Don’t know about the Survey

A survey was emailed me recently from the City of Laguna Beach. The intention of this survey and to obtain feedback from local citizens about projects that could be included as part of the City budget. The question, after reading this list of proposed projects, was how truly were many of them actually needed? 

Many of the projects seemed possibly worthwhile but it was never discussed as to whether we are talking about paying for them with our current budget or if these suggested projects would have to be paid for by some other means like increases in fees and/or taxation on property. At no time in this survey was it mentioned as to whether property owners would be willing to pay, with an increase property taxes, or increase in the fees to remodel or build in Laguna, to have any of these projects completed other then increase in hotel taxes. In the July 1, 2016 edition of the Laguna Beach Independent, reporter Rita Robinson wrote and quoted Councilperson Iseman, “I really believe we need to have additional money”. 

With the many choices of proposed projects there were no choices to make other then how important they might be or how unimportant they might be. Many of my responses were “I don’t know”. I found it difficult to agree how much importance could be placed on any of these projects until the costs were discussed. It felt to me like the survey was leading me into a lot of agreement and yet not talking about how these projects were going to be paid for. With water rates, sewer rates, property taxes, and even electricity rates all increasing it can be overwhelming. This survey seems to be opening the door for some sort of increase in fees and taxation that would increase the burden on property owners. For such a small population in this city of about 23,000 people, the current budget to run our city government seems astronomical in proportion to cities with similar sized populations.

Just how much of Laguna’s budget is spent on servicing our tourist business and what are the true benefits property owners get? With $445,000 just to just plan the Village Entrance, $450,000 for a walking path from Act V to the Art College, $100,000 to rebuild the steps to the beach at Agate Street, and the $2,000,000 grants split 50/50 for both the Museum and the local playhouse and now a proposed list of costly projects it truly looks to me that our city government simply has way too much of our money to spend. Maybe it’s a time to start giving it back to the taxpayers instead of looking for more costly and unnecessary projects.

The structure of this survey made me feel uneasy. Looks to me like if you want a Utopian lifestyle you got to be willing to step up and find a way to pay for it. Where will the money come from? This survey puzzled me and its intentions could be questionable to the point where it can be asked, is it a truly valid survey? Measures on ballots for voters often spell disaster for those who will ultimately be picking up the tab. 

This survey looked like a “wish list” and so many projects were truly unnecessary. What I came away with regarding this survey was about government over-spending. Any list of proposed projects could go on and on and on. 

Time for this to stop. When you got more then you need then save the rest or better yet...give it back to the taxpayers.

Jim Gothard

Laguna Beach

Go with the Planning Commission

We support the Planning Commission’s Ordinance, which allows: those operators of Short Term Lodging who have been playing by the rules to continue new STL with appropriate permits in commercial areas of town where the other hotels are located; unrestricted rentals of more than 31 days.

Sandra Pink

Laguna Beach

The true colors of short-term rentals?

I am a long-time Laguna Beach resident, the father of four children, a property owner and a Realtor.  When my family travels, we often stay in short-term lodgings. We have rented Airbnb houses in San Francisco, Anchorage, Spain, Washington, DC, Montreal, Quebec and other cities. Realistically, this opportunity offers a better and more affordable option for a family.  You can bet that when we stay in a city, we also spend a lot of money on restaurants, admissions to tourist sites, bicycle rentals, etc.  In my mind, Laguna Beach should be promoting short-term rentals for the health of the local businesses and the tax base of our city.

Last Sunday, a raucous party in our neighborhood kept us up. This party was thrown by neighboring homeowners and their local guests. This is a common occurrence in our neighborhood and I recognized the loud voices as those of my neighboring homeowners. If there are problems with short-term renters I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been disturbed by them.

Next week our family is going on vacation and our house will be empty.  Far from banning short-term rentals, the City of Laguna Beach should encourage us to rent our home to responsible vacationers who will buy art at Sawdust, eat at local restaurants, buy boogie boards and T-shirts, etc.  Instead the agenda seems to be driven by a vocal few elitist activists who want to change Laguna from a vibrant, welcoming beach community to a sleepy hamlet devoid of character and commercial activity.  To wit, I recognize these activists as the same folks who fight Mozambique and other businesses at every turn.  What’s next?  Shall we shut down Laguna Beach High School because of the noise made by their marching band? 

To my embarrassment, some of the most active opponents of allowing Airbnb listings are my fellow Realtors, including one who has an active business handling short-term rentals. The irony and hypocrisy is obvious. One has to wonder whether these Realtors are mostly concerned about disintermediation, whereby people rent their places like they always have, but now have the option of doing it directly instead of paying a commission to a Realtor.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Jason Vogel

Laguna Beach

Go ahead, attack Hillary’s policies, but…

Now that the House Benghazi report has been issued and the FBI has interviewed Hillary Clinton, I just want to say this to my very anti-Hillary friends here in town: She had nothing to do with the long gas lines at the pump in the 1970s, the Challenger blowing up in the 1980s, or the tsunami that struck Thailand twelve years ago.

She also has had nothing to do with the Cubs failing to make it to the World Series since the 1940s, or the Warriors losing the NBA championship to Cleveland two weeks ago.  Go ahead and attack Hillary’s policies, but quit spouting rubbish found on bizarre or discredited web sites.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

The Retirement of David C. Law, M.D. F.C.C.P.

I will be retiring from the clinical practice of medicine effective June 30, 2016, after 50 wonderful years.  It has been my pleasure to provide care for your pulmonary needs.         

I have had the privilege of meeting a great many people and developing lifelong friendships with many patients and colleagues.  But, now it is time for me to retire and pass along my patients to the other competent physicians at Saddleback Respiratory Medical Group.

Over the past many years, I have watched many families in the area grow and have shared heartache and joy with thousands of patients.  I appreciate your loyalty throughout the years and will take the memories of all that I have experienced with me into my retirement.  


Dr. David C. Law

Laguna Beach

“Fellow Villagers, be proud”

I am a firm believer that “it takes a village,” having benefitted from the love and support of many families when I was a single parent raising my now-24-year-old daughter, Chloe.

My heart swelled with pride when I read the “where are you going to college” excerpt from the LBHS newspaper in Stu News. Our village, once again, has nurtured children who know that the sky is the limit and they can truly reach for the stars. Yes, those might be clichés, but each of those students has found their specific path and following their heart to such esteemed institutions as Cal Berkeley (7 students!), Georgetown, Dartmouth, Vassar, NYU, USC, UCLA and so many others.

Fellow Villagers, be proud. Together we’re raising some amazing young adults.

Leslie Cunningham

Laguna Beach

Properly pissed off

I must start this note out by saying, I have never written to a news outlet before. 

I am a 3rd generation Lagunan and feeling moved to write to you on cycling safety in our town. I was a youth coach as well as an avid cyclist, racer, commuter and bike lover. I was a coach for the young man now being convicted for the death of the cyclist near emerald bay. 

I have been highly conflicted by this event, because it not only could have been my son not paying attention and taking this man’s life, but as a cyclist in town really pissed off that this town and surrounding communities are not doing more to provide safe modes of travel throughout the area for bicycle travel.

Painting a few sharrows on the road don’t do it, in fact I have a sharrow tattooed on my leg and am regularly asked what are those arrows above that bike???

People don’t ride because they don’t feel safe. If safe corridors were created people would ride; solving the never-ending traffic and parking debate.

I am going to start to research advocacy groups to keep this in the news. I do not want to slander this young man or create a martyr out of this cyclist.

If you could help in some way guide my efforts it would be greatly appreciated.

Ed. Note: This ought to be a good start – hopefully those like-minded will reply to you here…

Matt Crowl

Laguna Beach

South Laguna feeling the crush of summer visitors… Help!

Summer has just begun and already South Laguna is feeling a huge increase in day-trippers arriving from inland areas.  Our community is seeing impacts from reckless driving, drunken behaviors (both on the beach and on our roads), public urination, and trash everywhere.  Our lifeguards are being put in dangerous situations with large groups of hostile young people angry when told they can’t drink alcohol on the beach.  Our parking police are vastly under-staffed and the unlawful parking on our narrow streets presents safety issues for our neighborhoods.  Any added beach patrols now taking place are before noon when it is evident that these visitors arrive after 1 p.m. and stay until the sun goes down.

Although no one wants to ever consider the concept – the carrying capacity, the need for a limit or threshold for tourist activities in a visitor destination – should be a priority for local government. Tourism creates pressures on the natural and cultural environment.  It affects resources, social structures, economic activities and land uses. To the extent that these pressures are felt to significantly alter the functioning of the local community, mitigating these impacts should be a major part of Laguna’s public policy agenda. Our city leaders must give increasing consideration to issues such as quality of life, environmental conservation, and sustainable development.

The City of Laguna Beach needs a discussion of, and local strategy to determine the capacity of local systems to sustain tourism while at the same time preserving quality of life and safety for residents.  I ask that our City Council, City Manager, Chief of Police and representatives from the Orange County Board of Supervisors arrange a meeting with the South Laguna community to discuss what is happening now and what can be done to mitigate the negative impacts that the summer season is already bringing to our community.

Irene Bowie

Laguna Beach

Let’s make biking in Laguna safe and user-friendly

I am a third generation Lagunan, and I’m feeling moved to write to you on cycling safety in our town. 

I was a youth coach, [and I’m also] an avid cyclist, [bike] racer, commuter and bike lover. I was a coach for the young man now being convicted for the death of the cyclist near Emerald Bay. 

I have been highly conflicted by this event, because it not only could have been my son not paying attention and taking this man’s life, but as a cyclist [I’m] really pissed off that this town and surrounding communities are not doing more to provide safe modes of travel throughout the area for bicycle travel.

Painting a few sharrows on the road doesn’t do it. In fact I have a sharrow tattooed on my leg and am regularly asked, “What are those arrows above that bike?”

People don’t ride because they don’t feel safe. If safe corridors were created, people would ride – solving the never-ending traffic and parking debate.

I am going to start to research advocacy groups to keep this in the news. I do not want to slander this young man or create a martyr out of this cyclist.

Matt Crowl

Laguna Beach


Yes, it’s time for a fire plan

News about last Sunday’s fire spread quickly to San Francisco, where I was visiting my son.  Having just attended my 50th high school reunion in Palo Alto hours earlier, I still was in a time machine haze.  Then, with one call from my daughter, I immediately was whisked back to reality.

“Dad, I can smell smoke,” she told me.  “Is it time for the plan?”

Luckily, we had practiced the drill before.  Close all the windows, make sure your dog has food, and the two of you get to your mom’s house ASAP.  While my daughter was on the move, I called two friends who live near Top of the World.  They helped me understand how big the fire was and what direction it was heading.

Even though the first responders did an amazing job quickly extinguishing the fire, many people’s nerves were jangled by the events of the day (mine included, and I was 400 miles away).  All I can say is how grateful I am to City staff for their professionalism.  Last Sunday’s fire was a wake-up call.  Let’s be safe out there, OK?

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Who wants school to let out earlier in the year?

Are there Laguna Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) parents who would support an online petition to the School Board to forgo one of the two one-week vacations in February or April, in favor of getting our kids out of school a week earlier in June?

I’ve never done an online petition nor do I know how to gain access to parent emails, but this feels like something that makes sense, given that school ended last Thursday and we’re already at July 4!

If you’re interested in providing your thoughts or helping me get this going, please drop me a note at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Cindy Cohn Hierbaum

Laguna Beach

Guest Column

John Pietig

City Housing Assistance, Pay, and Benefits

This letter to the editor is in response to a recent guest column.

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig

In response to the rising cost of housing, the City of Laguna Beach initiated a housing assistance program in 2000 to encourage some essential employees to live in town to facilitate timely responses to emergencies.  The employees in the program have key roles in responding to and managing operations and personnel during fires, floods, landslides, earthquakes, and other emergency events.  There are presently five people in the program: Fire Division Chief, Fire Chief, City Manager, former Wastewater Supervisor, and Assistant City Manager.  Two of the participants are in the process of selling their homes.

The housing assistance program involves the City and an employee jointly investing in a home in town and sharing proportionally in the payment of taxes, insurance, and fees.  The City and the employee maintain equity positions in the home and participate in any changes in value.  To the extent that an employee is provided a loan from the City, the interest rate is variable and set to exceed the return the City receives on its investments.  

Since the inception of the program, three homes have been sold or are in the process of being sold.  All three of the homes appreciated in value; and when the cost of taxes, insurance, and fees are deducted, the net cost to the community for an essential employee to live in town averages about $2,500 per year.  

I was the second participant in the program in 2001 when I was hired as the Assistant City Manager.  Because of this program, I was able to promptly respond to the 2005 landslide, numerous flooding events, several major sewage spills, and at least four fires since 2007.

The latest participant in the program is the Assistant City Manager/Director of Public Works, who is responsible for overseeing City buildings and their emergency backup generators, engineering, construction, storm drains, streets, parks, transit, parking, and waste management services.  This position will also have responsibility for management of emergencies when the City Manager is out of town.  

On another matter, the guest column also incorrectly implies that employees are working less due to a new schedule at City Hall.  Employees still work 80 hours every two weeks through a modified schedule that is similar to schedules available to employees in 30 of the 34 cities in Orange County.  The new schedule provides expanded City Hall hours on Mondays through Thursdays (7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) and has City Hall open for eight hours every other Friday and closed on the alternate Friday.

Questions were also raised in the guest column about employee pay and benefits.  Laguna Beach provides pay and benefits that are competitive with other cities in the marketplace in order to recruit and retain qualified employees.  Additionally, City employees appreciate the value of their retirement program; and over the last three years have started contributing between 8% and 12% of their salary to mitigate the cost of their retirement benefit.  Reduced retirement programs have also been instituted by the state for new public employees, which will further reduce retirement costs in the future.  

I appreciate the opportunity to provide additional information.

Laguna’s done a bang-up job starting off the summer season

This past weekend, the summer started with a bang! 

Judie Mancuso, who I have never met, announced she is running for city council. She seems like a wonderful addition to our political scene. New red and green trolleys began service to Top of the World, Bluebird Canyon and Arch Beach Heights offering young and old a way to the beaches, shopping and evening fun. Saturday, at Main Beach, our wonderful life guards were walking and telling people to stay out of the red flag, eight-foot waves that were wiping out people’s beach towels, umbrellas and ice boxes. Clean, disease free, married-for-life pigeons were ruling the boardwalk, and overhead, flocks of pelicans announced their presence from near extinction.

Sunday, from Monument Point and the flag pole in Heisler Park, looking north I could see two Laguna lifeguards on Picnic Beach swimming out to urge two swimmers to please come ashore, and beyond, a small street barrier on the rocks at Diver’s Cove warning people not to explore the dangerous “giggle crack.” 

Looking south, there were sixteen psycho surfers busy catching huge waves at Rock pile. Trolleys were overloaded up and down Coast Hwy, and sirens, some coming from O.C. Fire Authority trucks, were on their way to a 65-acre brush fire in Laguna Canyon.  

This was the weekend that started the summer with a bang! 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

Let’s not allow hysteria and misinformation to rule the day when it comes to deciding on short-term rentals in Laguna Beach

Anyone who came to the Short Tern Rental (STR) Sub Committee meeting last Tuesday, June 21 witnessed the well orchestrated, well scripted and very arrogant  “Ban STR” proponents clearly trying to create hysteria and fear mongering about “losing our residential neighborhoods” to the onslaught of short term rentals.  Their speakers were exposed numerous times for misrepresenting information from other cities and arrogantly belittling the silent but large number of residents who have been doing or support allowing STR. It was interesting how many of the “Ban” speakers were local real estate agents whom I suspect have seen their Summer rental business dry up due to the rise of the web based STR platforms. VRBO and AirBnB had 500+ listings in Laguna Beach last year before the City began it’s aggressive enforcement with support of the Ban proponents, many of whom became self-appointed vigilantes helping City enforcement seek out and report their neighbors who were operating out of compliance.

After hearing Ann Larsen explain the AUP process on Tuesday, it became obvious why there have only been 36 AUPs issued in the past 17 years. The current process is contentious, costly and has a very low probability of success. It also doesn’t make sense for those of us who just want to rent our homes occasionally when we go on vacation.  Also, the City staff’s report and recommendations for a new ordinance, based on extremely biased research, was not data driven and in defiance of what they were directed to do by the City Council.

I have been a Laguna Beach resident for 35+ years, raised my children here and have lived in three separate neighborhoods in Laguna over those many years. Laguna Beach, from its founding, has always been a multi-use community (full time residents/homeowners, second home owners, long tern renters and short term vacation renters all living together.) This mixture has helped enrich our community and support the myriad wonderful restaurants and art community activities available to all residents. 

 The home I now own was originally built in 1954, as a second home/vacation rental.  Many of us would like the opportunity to continue the tradition of Laguna Beach by being able to rent our homes out for a few weeks at a time, when we take our families on vacation in the summers or during the holidays. 

The impact of a STR Ban would most negatively be felt by many artists, widows, retirees, etc. who are struggling financially to stay in this town, and others with small “in-law” units who don’t want to rent them out long term. They would like the flexibility to allow their adult children, friends and family members to use them when they visit and enjoy having a variety of tenants. 

All of us who have been landlords, know how hard it is to get rid of a bad long term tenant. These examples and other principle residence STR options should be taken into consideration. I encourage the City Council to not overreact to the hysteria, misinformation, lies, and the isolated problems that have been created by the few irresponsible STR owner’s (most of whom don’t live in Laguna Beach) to be the premise for creating an ordinance that would take away this STR option from thousands of Laguna Beach residents. 

There is a way to allow and to manage the option of STRs of primary residences, which would naturally respect the concerns of their neighborhoods. Hundreds of other cities in California and around the world allow STR’s and homesharing of primary residences, and have found a way to make it work for all residents.  I believe we can also figure out a way to do it here in Laguna Beach.

Carl Kikerpill


“With Respect, Love and Peace”

This is an open letter to the Police Chief of Laguna Beach and all the rude Lagunatics…

This letter is being written to discuss an ugly situation regarding a long time eating place on S. Coast Hwy across from a yogurt shop here in Laguna Beach.

Last Friday I went to one of my favorite Mexican restaurany and I ran into the owner in the parking lot and he told me that the situation regarding his parking lot has become very ugly. He recently hired a couple of young folks who live here and go to school here to watch over his parking lot and they quit because of the ugly rudeness that was displayed to them while they were doing their job.

Today I went over to the yogurt shop to get some and to talk to the manager there. I told her I was going to write this letter and I gave my energy regarding the parking problem. 

I also will state that the owner of the Mexican restaurant doesn’t know that I am writing this so this is all me writing to you and Laguna.

I am appalled at the rude disregard that my neighbors are showing this man and his business that has been here for over 30 years. It is a family owned and run business and has been all this time. For him and his family to have to fight for what is theirs if you look at the signs posted is shameful. I told the manager of the yogurt shop that I have personally heard yogurt shop employees tell their customers to park across the street.

Summer is here. We all know that there is not enough parking to go around. This fact alone should be the factor for all residents and guests to respect what lawful parking there is for the businesses who are trying to make a living here by serving us.

Together we can be more polite, more respectful and kind towards each other. I flippin do not care how much money you have or what kind of car you drive or who your mamma is. You have no right to disrespect parking just because you need your yogurt. 

What if it was your business?

What if you had the rights to that parking and everyone parked there and was rude to you as you explained that they need to park somewhere else if they are not eating Indian Food, Mexican Food or getting their hair done?

What are you really teaching your kids? That its okay to do what you want no matter who it hurts? How disgusting. How immature. How unkind and rude you have become Laguna? And this is a tourist town?

Grow up and learn some respect. Put yourselves in this place would you want to stand in your parking lot and fight with your neighbors and get the rude and ugly replies? Go and talk to the owners, look at the signs posted and maybe sit and watch what is happening here. It is happening all over town.

Grow up Laguna. Learn your manners. Respect the Beach. Respect personal properties. Pick up your dog poop, park where you know should park and honor and show some love to the hard working folks in this town who feed you, give you shelter, and are here to serve You.

With Respect, Love and Peace. 

Monica Jackson

Laguna Beach


There is a free service called nomorobo. It identifies and stops robo calls. 

We don’t have it here because Cox does not support it. I’m wondering why not. No more junk mail phone calls. What a concept. And Cox doesn’t support it. 

Why am I not surprised? 

JJ Gasparotti

Laguna Beach


In 1776 representatives from the 13 British Colonies in America gathered in Philadelphia to see if they could unite and declare independence from Britain; and if successful, form a new nation. Have you ever wondered why, at the risk of their lives and fortunes, did they do this? These brave gentlemen all had successful lives under the British. They were not enslaved or encumbered by the British, other than some taxes, yet they risked it all for Independence. Think of the obstacles and risks they had to overcome to even assemble to discuss what amounted to treason.

The foremost obstacle was that each of the 13 colonies was successful in their own right and each had a degree of independence and goals of their own. Further, a large segment of the population was reasonably satisfied with their lives under Britain rule and therefore loyal to the Crown. The leaders of the independence movement were faced with an almost impossible goal of getting 13 diverse colonies to give up some of the freedoms they already had to risk it all for separation from England. Despite all the risks and dangers our founding fathers somehow united sufficiently to declare Independence. During the resulting wars with England for our independence; many of the founders did lose their fortunes, freedoms, and even their lives. We should be forever grateful for their sacrifices. 

Eleven years later, after the brutal war for independence, many of the founders and other patriots joined in writing a Constitution for the first truly free nation where free citizens are supposed to rule the government. (A government by and for the people.) Again, that was almost as politically difficult for the Representatives as generating the Declaration of Independence since each of the now free colonies still had their own needs and goals. Issues like slavery, taxes, Indians, trade issues, regulations, foreign dealings etc. made it extremely difficult to create one document satisfactory to everyone. 

Though perhaps less than perfect, they came up with the most remarkable document ever created for the people. A few of the Constitution’s authors had made it their life work to study the past attempts of other nations like England, France, and Greece and see where they had good ideas but had failed in various degrees to give freedom to their people.  All those other countries failed, or were not completely successful, probably because no government really likes the people to be in power.  Our Constitution gave the power to the people, and I am sure if it were not for internal opposition here and there, the founders would have eliminated slavery right from the start and probably have given women the vote. 

We all owe a lot to our brave, dedicated, brilliant founders. We should do all we can to preserve the wonderful freedoms they won for us at great cost to themselves. And of course, the nation owes a lot to our military who have for more than a century defended this country from all enemies at great cost to life and limb.

Dave Connell

Laguna Beach

Make a positive difference – Walk Laguna!

What if we started a word of mouth campaign in Laguna Beach titled Walk Laguna? You don’t need a dog to walk. Walking alone is fine, and walking with family, friends and neighbors is great too - in one of the most beautiful towns in the world. 

Walk to a trolley and/or go to Heisler, Main Beach, fabulous Treasure Island or your favorite park or “overlook”. Explore our alleys, neighborhood gardens, trees,and canyons. Take an OCTA bus to another walking adventure like Crystal Cove, the beach trail in San Clemente that runs between the Metrolink Station on Coast Hwy and the San Clemente pier or to San Juan Capistrano to the wonderful Michael Graves county library, the basilica or historic Los Rios Street.

Walk Laguna can make you happier and healthier by driving out obsessive negative thoughts. A Stanford University study found that walking decreases activity in the subgenera prefrontal cortex, a brain region particularly active during rumination and negative thoughts.

Walk Laguna could add a qualityto our lives and our communitythat our Bentleys and Maseratis cannot give us. Why not make a positive difference in your life! 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

Dodgers blues

Dodgers blew it not getting Cueto and letting go of Greinke – can you imagine if we had both & Kershaw

What a shame to waste such a talent as Kershaw (or Trout for that matter).  Getting into the World Series is a must before retirement (note Koufax won four titles – ’55, ’59, ’63, ’65 and was in a fifth – ’66). 

If these big money owners want to deliver, they need to do something of this nature - helping block Scully in his last year is criminal – never to be forgotten!!!  

Roger Kempler

Laguna Beach

Can 300 represent 10,000?

The notion that 300 people being surveyed represent over 10,000 households is nuts.  A typical cheap approach by the City staff and Council for a complex issue.  Little wonder nothing gets done beyond the ridiculous (like the previous failed overpriced parking garage).

Task, task, when are they gonna learn to do things right?

Victor Opincar

Laguna Beach

LBPD – “bad odds for the good guys”

Ed. Note: This letter was sent to the City Council, City Manager and Police Chief

Until we can figure out how to legislate good behavior, our police are tasked with the role of providing adult supervision to those who need it.

With 6,000,000 visitors per year, some in need of more adult supervision than others, our police department is spread thin.  They do a good job, but we need to provide the financial resources to allow them a chance to meet our expectations.  

The season is just beginning, and it has been grey and overcast.  Never-the-less through the miracle of “social networks” or whatever, Laguna Beach, and especially South Laguna beaches like Tablerock and Thousand Steps have become destination resorts for the day trippers coming, all too often, from places where parents apparently have proved deficient in teaching personal hygiene, good table manners, and other social skills.  

So, unfortunately, it falls to our police department to fill the gap in their education. Having our police simply being visible, providing a visible deterrent, seems to be an effective, though admittedly expensive, way to instill needed social skills in some of our visitors.

The attached photos, taken in South Laguna near the entrances to West Street and Tablerock beaches, are just small, everyday examples of all too common sights for the residents.  


Click on photos for larger images


One photo is simply a collection of trash left behind for us to enjoy; the other shows the person in the white t-shirt after using the bush on his left as a combination urinal and trash container, across the street from the Village Green Park, which is popular with moms and young children.

6,000,000 tourists versus 35 field officers spread over seven days and nights per week and over eighty-three miles of streets and seven miles of inviting coastline sounds like bad odds for the good guys.  Just doing the easy math, it takes about 5 people to staff a position 24/7, so the odds are really 6,000,000 “tourists” versus 7 officers on average on the streets in heavy traffic at any one time.  

The police make excellent use of “force multiplication” through civilian employees, volunteers, explorers, reserves, and seasonal positions, but we still must provide adequate financial resources to allow them to do their job.

Growth in police personnel has been 1% per year for the last 30 years, while visitors have doubled.

We are out-numbered.

As you consider this year’s budget. I hope you will make public safety a top priority.

John Thomas

Laguna Beach

Protecting the open space at Top of the World

Ed. Note: This letter was sent to us by Jerry King – it was written to him by Fire Chief LaTendresse

I wanted to get back to you regarding the email you recently sent.  

Earlier this week, I had several meetings with Chief of Police Laura Farinella, Police Captain Darin Lenyi, Supervising Park Ranger Barbara Norton, Executive Director Hallie Jones of the Laguna Canyon Foundation, and the City’s Digital Communications Director Jennifer Chapman regarding the concerns of neighbors in the Top of the World neighborhood and activities in the adjacent open space area.  It is important to know that the City has not stopped our proactive patrols in the area, and we have too noticed an increase in the number of cigarette butts discarded on the trails.  We will continue to address this problem.  Below is a list of some of the different proactive approaches we will be taking, both from the City’s perspective and from the OC Parks:

Continue with proactive patrols with enforcement officers (Police, Fire and OC Park Rangers)

These will occur both during daytime hours and after hours when the park area is closed

City staff be implementing the use of the new Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) to access more areas more efficiently when necessary  

Communicating in the City’s weekly updates the dangers of smoking in open space areas. This is picked up by the local media

Working for the first time with the City’s new Digital Communications Director

Post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram the dangers of smoking in the open space areas

Watching sites like “Yelp” for advertising  the area as a place to go after hours and intervene when possible

Work with the OC Park’s Public Information Officer to provide information to visitors

Send messages via the City’s Nixle messaging system

Schedule community volunteers staff an information booth and hand out flyers on fire safety at the entrance to the park off of Alta Laguna

Use CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)members

Use COP (Citizens on Patrol) members

Red Flag Patrol members

Train neighborhood residents to volunteer to staff the information booth

In addition, we have had our City staff conduct a thorough cleaning of the park to try to get rid of any butts found in the area so we can better monitor the activity.  The City also continues to use video cameras and speakers to monitor the park and new cameras have been included in the budget to enhance coverage in areas of the City.  We are also researching the potential of having volunteers assist with monitoring the camera systems; however, this is still under consideration.  The signs will be maintained and we get weekly updates of any citations that are issued so the sign remains current. 

As you can see, we do take the concerns of the residents very seriously and we continue to remain vigilant on this item.  

Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions.  Again, thanks for your concern.


Shaena Stabler and Stu Saffer are the co-owners. Shaena is the Publisher and Stu is the Editor-in-Chief.

Lynette Brasfield is our Managing Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Dianne Russell, 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.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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