LGBT Heritage and Culture Committee

I am on a mission to see the rich heritage and culture of the LGBT community reflected in Laguna Beach. To be clear, I am not trying to “bring the gay back.” That ship has sailed. Rather, I want the LGBT community (visitors and residents, young and old alike), to be honored; to find our life experiences reflected in the policies, businesses, art, culture and celebrations within the city of Laguna Beach.

To that end, I have created the LGBT Heritage and Culture Committee who’s mission is to do just that. We are comprised of community leaders from City Council, Chamber of Commerce, Visit Laguna, Susi Q Senior Center and other impassioned members from our business and resident community. Our intention is that it eventually become an official city-appointed committee.

For decades, the LGBT community has had a major role in shaping the city of Laguna Beach with world-class arts, culture, character and overall quality of life that it is today. That is why I specifically want to honor our senior LGBT population for the enormous contribution they have made to our city. They deserve something in return and that is exactly what our Susi Q Senior Center is providing as home to the largest LGBT senior citizen club in Orange County, ClubQ. But LGBT seniors also deserve to be honored through community celebrations, public art, as well as support from the City of Laguna Beach and business community as well. 

This is happening in ways you may not even know. The Garden of Peace and Love, the final resting place at Mountain Street for scores of residents that died of AIDS, is now being saved from literally falling off the cliff thanks to the activism of the incomparable Audrey Prosser. And there’s a new public Artist Bench that is being designed to reflect LGBT history near that same location thanks to the private donation of a local couple celebrating 30 years together. Love this.

Prosser is also working with others to preserve the history of the LGBT community in Laguna Beach by helping to build an archive of photographs, oral histories and artifacts at UCI’s Library of Special Collections & Archives. Time is running out in collecting many of these stories from an aging population that has lived through the golden years of the Boom Boom Room to the devastation of AIDS.

Yes, time marches on. The LGBT community in Laguna Beach is evolving. We no longer have an AIDS crisis or such a need for bars as a safe place of respite from the more intolerant areas of Southern California. Now, thanks to progress, we have more gay parents and families such as mine. We have children that are coming out in middle school. We have transgender kids coming out in our elementary schools. Teachers, parents, kids and our community need resources to be able to respond to these needs. Bravo to our school district administrators for doing a phenomenal job in sensitively addressing these needs and ensuring a safe learning environment for all students.

I invite our City Council, the arts community, businesses, and residents alike to participate in this effort to see our rich LGBT heritage and culture honored and reflected throughout our city. 

Chris Tebbutt

Laguna Beach

Signage program value?

I agree with other residents’ comments printed in Stu News Laguna. (Although the Planning Commission meeting held to examine the signage plan could be a comedy skit for the other SNL). 

Let me suggest that there should be a Cost/Value examination of this plan. In the real world when you wanted to spend your company’s money on some program a C/V analysis was mandatory. Simply stated you compared the project costs to the expected revenues or other monetized results. You can guess what would happen to the project if the value came out below the cost. 

Since the CofC is backing this endeavor, I would guess that they anticipate the walkers will spend more money if they are directed to new areas of the town. It’s going to have to be a big number considering the City only reaps 1% of the sales tax collected from retail sales. Do the math and don’t forget the cost of the lawsuits filed for tripping on our decrepit sidewalks!

The other math analysis that needs to be conducted is alternate directions rendered via the internet on our cell phones. I would bet that a 1950’s signage program as proposed could not compete with using your cell phone to find a specific destination you were seeking! 

Even if the signage was in place, picture a family huddled around the sign trying to get their bearings. How much of a line do you think would form patiently waiting for their turn to read the sign? Now picture all those people interested in a destination, busily working their cell phones for a better answer----all at the same time!

Another signage program that should be evaluated is a system of digital monitors in each tourist bus. You have undivided attention from every bus rider for about 10 minutes. What a perfect way to inform all these potential walkers.

I’m sorry but the internet and digital communications trump signs that hope visitors will read (if they can even read). It’s time to end the dream world and look at the reality of effective communications.

And finally, if you really want to encourage walking, close off all parking in all downtown for the weekends creating a “shopping/entertainment” park. You might even get some of us residents to experience that! Just say’n!

Dennis Myers

Laguna Beach Resident (22 years)

Thank you, James Utt, for not returning to the classroom

Thank you, James Utt, for not returning to the classroom to teach, and recognizing that your liberal bias would seep into any classroom you enter. Thank you, because we already have a liberal invasion in our education system, where professors stray far off course syllabi to indoctrinate young minds into “their” way of thinking, masquerading as education.  This has been going on for decades, but has reached a crisis point.  I remember a criminology/sociology professor at UCSB in the early 1980’s who gave me an “F” because I wrote my final paper refuting his professorial liberal view that all criminals could be rehabilitated and prisons should be eliminated. I appealed and received an “A”, but that was my first taste of liberal bias in the classroom.  It still reeks, but it’s nothing like the liberal affront facing students across the nation today. Something is seriously wrong with our education system when teachers such as Olga Cox at OCCC are permitted to isolate, call out and shame conservative minded students, and declare, in her sexual education class, that President Trump’s election was an act of terrorism. The student was suspended for recording her political rant, but was shortly reinstated after community outrage against the teacher. In Santa Cruz, a teacher assigned 7 books in an English Literature course, all of which were about black rights, the black lives matter movement and glorifying the Black Panthers. Those resources may have been appropriate for a Black Studies class, but not English Literature. The student objected to the resource selection and was told to either drop the class or leave the school. In Florida, a Muslim college teacher filed a complaint against a Christian student who vocally opposed the teacher when she exalted Islamic extremism in her classroom, and said that Jesus’ crucifixion was a hoax and that Jesus’ disciples did not believe in God. She gave the straight A honor student an “F” in her class, and then had the student suspended claiming she felt threatened by the student’s opposition to her teachings. The teacher, who also filed a false police report against the student, is on a US watch list for supporting terrorism.  And just last week, at Cal State Fresno, yet another extreme left teacher tweeted at #TheResistance that President Trump should be hung, encouraging his assassination, and calling for the execution of two Republicans for each immigrant deported. Something is very wrong in our education system that permits these teachers to spew their extreme political beliefs, while at the same time “teaching” our children.

So yes, I’m very glad you are not teaching in our childrens’ classrooms because we already have too many teachers who cannot differentiate the subject matter they are supposed to teach from their political beliefs. There is a reason why President Trump won the election, and there are many millions of people who, for the first time in years, have hope that the downward and wrong direction this country was headed under Obama will be re-routed and uprighted, and that the flow of extreme liberal bias that has been allowed to seep into our education system and indoctrinate our youth will cease. Our children need to be taught to think critically for themselves, and not simply become indoctrinated followers.  If they develop that skill, they will be able to identify for themselves bias from fact, intelligent thought from rants. And maybe one day, the news media, on both sides, will get back to reporting real facts, not political opinions masquerading as facts. Unfortunately, it is likely too late to save California.  It’s already being taxed to death by our governor and legislature.

Jennifer W. Zeiter

Laguna Beach

New signage program concerns

I’m not opposed to new signage if it reduces the number of signs citywide. It’s uncertain that the new signage does that. It wasn’t a stated goal of the Staff Report. My main objection is that the process used has been closed to citizens.

The signage program started with the Chamber and City govt: “We have a two-year Economic Development Action Plan that was developed by the City Council Economic Development/Business Assistance Subcommittee in collaboration with the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and Visit Laguna Beach” (Excerpted from the City’s website)

In 2016, I was informed a member of this Subcommittee that between 250 and 750K would be budgeted for the signage program. It was a done deal, they said. At last week’s Planning Commission Meeting (safe to say that most Commissioners were befuddled) we learned that this «Disneyland» like signage, color coded to each Business District, (red for downtown) along with the recommendation that benches and trash cans be color coordinated is the recommended proposal of the Steering Committee for this project.  The Steering Committee consisted of two-member of the City Council. City Staff, Arts Commission, Planning Commission, Chamber of Commerce, and Visit Laguna. No Citizens!!

Having two-member of the City Council assures only one additional vote of approval is needed. The Planning Commission was not given the choice of rejecting the Pilot Program for this project, only advised to make comments and suggestions.

So who on the City Council would likely be the third vote?  Council member Steve Dicterow. His campaign manager was on the Subcommittee.  Larry Nokes, President of the Chamber of Commerce who is one of the main supporters of signage program is a friend and huge supporter of Mr. Dicterow. It’s highly unlikely that Mr. Dicterow would vote against the interests of two of his closest confidant’s friends and supporters or recuse himself. In the unlikely event he does, would Kelly Boyd vote no?

A democratic process was not followed! Are we surprised? Not one citizen was on the Steering Committee. The City seemingly has no confidence in its Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee. What about non-profit organizations who advocate for walking and biking, like Transition Laguna or Laguna Streets? Are there no qualified persons on any of these organizations that could have provided a voice for citizens?

I urge the City Council to do the right thing and reject the Pilot Program. The Staff Report claims that the new signage is for residents and will, “enhance the customer experience for residents in a way that visitors also enjoy.  If it’s for residents why weren’t we informed or involved in the process?

If you don’t want Laguna to look like Disneyland please express your concerns on April 18at 6 p.m. at the City Council Meeting. Approval of the signage Pilot Program will be assured if your voice isn’t heard. 

George Weiss

Laguna Beach

Visitor survey results

Those of us who live in Laguna know that we are being overrun by visitors, but you’ve got to love it when Stu News reports that Visit Laguna, whose mission is to market Laguna as a travel destination, has done a survey of those visitors and that ten percent of the visitors surveyed said that “less traffic and fewer people would have enhanced their experience.”

John Thomas

Laguna Beach

Creativity of proposed Wayfinding signage

The proposed Wayfinding signage has a primary purpose to direct tourists to businesses; residents already know where and how to find their way. The how is important and signs don’t do it. More signs mean visual blight without character or meaning -people use APs-for that and trolleys and wayfinding has grown up. While parking signs are already in place and doing their job, more doesn’t mean better. What Laguna needs is a better way:  continuous, unbroken sidewalks along highways and safe pedestrian corridors that are both beautiful and practical. Working with Cal Trans, the Beautification Council and City Planning, this community can certainly find better solutions than the proposed double- posted 12’-17’ high stacked color-coded signs sporting the well branded golden arches. With their copious print and circular maps to find food, gas, festival. So, who reads and wants these commercial relics stuck into narrow and decrepit sidewalks? Solution: Instead of more consultants, more signs and more confusion trying to read them, we need collective endemic talent, our pro-active groups and a council who listens to them to create a way to encourage walking, sightseeing, appreciation of the many historical and beautiful elements Laguna offers between north to south Laguna from Tree Streets to Hip district, to coves and parks, from the downtown beaches and shopping to the arts district and beyond. It can happen only if we remember to share Laguna and make wayfinding an extraordinary experience in the same creative spirit that brings so many and keeps us here. Beautifully landscapes highways, an arbor of flowing trees, meandering sidewalks, art-markers leading to a new area, highlighting a special place (our own Hollywood Star) this is possible when we recognize creativity does not stop at the edge of a canvas or stage.

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach

City Blue bus from North Laguna

Once again today I tried to use the City Blue bus from North Laguna, only to find that the route and the schedule had been changed, with no notice to the ridership.  Although the controversial issue is covered well in [the news], I can find no department name, nor manager name that accepts responsibility for the proposed and on-going changes to our bus service. 

 I understand the need for changes – I am often the only passenger on the bus, and I often see it circling its route empty – so it is expensive and wasteful.  However, we in North Laguna are also taxpayers and shoppers, and elderly and handicapped, and car-less or reluctant to drive and park downtown…all groups that the city should be encouraging to seek alternative transportation.  A six-passenger golf cart would probably be adequate to serve this area, at much lower cost.

I urge all North Laguna residents (owners AND renters) who value this service to attend the City Council meeting on May 9 when the changes and proposals will be discussed. 

Barbara C. Ring

Laguna Beach

New data collection antenna

Tuesday the LBCWD installed a new data collection antenna on the hill where the Dartmoor reservoir tanks are buried. This tower (as well as 2 others in Laguna) will be used to read customer’s meters as well as identify leaks and water waste according to the helpful person I spoke with at the Water Dept.

Click on photo for larger image

Data collection antenna

Although I appreciate their efforts to be efficient and conscientious, a big ugly antenna on top of the hill is a blight to the beautiful greenbelt open space we have worked so hard to preserve. In a town with more view ordinances and restrictions than I care to think of it is ironic that our own utility company is ‘exempt’ and therefore permitted to deface our hills. Soon it may look more like Saddleback than Laguna.

Brenda Madison

Laguna Beach

City Bus Schedule

With the recent demise of our second car, I’ve had to rely on the bus to get downtown. As an occasional passenger over the past twenty years, I’ve always found our city bus convenient and reliable. This changed last summer, when the city rerouted the Top of the World bus and discontinued convenient stops at either end of our street with no notice whatsoever. To catch the bus now, I need to leave my house twenty minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. My timely arrival at the bus stop made no difference last Thursday, however, because, contradicting posted schedules on the city’s website and at the bus stop, the 5:20 p.m. bus did not show. A trolley finally trundled by at 6:10 p.m., too late for me to salvage plans I’d made to meet friends before Art Walk. During my cool, 40-minute wait in blowing fog, I downloaded the Laguna Beach Visitor’s Bureau trolley app and tried tracking a few of the buses. It appears the buses it tracks aren’t the ones that serve my neighborhood, because the one I eventually caught didn’t show up on the map. 

Trying to catch a bus at the library the next day proved equally frustrating. The posted schedule shows a lunch break between noon and 1 p.m., but a lady sitting on the bench told me some buses now run during lunch hour. I called the Visitor’s Bureau to check the schedule, and the one they had was outdated. I called the transit center to ask where I could get a current schedule and they said they didn’t have any. I caught the bus, along with two ladies helping a blind woman, simply by waiting until it arrived. The friendly driver gave me a new schedule, but I know service is scheduled to be curtailed after summer.

As noted last week, more than six million tourists visited Laguna in 2016. A recent article also quoted city residents bemoaning reduced, rerouted and inadequate public transit service. With traffic and parking the primary concerns of most city residents, how can our city government justify curtailing a program that gives people an alternative to driving through town? Two groups currently rely on city transit: teenagers not old enough to drive and people unable to drive either for financial or physical reasons. A reliable transit system is essential to reducing traffic and pollution and maintaining our quality of life. Rather than curtailing transit service, our city should be fixing its broken system by providing updated schedules and routes that serve riders’ needs, then advocating bus ridership for all residents, just as they have promoted the service to visitors. 

Ellen Girardeau Kempler

Laguna Beach

Stu News is a great combination of news and information

I have just recently found Stu News and I wanted to let you know it is fabulous!  What a great combination of news and information,  Articles are concise and well written and I never thought I would say this but I really like the ads,  I have found many places I now visit in Laguna through your ads.

Thanks so much and keep up the great work!

Andrea McGinley

Laguna Beach

Harley Rouda runs against Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

Harley Rouda, a local resident and Democrat will run against Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who has been in office 15+ years and is considered one of the most ineffective representatives in U.S. history.

Laguna Beach residents who went to a recent resistance training session in Newport Beach were surprised to find 700+ people at the meeting in predominately republican Newport Beach.

The so called “failing” New York Times has seen 132,000+ paid subscriptions on-line and in print since election day. This represents a dramatic growth ten times the same period last year.

Planned Parenthood too has seen record-breaking donations since the electionnumbering 400,000+.

In a short period after the new president’s travel ban, the A.C.L.U. had 356,206 donors - two thirds who were new donors who gave twenty four million $$$, more than the total for 2016.

For myself, I am watching much less news because 45 (Trump) is so depressing.

I hesitated writing this letter because I read in the Christian Science Monitor weekly magazine that 45 was sending agents to resistance meetings to get the names and information about leaders and participants to add to his lists of those who don’t care for him, but here it is - another letter to our local media.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

As Rohrabacher fights to revoke women’s healthcare, it’s time we fight to revoke his seat

The extremists alt-right movement made history this past week, but not the good kind.

 For the first time since Dick Cheney held office, the Vice President was called upon to push through legislation that failed to garner majority support in the Senate. Their dangerous motivation: gut and defund Planned Parenthood — the most trusted health provider for women, throughout America, since 1916.

Fanatic right-wingers tout this as a victory for their “pro-life” movement. But in reality — either they have chosen to ignore the facts, or they really are waging a callous war on our nation’s women.

Why? Because despite claims to the contrary, abortion-related procedures comprise a mere 3% of Planned Parenthood services. So if extremists really want to reduce abortions, as they claim, defunding Planned Parenthood makes no sense.

Not only does Planned Parenthood refuse to accept any federal dollars for abortion services which has been the case since 1976, Planned Parenthood’s proactive care and education programs actually prevent over 500,000 unintended pregnancies annually — leading to an estimated fewer 200,000 abortions each year. Given that funding for abortion services is separate, these proposed appropriation cuts (that will likely lead to an increase in abortions) exclusively decimate the remaining 97% of Planned Parenthood operations that consist of basic medical assistance for almost 3 million Americans. That’s flat out coldhearted and just plain wrong to increase unplanned pregnancies.

Republicans are essentially closing life-saving medical facilities by targeting women, particularly low-income women and their families. Based on the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s analysis, within one year of defunding Planned Parenthood, 650,000 women will face reduced access to health care, and 390,000 women will lose all access.

As our country looks for ways to increase affordable medical services, we should be looking for ways to empower and expand Planned Parenthood’s footprint — not annihilate it. In fact, the organization ought to serve as a beacon when it comes to cutting waste and improving efficiencies in a massive healthcare bureaucracy. Serving as one of the most effective organizations within our health care infrastructure, their reimbursement model prevents fraud and reduces waste throughout all 50 states.

Most importantly, Planned Parenthood fills a void left by the shortcomings of our fragmented industry, directing 79% of their efforts towards patients at or below 150% of the poverty line.

While some of our representatives in Congress deny the benefits of Planned Parenthood, they also ignore the fact that for many Americans, Planned Parenthood acts as a supplement for primary care. Over 50% of Planned Parenthood health centers are located in areas with medical facility shortages, and almost all branches operate with extended hours, prioritizing access to care for underserved communities.

I have long supported and donated to Planned Parenthood, along with over 10 million people worldwide, because they offer a vital service to millions of women who desperately need it. Our government, charged with promoting the common welfare, should take steps to strengthen programs that benefit the general public. In fact, in many cases, Planned Parenthood addresses a healthcare market failure better than Congress can. The same CBO report estimated a net increase of $130 million to taxpayers if the government cuts off Planned Parenthood.

Meanwhile, fringe, alt-right extremists in Washington like Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who claim the “only purpose for Planned Parenthood is abortion,” must stop ignoring the truth as they hold irresponsible hearings using taxpayer dollars.

The basis for these Congressional investigations into potential Planned Parenthood malfeasance: doctored videos that concoct an ungrounded narrative of evil. Not only were their claims of illegal activity debunked, the creators of the videos have since been charged with felony counts. Yet right-wing radicals trudge onward, stripping our vulnerable populations of vital services while perpetuating anti-abortion rhetoric.

We cannot afford to let these entrenched extremists in Washington sacrifice Planned Parenthood as a pawn in their game of political chess. We need members of Congress ready to stand up for women, and thus Planned Parenthood, by advocating for the equal protection under the law for all Americans. An attack on Planned Parenthood is an attack on the American values I will defend in Congress.

While Rep. Rohrabacher fights a productive health care service, it’s time we make him fight to keep his seat.

Harley Rouda

Democratic challenger for Rep Rohrabacher’s Congressional seat

Laguna Beach

Rattlesnakes present a real danger

My name is Kasey Konkel and I have lived in Orange County for 48 years. I have always know that rattlesnakes present a real danger but I never realized just how serious that danger was until recently and I am hoping that you can assist me in alerting the public to take extra care in protecting themselves and their pets.

With all of the heavy rain across the county, more snakes are slithering around. My dog was bitten by a rattlesnake 12 days ago while she was on leash at Top of the Word park in Laguna Beach. My dog, Gracie, was just three feet away from me when she stuck her head into a wild flower bush on the dirt trail and likely surprised a sleeping snake. The snake tried to sink its fangs into the bridge of her nose, but due to the boney structure of a pointer’s muzzle, the snake was unsuccessful and attacked her jaw line.  Gracie was rushed to the nearest vet within the hour, and despite biannual rattlesnake vaccines, Gracie suffered the horrific effects of the rattlesnake venom. Once the dog’s flesh is penetrated with the poison, it turns black and dies. The skin and fur slough off and the dog is left with raw, open wounds which are susceptible to infection. Gracie is being properly cared for and she will survive the attack.

However, many dogs do not live once they are bitten and some die en route to the animal hospital.

A Rattlesnake Avoidance Training for dogs and their owners has been organized by Laguna Beach native, Suzanne Thornton Parker and is hosting the event in San Juan Capistrano on May 13th, 2017 from 8 AM to 5 PM. She is very knowledgeable about canines and has partnered with a very experienced rattlesnake avoidance trainer. In the training, dogs learn to detect and avoid rattlesnakes by scent, sight and smell. The owners will learn how recognize when their dogs can sense the presence of a rattlesnake. The training is approximately 20 minutes long and cost is $125.

My intention is keep dogs and their owners safe with approaching warm weather.

Thank you so much for time and assistance.

Kasey Konkel

School Board needs adult supervision on safety

As the only 2016 School Board candidate who included campus security in my platform, it came as good news that School District staff finally proposed visitor screening and sex offender cross-check for our schools.  

While opposing excessive cost of outside consultants too often doing jobs senior district staff is paid to perform, I recognized we lack staff qualified to manage security issues.

Accordingly, I supported funding for a carefully selected expert to develop a serious emergency response program.

Like fences and gates, visitor screening is just one necessary but intermediate step in addressing security needs to protect our children. Instead of half-measures, I’ve advocated a strategic security plan for years.  

Not surprisingly, the School Board’s current President stated she “wasn’t really comfortable…” with enhanced security, “…because it’s hard to accept we are at this point in society…a shame we need to do it.” Too bad she didn’t think about the social impact when our School Board President voted in 2002 for the School District contract that resulted in the “Real Laguna Beach” reality television show.

Even after production that had begun on campus was shut down by parent protests, that School Board blunder made LBHS the most well known public school in the nation, along with Columbine and fictional Ridell High in the movie “Grease.” The show featuring LBHS students resulted in multiple threat evacuations and loitering by sexual predators at our high school. 

Because the show was syndicated for wide commercial distribution worldwide, LBHS is permanently at higher risk than almost any other high school in America. The only thing worse than over-reaction is under-reaction by our School Board for over a decade.  

Without drama or alarm I called for a comprehensive program of school employee training, emergency communications, and counter measures to protect students, school employees and campus visitors, especially between the onset of a man made or natural disaster and the arrival of first responders.

Obviously, some but not all plan elements should be made public. Thus, it has been utterly irresponsible for current staff repeatedly to talk publicly about the surveillance cameras installed after vandalism incidents as “active shooter” counter-measures monitored by local police. It is also reckless to announce that the schools are dependent on local police for all counter measures.  

That kind of incompetence is why some serious adult supervision is needed in our schools to make kids truly safe.

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

Super article on Tom Joliet

As a life long Lagunan I am so happy to read about the super teacher and mentor, Tom Joliet. I taught for 30+ years and recognize good teaching...Tom sure shows that in his uke classes at the Suzy Q. Nice man and a real Laguna person. Thanks for the article.

Judy Jameson

Laguna Beach

Bus schedule changes

As of this morning, the City has changed the local city bus schedule to once an hour, on the half-hour from the Depot.

No notice to the passengers nor the public; no printed schedules on board.

Barbara C Ring

Laguna Beach


Victor Evon Opincar Jr.


Life of police/Susi Q volunteer celebrated

Family and friends of Victor Opincar Jr gathered on March 16 at Heisler Park to celebrate his life and the things he loved doing.

Vic died Feb 17 at home with his family at his side. He was 72.

A long-time member of the Laguna Beach Police Department’s volunteer Cops on Patrol, Vic was a familiar sight on foot or bicycle patrol. 

“Vic was my bicycle patrol partner for 11 years,” said Nanci Nielsen. “What was so cool about him is he wasn’t just riding around. He loved helping people. If someone was taking photographs, he would offer to take their pictures. He would give visitors bits of trivia about where they were in town. He just loved to share the intricacies of Laguna.”

Knowledgeable about the streets of Laguna, Vic advocated the four-way stop at Third Street and Park Ave. He also supported Let Laguna Vote, and the Dark Sky initiative. 

Vic was a hiker and a dancer. He took weekly lesson in ballroom dancing at the Susi Q, where he also volunteered time.

“Vic was a former board member and he was our front desk ambassador,” said Nadia Babayi, Laguna Beach Seniors Inc executive director. “He helped seniors with their day-to-day affairs. The seniors benefitted from his working with them. Vic is tremendously missed.” 

Born into a military family, Vic spent his youth traveling the country and attending schools on the bases. He graduated from high school in Ankara, Turkey. He earned a civil engineering degree from Michigan Technology University. He later added a Master’s degree in civil engineering and a Master’s of Business Administration degree from Cal State Long Beach.

As an employee of Boyle Engineering Corp. in Newport Beach, Vic specialized in water treatment and resource management. While employed, he served as president of the Orange County Water Assn., the Institute of Advancement of Engineering and the Consulting Engineers and Land Surveyors of California.

Vic is survived by his wife, Ramona, daughters Jennifer and Tess, son Eric, stepdaughters Tara and Linda and 10 grandchildren. 

Donations may be made to the Cancer Research Institute, One Exchange Plaza, 55 Broadway, Suite 1802, New York, NY, 10006.

By Barbara Diamond

Win-win situation

It’s April, the month I renew my Laguna Art Museum membership, and I’d like to take this as an opportunity to share with Stu News readers a secret benefit: if you join at the Friend level ($125) or above you not only support LAM and get to attend special events at the museum, but you also become enrolled in the North American Reciprocal Museum Association (NARM). 

So what’s so great about that? It means that for just $125 you get free admission for two people to museums all over the country for an entire year!  My husband and I use this all the time, we just went to Palm Springs Art Museum (I went twice, he went once, savings of $37.50), we use it at the Balboa Park Museums, LA Museums, San Francisco and when we travel out of state. 

If you love art this donation really pays for itself in no time, and you help our local museum out. A no-brainer, but a secret not every one knows about, which is why I am sharing it with Stu News readers.

You can see a pdf of all the participating museums here:

Hedy Buzan

Laguna Beach

Seniors need housing help

If you want to help a senior and have a room or small apartment to rent, call Martha Hernandez, the Care Manager at the Susi Q Senior Center, 715 8104. Some seniors looking for housing can help with light chores, including gardening, housekeeping, etc. 

Laguna has housing and urban development (HUD) housing. There are two ways to get HUD housing nation-wide. One is to apply for a section eight voucher. This enables the senior to get reduced price housing in any commercial or non-profit buildings associated with HUD but if you apply now, you may have to wait nine years for a voucher. 

The second way is to signup on a waiting list at various locations across the country. Vista Aliso, a 72 apartment complex on Wesley has a waiting list but it is a seven year wait & closed right now. Other complexes may have a shorter waiting list. 

There are seniors seeking housing right now. Some have lived in Laguna off and on for years. Call Ms Hernandez if you can help. 

Roger Carter

Who is the City’s safety officer?

It’s been over a month since the rainstorm eroded this section of Main Beach! What’s the problem? Waiting for some child to fall, get hurt and sue? Where are the priorities? Who’s in charge? Safety should [be] the “Top” of the list.

Danger! Danger! Where is the common sense?

Pat Galez

Laguna Beach

Some thoughts about the “trolley crisis”

I gather that due to under-funded pension liabilities, citizens will need to put up with reduced services including the subsidized trolleys. Perhaps street sweeping, garbage collection, park maintenance etc. I hope we’re not talking about EMT, Fire or Police coverage!

The notoriously corrupt and dissembling CalPers pension fund idiotically promises 7% return, and our city idiotically sends in dollars! A dangerous place for our retirees’ lifeblood. I suggest someone at City Hall look up the definition of “fiduciary”. What’s that line about ‘a fool and his money’?

And if we are in a crisis, it may be time to utilize the 10’s perhaps 100’s of millions of previously collected and invested tax dollars the City has squirelled away. I’d like an honest audit of those funds by an outside firm. I’m not happy being told not to look at that man behind the green curtain. A full and completely audited Balance Sheet, not a Cash Flow statement.

Back to the trolleys.

Those silly little trolleys are and have been a Godsend and a visible asset for the citizens and visitors to our city. Forcing us to dial up Uber or Lyft when we’re stranded due to a cutback is going to piss off some already ticked-offover-taxed, over-Design Reviewed, over-DUI checkpointed, over-sewaged at the beach voters and taxpayers.

Perhaps some efficiencies can be found, like returning to the routes and schedules we had before! Everything’s changed now, and no one’s explained it. And what would happen if we added Sunday service and added evening service so that locals can go to dinner and a show or a gallery, perhaps sip some wine, and ride home safely after the last bus now shuts down at 6 pm. I realize DUI’s are big business in this town, but safety and common sense with available trolley service down to the Village at night and on Sundays (for Christ’s sake) might be a better idea. Not to mention the parking problem thus alleviated.

Just Sayin’

Matt Smith

Laguna Beach


Vernon R Spitaleri

1922 - 2017

Click on photo for a larger image

Cherry and Vern Spitaleri are pictured here during a recent European trip

Memorial to be held April 29 for civic and cultural leader

Vernon Spitaleri’s fingerprints are all over Laguna Beach; in the arts, in service organizations and in the business community. His death in January marks the passing of another of Laguna’s “greatest generation”. He was 94. 

A native of New York, Vern entered college at 16 and graduated with a degree in engineering; later studied voice at Julliard and performed under the name of Francoise Chardonnay; served his country in time of war; and married in 1952, before moving to Laguna Beach in the late 1950s.  

Cherry and Vern Spitaleri raised three sons and one daughter in their Emerald Bay home. 

Among his chief contributions to Laguna and closest to his heart, according to the family, was the merger in the mid-1960s of two local papers to create the Laguna News Post. Family members said he was proud of his practice of including pro and con editorials. 

“If you don’t lose a few subscribers over an editorial, you are not doing a good job,” he is quoted as saying.

He also began the custom of the News Post paying for the eggs at the annual Easter Egg Hunt at Laguna Beach High School. 

There were few organizations in town that Vern failed to at least influence, his family said.  

He was in the forefront of the effort to raise funds to build South Coast Medical Center and served on the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce board for several years. 

As President of the Boys Club, Vern led the move to the current facility in Laguna Canyon. He was a founding president of the Friends of the Laguna Beach Library, spearheading the construction of the library.

Vern was a co-creator of Main Beach Park Foundation and a key player in convincing the Festival of Arts to guarantee a revenue stream to pay off the bonds used to purchase what became known as the Window to the Sea.

Next year will be the 50th anniversary of the burning of the bonds after the final payment.

Vern organized the expansion of the Laguna Playhouse, while serving as the president of the board. He was honored by the Playhouse in the 90th anniversary celebration.

“Anyone who sat in the balcony tonight should say a word of thanks to Vern,” said then General Manager Karen Wood. 

While president of Opera Pacific, he helped negotiate a performance by tenor Luciano Pavarotti to help raise funds for Segerstrom Performing Arts Center. 

Vern served as president of Motivated Museum Members, which successfully fought off the hijacking of Laguna Art Museum, and later, as a board member. He was also president of the Laguna Beach Historical Society and the Emerald Bay Association.

The Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade Committee selected him as Patriot of the Year in 1998, recognizing his service during World War II, as a commander of six LCIs that landed troops on the beaches on DDay. His participation earned him a Presidential Unit Citation and three purple hearts. 

“Most military historians would agree that the opposed (shot at) amphibious assaults are among the most dangerous forms of warfare,” said retired Marine Corp Pilot Charles Quilter. “They are completely vulnerable under hostile fire in a slow moving boat.

“As I recall, Vern made three landings and was wounded at least once. I have the greatest admiration for the boys who landed those boats.”

Vern referred to his experience as “The Hottest Show of ‘em all.”

He completed his naval career in the South Pacific with the rank of Lt. Commander.  

An art lover, Vern tried unsuccessfully to build an artist-live work complex in Laguna Canyon to help keep struggling artists in town. 

One bit of his advice to his children was “Do the best you can – no one is perfect – except your mother.”

Vern is survived by his wife of almost 70 years; sons Marc, Eric and Kris; daughter, Lynn, nine grandchildren; three great grandchildren and one great great grandchild.

Family and friends will gather Saturday, April 29 to celebration a life fully lived. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information, to attend or to send personal stories about Vern.  

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to a cause of personal choice or to the Laguna Beach Historical Society, St. Labre Indian School, Pacific Wildlife Project or the Idyllwild Arts Foundation.


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