Penny Susan Steris

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Penny Susan Steris, known to many as “Coach Penny,” passed away on May 5, 2018, at the age of 67 years. A California native, she lived in South Laguna for 50 years and had a positive impact on the community.

 As an avid seamstress during the seventies and eighties, she made custom bikinis under the Perfect Casuals label. She also worked at El Morro Elementary School in Laguna Beach from 1988-1996 and Our Lady of Fatima in San Clemente from 1996-2001. She played a major role developing the Laguna Beach Unified School District Disaster Preparedness Program following the 1993 fires. After retiring from the school districts she returned to her creative passion and started making children’s products under the Pineapple Kid label. These products were retailed at the Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival, which was a fulfilling time in her life. Penny was a creative, kind soul and she loved working with children. 

Her greatest joy in life was family and she was always present. The Steris family home was open to all and she was a second mother to many generations of kids.

Undoubtedly she dedicated her entire adult life to her children and was a caring and loving mother. Whether it was coaching little league for her son or LBHS softball for her daughter, she was hands-on and very active. One of her favorite times of the year was during the Brooks St. Contest. She was a pillar volunteer for morning sign-ups and loved watching the kid’s rip, a Surf Mom at heart who loved the ocean and warm sunshine.

The motto she valued and lived by was “Live by the Sun and love by the Moon”.

Her physical presence will be greatly missed but Penny’s Aloha spirit will always be with us.  

She is survived by her Husband of 50 years, Daryl Steris, children Jason and Malena, and grandchildren, Ava, Ollie, Colter and Cannon. 

A Hui Ho Penny (until we meet again).

A memorial followed by a paddle out to celebrate Penny’s life will be held Sunday, June 3 at 10 a.m. at Treasure Island Point in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach Pride is more than just a party

The month of June is officially LGBTQ Heritage & Culture Month in Laguna Beach, as proclaimed by Mayor Toni Iseman and City Council over a year ago. It is the time of year when our wonderful city celebrates and honors the rich contributions of the gay community to Laguna Beach.

Part of this month-long celebration is Laguna Beach Pride, which takes place this year over the weekend of June 1 - 3. A true partnership between the City of Laguna Beach, Visit Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Laguna Beach LGBTQ Heritage & Culture Committee, Laguna Beach Pride welcomes both visitors and residents alike to participate in the annual festivities, from dancing the night away at Main Street Bar & Cabaret and the legendary Boom Boom Room to Aloha Drag Bingo Brunch at Royal Hawaiian to soaking up the sun at the West Street Beach Party. 

It is important to say that Pride is more than just a party. Pride creates a sense of belonging for people who may not feel it. Pride opens its arms to everyone who finds it comforting, uplifting and empowering. Pride gives hope to those who feel that life may never get better. Pride provides the freedom to be who you are. Pride is about the possibility of love.

Everyone is invited. The West Street Beach Party is open to all ages and families. The Pride Pavilion at Mountain Street is also open to everyone, although guests under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Laguna Beach Pride strives to ensure that our young LGBTQ residents and visitors also have the experience of finding themselves reflected and honored in our community.

The Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce encourages our local business community to participate as well. Showing your Pride is simply good for business. Ways to participate include optimizing your merchandising and window displays, running an ad or promotion such as a specialty cocktail or hotel room package, becoming a Laguna Beach Pride advertising sponsor, flying a rainbow flag and hanging the official Laguna Beach Pride poster in your window.  

As previously stated by Toni Iseman: Laguna Beach does not merely tolerate the gay community. Laguna Beach embraces the gay community.

For more information, visit

Chris Tebbutt

Co-Founder, Laguna Beach LGBTQ Heritage & Culture Committee

“Prepare Laguna Beach” campaign needs residents to sign up

Local issues like traffic, crowded beaches, parking and parties at summer rentals often are the focus of resident complaints as summer gets under way. But another issue lurks behind the scenes year-round: resident readiness for emergencies. Some of us ignore the issue; some might fall into the ‘doomsday-prepper’ category. But there’s no question that every single resident of this city should make sure they are ready to hit the road if a fire, earthquake, landslide, high tide flooding, gas leak or other emergency occurs in Laguna Beach.

This October 27 will be the 25th anniversary of the devastating 1993 fire that destroyed hundreds of homes and briefly threatened downtown and beyond. Those who lived here in 1993 will never forget – and many of us have had go-bags and family emergency plans ever since. But there are always procrastinators who never quite get to that item on their to-do lists. And newer residents may be unaware of what happened a generation ago, much less the dangers we face in a coastal town with just two roads in and out. 

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Submitted photo

Devastating reminder of the 1993 fires

With that in mind, Laguna Beach CERT (coordinating through the Emergency Operations Coordinator/Police Department) launched a “Prepare Laguna Beach” effort last month to raise awareness by asking residents to sign a pledge to be more prepared for emergencies. The City Council also supported the effort and it was officially launched May 1. The goal is to be the Most Prepared City in Orange County. And it only takes about a minute to pledge online at

No one will call you or ask for donations or keep your name in a database. You only are required to enter your street name (not house number) and closest cross street, then click on two buttons that say you agree to have a family/household plan and to create or buy a 72-hour emergency kit. Click ‘ok’ and you are done! (There is a field for your last name only if you don’t mind adding it.) 

Your pledge to be more prepared will be counted only for the purpose of counting the total number of signers. Our goal is to get 2,800 households to ‘sign the pledge’. We hope you will embrace this effort so that we can be the Most Prepared City in Orange County with residents in every age group ready to ‘get outta Dodge’ when the situation arises. 

There is no political agenda – just a big motivation to make sure our residents know how to stay safe and know when it’s time to go. Please be among them. You’ll find CERT members at ‘pop-up’ booths around town throughout the summer who will help you sign up on the spot, give you a preparedness item for your kit and send you off with thanks and good wishes! 

Sandi Cain

Laguna Beach CERT Outreach Chief

LBGT Laguna’s Pride will be celebrated May 25 - 28 and June 1 - 3

Lesbians, bisexuals, gays and trans people from around the world will converge on Laguna’s friendly LBGT international beach, West Street, on May 25th - 28th, if the weather is warm.

The following weekend, June 1 - 3, Laguna Pride will start off on Friday with dancing, DJs and other excitement at the Main St. Bar and Cabaret, followed by a party at the Boom on Saturday at 4 p.m. and a beach party at West Street beach on Sunday at 11 a.m.

Weekend trolleys will run from 4 - 11 p.m. on Friday, from 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. on Sunday, and will stop at West Street. 

West Street beach is a short walk north of the West Street stairway but there are three other access ways through Camels Point Drive, and two trails between Camels Point and West Street volleyball courts. Portable restrooms, a summer lifeguard, and one of Laguna’s largest expanses of sand make it a beautiful place to take pride in your LBGT lifestyle. 

Nearby, one block south of West Street, is the verdant, intimate village park with picnic tables and barbecues, and within walking distance are seven restaurants including the newly remodeled The Ranch at Laguna Beach, heralded as Laguna’s little Yosemite which not only has a wonderful restaurant and bar but also features 90 plus rooms and suites, a 9-hole golf course and one of Laguna’s largest pools. The Ranch is also served by one trolley route, and don’t forget you can cross Coast Hwy safely by using the tunnel at the north end of the Aliso beach parking lot.

Laguna’s the place to be on Memorial Day weekend and June 1 - 3, our Pride weekend!

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

Laguna’s got to get off the grid – go solar, not underground

Laguna supposedly prides itself on being “progressive” and “forward thinking”, yet the city wants us to invest in old 20th century technology by undergrounding utilities.  The city has fast and furiously been spending our taxpayer dollars to blitz residents with ads on TV, Facebook, newspapers, etc. (just under $30,000 in April alone) on its “fear and fire” undergrounding campaign to scare voters into agreeing to tax ourselves hundreds of millions of dollars to underground a soon to be obsolete method of delivering power.  

Why are we not planning for the very near future, and instead encourage every property owner to invest in solar technology and become individual self-generating power sources? The technology is here now, and the recent breakthroughs in lithium-ion battery storage capacity and cost makes spending millions on “old school” utility power technology a very poor return on investment. 

Another bonus is that lithium-ion solar batteries are virtually maintenance free.  Likewise, the price of installing solar has dropped dramatically, and solar panels are now incorporated into roof tiles that are unobtrusive and aesthetic as well.

California just passed legislation requiring all newly built homes to have solar panels beginning in 2020. That’s less than two years away, and more than likely before the City would even begin to break ground on undergrounding Laguna Canyon Road.

Why should residents be expected to cover the cost to improve SCEdison’s aging, archaic infrastructure on Laguna Canyon Road? We certainly aren’t being given “stock” in exchange for this misguided taxpayer “investment”.

The new state mandate is a quantum leap toward the future, embracing solar technology so readily available in our coastal state and encouraging power self-sufficiency.  Let’s get off the grid, and not send hundreds of millions of dollars under ground.  

Think about it – Laguna has no major industrial business within its six square miles, so it has no need for major power production. Our residences can generate more than sufficient power for home residential use and charge our vehicles. Laguna could become one of the first self-sufficient “solar cities” in the state, and the nation. That’s progressive action we can all get behind (or ahead of!).  

Many small islands are already 100% solar self-sufficient.  If they can do it, so can we. Stop taxing our property to pay for old technology.  Let’s lead and sembrace the future. It’s a much better return on our investment and our tax dollars.

Jennifer Welsh Zeiter

Laguna Beach

Loss of visionary leaders, celebration of Mark Chamberlain’s life

In the past year we’ve lost in succession, three longtime community members – Stu Staffer (May 20, 2017), John Abbott Gardiner (October 24, 2017), and now, Mark Chamberlain (April 23, 2018) – who each contributed mightily to Laguna’s legacy in their own significant ways. Their lives are reminders of how great communities are built on visionary leaders. Mark, John and Stu (as well as their predecessors) will be cheering on Laguna’s next torchbearers.

A celebration of Mark’s life is scheduled for June 3, 2018 at 2 p.m. at the Neighborhood Congregational Church.

Ellen and Roger Kempler

Laguna Beach

Letter sent to Mayor Boyd about Poet Laureate program

We would like to congratulate you on the success of the first Poet Laureate program in Laguna Beach and also give credit to the hard work and imagination of Kate Buckley, who proved to be an outstanding choice.

In her capacity, she held multiple public presentations, offered educational outreach and created the city’s first literary festival. She was democratic in her approach, extending a platform to distinguished local writers as well as those who may have been writing their first poem or story. She also taught workshops to children and disabled adults, facilitated public readings, wrote a commemorative poem and organized an innovative bus trip through town entitled “Poetry Moves You.”

It should also be noted that creating a program like this from scratch is exceptionally difficult and time-consuming. Each element needs to be imagined and invented, then the scaffolding designed and put in place out of nothing. The things Kate accomplished should be lauded both privately and publicly.

Let us also offer commendation to the government of Laguna Beach for the vision behind this continuing program. Yours is a city known internationally not just for its physical beauty but for the pioneering artistic spirit that its residents uphold. We see the written word as a vital part of this enviable civic identity and we will keep coming back to Orange County’s premier artistic city to read and write.

Tom Zoellner, Associate Professor of English, Chapman University

Also signing for: Victoria Patterson, Grant Hier, Francesca Bell, Eric Morago

Rebuttal to Guest Column by Bob Whalen in 10/31/17 issue of Stu News Laguna: 

Why Underground Powerlines?

Why do City Councilmembers think it’s the resident taxpayers’ responsibility to pay for these misguided “Key Evacuation Routes” (“KER”) on state-owned LCR, Glenneyre/Monterey St and Virginia Way at double expense bonds and forever one percent sales tax to finance [the] Proposed Underground Tax and Bond agenda that “our Council” voted 5-0 to pursue? There’s no fire danger on our City owned streets mentioned above. It’s a dinosaur concept…and for these additional reasons: Edison/SDG&E have funded Undergrounding Programs of $125k annually. Caltrans is already planning/responsible to widen and underground Laguna Canyon Road (LCR); controls that State Owned Right of Way; and will pay with power companies like Big Bend area in 2016. I observed when there’s a serious fire like 1993, smart residents and guests did head for the Beach as a quick fourth real escape route, where you’re safe/can see what’s happening, as government officials, and resting firefighters did and they parked on Coast Hwy. You’re not going to head for any “KER” mentioned above…who “thought” those up?

I estimate the actual undergrounded portion of Laguna is closer to 80 percent (not the 40 percent Whalen purports), when you exclude CalTrans/State-owned LCR Right of Way, and no fire issue streets/North Laguna alleys. The City shouldn’t ask residents to pay for state-owned LCR undergrounding! Existing annual Edison/SDG&E Funding, credits purchased can take care of the few real powerline/traffic conflict locations left in the City for safety without bonds and one percent added sales tax that hurts local business and taxpayers. (Link to Bob Whalen’s Guest Column:

Councilmember Whalen no longer mentions the topic of residents: 1-who paid for undergrounding in previously completed private districts, 2-are currently paying these Underground Tax Assessments (CFD’s), and 3-who [will] soon pay the $40 to $80k cost (Coast Royale, SoLag). Where’s this “Second Ballot measure” to exempt them now Bob, vs your current proposal for previously paid residents to pay a second time, to favor 20 percent plus of residents who haven’t paid, including four of five Councilmembers, ready CFD residents put on hold? I can comment both sides of the argument of the City’s Bond/Tax Measure – have one residence with, one without underground/views. I chose to pay off, instead of double cost/30 year bond.

The City has managed 40 plus years of these Undergrounding Assessment Districts since the 1970s, and it now proposes to dupe past participating owners to pay it twice? Those seven active City’s Districts that were almost finalized are now on hold (to chase this obsolete idea of undergrounding taxation) with another bond measure against our properties, and a one percent forever sales tax that isn’t directed at specified items! Could this big $$$ actually go to pay unfunded Pension Plans or free undergrounding for those who haven’t paid for it – which might be the real reason, not fire safety and ”KER”? Informed residents say yes, absolutely – look at other City slush funds misdirected from other purposes (i.e. Parking Fund for decades, $4 million from Measure LL – Bed Tax allocated on 10/24/17). 

The City Proposal to underground with 24,000 residents voting on a ballot is deceptive. Actually, 14,400 resident owners/taxpayers would bear this expense. It’s manipulative to propose a measure for a vote when 40 percent of residents are renters; and additionally 17 percent are absentee owners who can’t vote on what financially affects them. It’s also a disservice and betrayal of trust to owners who paid to underground for uncluttered ocean views. Forcing owners to pay twice constitutes fraud in my view, and could start a class action lawsuit for past payment damages by 40 plus years of previously paid owners as plaintiffs. Ask the Coast Royale owners after they pay their assessment to pay it twice, not!

I think all Laguna Locals should view this YouTube Video: “Tony Seba: Clean Disruption – Energy & Transportation”, to see the future of Energy/Transportation, that will shock you to see changes, future and overhead utilities are ancient technology, obsolete in 10-20 years. This Illustrates questionable leadership and lost $$$ spent to date by City to underground, and if understood, no need for undergrounding ballot vote.

To share a joint idea with another like-minded Lagunan – we suggest inviting Elon Musk to town as our guest. He’s a forward thinker, would be a great neighbor, and ask him to partner up to make Laguna Beach the first Solar City with his roof tiles, battery back up/Peaker Units, and his Tesla cars and trucks. If we added farming upper Laguna and Aliso Canyon valley floors after planner Sir Ebenezer Howard’s 1898 model for a Garden City, linking our work/jobs, farmlands, residential neighborhoods and recreational parks with pedestrian/bikeways it would be the live/work Utopian City of sustainability, surrounded by Greenbelts & Pacific Ocean. After all, Elon just works up the road in Hawthorne @ SpaceX, and he might need a second getaway beach home he can rocket to.  

Bryan T.S. Menne

54 year Laguna Resident, Former OCFD Paid Call Firefighter South Laguna-Station 6, Land Planner & CA Registered Landscape A

Smart people can surely figure out a way to permit ADUs

The City Council will be considering an ordinance regarding the restriction/regulation of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) sometimes referred to as “granny units” on May 9. This ordinance pretty much squelches any plan to add living quarters for a multitude of residents. This is just sad.  

It is like a kick in the stomach to residents who may have thought that someday they would be able to build a “granny flat” for their aging Mom or Dad or even a caregiver for themselves someday.   

It dissolves any hope that a resident could build some living quarters for their adult children who are trying to save for a home someday or who have recently graduated and cannot afford to pay the astronomical going rental rates in the OC. 

Instead of embracing a solution to the housing crisis and finding ways to make this work, the City’s proposal does its level best to obstruct or totally restrict an affordable solution. Its basic intent is...let them move somewhere else! 

It puts a damper on any hopes of promoting a student housing option for LCAD who is desperately seeking options for students, many of whom are commuting from the Inland Empire due to lack of affordable student housing.

There are so many legally questionable restrictions in the proposed ordinance. It appears that using and hiding under the guise of “impaired access” is the only road they can take to maximize the restrictions on ADU’s and they have chosen that path. 

There must be some opportunity for compromise on this? Is an on-site parking requirement the answer? Legal shield or waiver of liability? Mitigation agreement?

There has to be a way to figure this out...there are a lot of intelligent people in this city!

Kristine Thalman

President, Laguna Beach Seniors

Main evacuation routes vs key evacuation routes

The undergrounding project should be scaled back and limited in scope to reduce the enormous cost burden on resident taxpayers and our many seniors on fixed incomes.  

Main Evacuation Routes are readily established as PCH North/South and Laguna Canyon Road because every resident of Laguna Beach would seek to utilize one or more of these main evacuation routes, in case of an emergency. Measure LL funds should be exclusively used to purchase Utility Credits from other cities to be used for Main Evacuation Routes. However, the city has chosen to develop an ill conceived plan of mapping neighborhood «Key evacuation routes” that is entirely unfair to a majority of residents who will not use these routes during an evacuation. The current mapped “key evacuation routes” should be collectively and exclusively funded by Neighborhood Assessment Districts.  

I find it particularly disturbing our City Council would choose to burden the many senior residents of this community to pay the cost to improve the aging infrastructure of publicly held billion dollar company, Edison. The census indicates that 40 percent of residents are renters which means a large majority of voters needed to approve a Bond Measure will not be property owners. However, a General Obligation Bond property tax assessment cost will most certainly be passed along to renters and adversely impact the rental market. This demonstrates a lack of compassion for those residents who struggle economically. It appears our current City Council prefers community gentrification by attrition. 

In addition, $242,000 of your taxpayer dollars is being spent on marketing surveys, promotional mailers, power point and video presentation to manipulate residents using Psychology 101 scare tactics to get residents emotionally invested in the underground concept by selling fear. It would make prudent sense to utilize a share of these funds and approach a potential partnership opportunity with Elon Musk to ask him to develop a Solar City, USA model here in Laguna Beach by forming a sustainable energy development team. Laguna Beach may be able to take the lead to develop a sustainable energy model as the future vision for our community. Perhaps, residents will have potential benefit by a tax credit and derive income by selling our excess power to Edison! We won’t know what current technology will bring until we take the opportunity to explore the possibilities that may be available to our seaside community. 

Lorene Laguna (Auger)

Laguna Beach

Just a Hole in the Ground reads, “Above ground utilities are the single biggest threat to our public safety.” The proponents of undergrounding use fear to motivate voters to approve the ballot measure. The proponents want to bury SoCal Edison’s 19th century power lines and pass the costs onto property owners and Laguna’s retail sector through bond measures approved by voters, but their headline is false and unsubstantiated. Statistical data show the top three greatest threats to public safety are falls, poisonings and motor vehicles not utilities, the occasional gas-burp from Bluebird Substation notwithstanding.  

As long [as] property owners are asked to pay for a $200 million 30-year commitment to dig a hole and bury obsolete utilities, it is prudent to review what to bury in the hole. Over time technology shifts are disruptive and largely unpredictable like the smart car, the smart phone, like distributed renewable power. How these technologies play out is uncertain, but the future will arrive and now is the time to study how renewable power will enter the value chain, define operating models and business in Laguna Beach. Solar energy systems worldwide have been consistently underestimated by the EIA (US Energy Information Administration). In Laguna, solar power utilities were not considered when undergrounding citywide.

The annualized cost of $200 million to underground power lines at three percent for 30 years is $10.2 million per year – alternatively this funding could be directed to build Laguna’s sustainable energy future for 2050. If Laguna became a clean power producer and sold power back to utility companies, SoCal Edison would happily bury their power lines at their cost not ours. UndergroundLagunaNow should propose a modern power utility rather than bury obsolete utilities, propose sustainability not creative financing, [and] motivate voter approval with facts, not public fear. 

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

How to solve traffic congestion – the blog Laguna Streets offers this wry look at the reasons we’re all so congested…

Trump labels Comey “Untruthful Slime Ball”

Last fall, the president called NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick an SOB. Some time later, the commander-in-chief derided North Korea’s leader as a “Rocket Man.” Now he is attacking former FBI director James Comey as an “untruthful slime ball.” All of which leads me to ask my GOP friends in town: When is enough enough?  

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Living peacefully with our wildlife

Last week I was delighted to encounter two coyotes during a morning walk on the trail above my neighborhood. I was equally delighted and awestruck this morning to see a beautiful white-shouldered hawk perched on a neighbor’s balcony. Spring is here and many wild animals with whom we share our neighborhoods and natural surroundings are beginning to breed. They are mating, building their nests and dens, and will soon be hunting food for their young. While they do so, let’s encourage their natural sense of hunting by discouraging their dependence on humans for food. 

Please take the following precautions: Keep your small pets inside at night and supervised during the day, avoid leaving food and water outdoors for animals, secure your garbage cans, and close your screen doors. If we tune in to Nature, we can find wise ways to coexist with our wild neighbors. Let’s avoid another extermination of coyotes like we had in Laguna Beach in 2016.

And as for that white-shouldered hawk on my neighbor’s balcony? When my neighbor realized it was eying her pet rabbit, she took the bunny indoors where it will stay for the remainder of spring. We then admired the hawk until it flew off into the canyon across the street where it likely will find its next meal – in the wild.

Cheryl Procaccini

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach, you still got soul!

It was exciting to watch our city decide March 27 to make our first downtown public plaza a permanent reality. After fans of the Park Plaza experiment this fall showed up in force at city hall, the City Council voted unanimously to reinstitute the block-long stretch near Main Beach into a car-free gathering spot – as part of their larger developing plan to improve the flow of downtown traffic and pedestrians.

I loved how longtime residents and groups from Laguna Beach – Billy Fried, Bill Hoffman, Chris Prelitz, Ruben Flores, the Beautification Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Transition Laguna, and others, from varied personal and professional backgrounds, teamed up to promote this public gathering space in the heart of downtown.

It was equally heartening to see our city officials, especially the city manager, assistant city manager and police chief, recognize the potential of this plaza, embrace the idea and navigate the many bureaucratic hurdles.

Unlike the proponents of other local projects for profit, such as expanding hotels, restaurants and shops, these Park Plaza advocates were after nothing more than helping Laguna Beach retain its prized identity as a forward-thinking community with a village atmosphere.

Also, as someone who used that treacherous shortcut on Park Plaza for more than 20 years to return to our Top of the World home, I’m happy to spend an extra minute or two getting through town to enable the new pedestrian plaza. (And, since pedestrians regularly stepped into the crosswalk against the light there, I believe we will all be safer when it’s blocked off for good.)

Let’s hope the City Council continues to sustain the momentum of this collective effort. A few councilmembers even offered ideas to explore similar pedestrian plazas in other parts of downtown. (To many residents, lower Forest Avenue is the no brainer.)

The greater point of this little Park Plaza victory, I believe, is that we still have the ability, despite our differences, to turn a creative vision into a source of community enjoyment and pride.

Laguna Beach, you still got soul!

Janine Robinson

Laguna Beach

Ted Nugent says shoot Democrats like rabid coyotes

Ted Nugent’s recent comment that Democrats, the media and academics be shot like rabid coyotes is, in a word, “un-American.”  For the most part, here in Laguna, we don’t shoot coyotes.  

I am a 60-something father of three who loves this country. As a lifelong Democrat, I have helped many people seek elective office – including Barack Obama when few knew his name in 2007. Unlike Nugent, I never have advocated violence against Republicans, the alt-right media or ultra-conservative professors. That’s what terrorists do. To remain silent in the wake of Nugent’s statement is, in another word, to be “complicit.”    

Ted Nugent and his followers are a very small group of unpatriotic Americans. The vast majority of us are better than they are. I urge all elected officials, regardless of their political affiliation, to immediately repudiate Nugent’s hate-filled comment in the strongest words possible.   

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Important to shut down anti-immigration sentiment

Recently, behind closed doors, Orange County Board of Supervisors decided to join the federal government in a lawsuit against the state of California over its stance on immigration sanctuary. Now, there are neighbors on who seem to want the city of Laguna Beach to do the same. Although, I assume they are in the minority, they are determined and very loud.

This harkens back to 2006 when a small conservative advocacy group sued the city for allegedly breaking federal law by spending public funds on the day labor site in the canyon. Our city won that lawsuit, and I’m glad we did. Our council was a voice of reason back then, and I was proud of how hate speech and intimidation were shut down. After the lawsuit, things returned to normal. Laguna remained the accepting place that anyone who’s lived here for awhile can appreciate.

But here we are, all these years later, with a new group of people who seem to be emboldened by current politics. They are very vocal and are pressuring our city to join with other cities and Orange County to go against the state of California. 

The immigrants here in Laguna are part of our community. They are people our kids and grandkids play with, they go to our schools and churches, they serve in our military, they work with us and for us. It is important that we shut down this discriminant anti immigrant pressure, and just like in 2006, we again counter racism in our town, once and for all. 

Carey Strombotne

Laguna Beach

Remembering Dr. King

Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis. I was a sophomore at USC at the time and remember it like it was yesterday.  

Because I wanted to be a teacher, I volunteered as a lunchtime aide at an elementary school a few blocks from campus. Hours before the news broke about Dr. King’s death, I had escorted a rowdy boy into the principal’s office. When I reported for work the next day, that same boy was in the office. When he saw me, he walked up and said, “We’re going to get you today, whitey.”  

I didn’t think much of his threat until I heard students at the nearby junior high school had been rioting earlier in the day. If that wasn’t enough, I was asked to patrol the playground even though all the students were being kept indoors for safety purposes.  

So there I was, a 19-year-old Trojan all alone on an empty playground. I must have walked the perimeter a dozen times that day. To say I was scared is an understatement. I don’t know what I would have done had there been trouble, but I did my job nonetheless. I stayed on as a noon duty aide until June, but I never saw that troubled boy again. I always wondered what I would have said to him if I had.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Bo Brackett

December, 1940 - March, 2018

Click on photo for a larger image

Bo Brackett, former longtime resident of Laguna Beach, passed away in March 2018 in Encinitas, California. He was 77.

Bo was born in Richmond, Virginia in December 1940 and moved to Los Angeles in 1948 when his father, Deke, accepted an assistant position coaching football at UCLA. Bo earned a Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a Master’s degree from USC.

While attending UCLA, Bo served as President of his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He also proudly served in the United States Army as a 2nd Lieutenant for four years during the Vietnam War era. Bo met his wife Nancy when she was a student at UCLA and they married in 1967. Bo worked as a probation officer in LA County for 10 years.

The Bracketts moved to Laguna Beach in 1973 where Bo sold real estate with Lingo Real Estate, then partnered with Ken Kelly in their own company, Coast and Country, and later with Prudential. Bo and Nancy had their daughter Catherine in 1984. They remained in Laguna Beach until retiring to Palm Desert in 2006 and eventually moving to San Diego in 2016 to be near Catherine and her family.

Bo was a loving, devoted husband and father who will be remembered for his outgoing and unforgettable personality. He made friends with people from all walks of life and loved to give people nicknames. If you knew him you probably have one. He adored his daughter and was an enthusiastic participant in all her activities from weekly volunteering at Top of the World school to AYSO soccer, Indian Princesses, and “handicapping” dance competitions. 

People will remember his pie and ice cream breakfasts, how he loved playing volleyball at Main Beach, and the special friendship he had with his mother in-law, Helen, who survives him at age 95. Bo is survived by Nancy, his wife of 50 and a half years, his sister Sallye, his daughter Catherine, son-in-law Travis, and his three precious grandsons – Deacon Jay, Wyatt James, and Austin Bo. The family resides in Carmel Valley in San Diego. He will be missed every day by family, friends, and his rescue dog Wiley. 

A military service will take place on April 5, 2018 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. 


Michael J. Fickling

October 16, 1952 – March 17, 2018


A brilliant star was extinguished from life all too soon when precious son, brother, friend of many left to join our Lord & Savior in heaven.  

Michael J. Fickling was born October 16, 1952 in Newport Beach, California, grew up and was schooled in Laguna Beach, and graduated from Laguna Beach High School. On Dec 14, 1990, Michael successfully completed Prescribed Program of Electronics Engineering Technology and [was] awarded Associate of Applied Science Degree from ITT Technical Institute.  

Michael will be remembered as an extraordinary musician who excelled in drumming, entertaining with his very own group, Second Helping, the Peter Dobson Band, popular Laguna Beach Art Festivals, and magically styling rhythms to please audiences from Southern California Night Clubs, to River 47 Church in Orange.  

Michael was especially grateful to have entertained the world over with The Darryl Mansfield Christian Band, which took him to a multitude of foreign countries.  Let’s also recall a second happiness in Laguna Beach when Dog Grooming inspired his unusual concept of washing family dogs together rather than separately thus giving pets a fun time together rather than an upsetting experience, typical of his appreciation for creatures big and small. Michael would not even swat a fly, rather ushered insects carefully out the door.

God took Michael lovingly home following a very sudden cerebral hemorrhage on March 17, 2018. God bless this sensitive, loving son, brother, friend. May dear Michael remain forever in Heaven, the place to be for which he long prayed.

Predictions: Garbage-In Garbage-Out

“Uber car in autonomous mode kills first pedestrian.” In gripping headlines the media remind us of the moral imperative in accepting autonomous cars. Days later details of the crash emerge albeit reluctantly from network news in Tempe Arizona. What the hype-slingers didn’t mention was the accident occurred at 22:00 nighttime when 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, wearing dark clothing, was pushing her bicycle with no lights across a high-speed highway. A 48 second Youtube dash-cam video from Uber shows the impact. The Uber car was traveling 38 mph; at that speed her probability of impact survival was 47 percent. 

Back in Laguna, Agenda Bill 14 reads “Coast Highway intersection improvements feasibility study.” 

In 91 pages we are told the intersections at Broadway, Forest, Ocean Avenue and Laguna Avenue will be modified to improve traffic, pedestrian flow and reduce delays. Yet another consultant was retained to gather the traffic numbers and scramble them in a software model. Their winning recommendations propose removing the crosswalk at Ocean and adding two pedestrian scrambles at Forest Avenue and Laguna Avenue, makes you wanna join the City Cheerleaders! A crosswalk at Broadway will be left unchanged, something about scramble coupling with Forest Avenue and apparently too much of a good thing. The software model shows adding scrambles to intersections causes car traffic delays, so to compensate the consultants add car turn pockets at Legion and Broadway and remove parking and a pedestrian ramp at Main Beach. 

Software modeling is used to convince decision makers of accurate predictions. Our consultant uses plenty of it, SimTraffic, HCM and Synchro circa 1960 among them. A detailed look at the software shows what the color glossy does not. The consultant measures success with terms like Capacity Ratio, Queuing Penalty and Parking Occupancy – all are measures of counting cars not pedestrians, bicycles, buses, planes, trolleys, not even bullet trains…it’s cars.

The consultant does not conform to Caltrans’s own mandates for Complete Streets Policy. Residents and decision makers should remember the fundamental rule of software model predictions: if garbage-in then garbage-out. Relying on predictions from the right software model will improve traffic, the wrong fundamentals will ensure Laguna’s car gridlock.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

Location location location

[Park Plaza]. A solution in search of a problem.

Maybe the grain of positive idea initially but in a poorly thought out, hasty location: Making it a feel-good but irrelevant installation.

Stupid is as stupid does, here for 45 years it never ceases to amaze me how my City finds ways to blow big $$$ on what’s unimportant, minor tweaking while ignoring the larger good for residents: Commerce first, locals second.

(1) Most of the time those chairs/tables were empty. During the pilot/demo phase I went down there two to three times a week at different times of day/evening. Ditto. Many times no one there period, weekends a handful. So few go there on weekdays off-season, locals stayed away in droves, it’s success greatly exaggerated by proponents (many paid and/or on the Chamber/Visitor’s Bureau payroll). Special business interests want it.

(2) Two of the three NGO’s mentioned in support, Beautification Council and Transition Laguna (501c3 public benefit), have had their non-profit status suspended by the State Franchise Tax Board. Look them up. The Chamber is a special interest 501c4.

(3) As a land use/regulatory compliance advisor myself, I see no mention of CalTrans. Hey, City Council? Anything you do to PCH is in their domain, jurisdiction. That includes the obvious re-routing, re-circulation projections. The City paid a vendor to tell them what they wanted to hear/achieve, interesting that two-thirds of the letters were opposed, so they’re ignoring the will of the residents and blowing more of our $$$.

(4) Under CEQA, any potentially significant impacts must be considered, analyzed and mitigated. What LB is proposing will irrevocably, irreparably alter the downtown traffic circulation patterns, and there’s no proof as an improvement. It should have an independent, third-party enviro-analysis/review, not rubber-stamping. And that would include detailed feedback/input from Cal Trans expert engineers

(5) Losing those staging/parking spaces on PCH + parklet will put more stress on visitors trying to pick up/drop off or park family vehicles in proximity to the beach. That’s a Cal Coastal Commission issue because Beach Parking = Public Access. Also, the reduction of approximately 15+ spaces total must be balanced, made up somewhere else: Yet no such plan is included. It should go through the CCC to determine if the combo of parking space los + circulation alterations make Main Beach less attractive/usable/functional. Including amending not only the Downtown Specific Plan but amend our Local Coastal Plan.

(6) Downtown vendor trucks (food, Fed-Ex, OC Library, north side PCH merchants) will no longer have anywhere to park in the early a.m. hours as now. None is allowed in the alley behind The White House/Library, the meter cops chase them off or ticket them. So no staging plan in place or proposed. And look for beach visitors to fudge, use the Library lot, reducing OUR (locals) access to that facility.

(7) This is a poorly critiqued attempt that creates a cold breezeway that will not be utilized at least nine months out of the year while putting stress on other contiguous locations. During poor weather or off hours it eliminates a small yet highly valuable cut-through to assure/relieve circulation stress. And due to the wind pattern, Venturi Effect (air speeding up going through the compressed space), coupled with the car pollution, those who do sit there will be in the shadows bundled up, inhaling concentrated PCH generated particulates.

Our City Council listened to a very small yet vocal sample of residents, came up with something right out of Dumb & Dumber.

Must be an election year when fluff trumps substance.

Roger Butow

Laguna Beach

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