Is it time for “We Are The World” 2017?

Now that we all have caught our breath following last weekend’s alt-right and anti-protests in Laguna Beach and Boston, for example, I have to ask: Is it time for a 2017 version of “We Are The World?”  

For those too young to know or those too old to remember, the idea of an American response to reports of widespread famine and death in Africa was the brainchild of legendary entertainer Harry Belafonte. With the help of fundraiser Ken Kragen, the two convinced Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie to write a song in January of 1985. What happened next was a complete surprise. Late one night, a star-studded collection of pop stars came together, under the direction of Quincy Jones, to record “We Are The World.” That song, which really became an anthem, and video were released two months later (and still are heard and watched today). They immediately became international sensations.  

“We Are The World” received numerous honors, including three Grammys, one American Music Award and a People’s Choice Award. It was supported with a critically-acclaimed music video, a home video, a special edition magazine and a simulcast, as well as with books, posters and shirts. The merchandise sold helped raise over $63 million (which is the equivalent to nearly $140 million today) for humanitarian aid to Africa and the United States.  

So now I’m wondering: In the aftermath of what recently happened in Charlottesville, is it time for today’s artists to record a new song and/or release a video? A lot of good came from the original collaboration 32 years ago. I think it’s time for another blockbuster anthem now.  

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Who are the Laguna Patriots?

Main Beach, Laguna is where it all started for Laguna Patriots. It was early spring in The Tax Revolt of 2009 when Laguna Patriots led by Linda Dorr gathered to protest about more California tax increases and Washington’s big government spending.    

Laguna Patriots consist of 150 members affiliated with the national group, Tea Party Patriots, and they honor and support the three core values of fiscal responsibility, constitutional limited government and free markets. Every activity Laguna Patriots participate in is based on these three Core Values.    

The protest demonstrations by Tea Party Patriots are part of a grassroots movement against government spending called Taxed Enough Already, or TEA giving name to the Tax Day Tea Parties...and come more than 235 years after the original Boston Tea Party revolt against taxes. 

From a Conservative’s viewpoint, Obamacare is not fiscally responsible and does not utilize competitive free markets for affordable healthcare. Therefore, at sites like Main Beach and a local hospital, protests took place throughout the last eight years where Laguna Patriots held their signs saying “Uncle Sam, Hands Off My Healthcare!”

Submitted photo

Linda Dorr at a protest in Washington DC

In March of 2012, Linda Dorr joined The Tea Party Patriots in Washington D.C. in front of the SCOTUS, Supreme Court, protesting the limited healthcare given for breast cancer screening and treatment based on local doctors’ testimonies in this field. This cancer was a sensitive subject for Linda as she was diagnosed nine days after the first Main Beach Laguna protests with stage 0 breast cancer. 

Communications from Washington D.C. are important for the tea party as Laguna Patriots pass along the Washington updates to educate the Laguna community through rallies, TV and radio live interviews on current topics, letters to the editors, local meetings and regional seminars.

Regional seminars are important for Laguna Patriots to join with other tea party groups across America to have different break out groups on a variety of important topics of the day to learn the latest government infringements. Many ideas are discussed on how to rein in Washington from government abuse.

There are other activities Laguna Patriots participate in on a regular basis. They contact local, state and national representative offices with face-to-face meetings or by telephone to voice their opposition to proposed and current bills. 

Laguna Patriots have visited local schools on September 17, Constitution Day, when all schools are required to teach the U.S. Constitution. It is a core value for students to learn and understand the U.S. Constitution and how this important document provides a government by the people and for the people. 

Also, Laguna Patriots work with the Howard Jarvis Association to make sure Californians don’t have unreasonable taxation, “taxation without representation”. This is especially true in light of Sacramento government’s goal of repealing Prop 13, a yearly one percent property tax based on purchase price of a new home introduced by Howard Jarvis and passed into law in 1978. 

We fight for our freedoms because free people can’t be controlled!

Linda Dorr

Laguna Beach


Bravo Mayor Iseman

Competent leadership is hard to define, but we know it when we see it.  Mostly, competence means listening until you think you know whats right, and then doing it.  No abdication of duty until it’s safe to take credit or shift blame.

Last week Mayor Iseman got that phone call that tests a leader. Outside groups seeking confrontation sounded the call to battle in our town. Our Mayor made an informed command decision to let freedom ring in our public common on Sunday, but on terms she defined to protect the freedom of one and all.

She did that by personally putting all concerned on notice the police would be ready to use lawful force to prevent unlawful violence. She did not hesitate, rely on a spokesman, or wait for consultants to coach her. Her calm, confident, timely and unequivocal “Don’t tread on Laguna” message went out loud and clear.  

That done she called on locals to deny anyone exploiting our town for self-aggrandizing media attention a local audience. Instead of a counter demonstration in which locals would be undifferentiated from whoever might come on Sunday, our Mayor put a call out for a demonstration of local character and conscience on Saturday.    

Many of us became aware of anti-Semitic defamation targeting the Mayor and credibly attributed to outside groups coming on Sunday.  It was clear this was now about standing with our Mayor and our neighbors in a defining moment for our town.

A robust but positive narrative at the Saturday gathering allowed a unifying community spirit to prevail. There were Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, left and right, and everything in between.  

Hate speech is hard to define, but we know it when we hear it, from the left or the right.  I heard none on Saturday.  I was so proud of my town, and so proud of our Mayor.  She called us all to a deeper commitment to community that transcends partisan politics when it matters most. 

I disagree with Toni Iseman on many issues, and I am a member of a different political party.  But the office of Mayor is non-partisan, and when the stakes were highest she did her duties in a nonpartisan way.  I believe she is the most competent Mayor we have had in a long, long time.

Finally, as a former U.S. armed forces law enforcement officer I observed police operations from a distance on Sunday.  Chief Farinella’s integration of LBPD with visiting law enforcement units was exemplary.  Three arrests and peaceful orderly crowd dispersal - well done!

Our community is truly fortunate to have these two women serving and leading at a high standard of competence and excellence. 

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach


City needs to educate smokers about ban

Following my recent return from a trip to Dublin you may recall my complimentary letter on the apparent effectiveness of the new smoking ban. I’m sorry, but that compliment appears to have been premature. On our first walk of Heisler Park and Main Beach we did not experience a single smoker; the walk was such a pleasure. But that pleasure was very short-lived. On every walk since we have encountered at least one or two people openly smoking. On each occasion I gently reminded them that Laguna is a no-smoking city. A few outwardly appeared to appreciate the reminder and actually put out their cancer-sticks. But the rest of the encounters have met with great resistance and complete disrespect. Today I suffered the latest pair of incidents, which prompted my letter.

At the first encounter a youngish man appearing about the age of 35 was openly smoking in a crowed area on the sidewalk near Greeters Restaurant, exposing all nearby to his second-hand smoke. I reminded him that Laguna is a non-smoking city. His reply was short but not sweet, “Yes, don’t you smoke,” as his group of men continued on their path, completely ignoring me. 

The second encounter was the last straw for me. I noticed a 50ish looking man puffing away as I walked the sidewalk through Heisler Park. I gently reminded him that Laguna is a no-smoking city. His reply was “Oh yeah? Guess you better call 911” as he put the cigarette back in his mouth and took another hit. I would have called, too, except I had left my phone at home.

My question to you is “When are we going to start educating the public about our expectations?” The only signs I am aware of stating the official policy are located at the entrances to the city. What about after these belligerent smokers are here?  We have signs informing visitors about lots of other infractions, even on lifeguard stations, but still nothing about smoking. Months ago Police Chief Farinella contacted me to advise me that a major education campaign was coming soon, including coasters and brochures. I am not impressed with the lack of visibility of your educational campaign to date. The ash tray/trash receptacle at the top of Heisler stairs behind the Inn at Laguna has not even been replaced. Is that really sending the right message?

What we really need are signs in our parks and on lifeguard towers at our beaches. May I also suggest stickers on all parking-meters. Obviously a single reminder as one is driving into our town (which may not even be seen) is not adequate; educational efforts must be stepped up.

I was very pleased when the city council voted to provide Laguna residents a healthier life. I am just wondering if I will live long enough to enjoy the cleaner air I was promised.

Russ Hill

Laguna Beach


Laguna Patriots does not support America First

As a conservative and the organizer for Laguna Patriots in Laguna Beach I want to state our group’s core values and clarify we have no connection with Johnny Benitez’s America First group.

Laguna Patriots Core Values are: Fiscal Responsibility, Free Markets and Constitutionally Limited Government. Also, we believe all men, no matter race, are acreated equal and are entitled to Life, Liberty and their Pursuit to Happiness!

America First rally in Laguna Beach at Main Beach this [last] Sunday evening the 20 [was] not supported by our Laguna Patriots group because we do not share the same values as Mr Benitez’s group.

Linda Dorr

Laguna Beach


Posters showing support for diversity?

In January 2017, all shops at South Coast Plaza displayed a small 8.5x11 poster in their windows during the Chinese New Year celebrating the occasion with the Chinese community.   The poster, which included a positive message, reflected the retail shop’s attitude towards diversity.  I wonder if our Chamber of Commerce could do the same by creating and distributing a poster that reflects the spirit of Laguna.

Nadia Babayi

Laguna Beach


Hate is not welcome here

The violence of this past week has shaken our nation to its core.

This weekend, we witnessed in horror the despicable acts of hatred and domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, where Klan members, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the Alt-Right gathered – not in peace but in violence. Pure and simple, they attacked America and America’s values.

A young woman, Heather Heyer, was murdered by a homegrown terrorist as she stood up for tolerance, justice and decency. As we watch what is happening in our country, a lot of us are scared. But Heather Heyer refused to give into fear and she refused to be intimidated by this small group of white supremacists who have been emboldened by Trump’s election.

On Monday, I learned that an Alt-Right rally is being planned for this weekend in Laguna Beach. Over the last several days, I have spent many hours with friends, activists and community leaders. We are united in our sorrow. We are united in our outrage. We are united in our resolve to stand up for our town, our country and our fellow Americans.  

On Saturday, August 19 from 10am-12pm, a Unity Rally will be held on Main Beach. Progressive groups from across the 48th District are coming together to plan and to support this event: Indivisible OC-48, Together We Will, Planned Parenthood, WAVE, the Laguna Beach Democratic Club and many more. To demonstrate diversity and unity, ribbons of every color will be tied around trees and light posts in Main Beach and downtown.  

The message for the Unity Rally in Laguna Beach is simple: Hate is Not Welcome Here. Not in our town. And not in our country. 

Beyond what is happening here in my hometown, I am also calling for the immediate dismissal of Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. American taxpayers should not be paying the salaries of hatemongers. Period. 

The current President has failed the most basic test of leadership and humanity.

And the Republican-led Congress is failing our people, who deserve an America in which all are treated fairly – by one another and by our government. Weak rebukes by fearful politicians, tolerating the intolerable, are just not good enough. 

Make no mistake, Donald Trump has given a green light for those with hate in their hearts to step forward. But this is not about Republicans and Democrats; this is not about right and left. This is about right and wrong. And now, more than ever, we have to stand shoulder to shoulder, locked arm in arm to fight bigotry and hatred. 

As the venerable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Harley Rouda

Laguna Beach


Waterwise?

Shouldn’t there be an emergency call number?

The back of the “water wise” sign is visible between the two red traffic lights in the lower photo.

So much for saving water.

Steven Pope

Laguna Beach


Let’s ignore them

There has been much worry and angst about the rally this Sunday at Main Beach to “support victims of crimes by illegals and refugees.” 

Apparently this group has been here three times before - who knew? We didn’t even realize we were ignoring them, but we did! They exercised their right to peacefully assemble and express their point of view, skewed though it may be.  

Let’s ignore them once again and deny them the attention and the fight they crave and are coming to our town to find. 

Those of like mind: we don’t need to engage. Enjoy your Sunday with family and friends. Dedicate yourselves to finding a unifying, helpful, ongoing volunteer project that lifts up other people. We’ll all get together to take a stand against racism, hatred, and injustice - but on an alternative date. 

Barbara McMurray

Laguna Beach


What traffic problem?

Now that members of the City Council have decided that we have a major traffic congestion problem, something needs to be done. They have ordered the city manager to come up with answer to the problem. If it wasn’t so pathetic, the council’s demand would be laughable. For these are long time elected officials whose lack of vision and long-standing failures to act has exacerbated the situation. Traffic throughout the city has worsened every year for at least the last decade. Yet the council has ignored the problem and their lack of vision has transformed this small quiet city to a regional party mecca. 

With every new bar, roof top lounge and nightclub they approved, the council has transformed this city and devastated our artist community. Their vision has failed to plan for traffic and parking for the new daily visitors who come to party and enjoy the beauty of our small town. 

Laguna Beach residents through their property taxes fund over 90% of the city’s budget. The city staff and council members can’t stop congratulating each other on Laguna’s strong financial condition. 

Day tourists flock to our beautiful city but they are not enriching it. They are only costing the local taxpayers money. They use our police, fire and maintenance services. Day tourist aren’t leaving cash, they only leave us their trash.

Traffic is at a standstill. The council‘s vision must be that when traffic doesn’t move, it makes it easier for the tourist to jaywalk across PCH without getting hit.

While the city council struggles to decide whether CVS can take over the Laguna Drugs location, you must wonder what the vision for our city is? Is it another big bar? Nightclub? Roof top restaurant in that space?

Laguna Beach was when I moved here 20+ years ago a quiet, clean, beautiful small town with a good school system. I never planned to witness the systematic erosion of our quality of life. 

It is time the residents who pick up the tab decide the future course of our city. The business owners in our town other than the major hotels are insignificant to the funding of our city budget.  Less day tourists in our city will not affect our city budget. But it will lessen the traffic and eliminate city service costs. The quality of life for our residents should dictate the actions of the city council.

I am unsure what the city manager’s conclusion to the traffic crisis will be. I do know that a clear vision and plan to increase the quality of life for our residents will do much to elevate the traffic problem. If the city councils over the years would have taken a residents first approach we would still be able to get across town in 10 minutes.

Jeffrey J. Kaplan

Laguna Beach


What does Rep. Rohrabacher think?

With this weekend’s neo-Nazi demonstrations planned for Laguna and Huntington Beach -- a torch-lit vigil at Main Beach and a book-burning rally in Surf City -- I wonder what my elected member of Congress, Dana Rohrabacher, thinks about all of this?  

I am asking because he has remained silent compared to what numerous Republican leaders have said in the aftermath of Charlottesville.  This list includes among others:  former Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky; House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin; Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and, Rep. Ed Royce of Orange County. They all have denounced racism in America and those who promote it like the KKK and other white supremacist hate organizations.  

If Mr. Rohrabacher thinks silence is the best antidote for what is about to happen in his congressional district, then he isn’t paying attention.  That, or he simply doesn’t care.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


The impact of Charlottesville on Laguna

The impact of what happened Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia has not been lost on my Laguna friends and yours truly.  Talk about your darker angels.  It is beyond a crime when someone makes himself out to be judge, jury and executioner.  That is exactly what a KKK sympathizer did when he drove his car into a crowd of protesters killing one and injuring 19.

Last year the KKK began recruiting followers, both here in Orange County and across the country, by leaving candy, hate messages and a toll-free telephone number in bags on people’s driveways.  This past weekend in Virginia, they traded in their robes and hoods for slacks and white golf shirts.  But don’t be fooled.  No matter how sweet the KKK tries to flavor its message or dress like they are about to tee off at a country club, their message is the same as it always has been: hateful and disgusting.

When President Kennedy delivered his inaugural address in 1961, he told the world, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” I believe the same could be said today to those who hate their fellow Americans.  

Twenty years after Kennedy, presidential candidate Ronald Reagan called America, “A shining city upon a hill.” Unlike the KKK, both Kennedy and Reagan were appealing to our better angels. Their messages were hopeful and full of grace. My hope is no one in town forgets this as we all move through the next few days and weeks. 

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


The town is dying

Merchants, the Festivals and Art Galleries are reporting sales are flat. There’s even a rumor that one art festival may close forever. Person after person is saying desirable visitors are shunning Laguna Beach because of traffic, congestion, parking and dangerously overloaded trolleys. Many say today’s visitors are made up to a large extent of lookyloos not people really wanting to interact with artists, craftspeople, galleries, shops and festivals. One festival has offered Montage guests with free passes and few are attending. 

It’s time the City Council finds ways to discourage visitor crowds. Taking down the ABC TV camera on the Hotel Laguna would be a good start. The town is dying. Merchants say they can’t exist on attendance by visitors two months a year. Others are straining their regular employees asking them to work evenings and extending hours hoping to accommodate customers. OCTA has banned route number one buses from going to the bus dept. on weekends and now you insult us with a $350,000 plan to erect Disneyland like signs and suggest multi storied parking garages to generate cash to pay your outrageous city salaries and 90 percent pensions. Of course – you need more cash. Sales taxes, property taxes, recreational course fees, building and plan fees, business licenses, dog licenses, OCTA cash grants, $$$$$ from Laguna Woods for animal services, animal shelter charges, meter & parking lot fees, resident parking sticker fees, parking tickets etc. etc aren’t enough for the greed that has come to characterize city government.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach


What Laguna can learn from Dublin

My wife and I recently returned from a visit to Dublin, Ireland. During our time there we observed several cultural differences from life here in Laguna. A few of the differences we would not hope to see here, but some we think would actually benefit our community. Sometimes great benefits to a community come from simply borrowing ideas that work elsewhere.

First, our compliments to all who supported the restrictions on smoking in public which recently went into effect.  Probably the most negative habit we observed in Dublin was the huge number of people standing to the side of walkways at building entries, smoking their cigarettes and subjecting anyone walking nearby to the displeasure of errant smoke.  One of our first impressions upon arriving back home and walking through Heisler Park and Main Beach Boardwalk was the absence of cigarette smoke encountered along our path. Thank you for that!

We would like to suggest a few observations from Dublin that could positively affect our life experience here in Paradise for your consideration:

1.    Free Local Museums:  All museums in Ireland are free to all residents (in fact, we were not charged either). It has always bothered us to think that in the US it costs money to have exposure to culture, whether museums of art, history, or whatever. It’s no wonder so many Americans are lacking in that area. In Ireland culture is promoted by making access to museums absolutely free. While your (city council) influence is strictly local, it would not seem far-fetched to make our local museums free, at least to residents of Laguna if not everyone.

2.    Exercise Equipment in Parks: In most of the parks we walked through in Dublin we observed outdoor exercise equipment similar to the types seen in for-profit gyms across our nation. We also observed similar equipment in Parks in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Heisler Park would be an excellent venue for workout stations we residents could use along our walking paths. It would benefit especially local seniors whose main exercise is walking. I’m confident such equipment would be appreciated in other local parks as well.

3.    Crossing Streets on Red Lights:  While this seems potentially problematic on its surface, it works very well in Dublin.  It doesn’t really make sense to stand at a traffic light waiting for green when no cars are coming. People often don’t wait already. Ticketing people for jaywalking when entirely safe seems against the spirit of the law, and could easily be modified.

4.    All Police in Plain Clothes:  It was explained to us that police in Dublin all (except for SWAT teams) patrol in plain clothes, that is, not in uniform. The reason stated was that not knowing exactly where police are located makes crime less likely, because potential criminals don’t know if they are standing next to a police officer or not.  Our thought is that it certainly makes police officers less of a target.  Perhaps something to consider.

While there were other things about Dublin we thought would work well in the US, the four ideas listed above were the ones we considered to have the greatest value while being locally implementable. We encourage you to consider each to determine which might work to make Laguna even better.

Thanks for reading.

Russ and Raella Hill

Laguna Beach


Relevant Coastal Commission hearings should be held locally

I urge city council to encourage the CCC [California Coastal Commission] to hold hearings within county jurisdictions specific to [the county involved]; looking at the docket it seems bizarre if not purposefully limiting participation by those most affected.

I’ve sent my objections to the California Coastal Commission.

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach


What are they/we thinking?

Once again after years of public and local groups wrangling City Council against a massive parking structure, we are reintroducing the same outdated ideas to solve long-standing but intensified issues: Laguna›s traffic, parking and retail quandaries. And just as the Vision study, aka, «keep the people busy» was filed away in some back room, we are again ignoring history, well- tested models and citizen input.

Past efforts to “improve “Laguna Canyon Road to reduce accidents, mitigate congestion and habitat destruction failed as current statistics show the daily alerts.

City Council is not offering creative solutions based on fact or models that fit our unique city, rather, solutions seem mostly for short term and capitalization regardless of long term consequence.

Without a defined mission to guide decisions and develop goals we will continue to lose any resemblance to what Laguna was and made it fresh and wonderful… it was innovation and preservation of Its natural features.

The smell of sage, the silhouette of hills on its upper lakes, the dark night sky and croaking frogs, sea breezes and fresh air filtering through canyons and miles of coastal scrub and a town that respects and values both its natural and artistic heritage, now devolving and becoming hackneyed and frenetic.

The ill-begotten attempts to introduce downtown parklets, the public quarrel and final blow surrounding parking structures, then proposals to add parking meters, raise parking rates and suspend reliable public transportation; now it’s (NO) way-finding signs and street closures without a defined need or rational demand; it’s here today and more tomorrow-asphalt-um, exhaust-ion and trumped- up decisions for short term.

From the beginning, Trolley service was touted as a fun way to get around but never totally functional or fully used by all neighborhoods and adjoining cities, nor cooperatively attracting and ferrying visitors from out of city parking hubs or offering interesting asides such as audible and printed historic information, about public art projects, using distal under-toll road or at the ends of the city or canyon for parking/trolley connections especially considering the coming impact from massive development to the north, east, and those along Newport Coast and south from Laguna Niguel and San Clemente.

Without an overarching vision, trolley routes that could fully serve residents and link communities may be stopped or at least curtailed.  Instead of enhancing and simplifying this year-round  service offering residents and tourists rates-wither free or minimal, public transit, just as the city’s web site, has been  continually tinkered with making use overly complicated  to the dismay of those who want to use it and wish it was better managed.

Trolleys, as many other issues now in crisis mode are following a similar path wasting staff time and public monies while destined to be resurrected in yet another cycle of crisis unless we ensure leaders pay attention and develop guiding principles, listen to their constituents, and serve their defined term with absolute limits.

Laguna’s future is on the chopping block with more urgency than ever before… soaring housing costs in another “bubble” will not be relieved by land intensification only increased. Destruction of places to exhibit new ideas, securing open space-all will give way to increased paving and density, overrunning nature and adding human impact without long-term benefits. The only way to avoid this is a mission to include preservation, restoration, capturing and recycling water, traffic calming design and replanting to offset human impact.

 

We are embroiled in lawsuits-another red flag as to why we don’t do due-diligence and research before decisions are made.

If the Longi/Dornin project is passed it paves the way for intense development of the canyon and elsewhere; the engine has been primed-it is chugging along and no engineer to pull the brake. There are no toxic chemical filters, no accurate measurements as to where the building and overhang affecting the land and blue line stream and the next flood carrying debris to the sea.

Whether it’s fire, flood or crime, what threatens everything is the rehatching of multi-level parking structures, intensification, increasing, widening, straightening or adding traffic lanes that never solved any of those issues, instead, added new ones, neither did butchering and removing trees, cluttering walking areas with more signage, more parking meters, hiring outside consultants proposing the preposterous or sometimes, when listening to the public, finding their recommendations tossed aside as was the public Vision study.

Meanwhile before another election cycle Council should be seeking a unifying vision with guiding principles; they need to say NO! No to canyon development in the name of art; what we want to be and how to get there.

Everything else confuses and will be disservice to the majority of residents and the city’s unique sense of place.  

Real data, follow-up and oversight are needed, instead we have edicts and scofflaws piled onto stopgap measures and piecemeal decisions-some that will set precedence.

Even the most generous and caring fail to lead, make inroads or resolve urgent issues; No, we don’t want to be kept busier than ever as we are already scrambling to understand why those we elect fail the vision test and made most obvious by Laguna creek that is not completely and correctly mapped, an identifiable asset, cleaned up, and the canyon’s property boundaries that remain mostly an enigma in the face of umpteen studies, meetings and plans for undergrounding. 

Except for election time, there is little movement to long-range thoughtful decisions, to address decades of hillside degradation and restoration and why Laguna has such poorly landscaped highways and no real efforts to restore and protect our unique resources.

Laguna’s ancient subterranean canyon with its natural lakes and winding road etched by years of travel remained through the 1980’s. It has been all but brokered away straightened and widened as a quasi-freeway increasing access, speed  and congestion. Distancing the traveler from the experience. Plans to add sidewalks, traffic lights, and monstrous new work/ live units instead of rehabbing existing small scale buildings and creating walkable, bike-able, permeable trails separating vehicles and planning for public transit instead of intensification of land use under the guise of “affordable” will obliterate the canyon’s rural mixed use neighborhoods as it did the once graceful Oaks and Eucalyptus, the curving road wending its way to the sea.  Now most asphalt and scraped land to be overbuilt. 

There are corollaries in the refurbished Festival of Arts with its promise of beauty now a massive canopied enclosure showcase that may challenge public use during non-festival times of year as well the lack of artist-inspired exhibit space now presented as ubiquitous packaging, as exchangeable and ordinary as any parking structure, our offering in Laguna and that which plagues our nation as to how we identify and market who we are. 

Are we thinking?

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach


People who made a difference in Laguna

The recent OC and Laguna LGBT pride events at West St. Beach, the Boom Boom and Main St. Cabaret reminded me of four friends from the past that made a difference in Laguna Beach. 

Art Frink and Harry Moon opened the Cottage restaurant in the 1960’s. It had been a breakfast place and originally a residence built in the early 1900’s at Coast Hwy and Aster St. Harry found the original front door (still here in the Urth Café) in the old garage on the alley behind the home and inside, rooms had been walled off for living spaces. They installed the door, opened the rooms inside, made improvements and opened the Cottage. It became so popular that on some weekends it was open until late at night and without a patio, served 900+ patrons each Saturday and Sunday. 

In 1970, it had 24 refrigerators and freezers, the original small kitchen and on weekends served complimentary coffee to waiting crowds. Omelets by the hundreds were served and often the tiny kitchen had a hard time keeping up. There was no wine or beer because Art and Harry felt it would slow down the turnover of tables. The actor Richard Benjamin and comedian Paul Lynde and other “stars” ate there and later the kitchen was enlarged and a patio was added. It was a fabulous place and destination point for many.

Rick and Shannon, a young couple from Seattle established Dizz’s As Is in the 1970’s, at Coast Hwy and Nyes Place. Rick looked over the dining room and Shannon managed the kitchen. A bowl of Italian fish soup was $5.95. Complimentary liver pate and vermouth were served with dinner. In the early days, they had limited funds so bought silver ware and china at garage sales. Friends loaned or donated pieces from the thirties and forties. From time to time they had wonderful parties at their modest apartment for all of their customers, rich and poor. Shannon loved baking two feet and longer salmon along with racks of lamb. The ambiance was real, especially later in the evenings when even O.J. Simpson could be heard above the roar of the crowd. We have them to thank for today’s Dizz’s, still going strong.

From before the days of Richard Halliburton, who built his concrete house 400 feet above the ocean and Aliso Canyon – “gays” have made a difference in Laguna Beach and they still do – today!

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach


To sign or not to sign

The City Council led movement to spend taxpayer’s money on directional signs is the usual misguided, consultant driven project that will fail. It will come with a price. Hundreds of thousand dollars spent, added clutter to our sidewalks, and a minimum return on investment. There is an elephant in the room, which we will get to in a moment. First, let us talk about the Laguna Beach market

There are basically four categories of potential customers:

Teens-The free bus ride policy might be viewed as an offset to motor vehicle traffic, parking, and safety. This group is more disruptive than constructive, but most important they don’t spend $$! They fill up the buses, and beaches, sidewalks, and jails but not our retail stores. What do they read? Cell phones!

Residents-In the summer they abandon the squalor of downtown. Most of the time they only spend money on groceries, liquor, and restaurants. For example only 50% of resident monies go to purchasing grocery items, the other 50% is spent on—well can we say Costco and Wal-Mart? What do they use for shopping? Cell phones and our largest group of resident serving businesses---UPS, FedX, and USPS!

Day-Trippers-These are the people who on any day take all of our parking places, crowd our streets and sidewalks, and fill our trash containers. They bring their own food and refreshments and are not in Laguna for the shopping (they have better shopping where they live), it’s for the last part of their destination - beach! Data from the Visitor’s Bureau says they spend much less than $5.00 per visit. And, many can’t read English, so how is a sign going to sway them to shop? One of their kids cell phones got them here!

Tourists-Finally, we get to the spenders. They are our smallest group, and have their idiosyncrasies. They use the town as an unorganized shopping center. Focus remains on the hotel where they reside for a couple of weeks. When they need directions, they have the hotel personnel and their cell phones.

What do these four groups have in common? Well they do spend money on restaurant food and hotels (80% of retail sales), leaving only a pitiful amount of their budget for what the retailors want to sell them. This is what the City Council wants to roll the taxpayer’s dice for by using mechanical signs? Right!

Wake up! The only thing that all have in common are cell phones. That is how you can reach all the prospective buyers. 

If you want to really get results, spend the money on a good retailer’s guild on the internet. Customize it to our meager retailing population and call it a day. Oh, yes. Fire the sign painters and consultants. They are the only ones making money on this boondoggle.

Dennis Myers

Laguna Beach


Parking structures protest

A few years ago the residents of Laguna Beach stormed city hall to successfully protest the proposed building of a 3 story Parking Structure at the Village Entrance site. 

City Council has taken a step backwards by making a unanimous decision that residents will be served by going into debt to build a 3 story Parking Structure a mere stone’s throw from the previously protested location. City Council unanimously approved destroying an established art venue in the Civic Art District where local artist display their work during the summer season. City Council members claim that they support the arts and artists and our identity as an Artist Community and have even paid a consultant to entertain building a Cultural Arts Center.  

City Council members continue to ignore community activists who regularly speak at council meetings.  Council members focus efforts to appease campaign contributors, private investors and developer special interests in a pending election season. They appear to have forgotten that they are public servants and are elected to serve residents first.  This demonstrates how out of touch our city council is with serving the resident needs first.  Hotel guests support our economic vitality, not day-trippers.  

Improvements to creating pedestrian spaces and to encourage pedestrian friendly mobility measures through the creation of safe attractive multi use pathways would do much to improve the community for residents. The petrol automobile is not the future of transportation. To expect residents to go into debt to serve the aging automobile transportation industry is not a progressive value.  Elected officials must be forward thinking in mobility planning measures for our city.

Thank goodness, we have an election coming soon before these council members destroy our small village and what we stand together for as a community.  

Parking garages do not benefit residents, they burden the city with unnecessary debt to support day trippers. 

Lorene Laguna

Laguna Beach


Citywide Wayfinding Sign Program (CWSP)

The CWSP alleges that it will help guide shoppers to their desired destinations. Residents and regular visitors already know their way around town so it’s obvious that this program is intended to primarily benefit merchants, not residents. No measurable, scientific or evidence- based evaluation of the program’s success or failure has been proffered. 

Members and supporters of LBC will be soliciting signatures for a Petition opposing the CWSP outside of the Farmer’s Market on Forest Ave. starting this Saturday, July 29.

The CWSP is the brainchild of the Chamber of Commerce, Visit Laguna and City staff, with an initial budget of approximately $365,000. Its real purpose, as the LB Planning Commission pointed out, is to (a) Redirect downtown shoppers to other business districts, and (b) Hope that the CWSP will “spread the wealth,” disperse potential customers...who will then spend their money at shops and restaurants in areas outside of the downtown central business district. 

For the pilot program phase, 7-8 new signs will be installed from Broadway to Legion Street along Coast Highway. No prior, scientific evaluation or survey has been performed, to adequately measure, to assess the success or failure of the CWSP. 

The City’s staff report says the signs will “...reduce driver, pedestrian and bicyclist frustration, and improve traffic flow and safety. The signs would be located on all major corridors...” Laguna Beach Chat believes the signs, if successful, may significantly impact neighborhoods outside of downtown as the signs would encourage drivers to park in neighborhoods adjacent to, and inland of, the five identified CWSP business districts. 

Our petition reads: We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our City officials to reject the Citywide Wayfinding Sign Program being proposed. 

We believe the signs would be a form of visual blight, and that mobile applications will provide the same directional benefits for all. 

Please join us outside of the Farmer’s Market, next to LB City Hall, this Saturday. Don’t allow our City to continue to ignore the interests of residents.

Mike Morris

Laguna Beach


1199 Lewellyn Drive purchase

Your piece on the City backing out of its deal to purchase 1199 Lewellyn Drive missed a lot, as does the staff report for the item to be heard on Tuesday. Back in December 2016, the City approved the purchase of the property, allocated $1,632,000 for the purchase, and directed the City Manager to execute the purchase and sale agreement. This approval and direction was unambiguous. Nothing in the staff report or the minutes indicate that the purchase was “conditional” or “contingent” on further due diligence. In fact, the City had already had an environmental assessment completed for the property.  

Instead of purchasing the property as directed, City staff instead conducted additional studies on the property, which recommended improvements even to leave it in an undeveloped state.  Accordingly, the City Council allocated an additional $668,000 to the acquisition and improvement of the property, for a total of $2,300,000.  But the staff report for the item to be heard on Tuesday tells a different story. It claims, incorrectly, that the City Council’s direction back in December was conditional and contingent on further due diligence.  It cites attempts to renegotiate the price, but fails to mention the additional $668,000 that the City Council allocated last month.  How did estimated restoration and remediation costs go from $668,000, as stated to the City Council last month, to “$800,000 to $1 million”?  

Again, the City Council has already allocated $2,300,000 towards the acquisition and improvement of 1199 Lewellyn Drive.  Why is staff now recommending backing out of the deal?  What’s the point of coming to an agreement in good faith, only to back out?  The alternative is to go to trial on August 28, when the City will have to defend the property owner’s claims of $6 million in takings damages.

James M. Lawson

Laguna Beach


Thanks to Shaena and Lynette

Thank you Shaena for your uplifting words about our beloved Laguna.  Despite the frustration of coming in the canyon at times, paying $50 at Nix for lunch, the noise of construction everywhere, even ‘rudies’ on the back country trails, all this is more than compensated by every word you wrote in this morning’s StuNews… Still grieving for the loss of your beloved Stu every day is all the more remarkable that you are able to reach out to us all with your cheerful upbeat message – Stu would be so proud of you!  Cheers to you ladies. 

Charlotte Masarik

Laguna Beach

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 Gillepsie  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.

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