Did Trump want the Michael Flynn investigation to end?

Several of my Laguna friends and I had words over the weekend.  Specifically, we wondered if President Donald Trump obstructed justice when he met privately in the Oval Office with then-FBI Director James Comey?  According to Mr. Comey, the president said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.  He is a good guy.  I hope you can let this go.”

Legal scholars will be debating the meaning and intent behind these 28 words for years.  One easy way to shorten the distance between here and there is to ask Mr. Trump one simple question:  Sir, did you want Director Comey to end his investigation of Michael Flynn, your former national security advisor?  If the president says yes, then he could be charged with obstruction of justice.

Having worked on Capitol Hill, I know politicians like to parse words.  In this case, it’s not enough to take James Comey’s word for what was said.  The American people deserve to hear the truth directly from Preside

nt Trump.  For the sake of the country, my friends and I hope he answers the question sooner rather than later.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Is America really the greatest?

Independence Day is coming soon. This had me thinking about the subject, Is America really the greatest? Presently at least half of us are wondering what’s happened to the United States. Has the United States lost its greatness recently or long ago? Generally one might wonder if we really have it right. For Instance why do we work so hard? Many countries see it different than us. They work to live, we live to work.

Among first world countries the United States puts in the most work hours and least vacation on the planet. So the question remains. Why do we work so hard? For what? For stuff?

Last year my son went to college in Europe. Americans get a lot of grief from those guys. It disappoints me and it’s not fair. I must say though, it might be nice to live like a European. They stop on the way to work and sip coffee street-side and arrive at work whenever. Put in a couple hours than take siesta or some version of it. Later, they stroll home from work and stop by the sidewalk café. They work less than 10 hours a day than have the gall to take August off. Off! Why aren’t you like that? Why aren’t we like that?

I’ll tell you why. We Americans are crazy hard-working believers, that’s why. Other countries think we are nuts. Were the Wright Brothers insane? Bill Gates, Les Paul, Ali?

We have a long list of achievers in this country. By contrast take a country like Wales which sits beside England. They have produced Catherine Zeta Jones, Tom Jones and probably some other important people. But to be fair we have produced some “total losers” too recently. But I digress.

Were we nuts when we pointed to the moon; and then went there? We have a car up there and left the keys in it. Know why?  It’s because we are the only ones going back up there. That’s why!

Were we nuts when the world benefited from the fruits produced by companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft? We built the Panama Canal, made the Model T and saved the world from the Nazis. We came up with GPS, The Transistor, The Swivel chair and Snoopy.

I’m not done. Don’t forget more of what makes us great. For instance anyone can come here and completely reinvent themselves. This is still the land of opportunity: there are few restrictions and almost unlimited possibilities. The individual is free to pursue any dream or ambition, and all this is because we have economic freedom supported by a governing structure that exists according to the consent of the governed.

The government works for us – if we are diligent enough to hold it accountable.

Ours is the most diverse and inclusive culture on earth. We are proud of that.

Through discipline and hard work, an individual can prosper and enjoy freedom unknown to 99.9 percent of humans who’ve ever lived.

It’s simple. You work hard; you create your own luck. Americans believe anything is possible than we do it. Don’t doubt it for a moment. America is the Greatest.

As for all the stuff, that’s the upside of only taking two weeks off in August.

Happy Birthday America!

Roderick Reed

Laguna Beach


Valuable Laguna views are compromised with Verizon proposal

Many Laguna Beach residents are opposed to Verizon’s proposal of 18 new cell tower facilities directly next to homes, schools and parks. Valuable views would be permanently compromised with the proposed top-heavy facilities. Realtors and appraisers agree properties values are negatively affected when they are next to cell towers and difficult to sell or rent.

We are also extremely concerned about an increased fire hazard as many of these new sites are next to open space. In 2007, the Malibu fire that burned 4,000 acres, 14 structures and 36 cars was started by three utility poles that were top heavy with cellular equipment that went down from strong Santa Ana wind conditions. As a result, Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T settled to pay the city $12 million. There are many cases when fires have been started during regular maintenance of these facilities.

Due to Laguna Beach’s natural hilly topography, it is impossible to have full four bar cellular coverage, no matter how many cell tower sites are deployed. I am a Verizon customer and I do not have problems with cellular coverage anywhere in Laguna (the majority coverage is 2-4 bar on my phone), therefore I question if these new proposed facilities are necessary?

For residents who desire more coverage, there is home equipment (mini cell towers) that will give you the coverage you need [and which] you may acquire through your provider. 

Please help the residents being directly affected by this.  

If you would like to voice your concern, please email our City Council and Planning Commission members (email addresses on city’s web site) and attend the Planning Commission’s meeting on June 21 at 6 p.m. There is also a petition you may sign found on Change.org. (Labeled 18 cell towers.)

Kristy Peterson

Laguna Beach


Lang Park soil testing: misuse of taxpayer funds?

In my unofficial poll of the Wesley/Montage area, I have yet to find any who would support a pool at Lang Park. We are already inundated every weekend, and most weekdays in the summer with beach patrons. This appears to be a complete misuse of taxpayer funds. Thanks to Tom Joliet for the pictures and letter.   

Scott Murphy

Laguna Beach


Laguna should sign on to Climate Mayors network

Barbara and I, along with our One World One Ocean Campaign, encourage our wonderful city council to sign onto the Climate Mayors network and adopt the Paris Climate Change Agreement. We would be the lead city in Orange County, joining 292 other U.S. cities including Santa Barbara, Malibu, and Napa Valley. As our city leaders have already voted to comply with the four conservation programs, joining comes at no cost to us—we would, however, be showing leadership to the world.

Laguna Beach stands to lose dramatically in too many ways should climate warming and sea level rise continue unabated. For example, surf spots like Brooks Street Third Reef and Thalia Street Reef will change for the worse, becoming good only at low tide, and Main Beach will flood more often, causing us to probably lose 20 percent more of our beach sand area by 2100.

We should join the Climate Mayors network and think about our future.

Yours in a healthy ocean,

Greg and Barbara MacGillivray

Laguna Beach


Laguna should sign resolution adopting spirit and goals of Paris Agreement

I am always proud of my city when I see it acting as a leader on environmental issues. From our commitment to our offshore marine reserves to the ordinance banning single-use plastic bags (which are now banned across the state), Laguna Beach has always been ahead of the curve. That’s why when I recently read through a list of nearly 300 U.S. city mayors who are pledging to carry through our nation’s commitments to the Paris Agreement following President Trump’s announcement that he would be leading out of the pivotal global agreement, I was surprised to see that Laguna Beach was not on the list yet. 

There is no denying that Laguna Beach is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Our downtown businesses face financial losses due to damage caused by increased coastal flooding due to rising sea levels and our world-class tourism industry could lose approximately $14 million per year when our white sandy beaches erode away, according to a study by Duke University. Naturally, our progressive and reasonable City Council has taken steps to help our city meet the challenge of climate change head on. In 2007, the city signed on to a similar effort, called the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, and in 2009 developed the City of Laguna Beach Climate Protection Plan setting forth our commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

These actions, as well as the effort to conduct a greenhouse gas inventory and monitor our annual progress in cutting emissions, positions Laguna Beach to sign a resolution adopting the spirit and goals of the Paris Agreement. This requires no additional planning, ordinance, or financial input. 

I am posing a request to our forward-thinking City Council members to sign such a resolution and join with the 300 cities that make up the Climate Mayors network to signal to the world that while our president may not see an imperative for action, our local leaders do and they will be the ones who, together, will help the United States meet our pledge to addressing climate change and building resilient communities. 

Sara Lowell

Laguna Beach


Planning already underway for Lang Park pool?

Laguna Beach City was soil testing at Fred Lang Park to prepare, according to “Andy” at Community Services, for building a “water polo pool stadium” on the lawn (see photo). 

Andy also said “This pool has been in the works for a long time.”

As a point of view, imagine a Gelson’s-size structure in those photos occupying the green lawn at Lang Park.

Click on photo for a larger image

Lang Park backing up to Gelson’s – photo by letter-writer Tom Joliet

I am all for a new pool, but not in an ideal neighborhood that already suffers from the impact of beach tourism.

Gridlock and screaming people in a water polo stadium is not wanted in our hood.

(The City budgeted [big money] just to test the soil in a Park where zero neighbors want a Water Polo Stadium.)

Tom Joliet

Laguna Beach


Another letter of appreciation for Dennis

Thank you for including weather updates for the Phoenix area. As you probably know, we have moved to the Phoenix area to Cave Creek which is an old cowboy town. It is about a thousand feet higher than Phoenix and about 6 degrees cooler.

Last summer we experienced the Monsoons, but it is not all that bad so far. The thunderclouds, Cumulonimbus, are very isolated and move on. One area is raining and another never gets any rain. The area is setup for massive rain though, so when that happens it could be very interesting. Since we are north and higher elevation than Tucson and Phoenix, we have not seen any Haboobs, but have heard about them.

The rest of the year is very good  - no fog, no gloomy weather, every day is sunny, and stays in a good temperature range from Oct to May. Summer is not bad - just stay out of the heat much like someone in the Midwest who stays indoors during the winter. The evenings now cool down to mid 80’s, so we sit outside when the sun sets.

Bob Couse

Cave Creek


Did weather doubleheader help start Dennis’s love affair with Laguna?

I read with great interest Dennis’ story about how his parents came to Laguna Beach on their honeymoon and never left.  He says his own love affair with Laguna had its start with their arrival in September of 1939.

That has to be it!  Because one of Laguna’s all-time weather double-headers occurred that month, when temperatures hit 100 plus and then were followed by a tropical system that made its way north over warm El Niño water and drenched Laguna and much of Southern California with torrents of rain. Must have rubbed off in the genes that came to make up Tidbits.

Loved the Sinatra angle, too. My Dad turns 92 this summer and he’s still playing his Alto Sax in a swing band.

Art Spaulding

Laguna Beach


Loved Dennis’s Tidbits this week

Please tell Dennis I just loved his article about how he ended up here in Laguna—what a romantic, sweet piece.  Who knew that he was that close to ol’ Blue Eyes?  And it’s another testament to Laguna’s magical allure.

Pamela Knudsen

Laguna Beach


Shout out for City events and Liz Vazquez-Avila

I wanted to give a shout out for two of the city’s great resident serving benefits, its free composting and paint/e-waste/shredding events.  I don’t know what they do to make the compost, but our plants and grass thrive every year after adding this rich nutrient to our soil. We look forward to bringing our buckets and filling up each year.  

The paint/e-waste/shredding event is another great resident benefit, and encourages us to scan paper piles for shredding and get rid of unused electronics for safe disposal.  

One more shout out to city employee Liz Vazquez-Avila who works annually at both events, above and beyond her job as Senior Administrative Analyst. She goes the extra mile, with a smile, to help make these events a success for local residents. Thank you!

Jennifer Zeiter

Laguna Beach


Trump says no to Paris Climate Agreement

Now that President Trump has pulled the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, it’s Syria, Nicaragua and America vs. everyone else on the planet. All I can say from water-wise Laguna Beach is: Good luck with that.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Tracking a daisy chain of corporations

Broadway Laguna Partners LP are listed as owners of 239 Broadway in the June 7, 2017 planning commission application——but once again, there’s the FDC, this time instead of a Delaware incorporation (Quality Drug) a Nevada one (Gateway Co.).

Both States are renowned tax shelter/avoidance heavens.

Yet another spinoff of an endless, difficult to track daisy chain of corporations.

Roger Butow

Laguna Beach


Common sense for common ground

With all the forehead-slapping moments from our President in the news, I’ve been thinking a lot about where we are as a country—and about why I’m running for Congress to make things better.

It’s simple, really. I want common sense for common ground. That’s what we need more of in Washington.

People who are unafraid to stand up for what is right, even when it’s hard. Who will reach across the aisle and bring people together, not divide us further. Who cannot be bought off by special interests and shady Wall Street SuperPACs. 

We don’t need more politicians who put their bank accounts ahead of the American people. Let’s ensure that people who work hard and play by the rules can still get ahead. Let’s bring more jobs to our district AND fight climate change by investing in clean tech. Let’s make health care more affordable, not less. And let’s fight for equal opportunity and equality for all Americans.

I’m a businessman who knows what it takes to work hard and dream big, to build a team of thousands and watch in amazement as it continues to grow, to raise a family and cherish those around me.

And I know our community is ready for someone with a progressive, common sense vision like mine. Our district rejected Trump for President, and yet Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the man called “Putin’s favorite Congressman” still holds the seat. It’s time for him to go.

I’m running for Congress to bring a common sense, progressive approach to building a better future for all of us—expanding affordable health care, protecting our coastline, and bringing Californians together.

Harley Rouda

Laguna Beach


LCAD should not be the undertaker for a dying art form

I write as the wife of a community member who has discovered his passion for the art of sculpting stone through the LCAD community class that has been offered for almost 40 years. I have read your article and received a communication from President Jonathan Burke that while he is saddened to see the program come to an end, the basis of the decision is health concerns associated with the process of grinding and carving the stone. 

I am grateful that the Michelangelo’s, the Da Vinci’s and the Donatello’s of the world did not share that concern, what an utter loss that would be. That said, the students remain ready and willing to address and remediate any legitimate health concerns. A significant supplier of the stones [that the] students carve prides himself on supplying stones that do not contain dangerous levels of silica as referenced in President Burke’s email to your paper. 

Your article also made note of the students’ willingness to take further substantive steps to reduce and thus mitigate concerns associated with any dust, but those suggestions seem to have been ignored without any evaluation of their efficacy.  

It should be of great importance to this community, that prides itself on supporting the arts, that stone sculpting itself has given so much to this world and our landscape in helping us understand those that came before us. It is because of the timeless quality of stone, and its enduring effects, that we have been allowed to peek into the lives and cultures of those we would never have known had it not been for the earliest of cave drawings etched in the walls by our ancestors wishing to tell a story.  

Our predecessors’ manipulations of stone have allowed us to ponder the wonders of societies lost to us such as those who gave us the Moai statues on Easter Island. Having recently visited Florence, I cannot imagine that a city touched as it is by such glory would echo its transcending sound of the sanctity of art without the accompaniment of its sculptures. A Duomo with unembellished walls and sans its carvings seems like heresy. The Accademia Gallery without David or The Hall of Prisoners with their haunting stories to tell would lie empty in spirit and reality. 

The stories of artists, communicators, engineers, and creators who use stone to communicate their vision and narrative have been with us since the earliest of times. This is an art form that should not be displaced and LCAD should not be its undertaker.  

Christy Joseph

Laguna Beach


“Dust-up at LCAD campus” article raises questions

With all the new acquisitions of property in Laguna for LCAD across the street from the main campus, I find it unbelievable that they cannot find a safe space for the sculpture program to continue. They have additional buildings, parking lots and display areas that I have observed as the fine program has expanded considerably.

If the powers that be really believe in this program, they will find a way for the sculpting program to have a continued home. 

I am an artist in Laguna and long time resident and believe strongly in supporting all the arts.

As a community, we support LCAD not only by word and money but by patiently dealing with the stop signal they had installed instead of building an overpass. 

We support LCAD and expect that they will do better to maintain this program than to respond with a two-sentence email to the well crafted letter of support from Christy Joseph.

It is my hope that the LCAD’s Board of Directors and President will use their artistic skills to create a much-needed and deserved space for sculpting.

Jan Fritsen

Laguna Beach


About Memorial Day

I’m grateful to live in a country where a guy like me can freely express himself without fear of retribution (or worse).  In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom -- and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.”

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


The sharks are leaving us

FYI; I enjoy a lonely little beach called Poche in north San Clemente. You will see two benches and a permanently installed American flag there. Even on a sunny Sunday, there may be only 3 or 4 people there.

But it has also been the favorite beach of great white sharks for the last month. Evidenced by the constant presence of helicopters. Sharks like rocky bottom hunting grounds, seals, and squid. Also, pelicans enjoy squid. And the skies have been heavily populated with pelicans diving constantly for the unfortunate squid. Interestingly, squid swim very close to shore to escape being food. Not a plan. They are trapped there by the sharks, and are targeted by the pelicans. And the sharks were swimming right where you may be wading waist deep. Also not a plan. But all things come to an end. The sharks will be leaving us, as the pelicans are now somewhere else. That spells the end of the run. And the return of surfers who will slowly paddle out, not without some trepidation, to catch some waves. I noted that most surfers near the pier, sat on their boards with their feet up on the board. Not dangling over the sides. Life in SoCal goes on. And Jaws will return next year, if the squid do the same. 

Tom Berndt

Laguna Beach


No place quite like this in the world

Saturday I took a trolley north from south Laguna to Divers Cove, in Heisler Park. The trolley was filled with local young people going from beach to beach. I walked north to Monument Point and the flagpole and there sat a friend. We looked north to see Picnic Beach, the “giggle crack” at Divers, Fisherman’s Cove, Shaw’s Cove, Seal Rocks, paddleboarders and pelicans dating back to pre-historic times. 

Later I walked north by Rock Pile beach. I could feel the ghost of Tom Rizzo, musician and surfer who loved Rock Pile and taught young Latinos how to surf thru the rocks.

Ending up on a bench at the pickup basketball courts at Main Beach, I was amazed - as I have been many times at a group of men playing basketball with what looked like a ten year old and teenage boys. It was a pickup game I will never forget because the two boys, who were guarding each other kept making great moves and scoring baskets - to the astonishment of the adult players and onlookers. 

After a while, I walked south remembering when south of the old guard tower was an LGBT friendly, destination beach, much like West St. is now, and on that beach the occasional silver service brunch was served on the sand by gays. Memories of DANTES big, public gay bar right there came back to me too. Hundreds of locals and visitors from around the world inside DANTES and on the porch and on the beach enjoying another whimsical day in beautiful Laguna. 

Today is important, but so are memories. There’s no place quite like this in the world. 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach


Remembering Stu

With Stu’s passing, Laguna’s colors, maroon and white, aren’t quite so bright today. RIP Stu. You made a real difference in town.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Draft historic preservation ordinance actually loosens restrictions

Laguna’s historic inventory, professionally developed and officially adopted in 1981, lists properties built before 1940 that had kept their historic value at that time. Since the Inventory was adopted by City Council resolution, it does not lose its validity, but it does need to be culled of properties that no longer possess historic character.  As originally adopted, the inventory was simply an official listing of those properties that, at the request of the property owner, were eligible for inclusion on the city’s historic register. 

Question:  What has changed from 1981 to now?  Answer: California state law.

Without exception, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) now requires local jurisdictions to treat all properties that are 45 years or older as potential historic resources—whether or not they appear on a local inventory.  After official review, being determined to have no significant historic value is the only way for a property to be exempted from provisions that relate to treatment of historic resources.

The current process of revising Laguna’s historic preservation ordinance is designed both to satisfy state law requirements and to make life easier for owners of historic properties.

The ordinance specifies that, whenever allowed under state law, local, more flexible guidelines can be developed for guiding remodels of historic properties that, along with other similar properties, enhance the character of our city and its neighborhoods rather than being individually significant. Laguna has previously had no such guidelines, employing the state and federal standards that are not tailored to local conditions. Far from “tightening” restrictions, the draft ordinance seeks to loosen restrictions that in the past have proven to be problematic. 

In addition, when alterations for remodels or maintenance preserve the character of a historic property, the proposed ordinance offers multiple incentives, including more relaxed development standards than non-historic properties enjoy as well as reduced city fees and opportunities for reduced property taxes. It also provides that the City rather than the property owner will pay for the state-required historic evaluation that potentially historic buildings 45 years or older undergo. 

Far from “tightening” restrictions, the draft ordinance seeks to clarify requirements, loosen restrictions that in the past have proven to be problematic, and provide additional incentives for owners of historic properties. It seeks to balance preservation of Laguna’s historic resources while providing increased flexibility and benefits for property owners. 

Charlotte Masarik

Laguna Beach


Time to get H.E.L.P.?

Laguna has an Environmental Sustainability Committee to advise City Council on issues pertaining to Laguna Beach and its environment, an Urban Planning Coordinating Committee, a Heritage Committee for mostly structural historic preservation and a view Restoration Committee but no HELP… Habitat, Environmental open space, Land acquisition and Preservation committee and we desperately need it!

H.E.L.P. would identify, recommend and secure open space preservation in collaboration with  city departments LBBC, Laguna Canyon Conservancy, Harbors Beaches and parks and other regional, state and federal groups, Sierra Club, etc.

It would include representatives who care about Laguna’s environment and physical features and work with existing groups and the city to target projects.

It would review and recommend restoration, maintenance and scheduling for vegetation, cleanup and mitigation of waste, creek restoration, ensure physical continuity for Laguna’s habitats as well human access routes, review and propose land to be included in open space as well advocate and represent the city coordinating land continuity with adjoining cities.

Your support and consideration for a permanent HELP committee is most welcome and needed.

Thank you for all you do,

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach Beautification Council

 

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