Arboretum or city: that is the question

A local, well-known landscape architect has recently started a dialogue about plant life in our town. Sounds like this person was mostly about getting our City to look more like an arboretum and Roger’s Garden. I, too, am about the beauty and all that Nature has to provide that keeps us in awe. I am a gardener at heart and have had to learn that planning and planting must work hand in hand. 

However, when does the planting exceed the glory of plant life? Take trees for example, we are impressed by their beauty and often times [they offer] protection from many heated days from the sun on our homes. All of this is fine until tree roots invade another person’s property and raises their concrete driveway or even invades footings and foundations. Sidewalks, too, often times are raised and cause risks to those walking daily on our walkways.

Living in such close proximity to neighbors, trees and their roots systems can be a dangerous risk. Tree roots often are the major source of blocked sewer lines. Also, when trees are not planted with knowledge of their maximum height, views from other properties can be obstructed and Pandora’s Box is again wide open to create unrest among neighbors leading to confrontations and even lawsuits. 

Yes, I agree with this landscape architect but then again when planting trees the end result must be a major consideration for all concerned. Plant life, like all of Nature, is intended to expand as it grows. Oftentimes folks want an instant and mature looking garden by over planting and not allowing enough space in between plants to expand and develop into a well planned and beautiful garden. Plants need both food and water. They must be cared for like any living organism. Planting and caring can take on more responsibilities. So please plant wisely and keep the peace and the safety wherever and whenever we can. 

Jim Gothard

Laguna Beach

First amendment rights usurped?

My son is an eighth grade student at Thurston, like many of his fellow students he felt duped by the school administration. He felt that his 1st amendment rights were usurped by the school administration, which controlled the walk outs by turning it into an extended break, run by the school administration. The intended message, to honor the 17 dead students and seek change in gun laws that would make kids like him safer was muted.

Our children’s’ rights need to be respected and “their” voices heard.  

David Flores

Laguna Beach


Jack Morse

April 29, 1934 – March 10, 2018

Our incredible father, husband, grandfather and beloved friend, John Morse died peacefully at his home in Laguna Beach on March 10, 2018.

John, known to his friends as “Jack,” was born on April 29, 1934. He came to Laguna Beach at nine months old, and aside from his time away for college and his time in the Army while serving in Korea, he lived his entire life in Laguna until his passing at the age of 83. He was an extremely lucky man and he knew it!

Jack graduated from Laguna Beach High School in 1952 and continued on to receive his Bachelor’s from the University of New Mexico.

He was a retired LA County probation officer of 30 years and Dean of Students at Santa Margarita High School, respected by his peers and loved by his students. Upon his retirement, Jack spent his time focusing on his passions of music and teaching. He was an accomplished ukulele player who continued to serve the local community teaching ukulele classes and building incredible friendships at the Susi Q Center in Laguna Beach.

Jack loved the ocean, playing and teaching the ukulele, weekly coffee gatherings with his friends, and watching his grandkids grow up, always encouraging them to do their best and reach for the stars. Nothing was more important to him than his family and friends.

Jack’s signature everyday look was a Reyn Spooner Hawaiian shirt with jeans and a ukulele. Jack loved his time as a Laguna Beach lifeguard in addition to surfing, fishing and diving. No one knew the beaches of Laguna better than he did. That is the simple life Jack loved. He was always there to greet you with a smile, offer sage advice, or provide a steady hand. Jack was one of the kindest people you could ever meet opening his heart to many.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Susan Morse, his four children (Gretchen, Peter, Megan and Tim), and the eight grandchildren he adored.  

Our incredible father, husband, grandfather and beloved friend will be missed.

A Funeral Service in memory of Jack will be held on Friday, March 23 at 12 p.m. at St. Catherine’s Church in Laguna Beach with a reception following at Fratello’s Italian Restaurant in Laguna Niguel from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Those who desire may make memorial donations in memory of Jack to The Susi Q Center (Laguna Beach Senior Center) 380 Third St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

Note: Fratellos is located at 31371 Niguel Rd, Laguna Niguel.

No good deed goes unpunished

Nearly 2.5 years ago, the City agreed to begin a 10-year rehabilitation schedule for our Sanitary Sewer System (SSS), funding $3.5 million per year for 10 years = $35 million. 

That was codified, i.e., agreed to contractually in a federal court as a result of litigation initiated by California River Watch in October 2014. My NGO, Clean Water Now was the sole Laguna protectionist group to formally join the lawsuit.

Readers can peruse and confirm the details via online historical research, CWN joined because after 15 years on this issue, little rehabilitation or improvement had taken place.

For us it was unfinished business, our previous work around 2000 on the same topic was being ignored, the City not fulfilling its promises to both California and USEPA.

One of the burning issues was the City’s antiquated, increasingly failing SSS, the specter of larger overflows looming plus one of the major defect symptoms: The buildup of H2S (hydrogen sulfide gases, that obnoxious odor of human waste) in several key neighborhood zones.

It really hit home for myself and my neighbors here in Victoria Beach and just south along PCH near Ruby’s and Montage as proven in court. Letters had been written to the City over the course of nearly a decade, demanding redress and relief. 

The City acknowledged the more pungent, problematic and objectionably smelly, deficient lift stations during the proceedings.

We along PCH here to the south were assured that we’d be a high priority being chronically affected, the lift station near Nyes Place and the one on the stairs leading down to Victoria Beach prime candidates.

So it has been with great curiosity that we’ve tracked the subsequent budgets since that compact was mutually agreed upon by all parties.

The LB Taxpayers, local media columnists, letters in MSM and individuals petitioning the City at budget hearings seem to be unaware of that compact with the court system, plaintiffs and more importantly, those concerned about SSS spills: Unsafe, hazardous beach conditions triggering closures and decimating fragile marine eco-systems.

Viewing the upcoming budgets, I can’t find earmarked funds that confirm, that sustain the City’s promises: Nor am I reassured by the lack of specificity regarding prioritization.

Myself, CWN and my neighbors are justifiably wondering: Are we being punished for being whistleblowers, for exercising our rights to petition and acquire a redress of legitimate grievances?

Obviously, no good deed goes unpunished here.

Roger Butow

Laguna Beach

Stop Taxing Our Property

A new coalition of concerned residents in town called S.T.O.P – Stop Taxing Our Property (, has formed to give residents all the facts about undergrounding, not just those the City and its consultants want to “educate” you about. 

The City had budget surpluses of $9.9 million in FY 2015, $9.8 million in FY 2016, and recently $4.8 million in 2017. If undergrounding is so safety essential, why haven’t those surpluses been saved for undergrounding, rather than placing the burden squarely on taxpayers’ backs? Shouldn’t we demand better planning and fiscal responsibility of our City’s leaders? Why doesn’t the City use Measure LL funds to support a revenue bond, repayable by the City, not the taxpayers? At $2.5-$3M year, those funds could support a $50-60M revenue bond debt. The City’s capital improvement plan allocates $15 million to a proposed community pool. Why is a pool prioritized over undergrounding? 

The City will spend over $240,000 on consultants to push undergrounding and biased surveys. Contrary to the article by Mr Gibbs of Underground Laguna Now, the surveys did not find that the majority of residents strongly supported paying for undergrounding. The surveys “found” what we already know, that we live in a fire threat area. But how does that equate to an imperative to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to underground utility poles?  44 percent of California is in a high fire threat area. Laguna is no different than hundreds of other cities. The ’93 fire was caused by arson, not utility poles, and the cause of the most recent fires in Sonoma and Santa Barbara have not been factually determined. There has never been a major fire in Laguna caused by utility poles.

The City estimates six 1/2 years and around $10 million before construction would even begin on undergrounding. Wireless power already exists, and is developing faster every day for mass scale use. Soon electricity transmission by wires will be obsolete. Why are we spending hundreds of millions to underground a soon to be obsolete method of delivering power?

Last December the CPUC ordered new stricter fire safety measures for electrical distribution systems in high-risk areas, and created a “Fire-Threat Map” where those measures are currently being implemented, including Laguna and Laguna Canyon Road. With these significant new fire prevention measures for utilities, including frequent monitoring and inspection of all utility poles, immediate correction of safety hazards in high fire threat areas, and major new rules for vegetation management, shouldn’t we wait and see if these safety measures work before asking taxpayers to foot the bill to underground utilities? If SC Edison doesn’t comply, wouldn’t there be substantial cause to force SC Edison to underground at its own cost?

Laguna’s urban areas(downtown and residential zones near PCH) are not high risk for widespread utility fires. California has not had an urban conflagration initiate within an urban core area in many decades. Why is the City insisting on undergrounding in these areas using the arbitrary “evacuation route” scare tactic?  No one can predict where a fire may break out, and lower urban routes (like Glenneyre and PCH) are not high risk. Fallen trees, light poles and parked cars obstruct as much as power lines. Ninety percet of all fires are human caused (cigarettes, campfires and arson), followed by lighting and lava.  Electrical transmission fires causing widespread damage are an extremely low percentage of all fires.

Many neighborhoods have already paid thousands to underground, some over $50,000. Why should these residents have to pay for others to do the same thing? Some of these neighborhoods were on so called “evacuation routes.” Many other residents would never use any of the “evacuation routes.” One council member lives on Glenneyre and her view would be greatly improved by undergrounding. Is it fair or equitable to force others to pay for that view?

The $240 median per parcel trumped out to support the undergrounding only applies if your property tax assessment is $600,000. That’s great if you bought your home many years ago, like the city council, whose average assessment is $462,000. Many other residents who bought more recently will pay thousands more. Is this equitable? Who else isn’t paying their “fair share?”

The City paid over $200,000 to put new carpet in City Hall, and has been on a hiring binge over the last three years increasing payroll and pension liabilities. City health insurance is expected to increase by 18 percent. $3 million of new vehicles were purchased in under 3 years, unnecessarily replacing vehicles with low mileage and much useful life. Millions have been spent purchasing real estate that may be desirable, but is not necessary. Shouldn’t we demand responsible spending first before taxpayers are asked to tax themselves and give the City even more? 

Ask questions, get informed.  It’s your money.

Jennifer Welsh Zeiter, local business, tax and estate planning attorney, former President of Laguna Beach Taxpayers Association, co-founder of S.T.O.P, and self-appointed fiscal watchdog.

Hotel Laguna: Time for us all to move on

It is hard for me to understand why the Andersen family seems to be using the courts to obstruct the re-opening of the Hotel Laguna by the new operators.  Given that the Andersens have been supportive of our community for many years, why would they now want to keep the landmark of our town dark? Fortunately for Laguna Beach, the new operators also have a sterling history of good deeds to improve our town, so I have much reason to anticipate how the re-opened Hotel Laguna will enhance our community. It is time for all of us to move on.

Jerry Immel

Laguna Beach

Camp David Gun Summit Part II

Hello Mr. Kail. Because I am the writer you referred to in your recent letter, who has urged President Trump to convene a summit on guns at Camp David, I thought I would introduce myself (“Laws won’t fix school shootings”).  

People’s feelings about the NRA and the Second Amendment currently are at a fever pitch. So much so, rational conversations are almost impossible to have in Congress or around our dinner tables. Are you aware that several of the teenage survivors of the shooting in South Florida, who currently are organizing student marches, have received death threats? I believe my call for a summit not only will help turn down the heat caused by mass shootings, but set the stage for productive talks. I’m sorry you disagree.

I have been told that when Jimmy Carter informed his White House staff in 1978 that he intended to bring old warriors Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel to Camp David, most of his aides, fearing failure, urged the president not to go forward with his plan. Despite all the fighting in the Middle East today, Egypt and Israel still are at peace. I firmly believe President Trump has a chance to accomplish a similar outcome with a summit on guns now.

Thanks, again, for mentioning me in your recent letter. Let me know if you want to get coffee and discuss our differences.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


James Lynwood Wilder, Jr

October 7, 1934 – February 10, 2018

James Lynwood (“Lyn”) Wilder, Jr, the down-to-earth charismatic man whose honest, reliable and considerate service to others made him beloved by many, died on February 10, 2018 in Laguna Hills. 

Lyn was 83 years old. He is survived by his wife Daneen, his children Gayle, Allison and James III, his stepsons Brandon and Aron Rainone, his grandchildren Jefferson, Keaton, James IV and Constance, and his step-grandchildren Sophia, Hendrix and Zoey. 

In addition to his family, Lyn leaves behind an abundantly grateful community, who will forever be touched by his frank, honest and passionate support of their lives. He was tall, handsome and charming, always impeccably dressed and always there with love and wisdom when needed. His playfulness and humor would never fail to ease a troubled soul. His demeanor and presentation, both sophisticated and colorful, will continue to provide us with smiles and memories for years to come.

A recovering alcoholic himself, Lyn had a depth of understanding and empathy that translated seamlessly to those in need of help. His recovery became his greatest gift. For nearly 53 years, Lyn was a pillar of the Southern California recovery community. He shared his hope and strength locally, across the country and around the world. Lyn lived his life’s motto of “love and service” as he selflessly gave of his time. His family is grateful for all the memories and stories shared about the innumerable ways in which Lyn taught, challenged, and encouraged people, and the profound impact he had on their lives. 

Lyn was born on October 7, 1934 in Lexington, Kentucky. The friendships Lyn developed in Kentucky remained throughout his lifetime and returned him to his roots for many cherished visits.  A true Kentuckian, Lyn loved thoroughbred horses and the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team.

Lyn made his way to California in 1964. He met his wife Pam in sobriety and moved to Orange County, where they had their children, Allison and Jim. He participated whole-heartedly in the women’s recovery home of New Directions for Women, which was co-founded by Pam, who passed away in 1985.

Lyn’s career was diversified. He was independent and excelled at networking, which brought him business opportunities in real estate development, oil and gas production, restaurant ownership, the insurance industry, and telecommunications. He retired at the age of 80.

While working in the telecommunications industry in 1997, Lyn met the love of his life, his wife Daneen. They were married in 2001 and have enjoyed many years of family, love, laughter, friendship, travel, and fellowship, both in Orange County and in their second home in the California desert, where they have many dear friends. Lyn’s love, patience, and persistence with those he loved and cared for will be missed. We are forever blessed to have been part of Lyn’s extraordinary life and to have shared in part of his journey. We will carry his memory in our hearts.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Lyn on March 4 at 2 p.m. at Laguna Presbyterian Church, 415 Forest Ave.  

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his name to an organization important to Lyn and his family, New Directions for Women, Inc, 2607 Willow Lane, Costa Mesa, CA 92627.


Roberta (Robbie) Bennett

February 1, 2018

Roberta Mace Bennett passed peacefully, at the age of 95, in her room at The Covington assisted living in Aliso Viejo, California, on February 1, 2018.  She is survived by her daughter, Andrea Reynolds Bennett, and by her son, Duncan Griffin Bennett and his wife Suzanne Slyman.  She was preceded in death by her sisters, Katie Stalder of Riverside and Mary Stuart of Long Beach, by her husband, A. Norman Bennett (d. 1959), and by her parents, Arthur Mace and Margaret Reynolds Mace.

Robbie was raised in Pasadena and graduated from Sacred Heart Academy and Pasadena Junior College. To the many friends of her youth, Robbie was faithful throughout her life. Summers were spent with them at Balboa Island, and with family at Big Bear Lake where her father built a cabin.   

She and Norm were married in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1945, where he was in Naval Supply School at Harvard before receiving orders to duty in the North Atlantic in WW II.  Following the war they made their home in Pasadena and raised their children. After Norm’s death of cancer in 1959, Robbie was a single mother until her children went to college. While  Andrea was in high school, Robbie re-entered the working world as a secretary in the insurance business. She was working for Pacific Mutual Life Insurance in 1972 when the company relocated to Newport Beach, and she took the opportunity to move to Laguna Beach, the arts-oriented community she had long appreciated. 

She enthusiastically began her new life, settling into her home at the Top of the World, building her garden with its view out into the open space canyons that she loved so much. She also loved her neighbors and the generations of kids she befriended in her 44 years there on Nestall Road. Her joy was enhanced by the dogs she had over the decades, especially her last one, Ringo.

Her love of nature and hiking made her an active participant in the Laguna Greenbelt movement and Sierra Club. However, her primary community in Laguna was St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, where she made her closest friends. She was active in church outreach programs, the Evening Guild (ECW), and the Vestry. In her later years, she organized weekly meals for the homeless and volunteered at Friendship Shelter. 

As much as Robbie loved her friends and Laguna, she was constantly drawn to her world travels and hiking trips to the eastern Sierra Nevada. The international travel was a particular joy for her to plan and read for, whether it was England, China, hiking in the Pyrenees, or her beloved Tuscany – all beautifully documented by the albums of photos that she so loved to take.

A service and celebration of her very full life will be held on Saturday, March 10, at 1 p.m., at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 428 Park Avenue, Laguna Beach. In lieu of flowers, it was Robbie’s wish that contributions be given to Friendship Shelter,

Laws won’t fix school shootings

The writer of the letter urging President Trump, NRA and others to meet at Camp David, is reminiscent to Dec 2012 when Obama formed a similar task force led by Joe Biden. 22 meetings and 229 recommendations later, and after multiple items signed by Obama as executive order,

School shootings continue. Laws won’t fix the problem.

William Kail

Laguna Beach

LBUSD responds to the Parkland school shooting

Our hearts are with the victims and their families, as well as with the students, staff and community at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We are deeply saddened that we must endure yet another senseless tragedy.

A natural response to this event in Florida is to wonder what plans are in place at our schools to provide a safe environment. The District takes our responsibility for school safety very seriously because we are entrusted with protecting the children of LBUSD when they are on our campuses. 

Our District Safety Committee members develop, revise, and update safety plans through a collaborative process to ensure procedures are effective and current.  The District also works closely with our local police and fire department officials to include current best practices into our plans.

Laguna Beach Unified School District schools are required to maintain and update an annual Comprehensive School Safety Plan, the most recent version of which was approved by the Board of Education at Tuesday’s Board meeting. These plans delineate how schools will respond to a variety of school-related emergencies and include:

Building disaster plans

Hazard assessments

Evacuation plans, routes and locations

Standardized emergency management plans

Shelter in place and lockdown procedures

Student/parent reunification plans

Emergency drill schedules

As always, our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our children. We realize trying to find words to help our children feel safe and resilient in a world that sometimes feels unpredictable and scary is difficult. In the aftermath of this traumatic event, the National Association of School Psychologists notes there are effective ways to talk with students: create a sense of safety by returning to normal, predictable routines as soon as possible; listen to their concerns and feelings; suggest they limit their use of media to lower their stress and to maintain balance and perspective; and realize that sleep difficulties are common and can lead to fatigue and poor participation.

Finally, staff on our campuses are trained to report any unusual and suspicious activity, and we encourage parents and students to do the same. Please reach out to your school site administrator if you have any questions about campus safety procedures.

Jason Viloria

LBUSD Superintendent of Schools

MASS Attack on Guns

In 1980, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded by Candace Lightner in direct response to the death of her 13-year old daughter by a drunk driver. This was not the first death from a DUI, but it was the last before the group took action.

As a result, today’s DUIs are heavily monitored and penalized, indicating fewer numbers of death by intoxicated drievers. There is at least one MADD office in every state, including one in each province of Canada.

In 2018, it is time to form MASS (Mothers Against Semi-automatic Slaughter) and address the senseless killing of our kids by savage assault weapons. Let no one tell you it can’t be done. It already has.

Britta Wilder Ross

Laguna Beach

Time for a gun summit at Camp David

Two of my three children attended TOW, TMS and LBHS. Even though they are grown now, each of them has been affected by last week’s shooting in South Florida. Once again, innocent students were gunned down by a deranged teenager. So what’s the solution?

I call on Donald Trump to take a page out of Jimmy Carter’s playbook. For those who need reminding, in 1978 the former president invited the leaders of Egypt and Israel to Camp David. After more than 10 days of intense bargaining, they came up with a peace plan that still exists today. After what happened last week, I think it’s time for a similar meeting.

Mr. President, I urge you to invite the NRA, 2nd Amendment and gun safety advocates to Camp David for a week-long summit. If you have to, lock the doors so no one can leave until all three parties agree on ways to solve today’s senseless gun violence. I am a realist, so I know their process of finding common ground won’t come easy; still, I believe they owe it to the country to try.  

My three kids tell me our schools are becoming America’s killing fields. For their sake, and our nation’s future, I hope a Camp David gun summit will put an end to the unspeakable violence we keep witnessing coast to coast.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Doug Case

September 20, 1956 – January 30, 2018

Douglas Ward Case, 61, was born on September 20, 1956 in Laguna Beach and passed away on January 30, 2018. Doug is remembered by his children - Laura Ann and Charles Emerson, Daniel and Heather Case and grandson Oliver, Nicole and Jon Johnson; his parents Storm and Shirley Case; his siblings Linda Case, Scott and Laurie Case, and many nieces and nephews.

Doug grew up in Laguna Beach and was a descendent of the Thurston family. He attended the first preschool season at the Laguna Presbyterian Church. He enjoyed sports, scouting and backpacking in the Sierra mountains. Doug earned his Eagle Scout rank with Troop 35. He held the Orange County high jump record (6’ 10.25”) for several years. He graduated from Laguna Beach High School in 1974 and attended Biola University. Doug followed his grandfather Alvin Krueger into the real estate appraisal field, opening his own office in Laguna before moving to Salt Lake City. Doug especially loved adventures with his dog Bonsai and filled his free time with books, fly fishing and camping in the mountains of Utah. 

Doug’s memorial will be held at the Laguna Presbyterian Church on Saturday, February 24 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Laguna Presbyterian Church (415 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651) or the American Heart Association in Doug’s memory.

Time to close Liberty Island National Park?

In an effort to assist the Trump administration in its efforts to balance the budget to reflect its objectives, I propose the following cost-saving measure for Secretary of the Interior Zinke: close the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island National Park. 

What, do I hear knee-jerk wails of objection? Unamerican! Sacrilege!  Read the attached plaque on the base of the Statue.  No, really read it.  If that’s too tasking, read at least the most commonly recognized lines:

Bring me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to be free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, it was finally engraved on a plaque and mounted on the base of the statue in 1903.

For countless immigrants, those words have been, in their minds, emblematic of the United States and its understanding that our strength as a nation is grounded in its diversity and the contributions of each immigrant, both individuals and families that came to our country and made it theirs. Countless thousands, from Colonial times to the present, have contributed their strengths and determination, and in many cases their lives, in ways that have taken this country to its pre-eminent position in the world. 

Alas, that statue and its meaning seem true no longer.  The Trump administration seems determined to change the acceptable reasons for allowing immigration to this country.  In a mean-spirited turn of malice, the criteria seem to be now qualifying levels of education, financial worth, and not being from some backward, crudely-characterized nations.  A far cry from the “huddled masses yearning to be free”, it seems.  As a side note, I wonder how Mr. Trump’s paternal grandfather in 1885, and indeed his mother in 1930, would have fared had the current proposed criteria been in place when they immigrated. 

The New Colossus and its iconic poem are neither relevant nor representative of the Trump view of immigration.  So, let us actually be honest with ourselves and the world, and shut down Liberty Island until such time as national policy once again is in accord with the symbol in New York Harbor, and the United States of America can once again become a nation that the rest of the world sees as a shining beacon of what the best of mankind can strive for.

Bob Elster

Laguna Beach

No military parade, Mr. President

I don’t want a military parade like President Trump does. I want an America where people celebrate our nation’s long-held values and principles daily. You know, like my Laguna friends who support the Food Pantry, SchoolPower and Friendship Shelter. They are the real patriots. No amount of tanks driving by or troops marching in formation can match what they do.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Laura Dorothy Krill

February 17, 1920 – September 30, 2017

Dorothy died on September 30, 2017, at her home in Laguna Beach, CA.  She did it on her own time and with her usual flair, stubborn to the end. She is survived by sons John S. Krill, Laguna Beach, CA, C. David Krill, Atascadero, CA, and daughter Nancy M. Krill, Port Townsend, WA, 7 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Laura Dorothy Phillips was born February 17, 1920 in Hartford, CN and grew up in Queens, NY. She was the oldest of 5 children, and the last surviving sibling. Her father died when she was 7 years old and she always felt the need to look after her brothers and sister. The family was active in the Salvation Army and she liked to tell stories of playing the trumpet and alto horn during the holidays for the Army. Her mother was from Halifax, Nova Scotia and she had many fond memories of a visit to Halifax when she was 12 years old. Throughout her life she maintained close contact with her Canadian cousins.  In 1939, she earned a certificate in infant care from the Salvation Army’s Brooklyn Nursery and Infants’ Hospital.

She met her husband Charles (Chuck) Kennedy Krill, an electrical engineer, in Chicago and they were married in Brooklyn on November 26, 1942. They moved to Southern California in 1947 living in Burbank and Glendale in the 50’s and 60’s, where she became a member of the First Methodist Church and active in the choir. They had four children, John, David, Nancy and Brian.  Vacations in those early years were spent camping at Yosemite, Sequoia, Lake Tahoe, as well as many summers camping at Carpenteria Beach.  

In August 1964, Dorothy, Chuck, Nancy and Brian moved to Tokyo, Japan, where they lived for two years. Dorothy took up flower arranging, taught English, and took full advantage of being in Asia, traveling within Japan as well as Hong Kong and Cambodia.  In 1966 the family returned to California via the old USSR, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Britain. The travel bug had captured her sense of adventure.

In 1972 Dorothy started Krill Tours & Travel in Laguna Beach and soon thereafter her daughter Nancy joined her. Over the next 10 years Dorothy and Chuck traveled all over the world, taking several foreign trips a year. One of her favorite places was Hawaii which she first visited in 1950. They bought, along with three other couples, a condominium on Kaanapali Beach, Maui in the 70’s and, after Chuck’s death in 1982, she bought an apartment near Diamond Head in Waikiki. She continued to run the travel agency another 20 years. She loved to tell stories of all her many travels to the delight of all who listened.

Social activities were important to Dorothy and she loved to host groups in her home. She was a very active member of the Business and Professional Women, the Laguna Beach chapter of Soroptimist International, and the Laguna Beach United Methodist Church, where she sang in the choir, was involved in the Missions Committee and was a member of a Bible Study Group. Originally a Republican, she became a Democrat after the Barry Goldwater nomination, and remained a very active member in the Orange County and Laguna Beach Democratic clubs. Before elections she could often be found in front of the Laguna Beach Post Office registering voters.  

Music played an important part in Dorothy’s life. When she was a young girl, it was common for family friends to visit and sing hymns. She began singing in her church choir in the early 1950’s and continued to do so until her death, more than 60 years later. In the late 1950’s she was part of a singing trio called the 3 Clubs, performing at local community and church events. She was very proud of the fact that she had sung at the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, and Carnegie Hall, NYC. Dorothy’s Bible Study Group has purchased a memorial plaque for her to be placed alongside the one for Chuck in the Laguna Beach United Methodist Church courtyard. The plaque will be dedicated on the 18th of February at 11:30 am. She was known for her loyalty to friends and will be missed by them and her family. Donations in Dorothy’s honor can be made to the LBUMC Missions Committee.

Good news to share

I have some good news to share. 

The City Council is often bombarded by people expressing concern about the challenges faced by Laguna brick and mortar businesses and expressed in terms of the number of vacant storefronts. And the general message is that “The City needs to do something about it.”

There was an excellent example of that at midnight two weeks ago when a parade of speakers, some of whom even live here, explained to us how Laguna, with 6,000,000 annual visitors and well over $700,000,000 of annual retail and hotel room sales, is blighted and comatose and is on the road to ruin – like La Jolla -- if the City Council doesn’t take extreme measures to reinvigorate the economy through massive injections of alcohol into visitors.

In an era of fake news, it’s important to do some occasional fact checking into just how critical the patient is.

And what better source of information could there be than the Chamber of Commerce website which lists commercial vacancies?

Checking that site, I found there are currently 36 retail, office, and industrial properties available.  Some are vacant and some will become available in the future. 

I checked with commercial property brokers for a Laguna Beach commercial vacancy factor, but being a small market, the larger providers of commercial data do not break out numbers for Laguna.

So, I checked to see how many businesses there are in Laguna. There are nearly 3,900 business licenses in Laguna. 36 vacancies for 3,900 businesses didn’t sound so bad.

But since not all businesses occupy a commercial address, I checked with the post office for business addresses, and there are 1,447 business addresses in Laguna (not counting Post Office Boxes) so, 36 vacancies out of 1,447 physical addresses is about two and a half percent commercial vacancy.  That’s probably a good estimate of commercial vacancies.

For comparison, I then looked for vacancies in Orange County and nationally and found that while the national average for retail vacancy is 6.6 percent, Orange County does much better with only 3.6 percent.  But at two and a half percent, Laguna is far more healthy than either Orange County or the nation as a whole.

I also looked at new business formations and failures and found that nationally about eight percent of all businesses either start up new or fail in any year. 

And, in fact, only 50 percent of new businesses survive five years.

So, businesses turn over. For many reasons.  Sometimes success. Sometimes failure. Sometimes due to growth. Or sale of the business.  And turnover can cause vacancy, but turnover is normal. And that’s the point. And, in fact, Laguna is doing much better than most.

There is no question that this is a trying time for brick and mortar retail. And, while no one wants to see businesses falter, on the other hand, our City Council has no obligation to guarantee the profits of private businesses.

And if an investor pays too much, or promises his investors too much, the City has no duty to bail him out.

John Thomas

Laguna Beach

Undergrounding Survey necessary?

After attending the council meeting last night and watching the presentation regarding the results of the community survey, I’m convinced these surveys and committees are a waste of time and our tax dollars.  

This survey was directed entirely toward placing the blame of a catastrophe from fire, flood or earthquake on the utility poles. It blames the poles as the cause of our lack of safety when evacuating and congestion when there is an emergency. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t remember the poles being a problem during the evacuation in the 1993 fires.  

The property owners for the last 20 years have been undergrounding their neighborhoods on their own at their own expense to improve their views. The thought of creating a better “evacuation route” was not even considered.  There were neighborhoods currently going through the process when they heard about this bond issue and learned their street was designated an “evacuation route”. Of course they stopped the process with the expectation that the rest of us will now be paying for their properties. Several property owners last night urged the council to extend the evacuation route to include their neighborhood so they can also benefit on free undergrounding.

This survey should have had a fourth option. The property owners should be required to pay their own undergrounding regardless of any arbitrary “evacuation routes”.  Every street is an evacuation route in an emergency depending on which direction the threat is coming from. Those of us that have already paid for our neighborhood shouldn’t be required to pay for those that haven’t.

All the time and money going out for this survey could have been better spent to possibly help offset the costs for the neighborhoods and canyon where there are larger poles. FYI, this survey would have been free if they utilized Google Form or for a minimal charge with Survey Monkey. The council wasn’t happy with how the survey was conducted or the results and wants the panel to do another survey and report back in several months. 

 Of course, at an additional expense from our tax dollars.

Jill Cooper

Laguna Beach

Mighty Telephone Pole

I was watching the movie To Catch a Thief a few days ago that was made back in 1955. As many of you know the film was made in Cannes and Nice, France along the French Riviera. The views of the countryside reminded me very much of our Laguna Beach. The climate there is very similar to the climate we so appreciate here. Flora of the hillsides looks very similar to our hillsides as well. 

Both of these French cities are destinations for millions of tourists, again very similar to Laguna Beach. When the camera filmed scenes of the countryside many telephone poles were noticed lining the winding roadways of the area. Some of these poles were located very close to these narrow roadways. What is seen reminded me a great deal of the many telephone poles that exist in our fine City. 

Yes, the film was done years ago and yet one could just bet those very same poles still exist today. Folks in that area of the world do the same as folks here in Laguna Beach, they have learned to live with their poles and we all have to until there comes a time when technology can eliminate the poles completely. The French are not attempting to underground their poles most likely because of the cost to do so and with no demands being made by the citizens or their government. 

Additionally, during my drives to various locations close by, that many of us have been to, such as Glen Oak, Arrowhead, Big Bear, Mammoth, Julian and other highly forested communities that are tourist destinations [which] would be considered high risks for fires as is Laguna Beach, I see that the poles are there. The transformers are there. The roadway through many of these communities is even way more dangerous then our Canyon Road. 

So, why the alarm in our town about the fire risks we face that are so similar to many other communities? Why this race to underground? How are similar communities dealing with their poles? One must admit however, do these poles add any beauty to our town? Absolutely not. Try getting a telephone pole included in your landscape planning. The pole in your garden covered with morning glory vine will not be allowed. Have any of you ever seen a pretty pole?

However, at this time, in our community, we must learn to live with our very own telephone poles just like hundreds of thousands if not millions of others must do the same for the decades yet to come. What has been expressed in the news media about causes of fires the telephone pole is ranked way down the list. Those businesses that are responsible for the maintenance of all poles in our town take extra caution to be sure the poles remain safe and good repair. If poles are neglected these companies will be held accountable. 

The fear that is being generated by those citizens in our city and those in our government who support this costly undergrounding is both unfounded and unnecessary as well as a poorly laid tactic. Many of us are waiting to be more and more informed about this costly project and how it dictates such a rapid decision. 

In the meantime...let’s continue to live with the poles as best we can. We have been doing so for many years. 

Jim Gothard

Laguna Beach resident and property owner

Sian Poeschl, thank you

I just had to write and say thank you for:

The heavenly rainbow consolation memorial art installation next to the artistically cut pepper tree remains.

The amazing movie last night at Friday Night Flicks at the Forum, “Loving Vincent,” amazing! 

Supporting the wonderful fallen concrete mural on the beach.  

You and your commission are such a gift to our town. More, please?

Jheri St. James

Laguna Beach

Just add water?

I am not a trained firefighter but I am a skilled waterman. Strategically applied, water puts out fire.

Sometimes we can combine a few problems and synergistically develop a creative solution. What happens if we take the 1.6 million gallons of secondary sewage discharged by Laguna Beach into the ocean each day just over one mile offshore and upcycle this wasted wastewater to provide a citywide perimeter “new water” wildfire pipeline? Our biosolids and sludge in wastewater can be harvested as bio-coal to feed thermal oxidation of wastewater contaminates like pharmaceuticals, microbead plastics and similar guck that otherwise ends up in the ocean. Heat generated feeds a steam turbine to power wastewater filtration. Alternatively, fuel cells can operate from our natural biogas.

By combining the problem of expensive utility undergrounding to include a space in the trench for a new water line in Laguna Canyon, trenching costs can be supplemented with generous State recycle water grants. Laguna would have an independent source of “green” energy and new high purity water for wildfire prevention and suppression as long as we continue to flush our toilets daily.

The estimated cost of a new water system for Laguna is $30 million over the 30-year pipeline life cycle or $1 million per year. Less secondary sewage offshore, more new water for wildfire protection and State funds for Laguna Canyon utility undergrounding is possible when we combine multiple problems to create new, smart, sustainable solutions. 

When do we get started?

Mike Beanan

South Laguna

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