Park Plaza: money best sent elsewhere

I have close to 40 years [living] in Laguna, that small street is a vital access road to Park Ave, the high school and residential streets above!

Money would be better spent on cleaning up Main Beach cobblestone areas, maybe [adding] picnic tables & umbrellas during the warm months.

Also, common sense dictates this city needs a parking structure across from the festival grounds.

Laguna is not Portofino! The volume of traffic on PCH will only increase.

Pat Galez

Laguna Beach

Yes to Park Plaza

I am in favor of the park!

Patricia Callaghan

Laguna Beach

Park Plaza: A Sense of Community Can’t Be Manufactured

Lately, there’s been a concerted attempt to remake Laguna Beach, progressed by a very vocal minority. First, they wanted to close off Forest Avenue to traffic, disregarding one obvious fact: Downtown parking and vehicular circulation would become an even bigger nightmare than it already is. Ideas are easy, implementation and adverse impacts entirely different beasts.

Although Park Plaza isn’t as disruptive, it’s a reflection of a mindset, of a discomfort being pushed by a few unhappy campers, none of them long term residents: they want to change us into the image of what they think that we should be.

As a retired general contractor (I’m now an enviro-analyst) it’s typical of people with what we as builders called “Remodeling Syndrome.” New residents from out of town bought their dream home, then within a year or two decided it needed revamping.

Humorously, they often remodeled many times subsequently, never quite satisfied, as if there was still something not quite right. The people who lobbied heavily for the Plaza seems to be of the same ilk: There’s something wrong, something missing in our lives that their tweaking could fix. They know what would be best for us.

They’ve unfortunately called those who don’t want what they do as Flat Earth types, xenophobic, afraid of change. It apparently never occurred to them that we understand what they cannot: “Community” isn’t just things, it’s also a place in the heart, a sense of time and place, the guts of a town’s character. We like where we live, warts and all, natives who’ve stayed along with those of us who moved here primarily because of its non-urban feel.

Community can’t be manufactured by putting up some chairs and tables in what’s basically an alley, sequestered in an asphalt and concrete compound. So near to PCH that the noise and air pollution hardly stand a chance of becoming social change drivers. Coughing and yelling don’t equal Laguna in my opinion. Creating such simulated environs isn’t a field of dreams, unless your dreams are urban in nature.

Laguna Beach is not irreparably broken, no it’s not perfect, but it still has some of the same funky coastal surf vibe that drew me here from northern OC and my native Long Beach.

Ironically, not one of the proponents is a professional land use analyst or planner. Just people with an itch to change, an itch to fix what’s not even broken.

Roger E. Bütow

45-year Laguna Beach resident

Park Plaza Blocks Traffic

City Council

“Don’t be cruel”

Please re-open up Park Avenue to help with traffic. Anyone who has to get across town gets jammed and if you are working or driving kids the traffic is rotten.

We have plenty of open space across the street.

The light in the canyon has made driving there a nightmare and now the city is making town more congested.

Peter Davidson

Laguna Beach


Penny Parkinson 

Click on photo for a larger image

Penny Parkinson, Laguna Beach resident since 1950, passionate artist, talented teacher, and singular friend has departed this earth for the Great Beyond. A daughter of Ted and Mona Lyttle of Laguna, both deceased, Penny is survived by her life partner of 37 years, Christine Miller, her sister Nancy Hoyt, brother Teddy Lyttle, her extended family, and too many chosen family friends to mention. Penny passed of natural causes without suffering under the gentle care of Granny’s Nursing Home in Laguna Niguel on Nov 22.

Penny was a champion of her special needs art students at Anaheim High School. She loved encouraging them and other students to use art as a medium of self-expression and to reach for new heights with their artistic talents. 

Penny and Christine owned a home in the breathtakingly beautiful seacoast town of Stonington, Maine and more recently ran a bed and breakfast there where Penny could pose as “The Laguna Charmer,” stroke her ukulele, and tell stories about her world travels. She made the Victorian house even more charming with her pen-and-ink drawings of the island and its lobster fishing trade. Penny was a member of the Laguna Beach Sawdust Festival since its early years, exhibiting both watercolor paintings and later Whirligig birds.

Penny was known for throwing fabulous dinner parties for the artist core in town. From the street, you could hear guests laughing and partaking of the food, wine, and company. Guests on the deck enjoyed viewing Main Beach and sipping a cocktail while the sound of the waves provided the soundtrack for the hostess to spin her tales.

Penny was a dog lover extraordinaire. She was almost never without the company of a terrific Labrador Retriever. Surely Josh, Jason, Lady, Jessie, et al., greeted Penny as a group at Rainbow Bridge as she crossed over. What a picture!

Penny loved to travel with a special teachers’ group and literally toured the world upon retirement. She also owned a home in Mexico, where she celebrated Easter and painted watercolors of the local churches.

Penny’s partner Christine Miller now lives in Renton, Washington, with her daughter Laurie and loving grandchildren by her side.

A memorial service will be announced. Contributions may be made in memory of Penny to the Stonington United Methodist Church, PO Box 307, Stonington, ME 04681. Flowers may be sent to the service when announced (Penny loved flowers).


Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


From “A Road Less Traveled,” by Robert Frost


Tallie Parrish

Click on photo for a larger image

Our Dearest Tallie (Clara LB) Parrish was peacefully whisked away by the Lord Wednesday evening Nov 15, 2017. Her husband and children were with her during the day of her passing. She is survived by husband Bill Parrish, children Chris Parrish and his wife Jody, Doug Parrish and his wife Robin, Leslie Fuchs and her husband John, four grandchildren Will, Grant and Sam Fuchs, Katherine Parrish, Tallie’s brother Chris Bell and family who now live in Australia.

Tallie and her husband have been active in the Laguna Presbyterian Church for 49 years. The celebration of her life will take place at the church at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Jan 6, 2018.

Tallie was a beautiful lady with many talents. She loved people and distinguished herself as a good listener. This was evident in her teaching pre-school children for 9 years and lastly as a marriage and family therapist in her later years. She was continuously seeking new knowledge in school studies beyond her Scripps College days. This added to her success as a building official in the City of Laguna Beach Building Department for 11 years. She retired to attend Cal State Fullerton to earn her master’s degree in psychology. Upon completion, she became a marriage and family therapist and served humanity in this role for over ten years. Her last official contribution was volunteering in the Trauma Intervention Program.

For all who came in touch with Tallie, the world was made a better place.

Don’t leave Laguna…continued

The sticker shown in the last edition’s Letters needs to be altered a little.

The last time I ran the numbers, eighty percent (80%) of the residents employed drove 20 miles to work. That means they pass major shopping areas in the process of getting to and from work. The people that spend money leave our little hamlet with its “resident serving” businesses every day and return when locals have closed for the day.

Perhaps the “Don’t leave Laguna-Shop Here” sign should be changed to “Work here.” Then maybe retail sales would show growth, not stagnation. Of course the “resident serving” businesses would have to change merchandise to meet the interests of locals, not visitors. 

Using the Parklet as a measure, that ain’t going to happen.

Dennis Myers

Laguna Beach

Is this the best that Laguna can do?

Is this the best that Laguna Beach can do? Doesn’t look anything like the pictures that were circulated in the newspaper about the “great relaxation cafe type environment.” Looks more like a child’s playground. If you’ve ever

been to Europe their town square gathering areas, are cozy, artistic and used by lots of folks. My thoughts are “why bother” to upset traffic  for something like this. I was part of the yearlong or more, Laguna Vision Project. The community proposed this idea, but I guarantee it didn’t look like this. Below see what I feel would be more appropriate. 


Jeanine Just

Laguna Beach

Don’t leave Laguna…

In 2005 or 2006 merchants were having a really bad time because two years in a row they closed Broadway during the Christmas season.

I owned My Laguna Office at the time and created these stickers. I had 5000 printed and gave them out to anyone who wanted them.

Many people had them in their store windows and their car windows.

Maybe something like these should be created again.

Tom Williams

Laguna Beach

Think Globally… Shop Locally

Joni Mitchell’s familiar refrain “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” warns against taking the things you love for granted. And while at the time Joni was referring to paradise, trees, pure food and her boyfriend, her message resonates now for one of the key threads in the fabric of small towns, namely, local businesses. 

We do indeed live in paradise! Surrounded by an incomparable coastline and rolling hills we have wonderful neighbors and lifestyles. But a critical component of our lives and towns are the storefronts we drive past every day and the shopkeeper and employees inside that work very hard to make their dream a reality by offering you something they believe in so much that they have devoted their very lives to showing it to you. But recently the emergence of point and click shopping obscures the reality that operating a successful small business, while never an easy road, is more challenging than ever. 

But you won’t see the chairman of Amazon in the stands at the local Homecoming game, cheering on kids at a local surf contest or helping the local family that lost their home in a fire. That level of community involvement only happens when the business owner lives in your neighborhood, works down the block, plays hoops at the local park or paddles out at your local break. 

And the truth is, the vast majority of proprietors in our towns do just that. They’re sponsoring the Little League teams, manning the BBQ at the game, giving discounts to the kids when they get a good report card or just waving to you when you meet on the sidewalk. They’ve been there for years so you might even take them for granted, but trust me, they never take your patronage for granted. Not for a minute. And if they ever leave, our towns will lose a part of what makes them so special, thread-by-thread, storefront-by-storefront. It would be more than a shame… It would be tragic and we would all lose. 

So please consider doing your part to help maintain the souls of our towns. Turn off the computer, get out of your car and walk the sidewalks, our sidewalks, to rediscover the incredibly unique shops just down the street. It’s easy, it’s fun and you’ll discover some cool goods and services that you can’t find online while meeting some pretty nice folks in the process. 

Thankfully, most of the people I talk to “get it” and understand that the quality of their lives depends in part on the holistic integrity of the community that surrounds them. The health of our town is akin to the health of our bodies and online shopping is like drive through fast food. It’s something to eat, but it sure as heck ain’t home cookin’.

Mark Christy

Laguna Beach

Skipper Carillo turns frowns to smiles

I worked in Laguna Beach for 21 years for Laguna Fed- Great American-Wells Fargo, and in those 21 years took only two of my customers out to lunch.  (I am not a cheapskate, it is just not a good idea to either give or take gifts from customers. Banking and favors don’t mix.)  

So one of the two customers was Skip.  We went to Salerno’s and joined the clean plate club.  I loved this guy and still do.  No matter how long the line or how many folks were being told NO when attempting to cash a check, if Skipper came into the lobby he could change the atmosphere in a mini second when he uttered his famous Hi everybody...Have a HOME RUN Day. Frowns turned to smiles and we all had a dose of human kindness that day.  

Skip’s nickname for me was the Duke.  I loved Duke Snyder, so he gave me his name.  I don’t miss banking but I still miss the wonderful folks in Laguna Beach.  Number one on that list is Skip. I wish him only good things forever.

Bonnie Rohrer

Alternative to the $150M Undergrounding Project

For the cost of undergrounding SCE power lines, we could fund solar or other alternative energy production for literally every home in Laguna. Our city would be the cleanest most self-sufficient/sustainable city certainly in California if not the nation.

While that notion may seem far-fetched to many of you, read on and do a bit of research on the Web, [and] you’ll see making Laguna Beach substantially independent of an investor owned utility is not only feasible but makes practical sense. There is a momentous shift taking place in the energy business toward Distributed Energy Resources and Zero Net Energy (ZNE) buildings.  Combined, they have the ability to significantly reduce a community’s dependence on the energy utilities, substantially reduce GHG emissions, and make the community more resilient to natural disasters.

Most experts agree it will be the combination of energy from distributed sources like rooftop solar, batteries, and the utilities that makes the most sense.  But currently our communities, and especially Laguna, are way too dependent on a single source for electricity.

If the City were to raise a $150M bond to fund undergrounding that equates to roughly $6500 per resident or $13,000 per residential dwelling in town. The average cost of a 5MW residential solar system is $14,000 with available tax credits. 

Now I realize that not every dwelling and building in town is suitable for a rooftop solar system and solar alone does not supply power 24/7/365. But many buildings in town are suitable for solar, you can cover parking structures, and there are other viable alternatives to produce and buy electricity. 

I estimated our collective community (residents, businesses and public institutions) spends roughly $25M annually on electricity using publicly available data. So it’s understandable why SCE and SDGE balk at investing $150M in undergrounding.  Our community is a tiny revenue stream for them and they buy their power and retail it to us. So even if my numbers are way off, the payback on a $150M investment for them is very long.  Laguna Beach represents tiny profits and therefore likely a small priority in the event of a natural disaster that affects them grid-wide, like a major earthquake. When that major natural disaster hits we’re on our own for an extended period of time. Plain and simple.

If the utilities serving our community are unwilling to fund undergrounding to preserve their $25M annual revenue stream, then we should seriously investigate alternatives before our City officials move forward with any more undergrounding expenditures.

For argument’s sake, let’s say we add in five years’ worth of SCE and SDGE bills that our community pays; there’s $125M to put in the energy independence kitty on top of the $150M the City wants.

$275M goes along way to make our community power sources sustainable and highly resilient to earthquakes and fires. The $275M would be toward assets we own not a sunk cost to couple of monopolies.  

Other thoughts on reducing fire risk from powerlines on LCR / evacuation routes

How about reinforcing the poles on LCR with K rail like solutions to reduce fire risk in the canyon? It’s not the poles that are the problem, it’s the drivers, when drivers veer off the road, if their cars don’t hit a pole they hit cyclists, pedestrians, and buildings. If they run off into the vegetation, aren’t they just as likely to start a fire?

What about the risk from the power lines in the parklands?

The information I have read says nothing about the high voltage lines that span parts of Aliso Creek and Wood Canyon Regional Park. If Santa Ana winds bring down those power lines, a fire would quickly engulf TOW and Arch Beach Heights. If the City continues to push its undergrounding plan to keep us safe it has to include the power lines in the parks surrounding the town.  

If the City is making us consider a very large expenditure, shouldn’t the planned outcome not only make Laguna safer but also more self sufficient in the face of any natural or man-made disaster? Oh, and by the way, the byproduct could be an ultra environmentally friendly City.  

Tim Hayes

Laguna Beach

Sewage discharge is a problem

Without a recycled water system and no intention to do anything to reduce ocean discharges, Laguna Beach sends all secondary sewage to the ocean next to our Bluebelt and Marine Protected Areas. Would we dump sewage water in the Greenbelt?

[According to a recent report and notice]…Laguna Beach sends 1.6 million gallons per day to the Coastal Treatment Plant and is billed 1.6 million gallons per day for the discharges at the Aliso Creek Ocean Outfall (ACOO). Irvine sends us 1.3 million gallons per day or 20 percent of ocean discharges.

Why is Irvine dumping wastewater to Laguna to make the sewage plume even bigger?

When will we get our act together and end ocean discharges?

Are half a billion gallons of sewage discharges per year good for Laguna’s ocean, economy or quality of life?

The Coastal Treatment Plant repairs require somewhere between $23 million and $33 million over the next ten years with no modernization improvements indicated in reports. The Army Corp of Engineers can access $100 million for restoration of Aliso Creek and the County has earmarked $32 million more. 

With smart public and private industry leaders, we can wrap these funds together as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) to create a world class wastewater & co-generation facility to serve our world class community and tourist economy.

Let’s get started on a big picture plan to protect the ocean from present and future sewage discharges.

Mike Beanan

Laguna Beach

Undergrounding is proactive risk management

Undergrounding the utility poles is an excellent way to reduce risk of fires and protect our city. As a city, we have very real challenges as a result of our surrounding 16,000 acres of open space.  Undergrounding is proactive risk management.  

There were numerous vocal and entrenched activists who fought very hard against the construction of a five million gallon buried reservoir in Alta Laguna park just before the 1993 fire. It got built afterwards.  

Julia Kelly

Laguna Beach

Undergrounding is a cosmetic issue, not a safety issue

A recent article [in Stu News Laguna] spoke authoritatively about the value of undergrounding power line and poles. It interesting the resurrected issue should emphasize a specious public safety issue.

Years ago, the same issue was in vogue. Then as now, neighborhoods were encouraged to vote with those neighborhoods in agreement burying their utilities. Then the average cost per household was $15,000; today’s cost is unknown.

At that time the measure was understood to be cosmetic which it was. Today it is touted as a public safety issue which it is not.

For genuine public safety fire issues one need only look at the accumulation of tons of dry brush in Bluebird Canyon, the uninhibited vegetable hell growing onto many of the City’s streets, the absence of enforcement on uncontrolled plots of weeds and the existence of trees on the verge of expiry.

View equity, the only reason for undergrounding utilities, is more than placing a few miles of wire underground. To actually address this issue restrictions on trees must be incorporated in which the City embraces and enforces regulations such as those in Palos Verdes.

To foster undergrounding alone without considering restrictions on trees is pure, unadulterated hypocrisy.

John Kountz

Laguna Beach

This song about undergrounding was featured in Lagunatics a couple of years back…Sung to the tune of “Marian The Librarian” from THE MUSIC MAN.

Parody Lyrics by Chris Quilter

“The Mayor” 


A letter to Southern California Edison President Pedro Pizarro. Dear President Pizarro....How shall I put this?...Don’t transcribe that. Okay, here we go.


Bury ‘em… don’t be contrarian 

What can I write right here to catch your ear 

Your poles are sadly sadly so antiquarian, bury ‘em 

Heaven help us if the canyon had caught on fire 

And nothing we did prevented 

A disaster humani-tarian 

Your poles need buryin’ 


I want to make it clear, we live in fear

We need it badly, badly: utilitarian buryin’ 

We’ve a task force, and we’ve busted our whatchamacallits 

Though out work may have gone unnoticed 

I promise we haven’t been tarryin’, we wanna start buryin’ 


But what you must get

Our town can’t swing it

You can just bet

That the people will start to quarrel 

About any bond that we float

So we must let… Laguna vote


And if they approve this fiscal move

We’ll kick it gladly, gladly, it is a scary sum to bury ‘um!

It’s a long lost cause that we have to win

In a civilized town it is an unforgivable sin 

Opposing a cause so nonsectarian 

It is very dumb

If we don’t bury ‘um.

Bob Whalen is spot on regarding undergrounding utilities

I believe that Bob Whalen’s points are spot on – it is a safety issue to underground the utility lines – especially in the major arteries / evacuation routes.

There is no question that some of our past fires have started with downed power lines. In addition, downed poles/lines would be quite problematic after an earthquake or some major event requiring significant evacuation or access by emergency vehicles. 

In addition to safety, there is no question it would also improve aesthetics– especially in the neighborhood streets. I can tell you that 12 years ago, when we were shopping for a home in Laguna Beach, we eliminated one house because the wires were directly in the primary sight lines.  So, in this regard, those poles / wires were detracting value from that particular property. 

John Morcos

Laguna Beach

Undergrounding must happen for safety reasons

I completely support Councilman Bob Whalen in his view that we must underground the utility wires for safety reasons. 

Not only is the impact of fire a huge threat to our community but the wires falling on trees, and the subsequent road closures, is a safety concern and source of carbon emissions in our city. Every time first responders arrive at the scene of a downed wire or tree, traffic is backed up for miles, snarling traffic and causing idling cars to emit additional carbon emissions.

Numerous Sonoma country residents, who lost everything in the recent disaster in the wine country, are suing PG&E claiming poor maintenance of its high voltage lines. PG&E has revealed 20 electrical safety incidents Oct 8 & 9, including at least four in multiple locations in Sonoma County.

We cannot ignore the threat of global warming and the disasters this year alone that have been fueled by record-breaking carbon emissions.  

If Laguna Beach is complicit in ignoring the citywide power lines as the high risk that they pose, then the city could be held accountable in future litigation.

We must work to partner with SoCal Edison and the City to fund grounding of all lines. I support finding ways to increase visitors’ taxes and or higher parking fees so that they pay their share in protecting this beach community. 

Thank you for raising this important issue in the recent StuNews publication.

Rebecca Visconti

Laguna Beach

Impressed with Dianne Russell’s writing

Once again, I am extremely impressed with Dianne Russell’s writing. I provide her with some dry facts about certain aspects of spider biology and she manages to link the facts together, and then convey the information in a most interesting and accurate way. She wrapped Laguna Beach, the bolas spider, and Halloween into one web!! I think her prose is superb.

Lenny Vincent

Laguna Beach

Allow workers to increase their 401(k) contributions

Last week I suggested that next year’s 401(k) contribution limit be raised from $18,500 to $25,000. I was pleasantly surprised when several of my fiscally conservative friends in town told me they agree.

I don’t know if he heard about my idea via Facebook or Twitter, but on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer proposed a similar idea. His increase and mine were evenly matched ($24,500 vs. $25,000). What Sen. Schumer also proposed was allowing workers over 50 to increase their pre-tax contribution an additional $6,000 per year, bringing the total to $30,500.

It is beyond me why some in Congress want to decrease the amount middle class Americans can contribute to their retirement. Clearly, I believe my friends in town and I are on the right side of this issue.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Park Plaza

Whomever came up with this idea should take a look at it from the standpoint of a visitor to our city. “Embarrassing and cheap looking”, one valued visitor commented to me!

Edward Bobinski

Laguna Beach

Those classified Kennedy files

Like several of my Laguna friends, I was 15 and a sophomore in high school when President Kennedy was murdered in 1963.  Last Thursday’s announcement that most of the classified JFK files were being released reminded me of that terrible day in Dallas when my world -- and the world of my Baby Boomer generation -- was changed forever.

I never will forget shaking hands with the future president in September of 1960 at the San Francisco Airport. When JFK took the oath of office, my entire universe was uplifted. It is hard to put into words just what Camelot and the Kennedy family meant to America. It, and they, represented a true sense of endless possibilities.  

Suffice it to say that, when the president was killed, the entire country fell into a deep depression. Thankfully, it only lasted 10 weeks. That’s because Ed Sullivan introduced us to the Beatles in February of 1964. It was the elixir the nation needed at the time.  In some ways, the Fab Four’s performance that night has stayed with my generation for a lifetime. 

I am glad most of the secret JFK files finally are being released now.  This will help bring closure to the trauma we all experienced on Nov. 22, 1963.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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