This item was an appeal of the City of Laguna Beach permit to establish a multi-year, multi-phase parking rate increase for public meters and public and private lots located citywide including increases of up to 50% over three years for all downtown meters and metered lots, many of which are used for coastal access. The Coastal Commission’s staff report recommended approval with modifications limiting the rate increases. The staff report also acknowledges that even with the limitations, approval of the program disproportionately impacts individuals from low income communities, whose primary option would be to park on the outskirts of the city and use the City of Laguna Beach’s Trolley services. However, the staff report fails to sufficiently account for the fact that the Laguna Beach Trolley Services are indefinitely closed due to COVID-19 concerns.
Due to this concern, as well as disproportionate impacts on individuals of low income communities ability to access the coast near Laguna Beach, the Commission denied the City’s proposed parking program.
Why You Should Care
California’s beaches being accessible and affordable to all forms the heart of the Coastal Act. Just solutions must be found to address parking concerns that do not disproportionately impact those who cannot afford high parking rates.
Negative Conservation Vote
Commissioner Erik Howell motioned to approve the City’s program, seconded by Commissioner Carole Groom. Commissioner Caryl Hart responded to the motion relaying her concerns that the Commission’s recently adopted environmental justice policy was not adequately addressed. Commissioner Hart went on to point out that even when a trolley is reinstated, this proposal might force those who are unable to afford the rate increases into unsafe conditions and potential exposure to COVID-19 without the ability to social distance. Commissioners Roberto Uranga and Linda Escalante echoed her concerns. The Surfrider Foundation, along with Laguna residents Mark and Sharon Fudge, also raised concerns that the result of the program may be that socioeconomic status (in the form of being able to pay for high parking costs) dictate an individual’s access to the Laguna beaches.
Mark and Sharon Fudge, Surfrider Foundation
Approval with Modifications