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Letters to the Editor

Beware of the Axe of Measure Q

“The forest was shrinking, but the trees kept voting for the Axe, for the Axe was clever and convinced the Trees that because his handle was made of wood, he was one of them.” –Turkish proverb. 

In this election season, as the dirt and the dust swirl, and the mistruths and half-truths continue to pollinate voters’ minds, I encourage every Laguna resident to actually look for themselves at the details and reject Measure Q as an unnecessary and burdensome measure that is a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist. 

Voting for the Axe of Measure Q will result in the strangulation of our town, blight and more vacancies and hacks away at property rights. The existing checks and balances in the current system of our local government are more than sufficient to keep over-development in check, as it has for decades in Laguna. The unintended consequences of Measure Q are clearly seen if voters look at the Laguna Beach Ballot Initiative Fiscal Impact Analysis, page 16, Figure 3.4, which you can find here

These simple projects would have fallen subject to the Axe of Measure Q, requiring a formal vote in an election, and hundreds of thousands of dollars: (1) Ralphs – outdoor display; (2) Royal Hawaiian – outdoor dining; (3) The Pottery Place – additions; (4) White House remodel; (5) Harmony Tea Bar – converting retail to cafe; (5) Slice and Z Pizza – new outdoor dining areas. 

Is that what we want? I know reading the actual language of ballot initiatives is not fun, but if you are going to vote, please get informed. Two city council candidates support the Village Laguna Axe of Measure Q – Jerome Pudwill and Ruben Flores. 

Vote accordingly.

Jennifer Welsh Zeiter 

Laguna Beach

Candidate Louis Weil’s takes on Measures R & S

As a resident of Laguna Beach, I’m urging my Laguna Beach friends and neighbors to VOTE NO on Measures R and S in the upcoming election on November 8th.

The reason I feel so strongly about these measures? Both take aim at the hospitality sector here in Laguna Beach. We all know and love these properties; we visit for staycations, when friends or family are in town, for spa appointments, or when we want to have a fantastic meal out. When they succeed, Laguna succeeds; when they fail, Laguna’s revenues fall, which is bad for all residents.

As I state in my campaign for City Council, I am focused on planning ahead, with a balanced approach that puts residents first without kneecapping small businesses. That’s why I am so strongly against Measures Q, R and S. As the father of two young sons, I care about the future of Laguna Beach for the next few generations.

Measure R would create prohibitive regulations for hotels and resorts simply trying to perform regular and routine maintenance to their properties, which will have a significant negative impact on the beauty and visual appeal of our cherished city. If this Measure R passes, expect to find yourself driving down Coast Highway past one dilapidated hotel building after another. It would be a shame and our property values will certainly decrease as a result. 

This measure was unanimously voted against by our City Council. We as residents should vote No on Measure R so our local hotels and resorts can be maintained in great condition. 

Measure S targets the workplace well-being for our friends, neighbors and family members who work in our hotels and resorts. This measure was already voted against by the majority of our City Council. This union is now trying to mislead the local voters.

Let me be clear: This is not an employee initiative. Laguna Beach hospitality workers would have to pay more than $1,000 a year in dues and their monthly pay would be less than what they make today. In addition, Laguna Beach hospitality employees already have the personal safety alarms required in the measure and they don’t need more restrictions on voluntary overtime. We must vote No on Measure S for the sake of all local hospitality employees.

These measures represent the first time in the history of our community that an outside group has tried to mislead voters to change how we in Laguna live and do business. It’s just plain wrong and we can’t let them do it.

We are proud and protective of our wonderful quality of life, the well-being of our fellow residents and the beauty of our city. We must prioritize the well-being of our friends and neighbors that work in our local hospitality industry. Please join me in voting NO on Measures R and S.

Louis Weil

Laguna Beach 

A look at which council candidates make sense and which ones don’t

In this year’s city council election, residents of Laguna Beach have seven candidates to choose from to fill three open seats. 

Running for reelection are two incumbents. One is the mayor, who in the last year has proven she is unable to hold a council meeting without it turning into a circus of incivility. 

The cause of the incivility is the other incumbent running who feels it’s his right to insult and bully all those who disagree with him, including fellow councilmembers.

Then, there is the young man who has lived in Laguna all his 24 years but most of those years he was a schoolchild and for some he was away at college. He wasn’t born yet when we had the Walk the Canyon or the 1993 Wildfire. He lacks personal knowledge of much of Laguna Beach’s recent history or its politics. Also, let us not forget there is the scientific fact that young male brains don’t mature until they are at least 26 years old. 

Next, there is the real estate agent and stay-at-home dad and who, in (Michael) Ray’s words, “has been pushed aside” by the engaging young boy.

Next, we have Village Laguna’s two endorsed candidates, Mark Orgill and Jerome Pudwill. They are both mature longtime residents with families and responsible careers. They both have experience and common sense that the city has been lacking and are dedicated to preserving Laguna’s charm and unique environment. 

And last, but not least, is the longtime resident, businessman and landscape architect who has spoken at many city council meetings about the care and preservation of Laguna’s trees and environment. His opposition, the newest Political Action Committee started by Michael Ray and Cindy Shopoff has sent out the vilest mailer of this election. There has been such outrage in the community over this despicable mailer that the result has been to encourage voting for any of the candidates running for City Council except Peter Blake. 

Johanna Felder

Laguna Beach 

City Council candidate Alex Rounaghi – the future of Laguna

As Laguna residents are battling it out over a development measure, there’s another important issue going on, who will set the course for the future of our city. For the past few years, I’ve gotten to know a visionary candidate through activism events ranging from environmental to women’s healthcare access to voting rights. Alex Rounaghi impressed me from the time we met; that positive first impression has grown into tremendous respect. 

Alex personifies Laguna Beach. His family has lived here for three generations, he was educated here and has served his city since high school. His regard for the delicate balance of our town’s natural beauty and precious resources, the arts, businesses, housing, and traffic and safety challenges makes him the best candidate for new member of our City Council. 

Alex has served this community on various committees including as Chair of the LB Housing & Human Services Committee. He is working on developing solutions to our housing deficits, including resources for residents and seniors.

Additionally, he has expressed that one of his top priorities is climate change and its impact on our town, in particular, the destruction of property and potential loss of life from wildfires. Two recent fires are a reminder that disasters can strike at any moment. Alex will work to get the poles and lines buried on our main access roads in town. That’s also important for our electric grid; not sure about you but my power has gone out multiple times this season.

That’s why I’m supporting Alex. He has ideas to take us into the future. He also has the experience; Alex is a policy advisor to Supervisor Katrina Foley. He has worked on issues like homelessness, airport noise and regulations to ensure more safety in sober living homes. He has developed relationships with local and state office holders that will bring needed enhancements to our community.

Finally, Alex has an incredible amount of integrity. He is a unique mix of intelligence and strong character. He is a well-educated, grounded, passionate candidate with a vision for the future. He realizes we have work to do to be ready for what is coming.

We cannot freeze change in our town. Safety, sources of energy, roads, police and fire services, businesses and housing all need crucial attention. I want another person on our council who works collaboratively, honoring our unique past, to establish a shared vision for our future. Ballots arrived on October 10th; your vote and your voice count! I have every confidence that Alex will listen respectfully and work with his colleagues and residents to enact smart policy and laws to lead our town. Alex Rounaghi is truly the future of Laguna. 

Becky Visconti

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach Democratic Club issues statement regarding Councilmember Weiss’ inaccurate and offensive comments

The Laguna Beach Democratic Club wishes to correct the record regarding inaccurate and offensive comments by Councilmember George Weiss toward two endorsed Democratic City Council candidates. As seen before, Weiss has disseminated false accusations and deceptive assertions to his email list.

It is substandard practice for Weiss to polarize residents and the City Council via email in his attempt to promote his ballot measure. It is unacceptable in campaigning and in conducting city business.

Laguna Beach Democratic Club is proud to endorse our fellow Democrats, Sue Kempf and Alex Rounaghi for City Council. They will work for ALL Laguna Beach residents.

Laguna Beach Democratic Club Board of Directors 

Gwen McNallan 

Peggy Wolff 

Ketta Brown 

Deborah Engle 

Lara Horgan

Mary Carter 

Adam Redding-Kaufman 

Nia Evans

After reading, fact-checking, talking to people, Measure Q is not the answer

As a non-native Californian brought here by good fortune and an even better wife, I am often bemused by the direct democracy approach of ballot initiatives. It’s an odd approach to government and I don’t see a great deal of evidence that it leads to better outcomes. With the hot topic in town turning to Measure Q, I did my research, spoke with people on both sides, and came to a clear conclusion, Q is not the solution.

At the most recent LRF community meeting I had the opportunity to meet the champion of this initiative, David Raber. I have no doubt based on my conversation that David is a fine man and his intentions are good, however I believe his organizational efforts here are misguided. 

By his own admission, under Measure Q, 18 more ArtLofts buildings could be built in the canyon. The great irony being ArtLofts is the most featured project on both the LRF website and their collateral. The reality is that only one building over 20,000 sf has been built in Laguna Beach in the last 20 years. That was the Montage, and there WAS a citywide vote.

The passionate attendees at the LRF meetings will eagerly tell you about their fights through the years to stop the Toll Road, the Irvine Company and the development of Main Beach. I laud those efforts as they have certainly been more positive than negative and are all part of what has created this special place we call home. I don’t believe that anyone in that room wants to prevent a small business from opening or the improvement of one of our tired buildings here in town, but that is what will inevitably happen with Q. 

The repeated phrases of, “We can’t trust this council,” “Developers will ruin this town” and “Measure Q is our only hope to keep Laguna, Laguna” all seem dubious when I consider how much time and effort have gone into their planning and support of Measure Q.

I wish they spent that same time and effort recruiting, supporting and voting for politicians that align with their vision of Laguna. Instead, they pursued something grander, a “fix-all” solution that waters down our elected officials’ authority and creates even more uncertainty in what an already famously complex and time-consuming approval process is.

Elections have consequences and recruiting, supporting and voting for candidates that share our values should be our priority, not usurping their power through layers of bureaucracy. Vote No on Q.

David Remington

Laguna Beach

Controversial mailer should have been denounced

Mr. Blake,

During your tenure as a duly elected member of our city council, I have often been shocked and embarrassed by your lack of civility and common courtesy toward your colleagues and our fellow Laguna Beach citizens.

However, the mailer which I received a few days ago regarding your city council opponent, Ruben Flores, hits an all-time low. I understand that this mailer was sent and apparently paid for by some entity calling themselves Laguna 2022 which clearly states that it is “not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate.”

If I were in your position, I would have immediately denounced this hateful and ridiculous attack on an opponent because if you do not, it implies a tacit endorsement of the “trash” that this mailer represents. 

I hope to hear from you shortly.

Gail McClain 

Laguna Beach

Impressed with Judie Mancuso and what she stands for

Like India Hynes (Letters to Editor, Stu News, 10/11/22), I too was once unfamiliar with the breadth of Judie Mancuso’s interests and experience. (She is a candidate for State Assembly in the 72nd District.) 

Then I started paying attention.

After attending a forum, including Judie and her opponent, Diane Dixon, I realized that Judie is incredibly smart and well-informed on all the issues affecting our district. She is up to date on homelessness, climate change and environment and public education, among other concerns, and has plans to address them. 

She is for tougher gun laws and supports a woman’s right to choose. 

More generally, Judie is forthright, energetic and passionate. And most importantly, she knows how to get state legislation passed. 

One just need look at Judie’s campaign contributions to understand where her priorities lie. Of the $230K she has raised, a scant $11,500 or so comes from real estate interests. The majority of her contributors are retirees. 

By contrast, Dixon has raised $417K and $206K of it comes from the real estate/developer community alone. She also received maximum donations of $4,900 from Phillip Morris and Sempra Energy, just to name just a few. A total 60% of Dixon’s contributions come from corporations and organizations and just 40% from individuals.   

Back in the 1950s, candidates who espoused anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-union positions were the norm. Diane Dixon is of that ilk. She has a 92% rating from the NRA and received a “thumbs up” from Orange County Gun Owners.  She supports the NRA line that mental illness primarily accounts for mass shootings. 

She obfuscates her position on abortion in public, but is endorsed as a “Pro-Life” candidate by

She believes California’s current environmental goals are “unattainable” and says all climate action should be left up to the market (we know where that has gotten us!). Dixon opposes an increase in the minimum wage and wants more “school choice,” which is code for defunding public schools. 

Climate change is here and already having devastating impacts on our world. Many working people in our district are unhoused. Gun violence is a daily reality. Abortion may soon be banned across the country, even here in California, even in cases of rape and incest. Public education is being dismantled and the impact on families in our district, as well as our property values, would be disastrous. 

To me, the choice couldn’t be more clear. I will be voting for Judie Mancuso.

Deborah Engle

Laguna Beach

Mailer was independent of Laguna Beach Democratic Club

A large-format political mailing dropped to Laguna Beach residents this week stating that “Laguna Beach Democratic leaders urge all Democrats to vote no on Measures R & S,” did not come from the Laguna Beach Democratic Club.

The mailer used modified imagery and colors as well as the slogan “Vote Blue” to suggest that the mailing came from official Democratic organizations.

We have not taken a position on Measures R and S as a club. Instead, we urge our members to become familiar with the Measures and to vote as their beliefs guide them.

We Democrats and Laguna Beach residents support our local businesses and business owners, many of which are members of the PAC that issued the mailing referred to in this statement. Some Democratic leaders are for the Measures; some are against. We wanted to clarify that our Club is not urging residents to vote one way or the other on Measures R and S.

Gwen McNallan 

President, Laguna Beach Democratic Club 

Important to note the full name of the group effort behind the irresponsible flyer

(The following is in response to last week’s “Fair Game” column)

I appreciate what you wrote last week about the irresponsible Ruben flyers being sent out. 

You mentioned the committee “Laguna 2022,” but that’s only a partial name of the committee. Their 410 form, filed Oct. 3, 2022, states that they are “Laguna 2022 Supporting Blake and Opposing Flores for Laguna Beach City Council 2022.”

I think it’s important that readers know the full name of the committee and which “team’ is behind these defamatory flyers. 

Diane Armitage

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Alex is someone Laguna Beach needs

It would be a missed opportunity for Laguna Beach if Alex Rounaghi is not elected this November. 

It is infrequent that a political candidate, regardless of age, is so well-equipped for public office as Alex. As a policy advisor for Supervisor Katrina Foley, he has advanced initiatives like an innovative Fly Friendly program to reduce noise and pollution from John Wayne Airport, cracked down on illegal sober living home operators and conducted oversight over the county’s $8+ billion-dollar budget. He has also served on two Laguna Beach City Council committees – Parking & Traffic and Housing & Human Services – so he knows how our town operates in a way many people who run for office do not. 

Alex has received an incredible amount of endorsements (the only candidate endorsed by both our Police and Firefighters) because he is capable of effective political leadership. He has the patience and perseverance to accomplish the trying work of negotiation and governance. He has both a strong viewpoint and the capacity to hear other opinions. And his integrity is exceptional. 

I would like to add my name to his list of supporters. 

Kristin Winter

Laguna Beach

Orgill would bring qualities that our City Council needs

I’m writing to ask voters to join me in supporting Mark Orgill for Laguna Beach City Council. If you don’t know Mark personally, you probably do know Seven Degrees, one of his many contributions to our community.

Mark and I served together on the Board of Directors of the Laguna Beach Community Clinic for a number of years. I know from that time, particularly the years he served as Board President, the incredible depth of his knowledge about city planning. Along with strong leadership skills, and a belief in listening, civility and treating people with kindness, Mark brings a deliberative quality and collaborative attitude to everything he does. What a perfect addition he would be to our City Council. 

Mark Orgill and his wife, Dora, have been Laguna Beach locals since 1984. His work ethic took hold at age 14, painting houses in his hometown of Upland. Eventually his interests led him to boutique real estate development, construction and operations, and developing businesses that reflect his passion for creative spaces, innovative design and novel programs.

In addition to Seven Degrees, the special events, exhibitions and artist work-live space in Laguna Canyon, his local projects include Another Kind Vietnamese café; LCAD student housing; and Sunset Cove Villas, an eight-unit oceanfront vacation venue.

Mark is running for City Council because he believes the city has current challenges that can be better managed and overcome with a plan, and with more civility. I have no doubt electing him, Mark Orgill would positively influence the direction of the Laguna Beach political conversation. As he notes on his website: “In my business ventures, in philanthropy, and in my non-profit volunteer work, I’ve found that the crucial starting point is listening, and then take to heart what you hear. Everything else becomes relatively easy after that.”

Marion Jacobs, Ph.D.

Laguna Beach

Negative ads don’t have a place in Laguna Beach politics

I don’t recall ever writing a letter to the editor about city politics before, but I just received in the mail the latest attack ad against Ruben Flores in support of Peter Blake and I am moved to absolute fury! These ads are paid for by Laguna 2022, a PAC recently formed by cronies of Peter Blake: Sam Goldstein, Michael Ray and Cindy Shopoff. 

Please, voters of Laguna Beach, do not condone such behavior. We can agree to disagree on the issues facing our community, but to stoop to such attack ads and nastiness is reprehensible. Follow the money and ask yourself what these financial backers believe they’ll gain by supporting Peter Blake and denigrating another candidate? Why have we allowed big money and outside interests to take over our election? 

I don’t care who you vote for, but please, don’t vote for Peter Blake and reward such contemptible actions. We are better than that. WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT, AREN'T WE?

Peggie Thomas

Laguna Beach

Confused as to how community association endorses issue without full community support

How is it that the Laguna Residents First lists on their Yes on Measure Q Endorsements, the Temple Hills Community Association (THC)? Wouldn’t the THC need full approval from its members in order to do that? They are giving their support to Measure Q, without knowing how all of the THC feels about the Measure? It is evident by the signs which you see just driving up Temple Hills Drive, reflecting both views. 

John Benecke

Laguna Beach

Does Judie Mancuso support strengthening our CA laws against Prop 47 and AB 109?

California’s crime is out of control. The rampant shootings, gang violence, assaults, flash mobs and looting are a direct result of the soft on crime laws that our legislature has put in place. Meanwhile, Judie Mancuso remains silent on Prop 47, AB 109 and a litany of other laws that have increased crime in our state to the likes we haven’t seen for decades. Now she wants to be our Assemblywoman! 

Judie’s silence on the issue tells us everything we need to know about where she stands. 

Jennifer Zeiter 

Laguna Beach

Our Village neighborhood is No on Q

We all know that Laguna has an excellent and talented staff that understands complex zoning, planning and coastal commission issues. The city has steadily rejected projects and passed ordinances to prevent the massive projects that disturb us all. 

We the Voters should not make complicated development and use decisions. Ballot measures will curb the revitalization of Laguna’s unused properties so important to keep Laguna vibrant! 

We must keep small businesses. Small business is hard enough! The cumbersome process for a small or startup business will be worse or impossible with the restrictions of Measure Q looming over an applicant.

Rather than a complicated vote, the way to “weigh in” is to participate. Let committee and councilmembers know our opinions and then participate at all levels of the community whenever we can.

Think about unintended consequences. The inherent conflicts, complications and unknowns make us opposed to Measure Q.

Join us and NO on Q.

Michelle Harper

Barb Bowler

Laura Lee 

Nora Cunningham

Jim Cunningham

Sandee Spencer

Carol Morgan

Linda Humes 

Local women’s group stands with those being persecuted in Iran

AAUW Laguna Beach stands in solidarity with the courageous women and girls and their allies in Iran, who are being subjected to a violent crackdown by authorities for demanding an end to the systemic persecution of women. Sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in the hands of the “morality police,” protests have erupted across the country, in what has been labeled a “feminist revolution.” The protestors’ rallying cry, “Women, Life, Freedom!,” resonates with our mission of advancing gender equity, and it is incumbent upon us to amplify their voices.

Alison King, 

Representative for American Association of University Women

Laguna Beach

It will take more than wine to get residents to vote for Measure Q

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to read the invitation that was being sent around to folks to learn more about Proposition Q (we all know that these little PACs being formed are tentacles of Village Laguna) in North Laguna. 

What really astounded me was the fact that wine was going to be offered. So typical of Village Laguna and its little teams – ply people with alcohol, make them laugh, are one their oldest ploys to try to get their issues approved on Election Day. All it creates is money being used to hire consultants – no decisions are ever made. 

Their Proposition Q is a flimsy attempt to put Laguna Beach back into the early 19th/20th century mode. Those folks who live and own business in Laguna would be hampered by at least two years in the span of their project – costing so much more than necessary. There are many benchmarks for any project to get done in our town that this would limit the expanse of a project in any way. 

We will not become a town of high rises – we all want our views of the ocean (well the trees that Village Laguna wants to plant might block those views) and have many ways of protecting this view. 

The Coastal Commission is in alignment with minimizing the effects of building as well as the various committees that are in place in our bylaws. 

Their Proposition Q is a flimsy attempt to halt any modernization or bring in new business. So many businesses have closed and our buildings have been sitting around.

We need to do this. Spend money effectively and enjoy the beauty of our location and all that makes Laguna unique. 

Proposition Q stops all of this and will only create more divisiveness amongst us. Wine won’t solve these issues. We need to look at everything with a clear vision and having a party doesn’t mean that. 

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

Flyer attacking Ruben Flores is shameful

When we moved from Boston to Laguna Beach 22 years ago, we chose Laguna not only because we appreciated its beauty and coastline. We also loved the way it embraced diversity. No matter your financial status, your age, your political or sexual persuasion, you were given a warm welcome and treated with respect.

We have watched with dismay in recent years as one of our city councilors, Peter Blake, has trampled those values to the ground. His abusive behavior towards anyone who challenges him – whether they be another city councilor, representative of a community organization or just a concerned resident – has been shameful. His vile slurs and attacks have not diminished – and in fact have increased – despite censures and pleas for more civil behavior. 

Today, we received in the mail a flyer paid for by Political Action Committee Laguna 2022, which supports Peter Blake. While he may not have paid for this flyer, Peter Blake’s vilifying behavior towards others has created the climate in which this type of campaign material is used. 

This reprehensible flyer smeared City Council candidate Ruben Flores in an absolutely disgraceful way. It was not a thoughtful piece pointing out policy disagreements. Instead, it used photos and innuendos designed to malign Flores’ personal reputation. These tactics frighteningly remind us of those utilized by the Nazis to demonize Jews and homosexuals.

For us, this was the “tipping point” that has caused us to speak out. Not to PAC Laguna 2022 or to Peter Blake. He has stated clearly that he is proud, not ashamed of being a bully. He would derisively laugh off the suggestion that he resign immediately because he is not fit to represent the residents of Laguna Beach.

Instead, it is up to us, those who love Laguna and have respect for our fellow residents, whether they share all our beliefs or not, to say, “enough is enough” and vote Peter Blake out of office. Choose whichever other City Council candidates you prefer. But we must not allow Peter Blake’s alarming public humiliation and intimidation of others to continue to dangerously poison the environment in which we are so fortunate to live.

John (Chimo) and Diane Arnold

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

We need more from our Assembly person than knowledge of a single issue

Judie Mancuso has spent the last 20 years lobbying Sacramento for her nonprofit on a single issue: animal rights. While we all support treating animals humanely, this is far from the only issue that our neighbors face. It takes experience in understanding a multitude of issues facing the citizens of Orange County to be an effective legislator in the State Assembly, and Judie Mancuso lacks that proper elected or business experience to do so. 

Public records show that Judie’s fiscal irresponsibility was exposed before her twice failed run for Laguna Beach City Council, when her expenses for her nonprofit organization exceeded its nominal revenues. Is this who we really want representing all the cities that encompass the 72nd Assembly District? 

I don’t think so. 

India Hynes

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Steps to beach need repair prior to the city’s acquisition

I doubt any of the city engineers have walked the steps from the bridge at Aliso Circle down to the beach. Prior to the purchase of the beach, city engineers would be advised to walk the steps with OC Parks and identify the repairs that need to be made. 

This includes the bottom of the steps which were washed away and damaged during winter storms (now covered back up by sand). 

My older brother, Ron Sizemore (turning 78 on Oct. 8th), still walks the steps to the beach for daily swims. Many old timers in Laguna will recognize Ron’s name as the “Iron Man of Brooks St.,” for a number of surfing trophies he has won at the contest. 

Ron is a Vietnam veteran having served with the 9th Infantry in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam and exposed to Agent Orange. He now suffers neuropathy in his feet, so (now) hikes down the steps with a hiking stick.

With the current disrepair of the steps by the county and by the City of Laguna not requiring the county to repair the steps, the City of Laguna (taxpayers) will bear the burden of any injuries incurred walking down. (Yes, it is public access to walk the steps and cross over the bridge. True local Laguna knowledge of S. Laguna locals.)

As I mentioned prior regarding storm damage to the steps, I sent numerous pictures and emails to OC Beaches & Parks with a cc: copy to Kelly Boyd who was still on City Council at the time. Kelly and I had virtually no success in getting the county to repair the steps...other than OC Beaches & Parks sweeping them off!

Mr. Tracy Sizemore

(former Laguna Beach Lifeguard)

Laguna Beach

Voting should start with Mayor Sue Kempf

As the only woman running for City Council, I urge everyone to use one of their three votes for Sue Kempt. 

We actually could use more women, but unfortunately no one has stood up to take the baton as well. Sue is pragmatic, listens to everyone, and knows her priorities – she does not waste money on “studies” or “consultants” as has been so prevalent in the past. She is smart enough to figure out what is needed in this town, evaluates options, and as far as I am concerned, has made many excellent decisions most often resulting in positive outcomes. 

I hope she wins and hopefully has the enthusiasm and determination to run for a third term as well. Let’s keep Sue on City Council, vote for two more candidates who will focus on what is needed for the city, and keep us, the citizens, in mind as they take on the remaining issues. 

Please do not believe what you hear about these pragmatic candidates from people who have their own agenda to serve themselves and their friends. That is not how our town should be served. 

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

Let’s restore Council so that character, morals and ethics count

Just drive through Laguna and you’ll see Peter Blake’s campaign signs plastered on almost every vacant store front in the city – a true testament to what he has NOT accomplished in his past three years on City Council. Sadly, there are more vacant retail stores and offices in this city than ever before. 

But rather than list what Peter Blake hasn’t accomplished, I’d rather focus on his successes. Peter Blake has succeeded in derailing almost every City Council meeting with his lack of civility, divisiveness, arrogance and a total disrespect for the process and his fellow members on CC. He has succeeded in insulting, intimidating and demeaning anyone who doesn’t agree with his point of view. And now he would like you to vote him into office for another three years of verbal and emotional abuse? 

I fear that there are many Laguna residents who have gone about their daily lives with little or no exposure to Peter Blake’s foul mouth and bully tactics. To you, I say, ask around. Do some research. Let’s restore City Council to a collaborative, productive group of dedicated individuals who respect the process and the city’s residents.

Character, morals and ethics count!

Terry Meurer

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Mancuso has been rejected twice, why does she keep running?

Judie Mancuso has run twice for Laguna Beach City Council and was soundly rejected both times. She has spent her whole career lobbying politicians in Sacramento on a single-issue platform while neglecting the needs of the people in her community. Now she has the audacity to run for State Assembly. If the people of her own city won’t elect her, what makes her think that the voters in the eight cities which make up the 72nd Assembly District will?

Christopher Kling, President

Greater Laguna Beach GOP

Laguna Beach

Misinformation is circulating about Measure Q

There has been much misinformation circulating about Measure Q in columns and in the letters to the editor written by developers, REALTORS® and architects. The PAC, Citizens for Laguna’s Future, has raised more than $10,025 in opposition to Measure Q with 40% coming from developers and REALTORS® in California and 25% from REALTORS® from out of state! 

 If you want to know who the developers are in town and who supports major development in Laguna Beach, they are the ones displaying the No on Measure Q signs and the Peter Blake signs.

Lagunans who support Measure Q want to preserve and promote the unique charm, architectural heritage and human scale of the village of Laguna Beach. It does this by giving residents the right to vote on major development. 

 Please consider financially supporting the campaign by mailing a check to Laguna Residents First, P.O. Box 285, Laguna Beach, Calif. 92652, or at least by publicly endorsing Measure Q by emailing a supportive statement to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Johanna Felder 

Laguna Beach

A solution looking for a problem – Why Measure Q is bad for the community

Good intentions are often paved with unrealized consequences. A group calling themselves Laguna Residents First has put forward a complex and untenable initiative whose goal is to set guidelines governing development both small and large. Perhaps there are some reasonable concerns amongst their group. They often cite other cities who have created development standards as a method of controlling what most would consider “over-development.” Bravo to those cities. 

What is overlooked here is that our community has had extremely ridged development standards on the books for decades and hats off to those who crafted them. In their time they were appropriate. Decades later many of these guidelines are still in place however we are living under very different circumstances. Laguna Beach has a reputation as a city of “NO!” In fact, the only major development that has occurred in the last 15 or 20 years has been the Montage Resort which many opposed but now has proven to be a great asset to our community.

What the Laguna Residents First initiative seems to forget is that we already have some very difficult policies and commercial design guidelines in place in terms of development. The example that they continue to use as a reason for Measure Q was the proposed Museum Hotel project in North Laguna. It came before the planning commission more than three years ago for a concept review and was immediately sent packing. There were so many flaws in the project because it didn’t even come close to meeting the policies and guidelines currently in place. Would Measure Q had it been in place made any difference? NO is the answer.

I want to establish a few facts that the proponents of the Measure Q never talk about.

–Since 2017 to date, there have been approximately 36-plus projects that would have been under the purview of Measure Q. Every one of those projects be it a sandwich shop to a hotel remodel would have had to go to a special election.

–The cost of each special election is broken down by the number of registered voters in each community. Laguna Beach has about 18,500 registered voters. The cost of creating a special ballot for each registered voter is about $4.80 to $5.30 plus about .70 for mailing the oversized envelope.

–In Laguna Beach, every time we were to have a special ballot measure election (and to date since 2017 we would have 36), using the numbers from above, each one would cost in the vicinity of $102,000 to $111,000. Total cost to date would be up to $3,800,000.

–So, who pays for the almost four million dollars in costs? Mainly the applicant except for city projects like the new fire station. Then it is our tax money going to work! No one who is interested in bringing an interesting business, housing, restaurant or anything else for that matter would ever consider doing a project in Laguna Beach and this appears to be the goal of Measure Q. STOP ALL PROGRESS IN ITS TRACKS resulting in a city of “papered windows and weathered facades.” 

We hear so much about these “developers” waiting in the wings to add high-rise hotels and block-long developments all over town. Time for a little historical context here. We all love our theater. Thank you, Mr. Aufdenkamp! We love the Hotel Laguna. Thanks Mr. Underwood! We love the Coast Inn. Thank you, Mr. Smith! We love the Coast Liquor store. Thank you for your design, Mr. Abel. We also love the Heisler Building, The White House and Pyne Castle. Guess what my friends, these fine folks were ALL developers. Had Q been in place when these historic buildings were proposed, we would not have any of these landmark buildings we all love and cherish today. 

No retail applicant, hotel owner, restaurateur or multi-family home developer would touch Laguna Beach knowing that their project would have to go to a special election requiring a majority vote of, (and this is important), a majority of Laguna’s registered voters which means around 9,300 “yes” votes to approve the project. It would cost over a hundred thousand dollars to the applicant not to mention years of delay and an uncertain outcome. Let’s not forget that we currently have a design review board, a planning commission, a city council, a coastal commission, a building department and a fire department all of whom would be and are involved in the review process of all new projects proposed in the city prior to any entitlements being given. We already have stringent commercial development guidelines and policies in place and over the last several years they have been better defined and clarified thanks to our community development staff.

Measure Q is a solution looking for a problem. Don’t be fooled by their misrepresented facts! It is wrong for the times and wrong for Laguna Beach. I urge you to vote NO on Measure Q in November 2022.

Jorg Dubin

47-year resident, artist and planning commissioner

Laguna Beach

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Vina Williams

Obituary Vina Williams

Courtesy of Craig Williams

Vina Williams

On September 27, 2022, Vina Williams (née Malvina Louise Montgomery), loving wife of Thomas Slattery, passed away at the age of 86. Vina is survived by her husband Tom, son and wife Craig and Lee, daughter-in-law Kathi, grandson and wife Drew and Megan, grandson Joel, granddaughter Abigail, grandson Stewart, and two great-grandchildren Emersyn and Oliver. She was pre-deceased by her first husband Barry, son Mark, and brother William Montgomery. 

Music was always at the center of Vina’s life, beginning her career as a young girl singing solos in the Old Stone Church, East Haven, Conn. She sang as soloist and chorister in churches and concert halls for more than 60 years. For 17 years, she was the professional soprano soloist at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Laguna Hills, working with Don Walker and Gary Toops. When she moved to Orange County in 1969, she joined the Irvine Master Chorale under Maurice Allard. In 1970, she was soloist in the Verdi Requiem and she remained in the Pacific Chorale under John Alexander until 2010.

When orthopedic and eyesight issues made it too difficult to perform, she continued her fundraising efforts for the Pacific Chorale and Pacific Symphony.  For the Pacific Chorale, she was on the Emeritus Board, established the Encore Society, chaired the Gala fundraiser three times and was the recipient of the 2014 Entrepreneur in the Arts award. With the Pacific Symphony, she was on the Board of Directors, Board of Counselors (which she chaired 2010-2011), and Symphony 100. She spearheaded the Pipedreamers, supporting the William Gillespie pipe organ in Segerstrom Hall. She was a sponsor of many Chorale and Symphony concerts, including several featuring the brilliant young pianist Conrad Tao, whose career she actively promoted.

Music played a big role in the lives of her children and grandchildren; Mark playing drums while serving as a missionary in the Philippines, with his children and grandchildren surrounded by music; Craig becoming the fourth organist/choirmaster of the West Point Cadet Chapel; granddaughter Abigail becoming a high school choral director; and grandson Stewart graduating with a degree in musical theater. There are many professional musicians whom she considered “spiritual” musical children, those who were directly inspired in their musical journeys through her example.

A memorial service, open to all family and friends, will be held on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 1 p.m. in Grace Lutheran Church, 6931 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach, CA 92647. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to the Pacific Symphony, and Pacific Chorale,

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Letters to the Editor

Measure Q was not drafted by people in the know and must be defeated

Measure Q is inherently flawed; it must be defeated [vote no]. It uses language that is misleading; “major development” is nothing like major, “reasonable necessary number of parking” is nothing like reasonable. If you are thinking of voting yes, I urge you to read the actual referendum. It is not benign.

This measure is put forth by people who are not architects nor planners. They seem to simply distrust people who study this, who understand the physical ramifications of zoning codes.

I am a fellow of the American Institute of Architects (less than 2% of America’s architects) installed for the quality of my design work. I have practiced architecture for over 45 years here in California, across the United States, in Canada and in Europe. I have read this measure. I have no stake in this other than being a citizen of wonderful Laguna Beach, where I chose to live and raise my children some 43 years ago.

They propose to put to a citizen vote [who knows when, every two years] on projects that occupy lots of 6,000 sq. ft. or more. That is a little larger than a typical house lot (50’x100’). That is small for a commercial or institutional project. Under this measure:

–Susie Q couldn’t be built.

–Hotel Laguna couldn’t be built. 

–The Sapphire restaurant complex, the Pottery Shack couldn’t be built. 

–The Heidelberg center and The Plaza (Shirley’s Bagels) couldn’t be built.

The size of a building that they call major is 22,000 sq. ft. or more. It is not. Susie Q’s total area is larger than that.

This means virtually no new shopping facilities, restaurants, cafés, anything that gives life to our city.

What we need is a vision of what this city can be. We need to encourage quality buildings and projects that help us arrive at that vision. We need codes that enable the building of a vision. We need to encourage the engagement of talented planners and architects. Our city deserves this, our citizens expect this, and for our children we must be responsible enough to understand how to achieve this.

We can’t afford to have our public places, our public facilities, our civic identity designed by trite soundbite advertising propositions. This requires talented, dedicated professionals, educated and practiced in town planning, architecture, and urban design, having visualization skills, imagination, clarity of vision and boldness. We deserve nothing less! Please vote no!

L Paul Zajfen FAIA RIBA, Architect

Laguna Beach

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In Memoriam

Joe Briskey, 78

In Memoriam Joe Briskey

Courtesy of the Briskey Family

Joseph Allum Briskey, Marine veteran, carpenter, 50-year resident of Laguna Beach, stalwart regular at Main Beach and Crescent Bay, former pitcher for the Utah State Aggies baseball team, known to hundreds of friends all over Laguna Beach as Joe or Jose, died September 16. He was 78.

Joe passed away at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach after a lengthy illness and complications from surgery. His daughter, Lisa Briskey, a Laguna Beach High School graduate, her partner, Martin Byrne and two of Joe’s three grandchildren were at his side.

While a player at Utah State, Joe’s claim to fame was he pitched against a great Arizona State team, one that included future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson and future major league all-stars Rick Monday and Sal Bando.

Joe loved everything about life in Laguna Beach and was a well-known, friendly presence on the benches and boardwalk of Main Beach. That’s where he spent countless hours visiting with friends and neighbors, occasionally shooting baskets and enjoying the surf, sunsets and passersby.

There wasn’t a person he would not talk to, a dog he would not pet, a sport he wouldn’t bet on, or a friend in need he would not help. May his memory be a blessing.

Born in Park City, Utah, Joe was the son of Tom, a silver miner and Angel Briskey. He grew up in Provo, Utah and attended Provo’s St. Francis High School where he was a two-sport letterman in basketball and baseball all four years and Prom King his senior year. After leaving Utah State, Joe joined the Marines and was stationed at Camp Pendleton. He moved to Laguna Beach in the early 1970s.

Along with his daughter Lisa, Joe is survived by his sister, Bonnie Briskey Andrews of Tucson, Ariz.; brothers Tom Briskey of Seattle, Wash. and John Briskey of Orinda, Calif.; brother not by blood but by choice Tom King of Dayton, Nev.; and three grandchildren: Avery Byrne, of San Francisco; Dylan Byrne of Los Angeles and Olivia Byrne of Long Beach.

Plans for a Celebration of Life are pending.

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Letters to the Editor

Rounaghi brings new ideas that our town needs

If there is one thing I have learned from the countless city council meetings I have attended, it’s that we need new ideas in this town. No more hidden agendas and trying to keep things the exact same. 

I am proud and happy to say that I will vote for Alex Rounaghi. Alex knows our town and he and his family have watched it grow. He appreciates its unique character and recognizes the need to protect our town from fire, address parking demand, help our buildings downtown that have seen much wear and tear and improve the safety of many areas. He is willing to listen and respects the opinions of those who are knowledgeable and experienced. 

Since graduating from Laguna High, he has been involved in multiple positions to learn how government works including at the county and in our Laguna Beach city government. He clearly has integrity and will not be swayed by special interests. He has gotten some great endorsements from groups – like police and fire department among others. 

I say we need the dynamics of some new and young ideas. Alex has the ideas and the skills and experience to execute them.

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Measure Q equals immeasurable harm

Do you want to see development come to a near halt in our village?

Do you want small shop owners who have a creative idea that will contribute to Laguna’s charm say, “I’m out – I don’t have the money or time to lobby for my project with a general election?” 

Do you want to be going to vote on projects when you really don’t know much about them? Will you be equipped to cast the vote on someone’s future hopes? 

This is the risk we take if we vote yes on Measure Q – a well-intentioned ballot initiative, but poorly written, complicated beyond any reasonable measure, and most importantly, will lead to more closed store fronts because people with good ideas will not take the risk or the time to face what measure Q requires – “a majority vote by the majority of our electorate.” 

An impartial analysis of that requirement done by the city attorney of Laguna Beach says this does not mean a simple majority vote on election day – up or down. It means the majority of all registered voters in our community must say yes. Think about that – it means on any one project, at least 80 to 90 percent of “yes” voters on any project would be needed to reach the 51% required for ALL registered voters in our town. 

The authors of the ballot initiative, Laguna Residents First, say the word electorate was really meant to be a simple majority vote. If that’s the case, why didn’t they say so. This to me only illustrates the poor wording and confusion of the ballot initiative in the first place. 

Look – many of the people who think Measure Q is a good idea are friends of mine. I understand their worries about large scale development that might harm our town’s uniqueness along the coast of Orange County. I applaud them for wanting to do something. However, their first try at a ballot initiative like Measure Q is a disaster in the making. 

Please, do yourself and our community a big favor and vote NO. If Residents First, who are advocating for Measure Q, want to try again with a better written ballot measure, more power to them. Measure Q, however, needs to go in the trash heap. If not, I’m afraid we will look up in three years and see more empty store fronts, no new creative projects that make our town a great place to live, and a town run by people who want to live in an idealized past, not investing in a future that can revive our charm and uniqueness as a community along the sea.   

Douglas Wilson

Laguna Beach

Parents of school-age kids need representation

If there’s one thing that recent candidate forums have made clear, it’s this: we all love Laguna. We agree that it’s vital to maintain our town’s cultural, architectural and artistic heritage into the future. Our uniqueness is a major contributor to our strong property values. 

My endorsement by the Orange County League of Conservation Voters proves how much I value preservation.

Here’s what sets my candidacy apart: I care deeply about one of the most neglected constituents in Laguna Beach – parents of school-age children. I know because I am one. That’s a major reason why I’m running. My sons are 5 and 7 and I want them to enjoy the wonderful childhood here that so many long timers have experienced. 

Our population is aging. Certainly, our seniors deserve attention. But I want to be sure we also attract new families so that we aren’t overwhelmed with only investors and second homeowners. As of today, about 40% of our residential properties are non-owner occupied and that’s concerning to me. 

We’ve budgeted $1.3 million over the next three years for park improvements. Yes, pickleball should be part of the conversation – but the needs of families must be addressed, too. I can lead that effort.

I believe as a father, Little League coach, PTA and Laguna Beach Parents’ Club member, with experience on city boards and task forces, as well as in corporate management of teams and budgets, I am well positioned to represent families in this town.

–Let’s think about what kids need when we debate uses for St. Catherine’s. Is a pool or skate park a possibility? Can we offer more after-school activities that focus on music and the performing arts and perhaps tutoring for those who need extra help? How can we partner more with our Boys & Girls Clubs and School Power organizations? 

–Let’s improve our parks with more shade areas, increase bike path connectivity and partner with Laguna Canyon Foundation on educational hikes in our wilderness areas.

–Let’s plan resident-focused experiences, like a “Welcome to Summer” community event along the lines of our Winter Hospitality Night, which is such a great success and a wonderful way to build community.

–Let’s be sure to focus on fire safety, which matters above all else: Let’s underground those utility lines. Let’s make sure our evacuation centers are properly maintained – for example, the Susi Q should be equipped with a generator. We shouldn’t wait until a fire threatens our homes to put these measures in place.

Let’s encourage local small businesses that serve family needs – whether it’s as simple as a store where I can buy back to school necessities or a pizza place to celebrate youth sports achievements. Let’s not strangle new projects with more regulations than are needed.

Let’s get those bathrooms built near our beaches, especially in South Laguna!

Those are just a few ideas. Every day I talk to many parents and, of course, my kids and kids’ friends. They feel as I do – that we are incredibly fortunate to live in this amazing place. That we want to keep our wilderness and beaches pristine and the village feel of our downtown. That we want Laguna to prosper into the future – and we need to align our plans to make sure that happens. 

At the relatively young age of 39, I’m neither naïve nor jaded. I think that working together, we can make Laguna even better, and with my Design Review Board, Affordable Housing Task Force and corporate team-building experience, I believe I have the skill set that’s needed to bring people to the table to talk. I would be honored to get your vote.

Louis Weil

City Council candidate

Laguna Beach

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