The Wilds of a Laguna Childhood Revisited

One of the curious affects of living in Laguna Beach for a long time is that you stop paying much attention to the neighborhood (except for story poles and DRB issues). Your car drives on autopilot; familiarity with the territory is a great comfort. You know where everything is, you don’t get lost, and you don’t need to google map your friends’ homes.

And you stop seeing. I mean, really seeing.

So, what a shock it was to have my attention grabbed by a brilliant stop sign at the corner of Calliope and Glenneyre. How long has it been there? It’s a different red than its counterparts; more tomato and less fire engine colored. It sits in the middle of an asphalt triangle splitting northbound Glenneyre traffic into directional options.

What caught my eye was its pole. It’s not simply a metal stake with a diamond shaped top. The length of the pole is covered in red reflective material, so the entire sign says ‘STOP’.

I wondered how many other things had I missed in my ‘autopilot’ wanderings? How many changes had I witnessed without actually taking note?

In the transportation sector, there is the wonderful new signal at the Festival of Arts. Hopefully, this will ease the struggle of peak show times for both pedestrians and drivers. It’s just new enough to almost forget it’s operational, ie, pay attention while driving. The stop sign at Oak Street generates a similar response.

Farther out the canyon, LCAD has finally garnered a pedestrian crosswalk, complete with a blinking signal. I’m glad the students don’t have to dart between speeding traffic just to cross the Canyon Road, although, I’d still like to see a full signal. Ever try to leave their parking lot heading east during rush hour? Or at any hour during the summer onslaught?

In the restaurant sector, new equals Kya and Sapphire. Old and out, Jolly Roger and Laguna Brewing Company. Jamba Juice, with its distinctive exterior architecture, sits sadly empty. Javiers will close when his Crystal Cove space opens. Rumors circulate about Cedar Creek. What will happen to Aliso Creek? And is Wild Oats really to become Whole Foods?

And then there’s the Starbucks/Deidrich Coffee debacle. Can Laguna support two Starbucks? One with seating and one without? And if so, can they have two signs? You certainly wouldn’t want to walk into a coffee shop if you were expecting … ice cream?

Clothing? There’s something new every day, with names like Envy, Sidewalk and Aris. And might the old Jolly Rogers actually become a Tommy Bahamas (food and clothing)? The north Laguna liquor store has suddenly become Lightopia.

Pavillions is undergoing yet another renovation. New floors (last week, stripped concrete reigned supreme) are slowly manifesting, including a rather retro wood treatment in the produce department. A full service floral department is in the works.

Arts? Never lacking in Laguna and the shows change daily. Two new galleries have recently opened. Studio Arts, in the Old Pottery Place, features the glass work of John Barber, as well as other local artists. The exceptional Rohrer Fine Arts on gallery row has upped the ante for what is possible.

Just last month, the gallery hosted an afternoon lecture on Buddhist Gandaran Art by noted curator Meher McArthur. The lecture, filled to standing room only, complimented the extraordinary collection of art works from the first millennium AD. Quite a treat for a Lagunan to see such magnificent art without traveling to a national museum.

The cottages at the bottom of the 3rd Street hill have slowly made their way to the Big Bend curve on Laguna Canyon Road, where in my humble opinion, they will continue to rot to piles of Sawdust. Hard to believe we actually spent $250,000 of precious City resources to park buildings that everyone wanted to save, but nobody wanted to keep.

Bulldozers churn the earth daily, preparing for the long awaited (if not somewhat controversial) Senior Center. Someone jokingly said the current site reminds them of Beirut.

In fact, bulldozers may be the vehicle of the day. Act IV shifts from parking lot to City Lot … and the hill of Bluebird Canyon changes with each drag and dig of earth.

Nothing stays the same, but that is the nature of life. Shifting and changing. Opening and closing. Sometimes, it seems to happen in the blink of an eye.

We let go, so we can gain anew, holding steady, of course, to the heart and soul of our unique Laguna core.

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