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Letters to the Editor

Laguna Beach Republicans condemn vandalism to City Manager’s home

The Laguna Beach Republicans condemn in the strongest terms the vandalism that was done to our City Manager’s home (last week). There is now an ongoing investigation by the Laguna Beach Police Department to identify the culprit(s). We look forward to whomever is responsible being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This cannot stand.

Emil Monda, President

Laguna Beach Republicans

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Guest Letter

Rick Reiff

Editor at Large

Orange County Business Journal

Remembering to remember the past

Guest letter Rick Reiff rock with plaque

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Photo by Rick Reiff

Plague honoring Thomas A. Cummings is mostly hidden and obscure these days under a growing lemonade berry bush

(The following is an open letter to the OC Parks and Laguna Beach County Water District.)

I assume Laguna Beach never intended Thomas A. Cummings to be forgotten. Not when he was honored with an impressive boulder-mounted bronze plaque at the trailhead of the Laguna Beach Wilderness Park on October 8, 2000.

Cummings was long gone by then, but he’d been a big deal back in the day. In 1927, he became newly incorporated Laguna Beach’s first mayor, a job he held on and off through 1942. He was a founding director of the water district, serving it from 1925 until 1944, most of the time as president, and earning, as the plaque attests, the sobriquet “Father of the District.” He’s the most prominent official in photos of the 1926 Coast Highway dedication, bespectacled and in a three-piece suit, standing between Hollywood royalty Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. 

Guest letter Rick Reiff old group

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Courtesy of Laguna Beach Historical Society

Thomas Cummings (with glasses) stands between Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford (in white)

All of which is to say, it’s a shame that the thousands of hikers who pass his plaque each year have no idea he even existed. That’s because since that 2000 park dedication, a lemonade berry bush has grown up next to the boulder, almost completely blocking it from view. You have to stray from the walking path to discover the plaque with its stunning coastal backdrop. 

Now, far be it from me to suggest the district cut down a lovely shrub, although if I had to choose between it and old Cummings’ memory…well, never mind.

But here’s an idea. To be honest, not my idea, but the brainchild of my neighbor, fellow walker and another former Laguna mayor, Jane Egly, who joins me in this bipartisan request:

Move the boulder! Surely the water and/or park district has the wherewithal to relocate the rock a mere few feet to an unencumbered roadside spot. Placing the plaque a little closer to the nearby “dos and don’ts” signposts might even encourage more visitors to read them.

History respected, nature preserved, a trailhead enhanced. A win-win-win. I’m guessing Mr. Cummings would approve. 

Rick Reiff is Editor at Large of the Orange County Business Journal and lives in north Laguna Beach.

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Michael John Mammone

June 5, 1964 – February 1, 2023

Obituary Michael John Mammone

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Courtesy of the Providence Mission Hospital

Michael John Mammone

It is with the utmost sadness that we announce the loss of Dr. Michael John Mammone on February 1st. His family as well as the entire community are devastated by the tragic event that took place.

Michael was a loving husband and father who absolutely adored his wife and family. At home he was known for his infectious joyful energy and his silly jokes. He would often bring the family together to enjoy his homemade pizzas, perfected guacamole recipes and signature cocktails.

Michael was passionate about scuba diving, surfing with his children and snorkeling. Although he loved exploring his local beaches, he traveled the world in pursuit of beautiful places and adventures that he could share with his family. Some of his favorite stories to tell were of his volunteering in Papua New Guinea, bathing elephants in Thailand, diving in Belize, safaris in South Africa and historic sightseeing in Italy.

Michael always had a gift for taking care of others. He took a job as a lifeguard with Los Angeles County when he was 18 while he pursued a bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego and his medical degree from USC. He completed his residency at Loma Linda Medical Center with an emphasis on Emergency Medicine. In 1996, Michael was Medical Board Certified and accepted a position at San Antonio Regional Hospital in Upland, Calif., where he worked for the next 20 years.

Outside of the hospital, he served as the Medical Director for the Rancho Cucamonga Fire Department from 2002-2008. Michael and Julie loved visiting Laguna Beach ever since the start of their relationship in 1992, and in 2010 he accepted a position at Providence Mission Hospital, Laguna Beach. 

Michael was known by his colleagues and patients to be a doctor that humbly took the time to listen to and care for each individual and their needs.

Michael’s family will forever cherish the beautiful memories they share with him and will continue to celebrate and honor his wonderful life and legacy.

Please visit for further details.

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Letters to the Editor

Caution is urged when crossing busy traffic

I used to live here and feel Laguna is being filled with many unaccountable people, many lawsuits happening due to blame! 

I have very sad feelings for the woman crossing the highway, the fact it could have easily been avoided. I read in the article that she was NOT in a crosswalk which is very unfortunate; sadly, this is exactly where she should have crossed and maybe she would be alive today and not so many lives would have been affected. It seems we all need to be more accountable for our actions and think of safety for ourselves first. Getting to the other side of a busy highway is not to be taken lightly and requires utilizing every safety measure available to us i.e., crosswalk, under or over pass. 

Be very cautious of fast-moving vehicles, they will kill you!

Stay Alert, Stay Accountable, Think Safety First!

Daiva Friedrich


I blame Caltrans for the deaths on Coast Highway

Shame, shame on Caltrans. Two Laguna Beach pedestrians dead in 2023 so far. How many more pedestrians need to be killed before the speed limit is dropped to 30 miles or less while traveling through Laguna? 

30 means 35 to most California drivers and running orange lights means “Speed Up” – it’s insane! 

If I had a Caltrans telephone number, I would call their department. Perhaps Stu News will print an address for the public. I’m sure there are hundreds as outraged as I am!

Lucetta Kallis 

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Sadness hits the community following loss of doctor in alleged murder

I read with great sadness about the alleged murder of Dr. Michael Mammone a few days ago while he was riding his bike on Pacific Coast Highway. I had the occasion to be his patient in the ER of Mission Hospital a year and a half ago. Happily, there were no long-term consequences of this visit. But it was scary at the time, and Dr. Mammone could not have been more thorough, more compassionate and more reassuring. What a terrible loss not only for his family, but also for our community.

Glenna Matthews

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Council decision more than a bump in the road for many Laguna Beach residents

If a speed hump can get approved on the only road entering a box canyon, on a critical evacuation route, where more than 500 residents live, then it can be approved just about anywhere in Laguna Beach.

Case in point, the city manager chose to add a request for a speed hump on the 800 block of Bluebird Canyon Drive to the January 24th City Council agenda. This item had been raised in the past and denied when all facts became understood. 

This time, residents in the impacted neighborhood were not given notice until days before the meeting and many never saw the notice. The two vociferous neighbors wanting the hump were informed weeks earlier by a city councilmember who was championing the idea. They took that advantage and lobbied hard to our city councilmembers while the other side didn’t even know it was up for discussion.

Unfortunately for the 500 plus impacted residents whose voices were not heard, it worked. 

Also alarming was the fact city councilmembers disregarded comments from the Fire Chief, Police Sergeant, PTC and Public Works who were not supportive of adding any speed impediment to this particular road. The city’s own speed hump guidelines were also largely ignored.

As it stands now, residents in the impacted area feel the process was very unfair and plan to fight the installation as this decision would impact their lives in the event of an emergency.

Craig McKessar 

Laguna Beach

Laguna supports Ukraine

It’s hard to believe Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine began a year ago this month. Since then, millions of Ukrainians have left their homeland, hundreds of thousands have been wounded or killed and yet, despite all their military disadvantages, Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces have been relentless in their fight for freedom. 

Here in Laguna, many people quickly stepped up last year to voice their opposition to the war in Ukraine. First, there was a gathering adjacent to city hall. Second, there was a vigil on Main Beach. And third, there was a fundraiser at the museum. Each event had an impact on friends and neighbors in town.         

Now that the war is heading into the second year, the issue is this: How much longer will the fighting last? No one really knows, but this much is clear: Americans coast to coast support Ukraine’s desire for peace and democracy. I’m glad so many people in Laguna agree.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

What is the value of the ocean?

Much of the recent City Council session last Saturday was focused on financial considerations. What then is the value of the ocean to Laguna’s economy, ecology and quality of life?

One metric we found from real estate experts is the value of the Greenbelt. A nature reserve is determined to add as much as 19% to a property’s value and this benefit extends to the neighborhood and city. 

Using Surfonomics: Surfrider CEO Dr. Chad Nelsen researched, “What’s the Value of a Wave?” and pioneered the use of economics to determine the value of surf spots to their coastal economies. What is the value of Laguna’s Bluebelt and Marine Protected Areas to Laguna Beach’s economy? Is there a metric for the value added by being a coastal community? Does the ocean double the value of a property?

In addressing climate change, Laguna as a coastal city has a special role in recognizing the value of the local ocean to mitigate human-generated climate impacts. The ocean generates 50% of the oxygen we breathe while absorbing 25% of atmospheric CO2.

The ocean can make or break a climate plan. If we continue to ignore the ocean’s key role in absorbing atmospheric carbon, Laguna will miss our unique opportunity to make a meaningful difference.

What can be done? Let’s stop pretending our secondary sewage discharges amounting to 1/2 billion gallons annually just 1 1/2 miles offshore are benign and magically just “goes away.” Nothing goes away in nature.

Instead of dumping contaminates into the ocean, other communities are harvesting the methane and even hydrogen fuel from wastewater. Consider, for example, as much as 1/2 of Laguna’s drinking water is generated from wastewater at the Orange County Sanitation and Water Districts in Fountain Valley using methane from biosolids to power fuel cells filtering wastewater for reuse since 2012. The facility has filtered wastewater and produced more than 400 trillion gallons of “new water” supplying 60% of Laguna’s potable water otherwise destined for ocean discharge (see

In Australia, solar power harvests hydrogen from wastewater and is stored for hydrogen fuel cells.

Laguna should be leading and not be the last to adopt steps to repurpose our wasted wastewater fouling ocean waters – the lungs of our community and source of our wealth. But we seem to lack the education, wisdom and commitment to move ahead as we choose to conduct business as usual.

So, why does Laguna remain the only South County city without hi-purity recycled water from wastewater for wildfire prevention and suppression? Why do we refuse to implement emerging know-how and technology to protect invaluable coastal waters and cherished marine life habitats?

Who will lead and get the job done? How can those of us who love the ocean help?

Mike Beanan

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

New tone at council meeting was appreciated; now we just need a proper leadership rotation and things will be fine

It was a pleasure to watch the first full meeting of the 2023 City Council on Jan. 10th where speakers were treated respectfully and the council had congenial discussions at the dais. 

For the past four years what was allowed to take place at each City Council meeting was a failure of leadership and that lack of leadership falls to the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem. 

Many of us will not easily forget the part they both played in not maintaining civility and sadly this was perpetuated by rotating the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem positions between them for years and not allowing for the long-standing council tradition of rotating those positions through the council. 

What we were put through during those four years is painful to remember.  It’s especially painful for me because I was the target just about every time I spoke. It was painful for Village Laguna, the nonprofit civic organization whose main mission is to Preserve and Protect the Village Atmosphere and, without a doubt, it was painful to the residents of LB. We all endured the abuse for the last four years regardless of if you were the target or not. The Mayor’s and Mayor Pro Tem’s responsibility should have been to protect citizens from the perpetrator instead of protecting the perpetrator. 

It’s evident that during these years, the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem had little comprehension of what it took to return to council meeting after meeting after being verbally abused time again and knowing to expect more of the same, but nonetheless some stood up to speak their truth in spite of the abuse. But sadly, many did not.

Hopefully this chapter is behind us now and, hopefully, come next December the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem will give up their tight grip on the council and allow the regular rotation to resume. 

Johanna Felder

Laguna Beach

Add some color to your wardrobe to be more a part of our culture and history

I am always surprised to see so many people dressed in black, especially men in black T-shirts, when I’m out in town. Black is beautiful, but I thought it was a popular evening color.

Years ago, the owner of the Riviera hotel told his fellow Rotarians and others that he thought business owners and workers could wear colorful Hawaiian and other “beachy” friendly clothes because he said we are a beach town, famous for our wonderful beaches. After all, art is a big part of our culture with dozens of galleries, three summer festivals and a pageant, to say the least.

The next time you reach into the closet, pick something colorful and you too can be part of our culture and history. 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Years of parking solution neglect is going to take creative solutions – here are a couple

I’ve been a resident of the City of Laguna Beach since 1988, almost as long as the city has been addressing parking issues. Unfortunately, parking problems in our town have had decades to compound, so the possible solutions are just as layered and varied. In pursuing the ideal solution, I hope we consider all the possibilities to increase parking availability and maximize opportunities for shared spaces in the community. 

A problem like this requires creative thinking and innovative problem-solving that leaves room for multiple perspectives. I want to offer two possible solutions that would increase the available parking spaces in the city to provide an example of the lateral thinking that I hope our city and its residents engage in when considering the realm of possibilities for parking solutions.

This past December, the City of Laguna Beach closed escrow on the St. Catherine of Siena school property located on Coast Highway, with programming for its use still to be determined. Less than five miles from the property are the Laguna Beach Unified School District’s current administrative offices (LBUSD), scheduled for renovation in the coming years. In one possible scenario, the St. Catherine of Siena school property could serve as a host for the district administrative offices to avoid disruption of services during the renovation while exploring the possibility of a long-term partnership that could free up the use of the existing district office property as additional parking space. This would maintain the original educational mission of the St. Catherine’s property and avoids building a parking structure at high costs to the city.

On another note, just a short distance from the school district offices sits the Orange County Library Laguna Beach Branch. An example of a second possible scenario can be found up north where there exists a unique partnership between San Jose State University and the City of San Jose that has resulted in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, the first library in the United States to integrate the services and collections of a major university and a public library system. We can consider such a partnership between LBUSD and the City of Laguna Beach. A joint powers agreement on the property where the school district administrative offices currently sit could add a library in the renovation, creating a shared space with resources dedicated to the community’s lifelong learning. That would free up the property currently used for the library on Glenneyre Street for additional parking spaces. 

These are two possibilities that focus on creating additional parking spaces. Alternatively, the community could explore ways to minimize the use of motor vehicles, such as a focus on modifications that would make certain areas more bicycle friendly. Further dialogue and consideration would introduce additional opportunities for creative land use that expand community resources, minimize fiscal impact and avoid building a multi-level parking structure that will obstruct views. 

Jim Kelly

Laguna Beach

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In Memory of Ronald R. Whitacre

In Memory of Ronald Whitacre portrait

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Photo by Kathryn Slattery

Ronald R. Whitacre on his 81st birthday

Please join the Celebration of Life for Ron Whitacre. Featuring a retrospective art show, it is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 29 from 2-5 p.m. at 31541 Eagle Rock Way, Laguna Beach.

The service is open to all: family, friends, their guests and all art lovers. Enjoy photos of Ron’s life and art, including an exhibit of the art legacy he left behind.

Guests are free to come and go as they please between 2 and 5 p.m.

Come share memories on the open mic from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Please RSVP by January 25 to Katie Slattery by text to 949.637.9325, or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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