The Complete Streets Concept

For years we’ve heard the term Complete Streets (CS) yet most LB residents know very little about what it is or why it would be preferable for Laguna Beach to develop and implement a CS Policy and Plan. Laguna is not a planned community.  We are situated along a popular major coastal corridor that provides public access north and south. Compared to many coastal cities, our streets are narrow and ingress/egress access is limited as the town was primarily developed for a limited resident population, not the ever-growing tourist population we experience today.  

We wonder, is CS the answer to assist us with increasing safe passage on Pacific Coast Highway our main transportation corridor (owned by Cal Trans) and our commercial and residential streets throughout our city?  

Here’s a description of what Complete Streets is: Complete Streets is a transportation policy and design approach that requires streets to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation. Complete Streets allow for safe travel by those walking, cycling, driving automobiles, riding public transportation, or delivering goods.  The term is often used by transportation advocates, urban planners, traffic and highway engineers, public health practitioners, and community members in the United States and Canada. Complete Streets are promoted as offering improved safety, health, economic, and environmental outcomes. Complete Streets emphasize the importance of safe access for all users, not just automobiles.

Sounds good right? I’m sure we all agree that Laguna could certainly use improvements moving people and vehicles safely in, out and around our city.   Here’s some information from our city, county, and a longtime resident who advocates for implementing complete streets in Laguna Beach.  

After you have read them, we would be interested in hearing your thoughts and possible solutions for Laguna Beach streets.  We would also like to know if you feel our city is doing enough to address our traffic and mobility issues.  We want your feedback!  Thank you, LBCHAT.

Laguna Beach Enhanced Mobility and Complete Streets (Click here)

Enhanced Mobility Transition Plan Final 2015 (Click here) 

Note: LBCHAT requested an update from the City on the 2015 EMTP on June 26th, 2019. It will be posted once received. 

Orange County Complete Streets (Click here) 

Guest Submittal: Laguna Streets Founder Les Miklosy

Why Complete Streets are preferable

Urban towns and cities across the United States were designed around a single mode of transportation, the automobile. The origins of our urban design start in 1913 New York with urban planner Robert Moses who replaced the horse-buggy and trolley systems with paved streets and expressways to accommodate the automobile. Since then the entire nation has adopted the same urban pattern, connect cities with expressways and design our urban cores around a grid of streets for the automobile. Laguna’s streets were designed similarly around a car-centric grid for the automobile and this worked optimally when Laguna was a small artist village isolated from large inland cities like Los Angeles and Anaheim. The automobile remains a quick convenient mode of transportation serving our needs door to door without reliance on transit schedule or timing constraints. Then the six million tourists arrived driving their cars here and parking them in Laguna.

Since the thirties common remedy was to enlarge the roads until traffic started moving again.  Today our roads are once again saturated with cars, during rush hour for every car on the road there are two more waiting to come to Laguna. The population of vehicles waiting to drive here are called Latent Demand and grows exponentially every year. When our streets become saturated with auto traffic, motorists are discouraged to drive adding even more vehicles to Latent Demand. 

There are basically four modes of mobility, there were five but folks stopped riding animals long ago. The modes are walking, cycling, transit and driving.    Laguna sustains a single mode of mobility around driving automobiles, the other three modes are virtually undeveloped or underutilized. For every roadway user seen walking cycling or using transit removes one car from our roads. Changing Laguna’s car-centric mobility plan to a balanced plan among the four modes of mobility and doing so safely is complete streets. Complete Streets reduces traffic congestion, reduces parking occupancy, lowers parking costs, revitalizes business districts, reduces air and sea pollution, and most of all renders streets livable again for residents, visitors and children. Janette Sadik-Kahn is the mobility director for New York City, listen how she and Mayor Bloomberg changed New York’s Time Square from car-centric to a complete street. Watch why the councilman of Amsterdam removes parking spaces downtown Amsterdam.  Read why  San Clemente  adopted complete streets to solve their mobility problems, or Long Beach or Los Angeles. 

There are hundreds of resources for implementing Complete Streets Policy in Laguna Beach at Laguna Streets,  look for books, documents and resources in the right-hand column.

Les Miklosy, Founder of Laguna Streets

Based upon this submittal, Mr. Miklosy was asked the following questions:

1. What is the OC and LB City not doing that would be beneficial to resolving some of our transportation  (access, ingress/egress) issues in Laguna Beach?  

Stop the fake mobility planning. Start what Los Angeles did, administrative fixes here. 

Encourage drivers to use other mobility modes now, begin visitor outreach with Summer Breeze. Begin resident outreach use Homers Rules. Start testing the other mobility modes, for residents build a multiuse path from Canyon Acres to the Village Entrance using artist chalk and cones.


2.  Are there other documents of interest on the topic for LBCHAT subscribers? 

Recommended Books List at Laguna Streets, scroll down right-hand side to BOOKS.  Some serious reading: The High Cost of Free Parking, Donald Shoup, UCLA, 700 pages.

3. Is the implementation of CS a funding issue?

NO! The testing infrastructure is cheap. If a city qualifies for application funding, State and Federal money is available. At Laguna Streets see the list of grant funding acquired by other cities here.  The Laguna Canyon SR-133 roadway realignment costs $18,714 per foot,  the righthand turn pocket at Broadway costs $1.3 million. Our VL paving stones and landscaping for cars costs $12 million.  Bike lane paint costs 25 cents per foot -Charlie Gandy Long Beach Mobility Planner. 

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