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Guest Letter

Brandon Sjulin

Vice President, Laguna Presbyterian Church

Property and Finance Committee

Spokesperson discusses the changes downtown at

Laguna Presbyterian

(It was recently brought to the attention of Stu News Laguna that some or all of the Rose Garden at Laguna Presbyterian Church was removed because of a rumored issue. We went to the source and asked them about the issue and any of the concerns behind it.)

Thank you for your inquiry about some changes to the corner of Forest and Second Street. 

Our church, in recent years, has desired to make the property more welcoming to the community and to offer more opportunities for visitors to experience God’s love. Out of that desire, we initially added the prayer cross right on the edge of our property. It is a place where people can anonymously offer up their prayers and cares and pin them to the cross. Designated individuals from our church regularly collect, read and continue to lift up those prayers on behalf of those who left them. More recently, we have also added a picnic table and some chairs nearby where visitors can stop briefly to rest, chat, or meditate. Both the cross and the seating area have been very popular and are visited daily. 

To open up the corner, we did permanently remove a small number of our rose bushes (which were actually donated to others to take home.) Most of our traditional rose garden remains, however, and has even been refurbished by donations of new bushes from the Laguna Beach Garden Club, which now also maintains these lovely roses for all to enjoy. The very edge of the property, where the table, chairs and cross sit, is still a work in progress. 

Guest Letter Brandon Sjulin Rose Garden

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Presbyterian Church’s Rose Garden

You also inquired about some environmental issues. When we were doing structural renovations on our sanctuary more than a decade ago, we discovered that there was some contamination in the soil and groundwater beneath the church property resulting from historical dry cleaner operations, which have been next door since the 1920s. (The use of the chemicals which led to that historical contamination was long ago discontinued and today that location is only a drop-off point for dry cleaning done elsewhere.) 

The discovered contamination was reported to the appropriate governmental agencies and since 2012 we have been working under the guidance of the Regional Water Quality Board to assess, monitor and remediate the issues. One part of our recent environmental work involved temporary removal of some rose bushes in order to install monitoring equipment. Once that work was in progress, we saw it as an opportunity to expand our welcome corner by permanent removal of the bushes, which we did as described above. 

Substantial progress has been made on the remediation and the work is ongoing. A detailed history of this process and related work is posted on the Water Board’s online Geotracker site. A significant part of our ongoing work, both with the agencies and our own environmental consultants, is and has been to ensure that our use of church property is fully consistent with all current health standards. 


Brandon Sjulin

Vice President, Laguna Presbyterian Church

Property and Finance Committee


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