A lump of coal for the police volunteers

Laguna Beach rolled out the Yuletide cheer last Friday for Hospitality Night.  The cold temperatures didn’t put a chill on the crowds of happy friends, families, and visitors who enjoyed seeing Santa, the ice rink, two Wish Fairies, the carolers, the band, decked out local businesses, and consuming tamales and hot cocoa.  

The city of Laguna really pulled out all stops to make it a special night.

The only crimp in the festivities were the roving groups of police volunteers, scowling back when greeted with a “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” and asking to sniff or look into people’s cups of hot cocoa.  I even saw them stop one of the Wish Fairies, get right into her face and have her pour out a cup of warm milk. Who trains these people? I thought the idea of public service meant you serve the public—not snarl or accost them. 

I’ve been planning to volunteer for the next Citizen’s Academy for Police Volunteers, but question whether I can work with uncivil people. The Police Volunteers deserve a lump of coal in their stocking for increasing the chill on Hospitality Night.  

George Weiss

Laguna Beach

LBPD Citizen Academy possibilities

On Thursday, December 8, 2016 the twenty-third Laguna Beach Police Department Citizen Academy graduated. The graduation ceremony was held at Tivoli Too. Eighteen citizens graduated from the program and have joined the Citizen Academy Alumni, now 447 strong. Attending the graduation ceremony were family members of graduates and representatives from the Laguna Beach Police Department.

This is a great civic program, especially for local youth and seniors.

A number of practical applications could easily be added to augment and improve the much-appreciated traffic enforcement and also enhance the participant’s community communication skills.

Residents and visitors will benefit from a non-confrontational neighborhood ambassador trained in laws and local codes. These “Ambassadors” would be visible all year, especially weekends and summers both on foot throughout the village, in neighborhoods and on beaches as well offering their more visible help with traffic circulation.

Additional emphasis and training could provide important public emergency information, educational and code compliance flyers to residents, business and the public as well as handing out warning slips (not tickets) to help mitigate scofflaws further promoting safety, cleanliness and appreciation of this beautiful city.

The program can offer much needed help and consistency to improve a myriad of community concerns including nuisance and reporting dangerous behaviors. Involvement and alert eyes and ears help us all.

I applaud Laguna’s police department for providing a public opportunity to further improve safety and code compliance.

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach

Hills’ 47-years as a School Board advocate

I was disappointed to readTom Hinmon’s letter to the StuNews editor (Nov. 30), admitting he “never met” Howard Hills, but feels free to call him a “hateful” person. Hinmon’s choice of the word “hateful” expressed what was in his heart, not Howard’s. Howard is the least hateful person I know.

Judge for yourself if hate-speech against Howard is justified. At the first School Board after the election Howard publicly congratulated the successful candidates and made two public comments at LBUSD.org(Nov. 15 Board Meeting - 9 min. 40 sec. and 38 min. 10 sec.) At that same meeting LBUSD PTA Council President Tammy Skenderian recognized Howard for his commitment and “passion” as a candidate. Well done, Tammy.

Without any evidence, Hinmon also asserts Hills covets a seat n our City Counicl. Howard was Navy JAG and a constitutional lawyer in the White House and Congress. Considering his experience, Howard was often asked if he was“over-qualified” for School Board; his typical answer was “Governance of local schools is a lot more important than what happens in City Hall, Sacramento or Washington.”

What is remarkable about Howard is that he had no need, much less ambition to hold office, no kids in schools who might benefit, no business interests in town. School Board advocacy simply continued a forty-seven-year record of volunteering as a student, parent, and grandparent in our local schools. Howard ran at the request of many in our community who have observed how the School Board has functioned over a long period.

Missteps by the School Board over the past ten years include budget and staffing fiascos, excessively delayed and costly renovation of the tennis courts, an aborted decision to start school before Labor Day without noticing the public, inappropriate involvement in the Social Host Ordinance, and reluctance to have recordings of School Board meetings made available to the public who couldn’t attend in person (finally rectified - with no little effort - by Howard).

Howard is openly critical of the School Board failure to perform its role under state law more effectively and independently, and his candor about these issues was taken personally by some. Still, five thousand voters embraced Howard’s platform for enhanced school governance.

His pledge to bring knowledge, consistency, and standardization in policy-making by the School Board would have been a great gift to our community. Howard worked hard for our kids, feels good about his campaign, and accepted the outcome in good spirits that showed respect for the democratic process. Those who were afraid to have someone with different ideas and skills than the rest of the School Board, should now do the same.

I wish the new School Board well, hope its members will address the issues that Howard highlighted, and thank them for their service.

Tijana Hamilton

Laguna Beach

True sportsmanship begins with coaching direction

ED. Note: This letter was sent to the principal of Boron High School from the football sideline crew 

Dear Principal Wiggs,

I am a member of the Laguna Beach High School varsity football homegame “chain gang” (first down chains, and downs marker). The current four volunteers have 32 years (combined) on the gang. We work on the “visitor” side of the field, putting us in close contact with every visiting team.

In our post-game discussions, we agreed that the coaches and team fielded by Boron on November 18 demonstrated the best features of competitive high school sports, team spirit, and sportsmanship we’ve ever seen. Throughout the game, regardless of circumstances, they demonstrated excellence.

Despite the heat of the game (and the outcome of the CIF playoffs being on the line) your coaches provided positive guidance to players regardless of how plays evolved. Coaches interacted strongly with the officials and the team, but without the negative actions and language we often see and hear.

Players were both competitive and aggressive, but at the same time showed respect for officials, coaches, and the opposing players. Boron team members maintained their excellent demeanor beyond the final play, saying thanks to the officials and other participants.

It’s obvious that more than just football is being addressed by the Boron school, coaches, and football team. Please commend your coaches and players for a job well done.

Brad Martin

Laguna Beach Chain Gang

No Red Ribbons on World AIDS Day?

Feeling very disappointed in Laguna today. In years past World AIDS Day was something special. Almost 200 former residents were remembered by having red ribbons placed on trees throughout the downtown area. 

We just got back from our morning walk. With the exception of the World AIDS Day banner across forest nothing. Not one ribbon.

Scott Alan

Laguna Beach


Saw the article in the LA Times on the citations issued for lack of [liquor] license [to Art Walk galleries]. Really too bad Laguna PD has stooped to this level. Warnings would have been more than sufficient. Going undercover to “bust” small gallery owners who are barely making it is an embarrassing mark on Laguna Beach and our way of life.  

The Laguna PD needs to be better than that, it’s not Serve and Protect it’s becoming Harass and Collect. Just my $.02. They could have accomplished the same results in a very different and more community friendly way. Shame on them.

Phillips R. Sweet

Laguna Beach

Guest Column – City Manager & Chief of Police

City responds to questions regarding Art Walk

The City has received questions regarding recent enforcement efforts during Art Walk. The Police Department has been working with the Art Walk Board to address issues related to the event.  

While some notices were provided to participating businesses, they clearly did not convey the necessary information to the right people and, unfortunately, citations were issued that exceeded the intent of the cooperative effort to gain compliance with all applicable laws.  

In the spirit of working with Art Walk participants, the City reached out to the District Attorney’s Office, who will not be pursuing those citations, and the recipients have been notified.

The City values the Art Walk program and how it celebrates our community’s heritage and culture. The Police Department will be working with the Art Walk organization over the next several months to establish an appropriate program that respects the purpose of the event while ensuring that a safe and legal environment is provided for all. In the meantime, the event will continue while solutions are developed.

We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through the issues.  


John Pietig, City Manager

Laura Farinella, Chief of Police

No view is worth cutting even one tree

I have lived in Laguna Beach for more than sixty (60) years. Dolores and I have raised our eleven children to respect nature and laws.

From the damaged I observed, the person or persons who made the cuts do not understand how trees grow. They clearly are individuals not of California nor have a love for Laguna Beach.

I have spent a lifetime trying to improve and beautify the environment and this makes me sick. No view is worth cutting even one tree to gain a greater view.

I am sorry for our community.

Honorable Alberto F. Treviño

Laguna Beach

“…step in [if] you witness harassment, discrimination or a violent attack…”

As people, who live and work in Laguna Beach we are concerned about the safety of our fellow humans in town. While most of your readers experience Laguna as a friendly little place, which has no room for hate and bigotry, unfortunately it is not always friendly to everyone. In the last two weeks since the election, we have seen an increase in violence throughout the country, including the use of Nazi symbols, racist language or images as well as harassment of and violent attacks on individuals because of their racial, ethnic, religious, sexual or gender identity. Our place has not been spared. 

A member of our community shared her personal story of strangers directing hate speech at her (and, sadly, it has to be assumed that this was not the only incident). People passing by made statements such as “go back to where you came from.” We know that the majority of people, who live and work in town, find this type of hurtful, threatening behavior unacceptable and would agree that each individual, who lives, works or visits has the right to be safe in Laguna Beach. And yet, no one intervened during this incident. The community member, who had the courage to come forward and talk about the experience of being harassed, specifically said that it would have meant a lot to her to have fellow citizens stand with her. 

We therefore appeal to each individual’s sense of justice and human decency to treat each other with kindness and respect and to step in in case you witness harassment, discrimination or a violent attack, wherever it occurs. 

(This link leads to an article that includes helpful recommendations to deescalate tense situations. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/13/science/donald-trump-billy-bush-offensive-speech.html

We also suggest that the city, the business community, churches and other groups active in the community take a public stance against bigotry and violence. One model to adopt could be the Joint Statement from California Legislative Leaders from Nov 9, 2016, which states that “California is – and must always be – a refuge of justice and opportunity for people of all walks, talks, ages and aspirations – regardless of how you look, where you live, what language you speak, or who you love.” 

We leave it to your kind and creative spirits to come up with ideas to keep this place livable for all of us. In civil society, silence cannot be an option. Let’s stand up against discrimination and work together for true peace, equality and community in Laguna Beach - and beyond.

Annette Schlichter, Laguna Beach

Robin Pierson, Laguna Beach

Yasuko Bush, Laguna Beach

John Bush, Laguna Beach

Scott Alan, Laguna Beach

Valarie Gabel, Aliso Viejo

Linda Brown, Laguna Beach

Karen Feuer Schwager, Laguna Beach

Greg Taylor, Laguna Beach

Robert Koster, Laguna Beach

Carrie Pohlhammer, Laguna Beach

Guest Column

Proposed changes to Historic Preservation Ordinance could impact your rights as a homeowner; but there is a solution!


If you own a property in Laguna Beach built before 1955, you must be concerned about the impact of the new proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance on your property rights. Simple remodels to homes of that age are now potentially “historic” by City standards. You may have to hire an historian to prove to the City that your 1955 house is not “historic.” 

This new rule augments the already onerous standard faced by the 500 or so owners whose homes are listed on the City’s “historic inventory.” This inventory has been debunked as neither having been prepared or maintained in accordance with California or Federal law. The proposed ordinance seeks to “reanimate” this legislative corpse by simply deeming it valid, erasing consequences of failing to prepare and update the inventory according to the law. Simply ignoring the flaws that plagued the inventory from the beginning – that the homeowners were never informed of the consequences of being included on the list before they were deprived of important property rights – the new ordinance ratifies the old illegal inventory. After 36 years, owners of inventory homes have yet to have a hearing in which to challenge their rights to remodel their homes according to their tastes, subject to valid City zoning standards.

This much is clear: Whether through an inventory listing or because of age alone, a declaration by the City that your home is “historic” may thrust your renovation plan into an extra layer of expensive scrutiny, beyond the already onerous process of design review and City Council appeals. 

Retention of the Historic Register in the new ordinance is positive. The Register provides significant financial and site development incentives to those willing to provide a voluntary commitment to preserve their homes. The incentives encourage a willing, voluntary participant to nominate his or her home for inclusion on the Register. 

The inventory, on the other hand, is a list on which homeowners never asked to be included. They were never told of the stifling impacts that inclusion would have on their property rights and, after they were listed, they were never given a way out. The City treated inventory homes as “historic resources” which could only be remodeled pursuant to strict federal standards under the watchful eye of a paid historian. Your right to remodel your inventory home investment belonged to the City.

In addition to creating a new 1955 threshold for historicity and raising the inventory from the dead, the new proposed ordinance retains the mushy rating structure introduced in conjunction with the 1981 inventory. Simplified, if your inventory house is deemed to be “very historic,” you get an “E.” If it is “sort of historic,” you get a “K.” If it isn’t historic at all but contributes to the neighborhood vibe, you get a “C.” I have simplified these ratings, and they are mentioned in Laguna Beach Municipal Code Section 25.45.004, which refers the reader to the General Plan.

Here is the conundrum. People with homes on the inventory hate the fact that their homes are listed. Their property rights were stolen without a chance to object. Others, who in good faith believe that the inventory is necessary, are concerned that the inventory homes will be lost forever if control is left to the discretion of the property owner. The proponents of the inventory argue that allowing change will make it so that Laguna is not Laguna any more. The rights of the owner are lost on these pro-inventory advocates.

I offer a solution: Recognize that the inventory is invalid and it needs to be scuttled. The current inventory may still be used as a reference for proposing structures for inclusion in a new and valid inventory to be created in accordance with the law. The amorphous “E,” “K” and “C” designations must be eliminated. Evaluate every house in Laguna Beach and propose for each house a specific California Historic Preservation Status Code. These Status Codes are well established, objective statements for designating the historicity (or not) of a building. 

Upon assignment of accurate Status Codes by competent architectural historians, notify each homeowner of the Status Code assigned, explaining the impacts of the code designation. Notice a public hearing for each home. Provide every homeowner, after proper notice and after being fully advised of the burdens and benefits of the Status Code assignment, the opportunity to present substantial evidence at the hearing as to the designation given to his or her home, and the impacts to his or her ownership rights. 

At the public hearing, each publicly elected or appointed official will be required to look each affected homeowner in the eye and personally justify the taking of these important property rights.

Happy with the school board election outcome

In response to some letters praising Howard Hills, I want to say that his defeat was the best outcome of the elections, in my opinion. I have never met him, only have read his letters to StuNews and his campaign mailings. 

His attacks on current school board members over the years have proved him to be a very negative and hateful individual. I say, let him aspire to City Council (his real agenda), and let the school board keep our schools outstanding.

Go Breakers!

Tom Hinmon

Laguna Beach

Battle over OCMA site in Newport Beach

It is fascinating to see the Irvine Company opposing the planned commercial development on the site of the current Orange County Museum of Art.

The two-acre site was donated by the Irvine Company to the City of Newport Beach on the condition that it would be used for purposes of cultural development until at least 2055.

The developers apparently feel that naming the new 25 story luxury condominium complex “Museum House” fulfills their obligation to cultural development. 

Apparently the nonprofit that owns OCMA feels that the parcel is already a lost cause. The museum located on that parcel had already closed. According to an article in the Daily Pilot, this space is only used for storage and administration now. I wonder what there is to administer if there is no actual museum. Perhaps it is the nonprofit that is a lost cause, and the space should be given over to some more worthy non-profit. If OCMA can’t make it in the shadow of Fashion Island, they probably can’t make it in South Coast Metro either, the intended new home of OCMA.

Orange County Museum of Art is the nonprofit that tried to bully their way into acquiring all of the assets of the Laguna Art Museum some years ago by packing the board of directors under cover of darkness. While they ultimately failed thanks to a vigorous uprising by south Orange County art lovers, OCMA won half of the Laguna Art Museum permanent collection anyway in a 2009 court decision. Those holdings were comprised of many early Plein Air paintings created by the founders of the Laguna Art Museum. Immediately the settled portion of the collection was sold to an undisclosed private collector for millions of dollars. So now no one knows where they are.

As OCMA is no longer an extant art museum then, I wonder what has become of their ill-gotten gains. Did they spend it all on lawn maintenance, private wine tastings and a giant sculpture of a dog urinating on their building?

Ownership of the parcel of land on which OCMA sits should immediately revert to the Irvine Company so that they can use the acreage for cultural purposes, as was the original intention of the gift to Newport Beach in 1977.

Jim Rue

Laguna Beach

With sincere gratitude

I’m writing with a heartfelt thank you to Detective Ashton, Officer Hernandez, and Detective Gensemer for presenting a PTA Coffee Break lecture about social media safety to our community. With nearly 200 parents and children in attendance, it is obviously a topic that our community is concerned about and interested in. 

The officers did an amazing job presenting the information to both children and adults, not an easy task considering the age differences and the content. I feel that one of the best take-aways from the night was that hopefully it opened a line of communication between parents and kids about the real inherent dangers of social media. It is not just fun and games. 

The officers did an excellent job at outlining steps parents and children can take to stay safe on social media, not only from predators, but also how to protect their reputation, and possibly college and career opportunities, as well as how to stop engaging in online behavior that can ultimately lead to depression or suicide. In this digital age, our children are exposed to so many negative influences. If we can provide parents with the tools to protect their kids and ban together as a community to stick by those rules, we can change the course our kids’ futures in such a positive way. 

I honestly feel that the presentation might have saved one or more of our kids from becoming victims! That is powerful. 

An outline of the presentation will be posted on GoToCoffeeBreak.com

Sharael Kolberg

PTA Coffee Break Chair

“…let’s get on with moving forward…”

Congratulations to all the successful candidates up for election or re-election in our fair city, and a big thank you to the other candidates who threw their hats in the ring to allow the residents an alternative to the incumbents.  My admiration goes out to you all, as campaigning for any office is no easy task and sometimes the mud can get pretty thick.  

I did want to say something about one particular candidate for school board who was unsuccessful in his quest, but who put up a noble campaign and a lot of hard work.  In my opinion the failure of the voters to elect Howard Hills to the school board is a missed opportunity to have someone of his caliber, intelligence, knowledge and experience serving our school board.  

His resume reads like a “Who’s Who” of experience that few in this life ever achieve.  His election to the school board would have provided for greater transparency and public involvement, and assurance that rules of order were properly followed.  He didn’t need this position, but he put his hat into the ring as a candidate who wanted to get things back in order, and then be content to ride off into the sunset, or in his case, paddle back into the next set of waves.  

I’m sure the two other candidates who were elected will do a fine job, it’s just that Howard Hills provided a skill set that cannot be duplicated.  Besides that, he’s just a really good guy and an asset to our community, and I hope he will stay involved.  

Now, let’s get on with moving forward and supporting our newly elected (or re-elected) leaders, on a local, state, and national basis.

Jennifer Zeiter

Laguna Beach

School election delays reform

School Board candidate Howard Hills got over 4,000 votes.  That’s a solid constituent base for reform candidates to build on in 2018.  

Sad to say, but reform is overdue because the quality of our School Board’s decisionhave been in continuous decline since our children attended here from K to 12. The District and high school administration were in dire need of reform then, and history has proven many disaffected families correct in their assessment of how abusive and dysfunctional it had become.

Unfortunately, this continues to this day with a defensive and often inept School Board that too often must be coaxed or badgered into simply being faithful to the state education code. Parents who dare to question or criticize are still being demonized.  

When it counts most, our School Board is unable to act independently of bureaucratic senior staff, entrenched special interests, and policy imported by the education industry from Sacramento.  Recent “governance workshops” by consultants glossed over abuses and revealed embarrassingly weak School Board management.  

Because he saw real wrongs that needed to be righted, Hills answered the call from others to run.  The goal was simply to see if someone with successful governance experience could get elected instead of the usual PTA presidents and former teachers who gravitate toward School Board elections. 

The Hills campaign triggered the same regimented block voting by defenders of the status quo that has persisted for well over a decade confirming that powerful influencers in our schools culture don’t want a diverse high-performing School Board - just a compliant and predictable one. 

Frank Carri

Laguna Beach

“…a re-awakening in my values and thinking.”

For me, president elect Donald Trump brought a re-awakening in my values and thinking. 

His disregard for Hispanics reminded me of the wonderful people who are friends and workers all over our town and the U.S.A., some of whom have come from south of the border in recent years. The U.S. Catholic Bishops called on the Trump transitional team last week to ask them to be considerate of Latino immigrants. Without Hispanics, our town would come to a grinding halt. 

His attacks on Muslims made me realize how many Middle Eastern people own businesses in Laguna, work in our town, are active at our Community Center and Susi Q and feel comfortable visiting our town. Many have picnics at my favorite city parks, Heisler and Treasure Island and enforce our decades old values of maintaining a totally open society. If any one place reflects this value, it’s our boardwalk. 

His mean words for FOX news person Megyn Kelly regarding her bleeding from here and there and his actions and insults against women are embarrassing for me as a American and his plan to take away a woman’s choice is hard to believe, especially in 2016.

With L.G.B.T. suicide prevention hot lines overwhelmed, millions of young people including school children living in fear of Mr. Trump and dozens of other concerns, I believe he is already destroying our fragile society. 

What do you think? 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

Trump campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, deserves credit

As an unabashed Hillary Clinton supporter, it’s time to give credit to the victors, especially Kellyanne Conway.  She is the first woman to run a winning presidential campaign. In doing so, she reached a height no other woman in U.S. political history has: On Tuesday, she successfully broke the second highest glass ceiling in the land.

I don’t suggest Conway think about running for president herself, but it’s clear she knew how to market Donald Trump to the voters.  Given her success, I don’t think it will be long before the highest, toughest glass ceiling in America is shattered.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Congratulations to Steve Dicterow for extolling Laguna’s Rustic Charm and unique Village character. Keeping focus on Laguna’s essential attributes and values on which you campaigned must be ensured-Thank you!

With the re-election of incumbents, their combined experience, commitment and thoughtfulness will be greatly appreciated and tested in the years to come.

I hope each will work diligently to find thoughtful resolution for the    urgent and far-reaching issues, be it traffic, water, services, public transportation, tourism, cleanliness, improvements for safety and better communication as well all important environmental mandates.

I encourage City Council to expand public involvement, develop more citizen oversight, demanding greater transparency in city affairs and managing public funds responsibly while highlighting and supporting Laguna’s unique cultural and physical qualities through meaningful debate and decision-making.

A star example of local environmental success and model of how expansive goals merge with rustic charm in an environmentally sensitive location was highlighted at the Art Hotel this week honoring the late Rose Ekeberg DVM, Jim Stauffer and John Cunningham who initiated and developed Friends of the Sea Lions, now the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.

Congratulations to Bob Whalen for his important work to secure nuclear waste, Laura Parisi as our valued city Treasurer and Laguna Beach School Board elects, Peggy Wolff and Jan Vickers for their tireless commitment to future generations.

To Verna Rollinger, my great admiration and appreciation for her continuing efforts and involvement keeping Laguna beautiful, relevant and unique.

To all who campaigned, greatappreciation for your efforts and my very best for a Happy Thanksgiving!

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach

Are public beach accesses a city liability or a public asset?

A design for rehabilitation of the public beach access at the end of Agate Street is currently up for City Council appeal on Tuesday Nov 15th. It is a widely used access and viewing area where the public enjoys coveted views of the unique surf break, Catalina sunsets, Pearl Rock and the famous Arch.

Reasons for the Appeal:  1) the approved plan reduces the upper viewing platform’s usable area by over half, down to the size of a large parking space. This new 10x16 ft space is further restricted when one includes the access pathway through it, as well as the new seating.  The existing view platform now accommodates about 15 people, which has been reduced to about 6 people.  2) Seating needs to be wooden benches and not hard cold concrete seat walls.  3) Wheelchair access ramps have been eliminated to this new viewing platform.  A very small area streetside, amongst a new bike rack and garbage can, has been created as an after thought.  4) No view studies on the remaining views have been performed.  The view of the Arch from the bench is in jeopardy despite being preserved in perpetuity by past Conditions of Approvals.

This is a Public Works project, being paid for with our public tax dollars.  Why is it the public’s opinion is not being valued and utilized to make this into more of an asset for the public’s usage? It appears the design focus is to minimize the overall size and to reduce the liability of loitering rather than to enhance the currently enjoyed assets of these gateways to our beaches.

City Council needs to grant this appeal and send this poor design back to the DRB with specific guidance to make this a more palatable design for the public who can then enjoy it for a very long time. With just a little effort and openness to small changes, this can be achieved and the existing million dollar public views will be preserved.  

Please help save the assets of this public beach access by contacting our City Council or attending Tuesday’s meeting and supporting the Appeal.  Let’s preserve and enhance, not reduce and restrict Laguna’s public assets.

Peter Mann

Laguna Beach

After the Trump victory

Now that the election is over, it is time to get on with the peaceful transfer of power from Barack Obama to Donald Trump.  

I know the mere mention of Trump’s name makes some people’s blood boil; however, what’s done is done.

Democracy thrives because we are a nation of laws.  Going forward, my wish is those who voted for Hillary Clinton, Gary Johnson or Jill Stein (or didn’t vote at all) work within the system to make the U.S. a more perfect union. The best way to get there is peacefully and thoughtfully.  

By definition, this means no civil war in the streets and no more congressional dysfunction.   

It is clear to this sixty-something father of three the character of our neighbors and fabric of this nation will be tested between now and inauguration day January 20, 2017.  Which means there is one more vote to tally. I’m counting on people’s better angels to win out.   

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

1/4 mile Arc looked like “…a crappy fence blocking the ocean view”

I love art and wish we had more public art pieces in Laguna. However, the 1/4 Mile Arc installation on Main Beach by Phillip Smith is a major fail. I feel bad saying it, but it just is. 

Why anyone would think its “artistic” to put what looks like fence posts across the beach and block the ocean view at Main Beach makes me question their actual artistic abilities. 

I sincerely thought it was new construction on main beach and was sad that the view of the ocean would once again be blocked. The view of main beach was obstructed by construction fencing for years while the new lifeguard HQ was built. 

Please no more “art” that looks like a crappy fence blocking the ocean view.

J. White

Laguna Beach

Is Mayor Dicterow’s house an ATM machine?

Last month several people came to a City Council meeting voicing concerns about Steve Dicterow’s financial difficulties. The response from the public was compassion, “everyone has tough times”.  Laguna has a history of caring for one another. That’s who we are. But it can’t be left at that. How did Mayor Dicterow get there? 

Public records disclose that Mayor Dicterow bought his home in 1988 for $340,000. Since that time he refinanced his mortgage seven times:

$368,000 in 1995

$440,000 in 1999

$547,000 in 2003 with an additional $50,000 second

$500,000 additional borrowed in late 2003

$1,000,000 in 2006

$271,000 in 2007 as a second 

Granted, many people refinanced to reduce their mortgage rate during the roaring housing bubble of pre-2008.  It was tempting to pull out ready money as the value of a home increased during this period.  However, it was always a gamble to risk the family home particularly as Mayor Dicterow did to finance new business ventures, such as a motorcycle circuit venture and a mold and water restoration venture, both of which unfortunately failed.  Since he had accumulated another $281,000 in unsecured debts by 2014, he used the bankruptcy option to protect his home.  The bankruptcy option seems reasonable in this set of circumstances, but the multiple refinancing of the family home at such a level seems unwise.

We can (and should) feel compassion for anyone in danger of losing their home. It is a tough and sad situation for anyone to experience, and thank the government that there is a bankruptcy option for protection of the home.  

The real question is the soundness of Mayor Dicterow’s decision to refinance at increasingly larger amounts. It makes one wonder about his abilities to make sound decisions over Laguna’s $70,000,000 budget.

When Mayor Dicterow supported building a four story garage at the Village Entrance, which was eventually blocked by a residents’ revolt, he stated at the City Council that a $65 million dollar bond is like a mortgage, “you never expect to pay off your mortgage”. For him that’s unfortunately true. 

George Weiss

Laguna Beach


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