuild some of the streets. Some of them need to be widened. The streets cannot accommodate the traffic and the population now. 

“Curbs are too high: [tourists have to] climb out of car windows to get out at Sleepy Hollow”

“We have a lot of tourists that come through here now and it has caused a lot of problems, just the way our city is set up. So, I’m not an architect, but my bottom line is that it needs to be rerouted, the streets need to be widened, especially PCH here at Sleepy Hollow. You can’t park your car and get out of your car because the curbs are too high. Tourists have a hard time getting in and out of their cars. They have to climb out of their car windows to get out of their cars.

“There’s a lot of little problems that I think if they really where addressed could make a difference. The trolleys help a lot because it cuts back on a lot of traffic. I wish the trolleys were going all year round. I mean, it’s at a point we either widen the streets or have more public transportation to move people through town. Because I do not think it’s feasible to rip up the streets and reroute them. But if we keep the trolleys going all year round, it would make a huge difference. Even the trolley going up and down the Top of the World and back would make a huge difference. It would cut back on a lot of the traffic.”