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Laguna Beach


In Memoriam

Igal Silber

March 8, 1936 – December 28, 2021

As a resident of Orange County for 50 years and Laguna Beach for 44 years, Igal Silber has been part of the fabric of the community. He pioneered the practice of Pediatric Urology in Orange County, participated in multiple charitable and cultural institutions, and connected to a multitude of residents as friends and colleagues. Igal loved life and lived it to the fullest with broad and deep passions in many disparate fields. 

Igal was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military as a physician, after receiving his MD degree from Hadassah Medical School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. While already in the U.S. for his Pediatric Urology residency, he flew back to Israel for both the 1967 Six-Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, where he served as a physician treating wounded soldiers, as well as POWs. 

In Memoriam Igal Silber

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of the Silber family

Igal Silber

After a year’s general surgery residency at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, where he met his wife Diane, he completed a residency in Urology at Washington University in St Louis, followed by a fellowship in Pediatric Urology at The Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto. 

After locating to Orange County, he joined the faculty of the UCI Medical School and opened his private practice for Pediatric Urology. He was a pioneer in this new subspecialty being the first and only Pediatric Urologist in Orange County until Joseph Raffel joined him in the practice years later. They remained the only Orange County Pediatric Urology practice. He served a term as chief of the Medical Staff of CHOC and retired in 1996. 

Igal was an adventurer at heart and in action. He, along with four others, retraced Perry’s trip across the Arctic Ocean on sleds with dogs and an Innuit team led by Perry’s grandson. He also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Whitney and mountain biked across the Hindu Kush between Kyrgyzstan, China and into Pakistan at elevations up to 16,000 ft. And, he ran eight marathons, including the Boston marathon twice. 

He had broad tastes culturally, as well. He was an opera and classical music buff but thrilled to the rock concerts of The Band in the ‘70s. He loved theater, film and dance (classical and contemporary). In the ‘60s, while in medical school, he was selected to represent Israel as one of eight folk dancers. He toured through Europe with this amateur dance group. In their travels, he and Diane managed to cover six of the seven continents, with Antarctica being the only one missed. He was an avid reader, mostly nonfiction – especially biography and history. Over the last 21 years, he and his wife split their time between Laguna Beach and Washington D.C., where they made many wonderful friends.

A passion for art was shared with Diane and they started collecting from the beginning of their marriage. They bought art before furniture, which guests seated on the floor didn’t always appreciate. They loved contemporary figurative painting and sculpture. Building a significant contemporary ceramic collection, which has been exhibited in museums and will be donated to AMOCA, was a joyful lifelong endeavor. 

Philanthropically, Igal cared deeply about those in need, scientific research and our cultural institutions. He served on the boards of the Laguna Art Museum (where he served as President of the Board 2003-2006), Laguna College of Art + Design (where he and Diane set up a fund for students in need), the American Museum of Ceramic Art and the Laguna Food Pantry. 

In addition to supporting the mission of the Pantry that no one should go hungry, Igal started a book program which he solely supported. He believed families in need probably couldn’t afford to buy their children books. So, he worked with local libraries to buy children’s books, enabling each child in the family to receive a book each time their parents came to the Pantry for food.    

He and Diane also donated to several departments at UCI, including the Center for Neurobiology, Learning and Memory (CNLM), the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and multiple other nonprofits and cultural institutions. His music collection is now housed at the UCI Music Dept.

  Igal touched the lives of many. Some knew him for one or two of his many interests, while family and friends knew him through possibly all. But everyone who was fortunate enough to have been touched by him will remember him for his intellect, sense of adventure, passion for life and caring for his fellow human beings, especially those less fortunate. He will be dearly missed.

 Yesterday, January 6, he would have been married 54 years to the love of his life, Diane. He had always shared with her how grateful he was for such a rich and meaningful life.

In addition to Diane, Igal is survived by his beloved sister Sarah and her family in Israel, as well as many close friends whom he considered to be family as well.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to the Silber Family Scholarship Fund at Laguna College of Art + Design –  https://www.lcad.edu/igal or to the Laguna Food Pantry – www.lagunafoodpantry.org/in-honor-of-dr-silber.


Letters to the Editor

Anti-Semitic actions at Thurston Middle School completely unacceptable

At Thurston? I hope those responsible for those hateful actions are discovered…along with the parents who must’ve raised them hearing such garbage. Crawl out from under the rocks…and show yourselves.

Carolyn Egar-Christy

Laguna Beach


Guest Letter

Joe Vidal

Principal

Thurston Middle School

Important message from Thurston Middle School Principal

The following letter was sent to the “Thurston Community” from Thurston Middle School Principal Joe Vidal on Tuesday, Dec. 28. A story appeared in Tom Johnson’s Fair Game column earlier Tuesday morning concerning an incident that happened previously with the school.

I wanted to take a moment to connect with our families before our in-person return from winter break. Last week I reached out to update our community via ParentSquare on a school violence threat that we received Saturday, December 18th. Incidents like this are alarming and naturally increase our feelings of fear and worry about school safety. I am writing to give you as much detail as I legally can, in hopes to calm your worries and assure you that we are committed to the safety of our students and staff. 

On the evening of the 18th, the Laguna Beach Police Department (LBPD) stated that a community member had forwarded an image of a TMS student with the caption indicating a threat towards the school. That social media post was immediately investigated by the LBPD, who contacted the student’s family and conducted a threat assessment. Through student and parent interviews, the LBPD deemed the student’s social media post as a non-credible threat, which means that based on evidence the threat would/could not have been carried out.

Even though this threat was determined to be non-credible, our District and the LBPD take any threats of school violence extremely seriously and work collaboratively to ensure student and staff safety. To that end, we immediately implemented progressive disciplinary action, in accordance with state law and local policy and communicated to our school community in real-time. Through progressive disciplinary action, the administration will determine appropriate consequences and/or supports to help students improve their behavior while taking into account their individual circumstances. The goal is to help prevent inappropriate student behavior from happening again. Again, there was and is no safety threat related to this incident. 

As in all student discipline cases, the individual involved has confidentiality protections under federal and state law. Therefore, we will not be publicly disclosing any student-specific outcomes to this investigation or any information in relation to any criminal or school-related disciplinary action. We can assure our community that the student and family involved are fully cooperating with the school district, have been in regular dialogue with school officials and the LBPD and the family is working to support their child through this challenging situation. 

Our top priority is to provide a safe learning environment for all students and we take any threat risk extremely seriously. Extensive school and district security measures are in place to help us maintain a safe campus, with some notable examples including, but not limited to:

–District and site annual safety planning, training, and drills;

–Partnership with LBPD on the School Resource Officer (SRO) program with two dedicated SROs;

–Continuously improving site security through the implementation of Orange County Intelligence Assessment Center (OCIAC) site reviews and recommendations;

–Monitoring all district electronic communications using student/staff safety monitoring software, Securly, and responding to all security alerts;

–Implementing Text-a-Tip: 858.848.7TIP; 858.848.7847; and the adoption of our new anonymous 24/7/365 tip reporting service, WeTip 2.0 starting in 2022 and beyond;

–High visibility and support from administrators and staff throughout the school day;

–Enhancing threat assessment protocols and the risk assessment process with qualified staff; 

–School-based mental health services for students in need of support; and more. 

Our school and district maintain an ongoing commitment to welcoming an open dialogue with parents, staff, and community on the topic of school safety. On December 22, LBUSD and Thurston Administration received an anonymous parent letter that cites student-specific anti-Semitic and racial complaints and uses the December 18 incidence, as evidence of additional school safety needs. Multiple incidents contained in the letter have been investigated and addressed, and we will continue our dialogue with the community around stopping hate and racism. The authors also requested that the District and school take specific additional actions to ensure school safety, such as installing metal detectors, hiring armed security, and performing daily backpack checks. 

In response to this letter, we have been in contact with LBPD, who will maintain an enhanced police presence when we return to campus. Additionally, site administration will facilitate pre-planned assemblies with all middle school students around behavior expectations, including appropriate speech, host additional emergency training for staff aligned to our school’s safety goals, and will be inviting parents with safety concerns for an in-person forum in hopes of clarifying current needs and partnering on solutions. 

Additionally, we will have our school counseling team and student support specialists available to speak with any students in need of further support. While peer pressure may inhibit students’ timely sharing of school safety concerns, we want to encourage students to feel comfortable reporting any information they have that may compromise their safety or the safety of others with a trusted adult. In this respect, we ask for your help as parents and caregivers to also encourage your children to speak up when they see or experience something that is threatening or hateful. In any emergency situation, please call 9-1-1. Please know we handle all situations discretely, ensure confidentiality, and take all the necessary steps to prevent any forms of retaliation.

Our goal is to ensure a safe and inclusive learning community and to activate students to become global citizens and leaders. Our school community stands against all forms of hate, harassment, and discrimination. We value our partnership with parents to create a school community that celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion. Please use this opportunity to speak with your child about the importance of school safety and the harms of anti-Semitic and racist comments. We must work together to ensure our students understand the impact of such actions, including their impact on others and the broader community.

As always, I welcome your comments and questions. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any concerns.

Respectfully,

Joe Vidal, Principal

Thurston Middle School


Letters to the Editor

Making weather interesting deserves a…

KUDOS to Dennis McTighe’s ‘’Tidbits’’ column. How he makes the weather so interesting and highlights our local surfing world. (What are ‘’KUDOS’’ anyway?)

Bill Anderson

Laguna Beach

It’s time for a bipartisan Congressional Chorus

LagunaTunes is alive and well. After months of Zoom rehearsals, the fully masked 25-member choral group finally performed live again after a two-year hiatus thanks to COVID. It was, in a word, joyous. 

Letters to the editor chorus group

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Denny Freidenrich

LagunaTunes prepping for “The Masked Singer?” Hardly, just a little holiday music…

As the group was belting out traditional holiday favorites last Sunday, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would take to bring members of both political parties together to perform as a bipartisan Congressional Chorus? 

I am aware that in previous years, the Singing Senators and The Second Amendments used to perform. Personally, I think it would do today’s lawmakers a world of good to stand in the well of the House of Representatives and entertain hundreds of their fellow electeds (and the nation). 

About the only time the public sees members of the House and Senate together is at a State of the Union Address, a funeral for a former president or at a ceremony where the Congressional Gold Medal is being bestowed on a particular individual or group. Unlike the days leading up to Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and the New Year, those official events are very somber. 

If you are looking for fun, then I suggest you attend the highly competitive Republicans vs. Democrats annual baseball game. For those keeping score, the GOP won last September’s slugfest 13-12. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing the good will that was displayed on the diamond disappeared before the players took off their uniforms. The way I see it, that wouldn’t happen if those same ballplayers, or others, were members of a truly bipartisan Congressional Chorus.

When I worked on Capitol Hill in 1972, wrangling members of Congress from both sides of the aisle often would meet for dinner and drinks at the end of the day. Perhaps the most celebrated meetups were between President Ronald Reagan and Speaker “Tip” O’Neill in the 1980s. Today, these kinds of get-togethers are few and far between. This is why it’s time for the Congressional Chorus. 

I have never sung in a choral group, but my friends in LagunaTunes tell me friendships not only are made during rehearsals, they endure long after the last song is performed. Wouldn’t it be great to see Orange County House members Republican Michelle Steel and Democrat Katie Porter singing side by side during the holidays? 

If that happened, then maybe their parties could figure out ways to harmonize later in the year for the good of the country.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

“Friend” loses hard-fought battle to COVID, family needs assistance

Letters Dana and Nerissa

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Katrina Martino

Nerissa Regnier

Last week, we lost a wonderful friend and client of The Hudson Salon & Spa. Her name was Nerissa Regnier. She was a vibrant 45-year-old hard working mother of three, who was hit with COVID this past August.

Unfortunately, Nerissa spent the last three months in multiple hospitals, in and out of the ICU, fighting hard to stay alive. To make matters worse, she also dealt with a seriously compromised immune system making that fight even more difficult.

Last Thursday, on her 100th day in the hospital, Nerissa lost her battle. She leaves behind a family that depended on her for their support.

Her friends here at The Hudson Salon & Spa have joined with others to establish a GoFundMe page in Nerissa’s name to support her family.

Here’s hoping you may find it in your heart to help during this very difficult time.

Thank you.

Katrina Martino & Dana Allen

Laguna Beach

Other sites still appear to make more sense than the old Ti Amo location for a fire station

One hallmark of good local government is transparency and consideration of thoughtful input from affected citizens. Unfortunately, the decision about where to relocate Laguna’s Fire Station 4, which is in South Laguna, reflects little of such transparency or responsiveness.

From the beginning, the South Laguna Civic Association, as well as many individuals in South Laguna, have objected strongly to both the process of selecting a new site for Fire Station 4 and the decision made by the three-person Council majority to purchase the Ti Amo restaurant site for that purpose.

What was wrong with the process? Many private, closed sessions of Council examined alternative sites with no public input. When more than a dozen sites were presented to the public it became clear that the Council had already decided on the Ti Amo site, although they went through the motions of a short period of public comment. When it became obvious that there were strong and significant objections to the Ti Amo site from the public, the City announced that although the purchase was being completed quickly, there was no certainty that the new fire station would be located there. For some, this appeared to be an attempt to bury the issue, allowing the City to move its plan forward out of public sight.

What is wrong with the site? The Ti Amo site fails on the most important criterion that the City and the fire department initially articulated: there is no side street access. All traffic will be stopped in both directions on Coast Highway whenever a vehicle leaves or backs into the fire station, resulting in serious safety and congestion situations on Coast Highway. Additionally, the site is small and cramped, forcing the design of the station to include major excavation to construct an underground third story for parking and storage below the heavy equipment level. There are major setbacks, alley access and height issues, as well as impacts on the beautifully planted median. The negative impacts (view, noise, circulation) on nearby residential neighbors will be significant.

Did the city choose Ti Amo because it was the best available site? Absolutely not. We have identified, and the City is aware of several alternative sites in South Laguna that are far superior on every key criterion. All are larger, have excellent side street access, have less impact on neighbors, do not require 3 stories including an underground garage, and most do not require the destruction of a revenue-producing business that serves the community. Any of these alternative sites could be purchased by the city.

The siting of Fire Station #4 is one of several key recent or near-future decisions affecting Laguna (parking, development downtown and along Coast Highway, the hillsides, the beaches) that are characterized by several features. Input from affected citizens is discouraged or ignored. Alternatives that better serve the interests of the community are passed over on the vote of a slim majority of Council. City leadership and staff assume that if they move forward quietly, citizens will accept their flawed decisions. Do not accept this. It is not too late for a superior site to be selected instead of the Ti Amo site. Make your voice heard on this and other issues.

Greg O’Loughlin, President

South Laguna Civic Association


Letters to the Editor

It’s time to get serious about our landfills

In Thursday’s LA Times and in subsequent publications – I read that the State of California is going big time to grapple with waste, recycling and reusing by making it a law that we dispose of food waste in the “green barrels” or barrels designated for vegetation which in turn will be processed with yard clippings, etc. rather than being just dumped in the landfill. This will create fuel, save the landfills that are under tremendous pressure with all sorts of things as most people don’t pay attention to what the lid says on each container. 

I know many people have already been doing this. If your garden waste is being disposed of by your gardener – ask them if they dump it in a landfill – if they do, perhaps it is time to assume responsibility for it and use the bins provided by Waste Management or call them for one if you don’t have one (they are free). 

Let’s work together and help reduce the impact of climate change and other issues we are currently facing globally. Every little bit will help. Thanks for reading this; am sure you can get more info if you look it up on the internet. Maybe this will bring Laguna Beach citizens closer and working together – instead of this continued conversation over some issues which is splitting this town. 

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Airing of grievances (and a couple of likes) for the holidays

If developers are trying to make a case for not needing a ballot initiative to keep projects from becoming unreasonable, the Longi apartment building in the Canyon and the Polestar brightly lit showroom by the art museum won’t help. Let’s hope the Rivian remodel is more subdued.

I enjoy the convenience of the free neighborhood shuttle, and I really hope they’ll expand it to Sunday service as well. Especially during Festival season. Especially since the city won’t honor resident parking permits at the festival lots. Reward us for the inconvenience. 

I’m like all the rest of you and dislike that confusing blinking red light in the Canyon, but when you lament your lost time, think about Nina Fitzpatrick who had all her time abruptly taken from her.

And on that note, it wouldn’t hurt anyone to slow down and let people turn in and out of the Canyon from the side streets and businesses. If you don’t, Cal Trans will eventually put in another signal. Or at least don’t honk at me when I slow down to wave someone in.

I can’t imagine how anybody at the Water District would think that the hulking, boxy protective structures recently installed on the Top of the World water tank were OK. I’m glad they’re gone, pending proper permitting, but we’ll have to be on alert when they apply to reinstall them.

What is it about San Juan Capistrano that makes it such a haven for phone spammers? Did somebody buy a block of their phone numbers to spoof? When I see a number from that area, I never answer anymore.

If the city has a budget shortfall this year, all it has to do is put a motorcycle officer next to the four-way stop sign by the TOW fire station and watch 90% of the cars roll right through. 

I love the downtown Promenade, and it’s a highlight of our village. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when they implement the planned design improvements. 

Lastly, it’s a shame that what was otherwise a very successful hospitality night was ruined for a few residents by a selfish, duplicitous vendor hawking vulgar political memorabilia. I’m glad the majority of residents were outraged, and it surely won’t happen again.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Tim Templeton

Laguna Beach

Need more balance moving forward

Very sad how journalism doesn’t even talk to the person at the booth. Instead, it highlights it was a political issue that was against Biden. Your article should’ve been fairer and more balanced on both sides of the issue. Very sad to see an article like this. 

I’m a Laguna Beach business owner and I’m all about free speech. The people I saw there were respectful to one another and the others were seeing their snide remarks and snarky remarks which were offensive to the people buying their products. No one should be intimidated in what to buy or not buy.

Your article needs to address the root cause of bad behavior on people’s part, not showing respect for others. In the future when you post articles, please try to be fairer and balanced and not biased.

Robert Kime

Laguna Beach

It’s the time of the year where we, at the VFW, need your help

Yes, it’s that time of the year when we express our hopes for peace on Earth and goodwill to all. And yes, it would be great if we could maintain that goodwill for the whole year, but we have failed at that and will do so again. It is a time, however brief, when most people of all faiths, and those without, practice a positive feeling of goodwill towards others, Scrooges exempted.           

And yes, it is a time when non-profit organizations, like ours, request donations so that we can continue our good work for local veterans in need. 

We do not have an income resource such as a rentable structure or a bar – no, legends notwithstanding, we do not sit around a bar telling war stories. 

We are veterans, who served overseas in a hostile area, now focused and dedicated to assisting veterans and their families in need, and again, in our local community. 

We are dependent on donations from people like you to sustain the many support programs we manage.   

These include our assistance in finding housing and furnishings for homeless veterans; scholarship programs to LBHS and Camp Pendleton Marine family students; sponsoring our Laguna Beach VFW Little League baseball team; visiting and presenting gifts to veterans at Long Beach Veterans Hospital; mentoring veterans who enter the Orange County Veterans Court Rehabilitation program; participating in patriotic events, such as Memorial Day, Patriots Day and Veterans Day; contributing to the national VFW children’s home; assisting young service families at Camp Pendleton with baby items, furniture and food; and so many other support programs. 

Even with the pandemic we have had significant success working with veterans in need during the past two years. And, we plan on doing even better in the coming year. 

But we need your help. If you can please send a donation to: LB VFW, Post 5868, PO Box 629, Laguna Beach, CA 92652.

We, and all veterans, thank you!

Arnie Silverman

VFW Post 5868


Letters to the Editor

Today is Pearl Harbor Day

Early on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese fighter pilots attacked U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t just the beginning of World War II for America, it was, as President Roosevelt solemnly told Congress the next day, “a date which will live in infamy.”

The war lasted more than four years. In the end, 407,316 U.S. troops fought and died so that future generations, like mine, could live in peace and freedom. Ironically, Col. Edward Shames, the last remaining officer of the historic WW II parachute infantry regiment, known as Easy Company, died a few days ago at age 99. So did Bob Dole. On Sunday, the 1996 Republican nominee for president, passed away at age 98. I’m sure Shames, this proud member of the Band of Brothers, and Dole, the former U.S. Senator, would have wanted us to remember Pearl Harbor Day.

Today, we are fighting several wars simultaneously. First, the war on international terrorism; second, the war against COVID; and third, the war against each other. After fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for 20 years, we owe it to the more than 7,000 U.S. troops who died there to continue guarding against threats to America. The same is true when it comes to the memory of the more than 750,000 moms, dads, brothers and sisters, who have been felled by the coronavirus. If you ask me, the sooner tens of millions of our neighbors get vaccinated, the sooner we can resume our pre-pandemic lives. 

And then there is the war Americans are fighting on street corners and in Congress. Except for places like Charlottesville, where Neo-Nazis marched in 2017, and the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where rioters tried to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power last January, today’s war is mostly vile, disgusting words. My fear is, if left unchecked, these words easily could escalate to hand-to-hand combat here at home. And that, my friends, is not what Col. Shames, Bob Dole – or the millions of U.S. soldiers who marched off to war in the 1940s – fought to protect.

Yes, Dec. 7, 1941 was a date which will live in infamy. For the sake of our nation’s future, I hope and pray we never see another one.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Obituary

Charles L. Schoenleber

1954 – 2021

Obituary Charles L. Schoenleber

Courtesy of Patricia Killoran

Charles L. Schoenleber

“Charlie” was born and raised in Laguna Beach, graduating as a proud “Artist” from Laguna Beach High School in 1972. He was hardworking, friendly, independent and sentimental. Many of his close friends and relatives were fortunate to have received his humorous and nostalgic texts over the years. 

Charlie played hard, first at ping-pong in the backyard of his Catalina Street home that his parents built in 1951. He went on to enjoy Little League with the Elks Club team and join one of the first golf teams at LBHS. He had a wonderful golf swing, as his long-time Laguna friend, John Enfield, will attest. Golfing also became a family glue; he would play with his mother and siblings. Other pastimes included cheering for the Dodgers, playing dominos and reading Lee Child’s thrillers.

He never lost his passion for the ocean, having started his swimming and rafting days at Woods Cove. He turned to skim boarding and water skiing (Lake Mojave), then moving on to surfing at 10 when he found a discarded surfboard along the beach. His home surf spot was at Agate Street beach. He often brought his beloved Springer Spaniel, Peggy Sue, to surf with him. Charlie shared those skills with many friends and took multiple road trips to Central America, including Panama with his brother and El Salvador with other Laguna amigos to ride the great waves near La Libertad. More recently, he would load his paddleboard and bike in his pick-up and head to Mission Bay in San Diego. A fine day ended sharing fish tacos and beer with his friends.

Charlie was destined to be a building contractor, proudly following in the footsteps of his father, uncles and namesake grandfather who moved to Laguna from Pasadena in the late 1940s. After his mentor father died when Charlie was just 21, he had to make his own way, he learned by doing. He eventually established his own construction business in San Diego County, principally in Carlsbad and San Diego. He loved his trade and became confident in his skills; work was his form of meditation. He made close friends with co-workers, Nelson Barrios and Francisco “Frankie” Hernandez. 

Charlie suffered a cardiac arrest at his San Diego home on October 24. He died five days later. He is survived by his siblings, Patricia Killoran (Tom) of Tucson, AZ and Michael Schoenleber (Marcia Steinberg) of Sacramento and 18 cousins, who will remember him with his devilish, fun-loving smile. He was preceded in death by his beloved parents, James Schoenleber (1975) and Flora Schoenleber Taylor (2014).


Guest Letter

Michael Beanan

South Laguna Beach

Wake up call for HOPE

Guest Letter Mike Beanan

Click of photo for larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Mike Beanan

Last month, I felt hopeful when our City Council, State & County leaders stood together at Main Beach to declare a commitment to protect Laguna’s Bluebelt and California’s coast from another oil disaster. We need to stand behind them and make it happen.

The recent oil release to Southern California coastal waters is a tragic reminder of the essential role a healthy ocean contributes to our way of life, ecology and ECO-nomy. Yet, there remains hope in California’s network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) initiated more than ten years ago when Laguna took leadership in ocean protection and conservation. 

Our Marine Protected Areas create a necklace of regional fish nurseries. As a complement to the Laguna Greenbelt, the MPAs are known locally as the “Bluebelt.”

Lessons from the recent oil disaster can motivate us to move forward purposefully, with determination, to retire old, leaking offshore oil platforms in favor of green energy alternatives. One emerging technology, for instance, grows and harvests giant kelp on underwater offshore platforms to produce biofuel. In essence, the process bypasses millions of years required to produce today’s fuel from ancient kelp deposits offshore, deep under the ocean.

Sewage operations like the Coastal Treatment Plant can also switch to perpetual supplies of biogas, like OC Sanitation District, to generate power for filtering and distributing new recycled water. Laguna’s annual wildfire threats, relatively remote location and increasing demands for more water as drought conditions advance will benefit more from recycled water than paying to discharge secondary sewage wastewater to the ocean.

Guest Letter sea lion in kelp

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Mike Beanan

An entry by Alex Coldwell for the Laguna Bluebelt Photo Contest

Partnering with citizen environmental groups and progressive city leaders is a potent strategy to achieve what we all ‘hope’ for - to move hope to action. In our ‘hope’ to reduce plastic pollution, for example, Water Bottle Refill Stations are being installed in Laguna, simultaneously fulfilling State requirements for City trash reduction while advancing a citizen led campaign to reduce plastic bottles polluting Laguna’s beaches and ocean waters.

More can be done and must happen to protect ocean water quality. None of us want to discharge secondary sewage to the ocean at Aliso Beach, yet according to billing records, everyday Laguna residents and visitors send 1.87 million gallons of secondary sewage (over 500,000,000 gallons - that’s one-half billion gallons annually!) to the Aliso Creek Ocean Outfall, located 1.5 miles offshore creating a one-mile-long diffusion plume just off Aliso Beach.

Secondary sewage is free of biosolids but it transports liquid wastewater from toilets, showers, laundry and kitchens to the ocean. Pharmaceuticals, hormone endocrine disruptors, plastic microbeads in cosmetics, synthetic microfibers in clothing and other Constituents of Emerging Concern (CECs) remain discharged in the ACOO Plume. Ocean upwelling, currents and countercurrents circulate the ACOO Plume as it bio-accumulates within the marine life food chain and, ultimately, popular recreational and commercial fisheries.

Guest Letter map chart

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Mike Beanan

Aliso Creek ocean outfall

The October Oil Spill is another wake-up call. Let’s move our hope to action now to end ocean pollution from secondary sewage near Laguna’s MPAs and, at the same time, create local “new water” supplies to address annual wildfire season and prolonged droughts. Will you be the solution to ocean pollution?

Shaena Stabler, President & CEO - [email protected]

Lana Johnson, Editor - [email protected]

Tom Johnson, Publisher - [email protected]

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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