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Letters to the Editor

Don’t be fooled, vote No on Measure Q

Councilman George Weiss, the emeritus founder of Laguna Residents First and an architect of the Measure Q initiative on November’s ballot, recently wrote in his newsletter: “I can share from first-hand experience that it is extremely difficult to write a good ballot initiative.”

Weiss cuts to the heart of why a new grassroots movement – Citizens for Laguna’s Future – thinks Measure Q is a really bad idea. We agree with Weiss: it is “extremely difficult” to write complex initiatives like Measure Q. That’s precisely why they should not be written in secret by earnest amateurs with no known land use experience. Land use legislation is complex. It should be written by professionals, like the ones in our Planning Department and on our Planning Commission, who are overseen by our democratically elected City Council.

Then there’s the question of why we are voting on an initiative to solve a problem we don’t have. Laguna has been a low-and-slow growth town since we passed America’s first community-wide height ordinance in 1971. It’s one of many reasons why Laguna has a reputation as a challenging place to build anything. Measure Q supporters insist that our time-tested rules could be scrapped by a simple majority of the Council. Yet the Council just voted to strengthen key provisions of our already restrictive planning codes. Is it possible that we all want the same thing: a vibrant, small-scale hometown?

Weiss writes about the time they invested in “getting the details right.” But that’s where Measure Q also fails. If it had passed four years ago, the City estimates that 29 projects would have had to go to the ballot. Not one was a blockbuster. Some were as modest as Slice Pizza, which restored and re-purposed an empty home decor store. Under Measure Q, that change-of-use is an intensification, and its “cumulative effects” clause would have required the City to do an eight-year look-back at the impact of all development within a one-mile radius. Eight years! Measure Q would also require the South Laguna fire station, a vital public safety project and the St. Catherine school property to go to a vote. 

Backers say that Measure Q is direct democracy in action. What they don’t say is that direct democracy works best when voters are asked direct questions. Should we boost the sales tax? Underground our poles? Buy a greenbelt? Measure Q is so complex that even our most seasoned elected official admits she doesn’t understand it. If passed, it would force voters who want to make informed decisions to do deep dives into dense documents like Measure Q at every election. Democracy is hard, but our founders didn’t intend it to be that hard. 

There are other reasons to vote no on Measure Q: 70% of our businesses are owned by our friends and neighbors and they are overwhelmingly opposed to Measure Q. Taxpayers should be too. Measure Q will cost the City millions of dollars a year in lost revenues and added expenses. So, get ready to pay more taxes to support our first-class police and fire departments and other essential services.

The earnest people behind Measure Q have many fine qualities. But they have convinced themselves that the only way to keep Laguna, Laguna, is to suffocate it under a mountain of red tape. Like helicopter parents who would chew their children’s food for them if they could, they’ll stifle and stunt Laguna by overprotecting it. Citizens for Laguna’s Future opposes this mindset. We love the town the way it is just as much as they do, but we believe Measure Q is a bad idea we don’t need which will do way more harm than good. If you agree, help us spread the word, check out our website at http://citizensforlagunasfuture.com/, donate if you can, and join us in voting NO on Q in November. 

After that, let’s try working together on some of the real problems we face going forward. 

Chris Quilter

Laguna Beach

Experience and passion make me a candidate for serious consideration for Council

On Monday night, I participated in the first forum of the campaign season, organized by Village Laguna. I was proud to be part of the civic process and I respect the other candidates running for office.

What makes me different? I like to think I hit the sweet spot – at 39, and a father of two young sons, I’m young enough to bring fresh ideas to the table, but old enough to have enjoyed a career in corporate life and to have served on the Affordable Housing Task Force, the Chamber of Commerce and led the Design Review Board in cutting red tape for residents who want to remodel, while preserving the best of our history and heritage.

I have experience and I’m passionate about our town; I’m neither naïve nor jaded.

Safety is a big issue for residents of all ages – let’s support our police and fire departments. Let’s proactively mitigate the inevitable risk of wildfires by undergrounding utility poles and equipping our evacuation center at the Susi Q with a solar back-up energy source. 

Let’s work together as a community on a strategic plan to make Laguna an even better choice for families by attracting resident-friendly businesses and improving our parks and access to our beaches. I’d love to see a “Welcome to Summer” event similar to our winter Hospitality Night.

Sustainability and an acknowledgement of climate change is essential going forward. Let’s electrify our fleet and find green solutions to infrastructure challenges. We can do it!

Laguna is a vibrant community. We thrive when we listen to each other instead of stoking division. For example, we desperately need a plan for affordable housing before the State imposes one on us – together we can figure this out.

I’m loving meeting new people and hearing their views on ways to make Laguna an even better place to live. Please keep your questions and comments coming. I’ll see you around – or contact me at www.louisweil4citycouncil2022.com.

Louis Weil

Candidate for City Council

Laguna Beach

Tom Johnson’s opinion should be moved down the page

What’s become annoying is the first thing that I see is Tom Johnson’s opinion at the top of Page One. Far as I can recall, no other newspaper that I’ve read begins in this manner. My purpose in writing this note to you is not that I agree, disagree, or find him interesting. Opinions belong in the last pages of a paper. Are there any particular reasons for this choice?

Gary Sanserino

Laguna Beach

Assembly candidate Mancuso answers reader’s questions

Thank you, Diane Kloke, for asking your questions in Tuesday’s edition of Stu News Laguna. Like millions of women across the United States, I was shocked when the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, wiping out nearly 50 years of protection for women. As for my vote this fall, I am 100% in favor of Prop. 1, the amendment to protect women’s equality in California and keep contraception safe and legal.    

When it comes to the future of women in California, in general, and women who live in the 72nd Assembly District, in particular, I know my opponent and I couldn’t be further apart on the two issues you raised. For example, she is endorsed by, and has taken contributions from groups that believe a 10-year-old schoolgirl should be forced to give birth after having been raped. Her supporters, including California Pro-Life Council  and Californians for Life, are among the most strident anti-reproductive freedom organizations anywhere.  As you can imagine, I’m sure they expect her to be loyal to their extremist views.   

I urge you – and women of all ages who live in the 72nd Assembly District, including Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods and Lake Forest to join with me in protecting women’s rights.   

Thank you for your questions. 

Judie Mancuso, Candidate

Assembly District 72

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Time for a change in the coming election

We have a city councilman who just doesn’t get it. We have always been an open society and have welcomed people from all walks of life, including artists, members of the LGBTQ community, visitors and the folks next door and down the street. 

This man is running for another term in office, god forbid it, but as we welcome all we expect them to show us the same respect we show them. Instead of this, he has constantly insulted almost everybody including fellow councilmembers, members of the public who speak at council meetings and if true, even the parent of an autistic child.                     

It’s time we all said this is enough and make sure he doesn’t return to the council in November.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

Asking our Assembly candidates two questions

Because two talented women are running for the Assembly from the 72nd District, I’d like to know where Diane Dixon and Judie Mancuso stand on the following two issues. First, what were their reactions to the Supreme Court’s ruling to reverse Roe v. Wade; and second, how will each of them vote on Prop. 1, the women’s equality amendment this fall? 

As a mother and grandmother, I’d like to hear from both candidates. I have a feeling a lot of other women in Laguna would like to know the answers to my questions as well.

Diane Kloke

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Age not a factor in newly announced Council candidate

I realize it is popular to call out someone as too young (or too old) to be a leader but can we stop highlighting Alex’s age as “only” 24 years old?

Age has little to do with intelligence or good leadership. When I was 24, I had already served 3 1/2 years in a war and had achieved the position of Assistant Dean of Students at UC Irvine coordinating innovative programs for non-traditional students.

There are plenty of people unqualified for City Council who are older, in between or young. Let’s not unintentionally feed ageism, sexism or racism in Laguna.

Thank you for your dedication to reporting the news in Laguna.

Mike Beanan

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Plenty of ways to conserve water in this water wasting world

There are many folks lamenting about our water crisis – but how many of these lamenters come up with ideas, or if we look at their lifestyle, do conserve water. 

On some of my walks, I see gutters from the roof going onto the street. Hence the rainwater goes right past any green space (garden or strips along a driveway) and as it runs down the street water collects oil/debris and dumps that toxic mix into the street or even better yet into the ocean. 

How smart is that? Why not cut the distance on the roof gutter and let the water ease into areas that we would normally water? How easy is that?

At several water fairs over the years, here in town, vendors were promoting water barrels, but few people want big barrels in their yard. I talked to one vendor and asked why not create long-short barrels so that water can be collected along the side of a wall – have several spigots along the side of the barrel and when opened, the water will spill into the garden or other designated areas. Handling a big barrel is not fun and when you get to the bottom of the barrel, well… 

How about having a deep bowl in the sink so that as you save the final rinse on some things being hand washed and you pour the final rinse water into the bowl and water house plants or garden plants with that clean water.

Of course, collecting the water while waiting for shower water to warm up in a bucket is an old one, but maybe new ato some folks, especially children.

Also turn off water while brushing teeth and turn on when ready to rinse the mouth.

Maybe our local water department might have a contest to see who can come up with some clever ideas. Surely there are more ways to save water.

Also, we missed our chance of desalination, when Huntington Beach wanted to convert a site right on PCH that would have been perfect. But some folks didn’t like it and fought like heck to nix that one. 

Hope you read this and are inspired. 

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Regarding Tom Johnson’s fawning tribute of Joe Hanauer 

Tom Johnson’s fawning tribute of Joe Hanauer missed a few reasons Joe might be against the Laguna Residents First ballot initiative. Just read the Stu News February 8, 2022 article by Sara Hall at https://stunewslaguna.com/index.php/archives/front-page-archive/19719-concept-review-for-proposed-mixed-use-project-020822 describing the mixed-use project Joe presented to the Planning Commission. This relatively small project at 1040 South Coast Highway would intensify use while not providing the parking required by the Laguna Beach municipal code. If approved, it would be another project to benefit a developer financially while the adjacent neighbors would have to deal with the overflow demand parking on Anita, Oak and Catalina streets. 

Stu News quoted neighbor concerns as including “difficult parking issues, crowding an already busy alleyway, and increased congestion on the street and highway as concerns that would come with the project. The laundromat has a few people come and stay for a few hours, so it doesn’t exacerbate the situation, but a grocery store and residential units would.”

The Laguna Residents First ballot initiative gives Laguna Beach’s City Council better standards to help manage development and preserve Laguna’s quality of life and property values. Importantly, the initiative gives residents the right to vote on projects which exceed these standards. This would include Hanauer’s proposal not providing the required parking.

The ballot initiative is a reasonable proposal similar to measures adopted in neighboring cities. It honors all existing parking credits. However, Joe Hanauer sent a letter September 20, 2021 to the City Council lobbying them to craft an opposing ballot initiative. The letter included one of the most radical suggestions I have heard in my 37 years of living in Laguna Beach: it recommends that “grandfathered parking might be reduced or eliminated.” If successful, the value of such properties would surely plummet and likely immediately lead to lawsuits against the city. The 5th amendment to the United States Constitution includes property rights “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

What’s next – eliminating historic preservation parking credits, or gated communities being asked to share in the developers’ overflow parking demand?

Gene Felder

Laguna Beach

(Gene Felder is Treasurer of Laguna Residents First. He has been on the Board of the Laguna Canyon Conservancy for 33 years and currently as treasurer, has been on the Board of Top of the World Neighborhood Association and currently as president. Felder served on the Laguna Beach Historical Society Board of Directors for 13 years, five years as president. Felder is co-author, with Foster J. Eubanks, of the 2013 book “Laguna Beach, Then & Now.” He was chair of Save Laguna Art Museum in 1986. In 2016, Supervisor Lisa Bartlett appointed Felder as an alternate member of the Coastal Greenbelt Authority which oversees the Laguna Coast and Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Parks.) 

Water from rainstorm runoff needs to be captured

As recently reported, the residents of Newport, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach and Laguna are doing their part to conserve water. I’m sure this trend will continue in the months ahead. 

What’s not so certain is our ability to capture the runoff after a rain. Because water sustains both the OC and state economies, we can’t afford to lose a drop. If it’s true nearly 40% of runoff ends up in the ocean, then there is much work that needs to be done. We need to quickly solve this problem.

Judie Mancuso 

Candidate for Assembly District 72

Laguna Beach

Secret Santa needs community’s help to acquire a used car for outstanding high school teen

Secret Santa needs your help. Hi everyone. I run the biannual Secret Santa (Easter and Christmas for Laguna Beach families in need). There are multiple news stories on this for more than 20 years. Here are two of many:

https://stunewslaguna.com/index.php/archives/front-page-archive/20169-secret-santa-and-the-easter-bunny-040822

https://stunewslaguna.com/index.php/archives/front-page-archive/16413-laguna-beach-secret-santas-deliver-the-goods-122520

The donation link is safe and secure: https://cr-for-teen-at-lbhs.cheddarup.com.

It’s used by PTAs all across the USA. Both Thurston and LBHS PTA use this online platform.

This donation is to help a teen get a used car. She goes to LBHS and is an exceptional athlete and will most likely be recruited by multiple colleges. 

Her mom is a single mom who works full time locally and leaves for work at 4:30 a.m. The mom has multiple health challenges and still works so hard. The daughter also has a job in town. These are good, decent hard-working people. Let’s help the daughter get a car. 

If you don’t know who I am, I have lived in Laguna Beach for nearly 40 years. I was PTA President at both El Morro and Thurston. We are homeowners in Laguna Beach. We have two children who are 11 months apart and go to LBHS. We are extremely transparent with our fundraisers and our online donation platform is always live and everyone can see how much has been donated. We only fundraise for the best of the families in need in Laguna Beach.

Thank you for your support!

Link to donate: https://my.cheddarup.com/c/cr-for-teen-at-lbhs.

Thank you,

Celine Macmillan 

Laguna Beach

This year’s Pageant, BEST EVER!

Wednesday night, under an almost full moon, I saw one of the best ever Pageant of the Masters living art productions – Wonderful World – at our beautiful Irvine Bowl. 

What made this 90th production as wonderful as this year’s theme? 

Let me count the ways that makes this an experience you have to see and hear: First, the story line: an early days air trip around the globe. (Some of you may remember when plane trips had spacious seats and beautifully served meals – those pre-9/11 days of travel.) Global plane travel is then linked to Jules Verne’s 80-days balloon adventure novel and role-breaking woman journalist, Nellie Bly’s actual travel race around the world. 

Second, against this story canvas, we see living sculptures, paintings and dances performed from places visited – the African continent, China, Japan, Scandinavia, France, Italy and more. The Japanese living paintings were gorgeous, the NY World’s Fair sculpture breathtaking, and the Chinese lion and dragon dances mesmerizing. 

Third, the live music performed by our gifted Pageant orchestra transported us into the culture and places on the stage. 

And, last but not least, our local community of generous volunteers who froze in place in those difficult poses in costumes, make-up and sets all put together by even more volunteers. 

It’s an only-in-Laguna event that does our community proud and worth seeing if you haven’t. Applause to all who made our 90th Pageant of the Masters WONDROUS. 

Deborah Laughton

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Services of Laguna Food Pantry lauded by Veteran’s social worker following recent visit

(The letter below was directed to the Laguna Food Pantry staff and board from a Veteran social worker.)

My name is Gerard Skiles, I am a USMC Veteran and a social worker for the VA. I work in the homeless program for Long Beach VA and I wanted to express my gratitude for your services. 

I came here about three weeks ago for the first time ever and received two food boxes full of so much more than I could have ever expected. If that wasn’t enough, the staff that I interacted with were so caring, so professional, so helpful and giving that I really just almost came to tears at their willingness to be so giving. 

I don’t know if it’s because of the state of the country today, the interactions I may have had when seeking assistance for Veterans in other venues that were not as pleasant, or what it was but I was just so moved inside. 

I provided boxes to two of my Veterans and they told me how thankful they were for everything they received. They were sort of in shock at the amount they received. They were both recently housed, meaning they had been homeless before this for some time. 

And even though they did not have much more than a place to sit in their living space, they were very happy and thankful with all the items that came from you all, although I could not for the life of me name one of the fruits that was in both boxes. One did let me know he made it into a soup and very much enjoyed it. 

The process was simple, you provided more than anyone could expect and I just really wanted to let you know that your organization really makes me have hope for society. Thank you and I appreciate your services.

Gerard M. Skiles, LCSW

USMC Veteran

Senior Social Worker, HUD VASH Program

Tibor Rubin VA Medical Center (Long Beach CA)

Project Based Sites

The unbelievable success of Knepper and Rossi certainly brings back fond memories of water polo days gone by

Beginning when I was 8, when I watched my oldest brother and Laguna’s Peter Ueberroth play water polo at San Jose State, I always have loved the game. So much so, I played polo in high school and at USC. 

To this day, I still have memories of guarding a young Mark Spitz back in 1965. For those who don’t know or remember, Spitz went on to win seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

Which brings me to (Monday’s) water polo news. Congratulations to Laguna’s Ava Knepper and Genoa Rossi. Under the watchful eye of former Laguna Beach High School coach Ethan Damato, they just helped their teammates win the FINA Youth World Championship in Serbia.

It’s been 65 years since I first watched my brother and Pete play water polo. My hope is Ava and Genoa remember this summer decades from now. Let’s hope there will be many more gold medals in their future.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach 

Disagrees with assumed endorsement of Hanauer’s criticism of LRF initiative

A monstrous developer makes grandiose comments that benefit him only in YOUR paper. What is wrong with you? Have lost all trust in you as a supporter and defender of Laguna Beach! 

Rollie Bennett

Laguna Beach

Count me in on the Hanauer side of the ledger

If Stu News is keeping track, I am a supporter of Joe Hanauer’s thesis.
I am a 24-year resident, retired, Arch Beach Heights resident, volunteer at the Laguna Art Museum, not a developer and love Laguna.

David A. Powers

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Thanks for our lifeguards to the rescue

Last Tuesday at 4:15 p.m. at St. Ann’s, my vacationing daughter and I witnessed a lifesaving rescue in heavy surf. Lifeguards Jack and Cole (Jack’s backup from Thalia) quickly swam past big breakers to reel in a middle-aged person flailing and tiring after being swiftly carried out by a strong riptide past the large surf perhaps to their end at sea, but for the alert, quick, effective guard work. 

I hear this is not an unusual summer occurrence on our beaches for our guards who quietly go about their business during challenging times.

Roger Kempler

Laguna Beach

Concerned with ocean pollution and potential damage to beaches

Living near the beach, I was shocked to hear the news last week that coastal DDT dumping is far worse than expected. In short, we now know the highly toxic pesticide wasn’t just dropped to the ocean floor in sealed containers, much of it was poured directly into the waters off Catalina Island.

As far as I am concerned, these revelations are as dangerous as any oil spill along our coast. Just so you know, even if I wasn’t running for the Assembly this November, I always wake up every morning thinking of ways to best protect Laguna’s coastline.

One thing we all know is this: Polluting the ocean and damaging our beaches isn’t just bad for the environment, it’s bad for our local economy. You can’t uncouple the two. They clearly are linked together. 

Judie Mancuso, Candidate

Assembly District 72

Laguna Beach

Confused About LRF Ballot Initiative and City’s Ordinance?

If you’re a bit confused about last week’s news regarding City actions to strengthen regulations for large commercial development, you’re not alone.

Contributing to the confusion, a councilmember in his letter to people he’s trying to generate as supporters, references the July 26th Council action as a “Move To Counter Laguna Residents First Ballot Initiative.” As a councilmember engaged in the evening’s debate, he knew this was not a “counter” to LRF. It was a continuation of a pending action actually requested by the very Council he sits on, many months ago. 

So, what’s this all about? 

Late last year, concerned citizens and I sent a letter requesting the Council review commercial development standards to see if there were opportunities to ensure against over-development beyond what’s already in the code.   

The Council responded to our request. City staff was directed to work with the Planning Commission to strengthen the code if warranted. What the Council approved last Tuesday was the thoughtful outcome of those deliberations. The approved ordinance (it actually has a second reading coming up) will provide meaningful assurances that block-long monolithic development cannot occur just as we urged them to do some months back. It also provides for a firm 36-foot height limit for new buildings with nothing…not equipment, rooftop dining or anything else protruding above the 36-foot limit.

Regardless of whether LRF passes in November, and hopefully it won’t, the ordinance will be in place to even better regulate over-development. The ordinance will not be on the ballot in November. It is being implemented now by a majority vote of the Council – a long proven process both in Laguna and elsewhere.

What the authors of LRF don’t seem to understand, or maybe simply don’t want to acknowledge, is that property standards and code regulations are dynamic. They constantly are fine-tuned over time reflecting new housing and commercial real estate concepts as these evolve. ADUs, outdoor dining, the impact of the internet on the size and configuration of retail stores, rooftop and outdoor dining, franchising, distribution facilities – each of these impact land use regulations and design. Cities need to respond. 

Laguna’s building regulations have morphed over the past 50 years, changing as these and other influences have emerged. The City’s regs have served us well. Walk around. Where are the large, oversized projects? This is not to say everything is perfect. Periodically something may be approved that shouldn’t have been, but that’s the way democracy works. Mistakes happen, but rarely. 

And this is simply one of the major flaws of LRF. It proposes to create regulations that supersede much of what has developed over the past 50 years and unlike the real world where codes are dynamic and need to change from time-to-time, the only way the heavy handed LRF regulations can be changed is if a public vote changes them. A City can’t operate if every time a change is needed a public vote one or two years out needs to occur. And historically the public only votes to overturn things they previously voted for, after years of damage and finally acknowledging that something has gone terribly wrong. Look at Costa Mesa acknowledging the damage its ballot initiative has caused. 

If LRF is approved by voters in November, it is sure to be proven wrong but only after years of damaging outcomes. Not only will business neighborhoods continue their unabated aging, but home values will likely be impacted as well.

LRF has promoters camped out at public places over weekends claiming LRF’s only purpose is to stop over-development. Who would oppose that? But it’s simply untrue. Either these proponents haven’t read the LRF document, don’t understand it or are parroting what LRF organizers have told them. 

Look at the video of the City Council meeting of July 26 and you’ll see just a few of the serious flaws of LRF. It goes so much further than only stopping over-development. 

Joe Hanauer

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Thanks for the look at the very special Sawdust

Cool perspective from Tom Johnson. Especially the more intimate notes about Ms. Petty and the London dialect of Ms. Brokenshire. But what part of London? Hmm Mr. Johnson?

We own several (probably more like 20) of Patsee’s unbelievably gorgeous sea life photos and will probably be purchasing more this year since my wife’s new business has some awfully stark white walls that sure could use a little color!

What a treat too that James was playing that day! We so miss him playing locally. And now that his protege (Andrew Bloom) is gone too…we don’t get that level of singing and guitar playing around town anymore. We’ve looked. 

We eventually hired James for my 55th b-day party since he doesn’t do clubs anymore. Amazing. Music is such a huge part of why we go back to the Festivals every year.

It’s (Sawdust grounds) such a beautiful spot. They really are quite breathtaking even after not missing one for 14 years running. Thank you for giving every one of those well-deserved artists a lovely word or two. Happy summer!

Tom Stephens

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Village Laguna concerned with proposed removal of mature trees near Sawdust Festival

For some time, Village Laguna has been following the County Flood Control District plans for replacing the channel that encloses Laguna Canyon Creek near the Sawdust Festival. While it is clear that repairs are needed to the concrete channel walls, we are concerned that the County proposes to remove nearly all of the existing mature trees from Woodland Drive all the way to the Frontage Road entrance. Five large pine trees and three large sycamores will be removed. 

The decision about the trees is driven by the Flood Control District and Caltrans which both have easements over the 20 ft. wide strip of land between the channel and the Laguna Canyon Road curb. But this area adjacent to the flood control channel is more than just a place for easements for maintaining the creek channel or providing a buffer area for Laguna Canyon Road for Caltrans. It frames the most important entrance to our city. It should continue the character of the Canyon that we are so dedicated to preserving, and it should be beautiful, creating the setting for the art venues that follow. 

The Flood Control District doesn’t seem to be willing to consider working around the existing trees and preserving them. If we can’t save the existing trees, can we replace them? Not with trees that will grow to the same size of those we will lose. Both Caltrans and the Flood Control District have criteria that severely limit the size of proposed trees to be planted in their easements. In other words, they will only be happy with “trees” that look more like shrubs – not the Laguna Beach recommended sycamores and oaks that characterize the Canyon. 

Both the Council and the Planning Commission have been concerned about the project’s aesthetics, given its prominent location at the entrance to our village, and in April 2021 the Council voted to pay for more attractive fencing and walkway paving. In August 2021 and May of this year the Planning Commission reviewed the plans and expressed concerns about the loss of the site’s mature trees. They suggested several mitigations which have not been accepted by the Flood Control District. 

The Council will consider the proposed plan on August 2. Don’t wait to be shocked and upset when you see the devastation along the channel in front of the Sawdust. Don’t wait to be disappointed when no substantial trees are replanted. Now is the time to support another link in “saving the Canyon.” Support preserving more trees and replacing the rest with substantial Canyon-appropriate trees like the oaks and sycamores that have been planted at the Village Entrance. 

Laguna Beach is a town designed by artists and appreciated by nature-lovers. That’s why it has the character we all appreciate. Agencies proposing work within our town need to respect that tradition. 

Send your concerns to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and join Village Laguna to protect our village atmosphere at www.villagelaguna.org/.

Anne Caenn, President

Village Laguna

Having issues with our organic waste bin, what to do?

We have been diligently using our organic waste bin since the beginning of the year. I’m sure you’re aware that the green-top containers get disgusting no matter what one tries to do to reduce the gunk that collects in and around the containers. 

Many of the methods such as keeping food in the freezer or refrigerator until trash day, layering yard waste with food waste, adding baking soda, etc., do not work for many of us who live in smaller homes. We have a small freezer/refrig, our yard is small, and mostly paved (the Fire Chief will be happy) and we don’t generate much yard waste. Baking soda would need to be added in 10-pound increments.

I’ve also looked at the trash container cleaning services that come once a month for $60+ dollars (suggesting) rinsing our own trash container. However, with a small, mostly paved yard, this is a health hazard, adding flies, rats and stench in our small yard.

I have neighbors who refuse to recycle their organic waste because of these issues. And, I’ve seen other neighbors who rinse out their organic waste bins in the street!

Waste Management has instructed us NOT to use compostable bags to collect our organic waste. I don’t understand why. Cities that use CR&R waste collection can use compostable bags, so this can’t be a conflict with the state’s efforts to keep organic waste out of the landfills. Here’s what’s on San Clemente’s website:

Organics Cart Tips

–Put yard trimmings and/or newspaper at the bottom of your organics cart.

–Alternate layers of food scraps and yard trimmings to keep your cart cleaner.

Compostable bags are optional. Other plastic bags, including grocery bags, are not accepted.

–Store your cart in the shade during warm weather.

–Keep your food scraps in the freezer until collection day.

–Sprinkle baking soda in your organics cart.

Would you please push Waste Management on the issue of allowing us to use compostable bags with our organic recycling? There has to be a reasonable solution to this growing health hazard so we can safely recycle our organic food waste.

Meg Monahan

Laguna Beach

Presbyterian parking structure is a good idea

 I believe the parking structure proposed for the Presbyterian property on Third St. is a good idea. It will provide parking for the Laguna Beach Community Center and Susi Q Center events when their underground 72 spaces are full and also for City Hall, Farmers Market, Sawdust, Pageant/Festival, east side downtown shops and nearby restaurants, including Slice, Lumberyard, Zinc, Shirley’s Bagels, etc., and of course, the Presbyterian church.                   

I think we/the city should own the property, not the church.               

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

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Letters to the Editor

Concerned about behavior from those on the dais

I wanted to acknowledge Mayor Pro Tem Bob Whalen for telling Mr. Blake at the July 12, 2022 City Council meeting that his behavior does reflect on him and his colleagues. I thank you for finally speaking out about the horrible behavior that we’ve had to witness these last 3 1/2 years. 

If Bob Whalen continues to speak up at the council meetings and lets everyone know he will not put up with this kind of behavior, and if he calls for point of order when Mr. Blake interrupts the citizens, city staff and councilmembers, he’ll get my vote. 

As for Mayor Kempf’s remarks, after hearing Mayor Pro Tem Whalen’s comments about how Mr. Blake’s behavior reflects on them, she says nothing about Mr. Blake’s behaviors but tries to put the blame on Councilmember Weiss for Mr. Blake’s behavior. Councilmember Weiss has only been on the council for 1 1/2 years, how could she try to blame him? This only confirms she is okay with Mr. Blake belittling Laguna Beach residents and her colleagues. 

One council meeting, Councilmember Mr. Weiss, excited about the subject Mayor Kempf was sharing about, jumped in with his comments before the Mayor was finished; she was right to tell him to not interrupt her, but the next week there were several letters from citizens complaining about the mayor being interrupted by Councilmember Weiss. These concerned citizens have never commented on how Mr. Blake interrupts citizens, the staff and all the councilmembers; one must question this! 

I’ve heard Mayor Kempf interrupt Councilmember Iseman several times, why didn’t those concerned citizens write letters about that? I’ve also heard the City Manager, Shohreh Dupuis, interrupt Councilmember Iseman several times in one meeting, never letting Councilmember Iseman finish a comment. This behavior needs to stop.

I don’t understand it. They all, the mayor, mayor pro tem, the councilmembers and the city staff all work very hard, all have important jobs that we desperately need. All of them need to work together for the citizens and businesses and not try to make each other look bad by yelling at each other; no one needs to interrupt. Even when some of you have conflicts with a project being presented, or a citizen’s point of view is not yours, there is no reason for interrupting with rude comments. 

My suggestion is, get counseling, learn how to present your opinions with grace and by not belittling other colleagues or citizens. When you vote, we understand where you stand on certain items, so there is no need to force one’s opinion onto others. 

Mayor Pro Tem, again, thank you, if you continue trying to get civility in the council meetings, you’ll have my vote.

Liza Interlandi Stewart

Laguna Beach

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