Netwrix gift kicks off “Bring the Lagoon Back to Laguna” campaign to restore Aliso Creek Estuary

Laguna Ocean Foundation announced a gift today of $40,000 from Netwrix Corporation. This generous donation will kick off the “Bring the Lagoon Back to Laguna” Matching Gift campaign to restore the estuary at Aliso Creek in Laguna Beach to a healthy and thriving estuary ecosystem.

Netwrix, provider of a visibility platform for data security and risk mitigation in hybrid environments, chose Laguna Ocean Foundation’s restoration project because Aliso Creek is one of Laguna’s most unique but neglected treasures. This estuary is a potential home to native fish, wading freshwater birds and other wildlife. 

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Restoration hydrologist, Nick Garrity of ESA, presents a graphic of the Conceptual Restoration plan at a community meeting in November

“Being a surfer and beach-goer myself, I understand that a restored estuary will clean the polluted water that now enters the ocean from Aliso Creek. It will benefit both ocean recreation users and the aquatic life in our nearshore waters”, said Michael Fimin, Co-Founder of Netwrix.

The Aliso Creek Estuary Restoration project was conceived with the support of local agencies and stakeholders (including Orange County Supervisor for the Fifth District, Lisa Bartlett and the City of Laguna Beach) and with initial funding by the California Coastal Conservancy. With the Conceptual Restoration Plan for Aliso Creek estuary now complete, Laguna Ocean Foundation’s fundraising campaign has a goal of matching Netwrix’s gift of $40,000 through community donations in order to raise $80,000 for the first year of project management.

For more information on Laguna Ocean Foundation and this Matching Gift campaign, go to or contact Irene Bowie at (808) 268-0303.

For more on Netwrix projects, go to

Ocean Ave tree replanting delayed


The City Council delayed a decision at the May 8 on which trees should go where on Ocean Ave.

Public Works Director Shohreh Dupuis’ presentation of staff recommendations included two Little Gem Magnolias, one New Zealand Christmas Tree and one Pistache at a total cost of $6,800 for trees, planting and the installation of watering tubes.

“I am so gratified none were eucalyptus,” said Laguna Beach resident Ganka Brown.

The Urban Tree fund was asked for a grant of $3,400, half of the estimated cost for the project. Barbara McGillivray, who established the Urban Tree Fund with her husband Greg McGillivray, was consulted about the selection of species and had no objections, according to Dupuis. 

Property owners also approved the tree selections, Dupuis said. 

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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

New Zealand Christmas tree, so-called because it blooms in Dec in that country

Dupuis recommendations, however, were disputed by Ruben Flores, Bob Borthwick and Ann Christoph, who had been notified about a month ago of the staff’s tree choices but did not submit their objections until shortly before the meeting. Dupuis said the type of trees Flores, Borthwick and Christoph were suggesting were too large for the sites selected for replanting while approval of the Landscape and Scenic Highways element and the Downtown Specific Plan is being completed. 

Councilmember Bob Whalen said he had wanted a consensus prior to the hearing and he isn’t partial to making changes from the dais, which left the council with two choices: accept staff’s recommendations or defer the decision to the May 22 meeting.

City Manager John Pietig commented about the importance of implementing a timely process for the reforesting of downtown streets. He recommended a two-hour public hearing to walk the downtown.

Dupuis said she would like to return to the City Council on July 24, with recommendations for 40 tree-replacement locations.

Three Laguna surfers are ranked in the top three in WSA West Coast Championship divisions

The Western Surfing Association held their West Coast Championships this past weekend, May 12 and 13, in Oceanside in fun but tricky conditions. For Laguna Beach’s Hudson Saunders (Boys Under 12), Tess Booth (Girls Under 16), and Travis Booth (Boys Under 18), it came down to the final heat of the season on Sunday – for the season-long Championship in their respective divisions.

None of the surfers from Laguna were able to pull off the needed wins for the title, but all finished up the season ranked in the top three.

Laguna Beach surfers who made the finals in Oceanside: Hudson Saunders, Boys Under 12 Third Place; Tess Booth, Girls Under 16, Third Place; George Williams, Boys Under 16, Fourth Place; Travis Booth, Boys Under 18, Second Place.

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Congratulations to this season’s West Coast Champions

The Western Surfing Association (WSA) is the oldest competition surfing association in the USA and, by far, the largest on the West Coast. The WSA, established in 1961, is a California nonprofit corporation dedicated to promoting and preserving the sport of surfing through fun, family oriented surf competitions. WSA is an official West Coast member organization of USA Surfing. WSA members can earn entry in the USA Surfing Prime and USA Surfing Championships and Team Trials.

Laguna Creative Ventures announces new façade for Art-A-Fair building

Laguna Creative Ventures is proud to announce a new façade for the Art-A-Fair building at 777 Laguna Canyon Road. Continuing the series of murals that are part of the 2018 Laguna Arts District Summer of Color, renowned Spanish-based artist Okuda San Miguel is currently in the process of updating the 78 by 31 foot facade of the event center in his iconic style of bright geometric and abstract patterns. 

The update of the façade on the Art-A-Fair building is a monumental undertaking, supported by Mo and Hasty Honarkar of the The Laguna Beach Company through Laguna Creative Ventures, and made possible with curation and direction by Ben Rubin and Torrey Cook. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Okuda’s new mural is taking Laguna Canyon by color

Okuda has been a longtime favorite of Hasty Honarkar. He arrived in Laguna Beach last Friday, May 11, and will be on site painting through the end of today (Tuesday, May 15), transforming the building with a creative and brightly colored mural on the North and West facing walls that the Honarkars hope will become “a beacon of color and light for residents and guests to the Laguna Arts District and Laguna Beach year round.”

Okuda has been working as a well-respected street artist and fine artist since the late 1990s and has since exhibited gallery work and large-scale public work in hundreds of art exhibitions all over the globe. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Madrid’s Complutense University and has a passionate creative drive in his art practice. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Okuda anticipates being finished with his new mural later today (Tuesday)

In his work, multicolored geometric structures blend with organic shapes, figures, animals, and symbols that evoke reflection. With a unique iconographic language that merges Pop Surrealism and the essence of the street, Okuda’s distinctive colorful geometric style of painting is recognizable the world over. He is inspired by the concept of metamorphosis and utilizes the symbolic properties in his images to reflect on the world we are a part of – nature and natural life, the cosmos, the cycle of life, multiculturalism, color theory, and collective.

Honarkar buys Tivoli Terrace from June Neptune, to launch Terra in its place


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Real estate mogul “Mo” Honarkar recently bought the rights to Tivoli Terrace on the Festival of Arts Grounds, adding the iconic locale to his portfolio of Laguna Beach businesses. He plans to launch a new restaurant called Terra Laguna Beach in its place.

Honarkar’s Laguna Beach Co. bought the lease long held by June Neptune. She also leased Tivoli Too on the Art-A-Fair Grounds, acquired last year by Honarkar along with [seven-degrees], Club Post Nuclear and the Festival Center (now The Hive).

Honarkar also owns the Royal Hawaiian restaurant on North Coast Highway (along with other commercial properties on that block), Holiday Inn, 14 WEST, The Retreat in Laguna, Sunset Cove Villas, and a residential building at 694 North Coast Highway.

His acquisition of Tivoli Terrace was approved by the Festival of Arts and the City, which owns the property.

“We are so excited to be adding Terra [Terra Laguna Beach is the new name of the restaurant] to our vision for the Arts District and are thrilled to have discovered this hidden historic structure that is an important part of the history of architecture in Laguna Beach and Orange County,” Honarkar said in a press release. 

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Tivoli Terrace within the FOA grounds will be reborn as Terra Laguna Beach

 “We are eager to reintroduce such a magnificent building to our community and look forward to providing the Festival of Arts/Pageant of the Masters and Laguna Playhouse with a dining destination that mirrors the level of excellence provided by those organizations.”

 Renovations are underway on the restaurant and event site. Renamed Terra Laguna Beach, the restaurant is expected to open this summer in time for the festival season, under the creative direction of [seven-degrees]. 

The renovated restaurant will still be topped by the futuristic hyperbolic paraboloid roof designed in 1957 by Don Williamson, architect and Pageant of the Master Director from 1964 to 1978.

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[seven-degrees] will provide the creative direction for the new restaurant

“The first manager of the restaurant was Fred Mergenthaler,” said Sharbie Higuchi, Festival of Arts marketing, public relations and merchandising director. “Food was served cafeteria-style. [Mergenthaler] also owned the Keg restaurant in Laguna.” 

June and Terry Neptune began leasing the restaurant in 1971. Terry died in 2000, but his widow continued to run the restaurant as well as the cleverly named Tivoli Too across Laguna Canyon Road.

“The Festival of Arts would like to express thanks to June and her family for nearly 50 years of service to thousands of festival patrons and the Laguna Beach community,” said Higuchi.

Neptune’s outstanding contributions to Laguna Beach will be honored by Honarkar and The Laguna Beach Company by the naming of the top tier of the restaurant Neptune Terrace.

“For the past 47 years it has been an honor – and most of all, my pleasure to serve the thousands of guests that visited Tivoli Terrace,” Neptune said in the release. “I wish only the very best for the new life and business at the location that was known as Tivoli Terrace as they begin what I hope is another 47 years of success.” 

There are few nonprofit organizations in Laguna who have not benefitted from the Neptunes’ generosity. 

“June has been wonderful to the Laguna Canyon Conservancy,” said Gene Felder, president of the board of directors. “We thank her for everything she has done.”

Terra Laguna Beach will continue to provide service as an event venue, with catering options that may customized. The Wine Bar will offer a variety of California wines as well as a rotating selection from local brewing companies, including Laguna Beach Beer Company.

Hats off (or should it be “hats on”?) to the Boys & Girls Club for an amazing Derby-themed gala

This past weekend, on Saturday, May 12, the Boys & Girls Club held yet another successful fundraiser at the Art of Giving Gala at Montage Laguna Beach.

For the full scoop, be sure to click on Friday’s edition of Stu News Laguna and read Barbara Diamond’s sparkling column!

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Horses joined in the fun at the Derby-themed Gala

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