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Going, Going, Gone: Fence ordinance needs changing

On December 20, my downhill next-door neighbor erected posts for a six foot fence. I had no notice that this was going to be built. I immediately ran to the City Of Laguna Beach to verify that this neighbor had a building permit, and indeed they had one. I made a complaint, which was dismissed by the City. The City fence ordinance gives homeowners the right to build fences such as this as long as it is on the fence owner’s property. 

We are always friendly with our neighbors, and have cooperated to build neighbor-friendly fences. My uphill neighbors and I built a fence together, it’s four feet tall, and protects my neighbor’s ocean views. The Driftwood Estates tract is a hidden treasure of mid-century single story small homes; all the lots are terraced. Historically, no fence has ever been constructed that would obstruct anyone’s ocean view. The views on this street, Ocean Vista, have always been respected by all neighbors; we communicate with each other when trees or hedges need a trim.

Note: The owners next door have never moved into the house to this date, it has remained vacant. 

When on December 20, I asked these neighbors to please come over and view the impact that this six foot fence was going to make on my view, they declined, stating that they had a permit, and they needed their privacy. The lot line where this fence is built is uphill from their house by about 12 feet, but is level with my front yard, so they would have to look up and away from the ocean to even see my house.

I have since contacted more people at the City, nobody could help me, but it was suggested that I write to this newspaper.  

What really needs to happen is a change needs to be made to the Fence Ordinance when it affects a neighbor’s ocean view, and Design Review should be involved. I am volunteering to help start a committee to change the fence ordinance, please contact me if you’re interested in helping. I would not wish this to happen to anybody else. It seems like it’s the end of friendly neighborhoods in my town, which is the saddest part.

Melinda Zoller

Laguna Beach

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Marching is important, voting in the primary is more important

I have just returned home from the March for Our Lives in Santa Ana.  

It was an inspirational and emotional day. Hearing the personal stories of students, teachers and others who have been affected by gun violence made a huge impact on the thousands of us who were there in solidarity.

There were many statements and chants about the importance of voting, all of which was directed to the November election.

I think there was a missed opportunity in emphasizing the importance of the June 5 Primary election, particularly for Congressional districts. Due to the rules of the jungle primary, only the top two candidates from the June 5 election will go on to be placed on the ballot in November. With so many candidates running for each Congressional district, it is imperative that voters understand the importance of voting on June 5 so that the two candidates who win are the ones that we want to vote for in November. If we do not do our job June 5, the November election will once again be a missed opportunity for change.

Candidates: Get the June 5 message out. Voters: Do your homework and make your votes count on June 5.

Jada Robitaille

Laguna Beach

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From Main Beach to Washington and beyond

File this under “There are no coincidences.” What if today’s teenagers from Stoneman Douglas High School are the “thoughts and prayers” Republican members of Congress have been talking about since Columbine?

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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We live in dynamic times

I went to the March For Our Lives event at Main Beach park on Saturday, March 24th and realized again that things in America are and will change and that we are living in unusual times.

I believe the Women’s March in Washington D.C., the day after the inauguration, really announced the beginning of the end of the so-called Make America Great election. America can’t be great again without fairness to citizens of all races, religions, incomes, and sexual persuasions.

A recent poll showed that most Lagunatics want a new city council. Paying some city employees millions after retirement and bus and trolley drivers nothing isn’t fair. I believe in pensions, but as Elizabeth Pearson said years ago, our city government pensions are out of whack and will eventually bankrupt the city.

We desperately need affordable housing for seniors and others and the possibility of rent control for residential and commercial buildings. We need to stop cars going 70 and 80 miles a hour on Coast Hwy. We need to help our young people who are LGBT and make Laguna a more friendly place for gays. We need to promote small business all over town with new ideas and sidewalks friendly to walkers with more benches. 

A permanent Park Plaza downtown offering a cool place for all on hot days and other times and easier crossing zones on Coast Hwy. at Broadway, Ocean, Forest and Laguna Avenues. These four intersections like others need much bigger handicap curb ramps and should be criss-cross zones for people to cross from all four corners. The Laguna Avenue signal needs longer walking times, a.s.a.p.

We are living in a dynamic time in America and come November, America will get greater.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

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Larie Tales

March 26, 2018

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On March 26, 2018, Larie Tales, founder of Jeeps R Us, located on Laguna Canyon Road, passed away. Larie was born in Toronto, Canada. He was 76 years young.

The legacy of Jeeps R Us began in 1989 (nearly 30 years ago) with a very determined and talented man by the name of Larie Tales, a professional drag racer and body shop owner. Larie built the first jeep for his lovely wife Vicki and a star was born, so to speak. Jeeps R Us continues to be a brand with global recognition. 

Larie is survived by his beautiful wife Vicki, daughter Laurie, son Robert, sister Linda and his brothers Dave and Ed.

Larie’s motto from day one has always been: “If you can dream it, we can build it.” Jeeps R Us will live on. An inventory of Larie’s custom Jeep creations is still available on the lot in Laguna Canyon. 

If you would like to share stories about how Larie Tales touched your life, family and friends are planning a date for a tribute, to be announced, which will be held at the Jeeps R Us location in Laguna Canyon, Laguna Beach. 

An update will be posted on www.jeepsrus.comor the Instagram page at

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Location location location

[Park Plaza]. A solution in search of a problem.

Maybe the grain of positive idea initially but in a poorly thought out, hasty location: Making it a feel-good but irrelevant installation.

Stupid is as stupid does, here for 45 years it never ceases to amaze me how my City finds ways to blow big $$$ on what’s unimportant, minor tweaking while ignoring the larger good for residents: Commerce first, locals second.

(1) Most of the time those chairs/tables were empty. During the pilot/demo phase I went down there two to three times a week at different times of day/evening. Ditto. Many times no one there period, weekends a handful. So few go there on weekdays off-season, locals stayed away in droves, it’s success greatly exaggerated by proponents (many paid and/or on the Chamber/Visitor’s Bureau payroll). Special business interests want it.

(2) Two of the three NGO’s mentioned in support, Beautification Council and Transition Laguna (501c3 public benefit), have had their non-profit status suspended by the State Franchise Tax Board. Look them up. The Chamber is a special interest 501c4.

(3) As a land use/regulatory compliance advisor myself, I see no mention of CalTrans. Hey, City Council? Anything you do to PCH is in their domain, jurisdiction. That includes the obvious re-routing, re-circulation projections. The City paid a vendor to tell them what they wanted to hear/achieve, interesting that two-thirds of the letters were opposed, so they’re ignoring the will of the residents and blowing more of our $$$.

(4) Under CEQA, any potentially significant impacts must be considered, analyzed and mitigated. What LB is proposing will irrevocably, irreparably alter the downtown traffic circulation patterns, and there’s no proof as an improvement. It should have an independent, third-party enviro-analysis/review, not rubber-stamping. And that would include detailed feedback/input from Cal Trans expert engineers

(5) Losing those staging/parking spaces on PCH + parklet will put more stress on visitors trying to pick up/drop off or park family vehicles in proximity to the beach. That’s a Cal Coastal Commission issue because Beach Parking = Public Access. Also, the reduction of approximately 15+ spaces total must be balanced, made up somewhere else: Yet no such plan is included. It should go through the CCC to determine if the combo of parking space los + circulation alterations make Main Beach less attractive/usable/functional. Including amending not only the Downtown Specific Plan but amend our Local Coastal Plan.

(6) Downtown vendor trucks (food, Fed-Ex, OC Library, north side PCH merchants) will no longer have anywhere to park in the early a.m. hours as now. None is allowed in the alley behind The White House/Library, the meter cops chase them off or ticket them. So no staging plan in place or proposed. And look for beach visitors to fudge, use the Library lot, reducing OUR (locals) access to that facility.

(7) This is a poorly critiqued attempt that creates a cold breezeway that will not be utilized at least nine months out of the year while putting stress on other contiguous locations. During poor weather or off hours it eliminates a small yet highly valuable cut-through to assure/relieve circulation stress. And due to the wind pattern, Venturi Effect (air speeding up going through the compressed space), coupled with the car pollution, those who do sit there will be in the shadows bundled up, inhaling concentrated PCH generated particulates.

Our City Council listened to a very small yet vocal sample of residents, came up with something right out of Dumb & Dumber.

Must be an election year when fluff trumps substance.

Roger Butow

Laguna Beach

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Predictions: Garbage-In Garbage-Out

“Uber car in autonomous mode kills first pedestrian.” In gripping headlines the media remind us of the moral imperative in accepting autonomous cars. Days later details of the crash emerge albeit reluctantly from network news in Tempe Arizona. What the hype-slingers didn’t mention was the accident occurred at 22:00 nighttime when 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg, wearing dark clothing, was pushing her bicycle with no lights across a high-speed highway. A 48 second Youtube dash-cam video from Uber shows the impact. The Uber car was traveling 38 mph; at that speed her probability of impact survival was 47 percent. 

Back in Laguna, Agenda Bill 14 reads “Coast Highway intersection improvements feasibility study.” 

In 91 pages we are told the intersections at Broadway, Forest, Ocean Avenue and Laguna Avenue will be modified to improve traffic, pedestrian flow and reduce delays. Yet another consultant was retained to gather the traffic numbers and scramble them in a software model. Their winning recommendations propose removing the crosswalk at Ocean and adding two pedestrian scrambles at Forest Avenue and Laguna Avenue, makes you wanna join the City Cheerleaders! A crosswalk at Broadway will be left unchanged, something about scramble coupling with Forest Avenue and apparently too much of a good thing. The software model shows adding scrambles to intersections causes car traffic delays, so to compensate the consultants add car turn pockets at Legion and Broadway and remove parking and a pedestrian ramp at Main Beach. 

Software modeling is used to convince decision makers of accurate predictions. Our consultant uses plenty of it, SimTraffic, HCM and Synchro circa 1960 among them. A detailed look at the software shows what the color glossy does not. The consultant measures success with terms like Capacity Ratio, Queuing Penalty and Parking Occupancy – all are measures of counting cars not pedestrians, bicycles, buses, planes, trolleys, not even bullet trains…it’s cars.

The consultant does not conform to Caltrans’s own mandates for Complete Streets Policy. Residents and decision makers should remember the fundamental rule of software model predictions: if garbage-in then garbage-out. Relying on predictions from the right software model will improve traffic, the wrong fundamentals will ensure Laguna’s car gridlock.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

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Michael J. Fickling

October 16, 1952 – March 17, 2018


A brilliant star was extinguished from life all too soon when precious son, brother, friend of many left to join our Lord & Savior in heaven.  

Michael J. Fickling was born October 16, 1952 in Newport Beach, California, grew up and was schooled in Laguna Beach, and graduated from Laguna Beach High School. On Dec 14, 1990, Michael successfully completed Prescribed Program of Electronics Engineering Technology and [was] awarded Associate of Applied Science Degree from ITT Technical Institute.  

Michael will be remembered as an extraordinary musician who excelled in drumming, entertaining with his very own group, Second Helping, the Peter Dobson Band, popular Laguna Beach Art Festivals, and magically styling rhythms to please audiences from Southern California Night Clubs, to River 47 Church in Orange.  

Michael was especially grateful to have entertained the world over with The Darryl Mansfield Christian Band, which took him to a multitude of foreign countries.  Let’s also recall a second happiness in Laguna Beach when Dog Grooming inspired his unusual concept of washing family dogs together rather than separately thus giving pets a fun time together rather than an upsetting experience, typical of his appreciation for creatures big and small. Michael would not even swat a fly, rather ushered insects carefully out the door.

God took Michael lovingly home following a very sudden cerebral hemorrhage on March 17, 2018. God bless this sensitive, loving son, brother, friend. May dear Michael remain forever in Heaven, the place to be for which he long prayed.

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Bo Brackett

December, 1940 - March, 2018

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Bo Brackett, former longtime resident of Laguna Beach, passed away in March 2018 in Encinitas, California. He was 77.

Bo was born in Richmond, Virginia in December 1940 and moved to Los Angeles in 1948 when his father, Deke, accepted an assistant position coaching football at UCLA. Bo earned a Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a Master’s degree from USC.

While attending UCLA, Bo served as President of his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He also proudly served in the United States Army as a 2nd Lieutenant for four years during the Vietnam War era. Bo met his wife Nancy when she was a student at UCLA and they married in 1967. Bo worked as a probation officer in LA County for 10 years.

The Bracketts moved to Laguna Beach in 1973 where Bo sold real estate with Lingo Real Estate, then partnered with Ken Kelly in their own company, Coast and Country, and later with Prudential. Bo and Nancy had their daughter Catherine in 1984. They remained in Laguna Beach until retiring to Palm Desert in 2006 and eventually moving to San Diego in 2016 to be near Catherine and her family.

Bo was a loving, devoted husband and father who will be remembered for his outgoing and unforgettable personality. He made friends with people from all walks of life and loved to give people nicknames. If you knew him you probably have one. He adored his daughter and was an enthusiastic participant in all her activities from weekly volunteering at Top of the World school to AYSO soccer, Indian Princesses, and “handicapping” dance competitions. 

People will remember his pie and ice cream breakfasts, how he loved playing volleyball at Main Beach, and the special friendship he had with his mother in-law, Helen, who survives him at age 95. Bo is survived by Nancy, his wife of 50 and a half years, his sister Sallye, his daughter Catherine, son-in-law Travis, and his three precious grandsons – Deacon Jay, Wyatt James, and Austin Bo. The family resides in Carmel Valley in San Diego. He will be missed every day by family, friends, and his rescue dog Wiley. 

A military service will take place on April 5, 2018 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. 

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Remembering Dr. King

Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis. I was a sophomore at USC at the time and remember it like it was yesterday.  

Because I wanted to be a teacher, I volunteered as a lunchtime aide at an elementary school a few blocks from campus. Hours before the news broke about Dr. King’s death, I had escorted a rowdy boy into the principal’s office. When I reported for work the next day, that same boy was in the office. When he saw me, he walked up and said, “We’re going to get you today, whitey.”  

I didn’t think much of his threat until I heard students at the nearby junior high school had been rioting earlier in the day. If that wasn’t enough, I was asked to patrol the playground even though all the students were being kept indoors for safety purposes.  

So there I was, a 19-year-old Trojan all alone on an empty playground. I must have walked the perimeter a dozen times that day. To say I was scared is an understatement. I don’t know what I would have done had there been trouble, but I did my job nonetheless. I stayed on as a noon duty aide until June, but I never saw that troubled boy again. I always wondered what I would have said to him if I had.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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