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Laguna Beach


Time for retirement and pension funds to divest of fossil fuel investments

It is time to help move our world away from pollution and climate change. One practical solution is divestment from big oil and big plastic. 

SB-185 (2015) and SB-964 (2018) require public retirement systems to divest from thermal coal companies and climate-related financial risk. The City of Berkeley divested from publicly traded fossil fuel companies and banks that finance pipelines and fossil fuel infrastructure.  

I propose that California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) – the largest pension fund in the country which has $30 billion invested in fossil fuels (do you know the fossil fuel industry has been aggressively expanding in plastics?) sell those assets post haste.

All public entities, like city pension funds, should do the same.

Assemblymember Petrie-Norris and Senator Min, we’re counting on you to introduce a divestment bill. We cannot afford another oil spill, not financially, not emotionally. 

Jonathan Lukoff

Laguna Beach


Sounds like council violated Brown Act?

“City Council convened last week on Tuesday, Sept. 28, for a special closed session that resulted in a 3-2 vote (Toni Iseman and George Weiss dissenting) directing the City Attorney to draft a letter to the District Attorney. The letter would be in response to the D.A. noting “evidence of substantial Brown Act violations” with the council during a June closed session regarding Hotel Laguna.”

So, it sounds like the city council violated the Brown in order to have the City Attorney draft a letter in defense or their previous violation of the Brown Act? Or am I mistaken? (https://firstamendmentcoalition.org/facs-brown-act-primer/)

Jason White

Laguna Beach


PMMC thanks friends for reaching out during this time of trials

Since late Saturday evening, the team at Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) has embraced this incredibly undesirable role put in front of them. In spite of that, it’s been such a pleasure watching their resiliency and passion shine as even now they continue to navigate so many unknowns of this multi-Fed/State agency effort on one of the largest oil spills in recent California history.

Yet, they have not been alone…

Almost as soon as the team was activated to prepare for the inevitable need to care for impacted marine mammals, the phone has been off the hook…but for all the right reasons. Hundreds have reached out, short of being asked, to inquire how they can help in some form or fashion. And for that, on behalf of the organization, I’m forever thankful. Thankful for your gracious monetary donations. Thankful for your in-kind support of much-needed supplies. Thankful for your offers to volunteer. Thankful for all of the fundraisers and material drives that you’ve set up. Thankful for your storytelling about our efforts to the greater community. 

Thankful for you AGAIN putting PMMC on your shoulders in getting through a historically difficult time. 

Peter Chang

Chief Executive Officer

Pacific Marine Mammal Center


Why are the beaches closed?

If we all as citizens pitch in to clean up oil and tar should they appear on the sands of our seashore, does it make any sense to close the beaches? It wonders me.

Bill Anderson, M.D.
Laguna Beach


Ballot initiative encompasses too much

There is a lot to digest within the Laguna Residents First (LRF) purposed ballot initiative and its impacts are still unclear. I have researched this initiative, others like it and have sought advice from professionals to understand it further. It’s very complex in nature and I still have questions, as I’m sure others in the community do.

As proposed, the Initiative’s “Beautiful Laguna” Overlay Zone could impact more than 7,000 parcels along Coast Highway and the Canyon Road (50 percent+). This sparks the questions – Does this zone encompass infrastructure projects, parking structures, city buildings, fire stations, schools, condo buildings, apartment buildings, affordable housing projects and commercial buildings? What specifically is enhancing Laguna Beach’s beautification or is it simply tightening the reigns on any development? How many projects would have been affected in this scope over the last few years? 5, 10 or 20+ projects? 

“Building height” has been used as a major point of discussion within the initiative. I and most residents can agree that the 36’ mark and other code heights have been a staple of the building code that has helped keep Laguna’s character and charm. In my dealings with the height code, I found our municipal code to have some elements of code collision that do need additional clarity. The proposed initiative does attempt to offer clearer definitions to the finished floor, natural grade and finished roof height as starting points for the 36’. However, it doesn’t address many code sections, and, unfortunately, the proposed initiative would not create a situation to assure a rational 36’ height restriction. 

If this Initiative passes it will have a similar effect to Dana Point’s Measure H leaving language left up to staff and lawyers to interpret. Which is why, the typical process for amendments would include staff analysis and property owners and community comments. As proposed, the Initiative only takes the sole perspective of the leaders of the Political Action Committee – Laguna Residents First, excluding all others from the process of helping craft a workable document. 

I find this proposal to be too impactful, casting a net that is too large and with too many unintended consequences. The Initiative includes language and definitions for “Major Remodel,” “Cumulative Effect” and “Average Daily Trips” which contrast and complicate the development standards and needs further professional evaluation. The definitions stated within the Initiative were clearly copied from our neighboring cities such as Dana Point (Measure H) and Costa Mesa (Measure Y). Those measures have acted as a moratorium, stopping potential projects from being proposed and forcing many sites to be left empty and unchanged. 

In conclusion, I am still looking for more reasonable information on the impacts of this Initiative, which is why I will be tuning into the October 5th City Council Meeting (Agenda Item 16) to hear more of the city’s analysis of this Initiative.

Louis Weil

Laguna Beach


Concerns about Ordinance for Defensible Space…remember, green doesn’t burn

(Letter addressed to Laguna Beach Mayor and City Council)

I’m writing you today to ask that you not vote in the adoption of the Ordinance for Defensible Space to the City’s Fire Codes on October 5, 2021. 

I wasn’t able to call in during the last council meeting to ask if a consideration for properties that live on hillsides and steep slopes has been considered? I’ve been in Laguna Beach for 61 years and for years we’ve planted our slopes and steep hillsides with trees, shrubs, and ground covers to keep the topsoil and hillsides from sliding into the yards of our neighbors or into the streets where it will end up in the ocean. The roots of trees are needed to hold deep down under the hillside, shrubs roots are needed to hold topsoil and stop run off, the groundcovers hold the topsoil and stop ponding rains from washing off the mulches and topsoil.   

In 2008 when our property required the undergrounding to be installed it required us to sleeve up the steep hillside. We had to remove and thin the plant material for the crews to be able to work on the steep terrain, and during the 2010 rains a majority of our hillside slid down to the street below, only the area that the undergrounding was installed in stayed due to our crews compacting the soil correctly. The hillside slid due to the fact we removed a lot of the foliage that was protecting it. 

I will warn you if it was the city that required us to remove that foliage we would have sued, and if you force us to remove the important trees, shrubs or groundcover off my hillside and we have a slope failure we won’t hesitate to bring a lawsuit against the city, so please take another look at this ordinance.     

I was here in 1993 and I agree with our fire department that they need to have a defensible way to address fires and as a landscape contractor I feel that all trees and shrubs should be kept clear of debris and dead material not only for fire prevention but for the tree and shrubs health.   

I have also been here when it has flooded many times in Laguna and all of us homeowners who live on slopes and steep hillsides are so grateful for our trees and shrubs during these storms. 

I am sure that during the fire in 1993 even if every house on Mystic Hills had a defensible space as described in this ordinance they still would have burned. I saw that 40-foot wall of fire going up the hill behind City Hall and there is no way anything was going to stop it with the winds blowing as hard as they were. 

When they started the evacuation for Bluebird Canyon, I was hosing down my mother’s home (and) I saw red hot ashes the size of my foot (woman’s size 7) falling onto the wooden deck, trees and shrubs and the ashes went out when they landed on the green trees, even a pine tree, but when the ashes landed on the shade umbrella it burnt holes in it. 

One of my friends is a fireman and during that fire he was sent from his firehouse in San Juan Capistrano to the Malibu Fire and when Laguna became out of control they were sent here and all they could do was line up all the firetrucks along Top of The World Drive to try to stop it. He said most of the guys were speechless and had tears in their eyes as they watched Mystic Hills burn because even with a defensible yard these firefighters couldn’t get close enough to stop that monster fire. 

Please do not vote for this on October 5th but go over this ordinance and consider how this will impact the slopes and steep hillsides and that it isn’t the green foliage that burns but patio furniture, umbrellas, and woodpiles. I feel this is a drastic measure and will have effects on our health as a community because the trees are needed for shade, shrubs and flowers are needed for our mental health; we need beauty all around us to stay calm, it has been proven that landscaping along roadways can calm and slow traffic. 

So, let’s really look at this ordinance and remember green doesn’t burn. Thank you for considering another look at this,

Liza Interlandi Stewart

Laguna Beach


It’s time to dismantle old oil rigs

(Sunday), October 3, 2021 will go down as the worst oil rig disaster in the history of Orange County! It is being spun as a 144,000-gallon oil spill, but it was a broken pipe from one of the Elly Offshore Oil Rigs off Huntington Beach that was broken. The pipe is being patched.

I lobbied for ocean protection in Washington D.C. and wrote the National Ocean Protection Act in my kitchen and Congress passed it: No new offshore oil rigs off the entire coast of the United States.

Now, with aging offshore oil rigs looming danger off our Orange County Coast, it is time to dismantle these old rigs to stop another disaster. 

Our beautiful coast has now experienced oil on our beaches and birds and crabs and dolphins and fish washing up.

As Past President of Orange County Save Our Shores (SOS) I know the ropes...we have to act in a powerful way NOW! 

Beth Leeds

Laguna Beach


Word from The White House can’t come soon enough

I’ve had a number of political highs in my life, but none have come close to when I represented four beach cities (San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach) and the Orange County Supervisors in the “No on Offshore Oil Drilling” campaign in 1985. 

Back then, the Reagan administration had its sights set on drilling off the California coastline, so when 22 local Republican mayors publicly rebuked the idea here in Orange County, I knew our collective mission to protect the ocean and local beaches for future generations was secure. That is, until this past weekend’s oil spill affecting Huntington Beach, Newport and Laguna. It pains me beyond words to read about the ecological disaster that has killed wildlife and forced beaches to close. 

I was a junior at USC when the massive 1969 oil spill turned Santa Barbara beaches black with tar balls. Its impact was felt for decades. I know Rep. Michelle Steel has sent a letter to President Biden requesting a major disaster declaration for Orange County. As far as I am concerned, word from the White House can’t come soon enough.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Obituary

Vladimir Sokolov

1932 - 2021

Obituary Sokolov with painting

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Vladimir Sokolov

Vladimir Sokolov, long-time Laguna Beach artist and gallery owner, passed away peacefully of natural causes on September 16, 2021, in Dana Point. He is survived by his two sons, Gregory and Alexander, daughter-in-law Michelle, and two grandsons, Nicholas and Jordan.

Vladimir was born in the former Yugoslavia in 1932, and received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Belgrade. He immigrated to the United States in 1966, where he married his wife Lillian. They moved to Southern California in 1967, where he was employed as a technical illustrator for General Telephone and Electric (GTE), until 1981. He then opened his first art gallery in Laguna Beach, Studio Gallery Six, in the Lumberyard Plaza. He later moved the gallery to South Laguna, and renamed it Vladimir Sokolov Gallery, where it remained open until 2018. 

Vladimir’s artwork was known for its ever-evolving styles, ranging from acrylic paintings to large mixed media collages. He was a regular exhibitor at the annual Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach, and was well known in the local art circles. His intelligence, love for the arts, and his sense of humor will be greatly missed by his friends and family.


Obituary

Fr. John Patrick Kearney

April 24, 1954 – August 22, 2021

Obituary John Kearney

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Bishop Brian Delvaux

Fr. John Patrick Kearney

We knew him as Fr. Jack, a priest who served a compassionate God and
the members of two parishes in Southern California, Good Shepherd Church,
in Lakewood and St. Francis by the Sea Cathedral, in Laguna Beach. His parishioners will miss his homilies, punctuated with his unmistakable wit, and his dedication to those who were strengthened and made whole at his monthly celebration of the communal Anointing of the Sick at St. Francis.

He was there, faithfully, for the Sunday Liturgy at both parishes and, each Wednesday evening, for his healing services in Laguna Beach. Only COVID-19 could keep him away, dictating that we not only heal, but also prevent illness. He was committed to battling an illness that would have killed him earlier than his cancer and which took his mother from him, the illness of addiction. Through this ministry of his, he saved lives and provided a profession for so many people who would have succumbed to an illness which robs people of their very souls.

At his ordination to the priesthood, after coming to us rather than abandoning his ministry to the addicted, Bishop Brian Delvaux quoted a scripture that so applied to Jack. “The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone of the structure.” As he is sent forth, another was quoted: “Well done, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will put you in charge of many. Come share in your Master’s Joy.

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