Clayton Chau, M.D., Ph.D. selected County Health Officer

In a unanimous vote by the Orange County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday, Clayton Chau, M.D., Ph.D., was selected as County Health Officer. 

Dr. Chau will serve as the Director of the OC Health Care Agency (HCA) as well as County Health Officer. He was hired on as the HCA›s Director on May 4, 2020 and subsequently assumed the role as Acting County Health Officer on June 9, 2020.

Dr. Chau worked for the HCA’s Behavioral Health Services team from 1999-2012 and was most recently Chief Clinical and Strategy Officer for Mind OC, the not-for-profit created to support the advancement of Be Well OC.

In addition to his time at Mind OC, Dr. Chau was previous employed by Providence Health System, the third largest health system in the country, as the Regional Executive Medical Director of the Institute of Mental Health and Wellness, Southern California Region. Dr. Chau was also appointed by the 23rd U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services serving on the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee.

Clayton Chau

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Clayton Chau, M.D., Ph.D.

His past positions include Senior Medical Director for Health Services at L.A. Care Health Plan, the largest nonprofit health plan in the nation, responsible for behavioral health, care management, utilization management, and disease management. In that capacity, Dr. Chau was actively involved in the development of the Los Angeles County Whole Person Care Program. He was also the Co-Principal Investigator for a multi-year Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ innovation grant in Transforming Clinical Practice.

Dr. Chau received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Chelsea University in 2004, and his medical degree from the University of Minnesota in 1994. He completed his psychiatry residency at the University of California, Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley followed by a fellowship with the National Institute of Mental Health in psychoneuroimmunology focusing on substance use disorder and HIV. Additionally, he has served as an Associate Clinical Professor and lecturer at a variety of renowned academic institutions including the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Irvine.  Dr. Chau has conducted international trainings in the areas of health care integration, health care system reform, cultural competency, and mental health policy.


Guest Column

R Star Foundation remains in action amid COVID-19

By Rosalind Russell, founder and CEO of R Star Foundation 

Here is a bit of an account on what is happening regardless of COVID-19.

R Star continues producing handmade feminine pads thanks to the efforts of our volunteers. Over 1,000 kits are ready to ship. Once the Nepal borders are fully reopened, our couriers will deliver the kits to Patan Rotary Club, whose members will distribute them – with training – to our village females. The how-to-pattern will be included so the women can make their own, even go into business for villages we do not serve, which is an income producing business. This is a great thing for our women. 

Paving the rural roads, which are now doubled in size, continues, though slowly. The same is true of the water to the homes project – slow, but still in movement, which means success. The slowness has to do with COVID-19 restrictions, as the municipality offices that do the inspections and provide materials are closed. 

R Star benches

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Teachers, Principal Jitu, and Rabin

With COVID-19 testing more available in Nepal, more people are testing positive. Many have yet to learn how social distancing works to help them and not wearing masks hinders them too. With the biggest holiday in the past – Dashain – celebrating was different for everyone. Generally, everyone goes about visiting beyond families but not this year. Their next big holiday – Tihar – began the 14th of this month and holds the same restrictions for gathering. The world is restrained, and human contact is certainly limited.

The Nepalese are a hearty people. This isn’t to say they aren’t suffering as we have witnessed. Food isn’t as available as before because of restrictions to travel from one village to another. China is in the process of literally redirecting so much water from Nepal, little will reach India, which is dependent upon it. Warring will ensue, which, of course, is less than agreeable for a better life anywhere in the world.

R Star children

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 Before COVID-19, children lined up and ready to learn

Our children are not allowed to attend school. Our teachers go door-to-door gathering up to five children to continue their education which is held outside. However, it is not as convenient or all-encompassing as it was following the earthquakes 5.5 years ago, which we thought to be miserable for the children yet now it is worse!

We want to bring educational learning toys and books to the children. We are thinking if you wish to help, perhaps you can gift us the toy cost you would give your child? Overall, we can purchase the same educational toy in Nepal in your name. Let us know. Your help and your interest make a difference. 

To know more of what we do and who we are, visit our website: www.RStarFoundation.org. A donor site is available with our recent newsletter.  We cannot do what we do so well without the support of you!

To contact us by mail, send to: PO Box 4183, Laguna Beach, CA 92652; by phone, call (949) 497-4911; by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Locals for Laguna Beach steps up to “Save the Bird” with T-shirt fundraiser

By DIANNE RUSSELL

The Sandpiper Lounge is a family business that also happens to be a Laguna Beach institution. In 2019, Chuck Harrell, owner of the Sandpiper, told Stu News, “My uncle opened the Sandpiper in 1942, and he had it for about 12 years. Then he sold the business, and it changed hands four times. In ‘69, my brother and I were right out of the military and the place was up for sale. So my mom asked us if we wanted to try the bar business. We said, ‘Sure.’ So we bought the bar, and to clear escrow, we were rolling quarters.”

Chuck, his brother Chip, and their mother Jeana officially took ownership of the bar on December 6, 1969. (Sadly, Chip passed away in 2018.)

Now, almost 51 years later, the Sandpiper – like all businesses – has been hit hard by the pandemic.

To help Chuck and his wife Jeannie, Locals for Laguna Beach is selling “Save the Bird” T-shirts with the proceeds going to Chuck and Jeannie. 

Locals for Laguna Beach Chuck Harrell 1

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Chuck Harrell at Sandpiper Lounge in May of 2019

Jason Garza of Locals for Laguna Beach says, “I called Chuck repeatedly to ask the status of the Sandpiper. He said they had been closed the entire year and unable to open because the new COVID-19 mandates state you must serve food with any alcohol, and they are strictly a bar. He had just spent money on renovations just weeks before the surprise closing was enforced. It was the first in decades so they were out more money than usual to begin with.” 

Chuck and Jeannie attended several Local for Laguna Beach weekly meetings (where locals from town address how we can help the town and what projects are most needed) and Garza, along with Melissa Martinez and Jeff Booth, came up with the idea to create a limited edition shirt from Locals for Laguna Beach, specifically with the intention of raising money for the Harrells. 

The idea for the graphics came from Melissa, who took a picture of the famous door covered in decades of stickers and put it on a shirt. Martinez and Garza designed the front logo, which is a homage to the very first logo the Sandpiper had but with a new vibe. 

Locals for Laguna Beach Chuck Harrell 2

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Fundraiser T-shirt was inspired by the Sandpiper’s famous door covered in decades of stickers

“In the nature of how Locals for Laguna Beach works (involve and support as many from the community as possible per project), we reached out to Summer Meek of Soul Project to make these special shirts, so that it could literally be made in Laguna by locals and for locals,” says Garza. “They are of highest quality and printing possible with no expense spared.”

To purchase a “Save the Bird” T-shirt, click here.

For more information about Locals for Laguna Beach go to www.LocalsForLagunaBeach.com.

For questions, email Jason at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Barbara’s Column

Era ends at Laguna’s library

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Laguna’s library has come a long way since Mrs. Bafford opened a library in 1919 in a storefront on Cedar Way and Jasmine Street and lent books, charging borrowers one or two cents per book, per day.

For more than 50 years that progress has been supported and partially financed by the Friends of the Laguna Beach Library, and for 32 of those years, Martha Lydick presided over the group, following in the footsteps of the late Charleton Boyd.

An era ended this month when Lydick retired as president. She remains a member of the Board of Directors as immediate past president. Her son, “Chip,” joins her on the board.

“Mom told me she had been interested in books since high school,” said her son. “She said she showed a teacher a list of all the books she had read, and he wanted book reports on all of them.”

Lydick moved to Laguna Beach in 1967 with Chip, then three, when she married attorney Lawrence Lydick, who was appointed to a federal judgeship in 1971 by President Richard Nixon.

Their Mystic Hills home was a casualty of the 1993 fire. 

She recalled driving her 1967 Shelby Fastback down the hill that dreadful day.

“The Shelby was not meant to be driven six miles an hour,” said Lydick. “It overheated, and I had to pull into almost every driveway along the street.” 

But she made it to the highway. Her Baccarat crystal Christmas ornaments were gone. So was her cherished collection of cookbooks, but she, her beloved cat, Damon, and her ailing husband, who was driving their other car, were safe. 

Era ends Martha and Chip

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Outgoing President Martha Lydick and her son Chip

She vowed their home would be rebuilt before he died. They moved back in July of 1995. 

That same year, the Judge arranged to have a poster made of a newspaper article praising the fundraising efforts of the Friends to prevent budget cuts by the county from reducing the hours the library would be open. 

A photograph of Martha Lydick is featured, posed in front of a painted tree with ceramic leaves naming donors to the library, created by the late Beverly Mosier.

The poster arrived after the Judge died December 15, 1995. It hangs in her grandson Vaughn’s room. 

However, books and the library were not Lydick’s sole interest. 

Lydick loves all animals, including horses, and began attending races at Santa Anita in 1967. She became such a familiar sight that she was greeted on arrival by “Call to the Post” by bugler Jay Cohen.

After years of feline companions, she now shares her home with two dogs. 

Lydick also was the longtime president of the Laguna Beach Republicans and the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Association.

As the Taxpayers president, she rebutted a ballot argument in favor of a parcel tax in 2012, quoting President Thomas Jefferson: “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.” (Still an issue in Laguna.)

She also personally has supported a variety of nonprofits, ranging from the Laguna Beach Community Clinic to the Performing Arts Center. She served on the Board of the Laguna Playhouse. 

Lydick has been succeeded as president of the Friends of the Laguna Beach Library by Karyn Philippsen, a member of the group for 20 years. 

Also recently elected: Vice President Justin Myers (website), Secretary Angela Irish, Treasurer Susan Kent and directors Jackie Hall (bookstore liaison), outgoing Vice President Sandy Hovanesian, Ellen Girardeau Kempler, Karl Koski, Ed Peterson, Jessica deStefano (garden), Randy Ray, on leave of absence, and both Lydicks.

Era ends Karyn and Justin

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(L-R) Martha, Chip, incoming President Karyn Philippsen, and incoming Vice President Justin Myers

The Friends’ Board regularly meets the first Tuesday of each month at 3 p.m. at the Library. However under COVID-19 restrictions, the most recent meeting was held in Heisler Park. 

“Depending on COVID guidelines and limitations, the 2021 calendar is in limbo, but the board is anxious to return to a productive schedule,” said Philippsen.

The Laguna Beach Library was organized in 1920 when representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, PTA, Community Club, Woman’s Club, and the Art Association created the Library Board. 

Leota Woy was named the first volunteer librarian and the first-ever fundraiser was held in 1922. Guests were required to come dressed as popular literary characters. More than 60 books were donated, a tradition carried on at the Friends’ annual Membership Dinner.

The library acquired a 1,000-square-foot space near the current library in 1925. It cost $2,500. 

Business was humming. By 1939, when a reading room was added, circulation had reached 60,000 books a year. More room was needed and in 1953, a new 2,200-square-foot library was built on the original site. 

Two years later, the Laguna Beach Building Association became the Friends of the Laguna Beach Library. 

In 1986, a 10,000-square-foot building was constructed on the corner of Glenneyre Street and Laguna Avenue, and the Friends opened the bookstore, operated then as now by volunteers.

When the county went bankrupt in 1993, the Friends subsidized library staff and services.

The next year, they helped fund an addition, dubbed the Fiction Room. 

Besides donating money to buy books, the Friends have funded technical equipment, new front doors to the building, new lighting, a remodel of the Children’s Library, painting the original wood exterior gray, and the Butterfly Garden, created and tended by deStefano.

Era ends Butterfly Garden

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Lyla enjoys the beauty and wonder of the Butterfly Garden. There are fairy houses hidden throughout the garden.

Additionally, deStefano has written a book about the garden: Where Fairies Dance.

The garden is a special treat for children, who leave messages in the fairy houses. The messages are answered. 

The nonprofit organization has paid to reframe historic watercolors exhibited in the library, and for a mural in the children’s section, not to mention children’s programs. 

The annual Children’s Reading Program culminates with a picnic at Bluebird Park and the awarding of medals by Laguna Beach firefighters to youngsters who have completed the program themselves or with the assistance of their parents.

But none of this would have happened without the dedication of the members of the Friends of the Library and its leaders, with Martha Lydick at the helm for more than three decades. 

Donations of used books to the bookstore when it reopens are the best way to honor her contributions. Volunteers also will be essential.

In the meantime: Be safe.

Contributions to this column are welcomed. Submit to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Touching Remembrance Ceremony marks the fifth anniversary of Officer Jon Coutchie’s passing

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Beloved fallen LBPD Motor Officer Jon Coutchie, who, devastatingly, was killed in a crash on Sept 21, 2013, at the young age of 41, was remembered last Friday, Sept 21 at the City Remembrance Ceremony, along with Officer Gordon French, who was killed while on duty in 1953. 

touching remembrance honor

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Honor guards

touching remembrance calvert

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Gabbi Denny, LBHS junior, sings the National Anthem; Capt Jeff Calvert salutes

touching remembrance mother

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Luciana Coutchie, Officer Jon Coutchie’s mother, with Corp David Gensemer

touching remembrance guns

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The Irvine Honor Guard prepares for the 21-gun salute

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Guests placed roses at the foot of the memorial

Six months after Coutchie became a motor officer in March 2013, he died after a crash at Cleo Street and Coast Highway while responding to a report of a reckless driver.

The ceremony marked the fifth anniversary of Officer Coutchie’s End of Watch.


Family Night at Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach announced for May 3

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is excited to announce “Family Night” at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach on Friday, May 3 from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be a commensurate workshop to empower parents and caregivers on drug and alcohol prevention. 

A movie will be viewed and pizza, salad, and refreshments will be served for all families attending. The cost is $20 per family and the location is at the Main Branch. This event is open to all Boys & Girls families and the community, including non-members.

Family Night outside

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Families are invited to join the Boys & Girls Club for Family Night 

Parents’ Workshop Schedule includes:

--6  - 7 p.m., Waymakers Impaired Driving Coalition (https://waymakersoc.org/educating-communities/)

--7 - 8 p.m., Kids from the Other Side Film and Q & A (www.kftos.org)

Kids Recreation Schedule: (Childcare provided – Kindergarten to High School)

--6 - 8 p.m., Games, movie, pizza, and refreshments.

For more information about family night, contact Jennifer MacDonell at (949) 715-7786, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit the Club website at www.bgclagunabeach.org.

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach service area includes Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest, and the surrounding communities, and occupies three sites in Laguna Beach: Canyon Branch, Bluebird Branch, and Lang Branch. 

Together, the Club offers a nationally recognized and award-winning year round Out-of-School enrichment program that focuses on the whole family. From preschool to parenting classes, The Boys & Girls Club offers an array of services that focus on: academic success, good character and citizenship, healthy lifestyles, and creative expression. Being an indispensable asset to the families of our community is a Boys & Girls Club time-honored tradition. 

For over 60 years, The Boys & Girls Club strives to support the youth of Laguna Beach through out of school recreation that celebrates the whole child. For more information about The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, visit www.bgclagunabeach.org or call (949) 494-2535.

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach Main Branch is located at 1085 Laguna Canyon Rd.


Animal activists Diane Keaton and Maggie Q join board of Social Compassion in Legislation

Renowned actors and animal activists Diane Keaton and Maggie Q have joined the board of directors for Social Compassion in Legislation (SCIL), a leading political animal advocacy group creating and changing laws to support animal rights, protection, and welfare, led by local Judie Mancuso.

Keaton, whose acting career includes an Academy Award for Annie Hall and a Golden Globe for Something’s Gotta Give, has been deeply involved in animal rescue for many years. 

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Diane Keaton joins board of directors for SCIL

“People need to stand up for animals who cannot stand up for themselves,” said Diane Keaton, a legendary movie icon, producer, director, and actor who has received four Academy Award nominations. “Social Compassion in Legislation does the real work of pushing for change at the local, state and federal level, and I’m proud to be working with them on behalf of animals great and small.”

Maggie Q, who has starred in films including the Divergent trilogy and Mission: Impossible III as well as TV’s Designated Survivor and Nikita, has been an animal rights activist, working on anti-fur campaigns and raising awareness of industries that use and abuse animals.

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Maggie Q also joins the board of directors for SCIL

Since 2007, Social Compassion in Legislation has sponsored groundbreaking groundbreaking bills to save and protect animals. This year alone, the Southern California-based organization has introduced a slate of bills that are winding their way through the California Legislature regarding topics ranging from outlawing the use of animals in circuses and banning fur trapping, to incentivizing plant-based lunch options for K-12 students and mandating microchipping for dogs and cats leaving animal shelters. 

Past legislative successes have made it illegal to leave an animal in any unattended vehicle in extreme weather, banned puppy mills and other commercially bred cats and rabbits from pet stores, and prohibited sales of cosmetics and personal hygiene products in California that have been tested on animals. These bills are being replicated in states across the country. 

High profile entertainment industry actors have a unique opportunity to use their voice to influence millions of people. The fact that these two compassionate superstars are joining our group to raise their voices further on behalf of animals will certainly enhance efforts both on the ground and in the halls of the Capitol,” said Laguna Beach resident Judie Mancuso, Founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation. 

“I’m looking forward to working alongside Diane and Maggie to continue and grow support to save even more animals from suffering and save lives. We’re eager to see where we can go next.”

In addition to pushing the group’s legislative platform, SCIL is also working with the Governor’s Administration, legislators, Santa Anita Park, PETA, and several other animal rights groups and stakeholders to create meaningful change within the horseracing industry, an issue that has been raised this year due to the 29 thoroughbreds’ deaths at Santa Anita since December 26.

For more information, visit www.socialcompassioninlegislation.org.


The nose knows   

The nose Leonard

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Photo by Leonard Porto III

Leonard Porto III and Nestor – They nose each other well


Unitarian Universalist Fellowship presents 

Rev. James Ishmael on Sunday

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Laguna Beach is pleased to announce the return of Rev. James Ishmael Ford to its pulpit at on Sunday, June 30 at 10:30 a.m.

 Rev. Ford’s presentation is entitled “Once a Thief: A Story of the Spiritual Life,” and is based upon an ancient story derived from the Hindu tradition but adapted to Ford’s spiritual experiences. 

Unitarian Universalist Rev Ishmael

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Rev. James Ishmael Ford will speak on Sunday, June 30

Rev. Ford has walked the spiritual path for more than fifty years. He’s danced with Sufis, studied with Gnostics, lived in a Buddhist monastery, and was ordained a Zen priest. He was later ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister. 

Since April 1 he has been serving as the part-time consulting minister with the Unitarian Universalist Church in Anaheim. He also guides the Empty Moon Zen Sangha, a Soto Zen Buddhist community of practice. 

He has written widely on Buddhism, Zen, and Unitarian Universalism. His articles have appeared in the Unitarian Universalist World, Buddha dharma, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, and other journals. He has written five books, most recently Introduction to Zen Koans: Learning the Language of Dragons (Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2018). 

For additional information, contact Rachel Daniels at (310) 714-2699 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Laguna Beach is located at 429 Cypress Dr.


Governor Newsom approves funding for Crystal Cove historic cottage restoration

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, a Laguna Beach resident, has been working tirelessly in Sacramento to help Crystal Cove Conservancy secure funding for the restoration of the final cottages at Crystal Cove State Park. 

On June 28, Governor Gavin Newsom approved $2.9M in funding from this year’s general fund budget that will be dedicated to the restoration of the 17 historic cottages located along the shores of Crystal Cove on the Newport Coast. These funds will assist with providing additional low-cost coastal accommodations at Crystal Cove State Park Historic District. 

“Drawing two million annual visitors, Crystal Cove is a gem on the California coast,” said Petrie-Norris. “I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I was able to secure state funding for the final phase of this historic renovation project.” 

“Crystal Cove Conservancy is delighted to have Governor Newsom’s support at this critical time in Crystal Cove’s history,” stated Founder Emeritus and co-chair of the campaign Laura Davick. “This critical funding will kick off the vision for completion that so many have for this park. We are ever so grateful for both Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris and Governor Newsom as Crystal Cove’s 2019 Park Champions.”

Last year, on October 1, Crystal Cove Conservancy closed a $19M public campaign to begin the infrastructure portion of the project. The project began on December 1 and is currently under construction and ahead of schedule. This extensive site work and all necessary infrastructure is expected to be completed by June of 2020. The Conservancy is working with a variety of state agencies to create a vision for completion at Crystal Cove. 

These 17 cottages at Crystal Cove have sat empty for 18 years. This Heritage Legacy Project for California represents the last area within the historic district to be restored. Once these final 17 cottages have been restored and opened to the public for the very first time, the historic district will become financially self-sustaining, supporting new and expanded preservation, conservation, and education programs for future generations to come.

Governor Newsom cottages

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North Beach Crystal Cove cottages

New estimates for the final pricing expected for the cottage restoration portion of the project will be obtained this summer. The Conservancy is in the planning stages for the second and final portion of the fundraising campaign and is seeking additional private donations, grants, and public funding in addition to funding from a variety of state and government agencies. 

Crystal Cove represents one of the few existing lower-cost coastal accommodations along the coast of California. Occupancy rates are consistently at 98.8 percent year-round and the demand for reservations is unprecedented. With the reservation system managed by State Parks (ReserveCalifornia.com), now available daily, for six months in advance, both dorm-style lodges and cottages are booked within minutes.

The cottages at Crystal Cove are a great destination for low-income families or individuals. The average cost per person, per night, in a dorm-style lodge is $19.06 and $38.01 per person in a private cottage that sleeps up to 9 guests. 

These rates are based upon the January 2019 rack rates. All rentable units are located on the beach, steps from the ocean, with free parking and kitchenettes included. Currently, the majority of Crystal Cove overnight guests come from California with a surprising number from inland and low-income communities like Los Angeles, Santa Ana, National City, and Cathedral City.

This is the final component of Crystal Cove State Park Historic District and completes the final plan for this park. A future dorm-style cottage with shared bathrooms will also be available to house school groups participating in the coastal engineering education programs currently being developed with the University of California, Irvine. 

Currently, 24,000 guests stay in the low-cost accommodations annually. Once the restoration of the final 17 cottages is completed the occupancy will be doubled to 48,000 occupants each year. California State Parks, the State Coastal Conservancy, and the California Coastal Commission have been outstanding partners on the completion of the first 29 cottages completed to date.

Governor Newsom crane

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North Beach crane during construction

These agencies have also been cooperating with Crystal Cove Conservancy on the final phase of this project. Crystal Cove Conservancy is hopeful that with Governor Newsom’s support, between existing Prop 68 and 84 Park Bond funding, State Coastal Conservancy low-cost coastal accommodation funding, California Coastal Commission in lieu fees, and other funds, that sufficient resources will be available to fund the final phase of restoration and complete this Heritage Legacy Project for California. 

Crystal Cove has been identified as a national model for public private partnerships, with a commitment to providing full public access and low-cost overnight accommodations along the coast of California. The rates for the remaining 17 future cottages will mirror the existing range of affordable options offered at Crystal Cove State Park. 

“Once this entire project has been completed, due to a long-term management contract held by The Conservancy, Crystal Cove State Park Historic District becomes a self-sustaining model for the future. One hundred years from now, Crystal Cove will be even more important, and more loved, than it is today,” continued Davick.   

Project benefits include:

--Preserve Crystal Cove Historic District, a nationally registered historic place, for the education and enjoyment of visitors and future generations to come. 

--Restore full, public access to the beach and state park, including North Beach. 

--Renovate and open to the public the remaining 17 historic cottages, update infrastructure, and improve accessibility. This project will double the existing overnight rental opportunities at Crystal Cove and provide an additional 24,000 heads on pillows per year. 

--Develop coastal engineering programs and provide an overnight lodging facility for student education. 

--Protect the natural environment, which fosters Crystal Cove Conservancy’s mission and supports a vision of a fully restored and sustainable Crystal Cove State Park Historic District. 

--Enhance the quality, availability, and sustainability of educational programs and outreach to all park visitors.

Crystal Cove Conservancy is the nonprofit public benefit partner to Crystal Cove State Park, employing a social enterprise model to fund important preservation, education, and conservation initiatives that will cultivate our planet’s next generation of environmental stewards ensuring that Crystal Cove, and places like it, live on for generations. 

For more information, visit www.crystalcove.org.


Laguna Beach Seniors hosts bridge classes for advanced beginners

On Tuesdays, July 16 and 23 from 9 to 11 a.m., and again on August 20 and 27, Laguna Beach Seniors will host summer bridge classes for advanced beginners at the Susi Q.

Gold Life Master and ACL accredited teacher Jane Dober will instruct the two, 2-week class sessions this summer. Each class begins with a lesson and is followed up with 8 - 12 pre-dealt boards to play. No partner is needed.

Susi Q outside

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LB Seniors is proud to offer summer bridge classes for the community at the Susi Q Center

The cost is $30 for the two-week series. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to register.

For more information, visit www.thesusiq.org or call (949) 464-6645. 

The Susi Q is located at 380 Third St.


Presidential Candidate Amy Klobuchar visits Laguna Beach Democratic Club

On Sunday, Aug 4, the Laguna Beach Democratic Club proudly welcomed 2020 Presidential Candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar to an evening reception at the home of club president Lara Horgan. 

Following a town hall, with several hundred in attendance, at the Democratic Party of Orange County headquarters, Senator Klobuchar headed down to Laguna which, she says, holds a special place in her heart.

Klobuchar began her comments with a story about a vacation she took with a friend, while a student at Yale University. “We stayed in LA, but we drove down, every day, to go to the beach in Laguna Beach. We loved it so much. Never did I dream that I would someday be addressing the Democratic Club of Laguna Beach as a candidate for President of the United States!”

Presidential candidate Klobuchar

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2020 Presidential Candidate, Senator Amy Klobuchar 

Senator Klobuchar expressed grief and sadness about the mass shootings that occurred over the weekend in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. She spoke at length about her years-long struggle to enact federal gun safety laws. 

The Senator described her background as the granddaughter of an immigrant who worked as a miner and saved money, in a coffee can, to pay for tuition at a community college for her father. 

The daughter of a journalist and a schoolteacher, she expressed her commitment to making college more affordable. Senator Klobuchar also discussed a wide range of topics including climate change, healthcare affordability, election security, infrastructure, tariffs and trade agreements, and consumer safety. 

Following a question and answer period, the formal portion of the evening ended with many in the crowd chanting, “Amy K, all the way!” Finally, the Senator mingled with the crowd for some time, talking with voters and posing for pictures.

Presidential candidate crowd

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Guests in the crowd ended the evening chanting “Amy K, all the way” 

The evening was part of Laguna Beach Democratic Club’s commitment to educating citizens and encouraging greater civic engagement. 

The club’s next monthly meeting will be held on September 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Susi Q Community Center. The evening will feature experts on women’s reproductive rights. Judge Lynn Riddle (Ret.), Senior Fellow, Center for Biotechnology at the University of California at Irvine and Patti Compton, Chair, Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood, will discuss the intersection of politics and women’s healthcare.

Scott Rhinehart, candidate for State Assembly, 73rd district, will discuss his campaign. Guests are welcome. For more information on the Laguna Beach Democratic Club, visit www.lagunabeachdemocraticclub.com or visit the club’s Facebook page.


Don’t Stop Believin’ Gala raises $1 Million for Shea Therapeutic Riding Center

The Shea Center Gala recently filled the Montage Laguna Beach Grand Ballroom with 450 friends and generous sponsors of the J. F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center in San Juan Capistrano.

The June 1 event was the premier therapeutic riding center’s 28th annual gala. This year’s theme grew from the popularity of 1980s music, and the hit song “Don’t Stop Believin’” from the rock band Journey. 

The “Don’t Stop Believin’” gala also honored the positive outlook and courage of Shea Center clients, and their families who never stop believing in their abilities and potential successes.

Arriving gala guests were dressed in fashion styles from the 80s – known for big, bright, extreme fashions, such as “big hair,” new wave, and punk rock. The gala attendees were greeted with well-remembered music from that decade. One of the guests dressed as lead singer Gene Simmons from the band KISS and his wife as Madonna. 

Everyone gathered on the luxury resort’s Pacific Lawn, as strolling servers offered guests specialty cocktails and appetizers. Always a favorite, the “Wine Wall” returned this year, where guests made choices from a foliage wall with only arms and hands in sight offering a variety of stemmed glasses of wine. 

Surrounding the guests were 195 silent auction items carefully arrayed on draped tables. In two special areas, extraordinary collections of fine wines and high-value luxury items were offered. This included jewelry from Winston’s Crown Jewelers and David Yurman creations, and South Coast Plaza gift certificates leading to Giorgio Armani, Coach, Ralph Lauren, Jimmy Choo, and Tod’s. Also available were romantic getaway packages ranging from the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel to Les Saisons Sun Valley, Idaho. 

Later in the evening, opportunity drawing winners took home a David Yurman at South Coast Plaza pendant necklace with pavé diamonds and a signature cable motif; and a $2,000 gift certificate for Ralph Lauren at South Coast Plaza. 

As the coastal temperature began to cool, guests were invited into the Grand Ballroom for a sumptuous dinner and the evening’s program. The menu by Montage Laguna Beach senior chef Jackson Tiano was specifically created for this special evening. 

Shea Center Executive Director Dana Butler-Moburg welcomed guests and set the scene by reflecting on the Center’s 41 years of improving the lives of people with disabilities through therapeutic horse-related programs. She also thanked past recipients of the “Michael Lewis Friends of the Disabled Award.” 

That award named after the riding center’s first rider in 1978 celebrates the contributions of individuals, organizations, families, and companies that positively affect the lives of people with disabilities at The Shea Center and in the greater community. 

Don't Stop Jeff

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Laguna Beach resident Jeff Cunningham was presented with the “Michael Lewis Friends” award

Later in the evening, this year’s “Michael Lewis Friends” award was presented to Jeff Cunningham from Laguna Beach. Butler-Moburg spoke about Cunningham as a Shea Center board member. 

She said, “Jeff Cunningham gets things done. He looks at the impossible and makes it possible. He leads with grace and integrity; he’s a leader to admire and truly one of the good guys!” 

Gala emcee and auctioneer Jim Nye offered Shea Center friends an array of travel and culinary experiences on which to bid. Included were: 

--An in-home three-course dinner and cocktail demonstration for six prepared by Chef Mellgren of Craft House in Dana Point, in which Mellgren will create, teach, and share recipes. 

--A luxurious two-night romantic getaway at Montage Laguna Beach. 

--A Meritage Resort and Spa Napa Valley getaway, traveling with JetsuiteX and the use of a luxury car while there. 

--An Exclusive Resorts luxury getaway from a worldwide list of exquisitely appointed residences. 

--An elegant private dinner for 12 at the Chef’s Table in Studio at Montage Laguna Beach. 

--A one-year Monarch Beach Resort Family Spa & Fitness Membership. 

--An unforgettable six days in a charming apartment in the heart of Paris, France. 

--Dinner for 25 at the new Glasspar Restaurant in Dana Point for seafood, and an oyster bar and tap room. Owner and chef Rob Wilson will personally prepare and host the evening. Specialty meats provided by The Butchery Quality Meats; wine provided by Riverain Vineyards. 

Also auctioned, with the help of young Nick Green and his dad Jimmy, was a pint-sized remote-controlled kid’s Ferrari, a la “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” 

Dana Butler-Moburg returned to the podium to introduce the Fosheim Rider Support Fund, which raises money that goes directly to Shea Center program needs and financial aid for riders. 

Dana explained, “There is an important number to remember about us when you think about how we are funded...zero! We receive no federal, state, or county dollars at The Shea Center. Our rider fees are less than 14 percent of our total $4.4 million operating budget. We are supported almost entirely by private, generous gifts from people like you.”

The Fosheim fundraising started fast with an initial gift of $50,000 from Bill and Jenny Klein. Quickly the ballroom was full of waving bid paddles. The energy level jumped further when Eden and George O’Connell excited the room with a $100,000 donation. By the time the Fosheim Fund closed, it had generated $409,000. 

The reported gala proceeds from the entire evening were just over $1 million. “It was a fantastic evening for our guests and for our clients,” said Butler-Moburg. “The generosity of our friends was overwhelming; we are truly grateful for the support that transforms the lives of those we serve.” 

Gala Co-Chairs were Allyson Constantino, of Laguna Niguel, and Pam Moellenhoff, of Dana Point. The Premier Sponsor was The Klein Family of Laguna Hills; Event Sponsors were Irvine BMW/The Damon & Karyn Shelly Family of Laguna Beach; and the Moellenhoff Family, of Dana Point; the Entertainment Sponsor was the O’Connell Family Foundation Trust in San Juan Capistrano; Platinum Sponsors were Ira Hermann-Capstone Partners in Newport Beach, and Nancy and Derek Lewis of Newport Beach; Gold Sponsors were The Gilbert Aguirre Family Trust of San Juan Capistrano, John M. Frank Construction, Inc. of Laguna Hills, The Gregory Family of San Juan Capistrano, and South Coast Plaza; The Media Sponsor was COAST Magazine

The Shea Center in San Juan Capistrano is a privately funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization addressing 75 different physical and cognitive disabilities. Licensed therapists, certified instructors, and dedicated volunteers work with trained therapy horses in a modern equestrian facility to improve client strength, coordination, and ability. 

Many clients speak their first words or take their first steps at The Shea Center. 75 cents of every dollar of revenue goes directly to program services; 17 cents go to fundraising expenses; and eight cents goes to management and general operating expenses. 

For more information about The Shea Center, go to www.sheacenter.org or call (949) 240-8441, ext. 109.


Twilight twinges

Twilight twinges sunset

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Photo by CJ Foley

The golden rays of sunset bring both joy and the sorrow of day’s end


Discovery Cube Innovators host free Science of Golf event on Aug 22

Discovery Cube Orange County is hosting its first Laguna Beach community event on Thursday, Aug 22 at the Ranch Laguna Beach from 4 to 7 p.m. All are invited to join in for celebration and learning.

Laguna Beach citizens have a long history supporting the Cube. The Innovators, led by Chair Janet Ray, is celebrating its 10th year. The group’s lifetime founding members from Laguna Beach include Shelly and Steve Hupp. 

Other community leaders in the collective include Donnie Crevier, Ellen and Michael Fine, Jane and Joe Hanauer, and Barbara and Greg MacGillivray.

Discovery Cube CEO

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Discovery Cube CEO Joe Adams with Greg MacGillivray

Innovators enjoy quarterly “Science of” events as well as exclusive opportunities at the museum. The group is comprised of lifelong learners who value how the nonprofit creates a growth mindset and a love of learning. In line with the Cube’s mission to Inspire, Educate and Impact the community, each Innovator gathering leaves guests feeling enlightened. 

According to Laguna Beach donor Michael Ray, “I have found that kids like the Cube as much as they like Disneyland. It is simply an amazing place and experience for children and their families.”

Discovery Cube’s mission is to inspire and educate young minds through engaging science-based programs and exhibits to create a meaningful impact on the communities it serves.

Discovery Cube astronaut

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Discovery Cube CEO Joe Adams with Innovator Leadership Chair Janet M. Ray and NASA astronaut Yvonne D. Cagel

The museum values the importance of providing access to STEM education for all pre-K to 12th grade students, regardless of ability to pay, through exhibits and program services. Program offerings are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to foster science-based discovery through four core initiatives:

1. STEM Proficiency – Increasing students’ and teachers’ proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and math, in order to prepare students to successfully enter the workforce with 21st century skills. 

2. Environmental Stewardship – Encouraging positive behaviors that result in eco-friendly living and in making educated decisions that will result in the extension of our natural resources. 

3. Healthy Living – Educating families about healthy living and the interconnectivity of body systems, mental health, and nutrition to increase their physical and psychological wellness. 

4. Early Learning – Providing parents and guardians with knowledge and training to teach children how to read, understand numbers and complex language, and achieve STEM proficiency in school readiness skills. 

Discovery Cube Elizabeth

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Dr. Elizabeth Van E  of UCI and Rick Ferre from Eon Reality

To learn more about Discovery Cube, visit www.discoverycube.org or contact Laguna Beach resident and Director of Development Michelle Highberg at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for any questions about the event or Innovators.


JUDA! Judaic Arts After-School Program begins on Sept 10

JUDA! Judaic Arts After-School Program kicks off on Tuesday, Sept 10 at Chabad of Laguna Beach. The program will inspire Judaism through the arts with Laguna Beach artists, chefs, musicians, woodworkers, fitness specialists, and nature enthusiasts.

At JUDA after-school program, Chabad strives to keep the curriculum diverse by exploring the full beauty of Jewish traditions, history, values, and culture. At JUDA, students will discover and celebrate holidays together, with local artists bringing the learning to life. 

JUDA Judaic kids

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Courtesy of chabadoflaguna.com 

Chabad’s JUDA after-school program starts on Tuesday, Sept 10 

JUDA outdoors makes the whole world the classroom, and through Chabad’s outings will instill Jewish values of kindness, empathy, respect, and joy of living. JUDA kids will take part in the highly acclaimed Aleph Champion program, a highly motivational system time tested and proven to be the fastest and most effective method of teaching Hebrew reading.

The program will be held on Tuesdays from 4:30 - 6 p.m., September to June, for ages 3-13.

For more information, visit www.chabadoflaguna.com or call (949) 499-0770 and ask for Perel. 

Chabad of Laguna Beach is located at 30804 South Pacific Coast Hwy.


Laguna Beach Books to host event with poet Patty Seyburn on Sept 15

On Sunday, Sept 15 at 4 p.m., Laguna Beach Books is pleased to welcome local poet Patty Seyburn to the store. Patty will be discussing and signing copies of her most recent book, Threshold Delivery. There is no charge for this event. 

In Threshold Delivery, poems range from short personal meditations and anecdotal narratives to associative flights of imagination and winding explorations, replete with historical oddities and popular culture.

Laguna Beach Books Patty Seyburn

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Photo by Stacia Stabler 

Laguna Beach Books opens its doors to the community to meet poet Patty Seyburn on Sunday, Sept 15

Densely musical and voice driven, poems take the reader on journeys through personal and family history, mapping the movement of the heart and mind through life’s most challenging moments. 

A series of poems, on the surface about Mah Jongg, look at interweaving cultural histories and how the social world affects our behavior, while asking us to consider what we inherit, what we bring with, and what we pass down, as we “draw and discard.”

Patty Seyburn grew up in Detroit. She earned a BS and an MS in Journalism from Northwestern University, an MFA in Poetry from the University of California, Irvine, and a Ph.D. in Poetry and Literature from the University of Houston. She is a Professor at California State University, Long Beach. She lives in California with her husband, Eric Little, and her children, Sydney and William. And their fish, Stanley.

For more information, visit www.lagunabeachbooks.com.

Laguna Beach Books is located at 1200 South Coast Hwy.


Pumpkin sky

Pumpkin sky stoplight

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Harvest colors usher in the fall and create ghostly silhouettes 


Impact Giving opens grant season with kickoff event on Sept 28

For the eleventh year, local nonprofit organization Impact Giving announces the kickoff of the 2020 grant season. The team of women partners from Laguna Beach who form the core of the organization aim to change lives both locally and globally through the power of collective giving.

To celebrate the opening of grant season, Impact Giving will host an intimate event at Manassero Farms in Irvine on Saturday, Sept 28 from 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Mimosas, wine, a three-course lunch, and lots of fun are guaranteed.

The event is open to the public and will allow Impact Giving partners and guests the opportunity to get to know each other as well as learn about Impact Giving’s 2020 grant season.

Impact Giving has raised more than 1.3 million dollars in the short time since its launch and looks to raise even more this upcoming season.

Impact Giving Jennifer

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Jennifer Lipinski, Board Chair of Impact Giving 

“We’ve had so many wonderful organizations apply for grants this past year that we expect the pool of applicants for 2020 to be just as full,” states Jennifer Lipinski, Board Chair of Impact Giving. “The collaboration between our partners and the nonprofits during the application process is such an amazing thing to witness and we hope to grow our community of philanthropists over the next few years.” 

Special guest speakers include 2019 Grant Recipient, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Orange County (CASA OC). The group supports troubled foster youth and is using its grant money to help train and assign advocates for the over 225 Orange County children on the CASA OC waiting list. 

Registration is required. Tickets purchased by September 21 are $65 per person, or $75 per person after this date leading up to the event.

For more information, click here.


Laguna attorney Leslie Daff presents “Living Trusts and More” on Friday at Susi Q

Laguna Beach resident and attorney Leslie Daff will present “Living Trusts and More - The Use of Revocable Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, and Entities in Estate Planning” on Friday, Sept 27 at the Susi Q.

The “It’s Your Estate!” educational event will be held from 1 - 2:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public. The estate planning educational series is sponsored by a number of charities including Laguna Canyon Foundation. 

Susi Q Daff

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Leslie Daff is a JD, MBA, and State Bar Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law

Nothing is “sold” at the workshop, which is under the direction of award-winning private fiduciary and Laguna Beach resident Peter Kote. Other charitable sponsors include the American Heart Association, CHOC Children’s Foundation, Chapman University, Boys& Girls Club, In Defense of Animals, Orange Coast College, Ronald McDonald House, Save Our Youth, Strength in Support, Susan G. Komen, and United Way. 

For more information on Lesie Daff, visit www.estateplanninginc.com

The Susi Q is located at 380 Third St.


Oct 2 Congressional Community meeting to discuss homelessness

Laguna Beach’s Congressional Community will be having its next meeting on Wednesday, Oct 2, at the Susi Q Center’s Community Room. The meeting with feature special guest Kate Alegria, caseworker for Congressman Harley Rouda.

The Laguna Beach Congressional Community will be making an in-depth presentation on homelessness, with a particular focus on Congress’s role on the issue including pending legislation, followed by a discussion on the subject with Alegria.

Admission is free. All are welcome to attend.

Congressional Communities was formed in 2018 to help facilitate better and more frequent communication between constituents and their representatives and staff by establishing communities similar in size to the very first districts.

Meetings are held monthly. The group is non-partisan.

To register for the event, click here.

To learn more, visit www.congressionalcommunities.org.


TOWNA held another successful Top of the World Neighborhood Picnic

The Top of the World Neighborhood Association (TOWNA) held its annual Neighborhood Picnic Sunday, Sept 22 at the Alta Laguna Park. A good number of neighbors brought their favorite dish to participate in an old-fashioned potluck dinner. A good time was had by all.

TOWNA held hose

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LBFD demonstrates the high-pressure water hose to children at the picnic 

The Laguna Beach Fire Department visited the park and demonstrated the high-pressure water hose to the children attending the picnic. Former TOWNA President Piero Wemyss organized the fun and games for the kids.

TOWNA held firetruck

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Families enjoyed the visit from the Laguna Beach Fire Department 

The TOWNA Board is very concerned about the fire damage and inappropriate activity such as setting fires and smoking in the Laguna Heights open space and encourages anyone seeing such activity to report it to the Police non-emergency number at (949) 497-0701.


Laguna Beach United Methodist Church hosts Messy Church with thanks on Sunday

This month’s Messy Church event at Laguna Beach United Methodist Church will celebrate the upcoming holiday with thoughts of ThanksLIVING and GrATTITUDE on Sunday, Nov 17 from 4 to 6 p.m.

Messy Church is an intergenerational, interactive alternative to traditional church services for people who seek community and spirituality in a non-conventional, but welcoming setting. A meal is always served, and this month attendees will make the meal together, preparing a vegetable soup in 30 minutes with provided ingredients. 

Laguna Beach United sign

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LBUMC hosts Messy Church Thanksgiving style on Sunday

All are welcome to Messy Church and attendees typically range in age from toddlers to octogenarians. “We hope people will add Messy Church ThanksLIVING to their family traditions,” says Barbara Crowley, who leads the event. “We’re going to have activities and crafts that explain secrets for a happy life and appreciation for our daily blessings.”

An RSVP is appreciated, but not required. Contact Patricia Reyes at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information and to RSVP. 

Laguna Beach United Methodist Church is located at 21632 Wesley Drive, up the hill from the Gelson’s Shopping Center.


The miraculous pelican 

The miraculous bird

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Photo by Scott Brashier

“Can you imagine any better example of divine creative accomplishment than the consummate flying machine that is a bird? The skeleton, very flexible and strong, is also largely pneumatic – especially in the bigger birds. The beak, skull, feet, and all the other bones of a 25-pound pelican have been found to weigh but 23 ounces.” –Guy Murchie


Ocean Institute receives Gross Family Foundation gift of $200K

The William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation has brought unexpected gifts to educators this holiday season through a generous gift to the Ocean Institute. 

The Ocean Institute has provided robust and engaging field trip programs for over 40 years to approximately 50,000 students annually, 10,000 of whom are fully funded through the Adopt-A-Class program. Ocean Institute receives hundreds of requests from educators annually. 

A recent gift of $200,000 from the Gross Family Foundation enabled good news to be shared to underserved classrooms throughout Southern California, as announcements were sent that their classes were adopted, and students would enjoy a fully-funded educational field trip. 

Ocean Institute Bill

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Gross Family Foundation generously gifts $200,000 to Ocean Institute 

“Although we live close to the ocean, few of my students have ever actually seen it,” said Daryth Morrisey, a Fountain Valley educator who was notified that her class was adopted. “We are a Title I school and simply cannot do this without help. My students felt so special that someone that they don’t know wants them to see the world.”

A focus on supporting students has roots in the family’s ethic and experience. “Our children have enjoyed the field trip programs at the Ocean Institute, and it was important to our family to provide the same opportunity to enjoy and learn about the ocean to others,” said Jeff Gross. 

In addition to supporting the programs, the Gross Family Foundation provided funding to upgrade and maintain the Ocean Institute’s research vessel, the R/V Sea Explorer. As part of the “ride-along” program, the Gross family will experience the programs alongside their beneficiaries. “We look forward to seeing the ocean through their eyes,” says Jeff Gross’ wife, Jenny, who will collect and examine pelagic specimen with students on an upcoming “Living Systems” cruise. 

The impact of the support hits close to home for President of Education and Operations Dr. Wendy Marshall, who first visited on a field trip as a fourth grade teacher over two decades ago. “This gift equalizes access to enriching experiences that can be life-changing for the students. We are incredibly thankful for the support to our programs and critical resources that enable us to meet our mission to use the ocean as our classroom to inspire students to learn.” 

Ocean Institute is a highly respected ocean science, maritime history, and experiential education nonprofit located in Dana Point Harbor. Its modern campus is adjacent to the Dana Point State Marine Conservation Area, and encompasses 33,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits, science labs, and an aquarium collection of 1,100 live specimens of local marine life.

Central to its unique identity throughout California, Ocean Institute operates two impressive tall ships, Spirit of Dana Point and Pilgrim, a replica of the ship made famous by Richard Henry Dana Jr. in his epic memoir Two Years Before the Mast.

Ocean Institute also operates the 70-foot research vessel Sea Explorer. Over a span of forty years Ocean Institute has enriched the lives of two million California students with a mission of “using the ocean as our classroom, we inspire children to learn.” 

Ocean Institute serves over 100,000 students, teachers, and families each year with a hands-on approach to ocean-related science, research, and conservation. Ocean Institute’s diverse elementary, middle, and high school program inventory is STEM-focused and aligned with California Common Core Standards. 

To learn more about Ocean Institute, including the annual Tall Ships Festival presented by Toshiba, and the 17th Annual Jazz Festival, visit www.oceaninstitute.org.


Flying carpets in the sky

Flying carpets clouds

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

At Oak Street beach, wispy clouds travel through the sky like magic carpets


Guest Column

Wonderful win for Nepali women as a result of R Star Foundation’s efforts 

By Rosalind Russell, Director of R Star Foundation

I returned from Nepal eleven months ago. While there, I learned much more about what the immediate needs of the women are. My interest was piqued by “pads.” As a result, we are starting a new initiative, calling it “Personal Pad Solutions,” to help the female population during their menstrual cycles. This is, obviously, not a common topic of conversation, nonetheless a necessary one.

Wonderful win Rosalind

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Rosalind Russell, director of R Star Foundation

Rural women do not normally use feminine hygiene pads, which is just as well, as there is no trash pickup in Nepal. Because this is the case, diseases could breed in the refuse and animals could mistakenly eat the discarded pads and suffer from internal distress or, potentially, die. The women currently use weeds, which can be bug-and-germ-infested, or dirty rags during their periods. It is no wonder they and their newborn babies all too often develop infections. They need help.

I learned about “washable,” reusable, comfortable pads by searching on YouTube, where I discovered how such pads are made. Obviously, I can’t make enough for the women on my own. However, I was invited to a Young Women’s meeting at the Aliso Viejo Latter Day Saints (LDS) Church on January 29 to make an appeal for their help with making the pads for distribution to our needy Nepali village women. 

Wonderful win sewing

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Young women’s meeting at Aliso Viejo Latter Day Saints Church

I was shocked when I walked into the meeting room to find that the pads were already being made! I wasn’t expecting such immediate action. The patterns were already constructed, the absorbent materials were being cut, eight sewing machines were whizzing productively, and laughter and convivial chatting filled the air! About 100 pads were constructed, with more to follow as the women of the church felt more and more connected to the needs of my dear Nepali women.

When I left, two of the women in leadership quietly presented me with a framed quote for my office, which reads “Seek, Love, Serve,” with little hearts abounding. My own heart was and is filled and my spirits have been buoyed by the efforts of these young women to serve my dear Nepali women.

Wonderful win sign

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Presented to Rosalind by leadership women at Aliso Viejo LDS Church

R Star continues gifting goats, facilitating microfinancing, and providing a myriad of other successful projects to lift 51 villages in Nepal – over 44,000 people. If you are interested in R Star’s work and wish to help, go to www.RStarFoundation.org for more information. R Star is also on Facebook at @RStarFoundation and can also be reached by phone at (949) 497-4911 (no texts, please), or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

R Star Foundation is an all-volunteer organization, no one is paid, including director Rosalind Russell. R Star is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so all donations are tax-deductible.


Leadership Laguna registration is open

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Signups are being accepted now for the 2020 Leadership Laguna workshops, starting its fifth year of informing participants about who’s who in city government, what they do, and how to get involved.

The free workshops will begin March 12 and end April 16 at the Community and Susi Q Center. Seating is limited and early registration is advised. Seating is limited to 35. Certificates of Completion are awarded. 

“I don’t anticipate any major changes in the format,” said Councilwoman Sue Kempf, who will organize and host the five workshops, along with Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson.

Johnson founded the program with then-newly-elected Councilman Rob Zur Schmiede.

“We envisioned bringing together citizens who will unite to make a positive impact on the community,” said Johnson. 

Participants must be 18 or older and live in the city, according to Johnson. 

Graduates of Leadership Laguna include Cottie Petrie-Norris, elected to the State Assembly in November; Laguna Beach School Board member Dee Perry; Judie Mancuso, twice a candidate for City Council; and Anne McGraw, a member of the Audit Review and Measure LL Oversight Committee. 

“Everybody who has been through the program said it was beneficial and informative,” said Johnson.

Leadership Laguna group

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Previous (2018) certificate recipients

Past speakers have included City Manager John Pietig and Finance Department Director Gavin Curran, who discussed the role and responsibilities of the City Council, intergovernmental relationship – how to get along with nearby cities and the state – not to mention the California Coastal Commission, with which the city is trying to find common ground. 

Public Safety has been explored by Police Chief Laura Farinella, Fire Chief Mike Garcia, and Marine Safety Chief Kevin Snow. 

City Attorney Philip Kohn has spoken about his role in the city, the California Coastal Commission’s review of city decisions, the Brown Act, which governs city officials – elected or appointed – and conflicts of interest.

Water Quality Director David Shissler has presented a PowerPoint program describing expenditures, projects, and property owners’ responsibilities related to the city’s sewer system – of which many residents are ignorant.

Assistant City Manager and Public Works Director Shohreh Dupuis and former Assistant City Manager and now City Manager in Del Mar Christa Johnson got top marks from the participants for their presentations on their departments. 

Former Community Development Department Director Greg Pfost has explained city planning, building, and code enforcement.

Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl informed the participants about the city’s Cultural Arts Plan and its implementation, her duties as staff for the Arts Commission, which provides expertise to the council on temporary and permanent art installations, and the Business Improvement District, which funds art programs and artists who draw tourists to Laguna – and presents free concerts, film, and art events. 

“We take the evaluations to heart and many of the suggestions find their way into the next year’s presentations,” said Johnson.

This year Johnson will have a new partner to organize and conduct the workshops. 

For more information or to register for the program, visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/leadershiplaguna, or contact Jeremy Frimond at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (949) 464-6673.


Volunteers help Laguna Food Pantry

On Friday, Feb 21, a group of Lojistic employees gifted the Laguna Food Pantry with one of their Greater Good Service Days, painting the interior of the Pantry and doing yard work. 

Based out of Costa Mesa, Lojistic holds a high standard for corporate and community responsibility. They are a for-profit company working to make an impact in the non-profit sector. 

As a part of their corporate Greater Good Campaign, Lojistic’s team (plus friends, family, customers, and other willing volunteers) dedicate two workdays each year to volunteer and help alongside organizations working for the “greater good.”

Volunteers help group

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Lojistic employees volunteer at the Laguna Food Pantry 

“Lojistic’s employees truly made a difference in our Pantry. They took pride in doing a professional job of painting our Pantry and cleaning our side yard,” commented Susan Thomas, Laguna Food Pantry Board Chair and Volunteer.

For more than 25 years, Laguna Food Pantry has been a safety net for our neighbors in need – families, seniors, underemployed or people out of work, disabled, students, and individuals – providing free, fresh, nutritious food groceries to over one hundred shoppers a week.

For more information about making a gift, volunteering, or to stay updated on new events, visit www.lagunafoodpantry.org or follow Laguna Food Pantry Facebook and Instagram @lagunafoodpantry or Twitter at @LagunaFood.


Mental Health: Orange County expands Crisis Stabilization Units

Orange County is providing support to patients and families struggling with a mental health crisis. 

On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a dozen new spaces at College Hospital’s Crisis Stabilization Unit for involuntary detention, evaluation, and treatment. The facility is in addition to 15 spaces at the county-run crisis stabilization unit in Santa Ana. 

“Making sure that our hospitals are provided with the best tools to care for patients that are suffering from mental health disorders while awaiting treatment is of the utmost importance for Orange County health facilities,” said Michelle Steel, Chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

The 24-hour Crisis Stabilization Units help patients experiencing mental health problems and are a part of the County’s overhauled mental health care system. 

“We’re working to deliver patients with the care they need to manage a mental health crisis,” said Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, Vice Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “These new facilities help everyone in Orange County and take stress off our overburdened hospital emergency rooms.” 

In California, individuals who are a danger to themselves, to others, or gravely disabled due to a mental health disorder may be placed in a facility designated by the county and approved by the Board and Department of Health Care Services. Such designated facilities provide mental health evaluation and treatment to individuals who are involuntarily detained.

“Crisis Stabilization Units provide patients with immediate access to life-saving support and vital mental health services,” said Supervisor Andrew Do. 

College Hospital in Costa Mesa, a locked facility that sees clients who are admitted voluntarily, relies upon designation in order to accept individuals on involuntary holds. During Tuesday’s meeting, the Board directed the OC Health Care Agency to submit the designation of College Hospital Crisis Stabilization Unit to the Department of Health Care Services for approval.

“Providing mental health evaluation and treatment to individuals who are involuntarily detained helps them quickly access the appropriate level of care they need,” said Supervisor Michelle Steel, whose Second District includes Costa Mesa. “This facility will be a big help for caring for our homeless population who are all too often suffering from mental health disorders.”

Last March, the Board of Supervisors approved a three-year, $13.3 million contract for the creation of a Crisis Stabilization Unit at College Hospital that would add 12 crisis stabilization chairs, serving clients year-round at an average of 18 people per day. These recliners are in addition to the already existing 15 recliners at a county facility in Santa Ana.

In FY 2018-19, the county Crisis Stabilization Unit treated approximately 2,700 individuals with 83 percent involuntary and 17 percent voluntary individuals. Similar ratios are expected at College Hospital.


List of County of Orange Public Services suspended due to COVID-19

“The County of Orange departments have suspended various services to support social distancing to protect residents and County employees,” said OC Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel, Second District. “It’s imperative that residents and County employees alike employ the proper precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones during this time.”

Below is a list of County department closures and suspension of services as of March 16, 2020:

Child Support Services: www.ocgov.com/gov/css

--Court activities will be curtailed until further notice. Clients may visit the website or call (866) 901-3212 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday - Friday.

Clerk-Recorder: www.ocgov.com/gov/clerk

--All of the Clerk-Recorder offices in Anaheim, Laguna Hills, Westminster, and the Santa Ana Civic Center, including the Old Courthouse, are closed.

--All special Saturday openings are canceled.

--Passport application acceptance service is suspended.

--Marriage Services (licenses and ceremonies) are suspended.

--Over-the-counter Document Recording Services are suspended. All recordings may be submitted electronically or via mail.

--Attorney service document recording drop-offs and pick-ups are suspended.

--All professional registrations (process server, photocopier, legal document assistant, and unlawful detainer assistant registrations) are suspended.

Health Care Agency: www.ochealthinfo.com

Behavioral Health Services:

--Community trainings (i.e. Mental Health First Aid and Crisis Intervention Training) are suspended.

--March Mental Health Board and Mental Health Services Act Steering Committee meetings have been canceled.

--Clients are being screened for symptoms and any client who presents with symptoms is being re-scheduled and referred for a medical appointment.

--Outreach & Engagement staff have suspended their participation in resource fairs.

Office of Care Coordination:

--The March Continuum of Care Board and Committee meeting is canceled.

--The March Bridges at Kraemer Community Advisory Board meeting is canceled.

Public Health Services:

--California Children Services Medical Therapy Units, which are located on school campuses, are limiting services to medically urgent appointments.

Regulatory/Medical Health Services:

--Several hospital food facility inspections have been postponed to minimize operational impact to hospitals.

Human Resource Services: www.ocgov.com/hr

--Human Resource Services (HRS) is significantly reducing and might eliminate in-person testing for candidates currently in the hiring process. HRS will work to accommodate candidates who do not have access to online systems.

--HRS is exploring significantly speeding up the hiring process as allowed per the emergency orders, especially for OC Health Care Agency. 

OC Community Resources: www.ocgov.com/occr/

Orange County Animal Care: www.ocpetinfo.com 

--The shelter in Tustin is closed to the general public effective March 16 to March 31, 2020.

--Owner surrender and managed intake are suspended.

--Adoptions/rescues/fostering will be by appointment only.

OC Community Services: www.occommunityservices.org/hcd

--The senior meal program will change to one or two deliveries per week, with 21 meals dropped off.

--Congregate meal sites are canceled, but brown bag pick-up is open five days a week.

--Veterans Services Office will remain open with three conference rooms to allow for social distancing and sanitation.

--One-Stops will stay open with social distancing.

Orange County Housing Authority: www.ochousing.org

--All face-to-face office visits are suspended starting March 16, 2020. All inquiries and questions should be made via phone call and email. Information will be posted on the OCHA website and at reception.

--All annual inspections will be rescheduled and postponed starting March 16, 2020.

--New lease inspections will continue as the units are vacant. All communication with the owner or tenant will be via email/phone call.

--Special inspection will be delayed unless it is essential to the health and safety of the tenant.

--Increase in tenant portion of rent due to income changes will be postponed and re-visited.

OC Housing & Community Development: www.occommunityservices.org/hcd 

--Face-to-face and in-person meetings are suspended.

--Health and safety inspections will continue.

--Lease inspection will occur on vacant units.

OC Parks: www.ocparks.com

--Outdoor spaces at OC Parks and restrooms are open.

--All interior buildings and the OC Zoo are closed.

--All events/programs and third-party reservations canceled through April 5, 2020.

--New reservations and permits are suspended.

OC Public Libraries: www.ocpl.org

--All library branches are closed effective March 16, 2020, through March 31, 2020.

OC Waste & Recycling: www.oclandfills.com

--Effective March 17, 2020, through March 31, 2020, Materials Exchange Programs at OC Waste & Recycling’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Centers will be closed.

Public Defender: www.pubdef.ocgov.com

--Out of custody clients have been notified via website to contact their attorneys to see if they can give 977 authority for the attorney to appear on their behalf, removing the need to appear in court themselves.

Social Services Agency: www.ssa.ocgov.com

The Social Services Agency (SSA) has closed the following offices:

--Aliso Viejo Regional Center

--Anaheim Regional Center

--Central Regional Office

--County Community Service Center

--Cypress Regional Center

--Garden Grove Regional Center

--Laguna Hills Regional Center

--Santa Ana Regional Center

--Warner

Clients may apply for Medi-Cal, CalFresh, and CalWORKs benefits, review case information, request a replacement benefits card, and submit verifications by visiting www.mybenefitscalwin.org or calling SSA’s Service Center at (800) 281-9799.

Clients may apply for General Relief benefits, by calling (800) 281-9799 or by faxing an application to (714) 825-3155.

Clients may apply for In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) or ask questions related to ongoing IHSS cases, by calling (714) 825-3000.

SSA has received State authorization to waive face-to-face requirements in the CalWORKs program and have moved forward with waiving the in-face requirements for General Relief. Additionally, both California Department of Health Care Services and California Department of Social Services have issued guidance that will allow for expediting benefit issuances.

This morning, SSA received State Guidance on the Adult Protective Services program, which will allow them to restrict required home visits to just those cases that require an immediate response per current regulations. Additionally, Public Authority is assessing the ability to either postpone or find alternate methods to complete required IHSS provider enrollments.

SSA will be working with Juvenile Court to explore other options related to court ordered visitation, including ordered monitored visits.

The Orangewood Children & Family Center (OCFC) will be closed for public access, including visitation and volunteer activities. OCFC operations providing support to children on campus will continue to operate.

The above list is accurate as of the afternoon of Monday, March 16.


Lush Laguna

Lush Laguna view

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Photo by Tom Joliet 

A tropical storm clears to reveal beautiful Hawaii-like scenery in our hometown


Impact of COVID-19 on travel and tourism

By Ashley Johnson, CDME, President & CEO 

Visit Laguna Beach

As Orange County residents and businesses respond and adapt to the impact COVID-19 is having on our communities, one industry in particular has been brought to a complete standstill – travel and tourism. 

Tourism is a key economic driver in our county encompassing more than 500 hotels, major key attractions, and a workforce of 180,000. Last year, tourism generated more than $21.3B in total economic benefits to Orange County, money that is used to fund vital public priorities such as infrastructure improvements, community development projects, and public safety. In Laguna Beach alone, visitor spending surpassed half a billion dollars and continues to support more than 5,000 local jobs. For the last 14 years, I have watched our local travel and tourism industry flourish and benefit our community and neighbors as a result. 

However, the entire travel and tourism industry is currently in peril, including the thousands upon thousands of local workers that rely on visitors to keep food on their tables. The short-term impact of COVID-19 has been catastrophic for our hospitality partners and businesses. 

That is why Visit Laguna Beach has joined with U.S. Travel Association to request that Congress establish a fund to keep workers employed, provide emergency liquidity for travel businesses to remain open, and expand the Small Business Administration loan program. We are asking Congress to act today to ensure the Laguna Beach travel industry and its 5,000+ workers will have the means to sustain themselves through this painful economic period. 

Our community is strong and resilient, as is our industry, and we will continue to work together to support one another. We at Visit Laguna Beach promise to continue to fulfill our mission of promoting business and leisure travel to visitors around the world – so they know when they can travel, we will welcome them with open arms. Until then, we will continue supporting the Laguna Beach community and small businesses and do everything we can to help them weather this storm. 

While we heed the warnings to shelter in place, there are safe ways you can help our small businesses stay afloat. For more information on ways you can help Laguna Beach, please visit our Health Advisory page at www.VisitLagunaBeach.com.


Into the mystic

Into the sun

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Ship traveling straight into the sun


County of Orange teams up with Google Fiber to help job seekers impacted by COVID-19

 The County of Orange (County) Community Services Community Investment Division has partnered with Google Fiber and Orange County United Way to provide loaner laptops and hotspots in an effort to increase access to workforce development programs and services offered through the Irvine One-Stop Center during this critical period.

“With over 2.8 million California residents filing for unemployment over the last month, the need to provide additional support to workers impacted by COVID-19 is vital,” said Chairwoman Michelle Steel, Second District Supervisor. “A big thank you to Google Fiber for generously choosing to assist the Orange County community during this stressful time.”

The laptops and hotspots will be made available beginning May 1, 2020, enabling dislocated workers free access to apply for jobs and unemployment benefits. Job seekers will be able to check out a laptop and hotspot at the Irvine One-Stop Center by contacting the Orange County Economic and Business Recovery line at (714) 480-6500 and completing a telephone application. The laptops and hotspots will be available for checkout as a pair at no cost.

“This partnership is a crucial step toward ensuring that all of Orange County, especially those in underserved communities, have free access to resources like the internet,” said Vice Chairman Andrew Do, First District Supervisor. “Making laptops and hotspots available will help job seekers stay in touch with new hiring opportunities and updated information.”

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Orange County One-Stop Centers had to modify service delivery available to match the need of those impacted. The partnership between these organizations not only allowed the County to expand resources at the Irvine One-Stop Center but also created an opportunity to offer these services at no cost.

“The partnership between high-tech and government demonstrates a strong need to put residents back to work,” said Donald Wagner, Third District Supervisor. “The unemployment numbers are staggering; laptops and hotspots are a start to helping people land any available jobs or apply for much-needed benefits.”

In addition to the laptop and hotspot loans, the Irvine One-Stop Center offers free comprehensive services such as hiring assistance, career transition services, and employment services to businesses and job seekers.

“Some jobs require specific skill sets or certifications,” said Doug Chaffee, Fourth District Supervisor. “Prospective employees can use this new opportunity to meet those requirements in conjunction with the free resources at the Orange County One-Stop Centers.”

“With free access to laptops and hotspots for job seekers, businesses will be connected to a larger pool of candidates who are qualified for jobs, without barriers to resources,” said Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District Supervisor.

For more information about the Orange County One-Stop Centers, visit www.oconestop.com

For more information about Google Fiber, visit www.google.com/fiber/oc

For more information about Orange County United Way, visit www.unitedwayoc.org.


May is Mental Health Month: Mission Hospital develops Health Wellness Box for a pick-me-up

Providence St. Joseph Health is activating Each Mind Matters, California’s Mental Health Movement, in Orange County. Each Mind Matters, Orange County, is a joint effort between Mission Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital, and St. Jude Medical Center and is a campaign that recognizes the challenges each of us face on a daily basis and encourages us to support one another. The campaign promotes open and honest conversations with friends and family to improve community understanding, acceptance, and support of mental health and wellness. 

Through this multilingual (English, Spanish, and Vietnamese) campaign, Providence St. Joseph Health continues its steadfast commitment to serve all communities, especially those in need. They are collaborating with community partners to increase awareness about the importance of taking care of our minds and bodies. They are also going into communities and sharing resources and tools to help people connect to needed support and services.

Wellness boxes

In observance of May Mental Health Month, #PromisetoTalk has launched a new text to promise campaign aimed at reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Orange County’s Each Mind Matters – #PromisetoTalk encourages all of Southern California to Make a “Promise to Talk” openly about mental health and to “Promise to Listen.” Now, residents can make a promise to talk today on their website and app, or text ‘Promise’ to 474747, making it even easier to talk about mental health.

Mission Hospital says, “In the past, we have used wellness boxes to encourage people to talk about mental health and break the stigma. This time, we designed the boxes to be more of a mental health comfort box given the current situation, encouraging people to reach out and connect to friends and family during times of physical distance. The items in the box can be used to encourage people to take mental health breaks throughout the day, and to encourage people to talk about mental health.”

May is outside

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Show someone you’re thinking about them 

Understandably so, many people are taking extra precautionary measures to stay safe during this time of uncertainty. This unprecedented time has taken away the ability to be able to bond with friends and family in person. As a result, many people can start to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and even depressed. There is no better time to do something for them than now, letting them know that they are not alone and that you are thinking of them. 

We could all use a pick-me-up right now, so why not take this time to create a “mental health wellness box”? Creating a “mental health wellness box” is simple, easy to personalize, and cost-effective – everything you need can be ordered online and straight to your door. Not only does this D-I-Y project benefit those you care about, but it can also benefit you. This simple exercise can give you the necessary distraction you need in your life right now.

Create something memorable 

Take some time to create something memorable that you’ll be able to send to your grandparents, friends, family members, and maybe even drop off at your neighbor’s door. Remember, all your items can be personalized and tailored to each person on your list, and most importantly, everything can be ordered online!

Consider including these items when creating your own “mental health wellness box”: Water bottle, journal, sleep mask, healthy snack, board game, D-I-Y activity kit, or a candle. 

Mental Health Awareness Month

Diana Linn, PsyD, MFT, manager, Community Behavioral Health

Mission Hospital, says, “It’s May, Mental Health Awareness Month, and it has never been more important to soften the stigma surrounding the topic of mental health. Because human connection is so important, we really encourage everyone to reach out to their family and friends. Even while socially distancing, there are so many ways to connect and make it safe to talk about mental health. 

“During this time when we are all ‘safe at home,’ this social isolation has taken away our ability to meet with our friends and family in person, and offer hugs. Lots of us are starting to feel scared, stressed, lonely, or even depressed. We can still reach out and ask, ‘How are you doing? How are you feeling?’ and start a conversation about mental health.

 “We have made it easier than ever to make a #PromiseToTalk about mental health. You can make your #PromiseToTalk today on the website and app, or just text ‘Promise’ to 474747.”

May is inside box

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Make your own Mental Health Wellness Box 

St. Joseph Providence Health is sharing the movement with everyone in Orange County, “Because when it comes to health, our minds deserve the same attention as our bodies. Together we strive to continually improve the health and quality of life of the people in the communities we serve — body, mind and spirit. 

“As a community we need to have honest and open conversations about mental health. Because when we help each other, we can build a supportive community for mental wellness. Regardless of what situation you may find yourself in – in wellness or not – help is available, and it’s time to talk about it.” 

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. It means having good ways to deal with your feelings and how to enjoy life, even when things are hard. Mental health is important at every stage of life.

For more information on mental health resources, conversation starters, and more, visit www.PromiseToTalk.org or download the free Promise to Talk App on the Apple Store or Google Play Store.


Wild and wooly waves 

Wild and alone

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Wow!

Wild and crowded

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Watch out, coming through!


MonthlyClubs.com celebrates 25 years of delivering delectable goodies to your door

By DIANNE RUSSELL

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t get excited at the prospect of a package being delivered to their doorstep, and it’s even more fun when it’s a surprise. To open a shipment containing one (or more) of MonthlyClubs.com’s wonderful products – or any combo that you design yourself – is the beginning of an extraordinary experience. 

MonthlyClubs.com operates six unique, exclusive monthly subscription boxes including beer, wine, cheese, chocolate, cigar, and flower of the month clubs.

Since Father’s Day is just around the corner, this would be a great way to surprise the dad is your life.

In every category, the offerings are curated for utmost quality, and that, along with exceptional customer service, has kept MonthlyClub.com in business for over 25 years, which is no small fete. Their 26th anniversary will be on July 7.

Online business grows

Laguna resident Kris Calef, who is founder and president of MonthlyClubs.com, says, “In 1994, I founded the company while living in a small cottage where Susi Q is now located. We started out with beer (at that time with a partner) and went to events to showcase it. I became friends with Paul at the former video store on Ocean. The guy who worked the register, Steve Stover, introduced me to his brother’s company that designed my first website. My partner had just left. No one else was doing online back then. In 1998, we added wine and cigars, and in 2000, we decided not to expand much beyond the six products. It’s hard to be an expert in too many areas.”

It’s a family business. Calef says, “My mother was a VP at Prudential Real Estate Affiliates off of Jamboree and MacArthur and then came to work with me for about 10 years after leaving PREA. She created the ‘Design Your Own Club Program.’” 

“We’re not selling products, we’re selling an experience,” Calef says. They have a Nordstrom approach to customer service. “We really bend over backwards to make the customer happy.”

Monthly club wine and beer

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Dianne Russell

Personal wine and beer tasting

 Needless to say, over the past few months with the shelter-in-place restrictions, his business picked up. “In the wake of the pandemic, we’ve been one of the fortunate businesses to stay open as we are able to work remotely. As you might suspect, our services are seeing a significant increase in order volume as many are having food and beverages delivered.” 

Along with superb customer service, to what does Calef contribute his success? “We’ve stood the test of time. We have consistent high quality products month after month, and we introduce our members to products they wouldn’t get to try otherwise.”

Beer

The Microbrewed Beer of the Month Club business model says Calef, “Is do six or seven of the award-winning, hard-to-find craft beers.” Additionally, members can choose from five distinctive beer clubs (including The Rare Beer Club) offering all domestic selections, all imported, or a combination of both. Members receive twelve, 12-oz. beers and up to four different beer styles in each shipment.

Calef says, “We want to help you explore and develop your appreciation for craft beer by removing the challenge of consistently finding the best that’s out there, beers you might not have discovered on your own. One person heads up the panel in each category.”

Their panel of professional Brewmasters selects award-winning craft beers from thousands of U.S. and International breweries, each beer exemplifying uncommon creativity, pride, and quality ingredients.

Although I’m not a beer drinker, the Chateau ØL from Copenhagen, Denmark, was fantastic, very fruity and light. It’s from the Rare Beer Club, a wine-inspired Belgian-style Tripel. I’m now a beer fan. My husband, who is a beer fan, loved it too. The Saule, a Solera blended, English-style Old Ale aged in Bourbon barrels, from The Bruery in Placentia, Calif., was a surprise. I’ve never tasted a beer that was so smooth yet dense with the flavor of molasses – unique.

Wine 

The International Wine of the Month Club consists of expertly selected estate-bottled wines at exceptional values and international variety in every shipment. Members can choose from four distinctive wine clubs.

Nationally recognized wine educator, author and consultant, Don Lahey, has led their two-tiered wine tasting panel since 1994, ensuring their featured wines are both extraordinary and rare while being offered at great values.

Their primary tasting panel is comprised of 10 sommeliers, professional tasters, and winemakers. They rate each wine considered, of which only the top 10 percent are sent to their secondary panel which includes upwards of 30 or more tasters. Together, both panels employ the gamut of wine enthusiasts – from novice enophiles to those with decades of experience importing wine. 

Calef says, “Wine is challenging, but our two-tiered wine panel reflects our customers tastes. Our primary tasting panel is comprised of 10 sommeliers, professional tasters, and winemakers. They rate each wine considered, of which only the top 10 percent are sent to our secondary panel which includes upwards of 30 or more tasters, many simply wine lovers that help us identify crowd pleasers.”

Monthly Club cheese

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of MonthlyClub.com

A variety of cheeses

My husband and I sampled two of the wines. I loved the Château Ducasse Graves Blanc 2018 France! It’s an estate bottled white Graves from Château Beauregard-Ducasse. It was fantastic. I usually favor the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, but this one puts those to shame. Wonderful. My husband loved the Fore Family Vineyards Carneros Napa Pinot Noir – and I did too – even though I’m not usually a red wine drinker.” 

The Fore Family Vineyards Carneros Napa Pinot Noir 2017 is a mere 225 case production from one of Northern California’s finest Pinot Noir producers.

Cheese

 “In Pursuit of Cheese” is the title of the Cheese of the Month Gourmet Club’s newsletter, and boy, do they know how to pursue cheese.

The Gourmet Cheese of the Month Club Professionally selected, hand-crafted, artisan cheeses from around the world, variety by cheese and milk type as well as country of origin. Hand-cut selections that have been carefully aged, 

Many of their farmhouse producers not only have their own cows, they’ve named each of them. Their primary focus is to make the best product possible and often with the input of their tasting panel, they’ll experiment with slight changes to their process and raw ingredients to perfect their cheeses, which are hand-made from start to finish.

My husband and I sampled three cheeses. The first one, Asiago, was produced by artisan Italian cheesemakers using traditional methods and is aged for 6-9 months. It has a distinct nutty texture and according to the description “is reminiscent of the fragrance of yeast and dried fruit.” It was wonderful shredded on pasta.

The Beecher’s Flagship Handmade Cheese is Flagship’s signature cheese – they have locations in Seattle and New York and has won many awards, and once you taste it, you’ll know why. It’s a semi-hard cheese with a robust flavor. We used it in an omelet, but it would complement any dish. Fabulous.

The Sartori Reserve Espresso BellaVitano is an amazing semi-firm cheese, aged approximately 12 months, and rubbed with freshly ground espresso! Yes, espresso. The fourth generation Sartori Company is in Wisconsin. This savory cheese is best just by itself, and if there is such a thing as a dessert cheese, this is it! Unbelievable.

Cigars

The Premium Cigar of the Month Club features expertly selected hand-rolled cigars at exceptional values. Shipments include hard-to-find limited production and super premium vintage cigars that are by region, brand, and blend. Included are detailed tasting notes, manufacturer/brand profiles, and suggested alcohol pairings.

Calef says, “We have nine guys who smoke cigars.”

They rate over 12,000 cigars each year, and less than five percent of those considered ever make it to members.

Monthly Club chocolates

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Dianne Russell

Gourmet chocolates from around the world

Chocolates

The Gourmet Chocolate of the Month Club features distinctive, hard-to-find, small batch artisanal chocolates from around the world. The chocolate is made from the purest ingredients, hand-crafted by world-class chocolatiers. A different chocolate is featured each month. This month, it is Leonidas Chocolates: Country: Belgium Notable Ingredients: Coffee, vanilla, and pistachio butter creams, rum, brandy, and orange ganaches, dark chocolate coffee praline, puffed rice and hazelnuts. 

Flowers

Flowers go with everything. No pairing involved here. The aim of the Fresh Cut Flower of the Month Club is to consistently deliver freshly cut artistic and exotic floral arrangements made from top quality blooms and greens shipped within two days after harvesting. They maintain a less than one percent reship rate. 

Kathleen Calef is the Director of Product Development for this area of the business.

The flower fulfillment team has 60 years of collective experience in the floral industry. With 15+ years of shipping flowers by mail behind them, and 98 percent of their customers highly recommending their services, they’re happy to report that they’re achieving their goals.

Design your own club

Kris says, “One neat aspect of our service is that customers can use our Design Your Own Club feature to combine any of our products in any way designed into a single gift membership, i.e. ship wine the first month, then cigars, then cheese, etc.”

Or six months beer, two months cigars – you get the picture.

The “Design a Club” is very flexible. 

--Combine any two or even all six clubs in one membership

--Combine different beer or wine club membership types in one membership 

--Create a custom shipping schedule for a single club type.

--Ship one shipment or multiple shipments in any given month. 

--Skip any month you choose and ship on specific months. 

--Hit any budget with gifts from 2-12 months. Pay monthly or at once.

Needless to say, to sample any of these products (except maybe the cigars) is a privilege that I relished. 

Don’t forget to take advantage of the special Father’s Day promotions, go to the website below to see them.

If you want the delight of receiving a delivery on your doorstep or surprising someone else, go to www.monthlyclubs.com.


Fly me to the moon

Fly me black sky

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Waxing Gibbous Moon. The Moon’s surface is covered with thousands of craters. Unlike the Earth, the Moon has no atmosphere to protect itself from impacting bodies.


County of Orange expands Back2Business Initiative to include outdoor planning for small businesses

In partnership with 3D Event Designer, the County of Orange is launching the Back2Business Initiative: Outdoor Edition, an expansion of the original Back2Business Initiative program, to help local small businesses impacted by COVID-19 safely reopen by meeting local, state, and federal social distancing guidelines.

The Back2Business Initiative: Outdoor Edition will provide up to 800 Orange County small businesses with access to free floor plan software to quickly create, configure, or update their indoor and now outdoor space(s). This software allows businesses, such as restaurants and retail shops, to view their current layouts and adjust their floor plans to meet the latest social distancing requirements. With outdoor space being a focus for most restaurants, this software will allow restaurant owners to maximize the availability of their outdoor seating, giving them the confidence to open to customers and bring their employees back to work safely and responsibly.

Back2Business Initiative: Outdoor Edition is free and available to eligible businesses on a first-come, first-served basis now through December 30, 2020, or when the maximum number of slots are filled, whichever comes first. Eligible businesses interested in participating can sign up and access the software at https://bit.ly/ocfloorplans. To be eligible, businesses must be in Orange County and have 500 employees or less.

The following technology requirements must be met to successfully use the software:

--Have a reliable Internet connection

--Have access to any Mac, PC, tablet, or phone device (creating a floor plan is easiest on a Mac or PC)

--Have access to Google Chrome or any browser other than Internet Explorer

For more information on the Back2Business Initiative, visit https://bit.ly/ocfloorplans or call the Economic and Business Recovery Call Center at (714) 480-6500.


Ocean Institute reopens on weekends with $12,500 grant from SoCalGas

Ocean Institute in Orange County this week announced it has reopened to the public, thanks to a $12,500 grant from Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas). The grant allows the center to bring back essential staff necessary for safe reopening on weekends through 2020. The Ocean Institute serves as an education center, offering programs in marine science and history for visitors. 

“We are so very thankful to SoCalGas for supporting our efforts to fulfill our mission through our public programs,” said Wendy Marshall, President and CEO of Ocean Institute. “We have been closed for nearly seven months and our talented staff is delighted to welcome back visitors.” 

“Organizations like the Ocean Institute provide many educational benefits to children and families and help kids to learn and discover their interests in areas like marine science and maritime history,” said Jill Tracy, member of the Ocean Institute’s Board of Directors and assistant general counsel at SoCalGas. “SoCalGas is thrilled to be able to support the reopening of the Ocean Institute and provide a safe and educational place for kids and families to enjoy on weekends.” 

Ocean Institute outside

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Stone Harbor Media Group

Ocean Institute has reopened to the public on weekends

The Ocean Institute, founded in 1977, is a community-based 501(c)(3) organization that educates 100,000 children, teachers, parents, and visitors annually through over 60 marine science and maritime history programs. Located on 2.4 acres in the Dana Point Harbor, adjacent to a Marine Conservation Area, the facility is an ocean education center that offers in-depth Marine Science and Maritime History programs. 

The Institute includes state-of-the-art teaching labs, the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center, a historic tall ship, and an oceanographic research vessel. Immersion-based field trips range from one-hour science labs to multi-day programs at sea. All programs are designed to maximize immersion, spark curiosity, and inspire a deep commitment to learning. 

SoCalGas is a longtime supporter of the Ocean Institute having been a corporate partner for over 16 years. In 2019, SoCalGas donated more than $7.6 million to community organizations, local nonprofits, and other groups. SoCalGas employees contributed more than $750,000 through payroll deductions and performed over 24,000 logged volunteer hours for various community groups throughout its service territory. Please see SoCalGas’s 2019 Community Giving Summary for more information. 

Since March, SoCalGas has donated more than $2 million to nonprofit organizations to support the region’s workforce, feed the hungry, provide bill assistance to customers, and more as part of its COVID- 19 recovery efforts. 

For more information on SoCalGas’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit www.socalgas.com/coronavirus

For more information on the Ocean Institute, visit www.oceaninstitute.org

The Ocean Institute is located at 24200 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point.


Out of the box

Out of color

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Photo by Tom Berndt

A different perspective of “Sunset Trace”


Burnt caramel sky

Burnt caramel clouds

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Photo by Scott Brashier 

Who could imagine the sun could create such a sky?


Safety Net Tour provides insights into five Laguna nonprofits that serve those in need of assistance 

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Above all, Tuesday morning’s Safety Net Tour of nonprofits was a real eye-opener. And I suspect that was the intention of Barbara McMurray of McMurray Marketing, who organized the tour. 

Laguna Food Pantry, Friendship Shelter, Seaside Legal Services, Susi Q Senior Center, and Laguna Beach Community Clinic opened their doors to visitors and provided tours and information on their organizations. 

Individually, they supply a wide range of services such as food, temporary and long-term housing, legal and medical assistance, and care management for those 55 and over. As a whole, they are irreplaceable sources of aid for those needing a helping hand.

Sue Kempf and Sue Marie Connolly, both candidates for City Council, were spotted on the tour.

Laguna Food Pantry

I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never been to Laguna Food Pantry, but the joyful atmosphere is immediately apparent to anyone who enters. Executive Director Anne Belyea said, “Monday was an unusually busy day with 126 people coming through. Normally an average of 80 come through in a day.” 

The hours of operation are from 8 - 10:30 a.m., Monday through Friday. 

Their staff consists of one full-time and two part-time employees, 100 pantry volunteers and 30 volunteer drivers. To gather inventory, they collect food from eight grocery stores and purchase additional supplies from Second Harvest. The produce and food staples have a number limit, and food quantities are based on the number of family members. Shoppers can come in once a week. The Food Pantry also has single pre-made meals for those who don’t have access to refrigerators. 

Safety Net pantry

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Photo by Dianne Russell

Shoppers can visit the Food Pantry once a week

When asked what she considers the Pantry’s biggest success, Belyea says, “The dedication, support, and commitment of the volunteers. A lot of the volunteers started as shoppers, and then want to give back. One volunteer has been here for 25 years, another works three part-time jobs and still finds the time to volunteer. Volunteer Marianna Hoff is here six days a week.”

Even the board members help out, on a rolling basis, as greeters. 

Belyea adds, “It’s humbling to see how much the community gives back and supports us. It’s an honor and privilege to serve people in need, and it’s with joyful hearts that the volunteers give their time.”

Leslie Henderson, volunteer coordinator, says that if there is an overflow of food, they give it away. 

The Food Pantry celebrates their 30-year anniversary in October.

Friendship Shelter

Next to the Pantry, Dawn Price, Executive Director of Friendship Shelter, greets visitors at the door. She tells me that they started out as an emergency shelter nine years ago, and then explains the check-in procedure. 

“Clients come at 5 p.m. and sign up at the table at the gate to enter the lottery for the 45 bed spaces. Locals who have been designated by the City as homeless don’t have to participate in the lottery.” 

The lottery is held after dinner (served at 6:30 p.m.) and Price says, “Those who we can’t accommodate with a bed leave shortly after, usually around 7 or 7:30.” 

However, those who aren’t accommodated can use the showers and laundry facilities before they leave. Dinners are provided by volunteers, some of which have been doing so since the shelter opened. 

In the morning, clients leave at 10 a.m. when the program closes.

Safety Net Dawn and David

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Photo by Barbara McMurray

Executive Director Dawn Price gives David Raber a tour of the facility

A volunteer doctor visits weekly, and there are vans available to take clients to the DMV or Social Security office. Storage facilities located out back store their belongings for convenience as they undertake housing and employment searches.

Friendship Shelter launched its first Permanent Supportive Housing Program (PSH) in 2014. 

Price explains, “Our focus is housing. Each client works one-on-one with a staff member to determine the most appropriate housing solution. So far, we have placed 87 people in housing.” 

Although housing is the ultimate goal, according to Price, their biggest challenge is lack of housing. Sometimes a client must wait a month for appropriate accommodations.

The self-guided tour continues…

Seaside Legal Services

Attorney Jane Fulton, Founder and Executive Director of Seaside Legal Services, explains their services, “This is a nonprofit formed in 2013, and we’ve been working full-time to serve the poor since then. We don’t take cases from other lawyers.” 

They provide free legal help in civil cases for those who cannot afford representation and work with other attorneys to find solutions for clients. Those who prove economic hardship can access assistance for a variety of legal matters including divorce, child custody, bankruptcy, wills and trusts.

Fulton brings considerable experience to this endeavor, having practiced law for 52 years. She’s been in Laguna since 1979, first in criminal and family law, then family law, and five years ago, she started the nonprofit. 

Safety Net Jane Fulton

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Photo by Barbara McMurray

Jane Fulton, founder and director of Seaside Legal Services

Seaside Legal Services works closely with Susi Q Senior Center. Each month they offer a free legal clinic at the Center from which they take referrals for cash-strapped clients aged 55 and older. 

Susi Q Community Center

Founded in 1975, Susi Q Senior Center is one of the first senior nonprofits in Orange County.

Beyond panels on subjects important to the senior population such as “Senior Fraud,” “Elder Abuse,” and “Medicare Navigation,” Susi Q has an excellent Care Management program. 

They serve a compassionate supportive role to seniors, family member, and caregivers experiencing difficulty with life changes.

Martha Hernandez, Care Management director, explains, “We link seniors to resources, concerning medical needs, safety, health care, and mental health. We lead people to city, state, and federal services. We also try to be innovative with mental health issues. We are the only senior facility that has face to face mental health care, as well as providing good consistent care.“

Through their “Feeling the Blues” program, they offer one-on-one sessions with a mental health care professional and a variety of support groups such as Grief and Loss” and groups for chronic illness. 

One of their programs, Lifelong Laguna, provides in home help.

Conducted in one’s home by Laguna Beach Seniors professional staff, this comprehensive home safety program gives residents a customized report full of suggestions for age-friendly modifications. The assessment helps seniors plan for bigger changes to make their homes easier to navigate when faced with the challenges that can come with time.

Laguna Community Clinic

Laguna Community Clinic is located just down the street from Susi Q. 

As I’m introduced to the staff by CEO Jorge Rubal, MD, it’s obvious that it’s a great place to work and once there, no one wants to leave. In most cases, the number of years staffers have been there ranges in the double digits, and no doubt provide a consistency appreciated by patients. Last year, they saw 12,000 patients.

Founded in 1970, a group of concerned physicians and community leaders established a free clinic to meet the needs of low-income and medically uninsured people of South Orange County. 

However, they do provide services to those with HMO, PPO, Medicare and Medical.

In 1985, the Laguna Beach Community Clinic became a licensed community clinic. The Laguna Beach Community Clinic is a nonprofit, primary care health facility that provides family-centered medical care, offering non-emergency, curative and preventive care as well as educational services.

Dr. Rubal describes their Teen Clinic, “We hold it on Friday afternoon to discuss topics such as HIV and contraceptives. We want them to make informed decisions.”

They have their own lab on site, and the Assistance League donated an ultrasound machine.

Dr. Rubal explains that the clinic is in the process of making a major change. “We’ve applied for an FQHC. It’s been two years in the process and another six months to go, and it’s been a long road. We should know in early July if we get the Federal funding, which will mean we will be financially sustained.”

As per www.hrsa.gov, Federally Qualified Health Centers are community-based health care providers that receive funds from the HRSA Health Center Program to provide primary care services in underserved areas. They must meet a stringent set of requirements, including providing care on a sliding fee scale based on ability to pay and operating under a governing board that includes patients.

When asked what he considers the clinic’s biggest success, Dr. Rubal says, “Staying true to our mission, which is to provide excellent medical care regardless of the patient’s inability to pay.” 

The tour comes to an end

Five nonprofits, five different ways in which to assist those in need of help. Safety Net is an apt title for this tour, as it is apparent after visiting these organizations, that without them, many would be in jeopardy.

For more on Laguna Food Pantry, go to www.lagunafoodpantry.org.

For more on Friendship Shelter, go to www.friendshipshelter.org.

For more on Seaside Legal Services, go to www.seasidelegalservices.org.

For more on Susi Q, go to www.thesusiq.org.

For more on LB Community Clinic, go to www.lbclinic.org.


Guest Column

Creative ways to hear your Inner Truth

By Vidya Reddy

…until you know what you really want to say yes to, you will continue to say yes to everything else.” – Robert Holden

Hello and welcome to the happiness corner. This week it’s all about Your Inner Truth.

In my experience, people say yes to too many things, we all do. Being a “Yes Man” or “Yes Woman” is something that is rewarded in our society and yes, it is important to be a team player and share your gifts, but too often we don’t know where to draw the line, and we soon find that our own health and well-being has been compromised.

Is this a challenge that you can relate to in your own life?

The truth is: until you know what you really want to say yes to, you will continue to say yes to everything else.

Not knowing what you want can cause you to experience inner doubt, to be torn between contradictory goals, to get distracted and scattered, to feel compromised, to be exhausted, to get into unhealthy sacrifice.

Ultimately, the end result of this cycle is that you give your power away.

Find your inner truth using an Affirmation Board

So how can you get clear on what you want? How do you find your inner truth and reclaim your power? I want to share with you a practice called My Affirmation Board. 

Creative ways close up

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Dr. Vidya Reddy

An affirmation board is a self-portrait. It’s a presentation of everything your entire being says yes to. If you are familiar with the notion of a “vision board,” it’s very similar but I want you to know that you don’t have to be limited to just images. The form of your affirmation board is entirely up to you, but here are some suggestions to get you started. Select a medium with which you are comfortable working.

Idea 1: Make a Collage

Much like a vision board, you might do a collage of hand-drawn images, or pictures cut out of magazines or printed off the Internet. If you want to travel more, find pictures of the location you have always wanted to visit. If you want to take care of your body more, find mouth-watering images of healthy foods that will honor your body like the temple it is.

As you lay out your collage, be honest with yourself: what do you really want?

Idea 2: Make a List

You might prefer to do a written list. Write down everything that you love, that makes you happy, or something that you want to bring into your life.

Make sure your Sacred Yesses are more than just a shopping list. 

You might include developing a quality like courage, gratitude, or forgiveness, for instance. Maybe you want to practice a skill like meditation, yoga, painting, or cooking.

Creative ways flying

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Find your Sacred Yesses

Idea 3: Create a Mind Map

Maybe you’d like to do a mind map. There are wonderful examples of mind maps on Pinterest that you can browse for ideas.

Ask yourself, “What do I want to learn?” and “What do I want to experience?” 

Include your favorite affirmation or a personal mantra, for instance.

Whatever you do, keep it to one page.

What Are Your Sacred Yesses?

You create your affirmation board by listening within. You are listening for your Sacred Yesses. These Sacred Yesses belong to you. They’re not your parents’ yesses or your partner’s, or your children’s, or anybody else’s. 

They’re not about what you should do with your life; they are about finding and following your joy.

They affirm what you love, what you believe in, and what you cherish and value. They are about you living your truth. Find your Sacred Yesses, and you find your inner truth.

The key is to express yourself, your heart and soul. To focus on being rather than doing.

I encourage you to give your affirmation board plenty of time. Express yourself. Be creative. Feel free to experiment. It’s not about getting it right. And it’s not about creating something that looks good.

If you want, you can share your board with a coach or a trusted friend. It’s good to get feedback. Maybe they will point out something that you’ve missed. Finally, make sure that your affirmation board is about what you say yes to today, right now, not someday in the future. Remember, this isn’t about chasing happiness, it is about following your joy.

As you get clearer about the Sacred Yesses of your life, you experience a sense of empowerment and grace that helps you to live a truly blessed life. 

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time. 

Dr.Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC 

www.Naturally-Happy.com


Messy Church at LBUMC makes music on Sunday

Messy Church, the creative, interactive, and intergenerational alternative to conventional worship services, will make a joyful noise on Sunday, June 23, between 4 and 6 p.m. at Laguna Beach United Methodist Church.

Barbara Crowley, leader of Messy Church at LBUMC, invites people of all ages to participate in the universal language of music. “Come and celebrate with rhythm, song and dance activities,” she says. “You are also welcome to share instrumental talent,” she adds.   

Messy Church outside

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Courtesy of LBUMC Facebook

Messy Church will be held at LBUMC on Sunday 

Messy Church is held once a month at LBUMC, with different kinds of creative activities for young and old. It offers spiritual community for those not comfortable at a typical church service. A meal is always served and an RSVP is appreciated, but not required.

For more information or to RSVP, contact LBUMC at (949) 499-3088, or www.lbumc.org.

 LBUMC is located at 21632 Wesley Dr, up the hill from Gelson’s Shopping Center.

 


Rubzz and Nestor 

 

Rubzz and both

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Photo by Leonard Porto III

The best furry friends don’t care about color


LBPD and LBFD duke it out in first annual “Guns ‘n Hoses Softball Game” on National Night Out

On Tuesday, Aug 6, the Laguna Beach Police Department and Laguna Beach Fire Department will duke it out at the Laguna Beach High School Baseball Field during National Night Out 2019.

The gates open at 5 p.m. and pregame activities start at 5:30 p.m. with a K-9 demonstration on the field. There will be a flag presentation at 6 p.m., the National Anthem at 6:10 p.m., and the first pitch thrown out by Skipper Carrillo at 6:30 p.m. The big game starts at 6:30 p.m. There will be free hotdogs, chips, and a drink!

First Annual police

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Courtesy of Facebook

LBPD takes on LBFD on August 6 at LBHS Baseball Field

This is first softball game between the teams.

Sgt Jim Cota of the Laguna Beach Police Department says, “The LBPD softball team is very excited to be playing the LBFD/Marine Safety team on National Night Out. Bragging rights are on the line. On a personal level, we are all very close so this will be some friendly fun.” 

Engineer Paramedic Pat Cary says, “The Laguna Beach Firefighters are excited to participate in the first annual National Night Out event and see this as a great way for the community and residents to connect with each other and their first responders! To say we are a competitive group of firefighters would be an understatement and we can’t wait to play baseball against our brothers and sisters in Blue! Let’s Play Ball!” 

First Annual fire

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

It’s LB Fire vs LB Police for the first time on National Night Out on August 6

National Night Out culminates annually on the first Tuesday in August. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. It provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances. 

The LBHS Baseball Field is located at 625 Park Ave.


Congressman Rouda to attend LB Congressional Communities meeting on Aug 24

Congressman Harley Rouda will be the featured guest at the Laguna Beach Congressional Communities meeting at the Neighborhood Congregational Church on Saturday, Aug 24 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. 

The focus of the meeting will be tariffs. Following an in-depth presentation on the subject – particularly how Congress has given the executive branch increased authority over tariffs – Mr. Rouda will join the meeting to give an update on his work in Congress. He will finish with a Q&A with the audience.

Congressman Harley Rouda

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Submitted photo

Congressman Harley Rouda will be the featured guest at upcoming Congressional Communities meeting 

Congressional Communities was formed in 2018 to create communities similar in size to the very first districts, find out what issue areas are most important to the community, and make in-depth presentations on those subjects with a focus on Congress’ role on the issue. 

Along the way, the group works to develop an ongoing relationship with local Congress members and their local staff, including having them attend meetings to give updates on what Congress is doing. Meetings are monthly and the group is non-partisan. Its focus is on Congress and Laguna Beach is its charter member.

This will be the group’s first meeting with Congressman Rouda. The Congressional Communities’ goal is to work to build long-term, respectful dialogue with members of Congress and their staff, with the belief that these smaller units of organization will lead to a more responsive and successful Congress.

To help create a culture conducive to these goals, attendees to the meeting are encouraged to abide by the group’s guidelines: be respectful to each other, welcome opposing viewpoints, let others finish speaking, be brief, avoid profanity, focus your comments on Congress, and don’t identify by party.   

Importantly, this is not a Town Hall meeting, it is a private event. Turnout is expected to be strong. 

This is a free event, although registration and check-in are required.

To RSVP, email your name, city, and zip to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To learn more, visit www.congressionalcommunities.org

Neighborhood Congregational Church is located at 340 St. Ann’s Dr.


Local travel advisor named “Travel Expert Select™ in the area of Italy”

Local travel advisor Ed Postal has been selected as one of only 17 advisors in the country as “a Travel Expert Select™ in the area of Italy” by Luxe Travel Management, a member of Signature Travel Network.

Selected from over 200 travel agencies and thousands of travel advisors throughout the United States and Canada highly vetted amongst their peers, those named to the list are experts in their destination or special interest area because they have either lived in the destination or visit often. 

Signature Travel Postal

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Submitted photo

Ed Postal of International Travel Planners

This “feet on the ground” knowledge is essential in providing consumers with the most up to date information possible and options to personalize their clients’ trips. 

“We are thrilled to have Ed Postal of International Travel Planners in the Travel Expert Select™ program,” said Rachael Signer, Director of Business Development for Signature. 

“Participation in the Select program is highly competitive and only the most knowledgeable advisors can participate. They include a wide range of vacation types and special interests that meet the needs of every client.”

For more information about Travel Expert Select™, visit www.signaturetravelexperts.com

To contact International Travel Planners, email Ed at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (949) 228-3722.


LB Garden Club presents Chris Epting and “The Camping Trip that Changed America” on Friday

On Friday, Sept 13 at 9:30 a.m., Laguna Beach Garden Club will host its monthly speaker program featuring a presentation by Chris Epting on “The Camping Trip that Changed America.”

Chris Epting tells the story of President Theodore Roosevelt’s very important trip to Yosemite, the fateful three-day trip that shaped the destiny of Yosemite and the National Park Service. Chris’ presentation will include anecdotes of how John Muir’s love of plants helped shape our nation. 

Chris will be selling and signing copies of his best-selling book, Teddy Roosevelt in California. Chris Epting is an award-winning author of more than 30 travel/history books. He contributes articles to publications such as the Los Angeles Times, Westways, and Travel and Leisure Magazine. Chris is also a veteran music journalist and recently co-wrote Def Leppard and Phil Collins’ memoir as well as John Oates’ memoir. 

Laguna Beach Chris

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Submitted photo

Award-winning author Chris Epting is the featured guest speaker at LB Garden Club’s monthly meeting on Friday 

Chris also hosts the REELZ Channel series It Happened Here, which he also created. Originally from New York, Chris now lives in Huntington Beach. 

The Laguna Beach Garden Club meets on the second Friday of every month, September through May, at the Laguna Presbyterian Church. Social Hour starts at 9:30 a.m. and the General Meeting is at 10. The public is welcome; there is no charge for guests on their first visit. 

Before or after the meeting, guests are invited to browse the outdoor “Garden Boutique” where donated garden-related items and plants can be purchased at “dirt-cheap” prices. 

Parking is free in the Laguna Canyon Road lot (spaces 300-422) or $3 for all day in spaces 185-228. 

For more information on the garden club, visit www.lagunabeachgardenclub.org.   

The nonprofit Laguna Beach Garden Club, Inc. was founded in 1928 in beautiful Laguna Beach, and celebrated its 91st anniversary in February. Its members support a wide variety of projects related to education in gardening, horticulture, landscape and floral design, conservation, ecology, and bird life. 

The Laguna Presbyterian Church is located at 415 Forest Ave in the Tankersley Hall. 


Wave glitter

Wave glitter board

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Photo by Scott Brashier

The water shimmers like tiny diamonds


Two nonprofits come together for Taste of Laguna Food & Music Festival

Local nonprofits KX 93.5 and Laguna Beach Chamber have joined forces for the Taste of Laguna Food & Music Festival on Thursday, Oct 3 at the Festival of Arts grounds.

In January, General Manager and Founder of KX 93.5 FM’s Tyler Russell McCusker approached J.J. Ballesteros, President of the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce, with an idea. Both organizations each have their signature events: The Taste of Laguna and KX 93.5’s holiday concert in the Irvine Bowl. 

“Tyler asked me if the Chamber would consider doing a joint event combining the Taste with their concert. My initial thought was that was a great idea,” said Ballesteros.

After getting approvals by both the boards of both organizations, the Taste committee comprised of Chamber Executive Paula Hornbuckle-Arnold, Chamber Event and Marketing Manager Ashley von Gremp, and KX Development Director Monica McCusker, went to work on the event. 

Two nonprofits group

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Submitted photo

KX 93.5 and the Laguna Beach Chamber collaborate for the upcoming Taste of Laguna event 

The event is now called the Taste of Laguna Food & Music Festival. There will be more than 30 of Orange County’s finest restaurants serving food. For music, Tyler was able to book four different bands spanning four decades of music. 

At 6 p.m., 60s band Woodie and the Longboards will play. At 7 p.m., Polyester Express will play hits from the 70s. At 8 p.m. Flashback Heart Attack will bring festival goers back to the 80s. And finishing up at 9 p.m. is Sega Genecide with 90s favorites.

“Between the amazing food being served and music from four generations, there really is something for everyone,” said Ballesteros.

“Part of our goal was to create an event which is a value add to locals as well as visitors. Prior to this year, both the Laguna Beach Chamber as well as KX 93.5 were having separate fundraising events. The grand vision was to make our city less event-heavy thereby creating an opportunity for more people to attend a single event with a better experience,” said Paula Hornbuckle-Arnold.

“I’ve always thought Taste of Laguna was among our town’s best annual gatherings. And I’ve also always thought that KX 93.5 brings the best concerts and dance parties to the Festival of Arts! So, what’s better than putting them both together?” said Tyler.

“The public response has been overwhelmingly positive. People are loving the concept and many people who have never attended the Taste or concert in the past are coming this year,” said Monica McCusker. 

Promotion for the event is in full swing. Both organizations are advertising through social media, Cox Cable, and on KX 93.5. You will see the event being promoted on the movie theatre marquee very soon.

“Since this is the primary fundraising event for both organizations, a concentrated effort is being made to make this the event of the year in Laguna,” said Hornbuckle-Arnold.

The event promises to have great food, fun music, and a multitude of carefully chosen, unique silent auction items. Some great experiences have already been secured with more in the works. Sponsors see the value of the event and are jumping in. All this will lend to an even greater experience.

“Even though there are more costs than normal with all the music we did not want to increase the price for our attendees. There are a lot of heavy discussions going on in town. We want everyone in our community to come together and enjoy the food and music,” says Ballesteros

Tickets are $85 and $150 for VIP. To purchase tickets, visit www.tasteoflagunabeach.com. Come hungry and wear your dancing shoes! 


Laguna resident Laura Tarbox offers investment advice at “It’s Your Money!” event in Newport

Laguna Beach resident Laura Tarbox is one of the pioneers of the financial planning profession. Her company, Tarbox Family Office, is recognized as one of the top wealth management firms in the country.

Tarbox will speak at the nonprofit educational event “It’s Your Money!” on Monday, Sept 30 and Monday, Oct 7 at 10 a.m. at the Newport Beach Central Library. These sessions are part of a series on Financial Planning, with a focus on taking control of your financial situation and how to think about your overall financial plan.

Laguna resident Laura Tarbox

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Courtesy of Tarbox Family Office

Laura Tarbox

A UCLA graduate, Tarbox founded her wealth advisory firm in 1985 and provides fee-only financial planning (including estate and tax planning, charitable giving, insurance and retirement optimization) and investment management. She will talk about how to find the right advisor, the basics of comprehensive financial planning, and how to develop a healthy investment philosophy.

The Newport Beach Central Library is located at 1000 Avocado Street. No RSVP is required.

“It’s Your Money!” is a program moderated by Peter Kote, founder of the workshop series and the not-for-profit www.FEELinControl.org, which complements the workshop series with articles and outlines for each.


Fundraising event on October 19 to benefit remodel of Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center

Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center, located on Forest Avenue in the historic BC Space Gallery, will be holding a fundraiser on Saturday, Oct 19 from 5 - 8 p.m. (doors open at 4:30 p.m.) at the Sawdust Art Festival grounds. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center’s remodel of its new home, BC Space Galley. Admission is $50 – tickets can be purchased at the door or by going to link listed below.

 Attendees will enjoy delicious food prepared by GG’s Bistro, an open bar, top-notch entertainment, and a silent auction.

Many restaurants in and around Laguna Beach have donated dinners, which will be available as silent auction items at a fraction of the price. There’ll be jewelry, rare wines, and something for everyone.

 The entertainment will be provided by James Clay Garrison Band and Ava August.

James Clay Garrison Band plays in the smooth style of R&B, which features some soulful crooning. According to a recent Long Beach Post article, Garrison is no stranger to the music biz and has worked with such luminaries as Stephen Stills, Brian Wilson, Van Halen, Dave Mason, Ray Charles, and many others. 

Fundraising event James and band

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Courtesy of Facebook

James Clay Garrison Band

Ava August, the youngest contestant ever to be featured on The Voice, will also be showcased. Ava is an ultra-talented young artist who is also a part of the local music scene. 

Laguna Beach’s renowned artists Gray Kerciu and Jorg Dubin, along with other celebrated artists, have donated their work. This is the time and place to obtain great art at an affordable price. 

Dubin said, “It is with great pleasure that I have contributed a painting to the cause of keeping Mark and Jerry’s legacy alive and thriving for the betterment of culture here in Laguna Beach today, tomorrow, and well into the future. I look forward to seeing LBCAC expand its programming through the support of the community, the city, and the creatives. Let’s not let this wonderful space revert to yet another office. Laguna is in need of a cultural arts center because without it, we all lose a piece of our collective soul.” 

On August 15, Laguna Beach’s first-ever cultural arts center was formed as a nonprofit organization. The vision for the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center is to provide a creative epicenter through exhibition space, events, and promotion to support artists in the following mediums: visual arts, music, video, still photography, film, dance, poetry, and arts education. 

Fundraising event Ava

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Courtesy of avagust.com

Ava August

Respectful of the town’s origins as a premier art colony, it endeavors to showcase leading edge, experiential, and thought-provoking art that focuses on emotional connection and artistic progress. Through the dedicated space on Forest Avenue, it will not only preserve one of the Southern California’s longest-running art galleries, but will provide affordable space for local, regional, and national artists. The center will also host events to promote Laguna Beach as an artist community. 

Mihae Park says, “The historic name ‘BC Space’ will remain and now be a home to Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center in honor of Jerry Birchfield and Mark Chamberlain. There is a lack of support for the mission that drove Mark, Jerry, and like-minded artists to stage thought-provoking exhibitions and performances. It now falls upon those who remain to share their vision in maintaining this great space as one of the few cultural venues here in Laguna that provides a place to present art, music, and performances not found elsewhere in Laguna Beach. Now is the time to rebuild Laguna Beach’s reputation as Southern California’s premier artist community by celebrating and supporting its first-ever cultural arts center.

“With the advent of Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center, we will provide an opportunity to bring back those artists that have been priced out of Laguna Beach to show their work. Now is the time, more than ever, to step up and get involved in preserving the great tradition of Laguna Beach as an artist community by supporting Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center.”

This is also an opportunity to learn more about Laguna’s first and only Cultural Arts Center. 

Tickets may be purchased at the door. RSVPs are requested – click here.

To contribute to the cause, go to the GoFundMe here. 

For more information, call (949) 652-ARTS or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Sawdust Art Festival is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Rd.


Cliffs of gold  

Cliffs of Twin Points

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Twin Points, a tropical paradise of lush green and azure blue


Real Talk Laguna Beach presents “Different Faiths Common Ground” workshop on Nov 14

On Thursday, Nov 14, from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Real Talk Laguna Beach presents a “Different Faiths Common Ground” workshop at the Susi Q Community Room. Ray Zimmerman, a licensed mediator and Saddleback professor, will be leading the event. 

What do people of faith have in common and what can they learn from each other? While differences between the world’s religions should be understood and respected, it’s increasingly important to recognize similarities. 

Real Talk Ray

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Submitted photo

Real Talk workshop presents Ray Zimmerman, a licensed mediator and Saddleback professor

In this Real Talk workshop, participants will talk about common beliefs and practices among people of faith, discuss ways of supporting and encouraging each other’s spiritual growth, and consult on strategies for interfaith worship, collaboration, and service. 

Ray Zimmerman is a professor at Saddleback College where he leaches English and Humanities. A licensed mediator, he is also a member of the OC Sherill’s Interfaith Advisory Council and an advisory board member for Chapman University’s Interfaith Center. He received an NAACP award for education. 

This is a free event with limited seating. 

RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Susi Q Community Room is located at 380 Third St.


KX 93.5 announces winner of 1964 Ford Mustang raffle

KX 93.5, Laguna’s only FM radio station, just wrapped its raffle of a rare 1964 1/2 Ford Mustang. 100 percent of the proceeds of the raffle benefitted KX 93.5. The raffle raised more than $16,000 for the nonprofit station.

The winner of the raffle, Kevin Simmons from Redlands, won the Mustang after spending $100 on five raffle tickets. His winning ticket was drawn October 6 at the Laguna Beach Classic Car Show, presented by the Laguna Beach Rotary.

“I’ve been listening to you guys for a few years, and I’ve always loved hearing new stuff,” said Simmons on the air. “I used to work at a radio station back in the day, so I really appreciate what you guys are doing. I’m so excited to win this car!” 

KX 93.5 car

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Kevin Simmons is the lucky winner of a 1964 Ford Mustang 

Built March 19, 1964, this Mustang was the 2041st one off the original assembly line. Only 1,274 cars of this model, this color (Wimbledon White), and this package were originally sold. 

The engine is a 170 cubic-inch, six-cylinder, three-speed manual. Some parts of the prototype were “borrowed” from the Ford Falcon, including the original horn ring on the steering column. A previous owner of the car completely restored it, including a fully-rebuilt engine. It originally sold for $2,320. 

This is the second classic car raffle KX 93.5 has executed. The nonprofit station raffled off a red 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible in 2013. According to KX 93.5 General Manager Tyler Russell, the station is always looking for creative ways to raise money to sustain itself. 

“We’d like to thank the community for their support in this raffle, and we’d like to invite everyone who values KX 93.5’s role in Laguna Beach to become a member of our station as well,” said Russell. “We need sustaining contributions to ensure that FM radio remains integral part of our town forever.”

To become a member, visit www.KX935.com/join

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Nestor’s wish list

Nestors wish mouse

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Photo by Leonard F. Porto III

I’m asking Santa for a real mouse


Unitarian Universalist Fellowship presents “Blues for Hard Times” on Sunday

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Laguna Beach presents “Blues for Hard Times” with guest musician Peter Dobson on Sunday, Nov 24 at 10:30 a.m. 

Get ready to be inspired, delighted, informed, and entertained as Dobson performs soul-fulfilling blues on his guitar and brings new insights to the topic of hard times and the blues as expressed through music. 

Unitarian Universalist Dobson

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Longtime Laguna resident and musician Peter Dobson to perform on Sunday

Dobson is a virtuoso guitarist and longtime Laguna resident. He is a master of virtually all country blues styles and delivers a unique and phenomenal voice to the blues. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the blues by a true master and delve into the musical world of the blues for hard times. 

For more information, contact Rachel Daniels at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (310) 714-2699. 

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Laguna Beach is located at 429 Cypress Dr.


Laguna Beach Books hosts Holiday Party & Customer Appreciation event on Thursday

Laguna Beach Books is hosting a Holiday Party & Customer Appreciation event on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. The community is invited to join in the festivities. 

The bookstore’s favorite publisher reps will attend to tell guests about their top picks of the season. Discuss your favorite book club title, get insight about what to read in 2020, and mingle with other book lovers.

Guests will be treated to light appetizers, beverages, and lots of holiday cheer. Free parking is available. Check in on Facebook at the event or bring a gently used children’s picture book to donate and you’ll be entered into a random drawing for a $50 Laguna Beach Books gift card.

Laguna Beach Books outside

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Photo by Stacia Stabler

Laguna Beach Books invites the community to Holiday Party on Thursday

Laguna Beach Books is an independent bookstore in Laguna Beach that strives to create a community-enriching environment with a superb selection of books for adults and children, exciting author events and readings, and friendly, knowledgeable staff. Laguna Beach Books is owned by Jane Hanauer.

Laguna Beach Books is located in the HIP (Historical and Interesting Places) District. It stretches along Pacific Coast Highway from Thalia Street to Bluebird Canyon Road and includes numerous boutiques, 16 art galleries, 19 restaurants, several coffee shops, wonderful hotels, florists, jewelry, home décor, spas, beautiful beaches, and much more.

For more information, visit www.lagunabeachbooks.com

Laguna Beach Books is located at 1200 South Coast Hwy.


Laguna Beach Library presents Andrew Giraldo on Dec 14

Laguna Beach Library is proud to announce a special afternoon of classical guitar music with Andre Giraldo on Saturday, Dec 14 at 2:30 p.m. All ages are welcome to attend this musical program. 

Andre Giraldo is a Los Angeles-based guitarist and teacher who performs widely as a soloist and member of the Artisan Guitar Ensemble (trio). He believes in the capacity of music and art to infuse meaning and transform the lives of both the performer and the listener.

Laguna Beach Andre

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Andrew Giraldo will perform at the Laguna Beach Library on Dec 14

Giraldo’s goal is to share his passion for music with as wide an audience as possible and to connect with audiences. 

For more information on Andre Giraldo, visit his channels on Youtube/Instagram @andreplaysguitarra or @theartisanguitarensemble.

For more information on the Laguna Beach Library and upcoming events, visit www.ocpl.org/libloc/lbch

The Laguna Beach Library is located at 363 Glenneyre St.


Laguna Beach Books announces book drive

Laguna Beach Books and Young Company are sponsoring a book drive through December 21. Gently used children’s picture books can be dropped off at Laguna Beach Books. 

Donate a book or check in on Facebook at the bookstore and enter to win a raffle for a $50 gift card to Laguna Beach Books. Don’t have any books to donate? Laguna Beach Books staff can recommend books to be purchased for the book drive. 

Laguna Beach sign

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Laguna Beach Books is hosting a book drive through Dec 21

Books will be donated to Orange County United Way’s Early Literacy program. 

Laguna Beach Books is an independent bookstore in Laguna Beach. The store strives to create a community-enriching environment with a superb selection of books for adults and children, exciting author events and readings, and friendly, knowledgeable staff. 

For more information, visit www.lagunabeachbooks.com

Laguna Beach Books is located at 1200 South Coast Hwy.


Meet Pet of the Week May

May is currently taking over Pet of the Week. She is a spayed eight-month-old cat who is a Siamese mix. May is known to be very shy, and takes a while to warm up to individuals. She is very quiet and will often go off on her own throughout the house. She does do well with other cats, so a home with more animals in encouraged. In addition, she loves playing with children and is very loving towards them. She is the perfect partner to explore with and is able to climb great heights. Nancy Goodwin, shelter director, is hoping to have May adopted as soon as possible. 

Meet Pet of the Week May

Once you look into May’s green eyes, she will have you smitten for life

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter adoption procedures are designed to make sure that both the potential family and the animal adopted are in the very best situation possible. Due to their approach to adoption, the shelter’s return rate is five percent as compared to the national return rate of 50 percent.

The LB Animal Shelter is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. For information on adoption procedures, call (949) 497-3552 or go to www.puplagunabeach.org/our-pets.php.


Real Talk Laguna Beach presents Youth Mentorship event on January 15

On Wednesday, Jan 15 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Real Talk Laguna Beach will host a Youth Mentorship event for the community at the Community & Susi Q Center. Ron Ruangragool will be the event facilitator. The event is free with limited seating.

Founder of First Honors (an educational consulting company), Ron aspires to provide college counseling and mentorship services to underprivileged kids and advocate for at-risk youth, and to use the tools of the legal system against individuals and organizations that perpetuate injustice.

After earning his BA from UCLA in 2013, he was ordained as a Buddhist monk in Thailand, where he studied for seven months. He went on to earn his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 2019. He is currently studying for the California Bar Exam.

Real Talk Ron

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Ron Ruangragool will facilitate Real Talk Laguna Beach’s Youth Mentorship event on Jan 15

In our society today, one in three young people will grow up without a mentor. We often overlook how important mentorship is to young people. Mentorship not only plays a key role in rehabilitating at-risk youth through programs like restorative justice, but also provides young students with the necessary life skills to thrive in personal, academic, and professional situations.

Mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development and aids in the reducing stress for high school students, especially during the hectic college admissions process.

The talk will examine the benefits of mentorship for young people from building leadership skills to promoting positive social attitudes and relationships. It will also explore how vital these benefits are for parents and students when applying to colleges. 

Participants will discuss the role of parents during the college admission process and provide real-life advice and tips to help students achieve success in high school and beyond. 

RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Community & Susi Q Center is located at 380 Third St.


Laguna Beach resident Cathy Moses named partner at Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP

Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP, an award-winning full-service law firm focused on real estate in the U.S., proudly announces the promotion of Cathy T. Moses to partner. 

A Laguna Beach resident, Moses is based in Cox, Castle & Nicholson’s Orange County office. She first joined Cox, Castle & Nicholson’s Litigation team as senior counsel in 2017. 

Her experience spans a wide range of business and real estate litigation matters, including business torts, contracts, partnership disputes, and employment litigation. She has achieved successful outcomes for the firm’s clients at all stages of litigation, including pre-litigation negotiations, dispositive motion practice, trial, and appeal. 

Laguna Beach Moses

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Cathy Moses has been named a partner at Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP

Outside of the office, she serves on the board of directors of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Orange County. She graduated magna cum laude and Order of the Coif from the University of Michigan Law School, and earned her bachelor’s degree cum laude in history and literature from Harvard University. 

After graduating from law school, she served as a law clerk to The Honorable M. Margaret McKeown of the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. From 2011 to 2012, she served as a Trial Attorney with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch, in Washington, D.C.

More for information on Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP, visit www.coxcastle.com.


Mission Hospital Leonard Cancer Institute announces new early stage lung cancer test

 Mission Hospital has announced that its Judi and Bill Leonard Institute for Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Wellness now has access to DetermaRx, formerly known as the Razar treatment stratification test. 

The test enables the identification of early stage lung cancer by identifying patients who may benefit from chemotherapy after surgery. Mission Hospital is one of two hospitals in the nation with early access to the test.

“For more than four decades, Mission Hospital has been committed to providing innovative and high-quality care for residents of South Orange County,” said Seth Teigen, chief executive of Mission Hospital. “Our early access partnership with DetermaRx allows us to enhance our comprehensive lung cancer treatment program and optimize post-surgical treatment decisions.”

Under the current standard of care, about 30 to 50 percent of stage I – IIA patients who have had surgery to remove lung tumors tend to experience a cancer recurrence and die within five years of surgery. Mission Hospital’s access to DetermaRx allows high-risk patients to receive chemotherapy immediately after surgery to help better overall health outcomes and survival rates. 

Additionally, DetermaRx will provide Leonard Cancer Institute physicians with personalized lung cancer treatment management by identifying patients at an early stage, especially as all stages aren’t the same and each carry a varying risk of recurrence. Additionally, the test has the potential to detect patients carrying a high-risk for recurrence based on their genomic profile. 

DetermaRx is made available by Oncocyte Corporation (NYSE American: OCX), a molecular diagnostic company with a mission to provide actionable answers at critical decision points across the lung cancer care continuum.

For additional information about the Judi and Bill Leonard Institute for Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Wellness at Mission Hospital, visit www.leonardcancerinstitue.com.


Rhythm Ride to host benefit ride to support Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is excited to announce “Pedal to Play: Send our kids to Camp!”, a benefit ride hosted by Rhythm Ride Studio on Friday, March 13 at 5:30 p.m. Faye Cartmale (Rhythm Ride instructor and BGC-Laguna employee) will lead the benefit ride, instructing a 50-minute indoor cycling class at Rhythm Ride. 

After the ride, participants are invited to stay for a sip of sparkling wine provided by the Wine Gallery as well as be treated to a complimentary mini-spa service. The Boys & Girls Club will be hosting a raffle that includes great prizes from Gorjana, Cryo Haus, Rhythm Ride, and more.

“We offer a variety of programming at the Club over summer break. This includes programs such as Summer Brain Gain, fashion design, sports leagues, fine arts, cooking classes, and more. We also offer semiweekly field trips from walking to the pool and beach to hikes, amusement parks, sailing, and even a 5-day camping trip on Catalina,” states, Jennifer Costales, BGC Community Engagement Director. 

Rhythm Ride group

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Rhythm Ride instructor and Boys & Girls Club employee Faye Cartmale to lead benefit ride on March 13

“The extra funds we are looking to raise will help to scholarship kids in the community that would not otherwise be able to participate in our quality programming as well as lower the price of field trips to make them accessible to everyone. By participating in our ride and buying raffle tickets and our logo’d Crystal Star leggings from GoldSheep, you are helping a youth in our community have the summer of their life rather than sitting at home by themselves.” 

The cost to ride is $50 or you can also purchase a legging and bike package for $150. Raffle tickets are being sold for $10. Not able to make the ride? No problem, you can still purchase leggings and raffle tickets as you do not need to be present to win. 

To reserve a bike, purchase leggings, raffle tickets, or simply donate, visit www.bgclagunabeach.org

You can find the Pedal to Play link under “Featured Events” at the bottom of the homepage. Bikes are limited and advanced registration is recommended.


Ocean Institute Fest Culinary – Music Festival to be rescheduled due to the coronavirus

According to Dr. Wendy Marshall, Ocean Institute has come to the very difficult decision to postpone Ocean Institute Fest due to concerns related to the coronavirus. The event is rescheduled for September 11 and 12, 2020 to coincide with the Tall Ships Festival. 

Ocean Institute Fest, previously known as the Jazz Festival, directly supports the Adopt-A-Class program that provides underserved students with hands-on STEM education. Even though this is Ocean Institute’s biggest annual fundraiser, the safety of all guests and staff must come first. 

Dr. Marshall says, “Although we are disappointed to make this change, we are certain that it is the appropriate decision and that our new dates will offer even more opportunity for an optimal event. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding. We remain committed to ocean education programs and are looking forward to Ocean Institute Fest this fall.” 

Ocean Institute Ocean Institute is a highly respected ocean science, maritime history, and experiential education nonprofit located in Dana Point Harbor. Its modern campus is adjacent to the Dana Point State Marine Conservation Area, and encompasses 33,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits, science labs, and an aquarium collection of 1,100 live specimens of local marine life. Central to its unique identity throughout California, Ocean Institute operates two historic tall ships, Spirit of Dana Point and Pilgrim, a replica of the ship made famous by Richard Henry Dana Jr. 

For more information, go to www.oceaninstititute.org.


Worship from home 

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

In order to continue to worship during these trying times, many local churches are offering online streaming of services.

Worship at Tacklind

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Pastor Jeff Tacklind of Church by the Sea offers special online services by subscribing to Church by the Sea on YouTube

Worship at Presbyterian

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Tune into www.lagunapresbyterianchurch.org at 10 a.m. on Sunday for a brief worship service

Worship at preparing

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Pastor Tacklind prepares for the online service


Guest Column

Spiritual tool to relieve anxiety about the coronavirus 

By Dr. Vidya Reddy

Hello and welcome, I’d like to begin by letting you all know that I’m deeply committed to supporting you all mentally and spiritually during this time. I will continue to regularly give you tools for self-regulation and anxiety relief.

We’re all in this together. The more we can stay centered, the more we can support our loved ones, our community, and our overall well-being. Our spiritual practice is more important now than ever. This is an opportunity to surrender to your own faith and recognize where your true power lies. 

Right now we’re living in an anxious time. If you feel anxiety, fear, and a sense of powerlessness around the coronavirus (aka COVID-19) pandemic, this post is for you. I created the Naturally Happy podcast as a tool to help, as a reflection exercise and for building spirit muscle. Please listen and share it at https://naturally-happy.com/podcast/. Use the podcast guide to find episodes to create some catharsis in your life.

Meditate to relieve coronavirus anxiety.

Guest Column Spiritual tool Vidya

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Photo by Johnny Antezana

Dr. Vidya Reddy

As much as I’ve been practicing all my spiritual tools, I still feel pangs of coronavirus anxiety. Throughout the day I’ve been turning to this meditation to relieve my anxiety.

This meditation is for clearing and protecting. It’s a fantastic visualization meditation that helps us feel safe and well, regulating and calming our nervous system so we don’t panic.

When we shift our energy with this practice, we don’t just help ourselves – we also have a ripple effect. As we raise our vibration, we positively affect everyone around us.

Breakdown of the meditation for anxiety relief

Sit comfortably.

Place your right hand over your heart and your left hand on your belly.

Close your eyes and take a deep breath in. Feel your diaphragm and your heart expand.

On the exhale, let your diaphragm contract and relax.

Inhale, breathing into the part of your body where your anxiety lives. Don’t judge it or question that feeling. Just be present with it.

On the exhale, release.

Continue this breath cycle. Allow the anxiety to slowly dissipate as you breathe.

In your mind’s eye, envision yourself standing, sitting, or lying down underneath a waterfall of light. Each golden drop of light cleanses you mentally, physically, and psychically.

You smile as this waterfall of light pours over you, from the top of your crown down your face, your neck, your chest and your upper back, down to your stomach and lower back, to your hips and pelvis, down your legs, down to your feet and toes.

Inhale and breathe in that light.

On the exhale, see it flowing down through your body.

With each breath and each exhale, you allow the cleansing light to pour through your body and clear your energetic field.

This is the greatest contribution you can bring to your own well-being as well as to the world. This is where your true power lies when you feel powerless – your capacity to relieve yourself of feelings of anxiety, stress, fear.

Continue this cycle of breath, envisioning this cleansing light pouring through you.

Center into any sense of relief, even if it’s slight.

See the light begin to expand outward from your heart. It’s becoming a golden shield of light protecting your whole body.

With each inhale and exhale, the golden light shield becomes bigger and stronger.

Guest Column Spiritual tool lotus

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Try the Lotus position while meditating

This is a shield of protection and safety that also supports everyone who comes into contact with you.

Breathe in, feeling the shield of protection around you.

Exhale and release.

Breathe in…and release.

Breathe in…and release.

Open your eyes, keeping your hands on your heart and your belly. Continue your cycle of breath.

Breathe into the new vibration that you’re in. Even if there is still some lingering discomfort, trust in your protective shield.

Commit to taking this new energy with you wherever you go. And commit that anytime you feel misaligned, you will return to this practice.

May we be healthy.

May we be happy.

May we be protected.

May we feel safe.

May we feel guided.

May we seek solutions rather than problems.

We can always turn inward for safety, serenity, health, and well-being. The more we tune in, the more we’re a force for positivity and love on those all around us.

Close your practice by shaking out your hands. Feel that new energy around you and feel supported.

If you feel called to share, leave a comment on my website and let me know how you feel after this meditation. 

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time.

Dr. Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC

www.Naturally-Happy.com


Health in Balance presents two-week cleanse starting on May 8

Health in Balance says, “It’s time for a pre-summer cleanse!” Folks are invited to join Health in Balance’s live webinar on Monday, May 4 at 1 p.m. to learn keys to a successful detox, the types of cleanses it feels are a waste of time versus those that will maximize your health and fitness, and why detoxing can be such a vital component for a healthy lifestyle. 

Health in juice

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Health in Balance invites locals to join in a two-week cleanse

Health in Balance states that “a cleanse is a good way to detox your body to reset your health, boost your immune system, and cleanse your system as a pre-summer kick off!” 

The two-week cleanse will be held from May 8 - 22. Health in Balance will also be putting together a virtual group for participants to support one another throughout the two weeks, and the Health in Balance staff is going to be doing it also.

To sign up for the Webinar and learn the details of the two-week virtual cleanse, click here.


Dartmoor sunset

Dartmoor sunset vivid

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Who knew there could be so many shades of orange, scarlet, and yellow?


Pacific Marine Mammal Center brings Camp Pinniped to summer campers at home

Children ages 8 to 12 can now participate in Pacific Marine Mammal Center’s (PMMC) Camp Pinniped right from home. No matter where campers live, they can join PMMC for a week-long experience as the organization broadcasts live daily from the PMMC center in Laguna Beach. 

PMMC’s new online summer camp is taught by live PMMC education instructors and is designed to give children learning experience that will fit into their summer schedules. No parent involvement is needed.

Classes will be held live online from 9 a.m. -12 p.m. daily, Monday through Friday. Camp sizes will be limited each week, along with smaller break-out sessions, in order to provide individualized attention and a positive online experience for all participants.

Give aspiring marine enthusiasts a week-long experience unlike any other.

Included in the activities, campers will: 

--Observe a shark dissection and participate with their host

--Work with other campers to inspect skeletons, using detective skills to determine which animals they are

--Build a crate for and tag their own plush harbor seal

--Check out their adopted animal and read its story

Pacific Marine seals

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Campers will learn all about seals – these two sunbathers take a leisurely swim at Pacific Marine Mammal Center

--Learn about harbor seals and how special their whiskers are; campers will make their own whiskers with other campers

--Learn about manatees; campers will be satellite tag sleuths, working with other campers in a game to track one down to keep it safe 

--Be a whale scientist in a game to identify different whales by their flukes and callosite patterns 

--Discover the weird habits of gray whales that make them unique in the whale world

--Take observations of animals in rehabilitation while watching them live on camera 

--Get crafty while creating your own marine mammals with origami 

--Work with other campers to create a new, ultimate, pollution busting marine mammal 

--Campers will create their own marine mammal facility after learning about PMMC and what it takes to rehabilitate animals

--Learn about three different careers with marine mammals (animal trainer, marine biologist, and veterinarian) and chat with one of those experts live! 

All campers will receive an exciting pre-camp supply package.

Camp Pinniped at Home is a one-week program. Programs are offered between June 15 and August 14. Online camp runs Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Campers must be between the ages of 8 to 12. 

Class size is limited to 18 campers per session.

The cost per camper is $229. Full payment at registration is required to hold a spot a camper.

For the class schedule and to register, click here.

To contact PMMC, call (949) 494-3050 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


McKeown Plumbing and San Clemente Plumbing team up

McKeown Plumbing is proud to announce that Mike Litalien, former owner of San Clemente Plumbing, has joined the company. He brings four decades of experience serving the San Clemente area to McKeown’s four decades of service in Laguna Beach and its surrounding cities. 

Mike launched San Clemente Plumbing in 1981, working primarily with custom homes. He built the company handling large commercial and public works projects and operating the residential side of his business with four trucks.   

“We have teamed up to leverage the vast experience and resources of two great plumbing companies to serve more of coastal Orange County,” said Walt Stender, CEO of McKeown Plumbing. “Our vision is to bring new technology, better water quality control and management, and smart home systems to the community.” 

McKeown Plumbing Mike

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Mike Litalein joins forces with McKeown Plumbing 

Litalien developed a reputation as a highly skilled plumber and ethical businessperson in San Clemente according to the local press. The Daily Sun-Post dubbed him “Honest Mike,” and noted his ability to troubleshoot problems that other plumbers could not solve. 

“Even during this time of COVID-19, we are working to solve our customer’s problems in a safe manner, adhering to safety guidelines,” said Stender.   

McKeown Plumbing was founded in 1973 to serve the plumbing needs of the Laguna Beach area. The company grew steadily to operate with seven trucks. 

“We share the focus of solving the immediate problem and not looking for opportunities to sell additional work,” said Jon Wickwire, President.

Both companies have worked with many customers over multiple generations. Providing reliable, quality service is the core value for both companies. 

“McKeown Plumbing and I value the long-term customer relationship,” said Litalien. “We are your lifetime plumber.” 

“Helping people is our shared vision. We are excited to build a company that supports our customers, employees, and our local community,” said Stender. 

For more information, visit www.mckplumb.com.


Locals for Laguna Beach launches merchant program with Royal Hawaiian locals’ nights 

Tough work, but someone’s got to do it. At the Royal Hawaiian’s outdoor patio, a handful of locals launched the first of the restaurant’s weekly discount offering, half-priced drinks every Wednesday. This perk and many others await customers who participate in Locals for Laguna Beach. The new citywide ad hoc program aims to spur local business in tenuous pandemic times. The program benefits consumers and operates as a collaborative, cost-free, virtual venue for Laguna Beach businesses to showcase their goods, food, art, and services to keep their doors open during and after COVID-19. 

Locals for Laguna Beach requires no membership and holds no meetings. Anyone who purchases a specially designed T-shirt or hat receives a Locals for Laguna Beach card, entitling them to a growing trove of merchant goodies. Hats and shirts can be purchased at many of the participating businesses and on its website, www.localsforlagunabeach.com, which serves as its communications hub. 

locals for Maro

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Photo by Melissa Martinez

Maro Molteni of the Royal Hawaiian models his Locals for Laguna Beach 

T-shirt

The group’s founder Jason Garza, a business insurance broker, said, “We’ve learned from hard experience that our town excels at helping each other when disaster strikes. With most summer festivals canceled, many business owners are panicked that they won’t be able to hang on. We are here to encourage collaboration and to get locals to spend their dollars in town. Locals for Laguna Beach is akin to a fireline or a barn-raising – everyone is pitching in to help each other stay afloat and stay positive. By being accessible to all, Locals for Laguna Beach eliminates red tape and barriers to entry.”

He added, “Even though the pandemic spurred this movement, it makes sense even in thriving times. Locals for Laguna Beach stands as a model for how close-knit communities should be operating anyway, with plenty of communication and rewarding locals’ loyalty.” 

locals for group

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Photo by Melissa Martinez

A masked crowd of Wednesday revelers celebrates the weekly half-price drink special for Locals for Laguna Beach cardholders at Royal Hawaiian

Collaborating on the project is Melissa Martinez, a fashion design consultant, trend forecaster, and owner of Pelt, Inc. “We all have individual strengths that we can combine for the greater good, which is our community. The pandemic has shown us that past cultural practices of operating alone – whether as an individual or a business – are not sustainable. Our goal is to encourage businesses to communicate more and to help and learn from each other. I really like the idea of a return to commune-type practices being a crucial part of community living.” 

Garza described a current collaborative example, “Ganahl Lumber donated materials that Ron May of May Construction is using to build benches and tables for outdoor dining for any eateries that need them. All they have to do is ask and we’ll build and deliver what they need, at no charge.” 

locals for back

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Photo by Melissa Martinez

Website developer Sharael Kolberg of Kolberg Creative Services

When Royal Hawaiian needed additional patio umbrellas for its Wednesday happy hour and learned it would have to wait weeks to receive its order, Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales at Nirvana Grille loaned them a pair. 

Ashley Moseley, Garza’s fiancée, has been instrumental in launching the online forum for business owners to collaborate, brainstorm, and share resources. She noted, “We see this group as a personal approach to getting business owners and local customers to become better acquainted and discover more about the people that comprise our local commerce.”

Royal Hawaiian’s weekly drink discounts are the first of a growing number of enticements offered through Locals for Laguna Beach. A full list of participating merchants can be found on its website, with new additions weekly. So far, they include Harley, Active Culture, Moulin, Ristorante Rumari, 230 Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach Beer Company, Gina’s Pizza, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Avila’s El Ranchito, Rasta Taco, Laguna Coffee Company, Gelato Paradiso, Ruby’s Diner, The Den, Laguna Surf & Sport, Catch Surf, Thalia Surf Shop, North Menswear, The Shop Laguna Beach, Pacific Marine Mammal Center gift shop, Penguin Café, La Vida Laguna, RhythmRide, Frank’s Motor Cars, and Bushard’s Pharmacy. 

locals for masked imbiber

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Photo by Melissa Martinez

Masked imbiber Jeff Booth

Profits from online shirt and hat sales go to a local business selected at random each month to help with immediate needs such as rent, costs for touchless transaction processing, tables, and umbrellas. Retailers that sell imprinted Locals for Laguna Beach goods keep 100 percent of the sale, thanks to Martinez’s new T-shirt fundraising project called 4SOCIETEE. 

Although indoor dining is currently not an option due to COVID-19, Royal Hawaiian will continue its Wednesday offer of half-price drinks to Locals for Laguna Beach cardholders. Patricia Molteni and husband Mariano (Maro) have run the Royal Hawaiian since January 2019. Their son Ziggy, 15, is learning the family business as a line cook. 

Maro said, “We are following all the guidelines, but we encourage locals to enjoy our menu by ordering food and drinks to go. They can wander over to Heisler Park with a picnic blanket and watch the sunset. As a business, we have to be creative and collaborative to stay alive. We are grateful for the opportunity to join hands with other local businesses through Locals for Laguna Beach.” 

For more information, visit www.localsforlagunabeach.com.


AAUW-Laguna Beach scholarships help women’s college dreams come true

Jenny O., the daughter of Salvadorian refugees and a single mother of three, always believed college is “not for people like me.” It took her ten years after graduating from high school to realize she was wrong about herself, that college was for her. 

Every year, the Laguna Beach branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women) awards scholarships to women like Jenny. This year, with COVID, the need is especially great. 

The scholarships are a lifeline of financial support to women attending college, holding down jobs, and taking care of children, all at the same time. Now COVID makes their challenges even greater, with studies online, and jobs and daycare disappearing. Their need has never been greater.

AAUW Laguna Beach Jenny

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Jenny O., 2020 AAUW scholarship recipient

Today, Jenny is just months away from earning her Associate of Science Certificate in Speech, Language Pathology Assistant at Orange Coast College, with a transfer planned in 2021 to earn bachelor’s and masters’ degrees and eventually have her own practice as a Speech-Language Pathologist. 

In following her education and career goals, Jenny sees day after day how she is not only achieving her own dreams, but also providing a role model for her children. 

The community can help by joining AAUW from November 12 through December 6. Visit www.lagunabeach-ca.aauw.net to watch a short video of women who were awarded scholarships in 2020 and listen to their inspiring stories. As a thank you for donating, your name will be entered into a drawing to win one of three wine baskets.


Mammal merriment

Mammal merriment whale

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Photo by Tom Berndt

Candelabra aloe in Heisler Park heralds the arrival of the holidays


Friendship Shelter issues statement regarding Allison Mathews’ recent letter to the editor

Friendship Shelter submitted the following statement to Stu News Laguna for publication:

Laguna Beach city council candidate Allison Mathews, in a recent Nextdoor post and letter to the editor, describes her experience visiting the City’s Alternative Sleeping Location, a temporary shelter operated by Friendship Shelter. In her account, Ms. Mathews relays a conversation she says she had with two of our employees. But the employees described and quoted by Ms. Matthews say that no such conversation took place. Instead they say they had only a brief exchange with Ms. Matthews: to let her know she could not spend the night, as she is not homeless, and because letting her stay might mean a homeless person would be denied shelter, given the limited space. Both employees are firm in insisting that statements attributed to them by Ms. Mathews in fact were not made by them. While we avoid any involvement in local political campaigns, we felt it was important to support our employees and their desire to set the record straight.


Nestor’s financial status

Nestors financial green

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Photo by Leonard Porto III

“Inspecting my hedge fund”


Meet Pet of the Week Kira

Kira is currently taking the title of Pet of the Week. She is a six-year-old toy fox terrier who is spayed. Kira is known to be a pistol and is full of energy. Her go-to activity is to play and explore everywhere she possibly can. She is looking for someone to go on adventures with, and loves to also play with other animals. In addition to having fun, Kira will be your best friend. Nancy Goodwin, shelter director, hopes to see Kira adopted as soon as possible. 

Pet of the Week Kira

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Kira is looking for a new playmate

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter adoption procedures are designed to make sure that both the potential family and the animal adopted are in the very best situation possible. Due to their approach to adoption, the shelter’s return rate is five percent as compared to the national return rate of 50 percent.

The LB Animal Shelter is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. For information on adoption procedures, call (949) 497-3552 or go to www.puplagunabeach.org/our-pets.php.


Laguna Beach – A Look Back

Courtesy of Laguna Beach Historical Society

The circle of life not only applies to the law of the jungle, it can be seen in some of Laguna Beach’s beautiful historic architecture.

102 years ago, in 1917, on the corner of Coast Highway and Aster, three distinct styles were merged – its obvious Craftsman style, with both Japanese and Swiss influences, reflecting the melting pot of the early 20th century. For part of the 21 years it was a private home, housing local real estate baron Joe Skidmore.

Laguna Beach A Look Back 8 2 19

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One of Laguna’s oldest and most beautifully historic structures, located at 308 N Coast Hwy

In this undated photo, two lazy palm trees sway in front while a lone pine accents the side patio.

In 1938, it became a restaurant, the Laguna Vista Café. In 1964, it became the Cottage, which dutifully served locals and tourists alike wonderful buttermilk pancakes, meat loaf, and strong coffee – until 2012, when Shallom and Jilla Berkman, owners of Urth Caffés in Southern California, took over the property. 

They worked with a city-appointed historian and hired a local architect, Todd Skenderian, known for his work on heritage properties in Laguna Beach. Their goal of preserving the history and the three architectural styles was clearly achieved. 

With the current Urth Caffe at the Cottage, a local landmark completes the circle of life.

• • •

Laguna Beach Historical Society is located at 278 Ocean Ave. They are open Friday - Sunday from 1 - 4 p.m. For more information, call (949) 497-6834 or visit www.lagunabeachhistory.org.


Filigree foam

Filigree foam waves

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Nature’s artistry


A Manhattan legacy comes to life in SoLag’s “The Drake”

By Diane Armitage

When he was a teenager, Alec Glasser spent three summers working at the Drake Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Because his family didn’t want him traveling back and forth to their home in Queens, they negotiated a sweet deal: He was allowed to live at the hotel.

It was three summers more than 40 years ago, but the Drake left a lasting impression on the teenager, even after it was demolished in 1987. 

“When you walked in the Drake lobby, there was a dining room on one side with wonderful blues piano players, and on the other side, a club called Shepheard’s that was always rocking with blues and R&B,” says Glasser. 

“I grew up in that hotel. It was the essence of hospitality, a collaboration of great food and great music,” he adds. 

Fast forward to August 2019, and we find Glasser working to bring the Drake Hotel experience back to life in the old Tabu Grill space. He and his team are just weeks away from opening their new restaurant, The Drake Laguna Beach.

A Manhattan concrete

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Photo by Diane Armitage

With “only furnishings to go,” The Drake team hopes to open by the end of August

Fast work to be done in three weeks

While the space is beginning to take shape, there is still a great deal of work to be done. We walk on concrete floors, stepping around leaning ladders and piles of lumber, but Glasser doesn’t mind. In his eyes, he’s already looking at the immaculate finished product. He couldn’t be more buoyant.

When she’s completed, The Drake will be nothing short of “swank.”

A Manhattan inside

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Courtesy of Drake Laguna Beach

A rendering of the future Drake dining room. Between lounge, dining room, and patio, The Drake will seat up to 89 patrons.

Music seven nights a week

After a three-year approval and permitting process, The Drake expanded into the building’s end unit, which was a separate retail space next to the Tabu restaurant. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much of a gain. On the inside, however, it has added a surprisingly roomy bar/lounge that will – in three weeks – house a grand piano. 

The dining room is stamped in the original Tabu footprint, including the L-shaped bar that will, again, allow patrons to engage with the chefs as they complete and plate their dishes. The dining room will feature a stage for live music as well. 

The Drake plans to offer live music seven nights a week. It will start in the lounge and, at about 9 p.m., move to the dining room.

From Austria to SoLag

I ask about meeting the chefs. 

Director of Operations Matthew Timmes points to two men scrubbing away at the newly installed windows. 

“We’re doing whatever it takes to get open,” says Chef Paul Gstrein. “We’re ready to cook!”

Small wonder at his impatience – Chef Paul has been on board since May 10th and thinking about The Drake’s menu ever since. 

Most recently the chef of Bayside in Promontory Point, Chef Paul first arrived in Orange County in 1988 to helm the expansion of Bistango. 

Orange County is quite a distance from Chef’s original culinary roots in Austria. After growing up in a family-owned hotel and restaurant business, he finished culinary school in Innsbruck and made a beeline for the States at the age of 21.

He worked in several renowned chefs’ kitchens, eventually landing at Bistango in Los Angeles in 1985, the restaurant that would eventually lead to Chef Paul’s new kitchen in South Laguna Beach.

Food shared, music shared

To co-helm The Drake, Chef Paul turned to the chef he trusted most – his son, Nick Gstrein. As the family’s ancestral line goes, Nick also grew up in his father’s kitchen in the L.A.-based Bistango. 

A Manhattan guys

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Photo by Diane Armitage

The Drake Team: (L-R) Sous Chef Nick Gstrein, Executive Chef Paul Gstrein, Director of Operations Matthew Timmes, Principal Owner Alec Glasser

The two give me a 20-second tour of the tiny kitchen and, then, we get to the meat of the matter: the menu. 

“We’re primarily going with smaller dishes so that people can order a few and share. Then, we have a few larger items that are designed for sharing, too,” says Chef Nick.

He gives me 20 seconds to look at The Drake menu on his iPhone and snatches it away with a grin. 

It’s a fun, inviting menu with small plate items such as Hamachi Tartare and Short Rib Ragu giving way to three large shareables that include a 32-ounce Bone-in Ribeye.

“Our menu isn’t a formal affair,” says Chef Paul.

“We designed these dishes to partner with the energy and flow of the live music. It really is about the collaboration of the two.”

For more information, visit www.thedrakelaguna.com or follow the restaurant on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thedrakelaguna.

The best-selling author and blogger on The Best of Laguna Beach, Diane Armitage is on an endless quest for the most imaginative adventures in Laguna’s restaurants, events and lifestyle. Check out more details on The Drake, as well as other stories and favorite events, at www.TheBestofLagunaBeach.com


Discover Girl Scouts on Sept 8 at LBHS Pool

Laguna Beach Girl Scouts are hosting two recruitment events for local moms and daughters to come learn about Girl Scouts. The first event is a pool party on Sunday, Sept 8, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Laguna Beach High School Pool.

Then, on Wednesday, Sept 18, there will be a Songs & S’mores event from 5 - 6:30 p.m. at the Laguna Beach Girl Scout Program Center. The girls will sing traditional Girl Scout songs while roasting marshmallows for s’mores. Each girl will also receive a special patch to take home. 

Discover Girl Scouts group

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Laguna Beach Girl Scouts are hosting two upcoming recruitment events

Both events are free and open to girls who are in K-12th grade this school year.

The community is invited to come learn about Girl Scouts, talk to current girls and leaders, ask questions, make new friends, and have some fun.

Additionally, Laguna Beach Girl Scouts are always looking for new volunteers. If you age 19 or older and want to help girls discover fun, friendship, community, and leadership, contact Stephanie Andrews for volunteer opportunities at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (949) 454-2913.

The LBHS Pool is located at 670 Park Ave. 

The Laguna Beach Girl Scout Program Center is located at 190 High Dr.


Local salon adds staff and service, changes reflect commitment to community

Danniella Gallo, owner of locally renowned Studio DC Salon, has announced she will be changing business names along with adding new staff, and a new service partner.

For the last couple of years, the studio has operated under the name The Pic Project. The new business name is The Studio Laguna. The thought behind this comprehensive rebrand is to elevate the focus of the business closer to the roots of Laguna Beach and its heritage.

Local salon group

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The Studio Laguna staff

Gallo’s salon has been a popular space for many Laguna Beach residents for over a decade. Her goal has always been to have a team consisting of some of the best in the industry. 

So, with that objective in mind, it was important for her to bring in stylists that would take her salon to the next level. She wanted a team that would elevate the already stellar reputation of the studio. 

Gallo says, “I don’t look at it as my business changing, I see it more as my business evolving, and I am so pleased with the direction we’re taking it.”

Gallo has recently introduced two new stylists to her full regimen of salon services. 

Local salon chair

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Salon owner Danielle Gallo adds two new stylists 

Gallo has added Suzanne Ensch, a stylist and color specialist with over 20 years of experience, and James Morrison, a nationally known stylist who was formerly a partner with Toni & Guy USA.

The Studio Laguna is also launching a Medical Spa Service for those who want to look and feel amazing. They have forged a partnership with Tracey Prescott, the owner of Beauty with a Mission Medical Spa.

Tracey is registered nurse and has been providing her professional services in Costa Mesa since 2015. Tracey is known for her personal touch and expert eye, ensuring natural and beautiful enhancement with her clients. 

The Studio Laguna will be the second location for Beauty with a Mission, and Prescott is excited about the opportunity to bring her skillful staff to the Laguna Beach location.

Prescott says, “I just can’t tell you how thrilled my staff and I are to be working with Dannielle in her newly renovated studio. I feel it’s the perfect fit for BWM to complement our Costa Mesa location. We are looking forward to making The Studio Laguna our extended home.”

To learn more about The Studio Laguna and its servicds, visit www.thestudiolaguna.com. To schedule an appointment, visit the website or call (949) 497-7357. 


Congressional Community meeting on Wednesday to discuss homelessness

Laguna Beach’s Congressional Community will be having its next meeting on Wednesday, Oct 2, at the Susi Q Center’s Community Room. The meeting with feature special guest Kate Alegria, caseworker for Congressman Harley Rouda.

The Laguna Beach Congressional Community will be making an in-depth presentation on homelessness, with a particular focus on Congress’s role on the issue including pending legislation, followed by a discussion on the subject with Alegria.

Admission is free. All are welcome to attend.

Congressional Communities was formed in 2018 to help facilitate better and more frequent communication between constituents and their representatives and staff by establishing communities similar in size to the very first districts.

Meetings are held monthly. The group is non-partisan.

To register for the event, click here.

To learn more, visit www.congressionalcommunities.org.


Heather Marié launches online and live business courses for creative entrepreneurs and goal-getters

Heather Marié, former banker, entrepreneur, and educator is launching her own namesake brand that offers courses for creative entrepreneurs and goal-getters. The courses and tools, which will be offered live in Orange County and online globally, include topics such as Finance, Sourcing, Production, Social Media Management, and Business Strategy. 

A “Women Who Mean Business” award winner, Heather Marie shares her passion for business and strategy through creating courses and tools for dream-chasing entrepreneurs, those trying to live an inspired, creative life, and aspiring to make a difference in their communities. The format of these workshops includes knowledge sharing through working sessions, and the delivery of tools and resources. 

Heather Marie home

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Heather Marie shares her passion for business and strategy 

Chasing her own dreams and leaving her finance career after 27 years was a big decision for Heather Marié. She took a two-year hiatus in the South of France to spend time with her family and then moved back to her hometown of Laguna Beach. 

She started a lifestyle brand and stationery company with her daughter, Carlie, aptly named Carlie & Co (www.carlieandco.com). Her extensive knowledge and background in finance, most recently in a C-Suite position as bank CFO, has been invaluable to the process of launching her brand.

Entering her inspired life phase and learning the inner workings of launching a lifestyle brand in today’s market has been the icing on the cake. She has described her entrepreneurial journey as an “inverted learning curve,” spending countless hours learning strategy and execution for a successful brand and social media marketing launch. 

Through this journey, she realized her passion, helping others to live their own inspired life, could truly be expanded through creating courses and seminars and sharing what she’s learned with others. Her approach to her courses references her own experiences and lessons and her background. “As an ex-banker and business gal who loves strategy, I believe that finance is fun, and am passionate about empowering and educating creative entrepreneurs and goal-getters to make a living doing what they love,” she states

Visit www.heathermarieschwarm.com to sign up for courses, monthly musings, and to learn more. Heather Marié is also available for interviews, collaborations, and speaking engagements.


City to host “Open for Business Workshop” on Thursday

The next “Open for Business” workshop will be hosted by the City of Laguna Beach on Thursday, Nov 21 from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the Laguna Beach Community & Susi Q Center.

Workshop participants will include Planning Commissioners, representatives from the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce, and Anthony Viera, Associate City Planner for the City of Laguna Beach.

City to host The Drake

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Courtesy of Diane Armitage 

The Drake recently opened at 2894 South Coast Hwy

“These meetings are an excellent way for prospective businesses to get an overview of our City’s processes,” states Planning Commissioner Susan Whitin.

As a result of the workshops last year, several new businesses came to Laguna Beach, and others are planned for the future. 

For more information, contact Anthony Viera, Associate Planner at (949) 497-0398 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Laguna Beach Community Center is located at 380 Third St.


Laguna Beach BSA Girls’ Troop wins top honors at first-ever all-girl competition

The Laguna Beach girls’ Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Troop 35, sister troop to Laguna Presbyterian’s BSA Troop 35, won first place at the Orange County Boy Scout Council’s first “All-Girl Camporee” this past weekend at Oso Lake Campground in Rancho Santa Margarita.

About 100 girls from ten Scouts BSA troops from all over Orange County competed in traditional Scouting events such as orienteering, blind-folded tent making, first aid obstacle course, pioneering, camp cooking, and more, all related to the theme of “Explore and Create.” 

Laguna Beach ship

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Girl Scouts at the first all-girl competition 

Scoutmaster Jane Heath remarked, “From day one, my girls have hungered to learn Scout skills. Their camporee awards are a testimony to their hard work. It is an honor to work with them on their Scouting journey.” 

The Laguna Beach girls earned a perfect score on their pioneering project, building a boat out of wood logs and rope to commemorate the age of exploration. Anneka Neukomm, an 8th Grader at Thurston Middle School said, “My favorite part about the camporee was that I got to make our giant ship with the other girls and belt out songs while doing it!” 

Laguna Beach award

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 BSA Troop 35 with their awards 

The girls also won first place in the obstacle course and first place for their flag designed by Chloe Duong, freshman at Laguna Beach High School, to achieve first place overall. Chloe said, “All the challenges were so much fun, I’m so grateful for the opportunity to participate in the camporee.” Alexandra Nottage, a 6th grader at Thurston, credited the troop’s success to their seamless teamwork. “It was great that we got to work as a team using lashings to create our own campsite.”  Ani Hovanesian, freshman at LBHS, was so thrilled, but not surprised to win first place. “We Scouts were so determined to win. There was nothing holding us back!”

The Boy Scouts of American invited girls to join their Scouting program this past February, and Laguna Presbyterian, which has chartered Boy Scout Troop 35 since 1945 was among the first in the nation to create its own girl troop and chose long time Lagunatic Jane Dorris Heath as its Scoutmaster. Girls are now able to participate in the traditional program, now renamed Scouts BSA, and earn the rank of Eagle Scout.   

Families with girls aged 11 to 16 interested in joining Scouts BSA can find the troop website at lagunabeach35.mytroop.us. Girls in kindergarten through fifth grades may join Cub Scout Pack 35 at www.lagunabeach35.mypack.us.


Laguna Beach Fire Department is participating in Spark of Love campaign

The Laguna Beach Fire Department, in partnership with Southern California Firefighters and ABC7, is taking part again in the annual Spark of Love Toy Drive. 

The campaign collects new, unwrapped toys and sports equipment for underserved children and teens in Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Ventura, and Riverside counties. Toys collected in the respective counties are distributed locally. 

Laguna Beach firefighters

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Courtesy of LBFF Instagram

The number of toys generously donated in 2018 is a testament to our wonderful community

This year marks the 27th anniversary for the Firefighters’ Spark of Love campaign, which will run through Tuesday, Dec 24. The Laguna Beach Fire Department has been involved since the program’s inception and each fire station will serve as drop-off sites for new, unwrapped toys or sports equipment. 

Drop off your new, unwrapped toys or sports equipment to any of Laguna Beach’s four fire stations. There will also be donation bins at Hospitality Night on Friday, Dec 6. 

Drop off toys or sports items at these four Laguna Beach Fire Stations:

--Fire Station 1, 501 Forest Ave

--Fire Station 2, 285 Agate Str

--Fire Station 3, 2900 Alta Laguna Blvd

--Fire Station 4, 31646 2nd Ave

Toy Request/Family Referral sheets are available at all Orange County fire stations. 

For more information on the event, contact Firefighter Pat Cary at (949) 497-0700.


South Coast Water District named a winner of OC Top Workplaces 2019 Award

South Coast Water District has been awarded a Top Workplaces 2019 honor by the Orange County Register. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by research partner Energage, LLC, a leading provider of technology-based employee engagement tools. 

The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection, to name a few.

“The Top Workplaces award is about much more than recognition and celebration,” said Eric Rubino, CEO of Energage. “Our research also shows that these organizations achieve higher referral rates, lower employee turnover, and double employee engagement levels. It just goes to show that being intentional about culture delivers bottom-line results.”

“The District chooses to invest in our employees,” said South Coast Water District Board President Dennis Erdman. “Our employees are our greatest asset; they take pride in completing their jobs with confidence and great care. As a result, our customers appreciate the positive attitude and engagement by the staff.”

“Our District employees feel appreciated and part of a greater good,” believes General Manager Rick Shintaku. “We, as part of this community, are determined to provide outstanding customer service and high quality, reliable water and wastewater service at the best cost possible.”

Former Assistant General Manager and Chief Engineer Rick Shintaku became General Manager only last year. However, Board Vice President Rick Erkeneff believes that Rick’s dedication and Ohana spirit have helped bring about meaningful change. 

“Rick’s ability to include District employees at all levels to collaboratively lead sets an example for all our employees to follow,” says Erkeneff. “Our decisions are made with an interest to enhance the operational efficiency and standing of the District while holding in the highest regard the satisfaction of the District’s customer base.” 

As a result, the District’s employees provide outstanding customer service through dedication, respect, courteous and open communication, and timely response. This current fiscal year, our customer service department received a 99.4 percent “Excellent” rating from customer service surveys. 

“Our staff takes immense pride in our ability to form personal relationships with our customers while supplying a quality product and service,” believes Customer Service Manager Cassandra Garcia. “At a recent public hearing, one of our customers complimented the District by sharing that he feels ‘pampered’ by the District. Comments such as his make me proud to be a member of the District family,” smiles Cassandra.

“When tallying notably positive facts and figures for the District scoreboard, we as a team have accomplished so much this past year,” exclaimed Rick Shintaku. “But, as the general manager, those facts and figures are meaningless without leading in a way that leaves a positive, lasting impression with the District’s employees and our customer base.”

South Coast Water District was established in 1932. The District currently serves most of Dana Point, South Laguna Beach, and parts of San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. 

District facilities include 15 reservoirs, 147 miles of water lines, 136 miles of sewer lines, seven water pumping stations, 14 sewer pumping stations, and approximately 12,360 water meters. An elected five-member board of directors governs the District.

 Learn more at www.scwd.org, or on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.


LB Seniors presents “UkeFest3” on Jan 18

Laguna Beach Seniors is pleased to present Bryan Tolentino and Herb Ohta, Jr. on Saturday, Jan 18 from 4 to 7 p.m., for an exclusive ukulele workshop and concert at downtown Laguna’s Susi Q Senior Center, “UkeFest3.”

Hearing these two masters together on the same stage – the blending of their unique personalities and playing styles – promises for a ukulele experience filled with fun, virtuosity, and most importantly, aloha.

Ukulele artist Bryan Tolentino has been known for the past 38 years as an accompanist who performed and continues to perform locally and abroad with some of Hawai’i’s most well-known and accomplished Hawaiian music artists. Bryan has recorded on over 50 CDs for other artists as well as compilations, adding his unique “fairy dusting” as he calls it. 

LB Seniors presents UkeFest3

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Bryan Tolentino and Herb Ohta, Jr. will perform at Susi Q on Jan 18

“You must feel Hawaiian music,” he says – evident in his award-winning recordings featured on Nā Hōkū Hanohano and Grammy-nominated CDs, which have also garnered many awards. He blends all that he’s learned as an accompanist into his own unique sound.

Herb Ohta Jr.’s interest in music was very evident at an early age. The ukulele is in his genes and Hawaiian music is in his blood. As a teacher, composer, recording artist, entertainer, and producer, Herb Ohta, Jr. solidly establishes himself in the company of musicians who promote the Hawaiian instrument in the music landscape today. It is Herb’s goal to share the beauty of Hawai’i’s music, its culture, and the ukulele to people all over the world. Herb has performed throughout the state of Hawai‘i and has traveled overseas to Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the mainland U.S.

A “Musical Awareness” ukulele workshop promises to be very hands-on, incorporating finger picking patterns (and when to best use them) along with tools for improving group play. The workshop will run from 4 to 5 p.m. with the concert to follow starting at 5:30 p.m. Tickets for both the workshop and concert cost $25. To attend the concert only, tickets are $15. Light refreshments will be served – wine and beer for donation.

Reservations are required and limited spots will fill up fast. Register by calling Christine Brewer at (949) 715-8105 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Parking is available in the Susi Q’s underground structure. 

Laguna Beach Seniors has been enhancing the lives of seniors for over 40 years. Mental health support, care management, recreational and educational classes are available and designed for local seniors to promote independence, wellness, and community. 

The Susi Q also is the heart of an ambitious vision called Lifelong Laguna: a community and a nonprofit working together to make the town we love a better place for the rest of our lives. 

For more information, visit www.thesusiq.org

The Susi Q is located at 380 Third St.


Laguna Beach Republicans announce Jan 23 meeting with multiple guest speakers

The Laguna Beach Republicans (LBGOP) will hold their next meeting on Thursday, Jan 23 at Mozambique. Social hour at begins at 5 p.m.; the meeting will begin at 6 and end promptly at 7:15. 

Emil Monda, President of the LBGOP, invites all Republicans, Independents, and Libertarians to listen to this month’s speakers. “The California Primary is less than 60 days from today, ballots will be sent out in three weeks! We will have two candidates running for office: Diane Dixon, who is running for the 74th Assembly District seat against Cottie Petrie-Norris, and Brain Burley, who is running for CD48 against Harley Rouda, will speak. There will be time for Q&A.”

Laguna Beach Dixon

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Diane Dixon, current Newport Beach City Council member, will speak at Jan 23 LBGOP meeting 

RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as space is limited. 

Mozambique is located at 1740 S Coast Hwy.


Life-saving efforts spike while in-custody deaths decrease in OC jails

 In 2019, custody and Correctional Health Services staff at the Orange County jail deployed naloxone in an effort to save inmates’ lives a record 123 times to 70 inmates. 

Compared to the 2018 totals of 39 deployments to 32 inmates, the jump in incidents has been significant. This marks a three-year high, a benchmark that reflects the alarming increase in opioid abuse and overdoses nationwide. 

The drug epidemic in Orange County has impacted the number of inmate overdose and fentanyl exposures over the last three years. Despite the rise of suspected overdoses, the number of in-custody deaths among OC jail inmates has not increased.

In 2019, the total number of in-custody deaths totaled eight, as compared to 11 in 2016, 11 in 2017, and 10 in 2018. The proactive measures put in place have saved lives that may have otherwise been lost. 

In addition to overdoses, inmates have died from natural causes and conditions that existed prior to their time in custody. All Orange County Jail in-custody deaths are investigated by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Since 2017, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has worked to reduce the number of overdose deaths, both in custody and in the community, by training deputies to deploy naloxone, an opioid antagonist designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. 

Efforts by Sheriff and Correctional Health personnel to train in and use naloxone when they identify symptoms consistent with opioid overdose have been attributed to saving a number of inmate lives over the last year.

In addition, Orange County jail staff have focused much of their efforts to the detection and deterrence of drug trafficking. Alterations to policy aimed at eliminating drugs being mailed into the jail, increased use of custody canines, increased cell searches, and the procurement of additional body scanners similar to those used at airports are all examples of the increased effort. 

“The number of lives saved speaks to the high level of care provided to inmates by deputies and health care staff,” said Sheriff Don Barnes, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner. “The marked increase in naloxone deployments also make clear the challenges of the opioid epidemic. Drug enforcement, education, and substance abuse treatment are all critical parts of our strategy to reduce the prevalence of drugs in Orange County.”


Sun worshippers

Sun worshippers swimming

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Bathing in the last rays of the day


The craft of Kraft: Local writer Randy Kraft publishes Rational Women, a short story collection that considers reason versus passion

Following two highly praised novels, local writer Randy Kraft will publish her first collection of short stories in March. 

Entitled Rational Women, the 11 tales observe women of different ages and life stages in settings from the West and East Coast of the U.S. to Europe, each character struggling to balance well-reasoned decisions with the passions of the heart. 

The book will officially launch with a reading at Laguna Beach Books on 

March 22 at 4 p.m. The general public is welcome. Wine and nibbles will be served.

The craft Rational Women

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Local Randy Kraft releases “Rational Women” with a book reading at Laguna Beach Books on March 22

Kraft tells Stu News that she’s been inspired in her profession by a whole plethora of short story writers.

“[It’s] a matter of taste, of course, and so many writers have inspired me, but Alice Munro is the generally acknowledged master and I so much admire the eclectic Grace Paley. Edith Pearlman is terrific, also Edna O;Brien, William Trevor, and Tessa Hadley.

“I love Margaret Drabble’s one and only collection, A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman, David Constantine’s In Another Country, and Rebecca Maccai’s Music for Wartime.

“The first stories that affected me, and made me want to write, when I was an adolescent, were those of W. Somerset Maugham, a prolific and wonderful storyteller, as well as Edgar Allen Poe and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Fiction is Kraft’s passion and she has been writing stories for forty years, maybe more, she says, “but they always seemed incomplete, more like segments of a larger story.” Her first novel, Colors of the Wheel [2014], was based on interconnected stories about black and white women dealing with racism and she was a featured author at the AAUW Literary Luncheon in 2015. 

The craft Randy

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Submitted photo

Author Randy Kraft

Her second novel, Signs of Life [2016], tells the story of an unusual request between friends and the challenges of loss. This novel also originated with a story written in graduate school in New York. 

She subsequently devoted her time to reporting for the Laguna Beach Independent and local magazines, as well as providing communications and marketing support for nonprofits. She has for several years contributed book reviews for www.ocinsite.com serving Orange County.

Kraft holds a BA in English, an MBA, and an MA in Writing. She has spent the last three years crafting fifteen stories in total – five have been published in literary magazines. An additional story was commissioned for the “Word and Image in Dialogue” special event at Laguna Art Museum in January. 

Although she plans to move on to another novel, she says she will always write short stories. “My favorite form to read and the hardest to write, besides poetry. A most satisfying challenge, when it works.” 

Rational Women is available in paperback and also online for e-readers. 

For further information, go to www.randykraftwriter.com.

Laguna Beach Books is located at 1200 S Coast Hwy.


Community Engagement Director Nora Caldwell

to speak at Ebell Club on Monday

The Ebell Club of Laguna Beach, a nonprofit public benefit philanthropic organization, is pleased to announce Nora Caldwell, Director of Community Engagement, as the featured speaker at the group’s Monday, March 2 meeting beginning at 6 p.m. 

Over the last twenty years, Nora Caldwell has been involved with Human Options in a variety of roles. First as a young mother who escaped a domestic violence situation with her then 16-month-old daughter then as a Board member and public speaker for the organization and the issue of domestic violence. 

Caldwell now works as a fund development professional for Human Options. Prior to making her transition into the nonprofit environment, Nora worked as a communications manager for several health care organizations. Now happily re-married for many years, Nora enjoys a healthy and violence-free life which she credits Human Options for helping her find safety, healing, and a way forward to a better life.

Human Options is committed to a future in which every person and family in Orange County experiences safe, healthy relationships and lives free form fear. It is their mission to ignite social change by educating Orange County to recognize relationship violence as an issue that threatens everyone, advocating for those affected by abuse, extending a safe place for victims and empowering survivors on their journey of healing. 

Human Options was founded in 1980 by four Orange County women who were alarmed by the lack of resources for victims of domestic violence and their children. The organization founders recognized that domestic violence victims who lacked the financial means to support themselves were forced to either stay and endure continued abuse or leave and face the possibility of homelessness. 

Human Options quickly launched a 24-hour confidential hotline (in 1981) and a small emergency shelter (in 1982). Later, the nonprofit expanded services to include mental health counseling, legal advocacy, community education, and transitional housing. 

The Ebell Club holds a monthly dinner meeting the first Monday each month and hosts speakers that discuss topics about issues of importance to the community that are supported by Ebell Club’s fundraising efforts.

The Ebell Club of Laguna Beach, founded in September 1933, has continuously worked to actively support projects to develop Laguna Beach as a home and family community. Members of the club enjoy friendship and camaraderie working together in support of the many local no-profit organizations. 

Prospective new members are welcome to join a meeting. To RSVP and for more information, including the location of the meeting (a local Laguna Beach club member’s home), contact Ebell Club President Jennifer Dawson at (949) 500-3567 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Upcoming Ebell Club meetings will showcase speakers from Festival of the Arts and Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach.


A whale of a day at sea: The 49th Annual Dana Point Festival of the Whales kicks off this weekend 

By DIANNE RUSSELL

On Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, Dana Point begins celebrating its 49th Annual Festival of the Whales. The festivities, which will also take place on March 14 and 15, include a myriad of activities – and opportunities – to pay tribute to the whale migration.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of taking a whale watching excursion on the Dana Pride from Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching, which was founded in 1971.

Whales and dolphins galore 

Although there’s never a guarantee that a whale watching expedition will come across whales or even dolphins, it’s a sure thing that going out on one of the Dana Wharf Whale Watching boats will be a fantastic couple of hours at sea. Friday was not only a beautiful, sunny day, but to make it even more perfect, we came across three gray whales and several pods of common dolphins – and lots of babies who were jumping straight up out of the water, obviously giddy with excitement. 

This is the ideal place to witness the migration. Known as the “Dolphin & Whale Watching Capital of the World®,” Dana Point welcomes the greatest concentration of blue whales and dolphins on earth, and offers the best year-round whale watching opportunities. Dana Point Harbor has quick and easy accessibility to open ocean and unobstructed views, giving whale watchers a sense of pristine and spectacular encounters.

A whale flipping

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Courtesy of Loriannah Hespe and Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching

Gray Whale spotted during an excursion 

All of the whale and dolphin watching cruises are narrated by expert marine naturalist captains, and the one on our trip provided all sorts of interesting facts about gray whales (Eschrichtius robustus) and dolphins. The migration route of the Pacific Gray Whale is often described as the longest known mammal migration in the animal kingdom and is easily observed along the California coastline. Beginning in the Bering and Chukchi seas and ending in the warm-water lagoons of Mexico’s Baja peninsula, their round trip journey covers over 12,000 miles. 

As pointed out by our knowledgeable captain, gray whales live as long as humans, and if one lives to be 75 years old, it will have traveled 900,000 miles in its lifetime.

Seasonally, excursions will see over 1,500 gray whales, and in the summer they see blue whales, and year-round fin whales, minke whales, humpback whales, and even sharks. Gray whales are found only in the Pacific Ocean, with a population of approximately 26,000. They are medium-sized whales, reaching up to 45 feet (14 m) in length, with the females usually being larger than the males. They are gray with white patches, which mostly consist of areas where barnacles and lice have attached themselves to the whales. 

Extra baggage

Surprisingly, they carry over 400 pounds of these barnacles and whale lice. As identifying features, gray whales have no dorsal (back) fins. Instead, they have a low hump and a series of six to twelve knuckles or bumps. Gray whales are baleen whales, and each has approximately 300 plates of cream-colored baleen hanging from its upper jaw. Two to five throat creases allow their throats to expand during feeding. Sparse hairs are found on the snout, especially in young whales. Their blows are usually low and puffy or heart-shaped. 

A Whale poster

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Submitted photo

2020 Festival logo designed by Laguna native Mika Kelly

By late December to early January, the first of the gray whales begin to arrive to the calving lagoons of Baja. By mid-February to mid-March, the bulk has arrived in the lagoons, including those calves born along the way. During these two months, the first gray whales to leave the lagoons are the males and females without calves. Once they have mated, they will begin the expedition back north to their cold water summer feeding grounds which are rich with food. Gray whales are the only baleen whales to feed along the bottom of the seafloor. They scoop up large mouthfuls of sediment and strain small invertebrates through their baleen. 

A new meaning to being half-asleep

Our captain describes their complicated breathing process; whales have to think each time they take a breath. As a result, they sleep only 23 minutes at a stretch, putting one side of their brain asleep at a time, in order to keep the other side active. That side stays awake at a low level of alertness and also signals when to rise to the surface for a fresh breath of air. 

Don’t miss the chance to celebrate the Festival of Whales in a big way; hop aboard a Dana Wharf Whale Watching excursion boat to see and learn about the magnificent creatures that pass through our waters during the longest migration in the animal kingdom. 

Festival of Whales Parade

The Festival of Whales Parade kicks off the two-weekend celebration on Saturday, March 7 at 10 a.m., and for the first time, will travel through the Harbor, beginning at the island side of Island Way and ending at Golden Lantern and Dana Point Harbor Drive. 

A whale two

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Courtesy of Loriannah Hespe and Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching

Two’s company 

The public can join Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari for 5-star tours featuring underwater viewing pods, fast and fun zodiac, and more. Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching is Orange County’s first whale watching company, and all cruises are narrated by an expert marine naturalist captain who will educate on the abundant ocean life on the coast. 

In addition to the opening parade, activities and events are hosted during the festival that include a street fair, arts and craft shows and sales, classic car exhibits, stand up paddling, sailing, sand sculpting, a cook-off competition, concerts on land and water, environmental education programs, kids activities, culinary delights, beer gardens, and whale watching excursions aboard a variety of vessels. 

Pet Project Foundation will be hosting a new event for both two-legged and four-legged family members to enjoy. On Saturday, March 7 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. outside The Brig Restaurant, sniff, schmooze, and sip craft beer at Pet Project Foundation’s “Whales, Tails, and Ales.” Event highlights include delicious eats, family fun and inflatables, a dog costume contest, opportunity drawings, and local artisan and dog-friendly vendors. Dogs on leashes are welcome and all proceeds benefit Pet Project Foundation and the lost and abandoned pets at the San Clemente-Dana Point Animal Shelter. 

Attendees can join iHeartYoga for the inaugural “Wisdom of the Whale” meditation workshop on Saturday, March 7 from 7 - 9 p.m. Relaxation specialist Alan Hostetter will lead participants on a transcendental ocean journey in celebration of the beautiful Pacific Ocean 

For more on Dana Wharf Sportfishing & Whale Watching, go to www.danawharf.com/whale-watching/

For more on Captain Dave’s Dolphins, go to www.dolphinsafari.com

For a complete list of Festival activities, click here.


Interviews and appointment of one member to the Design Review Board open now

Due to the recent resignation of Design Review Board Member Meg Monahan, the City Council is accepting applications to fill one seat on the Design Review Board.

Interviews and appointments will be conducted on Tuesday, March 17 at 5 p.m. by the City Council in the City Council Chambers, 505 Forest Ave. All applicants will be interviewed. 

Applicants may be contacted by City Council members prior to the interviews and appointments so please be prepared to make a brief statement about your desire to serve on a committee.

Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on the Design Review Board should obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or online from the City’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net and file by Wednesday, March 11 at 5:30 p.m. The application on the City’s website is interactive and applicants are encouraged to fill in the application online. 

Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at (949) 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the March 11 deadline. 

The appointment is for (1) two-year term on the Board of Adjustment/Design Review Board beginning April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2022. The Board of Adjustment/Design Review Board is a five-member body appointed by the City Council for the purpose of considering requests for variances from the zoning code. 

The members also sit as the City’s Design Review Board. Board members serve a two-year term and are compensated in the amount of $392.00 per month. The Board generally meets bi-monthly on the second and fourth Thursday of the month.

A substantial time commitment of approximately 10 hours per week is necessary to be a Board member. In addition to the bi-monthly meetings, Board members are expected to visit the sites and review the plans of projects prior to the meeting. 

The Board acts on an average of 14 items per meeting. It is desirable to have, or be able to acquire, certain skills or aptitudes, such as the ability to understand and conceptualize architectural drawings, and to visualize building mass and volumes based upon on-site staking plans. Experience in the building trades, architecture, historic preservation, landscaping, planning, and/or real estate would be an asset.


Clouds on fire 

Clouds on flaming

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Photo by Louise Thornton

Saturday’s sunset ignites the sky


The Laguna Food Pantry remains open

By Anne Belyea, Executive Director of Laguna Food Pantry

Laguna Food Pantry is responding to the COVID-19 outbreak and staying open to serve our neighbors in need. With the economic downturn, many hourly workers are without work. Yesterday, they were employed. Today (Monday) we served a record number of 188 shoppers in a drive-through distribution program set up in the Pantry’s parking lot. 

On a typical day, the Pantry serves 100 to 120 shoppers. Instead of allowing our shoppers inside to select what they want to bring home to their families, volunteers are bagging food and providing curbside service. The Pantry is open Monday through Friday from 8 to 10:30 a.m. 

Laguna Food Pantry relies on the rescued groceries from local markets.  With the grocery shelves depleted, the donations are slim to non-existent.    

Now that the Susi Q Community Center closed, the Laguna Food Pantry has joined forces with Sally’s Fund to provide food to the seniors who depend upon their daily lunch program. 

If you can, please donate. If you need us, we’re here. 

To donate, please visit the website at www.lagunafoodpantry.org or mail checks to Laguna Food Pantry, 20652 Laguna Canyon Rd, Unit B, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.


PMMC temporarily closed to the public

By Peter Chang, CEO PMMC

Dear Friends,

The last 48 hours have absolutely been a whirlwind due to the evolving situation surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19). As with any other organization, institution, or business, we here at PMMC have had to make significant changes. Despite all of chaos, the team remains absolutely committed.

Animal Care: Our marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation operations continue to operate around the clock. The need for our Animal Care Program is more critical than ever. If that stopped, the reality is that precious marine mammals would die. And that’s something that we won’t let happen. 

In fact, we rescued a baby Pacific harbor seal in Dana Point and our very first Northern elephant seal pup of the year in Laguna Beach earlier this morning. If you see a stranded marine mammal please continue to call and report to (949) 494-3050.

PMMC temporarily seal

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Submitted photo 

PMMC offers online live streaming seal viewing 

Education: While we have some temporary precautionary measures in place (described below), our education team is pushing ahead with our online Distance Learning programs that reach schools and Children’s Hospitals across the country. On top of this, our educators continue their planning in making sure our upcoming elementary school-age and teen camps provide the most unique and experiential-based learning experiences of its kind in Orange County.

Research: Our efforts to develop a comprehensive research and diagnostic sample archive from pinnipeds and cetaceans in Southern California are ongoing. This is imperative for collaborative research projects aimed at improving the understanding of marine mammal health and trends in the ocean landscape.

Nonetheless, precautionary measures in response to COVID-19 have been put into place to protect the well-being of our staff, volunteers, visitors, and the greater community. Specifically, we’ve emphasized with our team everyday hygiene practices to protect against bacteria and viruses and implemented stricter policies in place to increase sanitization in and around our work-spaces.

With regard to our community programs, as part of our response plan, all on-site educational field trips scheduled during the month of March have been canceled or postponed. In addition, our visitor yard will close to the public temporarily through the next two weeks. These considerable measures are being put into place following guidance from local and state officials, as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The health and safety of our team, patrons, and their families are a top priority during these extraordinary times. 

We are continuing to assess the situation almost hourly.

During this time, you can observe our animals in play via our live streaming webcams available on our website. Thank you for your continued support and understanding as we navigate through these historic times.

Sincerely,

Peter Chang

Chief Executive Officer

Pacific Marine Mammal Center


Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach announces virtual enrichment programs

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is excited to announce virtual enrichment programs will be launching soon. While the Club’s Laguna Enrichment Centers and El Toro Park Program are currently closed, there have been an astounding number of youths and parents asking when the doors will re-open. 

“While we can’t commit to date that we will reopen, we can inform everyone that our mission will continue to serve the youth of our communities by offering programs virtually in the coming weeks,” said Pam Estes, CEO. 

Age appropriate virtual enrichment programs will be available for preschool through high school aged youth. Programs will encompass five program areas: arts, sports, health and wellness, education, and leadership. Live stream video instruction and discussion will take place on the digital platform Zoom.

Boys & computers

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Submitted photo

Boys & Girls Club will offer virtual enrichment programs to youth 

Live stream programming will include: leadership and service programs such as Torch Club; health and wellness programs like SMART Girls; education programs such as study hall and homework help; art classes; and even a Virtual Teen Center where teens will have a safe place to socialize and collaborate. 

The virtual enrichment programming will also include a video library that includes instructional skills in basketball and baseball, story time for Kinders, virtual workouts, yoga, and meditation. 

“We are so excited to launch our virtual enrichment programs,” said Estes. “The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach provides such vital resources for the youth and families in our community. Since the decision to close our doors in wake of COVID-19, we have been imagining and creating how we can extend our services while practicing social distancing. I am amazed by the leadership and ingenuity of our team. Everyone is thinking out of the box and dedicating themselves to continue world-class programming in our new norms of life. We feel the launch of virtual enrichment programs will fill the void parents and members have been asking for since our doors closed.” 

Consistent, supportive, responsive relationships are key for child development. According to Harvard’s Dr. Shonkoff, “It’s those relationships that can turn toxic stress into tolerable stress.” The team at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach will continue to provide these types of relationships even with COVID-19 interfering with day-to-day operations.

“We can’t wait to reconnect with our members,” stated Hans Laroche, Branch Director. “Not seeing them daily is like part of our family is missing. We are continually developing and nurturing relationships with our members. Not being able to be there to support them during such difficult times is really tough on all of us.”

“A pilot test for virtual programming will be running next week,” explained Danny Panduro, Program Director. “We will be announcing an official start date after we complete this test. Our Virtual Enrichment Programs will be offered to all youth, not just our current members, free of charge with parent consent.”

For more information, follow the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach on Instagram and Facebook, or visit the Club’s website at www.bgclagunabeach.org.


Abandoned chairs

Abandoned chairs grass

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Empty chairs beckon someone to sit down, but they are too close together


County of Orange awarded $700,000 to support small business impacted by COVID-19

In partnership with the Orange County Workforce Development Board (OCWDB), the County of Orange will be launching the OCWDB COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Support Program. OCWDB received $700,000 in Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) funds from the California Employment Development Division (EDD) to support local small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

“This program allows the County to offer another ​vital opportunity to local small businesses struggling to continue their operations,” said Chairwoman Michelle Steel, Second District Supervisor. “We are grateful to the State for awarding this funding.”

Through the OCWDB COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Support Program, eligible businesses can receive up to $10,000 in grant funds. This funding is intended to help local small businesses mitigate layoffs and adhere to “social distancing” provisions established by state and federal public health entities.

“Some businesses will need to modify their operations before they can open their doors in accordance with state and local health orders,” said Vice Chairman Andrew Do, First District Supervisor. “This funding will help small businesses keep their workers employed, and alleviate some of the financial strain they are feeling.”

Businesses will need to submit an application on the Orange County One-Stop Centers website at www.oconestop.com/covid-19-layoff-aversion-program to be considered for the grant funding. Applications were open beginning May 21 at 9 a.m. PST and close on May 28 at 5 p.m. PST or until 170 applications are received, whichever comes first. Eligible applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis until all available funds have been committed.

“This program is a lifeline for small businesses and their employees,” said Supervisor Donald Wagner, Third District. “These businesses must be made aware of every opportunity and resource the County can offer.”

To be eligible for this grant funding, businesses must be in Orange County, have a workforce of 500 or fewer employees, and be up to date on Unemployment Insurance (UI) taxes and in good standing with the State of California. Other general criteria employers must meet to be considered for local funding include:

–Priority consideration will be given to Small Businesses located within the Orange County Workforce System.

–May only apply for one site or location in Orange County.

–Only one application may be submitted per organization.

–Must pay employees minimum wage or more.

–Must use the funds to help avert imminent layoffs or furloughs as a result of the COVID-19 economic crisis.

–Must be able to demonstrate a need for layoff aversion support due to the impacts of COVID-19.

–Must be able to enter into an agreement with Orange County that includes the conditions outlined in the application.

–Must be able to complete quarterly reports for up to one year after the award.

“Residents are looking forward to visiting their favorite neighborhood shops again,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee, Fourth District. “Local small businesses are urged to apply.”

Businesses can visit the Orange County One-Stop Center website at www.oconestop.com for full details on eligibility requirements for the Layoff Aversion Support Program, including allowable activities and prohibited costs.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our Orange County economy. They help stimulate local economic growth and provide job opportunities within the community,” said Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, Fifth District. “This program helps the County’s local businesses ​during this critical time while complying with state and federal guidelines.”

For more information on Orange County One-Stop Centers, visit www.oconestop.com or call the Economic and Business Recovery Call Center at 714.480.6500.


OCTA begins restoration of Pacific Horizon Trail    

By DIANNE RUSSELL

In April of 2015, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) purchased 151 acres of property adjacent to the Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park and Moulton Meadows Park, which will be protected as open space. With stunning views, Pacific Horizon Trail is a very popular trail that crosses the property, and just last week, OCTA started the restoration process.

According to Laguna Canyon Foundation Executive Director Hallie Jones, as part of the purchase, OCTA was required to do a Resource Management Plan (RMP), which is standard. That document covers future public use, restoration efforts, etc. All of the work being done was outlined in this RMP and approved as part of the RMP process. To view, click here.

OCTA begins blue sign

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Courtesy of LCF

Rehabilitation of Pacific Horizon Trail is underway

Jones says, “We are thrilled that OCTA preserved this property in Aliso Canyon. This gem of open space holds beautiful habitat, and a wonderful neighborhood trail. OCTA’s doing a great job taking care of the land by tackling these invasive species and helping to restore the property to its natural beauty. Our critically threatened coastal sage scrub habitats are home for endangered bird, reptile, and plant species, not to mention our amazing bobcats, mule deer, and other wildlife. We’re so happy to see good work being done to help restore this parcel for all of our benefit.”

As reported by the LA Times at the time of the parcel acquisition, biologists identified several at-risk species – called special status species – either on the site or near the area, including coastal whiptail lizards, northern harriers, coastal California gnatcatchers, and American peregrine falcon.

 Lesley Hill, OCTA’s environmental mitigation program project manager, says, “We are so excited that we were finally able to start our project. It will be a process. We at least got the Pampas grass colony and a new one that sprung up farther down the trail. [The] fence line is fixed, signs are up. We had maybe six or so people stop and ask what we were working on out on the OCTA Pacific Horizon Preserve.” 

OCTA begins plants

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Courtesy of LCF

Native plants – blue dick, sagebrush, cactus, and buckwheat – found on the Pacific Horizon Trail

“We explained we were restoring a section of the Preserve for sensitive species. Some asked if we were closing it off, and we explained that part of the trail would be restored, but you would still be able to use the main trail across the Preserve. People seemed to understand and support the idea.”

OCTA purchased this parcel as part of the Measure M funding, that provided funds for purchasing land to build a mitigation bank (acres that OCTA can draw upon for future development). This was OCTA’s first coastal Orange County land purchase. Under the program, OCTA buys open space from willing sellers through agreements with state and federal wildlife agencies in exchange for accelerated environmental permits for 13 freeway improvement projects.

OCTA Media Relations Specialist Eric Carpenter says, “To date, OCTA has purchased seven open-space properties from willing sellers to preserve the land. In all, five percent of Measure M’s freeway budget is available for this program, which totals more than $300 million over 30 years. Money for this project is identified through the Measure M fund.” 

OCTA begins green sign

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LCF

Habitat restoration underway

“The environmental program helps offset the impacts of more than a dozen freeway improvement projects that are helping improve the regional transportation system to keep Orange County moving, while at the same time preserving what is so special about Orange County.

“The program is a comprehensive effort to offset the environmental impacts of freeway projects by protecting large open spaces and permanently protecting their valuable animal and plant species.

“The restoration work is part of OCTA’s ongoing effort to protect what’s most valuable about the property.”

As explained on the LCF website, “The South Coast Wilderness [Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is part of the contiguous approximately 20,000-acre South Coast Wilderness Area in southern OC] is a unique area that is included in the California Floristic Province, which is designated as a global biodiversity hotspot. To qualify as a global biodiversity hotspot, an area must have at least 1,500 endemic species (species found nowhere else on the planet) and have lost at least 70 percent of its native vegetation.

“Restoration of this precious open space includes removing invasive species, adding native plants in degraded areas and educating the public about the beauty and ecology of our wild lands as well as the threats they face.”

OCTA begins Paula

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LCF

LCF Outreach Director Paula Olson and volunteers on Pacific Horizon Trail

Carpenter expands on the Pacific Horizon Trail rehabilitation, “The restoration project includes removing ice plant, invasive grasses, and other non-native plants on the property, to allow the native plants such as Many-stemmed Dudley to thrive. That work will continue over the next couple of years.

“Restoring the area with native plants is exactly what OCTA promised to do through its environmental program.

“Public access to trails predates OCTA owning the land and will continue. Hikers and mountain bikers will be able to continue access through the property.

“Because of the land’s proximity to the coast, OCTA has worked closely with the Coastal Commission and Laguna Beach officials to ensure that all proper procedures are being followed and OCTA has received positive feedback from the commission, city officials, and the environmental community.”


LB Seniors, LB Community Clinic, and the City to offer free drive-thru flu shots on November 20

Laguna Beach Seniors, Laguna Beach Community Clinic (LBCC), and the City of Laguna Beach are conducting a free drive-thru flu shot clinic for the public on Friday, Nov 20 from 8:30 to 11 a.m. in the underground parking structure of the Susi Q Senior Center at 380 Third St, in downtown Laguna. 

The drive-thru clinic is for adults 18 years of age and older. Please note, the 65+ higher dose vaccine will not be available.

COVID-19 might still be at the top of everyone’s health risk radar, but influenza affects anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population every year. People 65 and older are at higher risk of flu-related complications, but the flu can knock young, healthy people off their feet, too. It does every year.

LB Seniors Rubal

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Submitted photo

Dr. Jorge Rubal, LBCC Medical Director and CEO

Seniors who get a flu shot are less likely to be hospitalized with pneumonia or the flu. The vaccine needs about two weeks to fully take effect, and it lasts about six months, covering the length of a typical flu season. With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, reducing the spread of other respiratory illnesses like the flu is extremely important.

Vaccinating at any point is beneficial and can help prevent the spread of flu viruses.

“The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to vaccinate. Not only will doing so protect you, but it will safeguard the health of family, friends, and others in the community,” stresses Dr. Jorge Rubal, LBCC Medical Director and CEO.

There will be signs directing you to drive to the location where you need to line up. Masks are required. While you stay in your car, a clinic team member will likely check your temperature. After verifying your information, and taking any paperwork you’ve filled out, you’ll be directed to the next station. A Laguna Beach Community Clinic nurse will administer your flu shot.

To learn more about the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, visit www.lbclinic.org.

To learn more about Laguna Beach Seniors, visit www.thesusiq.org.


County rolls out at-home COVID-19 test kits

The Orange County Board of Supervisors COVID-19 Testing Ad Hoc Committee, consisting of Vice Chairman Andrew Do and Supervisor Doug Chaffee, is happy to announce that starting next week, Orange County residents in Santa Ana and Anaheim will have access to 11,000 at-home COVID-19 saliva test kits. By December, the County will have available 500,000 test kits to distribute, in person or by mail, to all county residents.

“In an effort to make testing more accessible, timely, and convenient, Orange County Health Care Agency has partnered with Ambry Genetics to bring COVID-19 testing to communities most at risk for contracting the disease,” said Vice Chairman Andrew Do.

Starting November 23, residents living in Santa Ana and Anaheim will be able to register online to receive an at-home COVID-19 saliva-based test by mail or pick up one at a partnering community clinic. Test kits will be made available to all Orange County residents in the second phase of the roll-out plan.

Through the County’s partnership with Ambry Genetics, Orange County residents will have access to 11,000 saliva-based test kits by next week, and a total of 500,000 by the end of the year. These test kits are another form of PCR test that can detect COVID-19 genetic material.

“I’m proud to see the County of Orange expand our COVID-19 testing capabilities to include at-home testing kits,” said Supervisor Doug Chaffee. “As we make testing more accessible for our residents and encourage the wearing of masks and limiting social gatherings, I’m confident that we’ll be able to move Orange County out of the Purple Tier.”

Throughout the U.S., including counties in California, we have seen an increase in cases and hospitalizations after major holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are particularly concerning due to their close sequencing and the current ambient levels of COVID-19 in the community. This will lead to an amplification effect, making spreading more likely. Preventative measures along with increased testing can help Orange County avoid or mitigate future post-holiday surges.

“This year will be a tough holiday season,” said Supervisor Do. “Our traditions of large gatherings with friends and family pose several health risks. We must do our best to follow practical measures to stay safe for our own well-being and that of our families. We should also do this to protect our economy and the small businesses that are suffering because of the shutdowns. These at-home test kits will allow residents, who may not have easy access to testing sites, have one delivered to them in the comfort of their own home.”

Orange County residents have a variety of testing options available to them. The Orange County Health Care Agency’s website has more information on different testing locations.

“These at-home COVID-19 tests will eliminate the need for someone who is feeling sick to go to a testing site or clinic, which in turn means that fewer people are exposed to the virus,” said Supervisor Chaffee.


Red Flag warning issued for Laguna Beach through 8 p.m. tonight

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the Orange County Coastal Zone effective through tonight (Tuesday) at 8 p.m. Sustained winds of 25 mph with gusts of 30+ mph are possible along with low humidity levels, creating this Red Flag Warning. 

Red flag warning alert

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Santa Ana winds combined with low humidity make for Red Flag conditions

Fuels are predicted to dry quickly due to the Santa Ana winds and low humidity levels. An elevated sense of awareness is imperative during extreme weather conditions. Laguna Beach residents should take this time to evaluate their preparedness levels. Refer to the Ready! Set! Go! Program available on the Fire Department website at www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/fire

Residents are encouraged to register for AlertOC, which is the City’s mass notification system, by going to www.alertoc.com and registering cell phone numbers, text numbers, and email addresses. To ensure you are contacted during a Red Flag Warning, register with the Nixle Red Flag group by texting “LBRedFlag” to 888-777. 

During a Red Flag Warning, parking restrictions are implemented for the Diamond/Crestview Neighborhood. Any vehicles that are parked in marked parking spaces with a “red flag” painted in the center of the asphalt may be cited or towed.


Troy Lee Designs hosts fun event to benefit Laguna Canyon Foundation tomorrow night

Sponsored by Specialized and hosted by Troy Lee Designs, all are invited to join in for a fun night under the stars to benefit Laguna Canyon Foundation tomorrow, Saturday, June 15, from 6-10 p.m. There will be free tacos, local drinks, live music, and a silent auction. 

This event is free to attend, open to all, and no tickets or RSVPs are necessary. All drink and auction proceeds will benefit Laguna Canyon Foundation’s trail program. So invite friends and family and plan on having a good night, it’s for a good cause!

Troy Lee scenic

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Courtesy of LCF

Party with Specialized and Troy Lee and support our beautiful canyon tomorrow night

Public parking is available throughout downtown Laguna Beach and is free after 7 p.m.

If attendees would like to be sent an email reminder 48 hours before the event, grab a couple of “tickets” at the link here.

Troy Lee Designs is located at 380 Glenneyre St. 

Not able to make it, but still want to get involved or support Laguna Canyon Foundation? Visit www.lagunacanyon.org for volunteering information and events, free guided hikes and rides, and a way to donate online. Let LCF know what inspired you to donate in the comment box when making your donation. #KeepitWild


Meet Pet of the Week Elsa

Elsa is currently taking the title of Pet of the Week. She is a two-year-old spayed cat who has short hair. While she is very shy at first, once she gets to know you she will start to open up. Elsa has a very sweet side to her, and will probably spend most of the time cuddling with you in your lap. Overall, she will probably do best in a quiet home, as that is where she feels most comfortable in. Nancy Goodwin, shelter director, hopes to see Elsa adopted as soon as possible. 

Pet of the Week Elsa

Elsa is a soft-spoken cat looking for a quiet home 

The Laguna Beach Animal Shelter adoption procedures are designed to make sure that both the potential family and the animal adopted are in the very best situation possible. Due to their approach to adoption, the shelter’s return rate is five percent as compared to the national return rate of 50 percent.

The LB Animal Shelter is located at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd. For information on adoption procedures, call (949) 497-3552 or go to www.puplagunabeach.org/our-pets.php.


Guest Column

Meditation for Children

By Vidya Reddy

Hello and welcome to the Happiness Corner. We all want happy, healthy lives for our children. Teaching kids how to meditate can give them a jump start to access the many benefits of meditation. Even though today’s kids exhibit elevated levels of restlessness, stress, and anxiety, less than two percent of kids meditate in the U.S. Yet several studies suggest that kids who practice meditation tend to develop positive traits such as increased self-control, better attentiveness in class, and more empathy and respect for others. In addition, meditation may help children manage challenging conditions such as stress, depression, ADHD, and hyperactivity.

Clearly, introducing kids to mindfulness can benefit them now and in the long run. But children should never be forced to meditate, or they may develop the same aversion towards sitting that they often have towards certain cooked vegetables! They should be given the same gentle encouragement that we give ourselves when it comes to our meditation practice. 

Did you know that it’s easy for children to learn mindfulness through guided meditation? Many kids have a natural feel for it. Young kids aren’t burdened by as many biases, barriers or preconceptions, which gives them an edge when it comes to non-judgmental awareness. 

While there hasn’t been as much general research about the effects of mindfulness on kids as on adults, meditation in the classroom has been getting a lot of attention lately. Some schools are experimenting with replacing detention time with meditation. 

Meditation for closeup

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Dr. Vidya Reddy

Here are a few of the benefits of children’s meditation

--Enhanced focus

In just a generation or two, things have changed so much that our attention spans can’t keep up. Between social media and technological gadgets, kids who grow up with their noses in their devices often find it difficult to focus and remain attentive. Meditation teaches them that it’s possible to direct their attention at one thing at a time, and that it actually feels great not to be distracted.

--Fostering compassion and self-esteem 

Due to pressures and circumstances beyond their control, kids may sometimes feel like they’re not able to pass muster. This can be tough sometimes, especially when a child is bullied or badly teased by others. Most of the insecurities people have as adults can be traced back to their childhoods. The good news is that meditation can bolster children’s feelings of security, empathy, and inner stability, and this, in turn, builds compassion, joy, and self-esteem. Meditation teaches kids – and adults – that right now is enough. 

--Boosting confidence 

Meditation helps kids gain self-awareness and become more confident. The confidence develops naturally when kids learn from their meditation practice that they don’t have to react to all of their thoughts and emotions – they can choose which ones merit their attention and response. Confident kids are better equipped to deal with unfamiliar situations. Thanks to this adaptability, they become better problem solvers and develop a deeper appreciation of life. 

--Building empathy and happiness 

The more you give to those around you, the more you gain. Children’s meditation helps them learn how to share their love with other children. They become more patient and understanding, listen more readily to others, and empathize with them. 

Meditation for white dress

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Meditation for children has many benefits

--Here’s a great guided meditation, that I call Follow the Leader 

This meditation works best for children who are at least five years old. Ask your child to picture their best friend or a sibling, someone they do everything with or someone they look up to. Then ask them which one (your child or their best friend) usually leads. Usually one friend is the one who decides things, the one who is more of the leader; the other one is the friend who usually follows the leader. Ask them which they are. 

If they are the leader, ask them to picture themselves as the breath. If they are the follower, you can ask them to picture themselves as the mind. For this example, I’ll pretend that they’ve chosen their big brother as their best bud, and the big brother is the leader. 

Say something like, “So you and your big brother do everything together. Let’s pretend that your breath and your mind are best friends, too. And that you are just like the mind – the follower – and your big brother is just like the breath – the leader.” Then follow the steps below to guide them through the meditation.

--Sit down comfortably and close your eyes. 

--Bring all of your attention to your breath and slow it down, taking deep inhales and slow exhales. 

--Let’s have the mind follow the breath – no matter what. Picture yourself as your mind, the one that’s following your big brother, your breath. Try to focus your mind on the breath and follow as the breath inhales and exhales. 

--Count your breaths at the end of every exhale. Don’t let your mind count before the end of the exhale. The mind always wants to jump ahead, but don’t let it. Allow it to remain focused on being the follower. 

--Count to 10 slowly, always at the end of each exhale, continuing to let the mind follow the breath. 

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time. 

Dr.Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC 

www.Naturally-Happy.com


Chabad of Laguna Beach presents introductory Talmud class on Sunday

The public is invited to join Chabad for an ongoing introductory Talmud class on Sunday, July 21, from 8:45 - 9 a.m. A light complimentary breakfast will be served. Sunday morning services begin at 8 a.m. prior to the class. 

An apple rolls off a farmers’ market truck, a gold wedding ring washes up on the beach – if found, are they yours to keep? The answers to these and similar moral issues were painstakingly discussed, debated, and determined over 1,500 years ago by the sages of the Jewish Talmud.

Just twenty minutes will give guests insight into the brilliant legal logics of the Talmudic masters. No previous background is required. Classes are open to all. There is no charge.

For more information, call (949) 499 0770 or visit www.chabadoflaguna.com

Chabad Laguna Beach is located at 30804 South Coast Hwy.


Old Man’s Surf Report app developed and released by Laguna Beach local

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Southern California surfers looking for ocean conditions now have access to an application designed just for that purpose. The Old Man’s Surf Report app – using an easy to read user interface – details conditions at the local break, accurately predicting with a four-day surf forecast.

This new app has a strong Laguna connection. Old Man’s is an iPhone app created by Bill Messier and local Boris Gundelach for surfers in SoCal. Messier has chased waves at the San Onofre breaks for 40 plus years, and Gundelach is a passionate application designer and developer living and working in Laguna. The collaboration seems a perfect matchup.

The project started in January of this year. After about four weeks of conceptualizing functionality and design, they started development in February and made the version 1 available on the Apple App Store last week. 

Local connection

The Gundelach family has a strong connection to the community. Along with his wife Carmen and daughter Klara, the family moved to Laguna Beach a little over 10 years ago. They are German nationals, here on a green card, on their way to US citizenship. 

Carmen is an artist in mixed media/recycling/reuse work and has exhibited at the Sawdust Festival for nine consecutive years. She is also a member of the Laguna Craft Guild and participates in their Sunday events on the Cobblestones at Main Beach.

Drawn to the West Coast with its tech companies, Gundelach says, “Having friends in LA also helped to narrow it down. After touring Laguna, it quickly became our choice for its small town charm, its artistic vibe, its Pacific beauty, and its location close enough to Los Angeles, San Diego, and the growing tech scene in Orange County. The excellent schools in Laguna helped the decision too.”

Old Mans couple

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Carmen and Boris Gundelach

Gundelach explains how the idea for the application began. “I am a software engineer and designer working with startup businesses. I plan, design, and create apps for those startups from conception to availability on the App Store. I’ve also co-organized Orange County’s largest group of app entrepreneurs for five years – the group has about 2,000 members and organizes up to five events a month.

“Being in the ‘app business’ for the past seven years, I always had this idea about building something that connects my work to the place I am living. Last year I was working on a project connected to forecasting weather for agricultural businesses, helping them make decisions based on weather. And I knew Bill, a fellow entrepreneur I was working with on another project. He introduced me to surfing and shared how difficult it is for surfers to get the information they need to plan their next sessions. Either the websites and apps are too expensive, or they are littered with advertisements so that it is hard to get the information.”

Project began in January 2019

Messier and Gundelach realized they could combine forces to build something that connects to the magical places along the Pacific we call home. 

Gundelach says, “So in January of 2019, we decided to join up and build an app that has just the right amount of information, a pretty and simple to use design, and focuses on providing a very ‘local’ centered view of surfers’ favorite ’spots’.”

Named after “Old Man’s” – Bill’s favorite San Onofre State Beach break – the app is designed to provide everything surfers need to plan their next sessions. It covers tide, wind, coast configuration, shoaling, shape of the local break, swell period and direction, swell height, and more. For example, unique forecast algorithm models incorporate coastal configuration features like island shadowing occurring from Santa Catalina and the other Channel Islands. 

Old Mans Goff

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Goff Stepien at Brooks St Surfing Classic

“We’d love for the surfers in the community to try Old Man’s. Feedback is strongly appreciated. We want to make Old Man’s the best app for all surfers. To be able to provide surf condition forecast information free for all users, we will add more premium features like support for clubs, secret breaks, and personalized notifications as add-ons and hope for local sponsors and advertisers down the road,” says Gundelach. 

On the Apple App Store, it is called “Old Man’s,” although Gundelach says, “We mostly refer to it as ‘Old Man’s Surf Report.’ To us the reporting part of it is the long-term plan we have about it. We want to work with local surfers, surf clubs, and organizations to add daily reporting to every break. We have it already for the San Onofre breaks, where Bill every day observes and writes about real observations in person instead of just relying on technical forecast data.”

Technical aspects

On the technical side, Boris and Bill collect data from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) as well as other providers who give them access to offshore information, buoys, swell and wind wave height and directions, tides times and heights and water temperature; plus on shore information from weather stations – such as temperature, wind, and wind direction. 

Gunderlach says, “Those measurements will then be combined with what we call ‘local knowledge.’ All the information will then be considered and calculated to build our break by break information for the current day plus a four-day forecast. Surfers can look at all necessary information for five days out, hour by hour, to plan their next session.” 

Version 1 just start of journey

The app is a free download on the Apple App Store and will remain free for the functionality available today. Boris and Bill are planning to add specific functionality, for example: for surf clubs, surf competitions, and events. Those will be available later this year as add-ons, along with an Android version of Old Man’s to become available around the same time.

“So after six months of intense work as a small personal team, we are very happy to have the app out so we can plan for future features. And most importantly, get feedback from surfers about how to improve. We know version 1 is just the start of the journey,” Gunderlach says. “We are hoping to involve the SoCal surf community to make Old Man’s the best tool for surfers of every level and by doing so, contribute to the place we call our home.”

The app is available for free at www.oldmanwaves.com.


In between 

In between friends

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

A path through the water, talking with friends


Unitarian Universalist Fellowship welcomes Matthew P. Taylor on Sunday

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Laguna Beach is pleased to welcome Mathew P. Taylor back to its pulpit on Sunday, Aug 18 at 10:30 a.m. The title of Mr. Taylor’s presentation is “Love is Our Liberation.” 

We often find ourselves caught in a problem trying to decide which movement deserves our investment, in money or time. As a faith that seeks to help others find liberation, Unitarian Universalists (UUs) continuously question, what does liberation look like? Do UUs have the resources to help create that liberation? 

The community is invited to join the members and friends of the UUFLB as Mathew Taylor explains how love could be the answer to finding liberation for us all.

Unitarian Universalist Taylor

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Matthew P. Taylor will join the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Aug 18

Mathew P. Taylor is a California native with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He is a community organizer, author, and a pagan high priest. Taylor is a founding member of the Inland Empire Chapter (#3) of the Coven Sub Rosa.

He is currently a student at Starr King School for the Ministry and will be seeking ordination in Parish Ministry. He is a former Board of Trustees President at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Riverside. He believes that his brand of Mystical Ministry is meant to help give voice to the voiceless and to help find a home for the spiritually homeless.

For more information, contact Pamela Flodman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (949) 654-2526.


South Laguna Community Garden Park celebrates 10 years of garden magic

The South Laguna Community Garden Park – with its abundance of flowers, butterflies, vegetables, and herbs – is a magical place. To celebrate The Garden Park’s 10-year anniversary, the group is hosting a farm to table style dinner from 5 - 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept 28. 

The Garden Park, at 31610 Coast Hwy at Eagle Rock Way, will be the setting for this casually elegant event with musical entertainment and silent auction.

Chefs Leo Goldsmith and Tiffani Tincher will prepare a four-course meal featuring locally grown foods of the season.

The South painting

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“Laguna Garden” painting by Michael Obermeyer was created for this event and will be available in the silent auction

With the permission of the property owner, beginning in 2009, devoted garden volunteers, through the South Laguna Civic Association, have been creating and operating the South Laguna Community Garden Park. The Garden Park continues to be cared for by the gardeners while it provides opportunities to grow vegetables and flowers in family plots. 

It is open to the public every day as a park. Visitors enjoy strolling among the plots, eating their lunch or just relaxing and enjoying the garden overlook. It is a center of community life. Educational workshops and community events are offered throughout the year. 

The South food

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Farm to table style dinner on Saturday, Sept 28 

This event celebrates the Garden Park’s success at bringing the Laguna Beach community together while producing beauty and promoting healthy living. Funds raised will support the Garden Park and with donors’ help, the Garden Park will be a permanent part of our city’s beautification and recreational offerings.

To reserve a seat, go to www.southlaguna.org/garden/event.


A slice of heaven 

A slice Crescent Bay

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Photo by Joel Goldstein

Crescent Bay – a treasured Laguna cove


Laguna Beach Books proudly presents author Bruce Holsinger on Sunday

On Sunday, Sept 23 at 4 p.m., Laguna Beach Books is pleased to welcome author Bruce Holsinger to the store. Bruce will be discussing and signing copies of his new book, The Gifted School. There is no charge for this event. 

This deliciously sharp novel captures the relentless ambitions and fears that animate parents and their children in modern America, exploring the conflicts between achievement and potential, talent, and privilege. 

Set in the fictional town of Crystal, Colo., The Gifted School is a keenly entertaining novel that observes the drama within a community of friends and parents as good intentions and high ambitions collide in a pile-up with long-held secrets and lies. 

Laguna Beach Books Bruce

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Bruce Holsinger will discuss his new book, “The Gifted School”

Seen through the lens of four families who’ve been a part of one another’s lives since their kids were born over a decade ago, the story reveals not only the lengths that some adults are willing to go to get ahead, but the effect on the group’s children, sibling relationships, marriages, and careers, as simmering resentments come to a boil and long-buried, explosive secrets surface and detonate. It’s a humorous, keenly observed, timely take on ambitious parents, willful kids, and the pursuit of prestige, no matter the cost.

Bruce Holsinger is a fiction writer and scholar of medieval literature who teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. His first two novels, A Burnable Book and The Invention of Fire, are set in and around medieval London, where the poets Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower spent much of their lives. 

His third novel, The Gifted School, was published in summer 2019. He is also the author or editor of six nonfiction books on medieval literature and culture, and he is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

For more information, visit www.lagunabeachbooks.com.

Laguna Beach Books is located at 1200 South Coast Hwy.

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