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Letters to the Editor

Years of parking solution neglect is going to take creative solutions – here are a couple

I’ve been a resident of the City of Laguna Beach since 1988, almost as long as the city has been addressing parking issues. Unfortunately, parking problems in our town have had decades to compound, so the possible solutions are just as layered and varied. In pursuing the ideal solution, I hope we consider all the possibilities to increase parking availability and maximize opportunities for shared spaces in the community. 

A problem like this requires creative thinking and innovative problem-solving that leaves room for multiple perspectives. I want to offer two possible solutions that would increase the available parking spaces in the city to provide an example of the lateral thinking that I hope our city and its residents engage in when considering the realm of possibilities for parking solutions.

This past December, the City of Laguna Beach closed escrow on the St. Catherine of Siena school property located on Coast Highway, with programming for its use still to be determined. Less than five miles from the property are the Laguna Beach Unified School District’s current administrative offices (LBUSD), scheduled for renovation in the coming years. In one possible scenario, the St. Catherine of Siena school property could serve as a host for the district administrative offices to avoid disruption of services during the renovation while exploring the possibility of a long-term partnership that could free up the use of the existing district office property as additional parking space. This would maintain the original educational mission of the St. Catherine’s property and avoids building a parking structure at high costs to the city.

On another note, just a short distance from the school district offices sits the Orange County Library Laguna Beach Branch. An example of a second possible scenario can be found up north where there exists a unique partnership between San Jose State University and the City of San Jose that has resulted in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, the first library in the United States to integrate the services and collections of a major university and a public library system. We can consider such a partnership between LBUSD and the City of Laguna Beach. A joint powers agreement on the property where the school district administrative offices currently sit could add a library in the renovation, creating a shared space with resources dedicated to the community’s lifelong learning. That would free up the property currently used for the library on Glenneyre Street for additional parking spaces. 

These are two possibilities that focus on creating additional parking spaces. Alternatively, the community could explore ways to minimize the use of motor vehicles, such as a focus on modifications that would make certain areas more bicycle friendly. Further dialogue and consideration would introduce additional opportunities for creative land use that expand community resources, minimize fiscal impact and avoid building a multi-level parking structure that will obstruct views. 

Jim Kelly

Laguna Beach


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