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Laguna Beach

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What happened to being good stewards of the beach?

Being raised on Pearl/Agate Street Beach. I looked up to the older locals almost like brothers. They were a tough group of surfers – and they taught me to respect the beach and ocean. Which, in a nutshell, meant not only did you not litter, but heaven forbid you walked past a piece of litter without picking it up. These guys were willing to fight every day for the beach they loved. There was a pecking order to every set of locals on every beach. That was the culture I grew up in.

Part of being a local meant being a good steward of the beach. Caring for it. Respecting it. Loving the beach.

I would not consider the Agate Street Beach staircase renovation project being an example of good stewardship of the beach. This project was started nearly four months ago. On a good day, there are maybe two or three guys working on it for one or two days a week, and that’s being generous. There is a huge rusty ramp now descending down from the cliff and into the water at high tide. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by James Pribram

Agate Beach

Workers have dumped approximately 37 Lego cement blocks onto the beach, which have already toppled over twice. In their words, “[They] have been put there to keep the ocean out.” 

Haven’t we learned by now that it is simple impossible to keep the ocean out?!

With two major swells forecast for this week and tides nearly reaching into the six-foot range, we (the locals who know the power of the ocean and tides) are extremely worried that all of these construction tools will end up in the ocean and be lost out there for good. This project is a nightmare waiting to happen and quite honestly, it looks as if it has been abandoned. 

In case anyone doesn’t remember, Laguna Beach is a Marine Reserve. It is an absolute no-take zone. No fishing, no nada. You are not even supposed to remove dead seaweed from its natural habitat – the beach. How in the world is such a mismanaged project happening like this in Laguna Beach?

In a town that is supposed to be so environmentally conscious? 

It’s one thing to be picking up metal stakes out of the tide pools and nails with pink ribbons off of the beach. But who is going to pick up the concrete blocks, and the rusty ramp if it goes into the ocean?

What if someone is seriously injured or worse?

When I raised this issue, I wasn’t looking for a fight with the City or the Coastal Commission. In fact, the ECO-Warrior Foundation is a partner of the Coastal Commission and the Adopt-A-Beach program.

The first phone call I made was to the code enforcement officer at the Coastal Commission, who asked me to document everything and send it to him in an email

Which I did. He never replied back regarding the email and didn’t return subsequent phone calls.

The same day I sent a similar email to the mayor. No reply. Then I called her and left a voicemail. She never returned my call.

So then I called the city manager and left a voicemail. No returned call. However I did get a call from Henry Hovakkimian, Assistant Construction Manager, because of my call to the City Manager. 

The only City employee who actually took my call was the chief lifeguard.

I went through the proper channels. Yet no one bothered to get back to me to explain what was going on.

At least someone came and picked up the rusty drills that they left discarded there. 

But is this good stewardship of the beach? Not a chance.

James Pribram

Founder, ECO-Warriors

Laguna Beach

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Agate Street stairs are similar to the Woods Cove disaster – but worse

Thank you, thank you to James Pribram for pointing out the total disaster at Agate Street steps.

This is similar to the Woods Cove stairs disaster but worse.  Does the City even interview the construction company on their experience with the ocean or just take the lowest bid, not considering what the consequences will be?

Obviously this company did not consider tides, surf and sand movement and without experience building on the ocean should not have been hired to do this job. The giant blocks and metal runway are a hazard and liability to the public.

My husband and I have been picking large metal rods out of the ocean there that have been left by the company when they first put up a ridiculous green cloth construction fence that lasted about two days.

The City should have learned its lesson from the Woods Cove steps, which had a similar problem – the company hired had no clue how to build on the oceanfront.

Julie Ross

Laguna Beach

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50 years ago today – a watershed year

If you are at the older end of the baby boomer generation like I am, then you probably remember 1968 as a watershed year in American history. It was the pivotal year in which the public’s overall attitude quickly shifted from optimism to confusion. After struggling to make sense of the battle for Hue in Vietnam early in the year and listening to the Beatles’ “White Album” months later, the gap between my parents’ WWII generation and my own was widening by the day. Despite the fact that half a century has elapsed, we still seem to be struggling with many of the same issues today. For example:

Fifty years ago today, North Korea captured the Navy intelligence ship USS Pueblo. The ship was monitoring North Korea from the Tsushima Strait, an ocean channel dividing Korea and Japan. The Navy insisted its ship was operating in international waters, but North Korea said the Pueblo had entered its territory, and dispatched warships and aircraft to intercept it. 

Accounts differ on both sides as to what really happened. Eventually, there was an exchange of gunfire and one American was killed. The North Korean military boarded the Pueblo, captured its crew and brought the ship to port. The Pueblo’s 82 surviving crewmembers reported they were routinely tortured and starved while in captivity. It took 11 months to resolve the incident but set the stage for continued tensions between the two nations. Today, as it continues to develop its nuclear capabilities, the U.S. considers North Korea one of its most challenging problems.

Time marches on is a constant in our lives. Every so often, it pays to look back. I think the Pueblo incident is one of those times.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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Supporters’ party is outrageous ploy

I just received a copy email of what the Dornins are planning at the Coast Inn to get letters of approval for the project. Party at the Boom Boom Room. Let us know you’re coming, sign up have some food, drinks? and music to put you in the mood for us to tell you what our plans are and support us.

This is an outrageous ploy by an applicant for a project coming before you this month. They should be held accountable at the CC meeting. I hope you look at this as subterfuge and that the support letters they say they’re hoping to get are from people that actually live in Laguna Beach. If they don’t they should be discounted entirely.

I am not against preserving the Coast Inn and bringing back its historic character, it needs some loving care. But, the plans as they exist now, will leave nothing but a shell of what the Coast Inn was and the neighborhoods surrounding it will be the sacrifice.

Darrylin and Tom Girvin

Laguna Beach

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The Coast Inn should be a local gem, and it can be

As a small business owner and resident in the neighborhood of the Coast Inn, I am deeply frustrated by the opposition that this project has faced since it was announced.

I have carefully reviewed the documentation related to the project, and it is clear that the developer has longstanding entitlements to renovate the property as has been proposed.

The opposition that the project is facing is coming from a small but vocal group of people who are concerned about the impact the project will have on the surrounding neighborhood.  

The fact that the hotel and liquor store existed long before most people lived in the neighborhood doesn’t seem to register with the critics.

The argument that there’s not enough parking doesn’t hold up when one considers that ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft have forever changed parking requirements.

And finally, one only has to take a walk from Bluebird to downtown on Coast Highway to see the number of vacant storefronts to understand that our town is facing tremendous challenges as the economy is going through transformational change.

The Coast Inn should be a local gem, and we have a group willing and able to make it happen.

To be clear, a revitalized Coast Inn will be good for our business—more visitors, more foot traffic, more vibrancy in our neighborhood.

But the issue goes far beyond what it means for one business.

At the heart of this is whether or not the City of Laguna Beach will adopt a progressive and business friendly position, encourage sensible development, and acknowledge and embrace a rapidly changing marketplace in order to ensure the health and unique character of our special town.

If it is going to be business as usual, I fear that we will simply become a nice place to live for those who can afford it, and the Laguna Beach most of us know and love will be gone forever 

Don Meek

Co-Founder, The Soul Project

Laguna Beach

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Coast Inn developer opposes rooftop decks

The owner/developer of the Coast Inn has been dismissive of the concerns of the many neighbors surrounding his development, yet he is well aware of the issues they face, should his project be approved.  

In September 2012 and January 2013, Chris Dornin addressed Planning Commission and City Council with statements in opposition to the rooftop deck at Mozambique. The issues that he presented five years ago are the exact issues that the neighbors around his proposed Coast Inn rooftop deck will be presenting to City Council at Tuesday’s hearing: parking in front of homes, traffic, noise, view, trash, privacy, etc.  

What follows are exact excerpts from his statements which demonstrate that he is well aware that his project will negatively impact the surrounding neighborhoods.  (Video of the full statements is available on the Laguna Beach City website.)

Chris Dornin Statement Sept 12, 2012, Planning Commission Meeting:

“…There’s literally no parking in front of our house during the evenings...”

“…They may have their noise studies but you need to remember this is well above where Coast Highway is and it flows right up hill and it flows right into our bedrooms...”

“…The idea that it’s not going to intensify the traffic is completely silly.  Why spend all this money if you are not going to increase business and increase traffic flow...” 

“…This is going to add significant money to the restaurant in revenue if they are able to do this and it’s going to have detrimental impact to the values in our neighborhood and views like myself.  It is a nightclub.  They charge.  We hear it.  It’s loud.  It’s a privacy, noise and view issue.”

Chris Dornin Statement Jan 15, 2013, Appeal to City Council: “Wear hats”

“…Umbrellas do not provide an ocean view, they are a convenience for the customers. The customers can wear hats. If it’s too sunny, wear hats. They don’t need umbrellas...” 

“…We shouldn’t all sacrifice and the owner make no compromises for any of us and all to the detriment of our home values.  It’s going to have a massive detrimental impact to our home...” 

Terry Meurer

Laguna Beach

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Impact of the homeless on home values needs to be addressed by panel

Decades ago I was fortunate enough to be present at a City Council meeting in which representatives of the American Association of University Women made an impassioned presentation advocating the city become a sanctuary city.  The City Council succumbed and voila: Laguna Beach became a sanctuary city.

Thereupon a thin stream of indigents trickled in and took root. They became prominent fixtures at the entrance of the Library on Glenneyre. They leisurely occupied nooks along Ocean Avenue and promenaded along the beach.

Wanting to support these folks and their illegal brethren a hiring center was constructed and manned in the Canyon. Assorted shelters were made available.  The City gave out free bus passes (a continuing program) and constructed a shelter for these unfortunates. Food was made available.

I recall an evening in a Mexican restaurant in which a curiously dressed young lady was shown a table whereupon she ordered and consumed a full meal, stood up and left without paying. The owner simply shrugged his shoulders and smiled; they need help. The Mexican restaurant went out of business.

Now, with the removal of those now occupying the banks of the Santa Ana River, I suspect our village will rise to the task and welcome these poor, misunderstood minions.

Thus, drawn to the natural beauty of the Canyon, one might imagine a quaint hobo jungle developing from lack of space in our Friendship Shelter.

Being an intellectual community, we welcome discussions, and find ourselves invited to spend an enlightened moment with experts on homelessness (for $20). I wonder if the topics these folks cover include the impact on home values as grocery carts stacked high with dross and over stuffed back packs line our back alleys and signs suggesting ‘Work for Food’ become commonplace.

Just a thought, mind you.

John Kountz

Laguna Beach

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Where’s Jason?

We miss Jason Feddy’s banter on his ‘Morning Scramble’ show on KX93.5. What he brings musically both with his talent and knowledge are unique and an asset to our local station. We especially enjoyed his quizzes and police blotter songs. We would like to urge Tyler Russell and the station’s board of directors to please bring him back, even if only on a limited basis! KX93.5 is not the same without him!

Ellen and Roger Kempler

Laguna Beach

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Obituary

Paul Barnard

August 12, 1938 – November 27, 2017

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Paul inserts himself into the void at Le Corbusier’s Notre Dam du Haut in Ronchamp, France

Gentleman, surfer, brilliant architect, master of color – Paul Barnard was all of these, and now he’s gone, slipping away to Mexico and beyond. 

Born in Bailieboro, Ontario, Canada on August 12, 1938, Paul was creative from a young age, preferring the arts to labor on the family farm in Ontario. Attracted to the energy of Toronto, Paul attended the University of Toronto where he received a Bachelor of Architecture. After working and traveling throughout Europe, Paul moved to Boston and received his Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard University in 1967. He married Susan Gleave in 1966 in England and settled in Toronto where their daughter Josey was born in 1968. At the ripe age (for an architect) of 30, Paul designed his parent’s cottage at Batchewana Bay, Ontario. After becoming a partner at WZMH Architects in the 1974, he oversaw the design of projects across the US and Asia. 

To escape the cold winters of the east coast, Paul moved from Canada to Laguna in 1980 to practice architecture in California. Here he married Susan Whitin and had his second child, Seth, in 1987. After a career working on large scale hotels and office buildings, Paul opened up his own studio in Laguna to focus on other building typologies. The Laguna Art Museum is one of his several creative renovations in town. 

An avid hiker and outdoorsman, he and family frequented wild locales across the globe to camp, hike and learn. He always believed one learned more traveling than in school. Fascinated by the ancient cities of South and Central America, he travelled to and studied the urban design practices of Incan, Mayan and Aztecan cultures. Paul’s passion for color drove him to scour Europe in search of obscure natural pigments unavailable in the US. Using color as a design tool, he adorned his designs with these unique pigments. He had an insatiable curiosity.

While growing up on the family farm in Ontario, Paul loved to ride horses. In Laguna, he fulfilled that passion with “Streetwise”, his retired racing horse stabled at Irvine Coast Stables -- on land that is now Crystal Cove. Around town, you could catch Paul on his way to surf San O with his buddies, in a heated conversation at Zinc cafe, or at the dog park with his trusty dogs. 

After living in Laguna for almost 40 years, Paul expatriated to his house in Sayulita, Mexico for a change of scenery and vibes. Shortly after moving to Sayulita, he fulfilled a lifelong dream to live in the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende. 

On November 27, 2017, Paul died peacefully in the cacti-peppered highlands of Central Mexico amongst a loving community of friends and caregivers. His creative, friendly and quirky spirit lives on through the family and friends that love him.

Paul's memorial will be held on Saturday, February 3 at the Laguna Art Museum from 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.

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Jon Madison will be missed

The news that Jon Madison has sold his business and moved out of Laguna was not a shock, but the swiftness came as a surprise.  Jon will be missed.  While I wish the new owners nothing but the best, it’s hard to imagine Madison Square without Jon, a little like Oz without the wizard. Jon’s café was a place where every person and every dog felt welcome and special.  To borrow from Fanny Flagg’s Fried Green Tomatoes, “It was never more than just a knock about place, but now that I look back on it, when that café closed the heart of the town just stopped beating. It’s funny how a little place like this brought so many people together.”

Jon Stordahl

Laguna Beach

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