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Congratulations on the 55th Annual Brooks Street Classic

A quick note to congratulate the City of Laguna Beach and all the winners on this past weekend’s 55th Annual Brooks Street Classic.

I also want to pay a special thanks to the City’s Recreation department, and the tireless work of Adam Gufarotti and Tierney Doran, as well as commend local Brandy Faber for his total commitment to keeping the event vibrant and relevant to all of us.

We’re extraordinarily blessed with a community and a city that supports this unique event, and I hope that we can count on everyone’s support for 55 more!

With thanks,

Don Meek

Laguna Beach

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Laguna Beach and Recycled Water

I recently saw a letter in Stu News from Mike Beanan again suggesting a recycled water system for Laguna Beach. This is an issue that Laguna Beach County Water District has responded to before. In late 2015, Laguna Beach County Water District hired a consultant to investigate the feasibility of recycled water in the District’s service area. The study cost $132,900 to evaluate all possible options to bring recycled water into our service area. Completed in March 2016, this study concluded that recycled water alternatives would be between 3 to 11 times greater than the District’s current cost of imported water and significantly exceed our groundwater cost by 6 to 22 times. Currently, the District’s water supply is 60 percent groundwater and 40 percent imported water. 

The suggested reclaimed water distribution in Mr. Beanan’s letter advocates serving a number of schools and parks. These public spaces have a current water demand of less than 70 acre-feet a year. To construct this proposed system would require $35 million to build the distribution system to irrigate these areas, including 10 miles of pipelines, two reservoirs, three pump stations, on site retrofit for recycled water, and mitigation for impact to native habitat along the wildland areas. This proposed recycling project would result in a cost seventeen times greater than the District’s current cost of $1,000 an acre-foot for our imported water supply and twenty-three times greater than our cost for groundwater at $550 an acre-foot.

More extensive projects like the plan to irrigate the wildfire interface, along with the parks across the City, would drive the cost of water much higher. The simple sketch in Mike Beanan’s letter representing the solution to ocean pollution is a project that would cost tens of millions of dollars. Those using water to irrigate could expect to pay ten times or more compared to traditional water costs. It’s also important to note that irrigating land that is not currently being irrigated cannot be considered as conservation, as it would generate new water demands. While new innovative ideas should always be explored, the public agencies involved are required to maintain fiscal responsibility. Pursuing projects that may sound good, but place huge cost burdens on the rate payers, is not the answer.

It is a little-known fact that Laguna Beach County Water District already supplies recycled water in Laguna Beach, and you’re drinking it! A large portion of our recently acquired groundwater supply is delivered through the Orange County Water District’s Groundwater Replenishment System. This Replenishment System purifies wastewater and returns it to the groundwater basin for extraction by member agencies like Laguna Beach County Water District to use as potable drinking water. This water supply is less expensive than imported water and is a perfect balance of innovative problem solving and responsible financial management. 

Renae M. Hinchey

General Manager, Laguna Beach County Water District

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Village Entrance Project

Fellow voters, 

I went to the Ground Breaking Photo Op at 4 p.m. Tuesday afternoon for the Village Entrance, at it I got a copy of the “Village Entrance Monthly Update”, and on the second page was as list of the highlights of the project: 

1. New multi-use paths will separate pedestrians from vehicles and improve safety 

2. New bridges, access roads, and parking areas with improved circulation 

3. Walking trails and bicycle paths, featuring decorative concrete to create a pedestrian friendly environment 

4. The Historical Digester building will be repainted and patched with options for additional rehabilitation 

5. Decorative parking lot lighting to match the Downtown area 

6. 52 bicycle racks and 4 new electric vehicle charging stations 

7. New buildings for Police support services and Marine Safety storage 

8. Extensive landscaping that will tie into recent Festival of Arts improvements 

9. 120 new trees, 9,100 new shrubs and 2,200 flats of ground cover 

That’s it! I think, where are “new” parking spaces? Duh? Did I miss something? 

That night I attended the city council meeting. One of the speakers stated that Laguna Beach was losing 111 parking spaces in the new Village Entrance! This statement was met with silence from council members and city staff! I was flabbergasted! Millions of Laguna taxpayers’ money and no additional parking! Duh?

The voters of this town need to wake up!

It’s rather obvious we need a change.

Pat Galez
Laguna Beach

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Scheduling of City Council Meeting on Yom Kippur

It has been brought to my attention that a community meeting has [had] been scheduled for this coming Tuesday, September 18, from 4-6  p.m. This conflicts with Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. 

I am certain that this scheduling was done without malice. If the scheduler checked a Jewish calendar, s/he would have noted that Yom Kippur is on Wednesday, September 19. Even if the scheduler had been aware that Jewish holidays begin at sunset the previous evening, s/he might have concluded that a meeting ending at 6 p.m. on Tuesday would present no problem. 

Alas, the situation is a bit more complicated. Yom Kippur begins at 6:36 p.m. on Tuesday, September 18. Observant Jews must be in synagogue by that time. Further, Yom Kippur is marked by a total fast – no eating or drinking for 25 hours. Thus, observant Jews are partaking in S’udat Hafsakah – the final meal before the fast – from about 4 p.m., so as to allow enough time to eat this meal calmly, prepare for the sacred day, and get to synagogue in time to be seated (large crowds attend) prior to the beginning of services. 

In light of this, I urgently request that, out of respect to the Jewish residents of Laguna Beach, this community meeting be rescheduled. This would be an appropriate way to show how much the City of Laguna Beach values diversity. 

Rabbi Stephen J. Einstein, DHL, DD, Founding Rabbi Emeritus

Fountain Valley, CA

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What changes does Peter Blake have in mind for the village?

Why do we love Living in Laguna? Why do six million visitors a year come here to share our home? Recall the reasons: our historic heritage, our unique and interesting shops and festivals, our Greenbelt separating us from the urban jungle, our pristine coves and beaches, our Bluebelt now alive with sea life, our trees and gardens showcased annually in the Laguna Gate and Garden Tour, our excellent and unique cafes and eateries, the large and stately homes in our hills, the charming homes in the village areas, and the considerate and experienced civic leaders who encourage citizen involvement in Village matters. 

One would think this is generally recognized. Yet at the recent Chamber election forum, Mr. Peter Blake outlined all that is wrong with Laguna from his point of view and promised to change our Village. Are these the things that Mr. Blake wants to change? 

1. Civic leaders who work to keep tourists from overwhelming our village; 

2. A city council that prevents investors from building towering hotels on our coast; 

3. A DRB policy of assuring fairness and balance between neighbors on construction related disputes; 

4. A city council tradition of hearing all points of view with an open mind; 

5. A policy against building huge parking structures to accommodate all the thousands of cars looking for parking during the three summer months; 

6. a downtown shopping district with shops only appealing to the high-end shopper.

Well, I think you get the idea. 

And who did Mr. Blake point out as being responsible for the Laguna that most of us love but he apparently finds lacking? None other than one of the residents’ leading volunteer organization, Village Laguna! 

Those of us who live in Laguna know of Village Laguna members’ selfless dedication to preserving and protecting Laguna. Not only did it spearhead the building height ordinance, but it forcefully advocated for both the Greenbelt and Bluebelt, supported the tax to rebuild after the landslide, fought for protection of our beaches from commercialization, advocated in favor of the protection of resident-serving business over big box stores and lobbied for the development of a prudent parking strategy to manage summer traffic with trolleys and peripheral parking. And this is but a short list! 

Imagine a candidate looking for broad public support before the election treating respected citizen organizations in such a false manner. How would such a candidate act once elected? How would such a councilman treat you or me if we spoke out in disagreement to his/her views?

Mr. Blake closed his presentation in the forum by asking those who appreciate what Village Laguna as done in putting Residents First not to vote for him. I think it’s something we should consider.

Armando Baez

Laguna Beach

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Liberate Laguna, the downside

I suppose that it not too surprising that a coalition of the big Downtown Laguna landlords have teamed together to create a special interest PAC called “Liberate Laguna” or that their little logo seems to be reassuring us that the sun will still rise in the East, even if our downtown skyline eventually consists of the five-story buildings that they hope for. 

It seems so modern to be saying that Laguna needs to get with the times and fast-track commercial development to revitalize downtown. However, I am not sure if we, the people of Laguna, want that kind of modernization. Isn’t this similar to claiming that Crystal Cove is totally out of step with the needs of modernization, and the fact that wait times at Beachcomber Café are outrageous calls for a two or three story restaurant there? And that the State Park System is totally out-of-touch with lodging demand, so that a multi-story Crystal Cove Hotel needs to be built? 

See, there are residents here who feel that both Crystal Cove and Downtown Laguna continue to need love, attention, and visitor management, but do not need a massive capacity increase. The flipside of Liberate Laguna’s logo is that the sun will also continue to rise on our little village even if we do not give into to paving paradise and putting up a parking lot. Small, thoughtful changes to a very special downtown is much more liberating to voters in this community than any of the landlords’  and landlords’ candidates’ dreams which involve a taller, denser, higher capacity, and more “modern” downtown. We actually like it here, thank you very much.      

David Raber

Laguna Beach

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Zur Schmiede on Complete Streets Policy BS

At the end of the first Candidate Forum on 9/6, Councilman Rob Zur Schmiede

remarked the city of Laguna Beach already adopted Complete Streets Policy. Public remarks like this placate a parting audience and spread disinformation, worse the remark leads community residents to the wrong conclusion. Let’s review the facts. 

To qualify for grant funding assistance a city must have documents in place the way Los Angeles did in this comparison with Laguna. To date Laguna Beach has not prepared any of these prerequisite documents and thus could not possibly adopt Complete Streets Policy.

Laguna’s latest Transportation, Circulation and Growth Element was adopted in 1992 TWENTY-SIX YEARS AGO, features Model ‘A’ Fords on the cover and Bob Gentry was Mayor. In it there is no reference to Complete Streets Policy.

Laguna’s Enhanced Mobility and Complete Streets Transition Plan referred to by Zur Schmiede is not a policy document and thus is not policy. Instead it is rubber-stamped with this disclaimer:

Laguna’s Enhanced Mobility and Complete Streets Transition Plan was instead an 84-page exercise for city staff to generate paper not policy, it reads like bookmarks to Wikipedia not a city commitment for ACTION. Costing $118,000 in grant funding plus consultants expense plus staff time, the exercise was a jobs program not Complete Streets Policy. If it were policy, the content would be consistent with a complete street, the level of service (LOS) would count people not vehicles (page 13), SYNCHRO would model roadway users not vehicles (page 28), a Twelve Millon Dollar automobile parking lot would not be disguised as The Village Entrance.

Lorene Laguna is the only candidate to promote Complete Streets Policy. She served on the Laguna Canyon Road Task Force and recognizes adding more auto infrastructure to remove traffic congestion is counterintuitive, like raising speed limits as a traffic-calming measure. One last factoid, Mr. Zur Schmiede was not the only council candidate to complete the LB City Citizen Academy.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

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Attack on candidates’ names

Are we missing something? THIS CONTINUED stupid attack on candidates name[s]...MY name is proudly on my U.S. PASSPORT and driver’s license PAUL MERRITT. 

Our wonderful city CLERK certified my name as genuine and valid. Thus, I am a registered Independent voter standing for ALL Laguna citizens.

I didn’t seek OFFICIAL Democratic partisan endorsement in our LAGUNA Beach so-called Non-partisan election. Can the Democrat anointed candidates please explain this ‘’special endorsement ‘relationship’’? 

If we had Koreans or Hispanics or, divorced women in our council ELECTION…such comments about name changes or modifications would clearly be racist and sexist. [Check out how these folks legally use surnames etc. It is interesting and only educated folks would see and understand the fact of their chosen names.]

Regardless, it was not some slanted reporter who chose this non-issue of NAMES...their prayer is to distract from real issues. 

Since time is short [and with kindness] focus on real issues like the MISSING 111 PARKING PLACES downtown, and the CITY ‘’revised’’ homeless magnet emergency Program; that could be of more relevance to voters. 

Best wishes.

Paul Merritt

Laguna Beach

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Be prepared for an emergency by denying your denial

Preparation for future events is common behavior. The more certain we are of something that will occur, the more rigorous our planning and preparation.

We know we have to go to work or get the kids to school or soccer practice or the dinner with friends…the list goes on and on and on…so we plan and prepare about what we need to take along, what to wear, what time to get in motion…all of it.

As the uncertainty of the future event becomes greater, the planning and preparation really fall off.

If the future event is something unpleasant or scary, many of us just go into a state of denial that the “thing” that could be lurking out there is really ever going to happen. We ignore it and thus do not become prepared.

Emergency Preparedness is a classic activity that is easy to put off, deny the need and basically do little or nothing about.

Laguna Beach would like all of us to break that cycle and take the Preparedness Pledge to take the first little baby steps to become ready for any sort of emergency that might come along.

Thinking about the safety of your family and friends is not really difficult, but it will require you to deny your usual denial.

Here is the link for more information and how to register with the city:

One more thing, for all of us that have done some preparation, now is a good time to recheck everything and refresh things like water and batteries. 

David Horne

Laguna Beach

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Sustainable solutions to ocean pollution

It’s great City Council Candidates like Judie Mancuso and others are reaching out to knowledgeable locals for sustainable solutions to ocean pollution. As a first step, let’s upcycle Laguna Beach’s 1.67 million gallons per day of wasted wastewater discharged just 1.2 miles offshore for perimeter wildfire protection and routine irrigation to also increase regional water conservation. Now that’s being genuinely water-wise while respecting the health of the ocean – Laguna’s foremost economic driver.

Beanan map

Click on photo for larger image

While I will gladly offer emerging solutions to any City Council Candidate or brief them on local ocean dynamics, I am not on any candidate’s committee despite recent news articles. I assume every candidate is seeking sustainable solutions to ocean pollution so affiliation with one particular candidate is unnecessary and may undermine unity and solidarity in advancing responsible, citywide ocean water quality improvements.

Special thanks goes out to all City Council Candidates for investing their passion, time and talent to address Laguna’s many pressing challenges while keeping an eye on the prize – the ocean.

Mike Beanan

Laguna Beach

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