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Letters to the Editor

Singing for Ukraine

You’d have to be living in a cave not to know about the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. In a little more than a month, more than 10 million people have been uprooted from their homes as a result of Russia’s unprovoked invasion. 

Because there is so much darkness in the world today, I hope my rewrite of the iconic civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” will shed some much-needed light in Eastern Europe.

To this end, Laguna native Clair Rachel Howell was the first to record and upload her version of “Ukraine Shall Overcome.”

Here is the link to her video.

And last week, members of the LagunaTunes Community Chorus recorded their rendition of “Ukraine Shall Overcome.”

Here is the link to their video:

Some people say no song can change the outcome of the war in Ukraine, but I don’t believe them. As far as I am concerned, a song is just as powerful as a bomb.

If you would like to record and upload a version of “Ukraine Shall Overcome” to YouTube, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I gladly will send you the lyrics to the rewrite.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Let’s get commercial property owners fully invested

Laguna Beach is a community made up of residents, commercial property owners and the businesses who rent spaces from commercial property owners. (It’s why the City’s recent Polco survey was labeled a “community” survey). 

However, parking structures have been funded solely by residents via their property taxes, which denies part of our community (commercial property owners and businesses) the same civic responsibility as residents to pay for those parking structures, particularly in our restaurant- and business-intense areas. 

We’re all part of the community, and commercial property owners should pay their share for any new parking structures, along with the businesses. Give commercial property owners and the businesses the opportunity to act like fully invested community members and do their duty to pay half the costs for building any new parking structures. 

Otherwise, they won’t seem like fully invested members of our community. 

Deborah Laughton

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Will grocery workers strike at Ralphs and Pavilions?

After weeks of stalled negotiations, thousands of Southern California grocery workers employed by Ralphs and Pavilions have voted to authorize a strike. This doesn’t mean clerks at two of Laguna’s grocery stores definitely will hit the picket lines, but it is possible.

A strike will force people of good conscience to ask themselves, “Am I willing to cross a picket line, yes, or no?” In an effort to avoid that scenario, I suggest the grocery workers mount a major “sick out” instead. The impact will be the same. Either management will adjust its bargaining position or face staggering losses. 

Let’s hope it’s the former.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach 

When do you stop caring?

Jessica De Stefano is a sculptor – an artist – and a longtime Laguna Beach resident. She was the fairy on Hospitality Night that gave the children two wishes, one for them and one for the world. The children wished for peace on earth and no one should ever be hungry. When the town had the pancake breakfasts, she gave out watermelon and was the watermelon fairy.

About eight years ago, the Laguna Beach Library let her use the land in front and Jessica transformed dirt into a beautiful butterfly garden. After years of her volunteer effort, it is now also a fairy garden for children. They leave messages for the fairies and the fairies write them back. When I see children there it makes me smile. The garden is the most beautiful spot in all Laguna Beach. During COVID, the children really enjoyed the garden.

Jessica cares about our town! 

During these terrible times of war in Ukraine, Jessica put a small peace sign with a small Ukrainian flag in the garden to show the town that we hope for peace in Ukraine. The library removed the sign and flag and said it is political. Is it really political to hope for peace in Ukraine? Do you think the library is right?

Jessica is showing the town that we care and would hope for peace in Ukraine.

I am happy to live in Laguna Beach because Jessica’s garden makes the town magical.

Larry Zadan

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Oil on Bluebird Beach

Last week (March 10, to be exact) my sister and I picked up a lot of oil on Bluebird Beach between Mountain Street and Pearl. (That photo is about 2/3 of what we harvested.) I reported it to the police and got a call back from some water quality department (I don’t remember the name of the dept. or person but 949.497.0391 is the number of whomever called me).

Letters to the Editor oil

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Nancy Englund

We stopped because it got too dark and our bags were too heavy, but feel we made a small difference. We went back the next day at low tide (wearing gloves) and picked up some more and could smell that the seaweed on the beach was loaded with it. It is a lot harder and more disgusting to pick up when it is warm than when it is cold. The city collected it and I hope can track it to its source. 

Nancy Englund

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Time to give thanks to the DRB team

After 3 years on the Design Review Board, I want to thank the Laguna Beach community, city staff and our city councilmembers for appointing me and trusting in my abilities to serve on the Board. I believe that teamwork and collaboration are at the heart of our achievements.

Being on the DRB is no easy task and making balanced decisions is challenging. At its core, the Board’s responsibility is to assess what changes are reasonable for our community’s most personally valued resources – our homes, our views, our neighborhoods.

This is a responsibility I have not taken lightly. For years, the DRB process has been feared amongst property owners and neighbors alike. During my service, the last two years as chairperson, I am proud to say we have taken actions to make this a better process for all.

These actions include:

–two rounds of streamlining processes

–rewriting the bylaws to make the process and responsibilities more consistent 

–adding a term limit clause

–encouraging more transparency, with documents available online

–successfully adapting and conducting public hearings through the pandemic 

–continuing support for ongoing online/Zoom participation for applicants and neighbors

–hosting 10+ workshops and community discussions on related topics and education

–reducing the project appeal rate 

As I conclude my service as chairperson of the Board, I wholeheartedly thank the community and those who have served alongside me. Through this process, I have personally grown, learned and valued your perspectives from project to project. 

We do not always agree on the details, but you have shared in my vision to make this a more consistent and healthier conversation for our community, showing respect for each other, listening to all the issues, being civil, and finding balance within the guidelines to meet concerns. I thank you all for your time and dedication.

Going forward, I will continue with my appointed DRB term and I look forward to continuing to serve my Laguna Beach community!

Louis Weil 

Laguna Beach

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Barbara Morrison

September 10, 1949 – March 16, 2022

Obituary Barbara Morrison

Courtesy of Laguna Beach Live!

Barbara Morrison

It is with great sadness that Laguna Beach Live! announces the passing of jazz and blues legend Barbara Morrison. Barbara last performed for Laguna Live! Jazz Wednesdays in March 2020, just before the pandemic lock down. She was scheduled to be part of the opening jazz series, appearing with acclaimed saxophonist Rickey Woodard on April 6.

“Along with her monumental talent and consummate professionalism Barbara Morrison was an incredible pleasure to work with. Ever gracious and sharp witted, she had the ability to awe while making you feel special in her presence. We at Laguna Live! will sorely miss her and the twinkle in her eye.”

Originally from Detroit, Barbara Morrison’s lifelong career as a performer and recording artist included appearances worldwide with some of the greatest names in jazz: Ray Brown, Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Collette, Joe Williams, Gerald Wiggins, Jimmy Witherspoon, Hank Crawford, Eddie Harris, Nancy Wilson, David T. Walker and Jimmy Smith.

She performed in such highly regarded venues as Carnegie Hall, the North Sea Jazz Festival, the Bern Jazz Festival and the Playboy Jazz Festival. Morrison also toured Europe with Ray Charles.

In addition to teaching at UCLA, Morrison was a teacher, founder and director of her own school of music in Inglewood, teaching beginning to advanced music, jazz/blues interpretation and history, acting and concert performing techniques.

Bio courtesy of UCLA Herb Albert School of Music.

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Letters to the Editor

Disagree on the concerns for SB9

With your permission, I’d like to suggest an edit to the editor. If I may, I have a correction to (Tuesday’s) publisher’s note (Fair Game): 

Instead of: “One of the items on the regular meeting portion is a proposed urgency ordinance to regulate potential Senate Bill 9 issues (where residential lots can be split). SB 9 could have major impacts on residential neighborhoods, traffic and more, if left unchecked.” 

Here, I’ll fix it for you: 

“SB9 will help alleviate California’s severe housing crunch by allowing homeowners to split their lots and build needed additional housing for new neighbors who will be Stu News Laguna readers and, no doubt, contributing members of our community. SB9 means that people of less-lofty income levels, such as teachers, retail workers, and first responders just might be able to live in the community where they work — and send their children to our well-resourced schools. Added housing stock means that kids who grew up in Laguna might even have a shot at getting an apartment here that doesn’t cost their entire first-job salaries. And, there will be new faces at Laguna block parties.”

You’re welcome! 

Barbara McMurray 

Laguna Beach

Remembering Arnold Hano

Last Saturday, the community came together to both celebrate the life of, and say goodbye to, a much beloved Arnold Hano. All the accolades aside, I believe Arnold (and his wife Bonnie) rank among Laguna’s finest, like early artists Anna Hills and William Wendt, Eiler Larsen (a.k.a. The Greeter) and Skipper (“Have a home run day”) Carrillo. Each, in his or her own way, appealed to people’s better angels. The same is true for both Arnold and Bonnie. As a lasting tribute to their commitment to Laguna, I hope a statue will be erected in their honor someday.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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Marcia French

March 14, 1940 – February 23, 2022

Obituary Marcia French and Nancy Lee

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Curtis Lee

(L-R) Marcia French and Nancy Lee

Marcia French was born Marcia Yoko Iwasaki on March 14, 1940 in Los Angeles, California. Her early life was somewhat that of a vagabond. From her first home in Boyle Heights to a barracks in the Arizona desert as a result of Executive Order 9066 in 1942, Poston became “home” for 2-year-old Marcy, her parents Tetsuo and Michi, and thousands of other Japanese Americans. 

Marcy’s father, a Cal Tech graduate, picked sugar beets in Utah to get past the barbed wire perimeter, and ultimately to Denver and a possible job. Tets was able to get Michi and Marcy to Denver not long afterward. 

From a dry cleaning shop to production operations at Atlantic Refining Co., the Iwasakis moved to 59th Street in Philadelphia before moving to a wonderful row house in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania. Marcy started school there and began building lifelong friendships, notably one with Barbara Ann Boyer, who spoke to Marcy just a week before she passed away. 

From there, Marcy and family moved to Palmyra, NJ, where her high school years were filled with choir practice, baton twirling, cheerleading, and her dear friend Judy “Mac” McAlister. 

Marcy graduated high school in 1957 and moved west to Montebello, California. Driving her prized ’55 Chevy to Whittier College didn’t last long, because marriage brought her to Laguna Beach. Marcy learned to be a dental assistant and eventually became the dental office manager. 

Daughter Dawn was born in 1960 and son Jeffrey was born in 1963. They lived above Bluebird Park next door to Herb and Nancy Lee, and their three sons Rusty, Curtis and Robin, until 1975 when Marcy married the love of her life, Dr. Robert French. Bob and Marcy enjoyed an all-too-brief 38 years of marriage before Bob passed in 2013. 

Marcy lost Dawn to cancer in 2016, and Marcy’s dear friend Judy Mac passed shortly thereafter. Marcy found comfort and companionship among her many friends in Laguna and Blue Lagoon, spending her time playing Mahjongg and becoming a serial remodeler. The remodel projects satisfied the artist, architect, and engineer in her. Laguna and Blue Lagoon enriched her with her many close friends, Bob’s kids and grandkids, and the best of memories. 

Marcy made annual trips to visit Jeff, Stacey and Ellie in New Zealand in 2017, 2018, and 2019, but her plans to visit in 2020, 2021 and 2022 were stymied by the pandemic.

Marcia, Marcy, Mom, Gramma, Yoey, Spoild1. You left us so suddenly on February 23rd, just days before we could put 82 candles on your cupcake. So many hands of Mahjongg left unplayed with your Blue Lagoon Babes. So many of us grieving our loss, remembering the best of times shared with us. And the love that we’ve cherished and shall forever miss. 

There will a service at Laguna Beach Presbyterian Church, at the corner of Forest Avenue and 2nd Street, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 19, 2022. 

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to a local charity of your choice.

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Letters to the Editor

What to do about the high cost of gas

Letters to the editor Gas sign prices 3.11

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Denny Freidenrich

During his State of the State address on Tuesday, Gov. Newsom announced he is working on a plan to put money back in the pockets of Californians to address rising gas prices. Most people I have talked to in town assume this means reducing or eliminating the gas tax. 

Another way to take the sting out of the high price at the pump is for the state to immediately issue $250 checks to all 27 million licensed drivers in California. Given the Golden State’s $31 billion surplus, Sacramento easily could afford the $6.75 billion price tag. Closer to home, the cost would be $575 million for Orange County’s 2.3 million drivers. 

The impact of the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and subsequent banning of Russian oil imports into the U.S. is clear: War never is cheap. I hope to see my $250 check soon.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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Guest Letter

A message from Providence Mission Hospital Chief Executive, Seth R. Teigen

I have great news to share…Newsweek has once again recognized Providence Mission Hospital as the No. 1 hospital in all of Orange County.  This is the second consecutive time we’ve been honored with this esteemed No. 1 recognition. 

Across the state of California, we are ranked as the No. 14 hospital and included in the top 100 distinguished hospitals across the United States. Side note…there are approximately 340 hospitals in California and nearly 6,200 hospitals in the United States. 

Everyone likes receiving awards, but what does this mean to our patients? 

It means that Mission Hospital provides the safest, most exceptional high-quality care in the region and that our patients report their hospital experiences are outstanding. 

Newsweek uses three very important criteria to evaluate hospitals: patient satisfaction surveys, patient safety data and quality treatment measures. We believe that these standards – quality, safety and patient experience, along with engagement of our caregivers and physicians – are so important, that they serve as our guiding principles for everything we do.   

This prestigious recognition is a testament to the dedication of our caregivers, physicians and volunteers, and their commitment to provide the highest level of excellence and compassion to our community. It’s also a reflection of the unparalleled support we receive from our community.

Thank you for trusting Mission Hospital to be your No. 1 partner in health. 

Seth R. Teigen, FACHE, Chief Executive, Providence Mission Hospital

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