A large red backpack reminds Lagunans that if they see something they should say something

Beginning on Monday this week, and continuing until Friday, June 30, there will be a large red backpack (and we mean large) in front of City Hall. 

The backpack was loaned to Laguna by the Orange County Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). It is used in the See Something, Say Something campaign to simulate a suspicious object left in a heavily trafficked area.

Photo courtesy the City

Remember: if you see something, say something

“The display is meant to remind citizens that anything unusual that is left unattended should be reported to local law enforcement officials,” said Jordan Villwock, Emergency Operations Coordinator.

The backpack display was positively received at other Orange County locations, including the Main Place and Brea Malls, Orange County Airport, San Clemente Outlets, Laguna Beach Library, The Honda Center, and several Orange County Parks, Villwock says. 

He notes, though, that the red backpack display is not being utilized to track how many citizens see the backpack and report it to the Police Department. 

“The City simply wants to bring awareness to the See Something, Say Something campaign and partner with our community to make it a safer place to live and work,” Villwock adds.

Higher spending approved for City officials

The city council has upped the spending limits for city department heads and the city manager.

Last updated in 2000, the authorized spending increase is expected to help streamline the procurement process, expediting the delivery of goods and services, according to a staff report. The costs of goods and services have increased significantly and the purchase power of the dollar has decreased 27 percent since the last increase. 

“It is time we moved in this direction,” said Councilman Steve Dicterow.

The limit for department heads was raised from $5,000 to $10,000 per purchase.

 City Manager John Pietig’s authorized spending was increased from $10,000 to $30,000. 

Prior to the increase, Pietig’s limit was one of the lowest for a city manager in South Orange County.

The higher limits approved by the council at the June 13 meeting is consistent with the median limits of other South County cities.


City approves financing for new Playhouse roof

The Laguna Playhouse will tap a Cultural Facilities matching grant for funds to replace the roof, repair water damage to offices and replace carpeting in the offices and backstage.

Funding from the grant must be approved by the Cultural Facilities Grant Committee: Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Boyd, Councilman Bob Whalen, Playhouse board member Joe Hanauer and Malcolm Warner, director of the Laguna Art Museum, which also received a matching grant. 

Total cost of the Playhouse proposal is $125,000, to be deducted from the $500,000 grant. The project complies with all the grant guidelines and work is expected to begin shortly. 

The Playhouse and the museum have exceeded the $250,000 annual donation requirement of the grant program. 

Playhouse donations included additional gifts from the trustees and from donors solicited by mail, and email. It is believed that the challenge of matching the grant has increased donations that would not ordinarily have been made. 

--By Barbara Diamond

Music in the Park is just around the corner

Bluebird Music in the Park concerts will begin on July 16 and continue every Sunday from 5 to 7 p.m. until August 27.

Here’s the listing:

7/16: Cubensis (Grateful Dead Music)

7/23: Tom Nolan Band (Blues)

7/30: Hollywood U2

8/6: Stone Soul

8/13: Los Pinguos (Argentinian)

8/20: Upstream (Reggae/Calypso)

8/27: Springsteen Experience

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Music in the Park is always fun, whatever decade is celebrated

The City asks concert-goers to note the following:

The concerts are free and funded by the lodging establishments.

No dogs are allowed in the park.

No smoking is allowed on the sidewalk or inside the park.

Alcohol is allowed with a full meal.

Free trolley service is available to the park.

City Hall Hours

When songbirds attack


Who hasn’t seen Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds? I’ve seen it at least 50 times, and I’ll admit I’m still frightened by the scene where hundreds of crows attack the school children. And the gulls flying into the telephone booth. Ugh! I vowed to stay away from phone booths, but no matter, they no longer exist. Yet I never thought I’d be intimidated by a songbird in Heisler Park.

Who can forget this scene in The Birds, but this is Laguna Beach

While walking my dog Charley on a beautiful morning last week, I stopped to listen to the song of a dusky-grey bird with white-tipped wings as it sat on top of a parking meter near the gazebo. It would trill and then a refrain floated down from the top of a tall palm tree across the street, a sequence that repeated over and over. 

In trying to be mindful of nature and enjoy this amazing place we live, I stayed there a bit too long, long enough for the bird to notice my fascination with its song. Each time it stopped singing, I’d look up at the tree in anticipation of the refrain. 

I later learned that was a mistake.

Charley was anxious to keep going, so I started for home, and then I felt a thump on my shoulder and, in my peripheral vision, glimpsed the bird. The hit was nothing drastic, after all, it wasn’t a large bird. I thought it was a mistake or possibly it had been hopping too near a margarita on a patio table at Las Brisas the night before. 

As I walked on, it flew from parking meter to parking meter stalking me. Then it dive-bombed my shoulder again. Suddenly the visual of another scene in The Birds flashed through my mind, the farmer slouching against the wall, his eyes pecked out (but to be truthful, I did have sunglasses on). I decided to step it up and get the heck out of there. What did this bird have against me?

Well, after doing some research, I found out. 

According to BirdMinds.com, it was a mockingbird, and I’d ventured too close to its nest and obviously posed a threat. No doubt, it was his mate up in the palm tree, probably with a nest of eggs or fledglings, and the dive-bombs were my punishment for paying too much attention. 

Don’t make a mistake, Mockingbirds hold grudges 

The science section of Guardian magazine states that, “Mockingbirds can remember people who have threatened them and even start dive-bombing them if they see the person again.”  Smart little guys. Who would have thought mockingbirds could bear a grudge?

Based on the startling revelation that mockingbirds have excellent memories, (and the fear of the next time being dive-bombed in a more sensitive spot), I will not be walking past that section of Heisler Park any time soon, and if I do, I’ll be wearing a disguise.

Teenagers can earn volunteer credit helping with the Library summer reading program from 6/6 to 7/27

Teenagers looking for a fun volunteer opportunity this summer need look no further. The Laguna Beach branch of the Orange County Public Library needs help with their summer reading program. 

Volunteers will help kids sign up for the program, award prizes, and more, all while earning volunteer credit. The program runs from June 19 through July 27. 

Teenagers interested in this volunteer opportunity should contact Summer Blake at the Laguna Beach branch (949-497-1734) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for information on how to apply.

Thurston Middle School Sixth Grade Track Meet

Photos by Scott Brashier

Click on photo for a larger image

Click on photo for a larger image


Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

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Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Dianne Russell, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

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