How this Grandpa feel’s about skateboarding in Laguna Beach

I have lived in this town for a number of years. My daughter, her husband and their children have lived here even longer.

Two of my three grandsons love to skateboard!  At their home they have probably 10 to 12 different boards, all shapes and sizes. Some boards are for “trick skating. A few are for “cruising.” One is for “down hilling.” I have learned about what these boards are for through my grandsons who eagerly share with me their love of what they do. When I watch them I feel such happiness. When I listen to them I feel such pride at their passion and devotion!

When the oldest of my grandsons first ventured into the downhill sport, I felt nervous. What if he got hurt? I watched him over a series of months practice and work on his ‘technique’. He studied videos, he asked experienced skaters questions, but most important he practiced every day! First in our cul de sac, later he ventured to other streets in town that had a little more elevation to them. He is only 12 and yet he has had the good sense to take his time, and build carefully on his skill before advancing the challenge. It has been an amazing process to watch. I no longer feel afraid and I often go and watch him in action. What an exhilarating and inspiring thing downhill skating is! It makes me feel young again just to watch. When I see his face and those of his closest friends who share the same passion for the sport that he does…I say to myself… This is what life should be about!!

I felt I needed to speak out, because I am in the same age range as most of the SNAG group is…and yet I feel so entirely different than they do. I don’t feel inconvenienced! I don’t mind slowing down and checking twice! I don’t mind waiting as they go merrily by me on their boards! In fact I watch and I only wish I will still young enough to participate!

I am not sure what motivates these SNAG people…but I don’t believe for one second that it is ‘for the children’ that they act. If they had ever watched these kids, with an open heart, they would become enamored just as I have!

M. Matthews

Laguna Beach

Has a majority of the Council lost touch with Laguna’s youth?

I was sickened to find my house littered with SNAG trash last week.  I’m assuming that it’s from Alan Bernstein and his lynch mob.  But I’ll never know because the coward who wrote the letter didn’t sign it.  So whoever stuck the letter on my mailbox should “man up” and sign your name, but I guess you were too “scared.” Oh and by the way, it’s illegal to tape or place letters on private mailboxes and I have filed a complaint with the Postal Inspection Agency and you will be found out. In the mean time, stay off my property!

As far as the letter goes, I thought it was ridiculous on so many levels. First of all… get a life!  Secondly, to claim that “some guy died in LA from skateboarding” without any evidence or names is totally irresponsible.  You’re basically lying to prove your point.  You’re propaganda is as messed up as your mission to kill our skateboarding culture.  The only thing worse than your SNAG campaign is the fact that the LBCC is supporting your illegal methods and smear tactics.  It’s pretty obvious that the majority of the LBCC has completely lost touch with the youth in our community. (The only Council members that do understand our side are Jane Egly and Kelly Boyd.  I am grateful to them both for protecting our freedoms.)

We are a skateboarding, surfing, diving, outdoor-beach culture and there is nothing like it.  It’s what makes living here so special and unique.

I used to be able to go get dinner from the ocean. I used to be able to ride my skateboard wherever I wanted to. I am a long time local surfer, Skateboarder, Waterman, and Father who has shared his love of skateboarding with his two children.   I taught my kids to ride a skateboard by standing them up between my legs and riding down hills when they were two years old. Needless to say that growing up on a skateboard has taught my kids to have incredible balance and confidence. Both of my kids are great little humans, who are star students, polite and respectful. We have 15 different skateboards at our house and my kids and their friends are encouraged to ride and enjoy them all.

My goal is very simple; I want to have the freedom to ride my skateboard down my street whenever I feel like, as I have done my entire life.  I want my kids to have the same freedoms that I had growing up here.  I moved to Laguna Beach in 1973 and I grew up skating down to the beach, to school, to work or to visit my friends.  I never had a problem in over 35 years, and I’ve done it responsibly and without incident.  And now we have people like Alan and SNAG trying to end our skateboarding culture.

If the LBCC really cares about the future of Laguna Beach, then they should be supporting our youth on this issue and kids like Wyatt Gibbs and his LBAG crew.

I am proud of the way Wyatt Gibbs and LBAG have conducted themselves with this issue.  They are the only ones who have acted responsibly. They are not the ones breaking the law, like SNAG.  They are not spreading rumors and lies like SNAG.  In fact, it’s the kids that the LBCC should support and commend, not the Grumpy old farts in SNAG!

It’s obvious that SNAG doesn’t care about the kids and our unique beach lifestyle.  The SNAG letter says: “You don’t have to be scared anymore” (regarding the Skateboarders going down hill).  Since I don’t know who wrote the letter, I’ll say this, if you’re “scared of the skateboarders,” maybe you should check out to Florida. The roads are flat there and I hear the weather is perfect!

Darren Madrigal

Laguna Beach

SNAG wants a retirement community in the middle of town

Thank you for taking the time to really think about the very controversial issue of skateboarding in Laguna Beach.

I was very impressed with the work done by the Parking, Traffic and Circulation (PTC) committee.  I feel their study of this issue and ultimate ordinance recommendation was both reasonable and progressive.

I was very disheartened at the last Council meeting at which this issue was debated. It appeared some Council members were influenced not by reason and fact, but by the shrill and hateful cries of a special interest group.

As you should know, the fabric of our community is constructed from many different threads – families, retirees, young, old, professionals, civil servants, trades people, etc. – your duty requires you to represent and legislate for all of these factions.

The people of Laguna Beach are smart.  And, they are mighty.  You may need the money of special interest groups to finance your campaigns, but you need our votes to be elected.  This is your chance to show Laguna that you care about the interests of all.

One unfortunate byproduct of this debate has been that the kids in this community feel under attack from the authority figures in charge of governing them, as well as feel maligned by their fellow, albeit older, citizen peers.

SNAG’s desire for a retirement community smack dab in the middle of a town populated by families is narrow-minded and ridiculous.  However, they seem to have your ear…

Please listen to the rest of Laguna Beach with great care at the next meeting.  I desperately urge you vote so that the cultural divide we’re experiencing isn’t ripped open further.

Jennifer Gibbs

30+ Year Resident

Transportation and sports are regulated – ban speedboarding

I am writing to you as a homeowner and resident of Morningside Drive to share my concerns and thoughts about the issue of speedboarding in the neighborhood.

Most of us who purchased homes in the neighborhood did so in part because it was quiet, secluded, beautiful and safe, not to mention in Laguna Beach and valuable as an asset.  All of these are adversely affected by speedboarders who make use of the neighborhood as a sports arena.

I have thought a lot about this issue, and what it means to me on both a personal and community level.  You’ve probably thought about everything I will raise thoroughly and deeply, but let me share a little.

1. Transportation.  If we agree that transportation is basically a means of getting from Point A to Point B, speedboarding, at least on the Morningside-Bluebird Canyon loop, is not used as transportation.  If that were what people were doing on their boards, they would use the road as a route to get to a destination, once at any given time, not repeatedly.  Nor would they need a chase car behind them to bring them back to the beginning of the route.

In any case, all modes of transportation are controlled. Pedestrians must cross at crosswalks or lights or risk a ticket; bicycles must use lanes, wear helmets, pay for licenses, signal, have lights and reflectors.  Cars are regulated, as are buses, taxis, shuttles, trains, subways, airplanes.

2.  Regulation.  Sports too are regulated.  Skiers use slopes, though they might prefer those nice, accessible streets in mountain cities.  Surfers are only allowed on some beaches during some hours.   Baseball players do not set up diamonds anywhere in parks or on the lawns of public buildings or on public streets. Golfers must practice on driving ranges and courses. Culture is regulated as well.  Art is exhibited in specific places and licenses required for public exhibits.  Music has venues and regulated hours.  Parties, even in private homes, are regulated by noise variances.  Public space is not free space, but shared space; space where everyone’s rights must be considered.

3.  Freedom. With freedom comes responsibility. In particular, free society requires every citizen to consider his or her responsibility towards others while exercising a freedom. Laws come into being when people exercise their freedoms at the expense of others; when freedoms collide.

The speedboarders I have seen obey no set of laws. They use the entire street, occupying lanes and pedestrian space in both directions; they do not obey the speed limits; they do not obey Stop signs; they sometimes use their boards at crosswalks; they don’t signal for lane changes or turns.

It would have been possible for speedboarders as a group to organize in order to set up regulations they could present to the community to show that they understood the concerns and were taking action toward self- regulation.

4. What I fear.  A terrible accident in which a speedboarder is brain-damaged or killed and I or a neighbor is haunted for life; the escalating battle between homeowners and speedboarders; the lack of safety and respect on the streets of my neighborhood; the possibility that speedboarders will arrive in larger and larger numbers; the devaluation of neighborhood property to buyers and renters as a consequence of the presence of speedboarders.   An additional concern is for the safety of my husband, who has a degenerative neurological condition, ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, now in its sixth year.  When we “walk” in the neighborhood, he must use a power wheelchair. You can imagine my fear for him should speedboarders and their chase car come around a bend.

5.  A personal view of speedboarders. In my view, speedboarders are valuable citizens in our community. They are brave, they are young, they are our future.  It would be wonderful to see them take on the job of self-regulating and presenting what they see as fair regulation to a meeting, regulation that took into consideration the needs of the community as well as their need to have a place to practice their sport.  I would like to see them take on the responsibility of finding a venue that works and raising funds to see that it’s built. That Council Member Kelly Boyd has taken on such a project is terrific.

6.  A note about accidents. The other day a friend whose son is in high school quoted him as say, “Well, I can stop on a dime.” That belief, that skill can avert accidents, is deeply unseasoned. If only life worked like that, that our skill could defend us against the lack of it: spare us from the driver who just got fired, who is sipping morning coffee, who is punching the dashboard in fury about an argument, whose mother or father is dying, who is talking the phone or switching on music or daydreaming. The definition of an accident is “an unfortunate happening that occurs unintentionally and usually results in harm, injury, damage or loss.” And when you find yourself in a wheelchair for life or worse, it isn’t going to matter whose fault it is.

I support a full ban on speedboarding on public streets and any other regulations the Council sees fit to impose.  I also support the Council retaining the right to lift this ban for specific events, as is done for other sports, if our public safety officials agree that it would be possible to police it.

Julie Brickman

Laguna Beach

Don’t touch my mailbox again

It was beyond annoying, to come home and find a piece of skewed propaganda taped to my mailbox this past week from the SNAG group! This is the second time that they have broken the law and done this! It happened a few months ago, and they ‘supposedly’ received a lot of flak…apparently not enough!

I called the Postal Inspector and had an in-depth phone call after I found the printed rubbish. He said that what SNAG has done is illegal! He told me he would contact the local USPS office here in our town and the Police department and assured me they would be told to stop. That was Thursday. Friday SNAG blanketed Summit and Arch Beach heights, and on Saturday they vandalized Skyline drive with their drivel!

Enough is enough! How dare you decide to shove in my face your nutty opinion!  Ban Skateboarding! Are you kidding me? Kids have been skating here for over 40 years without incident. (I don’t take into consideration accidents that have occurred due to no helmet! A foolish choice made by a particular individual!)  For heaven sakes if some kid went onto a football field to play the game with no helmet and he was injured would we be banning football too?

Glenn Beck doesn’t appeal to me because he over dramatizes and blows out of proportion many issues. At least he is smart enough to know that he better not show up at my house and try shoving his opinion down my throat! Who the heck do you SNAG people think you are? Well guess what, there are [thousands of] people who live in this town and we outnumber you by far!

What adult, with an education, living in a community like Laguna Beach would assume it was okay to inflict upon your neighbors your skewed point of view? Literally force it upon them!! Who the heck do you think you are?? Stay away from my house, don’t touch my mailbox again, and for the love of God keep your close-minded, selfish, and self-serving opinion to yourself!

One last thing…I happen to know for a fact that you misquoted, literally took out of context, Chad Gibb’s statements. Shame on you! Using a good man’s name to further your vendetta with skateboarders!

Kimberly Young

Laguna Beach


Amy Kramer

Ice Cream Trucks


Remember the ice cream man? The faint tinkling music played far down the street but to the ears of a kid it was loud enough to signal Bomb Pops, Big Sticks and snow cones were on the way. You had just enough time to run into your house and beg your mom for some spare change to buy one of those fabulous treats. When the ice cream man finally pulled up onto the street kids were already buzzing around the truck looking for their favorite confection, eager to order. I don’t remember the popsicles being all that tasty, but the fact that a truck could pull up and you could buy ice cream on your street, in your neighborhood, it was amazing.

Laguna does not have ice cream trucks. We have Art Walk.

The other day I was in Ladera Ranch with my kids on the soccer field. At the end of the game, like clockwork, the ice cream man pulled up in his truck with the music blaring and kids went scurrying. It was an anomaly to me, seeing an ice cream truck at a park. But in some neighborhoods, and cities, an ice cream truck is not considered a loud, noisy nuisance. It’s just a fun way for someone to make money and for kids to be thrilled to buy something they don’t get every day.

My mind wandered towards the strange cynicism our town is experiencing as of late in regards to our kids. Why is it that our affluent community cannot sponsor a skate park, but the dogs are free to run all day in a huge grassy field? Why are there so many people who are flat out angry with kids for skateboarding and riding their bikes?

Is it that Laguna has promoted policies that are so pro art gallery, fine cuisine and dog- mindedness that maybe we have forgotten our kids’ needs to run free and take advantage of the amazing community in which they live? We have one pool for the entire city that has to support recreational swimmers, lap swimmers, swim team and water polo. Our high school track has now been closed to the public and non-school sports teams leaving us less opportunity to run our baby-joggers and clock our miles. And a kid with a skateboard is maligned just for having one, much less riding one.

And what about an ice cream truck? Can’t a kid get a fudgesicle for a $1.50 on a given day while playing at the park? Maybe Laguna never had an ice cream man (or woman), and that’s why it was such a surreal experience for me to see one that day in Ladera.

It’s not a Laguna versus Ladera thing. We have great schools, great families, an amazingly responsive community when it comes to education, the arts and promoting a high-end tourist economy. Perhaps Laguna should apply a little more perspective and balance when considering the freedoms of all the adults who grew up here and what the kids in Laguna today deserve as well.


Amy Kramer is a wife, mom, president of Laguna Beach Republicans, and facilitates a conservative women’s group. Send comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SNAG responders for banning speedboarding

Approximately one year ago, my wife and I were in the front of our home doing yard work.  As we often do, we heard the sound of a high speed skateboarder coming down our street (significant decline).  As we watched the young man on the skateboard approach, his board stopped abruptly, and he continued forward.  He struck the asphalt with tremendous force, striking his head and left shoulder on the pavement.  After he struck, he slid approximately 15 feet further down the roadway. [Del Mar Ave]

My wife and I ran to the young man, who was with another skateboarder.  As we made contact, the young man, identified as “Anthony,” was dazed and confused.  He did not know what had happened or who he was.  Over time and through the help of his co-rider, we were able to contact his mother, a local neighbor.  While comforting Anthony, it was obvious he has a fractured left collarbone (break was visible) and a laceration to the rear of this head.  My wife called 911 and the medics, along with a police officer arrived.  Anthony was taken to the hospital via ambulance.  Anthony, who was under 18 years of age, was not wearing a helmet.

Anthony is only one example of a skateboarder having a collision near our home.  The speed in which these riders travel down our street is unsafe.  Sometimes the riders’ lye down on the boards, making if difficult for motorists to see (especially someone backing out of a driveway).

The California Vehicle Code provides for a local jurisdiction to draft and adopt an ordinance prohibiting certain types of activity, such as skateboarding.  I urge all of you to adopt such a citywide ordinance to protect the skateboarders, residents and parked vehicles.  If the skateboarders are not allowed to ride in the City, they will find other venues to enjoy their activity.  In the meantime, I urge the police department to take a strong stance, with juvenile riders who are not wearing law required equipment and issue traffic citations.

As a retired traffic bureau commander for a local Orange County city, I have seen tragedy strike in a flash.  If something is not done by you, the same will happen here.  Knowing that there was something you could have done and didn’t, will be difficult to explain to someone’s parents.

Karl and Donna Schuler

I am a long time resident on Dorn Ct at Temple Hills Dr in Top of the World. I strongly support the Ban on Speedboarding. Speedboarding threatens the safety and well being of both the speedboarder and the drivers in my neighborhood and we must put a stop to it!

Sharon R. Davison

I support the potential ban on speed boarding on Temple Hills Drive.  I live on Temple Hills Drive, and have seen on many occasions speed boarders flying down the hill at any time of day or night (even laying on their boards!). They cross back and forth over the lanes, even around bends.   What happens to them is their problem, but I don’t want the responsibility of hitting them, them having an accident on or at my property, or the risk that while walking my dog that he may become startled at the noise and lunge, OR do I want that my tax dollars need to be used to pay for a suit brought to the city for some reason from a speed boarder (if it is allowed anywhere in the city, have some sort of waiver that needs to be signed to protect the city)!

Let’s be reasonable.

John Benecke

As a concerned parent, grandparent and concerned citizen, this so called sport should be banned on a very dangerous street, Nyes Place.

Sheila & Steven Jacobs

Help!  Somebody is going to be killed if speedboarding continues on
our street (Manzanita off La Vista/Skyline and Park).

We have three blind corners, one of which sits the Anneliese School (where congestion involves small children and their parents picking them up and dropping them off at several different times of the day), Laguna Beach High School/tennis courts/Pool access (where congestion includes kids and adults for every pool-related and tennis-related activity occur, as well as parking) and the corner of Skyline/La Vista (where the speedboarders exit Skyline at amazingly reckless speeds and continue down and around the corners mentioned above.

These corners are so blind that cars traveling at low speeds of 5-10mph
have difficulty adjusting to on-coming traffic and pedestrians.

Every time I hear the screeching of their wheels rounding our corner at God
knows what speed I hold my breath fearing the worst. It hasn’t happened yet, but I swear to you, if they continue their sport along this stretch of road one of them will become a hood ornament on some unfortunate driver’s car.

Please ban speedboarding before this happens...not after.

Liz Virtue

Whilst I support, in principal, the American ideals of freedom of expression and freedom to pursue one’s own happiness, as a resident of the Park, Temple Hills, Skyline neighborhood, I support a speedboarding ban on those streets.

Both while driving my car and whilst going for a run on those streets I’ve encountered speedboarders who are marginally out of control.  I define “marginally out of control” as travelling, probably 30-40 miles an hour and being carried, by momentum, into lanes of on-coming traffic.  Fortunately, in the cases I witnessed, there were no cars coming in the on-coming lanes, and as a result no accident nor injury.  However, I would suggest, were the practice to continue, it would only be a matter of time.

My concern is for the speedboarders themselves, but also for pedestrians or drivers of vehicles that may be involved in mishaps, whose lives would be indefinitely affected. With the understanding that a ban on certain streets, would effectively increase the concentration of speedboarders on the remaining, un-banned streets, I would support a ban in all steep, Laguna Beach streets.

Ulrike Zugelder

I am writing to ask you to prohibit speedboarding on Park Avenue.  I live near the top of Park Avenue and I have been scared many times while driving up Park Avenue by speedboarders flying past my car while I’m travelling up Park Avenue.  I am sure that if people are allowed to speedboard on Park Avenue it will only be a matter of a short time before there will be a horrific crash resulting in severe injury and/or death.

If a speedboarder crashes into my car while I am driving up Park Avenue, then, setting aside for the moment the risk of serious injury and death that speedboarder voluntarily assumes, I and my passengers will involuntarily suffer severe emotional injury and I don’t want to be forced to take that risk every time I drive to my home.

Whenever I see a speedboarder on Park Avenue, I try to pull over to the side of the road and stop while the speedboarder passes, because I have no doubt that if a speedboarder smashes into my car I will be sued by the injured speedboarder or his or her grieving family, and it will be much easier for me to defend myself in such a frivolous lawsuit if the collision occurs while my car is stopped.  Hopefully I will not be rear-ended by the car behind me when I pull over!  I should not have to feel like I need to stop my car while driving on a public road to accommodate a thrill seeker.

The safety problems with speedboarding on Park Avenue are exacerbated by the fact that speedboarders are physically unable to stop or even slow down at the stop sign at Park Avenue and Wendt Terrace.  Additionally, speedboarders are unable to avoid drifting into oncoming traffic at the curve in Park Avenue just past that stop sign.

Please prohibit speedboarding on Park Avenue.

Bill Steel

As resident of Laguna Beach, living on a steep hill, and having had several close calls with reckless people directly in front of our home, we would express our complete support for the banning of speedboarding on any and all streets in Laguna Beach.

Speedboarding is unsafe for the participant as well as pedestrians, drivers, cyclists and property that may be in their path.

Thank you for supporting the Ban On Speedboarding in Laguna Beach.

Gerald S & Linda S Freeman

Summit Drive

I just wanted to share my thoughts of speedboarding as a homeowner on Summit Dr. Personally I have no problem with speedboarding as a sport, but on public streets it does create unnecessary risks for speedboarders, and drivers. As a cyclist I am responsible to abide by the respective traffic laws, and ride in the shoulder or designated bike lanes where possible. This clearly is not respected the same way with speedboarders and I have personally witnessed a number of near misses or an out of control board careen down the street posing a risk for oncoming traffic.

Perhaps an alternative would be to allow speedboarding on some of the paved fire access trails where there is no traffic to contend with and there is still considerable elevation climbs which speedboarders enjoy.

I am in favor of a speedboarding ban on public streets.

Michael McKinzie

Since I travel up and down Nyes Place at least once a day, I have been frightened by dangerous speedboarders there  - frightened for their safety and for my liability.

Please prohibit speedboarding on our steep hills, including Nyes Place.

Eleanor Warthen

Balboa Ave resident: ban speedboarding

Please be advised that I strongly support the “Ban on Speedboarding” law currently up for adoption by the Laguna Beach City Council Vote.

My house is located on Balboa Avenue which unfortunately is a the top of the popularity of boarders as a starting venue. Daily activity is on going and many of the participants are not even wearing protective gear. Insane!

John Bohas

Laguna Beach

Disagrees with SNAG’s position

I found a flyer taped to my mailbox today, from SNAG (Speedboarders Neighborhood Action Group) that urged me to contact all of you regarding the ban on skateboarding.

However, I must disagree with SNAG’s position.  It is true that after the initial ban on other streets, I have seen more skateboarders on my street, Nyes Place.  My experience with these skateboarders is as follows:

1.  They have been very careful when going down the hill.

2.  They have been very courteous.

3.  They have shown incredible control.

4.  They are amazing to watch.

In conclusion, the skateboarders really don’t seem to be bothering anybody.
I urge all the decision makers to live and let live.

Mark Razin

Laguna Beach

No skateboarding on Temple Hills Drive

As a resident of Top of the World, I am very concerned about the presence of Speedboarders in our neighborhood.  On many occasions, I have come around the corner to my street (Zell) after going up the hill on Temple Hills, only to be shocked to find a young person, hidden by the parked cars on the street flying around the corner heading downhill.  I am very concerned that one day, I might not be able to stop in time and might injure that youngster, or worse.  It is not safe to be participating in this activity on a steep and well trafficked street like Temple Hills, and all of the feeder streets, like Zell even if we drivers are only going 25 miles per hour.

I support a ban on Speedboarding in my neighborhood.

Jada Robitaille

Laguna Beach

Open the track!

I have lived in Laguna for 19 years. Funds were raised for the track with the understanding that we would be able to share the facilities.  I have been running there for years, often during school hours, along with many others, many of them seniors.  To my knowledge, there has never been a security or safety issue.

This lockout of the public is not in the community spirit of Laguna.

Eva Segovia

Laguna Beach


It’s good to get away…

…but not to come back

Nancy Hamm PhotoNancy Hamm

A couple of weekends ago I took my first trip alone since the birth of my son, Fabrizio, who is now 4 ½ years old. It’s been a long time coming but it wasn’t until recently that I felt I could actually leave my family. Had I known that wondrous part of taking a trip by yourself as a mother is that for a brief time you actually get to be yourself, that self you were way back when your boss wasn’t quite so demanding, I might have forced myself out the door long ago.

I went to New York and I was certain that my next column would be about the freeing experience, conquering my fear of flying alone and getting time to just be. While all of that is true and my trip was beyond amazing, verging on a Zen like experience, it left me wanting more. More time, more freedom and mostly more me.

Like any great weekend, it was over before I was ready. The glimpse of who I was when not bound by responsibility was a tease. So when the time came to head to the airport I thought of my boys and how much I really had missed them.

I had grand images of the hero’s welcome I would receive when I arrived. I envisioned every detail. My boys waiting at the bottom of the escalator I would be descending. Fabrizio breaking free from his father’s grip to run into my arms squealing with delight as he repeated, “I missed you sooo much”. I’d take him into my arms and we’d hug until my husband wrapped his arm around my shoulder and guided me to the car. There he’d offer to take us to dinner where I could recount the details of my fabulous weekend.  Naturally, in my imagination he would be genuinely interested and Fabrizio would sit still through a meal.

In all honesty, I should have known better. What I got was a curbside pickup and a quick “I missed you” as I tried to hug Fabrizio in his car seat.  There was barely enough time to throw my bag in the trunk before he was demanding we head to the park. My “no” was followed by a tantrum and full attitude from David, who by this time must have been at his end. After all, he had never spent three days alone with our son, who is considered a handful by even the most experienced professional.

The pickup should have been a warning of what was in store. The days that followed failed to bring back that warm fuzzy feeling for my family. I was left wondering why I even bothered booking a return ticket. Fabrizio turned into a complete brat throwing fits over the smallest details and I felt as if David was working overtime. The only thing that was even the slightest reassuring was that a number of moms told me that both of their behavior was normal and that at some point it would all go back to normal. It did. It took exactly three days, coincidently the number of days I was gone.

When I asked one of my friends if it was really worth taking these trips considering the hell I was currently living in her answer was a firm “Yes”. I’m beginning to agree. That time by myself was amazing and with the worst of it behind me I’m already wondering when I can schedule my next getaway.


Nancy Hamm is a wife and mother to a 4 year old with cerebral palsy. She is currently working on her first novel.


Jeanne Cottraux Lynch

Jeanne Cottraux PhotoJeanne Lynch passed away on March 1, 2011 in Anaheim. She was 65.

Her three children, Kathryn Ford of Laguna Beach, Gary Michael deGero, Jr., and Deborah C. Hart, and her six grandchildren, Hana and Sydney Ford, Travis, Brittany and Sierra deGero, and Kyle Hart survive her.

In 1981, Jeanne settled in Laguna Beach as a single mother with her youngest daughter, Katie Lynch.  She was a free spirit who loved Laguna and everything about it, and being a talented artist herself, this was truly the place she could call home.

Living and working in Laguna was really a dream come true for Jeanne because it allowed her to create the amazing illustrations and calligraphy for which she was so well known. Her artistic talent was in her blood, inherited from her mother Nell who created illustrations well into her 80’s. Jeanne shared her love of art with her daughter Katie. It is through this love of art that together they formed a graphics design company, which Katie continues to run today since Jeanne retired in 1995.

One of Jeanne’s favorite times of the year was the Patriots’ Day Parade. She would drive her pink convertible VW bug in the parade line-up with giant crayons in the back of the bug. She was always proud to be a part of Laguna’s community spirit.

Her pink VW bug also graces the streets of Laguna at Christmas time on a palate that she painted in which Santa Claus is driving the bug overflowing with a Christmas tree and gifts.

Jeanne VW Photo Jeanne Pallette Photo

Jeanne was a generous and caring woman who was always there to help those around her.  She had a dear friend, Steve, who is an amazing pianist and composer. Steve attributes his success as a Broadway musician to Jeanne’s constant encouragement and unending love and support. She will be missed by all.

We love you Jeanne.

Private services to be held at a later date.

Are student safety concerns re: the track unnecessary?

I am writing to express my strong displeasure with the recent decision to lock the taxpaying neighbors out of the enclosed high school track during school hours.

We, the taxpayers, voted to fund the construction of our beautiful track, partially based on the fact that it would be a shared facility that could be used by all. The attitude of the current administration is based upon their misplaced concern over the security issues created by having an open track.

This is a valid concern in some communities but is very far from the truth in Laguna Beach. If anything the fact that the track is used by many in the community offers more eyes and ears to watch for any wrongdoing that may take place.  Without question, it is a much safer environment due to the fact that there are almost always several adult users present! I have no knowledge of any problems that have taken place during the school hours in the past!

This is a clear example of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” and should not be allowed!! If there is to be a lock out possibly it should be aimed at the narrow-minded bureaucrats that have the spare time to make issues such as this become a priority. They should be focusing on the education of our kids and not attempting to prevent problems that are happening elsewhere in totally different communities.

Laguna Beach is a special place and we need to work hard to keep it that way, not to reduce it to the level of some other crime-ridden neighborhoods.

This new policy needs to be eliminated so we can keep Laguna Beach special and not start the downward spiral to being “just another place on the map”.

Roger Cayce

Laguna Beach

League of Women [and men] Voters turns 90

The League of Women Voters is celebrating its 90th anniversary.  Founded after Women’s Suffrage was adopted, those women who had fought so long for the right to vote, set definite goals for this newly founded group.  The League of Women voters would support an informed, participating electorate.  That goal has not changed through these past 90 years.

What has changed is that it is now an organization of women and men.

How is voter participation supported?  Before elections you see members of the League with registration materials, encouraging citizens to participate in the electoral process.  You observe the League advocating for easier access to registration.

What about an informed electorate?  Citizens are invited to attend Candidates Forums conducted in a non-partisan manner.  A League speaker’s bureau is available on request to provide an analysis (Pros and Cons) of ballot issues to interested groups.  You will find voter information provided by the League at your library.  The Laguna Unit cosponsors the popular Great Decisions Discussion Groups, which give access to in depth knowledge of foreign affairs.  The Laguna Beach Unit of the League has provided Town Meetings on a number of issues for the purpose, not of advocacy, but for providing information to the people of Laguna about topics, which affect our city.

In the next months The Laguna Beach Unit of the League of Women Voters will sponsor a series of informative Town Meetings to give members of our community the opportunity to gain knowledge, and to express their opinions about how issues should be resolved.

We appreciate members of Laguna’s faith community who are providing meeting space.  If you have a suggestion about issues, which need exploring, let your voice be heard.  If your group would like to have an analysis of the ballot issues for the June election, give us a call.  494-2247.

Jean Raun

Laguna Beach


Leah Leary


Founder & owner of Laguna Gander

Leah Leary PhotoLeah Leary died on March 2, 2011 after an extended hospital stay fighting an infection and complications following back surgery. She was 72

Leah was raised in Rochester, NY, attended Nazareth Academy Catholic Girls School where she excelled in sports, was named to the All Star Basketball team in her junior and senior year and was Junior Class President. Leah attended Brockport State Teachers College near Rochester and after graduation moved to California.

Leah was known as an excellent and dedicated teacher for her 18 years in California education as she encouraged her students with an accepting, supportive, encouraging and fun-loving attitude.

She opened the Laguna Gander store in Laguna Beach in 1974 and operated the gift store for 28 years. The Gander was the “go to store” for cards and gifts at the corner of Glenneyre and Forest Ave.  Leah had an eye for the perfect items to carry with something for everyone and her entrepreneurial spirit was alive.

After retirement in 2002, she delivered “Meals on Wheels”, played bridge and poker, was a staunch supporter of the Lakers, an avid football fan, played golf and loved to entertain. She loved beach parties, gardening and games that she played in a competitive and fun spirited way.

Known as a risk taker and an adventuresome woman, she was determined, independent, self-sufficient and had a great sense of humor. Her friends loved the twinkle in her eyes, her distinctive laugh, her always-encouraging attitude and big smile.

Leah leaves behind her partner of 34 years, Dixie Jordan, her longtime friend Barbara Miller, family members Linda Bell, Michael Leary, David and Leslie Romanchick, Jon and Laurie Korber, Martin and Mary G. Leary, 6 nieces, 1 nephew and many grandnieces and nephews and a wide circle of friends.

Leah would also have encouraged you to spend time with your loved ones.

While no memorial service is planned, in lieu of flowers, if you wish, please make donations in her name to R.U.F.F. (Rescuing Unwanted Furry Friends – see below) in Laguna Beach or the American Cancer Society /

RUFF - Rescuing Unwanted Furry Friends PO Box 1140 LB 92652 – 949.580.1092

Laguna Skate Saturday at Boys & Girls Club

I am writing in an ongoing effort to get the word out – there is a new Saturday skate park in Laguna. It is in partnership with Basics of Skateboarding Camp (who provides programs for Costa Mesa and Ladera Ranch) and Laguna’s very own local youth development experts, the Boys & Girls Club.

In direct response to this community’s needs (on several levels) the Club set out last year to raise funds and built a set of ramps that would be challenging for skaters and have the flexibility to be rearranged into new configurations to keep kids interested for the long haul. Chad Shelter of LOST designed and built the first set of ramps (two quarter pipes and a fun box for intermediate/advanced riders) and then Matt Sheridan of Basics of Skateboarding matched the set up with two more quarter pipes, a more transitional fun box for beginners, and a launch ramp…thus creating Laguna’s first official semi-portable skate park.

Both the Club and Basics of Skateboarding provide the oversight of trained experienced adults who provide guidance in terms of skills and character. We feel it is our responsibility to nurture the legacy of the surf and skate culture rooted in Laguna and preserve its combined essence of creativity, camaraderie, and environmental awareness in our community.

With all of the animosity that kids are affronted with in the world around them (including that stemming from the downhill issue), we are doing our part to teach kids from the start that safety, respect, confidence, creativity, and kindness enhance the skating experience. We believe infusing these qualities into the natural flow, connection, freedom, and excitement derived from skateboarding, can benefit our kids, our community, and our future in meaningful ways. We welcome with open arms community support.

Although at this point access is limited to Saturdays, if demand and resources grow, so will the availability. Please help spread the word about this great opportunity for more young people to discover and practice the art of skating at a place they can call their own. For more information, call the Club at 494-2535 x 100.

Pam Estes, Executive Director

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

Skateboarding…”remove the emotions and approach this issue with clarity and understanding.”

The ban on skateboarding in Laguna Beach must be lifted.

When man created the law banning women from their right to vote, women did not get their say. This ban on skateboarding down Bluebird Canyon has happened much the same way. The skateboarders did not get their chance to speak out.  When we did speak our peace the Mayor, [the City Council] and SNAG either walked out or turned a deaf ear.

Due process has been completely ignored. There has been no compromise, or real discussion about the new law. It just happened!

I would hope that the LBCC, when deciding to create something as serious as a new Law, would be open to hearing both sides. Instead they have chosen to support the 1% who are anti-skateboarding, namely SNAG.  The members of SNAG don’t skateboard and therefore cannot relate to the skills required to ride a board.  What might appear to SNAG as out of control and reckless, is actually skilled athletes using perfected techniques.  It’s ridiculous to judge something that you know nothing about.

This Ban on skateboarding is equally ridiculous and totally unfair.  When The LBCC created this law, they completely ignored the basic principles of Democracy and our rights as American citizens.  What we need is a real solution.

But first we have to remove the emotions and approach this issue with clarity and understanding.

Here is my idea: I call it “The Skaters Permit Program”

My idea is to utilize the same template that a Skiers Mountain Resort does. When a skier or snowboarder purchases a lift ticket, they automatically agree to release the [issuer] from all liabilities and basically hold themselves accountable for their actions. Much like a lift ticket, “The Skaters Permit “ could be purchased for a nominal fee, which would then release The City of Laguna Beach from any and all liabilities. This idea is beneficial for both sides. With The Skaters Permit Program in effect, every responsible skater would be registered [adding] revenue for Our City.

My goal is to reach a fair compromise that both parties can agree to.  So far the only side that has offered any reasonable solutions has been the skateboarders.  I know in my heart that you will eventually see that banning one of the biggest sports in our Nation is not the way.  I am pleading to you Ms. Mayor and The City Council to lift the ban and let us be free to ride responsibly and in good faith.

Darren Madrigal

Laguna Beach

American Legion and VFW served their Valentines dinner

American Legion Post 222 and VFW Post 5868 celebrated their annual Valentines Social at the Legion Post Thursday evening, February 17 with over 44 in attendance.

The men entertained the ladies with music and flowers. A fantastic steak & chicken dinner was prepared and catered by Mozambique Restaurant.  The men served the ladies their dinners, for a change.

The Legion and VFW want to thank Ivan Spiers and his staff from Mozambique for the fabulous food.  Special thanks go to Ladies Auxiliary member Sande St. John for her masterful event coordination.

Richard Moore, Adjutant

American Legion Post 222


Samantha Shannon

3 Dec 1966 - 14 Feb 2011

Samantha Shannon PhotoSamantha Shannon died February 14, 2011 surrounded by her family and longtime caregivers. “Sam” was a Laguna Native, born in South Coast Hospital, December 3, 1966.

She attended El Morro, Thurston and Laguna Beach High School.

Sam was smart, funny, spirited girl who was an excellent student. She had many good friends with whom she enjoyed softball, the beach, music and hours of conversation. She had an insightful, hilarious sense of humor.

Much of the promise of her life was dashed in an automobile accident in her Junior year of high school.

After the accident, she was no longer able to speak or control her body.

Her communication was limited to blinking and moving her feet to indicate her feelings and opinions. Sam was tough and she did not give up easily.

Sam travelled the Western US widely in the company of her parents.  She also enjoyed/endured literally thousands of outings and day trips throughout Southern California with her parents, her grandmother and caregivers who were also friends; Maria, Carolina and Denise.

Sam is survived by her parents Barbara and Tom and her brother, Andrew

A Memorial for Samantha will be held today, Friday Feb 25, from 2-5 p.m. at the Healy House on the Sawdust Festival grounds.

All of Sam’s friends are welcome

In Lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations may be made in Samantha Shannon’s memory to the High Hopes Head Injury Program, 2953 Edinger Ave, Tustin, CA  92780 – telephone 949-733-0044

Skateboarding…”remove the emotions and approach this issue with clarity and understanding.”

The ban on skateboarding in Laguna Beach must be lifted.

When man created the law banning women from their right to vote, women did not get their say. This ban on skateboarding down Bluebird Canyon has happened much the same way. The skateboarders did not get their chance to speak out.  When we did speak our peace the Mayor, [the City Council] and SNAG either walked out or turned a deaf ear.

Due process was been completely ignored. There has been no compromise, or real discussion about the new law. It just happened!

I would hope that the LBCC, when deciding to create something as serious as a new Law, would be open to hearing both sides. Instead they have chosen to support the 1% who are anti-skateboarding, namely SNAG.  The members of SNAG don’t skateboard and therefore cannot relate to the skills required to ride a board.  What might appear to SNAG as out of control and reckless, is actually skilled athletes using perfected techniques.  It’s ridiculous to judge something that you know nothing about.

This Ban on skateboarding is equally ridiculous and totally unfair.  When The LBCC created this law, they completely ignored the basic principles of Democracy and our rights as American citizens.  What we need is a real solution.

But first we have to remove the emotions and approach this issue with clarity and understanding.

Here is my idea: I call it “The Skaters Permit Program”

My idea is to utilize the same template that a Skiers Mountain Resort does. When a skier or snowboarder purchases a lift ticket, they automatically agree to release the [issuer] from all liabilities and basically hold themselves accountable for their actions. Much like a lift ticket, “The Skaters Permit “ could be purchased for a nominal fee, which would then release The City of Laguna Beach from any and all liabilities. This idea is beneficial for both sides. With The Skaters Permit Program in effect, every responsible skater would be registered [adding] revenue for Our City.

My goal is to reach a fair compromise that both parties can agree to.  So far the only side that has offered any reasonable solutions has been the skateboarders.  I know in my heart that you will eventually see that banning one of the biggest sports in our Nation is not the way.  I am pleading to you Ms. Mayor and The City Council to lift the ban and let us be free to ride responsibly and in good faith.

Darren Madrigal

Laguna Beach


When to step in…

Nancy Hamm

Nancy Hamm PhotoAs a child I was hyper sensitive, forever feeling like the world and everything in it was against me. I remember my father constantly sighing when I’d break down into a dramatic episode over something I now see as trivial. Thankfully I’ve outgrown that way of being but mostly thank God, my son is not that way. Fabrizio’s approach has always been to ignore mean words and actions. When situations arise he goes on without even pausing. In his world it never happened. The whole turn the other cheek thing is wonderful except in situations where I’d at least like to hear him assert himself.

Like many kids taught how to socialize, Fabrizio takes to making friends in textbook fashion, “Hi, my name is Fabrizio. What’s your name?” If the other kid is good at socializing the conversation progresses in logical order. Well, logical for a 4 year old. “My name is Mason. Superman eats a poop.” Followed by hysterical laughter on both sides. This type of situation is best-case scenario and usually an audible sound of relief can be heard from my direction.

The sigh is mainly due to past experiences when the other children aren’t so receptive. In Fabrizio’s case learning to be forgiving of other children who lack such skills is a skill all its own. For a while when a child didn’t reply he’d get closer and yell his question assuming that the child must not have heard him. Then he’d break down into a rage of tears, not the best approach for encouraging dialog. Learning how to socialize has been a challenging skill for him where progress has been slow but constant and little attempts at socializing are recounted to family and friends with genuine enthusiasm.

However, earlier this week my excitement for these budding new skills took a temporary setback when Fabrizio tried to befriend a girl of about 6 years old. I kept my distance to ensure that he had the space he needed to be his own person. But because Fabrizio is Fabrizio and I am me, I am never more than about 10 steps away. So, when I noticed my little guy inching himself within the line of personal space I made my way over only to notice that this little girl was kicking him repeatedly in the stomach. I was shocked and while I think that yes children are learning how to be good little people some of them are clearly not there.

In this instance I pulled Fabrizio back just far enough to be out of reach of this demon’s feet, bent down to her level and in the calmest voice I could muster asked, “Would you like it if someone was kicking you in the stomach?” She kept her head bent and made no reply but as I led my son away something occurred to me. It’s my son that I should be teaching not this other child. So I turned to Fabrizio and told him that under no circumstances was it OK to let someone hurt him.  Then I turned him around, gave him the words he didn’t have on his own and sent him back to the little bully.

“It’s not OK to kick me. Don’t do it!” When he returned his face had gone from confused to elated.

My concern has shifted from getting him to socialize to getting him to stand up for himself. Somewhere along the line when we were working so hard to get him to stop yelling at other kids he became a doormat.

Which brings me to wonder when do you, as a parent, step in?

And, is it OK to parent another person’s child when clearly they aren’t?

After talking with his therapists and a few other moms the answers where clear. You step in as soon as you see the situation and yes, parent when the other parents clearly aren’t.


Nancy Hamm is a wife and mother to a 4 year old with cerebral palsy. She is currently working on her first novel.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillespie, Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

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