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Laguna Beach

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“Prepare Laguna Beach” campaign needs residents to sign up

Local issues like traffic, crowded beaches, parking and parties at summer rentals often are the focus of resident complaints as summer gets under way. But another issue lurks behind the scenes year-round: resident readiness for emergencies. Some of us ignore the issue; some might fall into the ‘doomsday-prepper’ category. But there’s no question that every single resident of this city should make sure they are ready to hit the road if a fire, earthquake, landslide, high tide flooding, gas leak or other emergency occurs in Laguna Beach.

This October 27 will be the 25th anniversary of the devastating 1993 fire that destroyed hundreds of homes and briefly threatened downtown and beyond. Those who lived here in 1993 will never forget – and many of us have had go-bags and family emergency plans ever since. But there are always procrastinators who never quite get to that item on their to-do lists. And newer residents may be unaware of what happened a generation ago, much less the dangers we face in a coastal town with just two roads in and out. 

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Submitted photo

Devastating reminder of the 1993 fires

With that in mind, Laguna Beach CERT (coordinating through the Emergency Operations Coordinator/Police Department) launched a “Prepare Laguna Beach” effort last month to raise awareness by asking residents to sign a pledge to be more prepared for emergencies. The City Council also supported the effort and it was officially launched May 1. The goal is to be the Most Prepared City in Orange County. And it only takes about a minute to pledge online at

No one will call you or ask for donations or keep your name in a database. You only are required to enter your street name (not house number) and closest cross street, then click on two buttons that say you agree to have a family/household plan and to create or buy a 72-hour emergency kit. Click ‘ok’ and you are done! (There is a field for your last name only if you don’t mind adding it.) 

Your pledge to be more prepared will be counted only for the purpose of counting the total number of signers. Our goal is to get 2,800 households to ‘sign the pledge’. We hope you will embrace this effort so that we can be the Most Prepared City in Orange County with residents in every age group ready to ‘get outta Dodge’ when the situation arises. 

There is no political agenda – just a big motivation to make sure our residents know how to stay safe and know when it’s time to go. Please be among them. You’ll find CERT members at ‘pop-up’ booths around town throughout the summer who will help you sign up on the spot, give you a preparedness item for your kit and send you off with thanks and good wishes! 

Sandi Cain

Laguna Beach CERT Outreach Chief

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Harley Rouda shares appreciation of his supporters

Since we started this campaign together almost a year and a half ago, we have accomplished so much. From the tremendous grassroots support we have had since the beginning, our campaign has received endorsements from every facet of the Democratic Party – from local elected officials such as Toni Iseman, Katrina Foley, and Gina Clayton-Tarvin, to national leaders such as the entire Democratic Congressional Delegation from Orange County as well as many other members of Congress; from environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club to progressive organizations such as the California Nurses Association and the Progressive Democrats of America; from organizations fighting gun violence like Moms Demand Action and Pride Fund Against Gun Violence to LGBTQ organizations like Equality California. 

And most recently the DCCC has put us on Red to Blue – just one of three campaigns in all of California.

It’s our time to move Orange County forward. I’ll fight for common sense change in Washington. Together we are the only campaign that can beat Dana Rohrabacher. I hope I can earn your vote on June 5th and together we will Flip the 48th.

Harley Rouda

Laguna Beach

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This “granny flat” poem should set the tone

Important tone for the present controversy – here’s a “granny flat” poem by Marcy Wingard – see below.

Walker Reed



Planted in sunshine paradise

came forty years ago and more

California’s Gold Coast suited

then and does today


Older now, finished with work

choice is mine  escape to other climes

leave this idyllic home

costly to care for  hard to maintain


Resources dwindling   fewer needs

downsizing has its subtle charms

but   leave my garden

good friends  fellowship


Sunshine pouring in, I watch the day

outside the kitchen door, my garden

past wrought iron fence

that borders my domain


Here, I am home  I know my way

my habits long entrenched

the world an ordered place

so hard to start anew


Precious brown hills

fresh green after springtime rain

ocean close enough to see

from top of winding grade


Feast of fruit and other fare

a wondrous mix grown here

so many things to lose

if I choose flight to smaller space


Besides   my partner of many years

sleeps peacefully below the hill

could I desert him   leave him alone

with no one left to bring him flowers


So here I am and here I’ll stay

until the choice no longer mine

then leave these hills but they’ll remain

in memory ‘til mine have fled.

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Trump’s view of NFL players taking a knee

What is happening to our beloved country?  Donald Trump’s comment yesterday about NFL players taking a knee is wrong on so many levels I really don’t know where to begin.  

I graduated from USC in 1970, so I lived through the tumultuous days of “love it or leave it” during the Vietnam War. Since when is it a crime to peacefully protest at Main Beach or at a football game? Suffice it to say that if the president believes players “shouldn’t be in the country if they can’t stand proudly for the anthem” then maybe he shouldn’t be in the White House.  

Clearly, Mr. Trump doesn’t understand the first thing about what the Constitution truly stands for (including allowing me the right to take a knee and pen this letter).

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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Reasons for concerns about proposed trees on Ocean Ave

Stu News reported on the discussion that took place at the Council meeting of May 8 regarding the choice of trees to be planted at four vacant tree wells on Ocean Avenue. The article reflected the comments from Public Works Director Shohreh Dupuis that we (Ruben Flores, horticulturist, Bob Borthwick and Ann Christoph, landscape architects), had had four weeks to make our recommendations known to staff in advance of the public meeting. This left the impression that either we were negligent in not responding sooner, that we were trying to delay the process or that our comments were ill-considered and should be discounted. None of these impressions is correct.

In reality we had no knowledge of the types of trees being proposed until the agenda bill was out at the end of the previous week. Because of this short time frame the public forum was the only venue available to bring our recommendations forward regarding the most appropriate trees to be planted.  

We are concerned that the Magnolia ‘Little Gem’ trees being proposed will be too small and shrubby to provide canopies under which the public can walk.  We are recommending a larger growing Magnolia with a canopy, ‘Samuel Sommer’.

We are also concerned about the proposed Chinese Pistache tree, which is a deciduous tree that grows “30-60’ tall with nearly equal spread” according to Sunset. Adding a large deciduous tree to the evergreen tree palette of the downtown will be a change to the area’s visual character, and so we recommend continuing with the present mix of trees which includes the Magnolia and the staff-proposed Metrosideros, New Zealand Christmas tree.

We are grateful to Barbara and Greg MacGillivray for donating the additional amounts needed to augment the City’s tree budget, and to councilmember Bob Whalen who has been facilitating a tree decision-making process for the downtown trees. 

As professionals who have been contributing to landscape decisions for our town for many years, we are happy to continue working with these and other dedicated citizens to beautify our environment.

Ann Christoph

Bob Borthwick

Ruben Flores

Laguna Beach

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Ballot Measure and key vs main evacuation routes

City Council voted 5/0 to push forward to underground Edison Utility lines on “Key Evacuation Routes” by a Ballot Measure, without remotely addressing nor giving due consideration to the overwhelming “resident concerns” that were aptly delivered by a deluge of residents during two minute Public Comment! The opposition was well represented by a factual reasonable presentation delivered by the newly formed resident advocacy group STOP. My deepest gratitude to Mike Morris for presenting the professional Power Point presentation on behalf of Jennifer Zeiter’s organized resident STOP advocacy group and to the many well spoken concerned residents who should not go ignored by elected officials. Many concerned speakers brought forth substantive facts and valid concerns that should be considered and addressed by elected officials, with due consideration, prior to putting this measure to vote.  

Why our city has spent nearly half a million dollars and counting to advocate support of undergrounding initiative but has refused to spend a dollar to consult with technological advancements by qualified energy professionals to deliver a comprehensive renewable sustainable energy plan for Laguna Beach? I find this known fact to be most disagreeable and offensive to the sensibility and sustainable values of this environmental community. 

The city has been utilizing taxpayers’ money to advertise their personal agenda to pass [the] Undergrounding initiative using a cleverly designed emotional response delivered by a fire and fear Safety Campaign to corral sheep citizens to agree to a Sales Tax initiative to pay for Bonding the construction cost. If you think the Third Street construction debacle created a nuisance, wait until Edison begins to trench our “key routes”.  Edison will cleverly with assistance of the City have the taxpayers pay 100 percent of construction improvement costs for the aging infrastructure of Edison, a Multi Billion Dollar privately owned company. Keep in mind, above ground utility poles have a shelf life and I find it obscene that the cost of a depreciating asset is not being factored into replacing Edison’s archaic infrastructure. Recall, a few years ago, Edison replaced a large portion of above ground utility poles on LCR? Why no “Fire & Fear Campaign” back then and work to underground the newly replaced poles?  

Voter ignorance may win 2/3 votes, without STOP advancing an adequate educational campaign regarding the financial risk of overspending that a debt liability of this magnitude will create for our village and the many other potential follies of cost overruns that are not being adequately addressed! I have personally addressed City Council, numerous times [via] public speaking, suggesting the city scale back the scope of the project to a more reasonable level and include only the main Evacuation Routes of LCR and PCH. In this manner we could pay as we go, using Measure LL Tax and Rule 20A credits to get the main evacuation routes completed.  

I have made the repeated suggestion that neighborhoods continue to use current method of Neighborhood Assessment Districts to underground their own key neighborhood routes by cooperation of majority of residents. I believe the intention of creating ‘Key ER’ is to curry voter favor, to in-debt those who have already “paid their fair share” to underground their own neighborhood, to now pay to underground other neighborhood specific routes! I feel this is a misguided approach and effort to place the burden, on all taxpayers, to pay the share of specific neighborhoods. Yes, this will benefit some, even specific City Councilmember Toni Iseman, [who] had to recuse herself after the specific benefit was brought to attention of the City by another resident. 

One matter of huge concern is that the City must STOP (pun intended) spending the generous unlimited taxpayer war chest to continue to advocate and promote by advertising to support the personal objective of the current City Council. California Government Code §54964(a) prohibits local governmental agencies from expending public funds to advocate for or against a ballot measure or other voting initiative, with some exceptions for educational/informative materials. The city may have already crossed the line into the grey area with their initial advertising campaign to promote undergrounding by driving forward the false narrative undergrounding utility lines will somehow make us fire safe.

City Council is simply not adequately addressing resident concerns and are failing their constituents to reasonably explore other advanced technological alternative energy sources and to avoid scaling back the project to avoid assuming gross debt liability of cost over budget construction costs! We all know the government rarely comes in on budget for cost of construction.  

Caution-beware: City of Fresno, in few years time, went from 25M to 400M for bullet train underground of utility lines!

Lorene Laguna (Auger)

Laguna Beach

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Buckner Coe

December 11, 1924 – May 111, 2018

Obit buckner coe

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Reverend Buckner Coe of Lake Forest and Laguna Beach passed away peacefully May 11, 2018, surrounded by his beloved wife, Judy, and members of his family. He was 93.

Buckner (Buck) Coe was a sixth generation minister. A graduate of Yale University and the Yale Divinity School, he served as a pastor for churches in Ohio, Connecticut, Illinois, Claremont, California, and Ohio. He served as an interim minister in Scarsdale, New York. In retirement he was a guest preacher at the Neighborhood Congregational Church of Laguna Beach. He first moved to Laguna Beach in 1985.

As a pastor he was outspoken on peace and social justice, believing the Church had a leadership responsibility on these issues to the communities they served and to society-at-large. He marched with Martin Luther King in Selma in 1965, led a fair housing campaign in Chicago’s North Shore suburbs in the 1960’s, and anti-Vietnam War campaigns in both the Chicago area and Claremont, California. His last job before retirement was working for the National Farm Worker Ministry in Los Angeles on behalf of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union’s efforts to improve wages and working conditions for farm workers. He continued his active engagement in politics and social issues in his retirement.

Throughout his life Reverend Coe engaged in a scholarly pursuit of the work of H. Richard Niebuhr, a Protestant theologian and Christian ethicist.

Buck ‘re-charged’ by spending summers on Martha’s Vineyard, creating lifetime memories for his family. He was an ardent sports fan – always ready to cheer on his Dodgers and Lakers. He loved movies, the Kingston Trio, and comedians Bob and Ray. Games of Scrabble with Judy were a daily occurrence. He loved to read, and was always up for a good discussion. And, he loved his grandchildren. While he touched many lives, it is his family – and those closest to him – who were, perhaps, inspired the most by his strong moral compass and his willingness to remain true to what was most important.

Buckner Coe is survived by his wife of 23 years, Judith Polich Coe, whose love and care for him had no bounds. He is also survived by his sister, the Reverend Ansley Coe Throckmorton, his children Andy (Liz), the Reverend Karen Chalmers Coe, Jonathan (Julie), Sara and two grandsons, Ryan Coe and Jackson Buckner Coe. He was pre-deceased by his wife, Kathryn Dowley Coe, and his brother, the Reverend Chalmers Coe.

A service to celebrate Buckner Coe’s life will be held on Saturday, June 16 at 11 a.m. at Neighborhood Congregational Church (NCC), 340 St. Ann’s Drive, Laguna Beach. A reception will take place after the service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to JOY!, the social justice outreach work of NCC. Contributions can be made out to Neighborhood Congregational Church referencing “JOY! Outreach-Coe” and sent to the address above. For further information call the church at (949) 494-8061.

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Enhanced accountability would strengthen SchoolPower

SchoolPower President Kristin Winter recently assured public she’s “keeping overhead costs below industry standard.” Problem is there’s no relevant standard for a small town nonprofit that limits transparency to posting tax forms and selective financial disclosures.

For example, it’s clever to a fault for SchoolPower to claim “Yearly entertainment expenses from $100 to $500.” Expenses for events including entertainment average $75,000 annually, or $400,000 over the last five years under the current Executive Director. With some events netting out 25 percent or more less than gross, SchoolPower owes public user-friendly, informative reporting.

SchoolPower now confirms the Executive Director’s $75,000 base salary range, approximately $375,000 over last five years. But tax filings show salaries in the $150,000 range, around $750,000 over five years. If an additional $375,000 went to salaries or bonuses, including “three part-time employees” or other compensated services, the public deserves details.

SchoolPower claims “$752,695 to our schools last year.” With or without add-ons from (the) SchoolPower Endowment “rainy day” reserve, linkages between SchoolPower annual private grants and public school educational or budgetary policy demand far greater transparency.

For example, SchoolPower recently touted a 2017 grant to “ensure our kids have a safety net through a social-emotional program,” following race/gender incidents at LBHS. Even though over-staffing and declining enrollment already led to reductions of staff and programs, SchoolPower “teamed” with Superintendent to propose hiring a new senior staff director of “social learning” and two assistants.

Even with four psychologists – one for each campus – and eight school counselors already on staff, without validating need our School Board decided SchoolPower’s gift for “social learning” was an offer it could not refuse. So the School Board collaborated with SchoolPower to counter bad publicity on race and gender diversity by politically leveraging a one-time SchoolPower grant of $159,000 to expand central office senior staff for a social learning experiment now costing taxpayers $400,000 annually. 

SchoolPower’s website quotes our Superintendent committing to continue a still unproven social learning program costing at least $2 million if continued for five years. This adds to perception SchoolPower enjoys more access and influence than average parents, citizens and taxpayers. Yet, SchoolPower current year contributions consistently remain less than one percent of $55 million the public pays for schools.

Instead of gala “parent proms” where a small donor base lavishes the bulk of SchoolPower money, community wide fundraising would enable School Power to serve all families without undue influence or perception of purchased privilege. Finally, a two-year volunteer co-directors model, with a competitively retained and compensated CPA under fiduciary duty to ensure accountability, is a management strategy SchoolPower’s current President too readily dismissed.

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

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Opportunity for Laguna to lead the way and ban plastic straws

As we are all aware, single use straws (plastic) are the one of our biggest environmental offenders. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found them to be consistently in the top five discarded items found on our shores. More than 500 million are used and discarded daily in the US. Cities across the country are jumping on the “ban bandwagon” with Seattle and Malibu enacting bans. New York City introduced a bill on May 23 to do the same.

I happen to prefer drinking cold beverages with a straw. I made the switch and started carrying a glass straw in my purse. They’re readily available online, as are steel straws. 

I also took the opportunity to talk to Patrick, the genial owner of Kitchen in the Canyon, and asked if he would consider paper straws. He couldn’t say “yes!” fast enough. I urge all local restaurateurs to do the same thing. Personally, I’d be surprised if customers even have a preference for plastic. 

Sadly, just the other day, McDonalds’ shareholders rejected a proposal to ban plastic straws in the US (used at 37,000 outlets serving 68 million people daily), but other companies such as Alaska Airlines are making the switch.

We’ve banned plastic bags and Styrofoam containers. It’s time to say goodbye to the plastic straw. If you’re not convinced, do a Google search and take a look at some of the sea creatures that have been affected.

Leslie Cunningham

Laguna Beach

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Laguna is still a great place to live

The new colorful entrance to the Art-A-Fair by artist Okuda San Miguel and other new murals in Laguna Canyon are a welcome sight and hopefully the LBPD will soon find the vandals who sprayed black paint on the Sawdust Festival’s new mural, on their outer wall facing Laguna Canyon Road, created by Charmaine Olivia and Alec Demarco.

Refurbishing the huge, cement “wing” structure for a new restaurant on the Festival of Arts grounds is another wonderful and creative idea.

There’s no going back to the good ol’ days but the upcoming Laguna Beach Open Volleyball competition, Saturday and Sunday, June 2 and 3, the Brooks Street surf contest to be announced for a weekend after June 1 when the surf is good, the Bruce Hopping Memorial at Thalia Street beach with a “paddle out” at 4 p.m., Thursday, June 14, and Laguna’s PRIDE celebration starting with a party at the Main Street bar on Friday, June 1, a brunch at the Royal Hawaiian on Saturday June 2, the Boom Boom party later on the same day and a party at our International “gay” beach, West Street on Sunday, June 3 followed by a tea dance at the Boom, all add up to wonderful ways to enjoy the present and remember the past. 

New art, new ideas and an open mind make our town come alive.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

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