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Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor

Complain about one meeting with George after three-and-a-half years of Peter, where have you been?

I read with interest the letters to the editor that criticizes council person George Weiss’ behavior during the April 12th City Council meeting. One needs to wonder where Gail Allyn Landau and Lianne Mech have been during the past 3 1/2 years during Peter Blake’s reign of terror.

Peter has either bullied, been rude, and/or name-called at nearly every council meeting. Did they also miss his behavior during the Three Arch Bay Appeal on March 29 where he consistently interrupted the speakers and notably bullied only the woman speakers showing once again his misogynistic side? 

It’s amazing that these letter writers have had 3 1/2 years of Peter Blake and have never written a word about his bullying, rudeness, sexism, and name calling on and off the dais but have instead written about an offence they found in George’s behavior during one council meeting. 

Johanna Felder

Laguna Beach

In Memoriam

Paul Knowlton Chapman

Paul Knowlton Chapman died unexpectedly on March 20, 2022, at the age of 48, while skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with his family. He is survived by his parents, Marybeth and Don Chapman of Laguna Beach; his wife, Kristie Chapman; his children, Graham and Ryan Chapman; his sister and brother-in-law, Eden and Josh Maisel of San Jose; his nephews, Weber and Tyler Maisel, as well as his extended family and an abundance of close friends. We all miss him more than words can say. 

In Memoriam Paul Chapman

Click on photo for a larger image

Photos courtesy of the Chapman Family

Paul Knowlton Chapman

Paul was born on March 3, 1974, in Whittier, California and grew up in Laguna Beach. He loved surfing Thalia Street and hanging out at Bluebird beach with his buddies. When not at the beach, Paul could be found playing endless hours of many different sports, including basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis and golf. Through these sports and days spent at the Boys Club and the beach, Paul formed many strong friendships that would last a lifetime. He was a part of the Laguna community in his summer jobs and also as a statue in the Pageant of the Masters one year. Paul graduated from Laguna Beach High School in 1992 and then attended the University of California, Santa Barbara.

At UCSB, Paul was a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity and his network of friends expanded as he started to build the foundation of his life in Santa Barbara. In addition to his love of the ocean, surfing, and all sports, Paul connected with friends through his love of music. He was a founding member of the Santa Barbara Music Club and used his energy and passion to bring many others the joys of music and singing. From his teens to his forties, he attended countless concerts and would share news on upcoming bands, shows and festivals with friends and family. He played guitar, wrote his own songs and could listen to music into the late evening hours. Other than a semester abroad living and studying in Spain, Paul would always call Santa Barbara home. When he graduated from UCSB in 1997, his passion for music led to his first job in sales at the KTYD radio station.

In Memoriam Kristie and Paul

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The Chapman Family, Kristie and Paul with sons Graham and Ryan

In the years after college, Paul’s relationship with Kristie Ward grew stronger as they dated over the course of 5 years before marrying in Montecito on July 10, 2004 beginning their new life together as husband and wife, partners and best friends. Over the next several years, they did a lot of traveling, settled into a house on the Mesa, bought a bulldog puppy Izzy and became new parents to sons, Graham and Ryan. 

Paul cared deeply for people and always prioritized connections and relationships. His infectious smile, laugh, and charisma attracted people to join him in community wherever he went. As one of the first Account Executive hires at Procore in 2014, he quickly became “legendary” amongst his peers. He was the heart of the sales team coining mantras such as “We Are Us,” rallying his colleagues. Tooey Courtemache, CEO of Procore, shared that “much of Procore’s growth can be attributed to Paul’s hard work. Without his success we would not have many of our key clients today. Paul was one of our most successful Enterprise Account Executives.”

Although he excelled at his work, Paul’s true passion was his family and friends. He took these roles in life to heart – first and foremost as a devoted dad and husband, but also as a coach, friend, and confidant. With his unconditional kindness, patience, warmth, and humor, Paul’s greatest gift was making others feel known and seen, like the most important person in the room, validated, uplifted. An active member of the community, he was always the first to coach his sons’ sports, and spent countless afternoons and evenings leading their soccer, baseball, football and basketball teams. Paul loved taking his sons to Dodgers and Lakers games, carrying on the tradition he had enjoyed as a child with his parents. His enthusiasm filled every gym, field, and stadium where he clapped and cheered loudly watching games.

In addition to his love of sports, Paul’s connection to the ocean lives on with his sons, who both learned to surf at a young age with their dad on the beaches of Santa Barbara. His family would regularly bike down from their house to the Santa Barbara Yacht Club to spend time with friends and enjoy the water.

Anyone who knew Paul was touched by his smile, humor and love for life. He was a truly amazing individual who was a source of joy for so many. He is missed dearly.

In lieu of flowers and to support Paul’s family, donations may be made to Gals Give Back through Paypal at

Letters to the Editor

Complaints regarding the civility of Councilman Weiss continue to emerge 

As a longtime resident of Laguna Beach, I have from time to time gone to city council meetings and in recent years have watched them via Zoom. We have all been aware at times of the contentious nature of the workings of our city government but what was on display the other night at council was something that compelled me to speak out. I watched councilman George Weiss not only completely disrespect our city manager but also interrupting our mayor during her comment on the library purchase, (both are women). This is not the first time I have observed Councilman Weiss display behavior that I can only describe childish but also that of a person who is not in control of his anger and seems to treat his female counterparts and staff like this is the 1950s. 

As a person who ran on a platform of “civility” and “respect”, he continues to show neither and not just at council meetings. He is known to berate staff and talk down to department heads as though he were the final and absolute authority on everything. 

Councilman Weiss has now shown our community who he really is. An angry brooding man-child with no respect for anyone other than what appears to be a small minority of like-minded individuals. 

Look up “decorum” in the dictionary and Councilman Weiss’s name is nowhere to be found. I feel ashamed and sicken by his behavior and I sincerely hope that not only other women but men would agree. George Weiss needs to heed his own champaign rhetoric and then go get the book, “Civility for Dummies.”

Watching with interest,

Debbie Forsyth

Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor

Councilman Weiss’s behavior unacceptable

Councilman Weiss’s untoward behavior during last Tuesday’s (April 12) City Council meeting at first had me marvel at Mayor Kempf’s and our City Manager Shohreh Dupuis’ composure. When it continued with rudely dismissive behavior towards these two strong professional women who serve Laguna Beach every day, it hit me. Coming out of law school, even back in 1980, such patently paternalistic behavior was increasingly called out and vilified. Such obvious discourtesy would never be tolerated in the courtroom, the operating suite, or any other professional environment, period. For that matter, Weiss’s attitude is obviously misogynistic in any setting and was disturbing to witness. 

Zero tolerance applies to any such behavior and must be addressed. Councilman Weiss needs to sit back and listen and learn. 

Gail Allyn Landau, Esq.

Laguna Beach

Councilperson displayed unfortunate behavior

I just wanted to make note of last Tuesday’s City Council meeting. I have to say that Sue Kempf handled herself quite well, but that George Weiss was surprisingly arrogant. I thought he stood for a return to civility. I was disappointed. Interrupting a colleague and dismissing the city manager is unfortunate behavior. It would be really helpful if everyone could just work together. 

Lianne Mech

Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor

Proclamation too little, too late

It’s a nice gesture that the Laguna Beach City Council put a proclamation of support for Ukraine on their April 12, 2022 agenda. 

Too bad our library removed the peace sign and small United States and Ukrainian flags from the butterfly and fairy garden.

Actions speak louder than words.

Katy Moss

Laguna Beach

Letters to the Editor

Maybe our library would do better under the auspices of the city versus the county

The time has come for me to pass the management of The Butterfly Fairy Garden at Laguna’s public library to a new team of volunteers. I have had eight magical years of absolute joy designing the garden with steppingstone paths, butterfly attracting plants, and little fairy houses for children to discover. 

I have always only meant for it to be a place of peace and joy. So, the controversy over my having placed a peace sign between a small Ukrainian and American flag in the garden has made me sad. The peace sign is not political. It does not take sides. It stands for no armed conflict between all people. It stands for finding humanitarian and peaceful ways to solve our differences and problems. 

So, it is sad that our library has called my peace sign political and taken it down. Especially because I believe peace is what is in all our hearts here in Laguna. 

But I want to make something clear. Laguna’s library is just a branch of the Orange County Library. The head of the library here and all the workers are employees of the county not the city of Laguna Beach. It was the county that demanded the sign be taken down. 

Which leads me to my main reason for writing. 

As the City of Laguna Beach is about to buy the library property back from the county at the April 12th city council meeting, I have a suggestion. Instead of renting the library back to the county to run after the sale, why couldn’t we run our own library? Or rent it to the county to run with a provision that allows Laguna Beach to have a say in what our library can and cannot do? 

For as Rumi is reported to have said: “Out beyond right and wrong there is a field ...I’ll meet you there.” 


Jessica DeStefano 

Laguna Beach


Jason S Engel

August 11, 1973 – March 20, 2022

Obituary Engel headshot

Photo and artwork courtesy of Wendy Schiffman

Jason S Engel

Jason S Engel bartended for the White House Restaurant for 20 years (where a painting of him hung as one of the people of service there) and then at The Ranch at Laguna Beach. On March 20 at age 48, he passed away from cancer after fighting melanoma for 3 1/2 years.

Jason leaves a wife and 3-year-old son behind as well as a large grieving family of friends and loved ones.

A Celebration of Life Service is planned.

Obituary Engel portrait

Click on photo for a larger image

Portrait of Jason S Engel by Fredda Ferguson

Letters to the Editor

Yes, we need a “speed hump” – unfortunately, mistakes leave us wanting for another two years

First a little history should be noted – residents have been, at a minimum, pushing for a speed hump on Bluebird Canyon Drive since 2009. That is the year of the first proposal I reviewed – although older residents on the street have told me there were multiple proposals prior to 2009. 

Since 2009 there have been multiple formal requests for a speed hump. 

In case you were wondering if the support has waned over the years, please note that the 2019 proposal received over 75 supporting signatures. Considering vehicles’ acceleration capabilities have improved over the years this makes sense. 

This also begs the question – would residents be expending so much time and energy over so many years if there really wasn’t a speeding issue on BBC Drive? 

This brings me to the electronic speed measuring sign that found only 78 of 22,233 vehicles were traveling >40MPH. The PTC fails to note this sign is located nowhere near where the most problematic speeding occurs – the 800 block. 

I downloaded an app named SpeedClock – I found – 33% of vehicles traveling >40MPH. Again, would residents really be pushing for a speed hump for a minimum of 13 years if only .0035% of vehicles were traveling >40MPH? This defies logic. 

That the PTC somehow relied on this electronic sign in bolstering their decision is comically misinformed. The PTC did set up a temporary electric sign to measure speeds on a different section of BBC Drive. This sign was placed very near to the Oriole stop sign measuring speeds going uphill. In early March after residents complained it was not measuring speeds in the right portion of the street the LBPD said the sign would be “moved around” during the coming weeks.

The sign never moved. 

This brings me to the LBFD’s position. We the residents who support the speed hump obviously understand that a fire truck will have to slow down 2-3 seconds in the event of a catastrophic fire to navigate a speed hump as they would do on Temple Hills or Glenneyre. It should seem obvious there is an asymmetric risk profile at play. The associated risk of slowing down 2-3 seconds in the event of a fire that requires speeding 50MPH+ and the daily danger to pedestrians and cars navigating in and out of garages. 

One would think dramatically lowering the latter’s risk would warrant the former’s trade off. It should also be noted that the LBFD stated they were against a “speed bump” which is not what we proposed (a 25MPH speed hump). One wonders if the LBFD even understood what the ask was.

In terms of procedural errors, we were told explicitly that we would be notified of the PTC meeting so that we could present our case. We were not notified and only found out about the meeting after the fact once the decision had been rendered. 

According to city policy we now have to wait two full years to re-submit a proposal for a BBC Drive speed hump. 

I should lastly note that George Weiss was very helpful in trying to push this forward for us – it became readily apparent to me that the other councilmembers showed almost no regard for the issue and seemed to be much more concerned with Peter Blake’s email disputes. I attended the March 1st meeting where our issue was raised as part of the official agenda much to the chagrin of our mayor specifically. 

So, what are we left with? The LBPD telling us they cannot enforce speeds due to a technicality and a minimum two-year wait to try again. In other words, no solutions. 

For good reason residents have little patience and regard for our local government.

Jack Robbins

Laguna Beach

The library garden and free expression

Public libraries are on the front lines of free speech and free expression. But in the name of “neutrality” our local library took down the Ukrainian flag and peace symbol from the library’s little flower garden developed and maintained by local Laguna artist, Jessica DeStefano. Jessica placed her display in a show of solidarity for the People of Ukraine. 

I spoke with our librarian, Nadia, who explained that the library needs to be “neutral” because some people felt that Jessica’s Ukrainian flag display was “political.” Nadia said, “There is a fine line of freedom of speech and expression and the library’s mission and vision of Orange County to have a safe place for everybody, where everybody feels welcome.” 

That “fine line” feels more like a gulf. Why is Jessica’s display considered political? Whose safety is threatened? Why is it “unwelcoming?” 

“Neutrality” is about not taking sides. Are we supposed to reflexively accept neutrality over not siding with the millions of people whose homes and villages have been pillaged, the thousands who have lost their lives, the women raped by Russian soldiers in front of their children – only to make those same children orphans – because we are concerned about offending those who support Putin, the Butcher of Bucha? The war criminal? 

What is happening in Ukraine is an existential threat to our democracy and a crime against humanity. Benjamin Franklin famously said of our new nation – “It’s a republic if you can keep it.”

Keeping it, is defending it and defending democracy. Yet, it seems the concept of defending democracy is lost on many Americans. While many of us sit on the sidelines in the comfort of our homes, the people of Ukraine are defending not just their democracy but ours – with their lives. 

Should Putin win, Poland and the Balkans will be next. And if they are dragged into this war, we too as a member state of NATO will be dragged in.

Sadly, the library administration is playing politics ironically in the name of not wanting to be political. So please let’s not talk about neutrality when it comes to Ukraine. There should be no neutrality here. This is about a fight for our souls, for our way of life, for our democracy, for our humanity. 

We need to step up our support for Ukraine. We can show support for Ukraine – We can begin in a small way with a little flag in a little garden at a little library in our little town and we can be thankful to artists like Jessica DeStefano who are showing us the way.

Alan N. Boinus

Laguna Beach


Bonnie Hano

September 12, 1926 – April 4, 2022

Obituary Bonnie and Arnold

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bonnie and Arnold Hano

Bonnie Hano, 95, passed away yesterday, just 5 1/2 months after she was preceded in death by her husband of 75 years, Arnold Hano.

Both were legendary figures of Laguna Beach. Bonnie was a founding board member of Village Laguna and together they were recognized by the Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade Committee as 2013 Citizens of the Year.

Their cherished life included supporting Laguna Beach causes that they found near and dear to their hearts. At 66, Bonnie joined Arnold in the U.S. Peace Corps, going to Costa Rica, where they helped build a school.

Born on September 12, 1926, in Sioux City, Iowa, her life would take her to New York where she worked in publishing, before following Arnold’s dreams as a baseball writer which brought them to Southern California.

They are survived by daughter Laurel and son Stephen.

No services have as yet been announced.

Letters to the Editor

Singing for Ukraine

You’d have to be living in a cave not to know about the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. In a little more than a month, more than 10 million people have been uprooted from their homes as a result of Russia’s unprovoked invasion. 

Because there is so much darkness in the world today, I hope my rewrite of the iconic civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome” will shed some much-needed light in Eastern Europe.

To this end, Laguna native Clair Rachel Howell was the first to record and upload her version of “Ukraine Shall Overcome.”

Here is the link to her video.

And last week, members of the LagunaTunes Community Chorus recorded their rendition of “Ukraine Shall Overcome.”

Here is the link to their video:

Some people say no song can change the outcome of the war in Ukraine, but I don’t believe them. As far as I am concerned, a song is just as powerful as a bomb.

If you would like to record and upload a version of “Ukraine Shall Overcome” to YouTube, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. I gladly will send you the lyrics to the rewrite.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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