Coast Inn graffiti is an eyesore

Attached you will find two pictures of graffiti (again) on Coast Inn.  I just wanted to show you what I drive by everyday as this building continues to become dilapidated.

We have eyesores all over, what should be, a world-class town. I will just leave it there and let you figure out why people are frustrated.

Keith Kesler

Laguna Beach

Why Park Plaza? Cool Trees and Longer, Better Lives

Why have volunteers from three local non-profits collaborated and contributed countless hours over three years, obtaining unanimous approval from seven city departments to create our new Park Plaza?  For a start - Cool Trees and Longer, Better Lives.

Park Plaza preserves a rare prize in Laguna - the last accessible group of towering shade trees in the downtown area. When the sun shines, it is measurably cooler and more comfortable in the shade of these statuesque trees.  Not solely because of the shade.  Trees are Nature’s very own evaporative coolers. Biologists call it transpiration cooling. Our heritage trees have root systems extending down as large as the tree itself. These massive, deep roots draw cool water up from the earth; and vaporize it around each and every leaf.  Scientists have found that transpiration allows one large tree to cool six-eight degrees more than just a shade structure without a tree. And Park Plaza’s towering three-story heritage trees transpire a ton. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Another view of Park Plaza

Last week, on the hottest days, you could sit in the shade of Park Plaza and be completely comfortable. If you don’t believe it’s cooler in Park Plaza than anywhere else downtown, go experience it for yourself. Join in the dance of chasing shade as the sun crosses over Catalina. It’s amazing!  And, as an added bonus, the whitewater views of Main Beach aren’t too shabby either.

Now, it’s true that many are skeptical or outright opposed to Park Plaza. I understand - change isn’t easy, especially if you’re the one being inconvenienced. My hope is that concerned locals will experience this beautiful chill spot for themselves, before they pass judgment. If folks sit long enough, they just might discover a new appreciation for this small strip of downtown public property, and come to understand and appreciate that this is far too valuable a place to just park eight cars, or as a traffic cut through. Arguably, the highest and best use for this outdoor naturally air-conditioned treasure needs to be for our community.

Our new Park Plaza is a place where families with toddlers can feel safe, away from traffic. Shoppers can take a load off, recover and keep on shopping. I saw a very pregnant mom ecstatic that she found a place to “refresh and rest before traveling on.” Park Plaza is for coffee klatch’s, dog owners and their pets, lunch with friends, romantic alfresco take-out dining at sunset from any of our fine downtown eateries, and the random meeting and connection with locals or travelers.  

Urban designers know these shaded pedestrian plazas are human interaction magnets. I’ve met someone knew every time I’ve visited the Park. I’m so fortunate that our local bard John Gardiner stopped by Park Plaza a couple times last week walking his dog, and we were able to connect before his untimely passing. I would have missed that opportunity if it weren’t for our new Park. People connect in plazas and that makes our city more enjoyable and more livable.

The AARP has a Livability Index for many cities.  A key element of a livable community is that it fosters interaction among residents. “Opportunities to connect and feel welcomed help lessen social isolation and strengthen the greater community.”   

Sadly, Laguna Beach falls in the bottom half of all U.S. cities when it comes to “Social Engagement” (0.91 on index from 0-2) Until now, Laguna had no shaded public downtown areas that foster connections. Park Plaza is already working to make Laguna Beach measurably more livable. We all know that Laguna Beach has an aging population that could use every advantage to age even better.  Guess what? Seniors age better and live longer in livable communities. These are proven facts and reason enough to preserve Park Plaza; but add in that special uniqueness of being the chillest outdoor spot downtown (quite literally) and Park Plaza is a public prize that needs to be preserved for generations to come. Meet me or your friends at Park Plaza, and see and feel what this all about for yourself. You just might enjoy the change and the chill. 

Christopher Prelitz

Laguna Beach

Christopher Prelitz is the co-founder and president of Transition Laguna Beach. TLB worked with the LB Chamber and LB Beautification Committee in creating the Park Plaza trial.

Love this little area [Park Plaza]

Not ready to close off all of the downtown streets, but I love this little area! I even like driving by and seeing folks hanging out at the tables and chairs. I do wish they would use the lights they’ve hung, though - I have not seen them on after dark at all. Took an un-needed access alley and created a great space!

Michael Johnson

Laguna Beach

Meet Me at Park Plaza

People voted with their delightful derrieres this past week and declared the new Park Plaza the coolest downtown place to be - literally. There was no other place to sit outdoors and avoid being irradiated by our merciless heat wave. So with zero fanfare and even less promotion, the City proved that if you build it, they will come - and take a load off. Which people are doing in droves since they discovered this lovely, tree-lined shade corridor with enhanced greenery, Parisian café lights, and a perfect ocean view. It’s oh so tranquil and clean because, well, no cars!

The greatest asset our city has are the interesting and convivial people who live in it. Give us a chance to mingle, and we mingle hard. It’s what makes Halloween on Oak, Sawdust Locals, and Hospitality Nights the absolute best days of the year. Now we will have the opportunity for random, serendipitous encounters every day. As a reminder, you don’t have to eat gyro’s every time. You finally have a place to take that Whole Food salad (or any other takeout), swing by, relax, re-charge, and watch the world go by. Then help our merchants and go spend more money. This is a return to the village atmosphere that was obliterated by our slavish dependence on the car.

Now of course we brace for the usual outrage and torrent of negativity from the many who traffic in fear, and generally decry anything new. They’ll tell us the street is too important for motorists to allow pedestrian use, that we can’t sacrifice the eight parking spots, that it will be a haven for the homeless, that it will be filthy, that we have an adequate park across the street, that locals will never use it (only the dreaded visitors), and finally that the city pissed away $50K on something they could have done better.  

It’s like going to see movie and deciding after the first 30 seconds that it sucks. It’s only a test. It will evolve and improve aesthetically and in utility, especially if made permanent. For that to happen we hope inconvenienced drivers are accommodated with a better left turn option at Laguna St.

For the record, only $9,900 was spent on decor. Every penny of it is in the Plaza, because all the labor was performed by community volunteers. Where did the other $40K go? The first $8,400 went back to the city for lost meter revenue. The rest for set-up, upkeep, a traffic control plan for CalTrans, and approved safety barriers. That meant changing the traffic signs and signals, giving notice to motorists, re-paving the street with slurry seal, etc. It’s how things work to optimize public safety and enjoyment. The good news is that many of these are sunk costs making it far cheaper to maintain and extend the life of the Plaza.

As for the threat of homeless, of course there will be instances of bad behavior in a town as addled as Laguna. But does that mean prohibiting all of our rights to comfortable public space? We have to acquire the tools to coexist and mitigate bad behavior. It’s how we will survive as a species. 

So here’s a plea to the skeptics: please suspend judgment until the conclusion of the trial. Try and be open-minded, come experience it for yourself. You might just like it.   

Billy Fried

Laguna Beach

A great little spot

Park Plaza is a great little spot. So many residents are afraid of change. I think it will be a winner when all those naysayers get used to it. I love it!

Pamela Broadman

Laguna Beach

What $75,000 buys you in Laguna: Park Plaza

Park Avenue Plaza - sounds a lot like a New York City address, right?  But hang tight. The Park Avenue Plaza is not in New York City, but right here in Laguna on our own Park Avenue (actually the little street that parallels Forest that abuts the shawarma falafel stand on the way to the library). Our Council voted unanimously to spend $75,000 for a parklet with tables and chairs for a six-week “experiment” beginning October 21.

The grand vision is that Laguna Beach will be now more like a European village.  Billy Fried, one of the proponents of the plaza stated in a recent column that the aesthetics are “stunning” – What is stunning is how tacky this place looks – colored plastic lawn chairs?  There seems to be a difference in the eye of the beholder here.

The reality is our European village abuts a California highway with millions in car traffic. The trade-off means closing a favorite locals thoroughfare traveled by a car every minute with direct access to Glenneyre and Top of the World.  We will lose eight metered parking spaces with revenue of $1,400 in average weekly parking fees and face the very real possibility of compounding traffic backing-up on already congested Coast Highway that ultimately seems to benefit one private business owner who now has outdoor dining paid for by us.

Photo by Alan Boinus

Park Plaza

Not that wasting money is a foreign concept to this Council. Recall the public threw a collective fit last year when the Council’s other grand experiment in parklets took out at least two parking spaces on Forest in favor of a wooden barricade that many chided looked more like a livestock pen than anything park-like and cost the owner of Alessa restaurant $45,000?!

I asked Steve Dicterow if all this was worth it.  «Can’t people just walk across the street and go to a real park called, the beach?!”  “Won’t traffic back-up if two egresses are removed?”  “Won’t people be ticked-off having to turn left at Legion?”  “Won’t we be burdening library patrons who will find it more difficult to park now?”  And, “If Council wants a test, why couldn’t we try barricades first at a more reasonable cost?”

Steve argued that traffic can be easily diverted onto streets like Jasmine and Myrtle through north Laguna neighborhoods to Rosa Bonheur.  But then, wouldn’t we be backing up traffic at Broadway and still not be anywhere near Glenneyre?

Perhaps the Shawarma Plaza is a good idea.  But then why didn’t Council follow Bob Whalen’s suggestion and work with CalTrans to pull some parking spaces along Coast Highway in order to create a left-turn pocket on Laguna Avenue before venturing with its experiment?  After all, if we are willing to sacrifice eight parking spaces, why couldn’t we sacrifice some for a left-turn lane to benefit residents?  Not coming up with viable solutions before spending taxpayer money or inconveniencing residents dooms what might otherwise be worthy of consideration.  Unfortunately Council’s idea of an experiment makes guinea pigs of us all.

Alan Boinus

Laguna Beach

Irony in two photos

While photographing last Sunday’s protest at Main Beach, a passerby called my attention to a paradox.

The photo of two homeless people was taken 30ft. away from the massive police presence.

The photo of the police was taken from the same spot in the opposite direction.

I believe this to be a local community issue: The irony of people forced to sleep in the street, while massive amounts of our revenue is devoted to “public safety and the right to protect free speech.”

Maybe something to think about, maybe something to write a few words about...

Chris Kreymann

Laguna Beach

Probation for reckless driving?

I have a studio in Laguna Canyon: I listen to the almost daily sirens; I watch people drive with ridiculous disregard for the fact that people have to enter and leave from their dwellings and businesses, I watch people speed and drive inattentively or aggressively.

So, I find it outrageous that a person can drive recklessly on Laguna Canyon Road and kill two men in the prime of their lives and walk away with probation and community service as a penalty.

I pray that this perp. feels great and tremendous remorse, has made restitution, and goes down on his knees every day to ask for forgiveness.

But each of us can honor the victims of this crime in our own way by taking a chill pill and mellowing out when we drive Laguna Canyon Road. How? By driving with grace and compassion. Let someone make a left turn, don’t tailgate, stay out of the bicycle lane, don’t use the center lane to pass, and do not speed.

So in memory of those who have lost their lives:

Please Slow Down and Mellow Out. It’s a beautiful road.

Hedy Buzan

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach does have public sculpture commemorating local indigenous people

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, in the public communications segment, 96-year-old Bruce Hopping’s spokeswoman claimed that Laguna Beach did not have a public sculpture commemorating the indigenous peoples of our area. 

Please be advised that the Art in Public Places requirement piece for parking lot #20 in South Laguna, titled “From the Beginning”, does indeed commemorate the original occupants of our area long before someone showed up and called them “Indians”. 

The sculpture was executed by South Laguna sculptor in residence Jorge Fernandez as winner of the Arts Commission competition in 2010 for the parking lot project and installed in 2011. The sculpture was funded by the people of Laguna Beach.

Tom Slattery

South Laguna

Author Bill Bryson has advice that makes sense for us in Laguna

Summer is over and, unsurprisingly, Laguna’s still jammed with tourists and cars. PCH is darn near impossible! Downtown, no place to park, and few shops sell anything locals need, anyway.

I love Laguna, you love Laguna, everyone loves Laguna.  But it could stand improvements. Have some ideas? Who doesn’t? Read what this guy, Bill Bryson, in his best seller, «The Road to Little Dribbling,”suggests about changes that movers and shakers in a little village like Laguna, a retail paradise, could use, as follows:

“I would like to see a government that says, We’re going to stop this preposterous obsession with economic growth at the cost of all else. Great economic success doesn’t produce national happiness. It produces Republicans and Switzerland. So we’re going to concentrate on just being lovely and pleasant and civilized.  We’re going to have the best schools and hospitals, the most comfortable public transportation, the liveliest arts, the most useful and well stocked libraries, the grandest parks, the cleanest streets, the most enlightened social policies. In short, we’re going to be like Sweden, but with less herring and better jokes.

Wouldn’t that be delightful? Of course it will never happen.”

That says it, doesn’t it?!

Robert Story

Laguna Beach

Good things in the pipeline for Laguna

I am so thrilled that Park Plaza is moving towards a sound reality.

I can’t wait for it to open on October 21st and plan on using it as much as possible.

I am such a happy (Laguna) camper this week. 

  1) Anticipating Park Plaza and

  2) Hearing the plans for rehabilitating the Aliso Creek Estuary which I learned about last night at a meeting held by the Laguna Ocean foundation (

Thank you to those who live in Laguna that spearhead, and work exceptionally hard on projects that are forward thinking, creative and, in my opinion, essential and in the absolute best interest for our village community.

You have both my support and enthusiasm.

Debbie Naudé

Laguna Beach

Re: Water district seeks to regain independence (Stu News, 10/10)

Last week the City Council voted 3-2 against District General Manager Renae Hinchey’s proposal to the Board of Directors to consider restoration of the Laguna Beach County Water district’s (LBCWD) independence. Mayor Iseman and Council Member Dicterow voted in favor of separation.

Two and a half years ago we had a major water leak in our home whilst we were on vacation. The LBCWD could not have been more helpful but the leak occurred at the beginning of our two-month billing cycle and our water usage went from 11 to 25 units. We have continued to follow the water district’s service ever since and have been strong supporters of Smart Meters.

The water district is well respected, and we applaud its leadership role in our community. The annual SmartScape event, the Art of Conservation program, the installation of Smart Meters, the title of #1 City for water conservation, and the excellent customer service provided are a credit to its staff and customers. Consequently, we believe the water district’s time has come to operate independently and here’s why:

The water district was formed in 1925 by its ratepayers. It belongs to the ratepayers and therefore, ratepayers should be allowed to decide how the District is governed, not the city council.

The City Council has an unprecedented full plate with city projects and issues and leaves little time for attending water district board meetings and activities.

With Climate Change a reality, the only focus and pursuit of the governing body should be water decisions, without devoting time to deal with numerous other city issues and interests.

The extra layer of approvals that occur by holding both a Commission and Water Board meeting that review an identical agenda is cumbersome, unnecessary and an extra expense to the ratepayers.

We believe the time has come for The City Council to relinquish their governance and allow the LBCWD to re-establish as an independent special district governed by one board to provide water services in the most efficient and responsive manner to its customers. 

As Council Member Whalen suggested it might be better if the ratepayers decided and we should have a vote on this. 

Charlotte & Alex Masarik

Laguna Beach

Meet you at Camp David

As I try to come to grips with the horrendous scenes from Las Vegas, I can’t help but wonder what Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and James Inhofe (R-OK) are thinking. 

Within hours of the recent killings, Majority Leader McConnell announced it was too soon to talk about gun safety legislation.  Then, out of the blue, Inhofe said last Wednesday sanctuary cities are the breeding grounds of violence in this country.

To McConnell I respectfully must ask:  If 50 members of Congress had just been shot and killed in Las Vegas, would you still say it’s too soon to talk?  And to Inhofe I have to ask: Since virtually all the mass killings in the U.S. are triggered by white, American males, would you care to elaborate?

If Las Vegas had been Iraq or Afghanistan, I guarantee you Pentagon heads would have rolled if 50 troops and 500 others had been killed or wounded in one battle.  So what’s different about the shootings here at home? 

I urge President Trump to invite the NRA, 2nd Amendment, ACLU and gun control advocates to a 1-week sit down at Camp David.  Some of my Laguna friends don’t think any good will come from the meetings, but I do.  Remember, President Carter brought old warriors Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel to Camp David in 1978.  After nearly two weeks of bickering, both sides finally agreed to a peace agreement.  To this day, it still stands.

To do little or nothing, as McConnell suggests, or to blame mayors and cities for the mass killings as Inhofe says, will not change America’s killing fields.  Bringing all stakeholders in the gun control conversation together for a week at Camp David seems like a rational and, hopefully, useful thing to do.  

As far as I am concerned, what have the participants -- and the American public --- got to lose? 

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beachh

People vs Jacob Andrews (17CR04271)

Betsy, Erin, Camron, Joe and I would like to request a letter of support on behalf of Jack (via e-mail) in the case of “The People of the State of California v. Jacob Andrews (17CR04271)”.

(On October 26, 2016, Jack Meehan was KILLED by Jacob Andrews, an extremely irresponsible individual who was driving approximately 85 to 90 MPH (and quite likely playing with the radio or texting) according to the California Highway Patrol on a residential street where the speed limit was 35 MPH.

Andrews has been charged with Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence.

(There is little doubt that he will be convicted at trial or more likely try to obtain a lesser sentence)

The letter should be addressed to Judge John Salazar but e-mailed to Sylvia Nieto, the Santa Cruz County Victim Witness Program Manager to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

Also, if you are comfortable, please send a copy to Betsy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so we will have physical copies to take to court with us.

Please feel free to write the letter however you would like. It is from you and should reflect your personal feelings. 

A few suggestions for items you might wish to address are:

What was your relationship to Jack, e.g., classmate, teammate, co-worker, friend

What special characteristics of Jack’s did you observe or admire, e.g., adventurous, hardworking, loyal, generous

Did you ever experience or observe Jack to anything exceptional for you or others, e.g., protecting you, standing up for others (such as kids who were being bullied or discriminated against, providing money to others)?

Other personal thoughts you may wish to share regarding the loss of Jack.

The maximum sentence is 6 years in state prison (the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation). Judge Salazar could also sentence him to 2 or 4 years in prison or (unbelievably for KILLING Jack) probation. Clearly, probation would be unjust!

Please emphasize the need for justice through the maximum sentence of prison time. Jack was KILLED. Jacobs deserves to be punished to the maximum extent of the law to deter him from killing someone else and setting an example to everyone else that this type of crime is unacceptable and will result in a sentence to state prison.

Conclude with your personal statement or a simple thank you.

Thank you!

The Meehan family

Laguna Beach

Freidenrich’s request for us to “take a knee”

I can’t believe the writer, Mr. Letter a week Freidenrich is asking people to “unite” with the NFL players who are disrespecting our flag, and in the same breath, remark how great America is. By his previous obvious liberal position, it’s obvious who he really is “bashing”. POTUS?

William Kail

Laguna Beach

Dennis scores again with great column

Wow! What an interesting account of the 1939 storm by Dennis which I have, “Heard Tell”, from Seniors to me in 1963 now all gone! Thanks for the research and a special “Storm Watcher” in Laguna. Laguna rarely gets serious weather.

Laguna Beach is the best place on the Planet! …. All things considered: Latitude (location), weather, social makeup, tolerance, wealth, education, climate, surf, small town, community involvement, love of place, freedom, music, art, entertainment, schools & education, views, political structure, environmental consciousness, athleticism, clean, forthcoming and concerned for the future! Maybe I missed a couple but let’s hear the replies.

Who could want more?!

Walker Reed

Laguna Beach

LBHS 1965

Oversight or Aftersight on Measure LL?

Do you want to know where Measure LL funds are going? Remember when the city sold it to voters by saying that there would be an oversight committee to ensure that funds went for vital services and undergrounding?  Well, there is a committee but they are not an oversight committee – they are nothing more than a rubber stamp well after the fact. The city’s fiscal year closed June 30 and the committee met September 25 – three months after the money was spent and put to bed.  

Committee members were presented with how the city spent the money and it was made clear that their job was to comment whether funds were spent according to what the City Council stipulated and nothing more. These very well informed and well-intentioned citizens were not happy to realize that they have no input, no ability to question allocations and no ability to change directions in the future. They are window dressing – and that’s just what the city council wanted when they created this eunuch committee. Give the people the illusion that they have a say but they count for nothing.  

This committee has a five-year life – four years are now left of this charade. And what happens then? The city doesn’t have to spend one penny of the expected $2.2 million per year on public safety and undergrounding after that. Mark my words folks – this money will be diverted in year six as interest for a bond measure. I’m not sure what it’s going to fund, but it’s coming. And we residents will have no say in where this money goes.  

I feel badly for the committee – they actually thought they could make a difference when they were selected by the City Council to serve. It was only an illusion.

Michele Monda

Laguna Beach

Here’s a solution to the hate parades

Aloha Laguna please be in gratitude for our beautiful “local summer.”

While we are enjoying ourselves please remember Puerto Rico is in dire trouble and is part of the United States. They have no power. They have little food and water...the dam broke and more water has poured in.

I start this letter this way because my solution to the hate parades are large fundraisers for all the places on our planet that have been through very bad times. We should not allow hate to distract us from the needs of those who have gone through hurricanes and earthquakes.

So instead of protesting, let us set up Main Beach so that Laguna and who ever else in Orange County wants to join in, come and drop off: Cloth diapers, flashlights (solar and if not, batteries included), biodegradable toilet paper, clothes all sizes jackets all sizes shoes all sizes, pants, shirts, all sizes baby clothes, food – they have no power! Solar generators, First Aid Kits, fresh water.

Please Laguna the most important thing is us looking out for each other. It is clear and apparent that governments and politics do not care for the people. It is up to the People to care and look out for the people. Houston, Florida, Mexico, India, Syria, Puerto Rico all these places and the even the ones mainstream media will not cover, all need our prayers and our overflow. 

Please let us begin a Parade of Love and Unity. Let us be a beacon for our great Nation. Let us shine and give and reach out to each other and towards those who are crying out for help. We can get awards on water conservation. We can ban this and that. But can we rise above the petty, the mundane, the hatred, the prejudice, the racism, the judgments, the cold-hearted, me first, let them get theirs, attitude and help our brothers and sisters in dire need?

I say we can.

Monica Jackson

Laguna Beach

Take A Knee Day

After reading scores of comments about last Sunday’s NFL protests, I want to encourage people here in Laguna and in all four corners of the country to come together and peacefully demonstrate their support for the players this coming weekend.  

Despite its flaws, America is the greatest nation on earth. Take a knee on your front porch, your place of worship, at your favorite golf course or wherever you want. Just do it where others will see you.  

And if you are so inclined, please join me at noon in front of City Hall, Sunday October 1, for Take A Knee Day. Together, we can remind people there is much more that unites us than divides us.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Let’s say no to rally people

I think we should not accept the rally people. It’s really a scary thing that could turn violent. Storefronts could get broken into and people could get hurt.

I live in Dana Point and when there is a rally of any size, I go home the loooong way.

I will not be a participant.

Julie Daw

Dana Point

Plastic bags nobody thinks about are polluting our environment

With Prop 67 being passed, its time to address a category that still contributes trillions of single-use plastics; Dog Poop Bags.  

The City of Laguna Beach continues to ignore this issue and use harmful plastic-based bags, with millions contaminating the landfills and polluting our ocean.  

I am looking for an opportunity to introduce our local, patented vegetable based solution and help to raise awareness of this overlooked category in order to further enforce efforts beyond Prop 67 (the ban of single-use plastics).  

Eric Babcock

Laguna Beach

Granny flats: A history, some comments and a few suggestions

My wife Dolores and I grew up in Pasadena before migrating to Laguna.

We purchased our lot in Bluebird Canyon on Madison Place in 1959. I had some education and experience in planning and was just completing the Master Plan for the 7,000-acre Shoemaker Ranch known as Niguel Ranch, which we ultimately re-named Laguna Niguel.

That was 58 years ago when we dreamed of being able to stay in our home even as we grew old, because the parcel was zoned for a unique unit known as a Granny Flat. I designed the house to meet those requirements. A free-standing two-car garage exists with ten feet between the main house and the garage, per city code.

A few years later I accepted a Presidential appointment and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as an Assistant Secretary and President of the New Community Corporation. I then leased a home in Georgetown and two of our daughters joined me.

Dolores stayed in Laguna due to her asthma and this was one of the reasons we moved to Laguna Beach rather than staying in Pasadena. We lived in Laguna for almost 60 years and I’m still here.

During the time I was serving our nation, the then city council changed the rules related to Granny Flats. I did not learn about this until I returned. They had now made it impossible for us to meet our dream and exercise our right.   

The city council added an additional parking requirement and other conditions, which made having a Granny Flat in Laguna an impossibility.

Did the City Manager, staff, legal counsel and City Council of that time realize they had done irrevocable damage to the Laguna elderly citizen by imposing unrealistic conditions to the Granny Flat option?

I am angry about this flagrant misuse of power that directly injures Laguna’s elderly.

The issue of caring for senior citizens has been known for decades, yet Laguna Beach changed what was a workable solution to one that is uneconomic, making it virtually impossible to construct a granny flat and creating a situation detrimental to owners of modest homes.

What I would like to happen is to have the City give me back my dream of a place to live out my life in Laguna.  This can be accomplished by several methods.

For example, either grandfather the zoning that existed at that time the land was acquired, or revise the current ordinances to include the conditions that existed in 1960.

I do have some planning experience after all, and much of that in Laguna has been with the goal of improving the beauty of our community.  Perhaps three projects most would be familiar with are Main Beach Design, the Sign Ordinance, and the Laguna Canyon entry planting of trees, which required approval from CalTrans that the city was not able to obtain – until Harry Lawrence asked for my assistance.

Outside of Laguna Beach I have done work such as the concept and plan for Newport Center/Fashion Island, now celebrating its 50th anniversary, and for many of the most widely recognized villages within the City of Irvine and Newport, including University Park, Turtle Rock, Linda Isle and Eastbluff.

Under the President Bush administration I was invited back to Washington as Assistant Secretary of PD&R, the research arm of HUD.  This occurred during the weeks after 9/11. My research budget was more than $100 million and I directed some work related to senior housing on existing residential parcels. 

A great deal has been published on this subject and a few cities have successfully implemented various approaches. 

Last Wednesday evening, I attended the Planning Commission hearing and listened to the public comments and the presentation by city staff. What is interesting to me is the time and tortuous scheduling that is apparently necessary to pass a piece of legislation.

After all, the State of California already passed the legislation on January of this year. It has now been eight months and the city staff cannot complete even a final draft much less sending it to the Council for approval.

Are they still not willing to accept that the State “trumps” the city? It seems they want to include provisions that give the city complete control.

I’m going to prepare a plan and see what happens.

We need Granny Flats to serve our elderly population! 

Al Trevino

Laguna Beach

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