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Pot sales make sense

Laguna Beach has at least eighty retail outlets for alcohol, the deadly liquid which causes intoxication and alcoholism, a disease that kills millions of people every year – 

and yet we have no retail marijuana store. Our founding fathers said we are entitled to the pursuit of happiness, but the proposition legalizing “weed” in California is deeply flawed and expected sales are one half of what was expected. Experts say that because 60 percent of towns and cities won’t allow pot to be sold and taxes on dope are so high that marijuana may go back to being purchased on the black market.

Citizens of Laguna Beach who want to purchase marijuana at a store in Laguna Beach should have that right along with citizens who want to buy liquor products from stores, restaurants, festivals, etc. We have a legal right in California to pursue happiness for ourselves and for many – pot does just that.

If this city council and police chief can’t wise up in regard to “pot”, we should look for new council members and a police chief who will allow people to be happy.

What do you think?

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

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‘Fraternity’ is more than a word to these USC Trojans

Considering their many successes in life, the question is worth asking:  Was there something in the water back in the 1960s when John Bruce, Tom Davis, Bill Eddy, Sandy Gilchrist and Pat Young became Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers at USC?

(Kappa Sigma has it roots in Bologna, Italy, beginning in the 1400s. Here in the US, the first Kappa Sigma chapter was founded at the University of Virginia in 1869.)    

Who knew that when they were undergraduates attending fall football games in the Los Angeles Coliseum, these Trojans eventually would end up living near each other at the beach, not to mention becoming business partners or life mentors to one another?

freidenrich John Bruce

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John Bruce

John Bruce: Originally from Alaska, the retired San Clemente pharmacist initially found his way to USC via three high school classmates, all of whom became his fraternity brothers.  

“To this day, they are my closest friends,” he says.

“My life has been blessed in so many ways. Don’t let anyone tell you the ‘SC mafia’ doesn’t exist, because it does,” he adds.  

“People used to come into my pharmacy and ask about my boys, both of whom became Army Special Forces (Green Berets). Today, I talk about them everywhere I go,” Bruce beams.

“I’m proud of the profession I picked. Ditto for being a Trojan and a Kappa Sig. All together, they have helped define me as a husband, father and friend,” he exclaims.

freidenrich tom davis

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Tom Davis

Tom Davis: “It’s been the best of both worlds for me – to be able to raise my family in Laguna and, at the same time, work in town,” says the longtime attorney.

“As a result, I’ve had the privilege of serving on several community, religious and cross-cultural nonprofit boards. I think my late mom and dad, who were terrific role models, would be happy to know that,” he claims.

And speaking of his parents, Davis’ father was a member of the USC Board of Trustees. “After he passed away, it was hard for me to remain an active alum. That is until two of my fraternity brothers stepped up,” he admits.

When the three of them visited campus, “Everything looked new to me. I felt like I did in 1968, when I was an entering freshman,” he muses.

“It’s been a while, but I have my tickets to next season’s football games. I’m glad because they’re near several of my fraternity brothers,” he states.

freidenrich bill eddy

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Bill Eddy

Bill Eddy: “I feel like I was born a Trojan. I remember hearing family members talking about USC like it was yesterday,” the Vietnam-era veteran says.

“When I joined the fraternity, you could count on two hands the number of brothers who lived in the house. A year or two later, we needed extra beds in every room.”

With an eye to detail, Eddy established a career in retail real estate in Hawaii. Today, he still is active in the industry. So much so, his “Eddy Line” newsletter is read coast to coast.  

“My family and fraternity brothers taught me what ‘loyalty’ really means,” he notes.

“Living in Newport, like I do, is a real gift. I’m lucky so many Kappa Sigma brothers have my back,” he adds.

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Sandy Gilchrist

Sandy Gilchrist: Newport Beach resident, Sandy Gilchrist, knows quite a bit about athletic and business competition.  

“Swimming in the 1964 and ‘68 Olympics was a dream come true for me, but watching my daughter, Kaleigh, and her teammates win an Olympic gold medal in water polo two years ago was an even bigger thrill,” he notes. 

“My kids have grown up with the sons and daughters of my fraternity brothers. It’s great knowing they all are friends,” he adds.

“I have lived here long enough to see the Newport skyline change for the better,” he says.  

Many local businesses including the former Newport Imports and multiple Southern California residential developers were financed by Gilchrist and his partners. 

freidenrich pat young

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Pat Young

Pat Young: “I grew up in Inglewood, but after college I moved to the beach. It doesn’t matter if I’m gone for a day or a week, coming home to Corona del Mar always is the best,” he says.

“Over the years, people have asked me if living on fraternity row was like ‘Animal House’ the movie. My answer is simple: It was way better,” he laughs.

“I know how important it is to ‘give back’ so I spend some of my free time volunteering with the local U.S. Navy League and serving as a member of Orange County’s Homeland Security Advisory Council,” Young adds.

His real estate activities have taken him from Southern California to Texas, Florida, Maryland, Alabama and back.

“Wherever I go, I seem to find fraternity brothers from other universities. I am truly thankful for our shared friendship,” he concludes.  

Other Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers: From Bruce to Young, all say other fraternity brothers like Tom Bahler, Jack Harrington, Rick Raczka and Allan Songstad have been equally successful in their careers. Bahler wrote hit records like “Julie, Do Ya Love Me” and “She’s Out of My Life” as well as collaborated with legendary music producer Quincy Jones for years; Harrington, a dentist by profession, built the first and only water park in the State of Hawaii; Raczka became a respected orthopedic surgeon in the county; and, attorney Songstad served as mayor of Laguna Hills several times. They all join in saluting WWII war hero Louis Zamperini, a USC Kappa Sigma brother from the 1930s, after whom the movie “Unbroken” was released in 2014.

The bond that holds these Trojans together is their beloved Kappa Sigma fraternity. For more than 50 years, they have witnessed or celebrated Christmas Eve dinners and Passover Seders, births and deaths, marriages and divorces, and, yes, even war and peace. Now that’s true brotherhood.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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Virginia Anne Wood

June 8, 1932 - May 26, 2018

Obituary Anne with flowers

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Virginia Anne Wood passed away Saturday, May 26, with loved ones by her side. Anne, a Laguna Beach resident since 1965, was recently in the care of the amazing staff at Arbor View 2 in Mission Viejo due to Alzheimer’s.

Anne was born to Burris and Margaret Wood on June 8, 1932, in Sacramento. She was preceded in death by both her parents and her only sibling, James “Woody” Burris Wood.

Anne graduated from C.K. McClatchy High School in 1950 and then received her Bachelor of Arts from Chapman College (now Chapman University) in 1954. She later returned to Chapman and received her master’s degree in 1972. In 1954 she commenced a 39-year love affair with teaching beginning with Bret Harte Elementary in Sacramento, and then Santa Fe Elementary in Oakland.  Thereafter she spent six years teaching with the Army Overseas Schools first in Metz, France, and then in Berlin, Germany. She arrived in Europe shortly after the Berlin Wall was erected, was held hostage by Russians on board a duty train, and joined the Berlin International Theater Group.

Obituary Anne on gazebo

Anne loved the overseas experience and built many life-long friendships. She never missed an opportunity to travel, be it simply to her beloved cabin at the Russian River, or to see close friends throughout the world. Anne returned to California in 1965 and began teaching for the Anaheim Elementary School District before being transferred to Brookhurst Jr. High School where she taught reading and drama along with “other duties as assigned” until her retirement in 1993.

She also enjoyed working with the Laguna Playhouse theater in Laguna Beach doing some acting but preferred being behind the scenes as stage manager, pushing sets, calling cues, etc. After retirement, Anne added the title “volunteer” to her cap with numerous groups in Laguna Beach, including The Woman’s Club (2012’s “Woman of the Year”), Chamber of Commerce, Laguna Club for Kids, Friendship Shelter, Laguna Beach Resource and Relief, Patriot’s Day Parade Committee, to name a few.

Obituary Anne and signs

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In 2005, the Laguna Beach Exchange Club honored her with inclusion in their “Book of Golden Deeds.” She had maintained her membership with Primrose Chapter No. 385, of the Order of the Eastern Star (of Sacramento) since the early 1950s. Anne was a long time member of Chapman University’s Town & Gown. She was very proud of their fundraising mission and dearly loved their social events. Anne cherished all these friendships. The Neighborhood Congregational Church (NCC) was also very dear to her. She tirelessly volunteered for a variety of duties and committees since joining the congregation in 1972.

A celebration of life, and what a full life it was, will be held at NCC on Saturday, June 23 at 340 St. Ann’s Dr., Laguna Beach, at 1:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Chapman University for the Town & Gown Endowed Scholarship at to a charity dear to you.

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Free one-day parking pass for musicians who participate in Fête de la Musique

Congratulations on another great Fete (11th) – we marveled at the wide variety of people of all ages and ethnicities – the goodwill the City spreads during this event is incalculable! But the City should do a little by giving those musicians who play for free a one-day parking pass upon request.

Roger Kempler
Laguna Beach

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Re Blake letter: without housing, homelessness is exponentially worse in Denver

While it’s true that I haven’t lived in Laguna for over three years I found I had to respond to Peter Blake’s letter in Stu News on June 15. We now live in Denver and I can tell you for a fact the homeless problem here is exponentially worse than in Laguna for the simple fact there is not a homeless shelter or housing of any kind that can handle the size and scope of the problem here. 

The homeless take up residence in the alleys behind homes, in parks and along the many riverbeds that run through this beautiful city. And they continue to come to Denver even though there isn’t much in the way of infrastructure to help them. If Mr. Blake had any knowledge of or experience with the Friendship Shelter he would recognize it for the wonderful, helpful organization it is. 

If he had any experience with the many thankful and outstanding “graduates” of the Friendship Shelter program like I have he wouldn’t malign it for being part of the problem. Spend some time talking to these graduates and you will most certainly feel different about homeless people in general and the Friendship Shelter in particular. Closing up all the homeless housing in Laguna and expecting the homeless to leave as a result is ignorant at worst and naive at best.

If Mr. Blake is running for City Council I might have to move back just to make sure he isn’t elected. Trying to scare folks into solving an issue by “closing Pandora’s Box” doesn’t mean you’re qualified for office it just means you’re a bully without any meaningful ideas on how to work through the issue. Just one man’s opinion.

Kevin Donavan

Denver, CO

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Recent home invasion raises concerns regarding LB policies

I’m seeing a lot more articles about home invasions by criminals looking for money, drugs and even guns. Maybe it’s time that Laguna Beach re-evaluate its Sanctuary City and long-standing policy of allowing any homeless drifter to camp and panhandle in the area. Those policies allow criminal elements, drug addicts and alcoholics to set up residence in the city bringing harm to the residents, visitors and vacationers. 

I don’t see police blotters with similar home invasions from other larger inland cities, like Mission Viejo and Laguna Niguel, because they don’t have those same policies/laws and they don’t seem to put up with homeless squatters sprawling out in residential areas. 

It might also be helpful to have more guard gated communities like those other cities do, especially with the higher value of homes and supposedly more assets contained within. Since guns were also stolen during this home invasion robbery, I wonder what good use they served since they weren’t used in a proper defense nor were they stored in a safe that could not be stolen from the home.

Gary Zaremba

Mission Viejo

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Kim Harley

June 2, 2018

Obit Harley

Kim Harley passed away peacefully on June 2, 2018 in his Laguna Beach home. A 42-year-long resident of Laguna Beach, Kim was known for his love of the outdoors, but even more so for his love of fishing. Being out on the water was his favorite place to be, however, it did not stop there. Kim’s passions included cooking, and sharing his catch with his neighbors and many friends. Kim’s salty sense of humor never hid the love he had for his community. Playing in John Ditto’s pool tournament, deer hunting in Virginia, dove hunting in Yuma, and the annual Labor Day Pig party on Catalina Street are among the many memories that Kim often shared with those he loved. 

Kim leaves behind his “LOML” of 20 years, Diana Long, and his two sisters, Jill Watkins of Laguna Beach and Jan Vierra of Costa Mesa.  Kim loved his community very much, and as a neighbor quoted, “Mountain Road will never be the same again.”

Kim’s celebration of life will be held on August 4 from 1 p.m. - dusk at Bluebird Park, with details to follow.

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Handling the homelessness issue: Peter Blake responds

Thank you in advance for allowing me to respond to Barbara McMurray’s letter to the editor dated June 8, 2018.

In her letter Barbara quotes me as saying that we have opened Pandora’s Box regarding our handling of the homeless in Laguna and offers to “catch me up on some truth.”

Barbara states: “For three decades, our community has responded with well-considered, best-practice models. As a result, in the current county crisis Laguna Beach is considered an expert resource consulted by other cities as they begin wrestling with the issue. We are ahead of the game. Why would anyone vote to go backward to methods proven not to work?”

My thoughts: Barbara, for starters we have not had a homeless problem for three decades. The magnitude of our problem began in 2009 with a frivolous lawsuit filed by the ACLU that implied that we were harassing the homeless. We were forced into establishing the Alternative Sleeping Location (ASL) and The Friendship Shelter was chosen to run it. Before that we had a homeless population that was small and consisted of some out of town transients and our fellow resident homeless that we loved and took care of. We are currently considered experts in how to mismanage our homeless situation and the fact that we were “ahead of the game” exacerbated the problem as more transients came to Laguna seeking assistance. Our surrounding communities studied us and learned what NOT to do. They sat back and watched while new transients arrived and made our town unsafe and turned the canyon into ground zero for addicts and criminals. We were thanked for our efforts by being sued again by the ACLU and other homeless advocates. Surrounding cities learned from us that no good deed goes unpunished. Not a single city stepped up to the plate to follow our lead as Dawn Price predicted years ago. They simply were not that ignorant!

Barbara states: “Laguna Beach has more shelter beds per capita than any other city in Orange County. That’s something to be proud of, not something to mock.”

My thoughts: She’s right. It’s not something to mock but to actually use as a lesson as to how not to cower and allow ourselves to be forced into a situation like this again. If Barbara and the Friendship Shelter have their way we will build a 45-unit apartment building to permanently house the chronically homeless right next to the 45 shelter beds at the ASL. Add to that the 32 currently housed at the Friendship Shelter building on Coast Highway and the rest housed in apartments and hotels and you have a number that far exceeds any reasonable approach to solving the homeless problem as a community. We simply do not have the resources to handle this situation. Sorry!

Barbara states: “Laguna is not unsafe, and pushing a false narrative that residents are under threat of violence by homeless people is a dangerous fabrication. LBPD statistics show that the violent crime rate has remained mostly the same or lower since the ASL opened in 2009- a testament to the ample enforcement that exists in our fair burg.”

My thoughts: Now Barbara is deflecting from the main problem we are facing by stating violent crime statistics. She intentionally neglects to discuss the low level crimes that the transient population are responsible for including break-ins both in cars and homes, vandalism, theft, public intoxication, drug possession and the administering of dangerous drugs in public and lewd behavior including masturbating, urinating and defecating in public. Only a fool could assume that Laguna is as safe today as it was ten years ago. 

Barbara states: “If ever we needed proof that homeless people don’t bounce around to find the best deal, it’s right now. If our city’s showers, shelters, meals and permanent housing options were the magnet Blake thinks they are, we’d be overrun right now. Four hundred people were relocated out of the riverbed area in Anaheim and their short-term motel vouchers have mostly run out. Yet we are not seeing an increase in homeless people in our town.”

My thoughts: Somehow we just lucked out and the transient criminals from the riverbed were sent to hotels in San Clemente and other towns. Ask those cities what life is like now. 14,000 hypodermic needles were collected when the squalor was finally emptied and the surrounding residents’ quality of life was finally restored. The residents of Laguna Niguel, Irvine and Huntington Beach were the suggested recipients of this population to live in tent cities on county property. A huge backlash stopped it. Fortunately Barbara’s welcome wagon was in the shop at the time.

Barbara states: “The facts are clear that housing ends homelessness and that well-run, housing-focused shelters can hasten housing placement.”

My thoughts: Maybe building housing for the homeless in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country with taxpayer funds makes sense to Barbara and the Friendship Shelter but I’m frankly baffled by their logic. Wouldn’t these funds better serve the vulnerable in areas where costs are substantially lower? Over the years I’ve watched our elders, friends and our younger generation have to move from their beloved town due to their inability to afford a home or apartment. Somehow we’re asked to justify building housing for these transients? Barbara, why won’t you be honest and admit that the Friendship Shelter stopped requiring sobriety and employment as a condition for your assistance? Admit that the taxpayer funds you thrive on come with non-discriminatory conditions. You’re forced to work with the chronically homeless defined by long lengths of homelessness and having addiction and mental problems. Lengthy criminal records are also tolerated. That suits a criminal justice advocate like yourself who doesn’t support the incarceration of the homeless or addicts. It doesn’t fare well with those of us who feel a palpable police presence. Aggressive enforcement of public nuisance laws are the key to returning our town to a level of safety we enjoyed for decades and we are NOT willing to compromise so that people like yourself with misguided compassion can feel better.

Barbara states: “Anyone who seeks office as a public servant needs to have a basic grasp of a problem he purports to be able to solve. Our political environment these days is too often crowded with politicians saying things that ‘feel’ true but don’t have facts to back them up. While Blake’s angry bluster about the 75 or so individuals in our town may make those who are uncomfortable with homelessness feel a little better, it won’t address homelessness in any meaningful way. Haven’t we had enough of that kind of politician?”

My thoughts: Barbara, what I “feel” is based on my experience garnered from working in downtown Laguna Beach since 1990. I have personally seen crime exponentially rise since we began this dangerous social experiment. We have failed miserably and you know it! Why don’t you admit it instead of lying through omission, misrepresenting facts and using skewed statistics to mask your failures? My “angry bluster” towards the transients does not make those who are uncomfortable with the situation “feel better.” They will feel better when we yank the welcome mat and close the coastal country club that you, the Friendship Shelter, the ACLU and uninformed yet well-meaning socialites have helped create in our community.

Barbara, when elected this November, I will close Pandora’s Box.

Peter Blake

Laguna Beach

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Roger DeTorres

Obit DeTorres

Roger DeTorres, 36, of Aliso Viejo, died in a motorcycle accident June 6 in Laguna Hills.

He is survived by his wife Robyn DeTorres of 13 years and two beautiful children: Rowan, age 14, and Rayne, age 3.

Roger was working at Young Company, Laguna Beach at the time of the accident and before that at Avila’s El Ranchito as a manager in Laguna Beach.

Roger was full of energy, passion and promise as he was transitioning his career into digital marketing. A celebration of life will be held at Aliso Beach Park on June 16 at 5 p.m. at 31131 S Pacific Coast Hwy.

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Grandma Edison is still needed

I am all for electrical energy alternatives, they are the hope for a less polluted future. However, if you are selling your surplus electricity to Grandma Edison, you need to be connected to her.

Also, and what is often neglected in the discussion about renewables, is the need to have a back up to a personal power supply.

Let’s just say you have solar panels and a battery system to power your home and something breaks on a holiday and you can’t get a vendor who has the parts needed to make a repair before your freezer thaws out, or, you have a vacation home and are not always there to monitor the power but you have pumps for irrigation or other gadgets that you need running, the smart option is to still be tied to the grid. When there is a failure of components or a planned maintenance of your system, your power transfers automatically to your back up power supply, Grandma Edison.

Additionally, many people cannot afford or do not want to dabble in newer technology, should they be forced to? Will they be given a date by which they must be on their own?

How about multi-unit buildings that may not have room for enough solar panels for their tenants changing needs. Also, businesses such as restaurants and markets would unlikely be able to operate reliably without a backup power system. Generators are the typical stand by power system today, at schools, hospitals, research institutions and data centers to name a few. In order to back them up in case of a power failure, these institutions rely on large, polluting, gasoline or diesel powered electrical generating units. 

In the future it may well be that Grandma Edison is relied on as the back-up power system of choice. I would prefer to see electrical wires placed underground. Underground wiring is more reliable than sun bleached, flapping in the wind cables strung between poles. Not just for the aesthetics, but also because there is a real need for this utility.

John S Walker

Laguna Beach

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