Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Laguna Beach traffic can never improve

Pictured is the cover-page for the Transportation Circulation and Growth Management Element (the Element) from our city General Plan. Notice the automobiles pictured on the cover roughly circa 1930. Today the maturity and relevance of the Element is just as dated.

State government guidelines recommend periodic updates to the General Plan, the statutes recommend every 5 years (SB-244). Our Element has been amended only ONCE since 1974, 38 YEARS AGO!!! Inside page 8 says “The Element acknowledges the constraints of existing conditions but is sensitive to anticipated regional needs of the future.” Does that  mean 1939, 1959, or 1979?

The Element contains a policy statement specifying what mobility access Laguna provides for our town, what good is a policy statement that is never implemented? The Element reads 9C: “assure that local bicycle routes will be compatible with routes of neighboring jurisdictions.”, 9H: “Evaluate and improve pedestrian safety improvements and or devices at appropriate crosswalks.”, 9I: “Investigate the feasibility of creating a pedestrian mall on Forest Avenue”, and more.

The Element boasts Laguna Beach as a walking city taking credit for pedestrian beach access, but clearly not for access to South Laguna, crossing PCH or Canyon Road, or Park and Glenneyre. Bicycles are dismissed altogether because “Providing a comprehensive bicycle trail system throughout the community is not physically possible due to the steep hillside”, cyclists take note.

At the moment there are no city staff working on the Element and no plans for future work. The city is instead making motions to apply for grant funding. The prerequisite for application is to show demonstrated work on transportation planning. No transport planning, no Grant.

Ever wonder why traffic in Laguna Beach gets worse despite years and years and years of meetings with city government officials and city residents? Examples: the PTC for parking and traffic, OC Green Chamber of Commerce, Environmental Committee, Climate Protection Group, the Complete Streets Task Force.

Despite the CSTF and the PTC already in session, LB city government  dreamed-up yet another Sustainability Committee to convene first in May. Until city government makes a commitment to plan, write, adopt, implement and fund a new relevant mobility plan, solving transportation congestion through this town is pure fantasy.

The State of California General Plan Guidelines reads “It is important to the public that the process they participate in has an impact on the final product.” Remember that when you vote.

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