Why would the Liberate Laguna backers want to fast-track "Mixed-Use" zoning downtown?
Put yourself in the mindset of a handful of powerful commercial real estate developers experienced with the local market. Add to that two critical components:
- There's major chunks of Downtown, the Canyon, and South Laguna that is being acquired.
- They realize that Laguna has fairly stringent development requirements in place, including
- Height restrictions
- Requirements to provide for adequate on-site parking
- Setback and density requirements
- Public access and aesthetic requirements, like the ones that brought us the Montage and its adjoining public park
.......unless, of course, you could get the public to cry out to do away with these protections and "Liberate Laguna." The landlords get to build higher, denser, and deeper, your neighbor gets to build that awkwardly huge deck, but what do you get?
If the protections can be diminished then it just comes down to the amount of rent that can be collected per lot. Tall buildings have more floors; more floors translate into more square feet; more square feet translates into more rent.
Retail and Restaurants will go on the lower levels and Residential can go on the floors above that. This is the model that Huntington Beach used when they let developers run their town. Now the downtown is "revitalized" .......... at least their rental income is "revitalized."
Then the new mixed-use space actually gets used, so where are the new customers and tenants going to park? That's where we, the residents come in. They are asking us to build more parking structures for them. Ok, then how do we handle the increased congestion from the increased use density? Not so easy. We are at the end of a narrow, beautiful canyon, and up against a welcoming beach. There are only three ways in or out.
Take a look at what development has done to Huntington Beach, Marina Del Rey, and now even Santa Barbara.
- The Marina Del Freeway (90) was built as a result of development there.
- The 57 freeway was designed to follow the Santa Ana Riverbed into Huntington Beach.
- CalTrans has a freeway waiting for us right at our city line, out in the canyon.
When will the 133 freeway be completed? It really is up to us. Sooner, or later, or much, much later? What's your choice?
How much development did you sign up for in the last election?
- A few new higher-density apartment buildings here?
- A few new hotels there?
- Converting a few more of our traditional stores into visitor-facing restaurant and bars?
- Granting on-site parking exemptions for all of the above, making it harder for residents, and merchants who are trying to keep their store?