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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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One-cent tax is misleading

The city is deliberately misleading the public with the false concept of a one-cent tax. The city of Laguna Beach is asking for a one percent sales tax increase (from 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent). Saying one cent is at a minimum deceptive and can be misleading to a large majority of your readers. This proposal to support underground utility poles is a 13 percent sales tax increase and should be clearly reported and disclosed as such. 

Craig Brashier

Laguna Beach

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Bruce Stewart Hopping

August 5, 1921 – May 17, 2018

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Bruce Hopping (a.k.a. “Brucey”, “Mr. B”, et al) passed away peacefully just after midnight on Thursday, May 17. He is survived by his nephew and niece, Rick and Melissa Hopping of New Jersey. 

Bruce was a local legend. He could be seen every day walking down Thalia Street to the beach where he was a regular for the last six decades. His life story reads more like a novel than reality. He was born in 1921 to W. Frank and Edith Hopping in Saigon, then a part of French Indo-China. His father had lumber interests in the region, and the family was on their way to Borneo. Bruce spent his early years on the islands of the Pacific, where he developed a lifelong connection with the ocean. At 13, he was sent away to Culver Military Academy in Indiana. At 18, he enlisted in the Army and was stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas. Afterwards, he transferred to Shepphard Airfield Base in Texas, Westover Air Base in Massachusetts, El Toro in California, Kaneohe Naval Air Station in Hawaii, and Clark Air Base in the Philippines. 

In World War II, Bruce was a med-evacuation pilot who retrieved the wounded bodies of soldiers from various Pacific theaters and returned them to the base hospital for treatment. One day, he was sent up with a spotter in typhoon conditions to locate a downed C-47. Their Stinson plane was blown several miles off course, they ran out of gas, and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. For the next several weeks, they floated on a one-man raft in the ocean, enduring violent storms, tumultuous waves, and shark-infested waters, before eventually washing up on the Polillo Islands in the eastern Philippines. After a series of difficult setbacks, and with the help of locals in canoes, they eventually made it back safely to Manila, despite the presence of Japanese soldiers in the area. 

After World War II, Bruce taught at Bainbridge Air Base in Maryland. When the Korean War broke out a few years later, he was transferred to Barbers Point in Hawaii, and then put on a minesweeper ship bound for the Korean peninsula. After the subsequent deaths of his parents, Bruce took his inheritance and created the New Jersey Foundation in 1953. Over the next decade and a half, the New Jersey Foundation sponsored numerous important aqua-athletic events and commissioned multiple notable works of art. Inspired by visits he had made to Laguna Beach in 1942 while stationed at nearby El Toro, Bruce relocated to Laguna in 1960. 

In 1966, he met Dr. Ted Brunner, another Laguna Beach resident, and founder of the Classics Department at UC Irvine. Dr. Brunner introduced Bruce to the ancient Greek educational concept of Kalos Kagathos, which emphasizes physical distinction and nobility of mind. Inspired by the concept, Bruce renamed his foundation the Kalos Kagathos Foundation in 1968. 

For fifty years, Bruce and his foundation have been recognized internationally, nationally, at the state, county, and city levels for numerous contributions to water sports, arts, and the environment. His cultural exchanges for swim, surf, and water polo teams have included multiple events on every continent except Antarctica. He was an Emeritus patron of theISHOF, patron of the AAU, FINA, ISA, CIF, OCC Rowing, and a two-time Olympic swimming judge. He has been formally acknowledged by various officials, governors, ambassadors, diplomats, provincial administrators, tribal chiefs, warrior clans, and others. Since 1968, Bruce also worked tirelessly through the Kalos Kagathos foundation to ensure that Laguna Beach retains its historical legacy as an international destination promoting water sports, arts, and the environment. 

His local contributions are too numerous to mention, but include multiple proclamations by the city council and schoolboard. Very few Laguna Beach residents have left such a lasting indelible impression on this city, and nobody as much on Thalia Street Beach as Bruce Hopping. 

Please join us for a celebration of his life on Thursday, June 14 at 4 p.m. at Thalia Street Beach for a paddle-out and swim. Learn more about this legendary man and the Kalos Kagathos Foundation through the words of those who knew him best. And, in his own words, “Keep the faith!” 

To learn more about the Kalos Kagathos Foundation, or to help out with future projects, contact: Kalos Kagathos Foundation, PO Box 416, Laguna Beach, CA 92652 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Photo by Scott Brashier

A familiar figure on the beach and in the ocean


More tributes for Bruce Hopping

“He told me that story about getting shot down in greater detail. He swam for a considerable distance, miles, to get to that island. The other guy was injured and Bruce carried him along on his back. They landed on a barrier reef offshore, and had to walk across it, which shredded their feet. Then cross a lagoon which would be inhabited by hammerhead, among others, with those bloody feet. The locals took him in, and went to amazing lengths to help him. Might not all be accurate, but that’s how I recall it. That experience was a lifechanger for him; he fell in love with their culture and was affected by it for life. He shared this with me, and inspired me to go to Samoa for a year, which was similarly beneficial he helped arrange for it. And I have always been grateful for that. I was not the best citizen at the time, and he knew it would change me for the better. A true friend. 

“He blew [inherited wealth] off for a low key life in Laguna, mostly spent helping others live well. I am sure there are hundreds such stories.”

--Brad Petway


“Thalia Street was my beach and therefore [I knew] Bruce Hopping – what a great man, us kids would gather around on the beach and just listen to his stories, great information, and wisdom. RIP Bruce.”

      --Karl Weber

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Undergrounding is not worth the cost

Cosmetically pleasing as undergrounding may be, it is not worth the cost. Recently the City emerged from a bond issue that tapped permanent residents for the past 20 years on exactly the same issue: undergrounding.

An issue de jour promoting undergrounding, power lines cause fires, should be applied to a real problem here in Laguna: trees! Hiding under such excuses as ‘takings’ and aesthetics, trees are the source of genuine harm with exfoliation and view blocking. The trees most flagrantly errant are palms and eucalyptuses, neither of which being indigenous to Laguna Beach yet a gutless City Council refuses to undertake remedial programs such as that in Palos Verdes to mitigate their tree problem.

Insofar as undergrounding is concerned you need look no further than the experience of other Southern California cities in which vault fires, flooding and the effects of landslides and earthquakes have caused significant power disruptions. Undergrounding shall result in significant power disruption is simply a matter of time.

Finally, it is apparent that any such measure will probably pass since most voters are renters or ‘home owners’ for a nominal seven years with little or no vested interest in the community and to whom the cosmetic and superficial appeal. But the permanent residents get stuck with another couple of hundred dollars tacked onto their property taxes for the next 20 years.

John Kountz

Laguna Beach

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Park Plaza is tacky

No to the tacky looking Park Plaza. I have been a regular user of the Library for the last 60 years and now it is difficult to get to and find a place to park. In summer when traffic backs up from upper Park Avenue trying to get to Coast Highway, there is no way to turn into the library as cars are backed up beyond Glenneyre. On Coast Highway turning left onto Forest, or turning right onto Forest backs up, even when the lower Park section was open for traffic. Just what we do not need is losing parking spaces.

I agree with the sentiments expressed by Roger Butow.

Robert Leedom

Laguna Beach

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Park Plaza not a good plan

I vote no. It messes up traffic circulation. If you come from the north and try to get to the parking structure your only choice is Forest Ave, which is always congested, or to drive up to Legion and try to make a left turn. The light at Legion backs up traffic on Coast Hwy.  

Not a good plan. The park only seems to benefit one restaurant. I would rather see more benches if the city wants places for people to sit.

Larry Lewis

Laguna Beach

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