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Letters to the Editor

Questioning the stage of any agreement on a Laguna Beach Presbyterian parking lot

Surprise! According to the tentative agenda, item 14 on next Tuesday’s City Council meeting is a church parking structure Memorandum of Understanding. It reads: “14) Approval of Memorandum of Understanding with Laguna Presbyterian Church regarding terms for the lease of properties at 355, 359, 361, and 363 3rd Street for development of a future parking structure.”

Item #14 is the last item on a long agenda so it will be heard in the dark of night after hours of the rancor that the Council has suffered for the past few years. Presumably few people will still be around at that late hour for the discussion.

Did you know that the City is already at the Memorandum of Understanding stage to build a parking structure on Presbyterian Church property? Did I miss something? Or has someone skipped a step? Did someone agree that the City is going to build a parking structure? Let alone what and where that would be? I can’t find anywhere in the survey results saying, “go forth and sign up a parking structure.”

 The City Survey did say there is support for a plan addressing parking issues. But a plan is very different from a memorandum of agreement to develop a parking structure. A plan is a plan. An agreement is an agreement. A plan should usually precede action. This is fire, ready, aim. The normal sequence is ready, aim, fire.

Wouldn’t it be reasonable, before producing an agreement, that the City would have more of a discussion about troublesome details? Like cost? Who pays the cost? Among other things.

Paint a fuller picture with the residents before jumping into an agreement? Like, if it doesn’t pay for itself, which no one expects it will do, what important city services do the survey respondents want cut back to make up the shortage? Less police coverage? Fire? Public works? Did the survey ask that question? Normally an open discussion of these items would be a part of the process of formulating a plan and that would precede taking action. After all, parking has historically been a controversial topic in Laguna. For those with short memories, there was quite a kerfuffle over a proposed parking structure in 2013.

I suggest the City cool its jets a bit and stop and take a deep breath. Before signing an agreement, it might be better to provide the taxpayers with a little more information about the details.

John Thomas

Laguna Beach


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