Resplendent flowers on show as spring begins

Photos by Scott Brashier

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Dennis’ Tidbits


March 21, 2017

Gray skies in the morning even though spring has sprung - but the hills are alive with flowers

Spring has sprung, the grass has ris, I wonder where the flowers is! They are here this year, that’s for sure. Throughout my childhood my Mom used to recite that silly poem to me every year when spring arrived. Great lady she was. Really sharp wit with a great sense of humor. She probably had to have that just to deal with me every day!

It’s quite unusual to have this much marine layer this early on. You’d expect this pattern in May and June and even late April but mid March? What has it been now, ten straight days? Usually in mid-March we’re still in a winter pattern and generally fog free.

It’s kind of a stagnant trend lately with a weak high pressure over us but it’s not strong enough to flush out all this gloom. Just go a few miles inland and it’s 10-15 degrees warmer and the low deserts are baking with temps in the 90’s already and that’s almost two months early. Normally their high is about 78 or 79 on March 21. 

The high is just strong enough to divert incoming lows up to Oregon and Washington so most of Cal has been pretty quiet, however rumors have it that the storm gates may open again by the end of this week with 1-2 inches of additional moisture down here and as much as 3-5 inches up by the Bay area and up to two more feet of snow at places like Mammoth and Lake Tahoe. I hope these lows show up so they can clear all of this dank morning crud out of here.

This prolonged flat spell is getting beyond ridiculous! From Point Conception to the Mexifornia border you’d be hard pressed to find even a three foot wave. Nothing from the west or northwest and nada from the Southern Hemisphere. It’s getting into the time of year when we can start turning our attention to the other side of the Equator when the storm machine starts cranking out some deep lows down there in the storm belt known as the Roaring 40’s, but no sign of anything yet. It’s almost as if somebody built a huge breakwater off our coast and didn’t tell us. 

On this date in 2008 a huge long period west ground swell hit the Central and Southern California coast. The swell lasted only one day but waves up to ten foot hit Laguna with fifteen foot sets at Blacks down south. Todos Santos had sets in excess of 40 ft. while Cortes Bank was off the charts when Laguna’s homeboy Mike Parsons rode a wave in excess of 70 ft. That was back when we used to get swells!

Ocean temps today are 60 in Huntington Beach and Newport, 59 here in Laguna and 62 in San Clemente, about five degrees above normal for March 21. It’s the third consecutive winter with ocean temps well above normal. Usually it’s 54-56.

Sunrise today is at 6:58 a.m. and sunset occurs this evening at 7:03. 

See y’all on Friday, ALOHA!

Chamber offers China trip: Members get the scoop


The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce is harking back to the days when board member Harry Lawrence led trips to Asia. 

A nine-day trip to China is being sponsored by the Chamber. The package includes stops in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou with four- or five-star hotel accommodations.

Chamber Executive Director Laura Ann Henkels returned from a trial trip saying it was one of the best she had ever taken.  

Fluent English-speaking tour guides will greet the travelers at the Beijing airport and the next day take them on their first excursion to Tianamen Square and the Temple of Heaven, built in 1420 CE. 

Sightseeing will continue with a tour of Palace Museum, a.k.a. Forbidden City, with its 9,999 rooms and the Summer Palace. 

Chamber offers a great trip to the Great Wall and more

A bus excursion to the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs will conclude the stay in Beijing.

The visit to Suzhou will include a trip to the National Embroidery Institute to see a craft perfected over thousands of years. The next day, travelers will take an excursion to the centuries-old Lingyin Temple which features a 64.3-foot tall camphor wood carving of Buddha.

On Day 7, a morning cruise will be followed by a bus trip to Shanghai, with a visit to Yu Garden and the city’s famous waterfront park the next day. 

The trip concludes with a free morning in Shanghai and an afternoon flight home.

July is the deadline to purchase the trip at a cost of $2,300 for Chamber members, $2,400 for non-members, assuming double occupancy. Add $500 for single occupancy, $6,000 to fly business class and $200 to add the Terracotta Warriors itinerary. 

Three meals a day and entrance fees to attractions are included.  

An orientation meeting is scheduled in April, the date to be announced. Space is limited. For more information, call Dani at the chamber, (949) 494-1018.

Tour on May 6 offers a personal and culinary encounter with OC’s Muslim community

On Sat, May 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., a unique tour dubbed Understanding Islam, offers a rare opportunity to visit two Orange County mosques and meet their representatives. 

Created by local tour entrepreneur and retired teacher Bill Hoffman, owner of Hoffy Tours, with Dr. Geoffry White, a therapist and social justice activist, the daylong tour includes a catered Middle Eastern lunch and comfortable bus transportation from Laguna Beach. The cost is $75 per person.

Destinations include the Islamic Institute of Orange County in Anaheim, where the group will hear a presentation by two Muslim spokespersons, and the Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove, where a panel discussion will be held after exploring the mosque. 

Religious and community leaders will discuss the Muslim religion and its role in Orange County and invite questions from guests.

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Submitted photo

Hoffy Tour Group

Tour organizer Hoffman observed, “The media is full of stories about Muslims, but too often the coverage is about conflict and extremism.  There seem to be too few serious attempts to educate the American public, and the need today seems more important than ever. Who are these 1.5 billion people who make up one out of five people on this planet? What accounts for the fact that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the U.S. and the world today?”

His colleague White added, “Current events remind us of the saying ‘We fear what we cannot understand, and we eventually hate what we fear’ – we want to resist falling prey to this idea. We invite anyone interested to join us as we meet, break bread with, and attempt to understand our Islamic neighbors. 

“We have been enthusiastically welcomed by the male and female spokespersons for two Orange County mosques. Together on May 6, we will take the time to understand the origin of the stereotypes and myths about Islam,” White added.

The tour departs from the LBUSD parking lot at 550 Blumont. For details or to sign up, visit or call 949.246.4548.

Water conservation challenge starts on April 1: this year there’ll be an OC spinoff too with new prizes

Every year the Wyland Foundation hosts the annual Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge. It is a friendly competition between cities across the nation. Mayors challenge their residents to conserve water, energy, and other natural resources. 

Last year, the City of Laguna Beach won the top spot nationally in its population category. 

The Board of Directors of the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) has approved a partnership with the Wyland Foundation to hold a regional Orange County spinoff of the Annual Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge beginning on April 1. 

Laguna won in its national category last year: now there’s a chance for a regional prize, a pocket park

The breakaway MWDOC competition is between cities in MWDOC’s service area, which includes 28 water agencies. 

“It’s no secret we take water conservation very seriously here in Orange County,” said MWDOC Board President, Wayne Osborne. “Obviously, the City of Laguna Beach has proven that in the past. Competition is good. We all can do a little more.” 

This local challenge will have OC mayors calling on their residents to “Take the Pledge” to conserve with the winning city getting OC bragging rights and a park makeover. 

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Laguna Beach Water Board has nurtured a splendid water-wise garden

On behalf of Laguna, residents can take the “My Water Pledge” and earn a chance to win prizes by going to  Once the pledge is completed, the MWDOC will send a code to share with friends. 

The more friends the resident signs up, the more chances to win. Residents from the winning cities are eligible to win hundreds of prizes being given away including a Toyota Prius Prime. 

Residents, not just the City, eligible for prizes

Contest participants nationwide are also eligible to win prizes through a daily drawing. Those signing up by March 31 will be entered to win a piece of art picked out by famous marine life artist Wyland.

The winner of the OC competition will not only be recognized by the Wyland Foundation, but the winning City will also get its very own water-wise pocket park. 

The pocket park, which will be approximately 1,000 sq. ft., will be awarded to the city who has received the most pledges from their residents through the Wyland Foundation National Mayor’s Challenge. 

The location of the pocket park will be determined by the city, water agency, and program organizers. 

The pocket park will serve as a demonstration garden that is water-efficient, and home to California friendly landscape. The winner of the competition will be selected May 15 and notified by June 1.

Will proposed Slice eatery be too much for Laguna to digest? New Forest Ave pizzeria is approved


Folks who search out casual, family-friendly, sit-down eateries with reasonable prices will find what they are looking for Slice opens up on Forest Avenue. 

The Planning Commission approved on Wednesday the application by Lumberyard restaurant owners Cary and Suzanne Redfearn to open a pizzeria kitty-corner from City Hall. 

The historical building at 477 Forest was previously occupied by home goods retailer Stephen Frank and will be restored to its original character. 

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Historic building on Forest to become new pizzeria, Slice

“You couldn’t find better stewards for a historical property,” said resident Aaron Talerico.

He also read a letter from several young families in support of the Redfearns’ project. 

“About two months after the store closed, I was staring out the window and wondered if it could be converted to a food use,” said Cary Redfearn. “When my children were younger, there weren’t many choices in Laguna for a fast casual restaurant. We went out of town.”

Fast casual restaurant is intended to appeal to families

Redfearn said that fast casual restaurant customers place their order at a counter and the meal is served to them at their table.

“We will also offer the Slice of the Day – one vegetarian pie, 18 inches, different every day,” said Redfearn. “We are creating something different in Laguna.”

Salads and personalized pizza will be the only food items on the menu. Pizzas will cost $10, salads, $8. Beer and wine will be served.

“This will be a wonderful place for families with their little tribes to come in,” said Commissioner Anne Johnson, a long-time advocate of restaurants suitable for children.  

Prisma Romeo, wife of one of the owners of Romeo Cucina, opposed the application.

Plenty of Italian restaurants in Laguna already, Prisma Romeo says

“There are plenty of Italian restaurants in Laguna and 14 of them sell pizza,” she said. “There is not enough restaurant business to go around.”

However, planning staff stated that restaurants had not reached the saturated point, carefully monitored in the downtown.

“I had heard of concern by some restaurants,” said Redfearn. “I am disappointed. This is not an Italian restaurant. We are providing something unique and there is room for all of us.”

The building had been as C-rated due to extensive remodeling, but was unanimously upgraded by the Heritage Committee to E for Exceptional, contingent on the completion of proposed restoration.

Restoration includes removal of the mansard roof, added in 1969 to cover the irregular parapet, which is in more in character with Mediterranean/ Mission Revival- influenced architecture. New lighting fixtures will be installed.

Windows and doors on the Forest Avenue façade are original.


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