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Letters to the Editor

The 2017 proclamation by City Council proclaiming the month of June as LGBTQ Heritage & Culture Month

In honor of LGBTQ Heritage & Culture Month in Laguna Beach, we want to share the full resolution unanimously proclaimed by City Council in 2017:   


WHEREAS, reflecting the rich heritage and culture of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer (LGBTQ) community is vital to honoring the residents and visitors to the City of Laguna Beach; and

WHEREAS, Robert F. Gentry, one of the first openly gay Mayors in the United States, served in the City of Laguna Beach; and

WHEREAS, the first openly gay candidate for President of the United States in a major party (Fred Karger) is a resident of Laguna Beach; and

WHEREAS, the devastating impact of the AIDS crisis is recognized in Laguna Beach through the efforts of the HIV Advisory Committee, the longest running such City committee in the nation; and

WHEREAS, the City of Laguna Beach recognizes the diverse, evolving and ever-changing needs of the LGBTQ community; and

WHEREAS, the City of Laguna Beach supports the inclusion and reflection of the LGBTQ community in its businesses and commerce; and

WHEREAS, it is understood that the City of Laguna Beach supports and values the major contributions of LGBTQ visitors to tourism; and

WHEREAS, the LGBTQ senior citizen population is recognized for its contributions to shaping the City of Laguna Beach; and

WHEREAS, the City of Laguna Beach supports its young LGBTQ residents, encouraging them to be who they are and ensuring a safe and respectful environment for all; and

WHEREAS, the City of Laguna Beach supports the LGBTQ Heritage & Culture Alliance’s efforts to recommend practices and events that celebrate the LGBTQ community; and

WHEREAS, the LGBTQ community finds their life experiences reflected and honored in the policies, businesses, arts, culture and celebrations within the City of Laguna Beach.

NOW, THEREFORE, be it resolved that the Laguna Beach City Council proclaims that, FOREVERMORE, the month of June is recognized as LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER & QUEER HERITAGE & CULTURE MONTH IN LAGUNA BEACH and encourages the community to honor and celebrate the contributions, heritage and culture of the LGBTQ community.

Chris Tebbutt

Laguna Beach LGBTQ Heritage & Culture Alliance

Longtime Laguna artist claims she was unfairly shunned by Sawdust Festival Board

Hello! I’m Clay Leeds. My family has been volunteering in Laguna Beach almost forever. My wife and I aid in local schools, scouting, dance, soccer, the canyon, ocean and many events. My mom, Beth Leeds, is a local artist/community activist in Laguna for 70+ years (LBHS ‘59), recently honored as 2021 OC Register’s 125 Most Influential People.

Here’re ways Mom has worked to Save Laguna: “Stop” sign at Beach & Cliff (when she was 8!); lifeguard tower; got the Captain’s House, Royal Thai Cuisine and Roy Marcom’s buildings moved instead of demolished; stopped RV parking lot to replace basketball courts on Main Beach; stop offshore oil-drilling between Catalina, Laguna/Newport; helped save Laguna Canyon from 3,200-home development; help found Laguna Canyon Conservancy; thought up and organized “Walk to Save Laguna Canyon”; lobbied US Dept of Energy & EPA in Washington with a US National Energy Policy she wrote. Without Mom, many treasures would be gone.

Mom needs our support now.

She’s working on her Clean Oceans Challenge, to clean up our environment by switching to clean and safe products, and dreams to create art for customers at the Sawdust, where she ekes out a modest living over the summer.

My letter today is prompted by something unfairly unfolding at the Sawdust right now. 

Mom applied for the Sawdust Festival and got Booth Lottery #153. Days later the Board Vice President requested a residency affidavit from an active Sawdust member.

From November 2020-2021, Mom lived at: Coast Highway; Laguna Canyon; and Top of the World, meeting residency requirements. Star Shields gave an affidavit that he visited her at each of these places.

Unfortunately, the Board did not do its due diligence. Mom asked what specific document has an issue, so she could clarify. They never followed up with Mom nor helped a member resolve this issue.

March 25th, the Sawdust Board sent a Certified “denial” Letter. She contacted Sawdust’s Grievance Committee, who said she didn’t have a grievance.

Mom attended April’s Sawdust Board Meeting and not one Board Member, she said, made eye contact with her. She waited patiently for regular business to conclude, stood up to ask if the Board could meet with her, but according to her the President shouted her down, telling her she can’t talk.

Sadly, a Sawdust friend told me he was one of the last to pick booths, and said, “That’s weird. There were a few booths left after booth picking was completed.”

Mom’s livelihood is at stake. Many artists rely on the Sawdust to make ends meet. This year marks Mom’s 50th anniversary at the Sawdust.

Mom contacted the California Attorney General, whose office expressed interest in hearing more. However, Sawdust friends implored her not to hurt the Sawdust. The Sawdust is her home where her kids grew up. Mom told me, “I want to be an artist with the other artists. I want to airbrush T-shirts right in front of everyone, and for kids and grandmas who jump up and down with joy! I want to make them happy.”

Mom meets requirements to be an Exhibitor, yet is excluded by the Sawdust Festival Board, who have neglected and shunned my Mom. I am disappointed and confused by their actions. I humbly ask for help to spread news of this incident, with hopes the Sawdust will change their stance and support one of Laguna’s most important residents.

Clay Leeds

Laguna Beach

Should there be school training exercises in Laguna?

Stu News Laguna’s counterpart, Stu News Newport, reported Tuesday that the Newport Beach Police Department will be holding school shooting training exercises next week at Corona del Mar High School.

Officers will be participating in various active shooting scenarios involving role players and simulated weapons. I wonder if Laguna’s police department is considering doing something similar.

My two youngest children, who are 29 and 27, both attended TOW, TMS and LBHS. I never stopped to think that, as they left for school each morning, I might never see them again. Sadly, this is not what many parents here in town or across the nation think now.

When you add up the death toll of thousands of innocents slaughtered at school, shot on street corners by drive-by thugs, gunned down while grocery shopping or murdered in their churches or synagogues, it seems like no place is safe any longer. 

These senseless acts may not have happened in Laguna, but one recently did in Laguna Woods. If you ask me, the collective impact of these heinous crimes is clear: It feels like we are living in a war zone.

I’ve heard that as many as 400,000,000 guns are in people’s hands now. If true, then I have to ask: How many more guns are needed to make people feel safe? My hope is the LBPD can help answer that question.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


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