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Denny Freidenrich turns 70 today. No Way!

Long time Laguna Beach resident Denny Freidenrich’s life reads like a series of firsts. For example: 

-The first time Denny visited Laguna was in 1960. Even as a boy, he remembers telling himself, “Someday I’m going to live here.” 

-As a high school senior growing up in Palo Alto, Denny was named to the first team all-league water polo squad in 1965. A year later, he was playing for USC. 

-The summer of 1967 was Denny’s introduction to life at the beach. He and three fraternity brothers rented an apartment in Corona del Mar. In his words, “I used to spend a lot of time driving between Balboa and Doheny. That’s when I first discovered Thalia Street.” 

Denny Freidenrich closeup

Submitted photo

Denny Freidenrich turns 70 today

In 1969, he “won” the first Vietnam-era draft lottery. Yes, September 14th was the first of all 366 dates randomly selected; but, no, Denny was not called to serve. Years before, he had fallen off a cliff in Santa Cruz and fractured three vertebrae. “When I finally was released from Stanford Hospital after a two-week convalescence, my medical file was a foot thick,” he says. 

-Immediately after graduating from ‘SC in 1970, Denny moved to Laguna for the first time. Two years later, he moved to Washington, DC, where he first worked on Capitol Hill as a congressional staff assistant and then as a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. 

Denny Freidenrich with beard

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Submitted photo

Denny working on Capitol Hill in 1972

The years that followed were equally important to Denny as he continued notching many firsts. Like these: 

-After returning to the beach for good in 1974, Denny created the nonprofit California Voter Group. The first of its kind, the group’s goal was to encourage high school students to become active voters when they turned 18. Scholastic Magazine honored the Laguna-based organization with a national youth citizenship award in 1980. 

- In 1978, Denny interviewed on cable TV all the candidates running for Laguna Beach City Council. That was the same year he helped found the Von Strobel Breakfast Society, a nonpartisan group of approximately 30 “young turks” who worked at all levels of politics in the county. As he is fond of saying now, “We were networking before we knew what the word meant.” 

- Four years later, with the support of several Laguna contributors, Denny spearheaded three successful fundraising campaigns: Larry Agran’s first reelection campaign to the Irvine City Council; Bill Honig’s first run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction; and, Andy Warhol’s celebrity portrait of Jane Fonda (which benefited Tom Hayden, Fonda’s husband at the time, when he first ran for the California Assembly). 

Denny Freidenrich Warhol

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Photo by Doree Dunlap Freidenrich

Andy Warhol preparing Jane Fonda for her photo shoot in New York City

-In 1983, Denny established the Contemporary Club, the first young professionals support group created specifically to raise funds for an OC cultural institution (the former Newport Harbor Art Museum located at Fashion Island). Shortly after that, he was asked to help launch Center 500, another group of young professionals who wanted to support the OC Performing Arts Center (which literally was coming out of the ground in Costa Mesa at the time). 

-In 1985, Denny received the call of a lifetime. He was hired to direct the county’s No on Offshore Oil Drilling campaign. His first task was to coordinate the responses of San Clemente, Laguna, Newport, Huntington Beach, the OC Board of Supervisors and 22 Republican mayors – all of whom publicly opposed the Reagan administration’s plan to open the coast to massive drilling. To this day, Denny says the outcome of that effort (i.e., no oil rigs off Laguna’s shoreline, for example) was the most meaningful of his political career. 

-Twenty years later, Denny’s idea to host a community breakfast in Bluebird Park for the victims of the devastating 2005 landslide was the first of many similar events in town. 

Denny Freidenrich with Obama

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Submitted photo

Denny introducing (then) Senator Barack Obama to Democrats in 2007

-Denny first met presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2007. The next year, he was part of a group that raised $1.2 million for the future president. Today, Denny is providing Harley Rouda’s first congressional campaign with the names of potential major donors throughout the state. 

-In between all these firsts, Denny managed to serve as the public relations or marketing director of two publicly traded companies, as well as publish more than 1,200 commentaries and letters to the editor. While many of his pieces run in the New York Times, The Hill, Boston Globe or USA Today, Denny’s op-eds or letters also can be found in the Daily Pilot, OC Register, Los Angeles Times or Stu News

“I’ve written about both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue for decades; but, every once in a while something happens locally that catches my attention,” he says. 

“Here in Laguna, there are several people who regularly write letters to the editor. I don’t always agree with them, but I support their right to freely express themselves 110 percent,” he adds. 

“Who would have guessed that, when I was a boy, my first pick would be to live here someday? That ‘someday’ has lasted more than four decades. Like I tell my three adult children, Tyler, Spencer and Zoe, it is important to focus on the needs of others no matter where you are. Clearly, that has been a driving force for me all the years I have lived in Laguna,” Denny concluded. 

Shiva Farivar


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Residents First: Believe it…or not?

How many residents of Laguna Beach actually believe that they have been put FIRST? Among other catchy campaign messages, “Residents First” is turning out to be the latest buzz phrase for those vying to serve as one of our city council members in 2018. This “specialness” tagline is meant to convince us that we actually matter. Or better yet, that we matter more than the six million visitors who supposedly make our economy soar. Really? Somehow, I’m not feeling that special. 

Another message baffling me is, “We’re a coastal town, not a resort town.” Has this candidate looked around in the last decade? Have Visit Laguna and Laguna’s locals been informed of this? 

What about the ‘70s tag “preserve open space”. I didn’t realize it was in jeopardy. Or the latest “local free parking” pitch or pawing at dog owners’ heartstrings with “dog beaches first”? Sorry, putting dogs before residents, commerce and our ocean is just doggone ridiculous! 

Or everyone’s favorite “I LOVE LAGUNA!” Call me crazy, but loving our town doesn’t qualify one to oversee our government, finances, local complexities and self-appointed uniqueness. 

As the election gears up here are my voter messages: Don’t believe campaign rhetoric. Hear beyond the buzz words and promises as they are mostly fluff and marketing. Dig deeper. 

Demand transparency first. This job is important and there are serious consequences to accepting the unqualified. They become dangerous politicians. Take the time to find out who they are before putting them in public office. Check their personal and professional history. Seek proof of how well they understand finances and policy making and their level of stability, commitment and interpersonal skills. Review campaign 460 forms at to see who’s financing their campaigns. 

Practice due-diligence and trust but verify. Don’t consider anyone who can’t be fully vetted. This goes for the oldies, newbies and name-changers. If you can’t verify their education, occupations, experience and performance claims – pass over them. Accepting jargon like, “local groups support me”, “I still have more to do”, “here before and it’s comeback time”, “I’m new, therefore I’m not tainted or haven’t under-performed” or “my personal and professional history isn’t important” without question can result in getting stuck with ineffective representatives or more of the same. 

It’s all about transparency and trust. Vote responsibly. Support only transparent candidates and political environment. 

MJ Abraham

Laguna Beach

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Lost Parking with the City Proposed Village Entry

The proposed Village Entry Plan by the City ready for groundbreaking results in a LOSS of 110 existing Parking Spaces at the entry of the Festival of Arts. (Sources – Current Bid Plan on City’s website (Page 1 at bottom – “Parking Count”) and Documents provided at 11/12/13 City Workshop)

Why wasn’t California Coastal Commission and FOA Board concerned about the City’s planned LOSS of 110 Parking Spaces and another 18 Spaces in front of the FOA’s remodeled entry?

Why aren’t City Councilmembers/City Manager concerned with the LOSS of all these close parking spaces for Patrons of the Art Festival/Farmers Market? You approved the design and doubled the budget!

The distance proposed to the handicapped parking spaces/first parking spaces is another 150 to 220 feet farther than exists from FOA grounds, just for a Park buffer. That’s not convenient or good site planning for the Patrons, did the FOA Board of Directors approve that?

The latest FOA remodel removed 18 entry handicapped/ticket spaces replaced with 2 H/C spaces...we just keep going backwards. Now the City condones 128 LESS PARKING Spaces where they’re needed the most for Tourists/Residents closest to FOA, City Hall, and Saturday Farmers Market. The City plans just 350 Vehicle & 8 M/C spaces. We have 397 + 63 existing/proposed at #725 LCR – totaling 460 existing “status quo parking spaces” + dozens of motorcycle spaces. That’s 110 parking spaces LESS including a $5.3 million added lot that will profoundly impact our City, Residents and Businesses! (Excludes +24 LCR on-street stalls, +4 M/C and +14 bicycle spaces bumping the parking count not disclosed in 11/12/13 City Workshop to get 392 parking spaces on proposed plans)

You’d think our City Manager/City Councilmembers would be sensitive to loss of parking revenue, city employees’ parking, FOA Patrons, and Residents of Laguna who use these Proposed LOST 128 Parking Spaces. (That’s equivalent to Forest Ave’s 131 spaces!) Where are they going to Park…? I personally looked for H/C space for my sister when we attended Pageant last week, circled for 20 minutes looking for a space found at Post Office – a 10-minute walk – with existing parking status quo, and in the future?

The City just appears wanting to build something and stop the criticism for not producing a supposedly needed Village Entry Monument to our City over the last decade, at no matter what cost or lost parking. I suggest we scrap yet another folly in flawed design and wasted tax dollars until it’s revised to give us a net gain in parking. It’s sure to crush downtown with drastically worse shortage of parking and circulation of cars looking for spaces the City approved to lose! Would Residents be happy to approve this plan at the Groundbreaking Ceremony?

Bryan Menne

Laguna Beach


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Anne Shea

Obituary Anne closeupAnne (LeBonte) Shea passed away peacefully on August 24, 2018 at the age of 84 years. Joseph, her devoted husband of 61 years, was with her.

Anne Shea was a formidable woman who grew up in humble surroundings near Boston and went onto successful teaching and business careers. Most importantly, she was an incredible Mother and Grand and Great-Grandmother. She was in the first class of women to attend Boston College in 1952. She met her future husband Joseph Shea at BC. While stationed in Germany they married on January 29th, 1957. Over the next 7 years Anne gave birth to Brian, Kevin, Brendan and Kerry. To date their children have extended their families with ten grand kids and three great-grandchildren.

While rearing her children, Anne began teaching at a special needs elementary school in CA and then an inner-city school in Newark NJ. Years later, she established a successful real estate career in Laguna Beach where they resided for 20 years at Center street and Tia Juana street. In retirement they moved to Sonoma in 1997. She and Joseph were able to travel extensively through Europe, Australia and North America. Throughout her life Anne was active in national and local politics where she was a strong advocate for responsible growth and other social causes. 

Anne was predeceased by her brothers Edward and Harold LeBonte.  In addition to her husband Joseph “Papa Joe”, “Grammy Anne” leaves behind her children: Brian and his wife Julie, and their children Molly Salimi and her husband Barbod and her two children Dariush and Jami of Boston MA, and Megan and her daughter Madison of Palm Desert CA; Kevin and his Maura and their three children Caitlin, Patrick and Caroline of Hopkinton MA; Brendan and his wife Cheryl and their three children Sidney, Claire, and Morgan of Westford MA; and Kerry (Shea) Loder and her husband Noel Loder and their two sons Jack and Sean of Mill Valley CA. 

Funeral services are being handled by Duggan’s Mission Chapel of Sonoma.  A memorial service and celebration of her life is planned for September 14th at 11:00 at St. Leo’s church in Sonoma. Joseph Shea can be reached at Sunrise Villa Sonoma 91 Napa Road Apartment 117, Sonoma CA 95476

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Loraine Estelle Hollingsworth

August 17, 1935 -August 4, 2018

Obituary Lorraine HollingsworthLoraine Estelle Hollingsworth, 82, also known as Cherokee, passed away peacefully in her canyon home of 70 years surrounded by her loving family.

Loraine is survived by her two children, John William Verdugo & Andrea Estelle Verdugo, her son-in-law Timothy Kane O’Neil, her three grandchildren, John Isidro Verdugo, Estelle Leann Verdugo & Marielena Theresa Verdugo and her cousin Steve Harold Martin.

Loraine was born to William John West and Maude Estelle West in Inglewood and moved to Laguna Beach in 1942 to Cypress Street, and moved again in 1949 to her home on Sun Valley Drive in Laguna Canyon. She registered herself at the age of 7 to the only grammar school in Laguna Beach on Park Avenue, and continued her schooling until graduating from Laguna Beach High School in 1954. 

As a young woman, Loraine earned money boarding horses and turned managing the horse ranch, Rancho Sol Vado, into a full time career. She taught many Laguna locals how to ride and care for horses. Loraine worked many odd jobs such as selling buffalo burgers on a Buffalo Ranch, driving school buses full of children searching for hub-caps for fun, working grounds at Sawdust Festival, working at the Assistance League and volunteering many hours at the Susi Q. Loraine married John Samuel Verdugo in 1956 and they had two children, and separated soon after. 

Loraine lived a very vibrant life, full of  good friends, a supportive family and most importantly lots of love and joy. She loved painting, horseback riding, creating art, gardening, caring for animals, reading, learning, telling stories of old times, spending quality time with her friends and family. She was frequently seen riding her bicycle down the canyon road and enjoyed playing beach volleyball at Main Beach. In her later years, she learned how to play ukulele at the Susi Q, where she also spent a lot of her time taking art classes and playing bingo with her friends. 

Loraine was a big advocate for protecting Laguna Canyon through protesting, writing letters and speaking at public forums. Her love for protecting nature and animals was an important part of her life. Loraine and her home survived all the canyon flooding and fires. A true Laguna local, she was always involved in the community. 

Loraine will be remembered as a loving mother, grandmother, friend and neighbor. She was a woman of God, a believer of Jesus Christ, the salt of the earth, radical, spirited, adventurous, sharp, sweet, sassy, fun and wise. 

Many thanks to the wonderful work of death doula, Dr. Andrea Deerheart founder of The Heart Way, who helped guide Loraine and her family through her end of life transition, Pastor Dave and for all the wonderful hospice workers who took such sweet care of Loraine. 

We invite all friends of the family to celebrate Loraine’s beautiful life on Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 11 a.m. on the main deck of the beautiful Sawdust Art Festival; 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

We request you bring your thoughts, prayers and fondest memories of Loraine to share with all! 

In lieu of flowers the family would be grateful if you would make a donation to: The Heartway Foundation, Susi Q or a Wildlife foundation of your choice. 

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A Response to Jahn Levitt’s Letter to the Editor 8/28/18 entitled “Will billionaires soon be in full control of Laguna?”

 Jahn, thank you for the compliments on my campaign advertisement. I’m glad you found it “visually unique, directional and beautifully laid out. That means a lot to me coming from an influential political activist like yourself! As a previous board member of Village Laguna and a high-ranking member of the Orange County Democrats, you’re obviously qualified to know the difference. The ad was designed by a 21-year-old LCAD student with my assistance. She has worked on the gallery’s media as a graphic artist since 2014 when she started as an intern. She lived in Laguna at first but has since moved to Aliso Viejo given Laguna’s lack of affordable housing. Unfortunately, Village Laguna and some canyon activists opposed Louis Longi’s artist live-work space.  The group felt that it was not in keeping with the rural setting of the canyon. Ironically, around the same time, many Village Laguna board members gushed at the prospect of the Friendship Shelter’s proposed 35-unit apartment building in the canyon for the chronically homeless. Permanent Supportive Housing for life with no sobriety requirements for addicts, the mentally disabled and those with criminal records, YES! Affordable housing and studio space for working artists, NO! Hmm…

While we’re on the subject, your comment about me wanting to “jail the homeless” is despicable! I’ve always been supportive of groups that lend a hand to the vulnerable who seek assistance and are willing to work towards achieving self-sufficiency. Laguna has always taken care of its own. Our compassion knows no bounds! I have, however, made it clear that criminal transients who come to Laguna and commit crimes will not be supported or tolerated. I will empower the police to ticket, arrest and jail anyone who commits crimes in Laguna and in any way disrupts the quality of life that we have a right to. I know what you’re thinking, typical political rhetoric. Do you cringe at the mere mention of law and order?

You accuse me of “blaming the eucalyptus trees for interfering with the views of the newly mansionized.” Actually, I blame the tree advocates that decided for us that the views of our glorious ocean became second to trees and shrubs. I believe that through proper thinning and pruning we can achieve the desired results for both sides. We have a view ordinance and it’s working. I love trees and love views of the ocean. I find most “trees over views” advocates have never had vegetation grow to a point of obscuring their beloved view of the ocean. I have. Have you? Stop monetizing the issue!

Thanks for the schooling on the “Hausmannian” cottages that you deceitfully claim I intend to eliminate. I will fight to preserve historically and architecturally significant homes like the one you live in. I will also work to remove the extreme restrictions placed on the remodeling of shacks. I feel strongly that Village Laguna’s cronies at the despised Design Review Board, Planning Commission, City Hall and Heritage abuse and bully Laguna’s residents with arbitrary restrictions, behind the scenes influence peddling, and unwritten rules. I will enact term limits and will establish clear guidelines based on laws that will streamline the building process and encourage great architecture and design. These reforms will eliminate the quagmire that forces residents to squander their money on lawyers, architects and spinners who are hired in order for residents to realize their dream, a home they love and that their family can live in comfortably. Jahn, when will people like you stop relying on the past to deny us the future?

You proclaim “Our unique heritage will be erased: the rooftop bars and upscale restaurants and trees chic hotels with swimming pools and double-decker multi-purpose buildings you plan to inflict on Downtown, will change and transform a unique, charming coastal town into a well marketed coastal resort.” Well, hate to break the bad news to you but all of your post Peter Blake apocalyptic predictions all currently exist and were conceived and approved while Village Laguna endorsed council members were in control. That would be Toni (20 years), Rob (4 years), and Verna (4 years). Did these projects fly under their radar? Did Ann Christoph, who attended every meeting in the history of Laguna, somehow miss the one that these existing projects were approved? Blame yourselves for mansionization, chains in the downtown and the charm you feel has been eroded. Attempts to blame me and polarize our community reveal your desperation. I live in a small apartment, drive a Prius, and run a small, highly respected gallery with two employees. I’m hardly the enabler for billionaires that you proport me to be. 

You denigrate the Downtown and ask “why are the residents financially responsible for recreating a Downtown to help many business owners whose merchandise is not geared towards residents’ needs.” Jahn, our Downtown is a mess and it’s because of people like you and Village Laguna. Countless restrictions have made it impossible for great businesses to open or survive. The retail mix is geared towards the lower-end tourist because that’s all our Downtown attracts. Local residents have no reason to shop Downtown. We don’t wear ten-dollar dresses, buy cheap T-shirts or tourist souvenirs. We’ve tried to enact changes in order to recreate a downtown that caters to today’s more sophisticated residents, only to be met with militant resistance. We want to close Forest Ave and create a European style walking plaza with great restaurants and great retailers geared towards providing cultural experiences. We’re tired of the tasteless frumps that inevitably dictate what opens in the Downtown. The majority of locals do not aspire to have a Downtown based on the outdated vision of the ad-hoc committee that includes longtime Village Laguna members and is spearheaded by Norm Grossman. 

Finally, you exclaim “Look towards the future, Mr. Blake. Move forward…any change is good. You need to be only pro-development. After all, don’t you want the best environment for tourists, developers, and flippers? Can’t you imagine that Ermenigeldo Zegna is waiting to snatch up the next store closing, to make our Downtown ever so much more upscale? Or maybe you can recreate Art Basel in Laguna, with the works of all the local artists you promote!”

Well Jahn, looks like you’ve exposed my true intentions to the residents of Laguna. Now, Village Laguna’s preferred candidates can win the election and save us from becoming a “Coastal resort” as your friend Toni uses as her tired campaign slogan. I’d better put on my Zegna suit on and meet with my pro-development billionaire friends. We’ll need to plan the high-rise hotels and condos for the international audience expected to attend Art Basel Laguna 2025. I’m gonna need to close some big deals in order to pay for Village Laguna’s pet projects like the taxpayer funded restoration of the sewer (Digester) or Ann Christoph and the South Laguna Civic Association’s street front lot (South Laguna Garden). We know that we can’t count on residents like yourself to pay for them. Many of Village Laguna’s past and present board members purchased their homes in the ‘70s for less than $50,000. You pay next to nothing in property tax, yet you feel compelled and entitled to dictate your agenda on the recent residents who pay the bulk of the property tax that fuels our town’s budget. It’s no wonder a million here and a million there for these absurd expenditures is not an issue for you.

Jahn, I’ve been enjoying the discourse with Village Laguna’s past and present board members over the last few weeks. First it was Armando and now you. Who’s up next?

I sure am looking forward to November! 

Peter Blake

Laguna Beach

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Solution to spending too much time in traffic jams on Laguna Canyon Road

Spending too much time in traffic jams on Laguna Canyon Rd makes you think that there must be a better way to manage the traffic flow to/from Laguna Beach, using Laguna Canyon Rd.

This is my solution:

1. Build a (four-lane) tunnel connecting Phillips St. (or just north of Phillips St) to the Junction of El Toro and the SR 73 (#1 in picture below)

2. Widen Philips St. (or just north of Phillips St) and connect it to Laguna Canyon Rd (#2 in picture below) on one end, and to the new tunnel on the other end

3. All traffic out of Laguna Beach (travelling on Laguna Canyon Rd north) will be diverted through the new tunnel and back to Laguna Canyon Rd through the current on/off ramps of SR 73/El Toro and Laguna Canyon Rd. And in reverse for traffic travelling south into Laguna Beach.

4. Close the following roads to all traffic – in both directions:

a. From the junction of El Toro and SR 73, to the Junction of El Toro and Laguna Canyon Rd (#3 in the picture below)

b. From The junction of Laguna Canyon Rd and SR 73, to the junction of Laguna Canyon Rd and El Toro (#4 in the picture below)

5. Remove the traffic lights, and place a turnabout at the current location of the junction of Laguna Canyon Rd and El Toro (#5 in the picture below). The only traffic travelling north on Laguna Canyon Rd beyond Phillips St will be to go either to Anneliese’s Schools Inc, or Willow Staging Area

6. Create a parking area for Park and Ride in the junction of Laguna Canyon Rd and SR 73 (#6 in the picture below)

7. During heavy(er) traffic, limit the pedestrian road crossing by Laguna College of Art and Design to every 3 to 5 minutes

8. Free the Toll Roads (73, 241, 261 and 91)

Neumark map

Submitted photo

Click on photo for a larger image

Benefits of this approach:

1. Streamlining the traffic in and out of Laguna Beach using Laguna Canyon Rd with minimal environmental impact:

1. No need to widen Laguna Canyon Rd from Phillips St north – to the junction of SR 73

2. No need to chop off any trees along Laguna Canyon Rd

3. Reclaim the area between the twos closed roads (#4 above) and return it to wilderness/open space

2. Minimal impact of local traffic during construction

3. Easy access to/from both Anneliese’s Schools Inc, and Willow Staging Area

Yori Neumark
Laguna Woods

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A town ready to hide?

I understand that at Tuesday’s City Council meeting Ms Christoph asked the City to halt action on the Digester building so another consultant could be hired to look at it closer. She also stated that she was not in favor of the undergrounding of the canyon. Is she trying to undermine Mr. Blake’s platform? Is she making plans based on her perception of what our little “Coastal Town” needs rather than reality? After years of promoting Laguna as a World Class City, we are now a town ready to hide. 

Undergrounding/Village Entrance – After 20 years the city goes ahead and is trying to make our city safer sooner than later and improve the looks of our entrance and she wants to stop that? I understand that she designed the current entrance and in my opinion what a mess. All I can say is that I believe legally homeowners and the City could be held liable if no measures are taken to minimize potential hazards such as deliberate planting [of] more eucalyptus trees given their global history and scientific fact of their propensity to burn. If we don’t underground, I suspect many insurance companies could point the finger about this negligence and not pay out to rebuild the town. Of course they don’t pay out for loss of other things like pets, wild life, and human life – how much does that cost?    

Also of great concern to me is their continued push to buy the lot in South Laguna that the city has listed as a park in its latest issue of Laguna Beach Community News – the description states a barbeque is available. Does this make the city liable if someone vandalizes the area, or a fire is started with the barbeque, if someone dies or is injured; who foots the bill? Does this group have a signed contract with the owner for use of that property? My understanding is that no one at this point has made contact with the owner/s. If there is no written understanding on the use of this land, does this mean that these folks are squatting on this property and assume that it is OK to do that? The city is trying to get an appraisal – why are we spending this money when no one is sure if it is even for sale.  A little premature isn’t it? But then that is how these folks work – assume, take over, and quietly proceed on the next item on their list. 

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

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Approval of emergency resolution opens Laguna to influx of homeless

Our City Council approved an ‘’emergency resolution’’ [on the homeless issue]. This was done to obtain $500,000 in free grant money from State taxpayers.   

Both the City manager and I agreed...Laguna has done ‘’more for homeless’’ than any other city in OC.

 I opposed the Emergency Program...because for our Laguna the crisis is not a valid emergency. And, tax money is never free.

 Second, the majority of Laguna residents are weary of our village being a worldwide magnet for indigents. Living in Laguna is not a free right. 

 Third, some hidden provisions coupled with this resolution may include waiving of health and safety ordinances during this so-called declared Crisis. Also the program speaks to opening all public property to homeless use and occupation.

Lastly, in order to be approved to be part of this so-called emergency, Laguna drafted a letter of intent to the program named permanent homeless housing...

 As a council candidate I requested the citizens be told what location in Laguna will be considered for such housing. I recoiled at the thought that our treasured Laguna Canyon or your neighborhood could be selected for such a degrading site to give homeless condos or apartments.

Paul Merritt

Laguna Beach

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Sales Tax increase Measure P is a poor ROI

Let’s say I offered you a deal. In exchange for $5 million dollars per year for 25 years, I’ll agree to reduce a possible risk to you which occurs less than two percent of the time. You would probably say, that’s no deal, that’s a rip off! And you’d be right. Well that is what the City and this City Council is offering residents, an agreement to raise our sales taxes, now formally called Measure P, that give us a poor return on our investment. How so you ask? In its fear campaign the City states that over the past 10 years there have been six fires caused by utilities. Under a Public Records Act request, our new Fire Chief Mike Garcia replied that over the past 10 years there have been 394 fires, from all causes, with the average number of fires per year at just under 40. Doing the math, this results in just 1.52 percent of all fires over a 10-year period being “caused” by utilities in Laguna. Yup, just 1.52 percent. 

letter zeiter

Submitted photo

So at $5 million estimated revenues per year if Measure P is approved by voters, over the 25 year duration, that’s $125 million dollars to reduce a less than two percent historical risk of utility fires by randomly undergrounding some, but not all, utility poles. And the possible risk is only being reduced, not eliminated, because only some of utilities will be undergrounded. That’s a horrible return on investment. Remember, there has never been a major fire in Laguna caused by utilities. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars and putting our city in debt to underground utilities will not keep us safe from a single careless match or cigarette.

Vote no on Measure P. It’s a pickpocket. There is no plan and no protection, and there certainly is no guarantee any of us will be any safer. It’s a poor return on our tax dollars. And vote out incumbent council members Rob Zur Schmiede and Toni Iseman, who voted to pick your pockets and approve this sales tax increase. Sometimes the sharks live on land, not the sea.

Stop the sales tax increase. 

Jennifer Zeiter

Laguna Beach

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