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Learn the art of organic gardening with Randy Ritchie this Saturday

Randy Ritchie, founder of Malibu Compost, will share organic gardening experience gained over forty years at the South Laguna Community Garden Park this Saturday, Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. Randy will teach attendees how to quickly transition their gardens to organic or how to slowly implement the organic protocols over time.

This class is a practical how-to on using real applications, organic protocols, and recipes that will transform gardens into the best organic gardens they can be. This is the perfect class for spring if you are looking to up your organic gardening game, or transition your garden to organic.

Learn the hat

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Submitted photo

Randy Ritchie, founder of Malibu Compost

Randy Ritche gives organic gardening classes nationwide. He is one of the founders of Malibu Compost, the producer of the first certified biodynamic compost in the United States. Stemming from a series of lectures in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner, biodynamics became the first organized organic approach to farming. 

Steiner considered the farm or garden as a self-sufficient organism to be operated with the use of compost and natural preparations in cooperation with natural rhythms. This results in healthy land and quality produce.

The Garden Park is located at the corner of Eagle Rock Way and Coast Highway. The public is invited and the class is free. 

To RSVP to the event, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information on the Garden Park, visit www.southlaguna.org/garden.


Don’t miss Rickey Woodard Quartet, Melissa Morgan, and Bijon Watson tomorrow at Jazz Wednesdays

Jazz Wednesdays Winter Series 2019, presented by Laguna Beach Live!, proudly presents world-renowned Saxophonist Rickey Woodard Quartet featuring vocalist Melissa Morgan and acclaimed trumpeter Bijon Watson tomorrow, February 13, at [seven-degrees]. Tickets are still available.

Woodard grew up in Nashville playing Blues and R’n’B music in a family band. Since leaving Nashville, Woodard became a member of the Ray Charles Band, has performed and recorded with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz orchestra and Frank Capp Juggernaut Band, and also worked in theatre productions such as Ain’t Misbehavin and the Color Purple at the Ahmanson Theatre. Woodard has had the pleasure of working with such greats as Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Krall, Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Smith, The Temptations, Nancy Wilson and many others.

Jazz Wednesdays Rickey Woodard

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Don’t miss Jazz Saxophonist Rickey Woodard tomorrow night

Brought up in the jazz clubs of New York City, Melissa Morgan has received great critical acclaim for her astonishing vocal talents. Melissa regularly performs at New York’s top jazz rooms such as Cleoptra’s Needle, Flute, G Bar, and Smalls amongst others. She has appeared with artists including Harold Mabern, David Hazeltine, and Sam Yahel. She was featured in performances with John Faddis and the Dizzy Gillespie Alumni All-Stars at the Blue Note, NY. 

Jazz Wednesdays Melissa Morgan

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Vocalist Melissa Morgan will wow audiences tomorrow night at Jazz Wednesdays

The quartet also includes John Beasley on piano, Roy McCurdy on drums, and Mike Gurrola on bass.

Jazz Wednesdays Winter Series is located at [seven-degrees], 891 Laguna Canyon Rd. Concerts are from 6 - 8 p.m. Full bar and buffet dinner menus are available for purchase starting at 5 p.m.

Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door, and season tickets are $125. Seating is assigned according to date of purchase, season ticket holders and Laguna Beach Live! membership. Reservations are accepted until noon on day of concert or until sold out. For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.lagunabeachlive.org or call (949) 715-9713.


The City presents “Open for Business” workshop on Feb 21

If you’ve ever wondered about the realities of starting your own business in Laguna Beach, the City is ready to engage with you in a free workshop on Thursday, Feb 21. 

The workshop will include informal conversations with City staff members, the Planning Commission, Chamber of Commerce members, and current business owners at the Susi Q & Community Center from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. 

The City Hive

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The Hive is home to many local businesses including Laguna Beach Beer Company

Commercial real estate agents, commercial building owners and managers, prospective business owners, and their representatives are invited to attend this free workshop. 

For more information, contact Anthony Viera at (949) 497-0398 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


After the rain 

Photos by Marielena Verdugo 

After the mud

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The downside of rain, a muddy mess in the canyon

After the mountains

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The upside of rain, gorgeous sky and hills

After the sandbags

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Sandbags galore


Council picks priorities

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Council members were handed orange dots and instructed to stick them on the five preferred projects out of the 69 presented at the Strategic Planning Workshop on Saturday.

Two projects received four of the sticky dots, identifying them as council priorities. Mayor Bob Whalen, Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow and newly elected council members Peter Blake and Sue Kempf greenlighted Major Developments, which are expected to start showing up this year and be as complicated as the development of the Montage. 

Dicterow, Kempf, Whalen and Blake also dotted Community Development Process Improvements.

Both will also be reviewed by the California Coastal Commission.

Kempf, Whalen and Blake opted to choose the adoption of the Downtown Specific Plan. Whalen, Kempf and Councilwoman Toni Iseman made the Mayor’s Fire Safety Subcommittee Plan a priority.

Blake and Dicterow cast the two votes for a Main Beach/Heisler Park/Downtown police update to be prioritized. Dicterow and Iseman gave the nod to the proposed Police Department update of the 2015 strategic plan. Iseman and Whalen opted for the Fire Department Strategic Plan, which City Manager John Pietig said would be the first one since he came to the city.

Iseman was the sole supporter of bumping up an Information Technology Master Plan to a priority. Dicterow’s orange dot was the lone sticker for Major Remodel and Bluff Top Regulations to make the cut. Kempf, who suffered through the numerous hearings on Historic Preservation Ordinance as a Planning Commissioner before her election to the council, decided it was long past time to put it to bed.

Projects were separated by color: 1-25 in the green, 26-51 in the yellow block, and 52-69 in red. 

All of the projects in the green section are expected to be completed or advancing as planned this year. Projects in the yellow section will not get as speedy a resolution. Those in the red are earmarked for next year.


Rain reflections 

Photos by Scott Brashier

Rain reflections stoplight

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Stoplights cast an eerie reflection on the street

Rain reflections trolley

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View from a hill 


Sunset palettes

Photos by Scott Brashier

Sunset palettes red

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Each sunset is a fleeting design of colors and patterns

Sunset palettes pink

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 To never again be repeated


Sky imitates the sea

Sky imitates gilded houses

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The sky is a strange reflection of the ocean, blue with clouds like the foam of a wave breaking


Council majority agrees on four priorities for 2019

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Presented with a list of 69 special projects, a council majority green-lighted four of them as priorities at a Strategic Planning Workshop, held Saturday at the Third Street Centers. 

The goals for the workshop were prioritizing projects on the council’s to do-list; how best to get them done in a more timely fashion; a better understanding between city staff and the City Council to help achieve the priorities; a commitment from the council to stick with its priorities and how to accomplish that.

“It’s like having a five-pound bag and 10 pounds of stuff,” said City Manager John Pietig. “Have the courage to say ‘Yes’ to our priorities and ‘No’ to other things. Be disciplined.”

The four special projects selected by a council majority included adoption of the Downtown Specific Plan; Major Development Projects, such as the long-overdue Historical Preservation Ordinance; Community Development Process Improvements and the Mayor’s Fire Safety Subcommittee Plan.

Options were broken into three categories, printed and separated by color into Green for Go, Yellow for Slow and Red for Pause for a Year.

“You can’t do it all,” said Laguna Beach resident and workshop facilitator Jan Perkins. “But you can do some things. Stop worrying about what you can’t do. Do what you can this year and move some to next year.” 

The only changes in status were Councilman Peter Blake’s request to move an air conditioning ordinance and a change in handling design review appeals from yellow to green and Councilwoman Toni Iseman’s suggestion to move Park Plaza from green to red for review after traffic projects on South Coast Highway are completed. 

Perkins set the ground rules for the workshop: listen, assume good intensions and stay focused.

“Partnership is required,” she said. 

City department heads were each given five minutes for a presentation – except for Community Development Director Greg Pfost, who had 30 minutes. 

Among the highlights: an overview, size of the department, its budget, key projects, department strengths, weaknesses, opportunities for success and threats to success.

Shohreh Dupuis is director of Public Works. She has a staff of 100 to 207, a majority of them part time and a budget of $10.5 million.

“We manage everything the public uses,” said Dupuis. “It is the largest department in the city. The Village Entrance is our top priority.” 

However, the department is threatened by limited resources (money), vocal minority requests leading to an inefficient use of resources, rising construction costs, utility undergrounding costs and fire safety needs, DuPuis said.

Strategic Plans are a key to success. Chief of Police Laura Farinella plans to update the one she created for her department when she came to Laguna. Fire Chief Mike Garcia will complete what is believed to be the first one ever for his department. 

Water Quality Department Director Dave Shissler expects to have a strategic plan completed by April, assuming issues with the Moulton Niguel Water District have been resolved. His department also is hampered by increasing levels of regional, state and federal regulations. For many folks, his biggest accomplishment since taking over the department was the elimination of the odors from the pump station near City Hall, with the same technology to be installed in the facility at Calliope Street.

Water is also the focus for Marine Safety Chief Kevin Snow. The strength of the department is the quality of the personnel, Snow said. Rescues and the Junior Lifeguard program are key accomplishments.

The Cultural Arts Department major projects include implementing the Cultural Arts Plan and Arts Commission projects. 

Finance Director Gavin Curran and City Treasurer Laura Parisi reviewed the city’s current financial position – which is enviable – and its future, which inevitably will include recessions, for which the city has prudently designated funds. 

Assistant City Manager Christa Johnson presented the report on the Community Services Department, which operates out of the Community Center. Duties range from approving permits for events and parking to overseeing the recreation classes.

Following a lunch break, Pfost reported that the Downtown Specific Plan revision is finishing up, but must pass muster with the California Coastal Commission, where the Short Term Lodging Ordinance still languishes. 

As for upcoming developments: “It is an exciting time,” said Post. “We have to be vigilant, but wow!”

Difficulties arise, he said, if the department tries to do too much. “Super projects take time from other projects,” he added.

Councilman Peter Blake opined that the stranglehold “political activists” have had over development for decades is over. However, Iseman said it is the passionate residents that make Laguna what it is.

Despite the wealth of information disseminated, the workshop concluded about an hour earlier than the six hours allotted.

Perkins will prepare a report to the council on the workshop, which will be on a future agenda, date currently undetermined. 


Dennis’ Tidbits

By DENNIS McTIGHE

February 12, 2019

Winter’s wrath crosses our path

Dennis 5As of 9 p.m. on Sunday evening, Laguna’s rainfall for the season is now up to 12.96 inches, only an inch shy of the whole season’s normal total and more is on the way. We’ll more than likely surpass that figure within a couple of days and close in on that 20-inch total when all is said and done.

Hawaii is really getting hammered by huge waves and winds and rains. The huge waves aren’t being ridden on the North and West shores because the winds are pretty much howling out of the west and northwest, so it’s Victory at Sea conditions. 

Some sets are topping 60 feet or higher. It only gets that big about once a decade on the average. It’s usually 20 feet at some time most winters. The big ones occurred on December 3, 1958. The granddaddy of them all was December 4, 1969. Then there was January 1975, the most consistent winter in 1982-83, and most recently, December of 2009.

No one is escaping winter’s wrath except Florida where it’s generally quiet with lots of sunshine and temps around 80.

At some point in my life before I check out of this hotel, I’d love to tag along with the Air Force meteorologist’s Hurricane Hunters on one of their fleet of nine C-130 aircraft that fly out of Keesler Air Force Base out of Biloxi, Mississippi. They fly right into any tropical system if it is threatening a landmass between the Texas Coast and Maine, and coming out of the Atlantic or Caribbean. They fly right into the eye of the hurricane to collect data in an attempt to predict where a particular storm will make landfall well in advance so people will make necessary preparations before the system’s onslaught. What a rush that would be!

I’ve already realized my dream of tornado chasing in Oklahoma years ago. I thrive on severe weather to witness the energy and power of it all.

See y’all on Friday, Aloha!

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