COVID-19: 3,158 new cases and 82 new deaths reported in OC, 9 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,277 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 82 new deaths reported today (January 15). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 3,158 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 205,911 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 7.2 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 36 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,101 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-68 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 534 are in ICU (-10 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 628 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including nine new cases reported today and 69 new cases reported since last Friday’s report.

The county estimates 132,950 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 15, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 3,454 new cases and 43 new deaths reported in OC, 10 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,320 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 43 new deaths reported today (January 16). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 3,454 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 209,365 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 7.8 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 37 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,065 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-36 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 542 are in ICU (+8 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 638 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 10 new cases reported today and 70 new cases reported since last Saturday’s report.

The county estimates 135,203 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 16, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


2,151 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC: Laguna Beach no longer has highest per capita rate in OC

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, April 28, reflect that there have been 2,126 reported cases of COVID-19 in Orange County to date, including 34 new cases reported today. There are 36 reported cases of COVID-19 to date in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach, with a population of 23,358, previously had the highest per capita case rate in OC at 1.541 cases per thousand residents. However, Los Alamitos, with a population of 11,721 and 20 reported cases, now has the highest per capita rate in OC, with 1.706 cases per thousand residents.

The City of Laguna Beach has taken strong measures to protect its residents, closing its beaches and trails last month, and enacting an Emergency Order requiring all essential workers and essential business customers in the city to wear protective face coverings. 

Laguna Beach has only had one new reported case of COVID-19 since April 9.

Newport Beach has the third highest per capita rate in OC, with 96 reported cases, 1.101 cases per thousand residents.

Santa Ana is the city with the most cases at 313, with a population of 337,716. Irvine, with a population of 280,202, has 127 cases. Dana Point, with a population of 34,249, has 23 cases.

Sadly, the County reports 42 deaths due to COVID-19, including three today. 178 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 74 are currently in ICU.

The County Public Health lab and reporting commercial labs have tested 27,737 people as of today.

For more information, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 28;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 610 new cases and 1 new death reported in OC, 2 new cases in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 1,875 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including one new death reported yesterday (December 31). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 610 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, marking a seven-day total of 18,873 new cases and 157,183 cumulative cases to date.*

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.9 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.** 40 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,128 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-17 since Wednesday’s report – includes ICU); 495 are in ICU (+16 since Wednesday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 505 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including two new cases reported yesterday and 45 new cases reported since last Thursday’s report.

The county estimates 89,228 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna. (There will not be any updates later yesterday, January 1, or on January 3 due to the New Year’s Day Holiday and scheduled maintenance with CDPH. Updates will be posted on January 2 reflecting data from January 1. Updates will resume as normal January 4.)

*Case counts from Thursday included data for 30 hours instead of the standard 24 hours. As a result, yesterday’s cases received are notably lower because of the new cases received were accounted for in yesterday’s count.

**Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Orange County COVID-19 case data as of December 31, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


2,252 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC: One new reported case in Laguna Beach today

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, April 29, reflect that there have been 2,252 reported cases of COVID-19 in Orange County to date, including 108 new cases reported today. There are 37 reported cases of COVID-19 to date in Laguna Beach, including one new reported case today.

Laguna Beach, with a population of 23,358, has the second highest per capita rate in OC at 1.584 cases per thousand residents. Los Alamitos, with a population of 11,721 and 22 reported cases, has the highest per capita rate in OC, with 1.877 cases per thousand residents.

Newport Beach has the third highest per capita rate in OC, with 97 reported cases, 1.113 cases per thousand residents.

Santa Ana is the city with the most cases at 330, with a population of 337,716. Irvine, with a population of 280,202, has 126 cases. Dana Point, with a population of 34,249, has 23 cases.

Sadly, the County reports 44 deaths due to COVID-19, including two deaths today. 175 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 70 are currently in ICU.

The County Public Health lab and reporting commercial labs have tested 29,940 people as of today.

The County is not releasing data on the number of individuals who have tested negative following a positive test at this time.

For more information, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 29;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 2,144 new cases reported in OC, 5 new cases in Laguna Beach

OC Health Care Agency reported 2,144 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday (December 28), marking a seven-day surge of 21,426 new cases and 149,607 cumulative cases to date. 

Sadly, the county reports that 1,846 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County. There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.9 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 43 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,031 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+41 since Sunday’s report – includes ICU); 453 are in ICU (+10 since Sunday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 483 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including five new cases reported yesterday and 49 new cases reported since last Monday’s report.

Anaheim experienced an increase of 416 new cases yesterday; Santa Ana experienced an increase of 373 new cases yesterday.

The county estimates 82,710 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna. 

*From OC Health Care Agency: Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data as of December 28, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19 Update: Governor closes OC beaches

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Two days after Laguna Beach officials approved a cautious reopening of city beaches, Governor Newsom ordered all Orange County beaches closed.

Newsom announced his decision at a press conference on Thursday. He said media coverage of the hordes that swarmed the county beaches over the past weekend and ignored health experts’ advice to stay at home or at least maintain social distance recommendations prompted his decision. 

“The city beaches in Laguna Beach are already closed and scheduled to be closed until May 4,” City Manager John Pietig stated in a release issued Thursday after Newsom’s press conference. “Based on the governor’s order today, I expect the county beaches in the southern part of the city will also be closed this weekend. 

“Laguna Beach will send its plan, which was approved by the City Council on Tuesday, to reopen the beaches on weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. for active use only and in compliance with social distancing mandates, to the governor’s office for approval. The city will not reopen beaches until its plan is approved by the governors’ office.” 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

City’s limited reopening of beaches on May 4 must be approved by Governor Newsom

Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner on Wednesday said the governor had the authority to close the beaches, but it was “not a wise idea.” 

Governor Newsom did not include other counties in his order.

“It should be acknowledged, San Diego and L.A. and others have done an outstanding job, and we want to just focus on where there’s a problem,” Newsom said on Thursday.

The city of San Diego reopened its beaches Monday to active users ranging from swimmers to walkers, while Los Angeles beaches remain closed.

South Laguna residents reported a calamitous situation over the weekend in their neighborhoods as well as on the county-owned beaches in their area, despite attempts to limit beachgoers by closing the parking lots. 

Newport beaches were also in heavy use over the weekend, but the City Council decided on Tuesday to keep the beaches open, a decision negated by the governor’s order.

Laguna Beach residents weighed in on the city’s plan for a limited reopening of the beaches, pro and con. 

“Old people should stay home – they are vulnerable,” said Mark Dunning by phone to Laguna’s City Council. “Those who are not vulnerable should be let out.”

A North Laguna woman asked that Crescent Bay residents be allowed to go to their beach. She supported opening other beaches until noon for active use.

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 South Laguna last weekend

However, South Laguna resident Diane Armitage said she was frightened last weekend by the crowds. 

“Kids were coming in from everywhere,” said Armitage. “They were cocky and drinking openly in cars – swearing and gunning up and down the street. It felt like a war zone.” 

Another woman suggested the problem in South Laguna was exacerbated by the closure of the rest of Laguna’s beaches. 

There were also questions raised about the city control over South Laguna beaches – which is to say none. When asked by Mayor Bob Whalen to close county beaches within Laguna’s city limits, the vote was 4-1, with only Fifth District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett siding with the city.

In other actions affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, the council voted to hold a proposed increase in sewer user fees to 5 percent in fiscal year 2020-21, rather than the 10 percent previously approved. The vote was unanimous, but Councilman Peter Blake said during council comments on the item that as a small downtown business owner, he would be willing to pay the 10 percent increase. 

The council also voted 5-0 to direct staff to work with local nonprofits to investigate and implement Restaurant Delivery: Home Meals for Seniors, a new state program to provide meals to eligible seniors during the COVID-19 “Stay-At-Home” order as soon as possible. The council appropriated $5,000 from the General Fund Reserve to cover the portion of the costs not covered by state or federal funds.


COVID-19: 2,452 new cases and 1 new death reported in OC, 10 new cases in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 1,847 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including one new death reported today (December 29). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 2,452 new cases of COVID-19 today, marking a seven-day surge of 21,645 new cases and 152,059 cumulative cases to date. 

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 8.9 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 42 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,106 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+75 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 473 are in ICU (+20 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 493 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 10 new cases reported today and 56 new cases reported since last Tuesday’s report.

Anaheim experienced an increase of 390 new cases today; Santa Ana experienced an increase of 201 new cases today.

The county estimates 84,716 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna. 

*From OC Health Care Agency: Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Orange County COVID-19 case data as of December 29, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


3,749 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC to date, 43 reported cases in Laguna Beach to date

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, May 13, reflect that there have been 3,749 reported cases of COVID-19 in Orange County to date, including 147 new cases reported today. Laguna Beach has a cumulative case count of 43 cases to date, a net increase of two cases today.

Laguna Beach has the second highest per capita rate in OC at 1.814 cases per thousand residents. Los Alamitos, with a population of 11,721 and 53 reported cases to date, has the highest per capita rate in OC, 4.522 cases per thousand residents.

Newport Beach has had 130 reported cases to date. Irvine has had 144 reported cases to date. Dana Point has had 22 reported cases to date.

Anaheim has had 581 reported cases to date, a net increase of 36 cases today. Santa Ana has had 586 reported cases to date, a net increase of 16 cases today.

The County reports 314 cases to date in its “Other” category, which includes the aggregate case count of the unincorporated areas of the county that have less than five cases, plus cases incarcerated in Orange County jails.

Sadly, the County reports 80 deaths due to COVID-19, including three deaths reported today. 248 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 98 are currently in ICU.

The County Public Health lab and reporting commercial labs have tested 57,167 people as of today, with a 6.6 percent positive rate.

The County is not releasing data on the number of individuals who have tested negative following a positive test at this time.

For more information, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of May 13;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


Local Donna McNutt, cancer survivor, is the epitome of resilience, hope, and creativity

By DIANNE RUSSELL

After a serious cancer diagnosis and treatment, some people turn to yoga and meditation to soothe their souls; others take solace in new hobbies, from quilting to calligraphy to cross-country skiing. 

But Laguna resident Donna McNutt, 59, who is doing well five years after a diagnosis of Stage 4 multiple myeloma (a blood cancer), decided to stick with what has brought her joy her entire life: dressing up. It just made sense – no matter that her prognosis seemed dire at the time – to take pleasure in her longtime passion.

(Imagine hearing these words from your doctor, as she did: “We got your bone marrow back and there were so many cancer cells, they quit counting.”)

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Stylish, attractive Donna hasn’t let cancer define her

Following a stem cell transplant and related treatment at the City of Hope, Donna was clear about her path forward. She felt there was no need to embark on exotic new activities to continue her emotional and physical recovery.

“I knew from the beginning of my cancer journey that the only way I could survive was to not give up the one thing that I’ve loved to do from a very young age. Getting dressed is like meditation to me. 

“It is so important to me to share with other cancer patients that they should find their thing and hold onto it – never let cancer take it. I fought back, one outfit at a time.

“I now share that message on my Instagram account, @thecancerfashionista.”

Donna brings honor to Laguna Beach

Last year, Donna brought honor to Laguna Beach: as a former patient of the City of Hope, she was chosen to ride their float in the Rose Bowl Parade. 

And this year, along with four other cancer survivors who have ridden on City of Hope’s Rose Parade float in years past, she shared what the experience meant to her in a short video aired on January 1 during a two-hour Rose Parade TV entertainment special. 

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Donna and Dr. Amrita Krishnan at the 2020 Rose Parade

“As I waved to my family along the parade route, I felt like I was transmitting the message, ‘Never give up! Hope has seen us through.’ One of the best parts of the 2020 Rose Parade for me was seeing the faces and waves of so many people who have been touched by the compassionate, innovative cancer treatments that they, too, received from City of Hope,” she says. 

“We cancer patients support each other, and without words, we understand each other. I was honored to be able to get a brief glimpse into their cancer journey and to share mine.”

Pandemic tests her resilience

Donna’s resilience, and that of her family, was tested once again when the pandemic struck this year. So, with typical creativity, she decided that if she couldn’t go out in public in Laguna, given her vulnerable status, she’d have Laguna come to her. 

“My favorite activity these days is the outdoor dinners we host for our children and extended family. We’ve brought two of our favorite restaurants, Oak Laguna Beach and Wine Gallery, to a new location – our front yard!”

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Donna loves life – and revels in her passion for fashion

The mother of three says that she and her husband are thrilled, after moving from Newport Beach to Laguna, to achieve their lifelong dream of living in a cottage by the sea.

“My husband Jack made a group of supportive friends at Laguna Coffee Company. After my [stem call] transplant, I joined a walking community that greatly helped me recover. Although isolated with a weak immune system, I found it healing to take these walks with my husband.

“Now, with the pandemic, we used all of the skills we had gained through my cancer journey and applied them to the situation. I have learned how to live and not just survive, and we knew that we are going to get through this pandemic, too.”

Doom and gloom in the media didn’t help

Donna admits that reading the repeated news coverage that the weak are doomed was challenging. Not that she thinks of herself as weak, but word was that cancer survivors were more vulnerable than most.

“I had to reassure the family that Mom is OK and is making the right decisions. My family made me so proud with how they all pulled together and encouraged each other.”

Donna is a wonderful symbol of grace under pressure.

“I feel so blessed we moved to this beautiful town,” she adds.


LBUSD COVID-19 Dashboard

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Courtesy of LBUSD

For more information and to access the dashboard, visit www.lbusd.org/resources/covid19/covid-19-reporting

 


Resident hospitalized following coyote attack

At approximately 7:45 a.m. this morning, Friday, May 15, a coyote attacked a 91-year-old male resident in the driveway of his home on Oak Street near Temple Terrace. The resident was in his driveway by himself, and the coyote came up behind him and bit him on the legs. The coyote caused significant bite injuries to the resident’s legs, with blood coming out. The resident was transported to the hospital. 

“The resident will be OK and recover from his injuries,” said LBPD Sgt PIO Jim Cota. “The injuries consisted of four teeth puncture wounds in each calf. There were no dogs or other animals present that would have provoked the attack.”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working to capture the coyote in question. The City has asked residents to be vigilant and alert until the coyote is captured. 

The City would also like to take this opportunity to remind residents of important safeguards to protect themselves and their pets and property from these wild animals.

Like most communities located in semi-rural areas, Laguna Beach has active coyote populations. Due to the brushy canyon areas and natural “den-type” rock formations, our hillsides provide an attractive environment for coyotes and other animals. However, coyotes do not require open space to survive, and have successfully adapted to living in close proximity to humans. 

Coyotes are most active at dusk and dawn, and in urban environments they are more active at night but they can be seen at any time of day. The primary threat coyotes usually pose is to pets that are allowed to run loose. Animal Services recommends that pets not be let outside during evening hours unless the owner is next to the pet to prevent a coyote attack.

A Laguna Beach Animal Control Officer will respond to coyote calls if a coyote is seen in the daytime in areas around people, especially children, or any time there is an attack or threatening behavior towards a person or pet. If you have any concerns regarding wild animals, or see a coyote in a residential area, please call Laguna Beach Animal Services at (949) 497-0701. You may also report coyote sightings to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


OC reports 413 new cases of COVID-19, 10 more deaths

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, June 20, reflect that there have been 9,988 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Orange County to date, including 413 new cases reported today. This is the highest single-day increase in the County to date. 1,919 cases have been reported in the last seven days, 19 percent of the County’s cumulative case count.

Sadly, the County reports that 267 people have died due to COVID-19; 10 deaths were reported today. In the last seven days, 50 deaths have been reported, 15 percent of the total deaths in the County.

The County reports 321 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 135 are currently in ICU. 

Laguna Beach has a cumulative case count of 53 confirmed cases to date, a per capita rate of 2.269 cases per thousand residents.

The city with the highest per capita rate in OC is Los Alamitos, with 7.593 cases per thousand residents. 

Newport Beach has had 193 confirmed cases to date. Irvine has had 262 confirmed cases to date. Dana Point has had 38 confirmed cases to date.

Santa Ana has had 2,116 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 61 cases today. Anaheim has had 1,924 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 85 cases today.

The County reports that 4,785 people have recovered from COVID-19 to date. Visit https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc for recovery data criteria and more information.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of June 20;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


Wrongful-death suit filed against Grace Coleman and her parents

Twenty-two-year-old Grace Coleman, a graduate of Laguna Beach High School, has been named in a wrongful-death lawsuit that resulted from a suspected DUI traffic collision in which the parents of three young girls were killed.

The incident occurred on December 8 in Newport Coast when Coleman, of Newport Beach, was suspected of running a red light, killing Henry Salana-Mejia, 27, and his wife, Gabriela Andrade, 28, both of Santa Ana. Their deaths left the couple’s three children, ages 5, 4, and 1, orphaned. 

The children were also severely injured.

In addition to Coleman, the lawsuit also names her parents, James and Kelli Coleman, also of Newport Beach, alleging that they share responsibility because they own the vehicle involved in the collision and allowed their daughter access.

Grace Coleman

Courtesy of LBPD

Grace Coleman

The attorney for the children, Jeff Roberts, of Roberts/Jeandron Law, LLP, in Newport Beach, said, “Instead of punishing the accused, this case is about taking care of the family that’s left behind. It’s about holding other people accountable that enabled her to be in the vehicle at the time. She (Coleman) was living with her parents and had a previous incident where her vehicle would have been impounded, so we have no doubt that her parents (who owned the vehicle) knew about her drinking.” 

Roberts also noted that they became aware of Coleman’s social media posts that reportedly showed a “recurring theme of a party girl with alcohol in several of her pictures.”

“This is a 22-year-old girl that had a drinking problem and instead of getting her help, she was given a Range Rover,” said Roberts.

Coleman was previously arrested by the Laguna Beach Police Department on August 29, 2020 for an alleged DUI.

On the night of this last collision, it is alleged that Coleman was driven home from a brewery after reportedly drinking excessively, only to then drive the family’s Range Rover. Soon thereafter she reportedly collided with Salana-Meija’s Versa. Coleman was also accused by Newport Beach Police of attempting to flee the scene of the accident, only to be arrested a short distance away.

Coleman was charged with two counts of murder, among other charges, and issued a no-bail order. Her attorneys attempted to have her released last month to a residential treatment facility but that was denied.


County surpasses 10,000 COVID-19 cases, reports another 434 cases, 269 deaths to date

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, June 21, reflect that there have been 10,422 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Orange County to date, including 434 new cases reported today. This is the highest single-day increase in the County to date. 1,918 cases have been reported in the last seven days, 18.4 percent of the County’s cumulative case count.

Sadly, the County reports that 269 people have died due to COVID-19; two deaths were reported today.

The County reports 332 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 133 are currently in ICU. 

Laguna Beach has a cumulative case count of 53 confirmed cases to date, a per capita rate of 2.269 cases per thousand residents.

The city with the highest per capita rate in OC is Los Alamitos, with 7.508 cases per thousand residents. 

Newport Beach has had 198 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of five cases today. Irvine has had 280 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 18 cases today. Dana Point has had 39 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of one case today.

Santa Ana has had 2,189 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 73 cases today. Anaheim has had 2,007 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 83 cases today.

The County reports that 4,953 people have recovered from COVID-19 to date. Visit https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc for recovery data criteria and more information.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

Editor’s Note: The County reports that the June 20 and June 21 new case counts are higher due to “resolution of an electronic laboratory reporting delay” but does specify on which date(s) these positive cases should have been reported.

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Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of June 21;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: County reports “elevated disease transmission,” “increasing hospitalization,” and “limited hospital capacity”

According to the OC Health Care Agency, Orange County is experiencing “elevated disease transmission,” “increasing hospitalization,” and “limited hospitalization” – with an 11.6 percent change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients. The County reports an increase of 456 cases received yesterday, June 29, and a total of 13,064 cumulative cases to date.

Sadly, the County reports that 330 people have died due to COVID-19, including four new deaths received yesterday. There have been no deaths of Laguna Beach residents.

171 of those who have died were skilled nursing facility residents; two were individuals experiencing homelessness.

The County reports that 485 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (includes ICU); 175 are in ICU.

Laguna Beach has a cumulative case count of 59 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of three cases yesterday, a per capita rate of 2.526 cases per thousand residents. 

Santa Ana has had 2,734 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 76 cases yesterday, and 86 deaths. Anaheim has had 2,463 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 71 cases yesterday, and 83 deaths. Newport Beach has had 272 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 19 cases yesterday, and two deaths. Irvine has had 365 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 17 cases yesterday, and five deaths. Dana Point has had 52 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of two cases yesterday, and no deaths.

The age group with the most confirmed cases is 25-34 years old, accounting for 2,739 of the total confirmed cases in the County to date. 

The County estimates 7,193 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the County, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data as of June 29, as reported by the County; click here to visit page that is updated daily


Crashing waves

Crashing waves

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Big waves on Christmas Day


Former OC Sheriff Sandra Hutchens dies following long battle with breast cancer

Former Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens died yesterday with her loved ones by her side following a long battle with breast cancer. Hutchens was Orange County’s 12th sheriff having served from 2008-2019.

Former OC Sheriff Sandra Hutchens

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Courtesy of OCSD

Sandra Hutchens

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of former Sheriff Sandra Hutchens,” said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. “She took office at a difficult time. The public’s trust had been broken by the previous sheriff. Upon taking office, she immediately took action to put one of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies back on track. She was a leader whose ethics matched the culture of the men and women of this department. She restored our pride, gave us back our dignity and rebuilt trust with the people we serve. She kept her oath, kept her promises, and ended her time in office leaving this agency better than when she started.”

“I will miss my dear friend Sheriff Sandra Hutchens,” said Rep. Michelle Steel (CA-48). “In my role on the Orange County Board of Supervisors we worked very closely together. She dedicated her career to protecting Orange County families and keeping crime low. I am praying for her family.”

Hutchens was 66 years old. 

She was raised in Long Beach and following high school she was hired as a secretary for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. She then attended their Academy, graduating in 1978. Hutchens is also a graduate of the University of La Verne with a degree in Public Administration and from the FBI Academy.

She is survived by her husband, Larry, a retired assistant police chief for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Barnes added, “In keeping with Sheriff Hutchens’ wishes, there will not be a memorial service. Her family has asked that donations be made in her name to Drug Use is Life Abuse (www.duila.org) or the Susan G. Komen Foundation (www.komen.org), two charities she actively supported while in office.”


Laguna COVID-19 matching grant relief fund for residents and employees has been launched

To provide direct financial assistance to individuals and employees living or working in Laguna Beach who have been impacted by COVID-19, the Laguna Beach City Council set aside a $300,000 matching grant for Phase 2 of the Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund as part of the City’s $1.4 million in economic assistance for restaurants, bars, retail, and community members.

Launched yesterday, January 11, the Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund, administered by the Laguna Beach Community Foundation (LBCF), will provide Emergency Assistance Mini-Grants up to a maximum of $1,000 per household to individuals living or working* in Laguna Beach, with emphasis on those in the restaurant, hospitality, retail, and personal services industries. 

All donations made to the Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund are tax deductible and will be matched by the City of Laguna Beach up to $300,000. The fund has already pre-fundraised $30,000, which was matched by the City of Laguna Beach via check this week.

Mayor urges the community to help too

“Right now, we are in the darkest days of this pandemic and hundreds of local workers and residents have been laid off again,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen. “They are stretched to the breaking point to pay their rent, keep their utilities turned on, and feed their families. 

“I urge our community to do what it always does in times of crisis, which is to rise to the challenge and raise $300,000 to match the City funds. Please dig deep and give what you can to help the cause.”

The Emergency Assistance Mini-Grants will be awarded to applicants consistent with the mission and focus of the Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund. Applications will be reviewed by the Laguna Beach Community Foundation COVID-19 Fund Advisors and Community Committee, and grants will be awarded to support those most affected and in need.

Laguna Bob Whalen

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Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

Mayor Bob Whalen encourages community support for the relief fund and the wearing of masks to reduce spread of the virus

“Our mission is to assist as many of our neighbors as we can during this pandemic by providing emergency assistance mini-grants to individuals and families to pay for the necessities of life,” said Tom Davis, chair of the Laguna Beach Community Foundation. “We want to thank the City of Laguna Beach for stepping up by providing up to $300,000 in matching funds for this program. It is up to the rest of us to raise the funds to meet this challenge.”

Once selected to receive assistance and financial support, payments will be received in the form of checks, gift cards, or other means as determined appropriate by the Fund Advisors. The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is partnering with the LBCF to provide practical assistance in the process of application submission and grant delivery.

Boys & Girls Club assists with implementation

“The Boys & Girls Club is proud to partner with the Laguna Beach Community Foundation and the City of Laguna Beach to help those who have been hit hardest by the economic impact of COVID,” said Pam Estes, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club. “The people we are helping make up the fabric of our community and have been there for all of us in good times. We are grateful to be able to be here for them when times are tough.” 

The Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund was formed in April 2020 to provide up to $1,000 to individuals living or working in Laguna Beach who had suffered hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic. During the program’s first phase, $475,000 was distributed to 850 Laguna Beach residents and employees through the contributions of 75 individuals. 

“The City Council has approved a $300,000 matching grant to again provide for the City’s workers and residents as the pandemic has again forced businesses to close. We hope that those who are in a position to help will again contribute to the Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund to help those in need,” said Bob Mister, co-chair of the Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund.

To donate to the Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund, click here or you may donate via PayPal.

You may also donate by sending checks to: Laguna COVID19 Relief Fund, 580 Broadway St, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

For grant application information, visit the program’s website at www.lagunacovid19relief.com. For further questions, please call Tom Davis, Chair of the Laguna Beach Community Foundation, at (949) 416-2822.

*Please note that City of Laguna Beach employees, appointed officials, and their immediate families are not eligible for the Laguna COVID-19 Relief Fund.


COVID-19: County reports 779 additional cases today, “elevated disease transmission,” “increasing hospitalization,” and “limited hospital capacity”

OC Health Care Agency has reported 779 additional cases of COVID-19 in the County today, June 30, marking the highest single-day increase of reported cases to date.

According to the County, OC is experiencing “elevated disease transmission,” “increasing hospitalization,” and “limited hospitalization” – with a 9.7 percent change in the three-day average of hospitalized patients. The County reports a total of 13,843 cumulative cases to date.

Sadly, the County reports that 340 people have died due to COVID-19, including 10 new deaths received today. There have been no deaths of Laguna Beach residents.

175 of those who have died were skilled nursing facility residents; three were individuals experiencing homelessness.

The County reports that 510 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (includes ICU); 176 are in ICU.

Laguna Beach has had 61 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of two cases today, a per capita rate of 2.612 cases per thousand residents. 

Santa Ana has had 2,850 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 116 cases today, and 89 deaths. Anaheim has had 2,591 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 128 cases today, and 84 deaths. Newport Beach has had 295 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 23 cases today, and two deaths. Irvine has had 287 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 22 cases today, and five deaths. Dana Point has had 54 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of two cases today, and no deaths.

The age group with the most confirmed cases is 25-34 years old, accounting for 2,943 of the total confirmed cases in the County to date. 

The County estimates 7,423 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the County, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data as of June 30, as reported by the County; click here to visit page that is updated daily


Community and family remember Walter von Gremp and his legacy 

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Although Walter von Gremp has always been known by residents as the founder of Sally’s Fund, he’s also been described as Laguna’s Pied Piper, fiercely loyal to his employees, a highly sought-after attendee at social gatherings, and by close friend Arnie Silverman, “one of the most generous men I ever knew.”

Sadly, he passed away last Saturday at the age of 92.

Husband to Ann for 64 years, he was the father of four sons – Tom, Bill, Jim, and Andrew – and daughter Katie, and grandfather to nine. 

Walt and Ann were quite proud that their children were able to be there for each other. Their sons Jim and Andrew acquired many properties “west of the 405,” and for Andrew, that time was more fulfilling than he’d imagined. 

Their eldest son Tom says, “Andrew gave me his DNA in a bone marrow transplant he went through when not running the rental units – 21 surprising years ago.” 

Walter and Ann were married in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1956. According to his family, she was his devoted caretaker for the last ten years while he was confined to bed. As a symbol of his love for her, he had a statue of a woman holding an infant placed across the street from the Post Office on Forest Ave.

Community Walter closeup

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Submitted photo

Walter von Gremp

Both von Gremps were extremely active in the community for many years. Ann continues to live in Laguna among family and friends and until last year served as treasurer of Sally’s Fund. Walter was voted Patriots Day Parade Citizen of the Year in 1992, served as president of Little League for two consecutive years, was the originator of what became the Shaw’s Cove Yacht Club, and, of course, was the founder of Sally’s Fund. He also contributed to multiple causes and organizations such as the local VFW.

Walter was born in Fort Benning, Georgia, while his father was a captain in the army. Tom says, “Back then, the military moved them around every five years, so my grandfather left the service, and they relocated to the West Coast.”

In 1940, eleven-year-old Walter lived in Los Angeles with his father Walter and mother Sally.

Walter attended UCLA and after spending time in Brentwood, moved to the San Fernando Valley. The von Gremps continued to support UCLA and in 1988, the von Gremp Workshop in Economic History graduate degree program was inaugurated.

In 1977, from a bedroom in their San Fernando Valley home, Walter started an insurance company which ultimately turned into a 12-and-a-half-million-dollar company with 125 employees.

However, in the beginning, the original company was very much family run.

Community Walter and family

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Submitted photo

Walter and Ann with family

Tom says, “I was president and my mom was chairman of the board. She was the power behind the throne. In 1982, my family decided to leave the San Fernando Valley and moved to Laguna Beach. We had a small office above Reef Liquor. Then my father built an office on South Coast Hwy – across the street from what is now Mozambique – and we had 100 employees. It was wonderful to be able to work with him there. Then he built another building in Laguna Hills, and 95 percent of the employees continued with him.”

At the time, his business was the largest privately owned company in Laguna. Walter sold it to a Chicago-based company in 1996, and he retired in 1997.

“He really looked out for his employees,” says Tom. “It was very important to him that the people who worked for him in Laguna Beach would be taken care of. When he sold, he made certain that the employees were guaranteed a contract for three years.”

Successful and astute as a businessman, Walter had a fun side too, his family and friends attest.

Community Walter in tuxedo

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Submitted photo

A black tie affair 

“Every afternoon at a certain time, weather permitting, he’d go down to Shaw’s Cove, and he and a bunch of his friends would play gin rummy,” says Tom. “It became the Shaw’s Cove Yacht Club, and they even had a flag. My parents were very well liked and would be invited to all the social gatherings, and sometimes I’d tag along.”

In an accompanying remembrance piece, Arnie Silverman talks about another group at the Coffee Pub, where Walter was also the leader. 

Tom says, “They would meet there at the Coffee Pub every day to talk and pretend they ran the world.”

Walter’s granddaughter Ashley shares a memory, “He was a wonderful and caring grandfather to all of his grandchildren, always ready with a huge hug and a silly joke. Christmas won’t be the same without his annual, very animated reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. And no one had a memory like my Granddad…he could tell you a story from any point in his life, remembering every street name and every detail, making all of the tales he told so rich and full, keeping you on the edge of your seat!” 

Community Walter and Sally

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Submitted photo

Walter with his mother Sally

Of all his legacies in the community, the most well-known is Sally’s Fund. 

Walter’s son Jim and his wife Steph maintain positions on the Sally’s Fund board and continue Walter’s efforts for the nonprofit, which meant so much to him. 

Tom says, “Liz Breem is in charge of making certain all the ‘I’s’ are dotted.”

Considered a vital part of the community, Sally’s Fund was founded in 1982 when several local community members realized how many seniors were being forced into institutional living because of a lack of transportation. Walter was moved to take action after reading stories in the local paper detailing the struggle some of his neighbors had while trying to stay in their homes. 

Realizing the need was even greater than initially thought, Walter and Ann provided “significant financial support” to the organization, which was able to hire some part-time employees as a result. This new, more formal organization became Sally’s Fund, named in honor of Walter’s mother who had recently died. It became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity in 1986.

Before the pandemic, every year there was a home tour fundraiser at Emerald Bay. 

“The bridge between isolation and community” is how Rachael Berger, Sally’s Fund managing director, describes the work her organization does for seniors. 

Which is exactly what Walter achieved during his long and productive life – he brought comfort and connection to lonely seniors, and joy to his family and friends. He will be missed.


COVID-19: County reports 663 additional cases, three deaths

OC Health Care Agency has reported 663 additional cases of COVID-19 in the County today, July 5, following 413 cases reported yesterday, 713 cases on Friday, 652 cases on Thursday, 570 cases on Wednesday, and 779 cases on Tuesday.

Sadly, the County reports that 366 people have died due to COVID-19, including three deaths received today. There have been no deaths of Laguna Beach residents.

According to the County, OC is experiencing “elevated disease transmission,” “increasing hospitalization,” and “limited hospitalization” – with a 12.1 percent increase in the three-day average of hospitalized patients. The County reports a total of 16,854 cumulative cases to date.

The County reports that 624 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (includes ICU); 197 are in ICU.

Laguna Beach has had 70 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of one case today, a per capita rate of 2.997 cases per thousand residents. This represents an increase of 14 cases in Laguna Beach since last Friday.

Santa Ana has had 3,342 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 107 cases today, and 96 deaths. Anaheim has had 3,087 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 90 cases today, and 91 deaths. Newport Beach has had 381 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 14 cases today, and two deaths. Irvine has had 509 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 22 cases today, and five deaths. Dana Point has had 66 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of three cases today, and no deaths.

The age group with the most confirmed cases is 25-34 years old, accounting for 3,714 of the total confirmed cases in the County to date. 

The County estimates 8,350 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the County, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data as of July 5, as reported by the County; click here to visit page that is updated daily


Laguna Beach Secret Santas deliver the goods during holiday season for local families

For 20 years, the Macmillan family and friends have been playing Secret Santas during the holidays. Celine Macmillan says, “For the last 11 years, the Laguna Beach community has involved Laguna Beach Unified School District in selecting the students (it’s completely confidential) as well as our friends. This year, with the need being so big, I decided to do ten families and include the community for donations. There are also families from out of state who are donating. In previous years my friends and I usually donate over $1,000 per family.”

Laguna Beach surfboard

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Submitted photo

Baskets and surfboard delivered to LBHS

There were two families from each school (El Morro Elementary School, Top of the World Elementary School, Thurston Middle School, and Laguna Beach High School) that were selected by the school principals. The other two were Laguna families that Macmillan knows are in need and have students at LBUSD. 

Macmillian says, “Sheri Morgan came over this morning and counted the money to verify that each gift basket had $500 cash and all gift cards accounted for. After all envelopes were sealed and gifts wrapped, we then delivered them together to all four LBUSD school principals. The principals will contact the families to pick up their Secret Santa gift from all of us.” 

Laguna Beach Vidal

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Submitted photo

Thurston Middle School Principal Vidal

“Thank you all again so much for being a Laguna Beach Secret Santa. Together we raised $5,350 plus $200 anonymous cash for student #10. The $350 was used to purchase gift cards, so we could support some of our local businesses.” 

Each basket contains: 

--$500 cash ($250 for the student and $250 for the parent) 

--$20 Zinc Cafe gift card (thanks to Zinc Cafe for the donation)

--$15 Penguin Cafe gift card 

--$10 Wahoo’s gift card 

--$6 Gelato gift card ($5 wasn’t enough to get two scoops) 

--$5 South Swell Donuts gift card

Laguna Beach Hatchel

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Submitted photo

Top of the World Elementary Principal Hatchel 

Macmillian says, “Student #10 (surfer girl) got three additional items: the Catch Surf board she wanted (thank you Catch Surf for giving us 50 percent off her board and an anonymous who donor dropped off $200 cash for her to buy a good wetsuit). My stepdad Kevin Naughton gave a signed copy of his book Trout Rising (if your kids love to surf they will love this book). 

“Thank you to Zinc Cafe for donating ten $20 gift cards, Catch Surf for giving us 50 percent off the surfboard for the one student who really wanted this board, and everyone that was a Secret Santa with us this year. 

Laguna Beach Duddy

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Submitted photo

El Morro Elementary Principal Duddy

There were 79 Secret Santas this year: Jocelyne and Kevin Naughton, Anonymous D, Betsy Denham, Kathleen Levan, Dina Waters, Shanti Schiller, Ellen Hurley, Lisa Britt, A Drexelius, Kevin and Jocelyne Naughton, Margarita Kruse, Anonymous, Patricia Sweeney, Jaclyn Lessard, Chris Cureton, Parisa Balliet, Alison Alexander, Keely Chism, Jennifer Murray, Jennifer Samson, Staci Bina, Anonymous, Melissa Vermilya, Nadene Wisely, Amy Kramer, Kathleen Steris, Jaime Saunders, Kathy Rose, Joyce Oosthuizen, BR Kellogg, Roop Family, Amy Kramer, Joanne Donovan, Malena Steris-Lyles, Joe Baker, Kara Taylor, Christy Koster, Laura Storke, Anne Caenn, Shannon Chastain, Laural Macmillan, Theresa Macmillan, Reed Family, Cheryl Kosky, Brooke Tyson, James Azadian, Lisa Barreth, Nicole King, Christine  Needell, Brooke Tafreshi, Valerie Schaffer, Julie Mammone, Michelle de Putron, Patricia Carpenter, Joanne Donovan, Gerik Degner, Mary Dwyer, Denyse Angus, Paula Powers, Hunter Tate, Jennifer Mullin, Kirk Morgan, Flynn Family, Carla Powell, Robin Hall, Tina Steincke, Laura Lee McChesney, Nick Flores, Mary McManus, Brian Carruthers, Sheri Morgan, Hunter Tate, Jean Sheldon, Mark Ward, Boris Piskun, Audra & Scott Borthwick, Jan Altman, and Hodel McRae.

Laguna Beach Allemann

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Laguna Beach High School Principal Dr. Allemann


COVID-19: 27,031 cases in OC to date, 455 deaths, including 22 deaths received today – 102 cases in Laguna Beach to date

OC Health Care Agency reported 911 additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the County today, July 15, following 865 cases reported yesterday, 540 cases reported on Monday, 814 cases reported on Sunday, 1,251 cases reported on Saturday, 1,133 cased reported on Friday, and 1,284 cases reported on Thursday.

Sadly, the County reports that 455 people have died due to COVID-19, including 22 deaths received today. There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date, according to the County.

According to the County, OC is experiencing “elevated disease transmission,” “increasing hospitalization,” and “limited hospital capacity.” The County reports a total of 27,031 cumulative cases to date.

The County reports that 722 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (includes ICU); 238 are in ICU.

Laguna Beach has had 102 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of two cases today, a per capita rate of 4.367 cases per thousand residents. This represents an increase of 46 cases in Laguna Beach since June 26.

Santa Ana has had 5,081 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 135 cases today, and 120 deaths. Anaheim has had 4,654 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 140 cases today, and 110 deaths. Newport Beach has had 648 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 28 cases today, and three deaths. Irvine has had 875 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of 39 cases today, and seven deaths. Dana Point has had 135 confirmed cases to date, a net increase of nine cases today, and no deaths.

The age group with the most confirmed cases is 25-34 years old, accounting for 6,185 of the total confirmed cases in the County to date. 

The County estimates 11,611 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the County, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data as of July 15, as reported by the County; click here to visit page that is updated daily


Chris Ornelas named 2020 Firefighter of the Year by Laguna Beach Fire Department

The Laguna Beach Fire Department is pleased to announce that Fire Engineer Chris Ornelas has been named the Laguna Beach Fire Department’s 2020 Firefighter of the Year. 

Ornelas works out of Fire Station 4 in South Laguna. Besides doing a great job with his required duties/responsibilities, he helps the Department by taking on many special projects. Ornelas leads the Fire Hose Program that ensures all fire hose is inventoried, tracked, and tested annually to ensure it works under high pressures when needed. He helps with training new Firefighters, and he especially helps to create a productive and caring environment by keeping all current, past, and extended family members informed of Fire Department and personnel special events and dates. 

Chris Ornelas closeup

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Courtesy of LBFD

Chris Ornelas, 2020 Firefighter of the Year

“Chris was nominated by his peers for this award, and it goes without saying that his contributions and commitment to the Laguna Beach Fire Department have been extremely impactful throughout 2020,” said Laguna Beach Fire Chief Mike Garcia. “Chris has done a fantastic job managing our social media accounts, which have grown in popularity and highlight many of the fantastic things the Laguna Beach Firefighters do on a daily basis to protect and serve our community. His efforts growing our social media following have created an online community that has bridged the gap between our retirees and active-duty personnel.” 

Chris Ornelas fire engine

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Courtesy of LBFD

Ornelas at Fire Station 4

In developing the Fire Department’s social media programs, Ornelas has also become the de facto historian for all modern Fire Department activities. He has curated a photographic collection that records the current year of the department, an effort unmatched by previous generations. Ornelas is also recognized for his time and dedication spent working on the pink shirt project and his work with the Firefighter Cancer Support Network. 

The Laguna Beach Firefighter of the Year is nominated by their peers. The nominees are then forwarded to the Chief Officers, who meet to review and discuss each and every candidate. At the end of this review, a worthy candidate is selected for the honor. 

For more information, contact Firefighter Pat Cary at (949) 497-0700.


LBUSD COVID-19 Dashboard

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Courtesy of LBUSD

For more information and to access the dashboard, visit www.lbusd.org/resources/covid19/covid-19-reporting

 


It’s Christmas, an important time to remember those we love

By SHAENA STABLER

All I want for Christmas is for my dad to make it through to the vaccine, and not get the virus.

My father, James, has CTE and early onset dementia – the likely result of concussions from football and falling from multiple stories when he was a construction worker – and has been living in a skilled nursing facility since last summer. 

Prior to the pandemic, I would visit him twice a week, oftentimes with his fiancée – we’d bring takeout food, my portable speaker, photos, and presents for him…we’d listen to music, talk about the 70s, and share love and connection together.

It's Christmas James and Shaena

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Courtesy of the Stabler family

Shaena celebrating the innocence of childhood with her dad

When the pandemic hit, all of the skilled nursing facilities across the state went into lockdown, my father’s included. His facility has taken such great care to try to keep the virus at bay – however, given the circumstances, I always knew it was a matter of when not if as far as the virus getting in. 

The first case hit in late May – since then, almost one-half of the residents have tested positive, some sadly dying, and as many staff members have tested positive too. My heart breaks for the families who have lost their loved ones to this virus. 

Despite the extreme isolation, my dad has kept the faith – he looks forward to our Skype video calls, and so do I. I love ordering him food from Doordash, a couple of times a week – his favorite is the Whopper combo meal and Strawberry Milkshake from Burger King.

I also want to thank, from the depths of my heart, the staff who have been there showing my dad love and helping keep him safe every day since last March. You all are the Supermen and Superwomen to me. I pray for your safety, and for your families’ safety too. I want you to know how grateful I am to you, and that I will pay your kindness and compassion forward in this life.

Shaena Stabler is the publisher & editor of Stu News Laguna.


The Heart of Laguna

By Laura Ford

The Heart girl surfing

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Painting by Laura Ford 

The waves rolled into shore at Thalia Beach. The tide was rising and the wind was low as the sun made its way up through the marine haze and the molten sky began to fade. 

People were walking their dogs along the beach – Laguna Beach was already awake. A small Sheltie greeted Jake, dropping a tennis ball at his feet as he stood on the shoreline. He picked up the ball and threw it along the beach with a smile and a wave to the dog’s owner. 

The cool water glided into shore, wrapping itself around Jake’s feet as he watched Darren surf. Jake smiled – he felt a little disengaged from his body, as though none of it was quite real. Watching Darren – it was just like watching Gillian all those years ago; the flicks and exclamations, the wildness of the man’s surfing style. Jake smiled as Darren glided along a wave, touching the wall of its luminescent green tube with an outstretched hand before being enveloped by the wave and then resurfacing with a huge grin on his face. Darren paddled into shore and tucked his shortboard under his arm, holding out a hand to Jake. Jake shook his hand and then patted him on the shoulder. 

“Thanks for… ”

“It’s no problem,” Darren replied, holding Jake’s shoulder. “If it hadn’t been for her, I wouldn’t be here – period. I was scared of the ocean as a kid – too weak to swim – I never thought much about surfing until… ”

“You’re a great surfer,” Jake said, his eyes distant. “It was meant to be – you’re continuing it all.”

“Trying to, I’ll be 45 in a couple of weeks,” Darren smiled.

“Has it been that long?”

“Well,” Darren felt awkward, “over 20 years.” He patted Jake on the back, “I’m having a little get together, down at The Cliff on Friday – you should come.”

“The Cliff?” Jake looked down at the sand. “Thanks, I’ll see. It’s Gillian’s birthday Tuesday.”

“Gotcha,” Darren replied nodding. “Anytime you want to come watch, just let me know, I’m down here a lot.”

Jake laughed, “I bet you are.” He knew only too well what was in Darren’s heart, what drove him to the ocean and what would keep him there the rest of his days. 

***

The waves rolled in before her, crested with light. Their green and blue curves reminded Gillian of slides on a children’s playground. She watched the surfers with an intensity beyond her years while swinging a red bucket in her hand as if to an unheard beat. Her keen eyes followed the wave riders as they were propelled by the waves, conquering them with a seeming ease. 

Laguna Beach was full of surfers. It felt like every beach she went to – they were out at sea, taunting her as they played in the waves. As one of the surfers rode into shore, he grinned at her calling out, “Hey, little surfer!” and curled his fingers into the sign for ‘hang loose.’

Right then, Gillian dropped her red bucket – she wanted to look grown up – and looked back at the surfer with her coolest face, attempting to be nonchalant. When he had begun to paddle back out to sea, Gillian wanted to do the same. As the nearest thing to that, she picked up her bucket and washed it down in the remnants of a wave that lapped into shore. 

The bucket was something of a prize to her, discovered on Main Beach with her Mom and Dad on one of their first evenings in Laguna Beach. She had found it buried in the sand near the towels that her parents had set down. 

Another surfer glided toward her now and she watched him intently. Gillian wanted to be like them – sliding down the waves, riding them like a wild stallion, kicking and bucking all the way to the shore just as these surfers did. There was magic in it, and it fixated her.

She turned her head and looked back at the apartment that her parents were renting on Thalia Beach. No one had noticed that she was missing – her mom wasn’t hammering on the glass like a wild thing, sending her father down to scoop her up – not yet. So embarrassing. 

She felt elevated to be down on the beach alone. She was six years old; she wasn’t a baby. Looking down now at her toes in the sand she wiggled them as a wave broke against the shore and carried up the beach toward her. It lapped in around her small feet, momentarily covering the sodden sand in a thin white foam before drawing back out to sea and continuing its eternal rhythm. 

***

Gillian looked up to the ocean once more and grinned. She remembered that first encounter with the surfer. At the age of six, she had decided there and then

 that she was going to be a surfer when she ‘grew up.’ She remembered watching the waves roll in at Thalia Beach and likening their rolling forms to scooping vanilla ice cream from a carton. She’d developed all of these analogies for the waves as a child, sitting and watching them from her parents’ front room, hoping that one day she could be just like the grown-ups who seemed to play all day. 

She had started surfing later than the local kids. She was born in Maine – not California – and her parents didn’t want her risking life and limb on something frivolous. But the call of the ocean was too strong. It was magnetic and, like any vocation, it had claimed her being and had become a part of her very soul. She was sure that if you could unlock a heart with a special key, you would see the ocean on a sunny day reflecting out of hers – the light dancing upon the water, the glow and fluidity of the waves shining out from her. 

Gillian shifted her thoughts to the judges lined up on the beach and took a look at them where they were behind her: five men, one sporting a large moustache, another in a red Hawaiian shirt, their eyes hidden behind aviators. It was like a uniform, Gillian smirked and turned her concentration back to the waves in front of her as she stood on the shore, breathing in the salty air. She would be next to paddle out. She exhaled deeply. 

It was her and two other boys in her group, she watched them joking with each other farther along the beach. One was 18 – the taller one – the other was 21 and she was 16, the youngest. 

Brook Street Classic, she whispered to herself, kicking at the sand with her left foot. She was a goofy foot – some said Brook Street was a break made for goofy footers like her and she took this into consideration. She had surfed the break a few times and had been tumbled by it many more, wiping out in spectacular fashion. She’d foolishly attempted the waves at Brook Street on a big surf day a few years back when she barely knew what she was doing – and now she had two veneers to prove it – her secondhand fiberglass tank of a surfboard had smacked her in the mouth like a roundhouse kick. 

She pushed this memory away as she felt her heart begin to race – right as her name was called. 

“Gillian Breithardt,” she heard a man’s voice call across the beach – it was the judge with the Hawaiian shirt. 

She nodded and, without looking at the judges, moved forward into the ocean, watching the break as the waves slammed into shore. She counted the seconds – now! She began to run with her board tucked under her arm; in a flowing movement she was on the board and paddling with all her might toward the dark mass of a wave that was heading straight toward her. She ducked her head down and allowed the wave to thunder over her, continuing forward, her arms pumping, pushing the water away. 

Be like the arrow, she thought to herself. She had read this Cheyenne saying somewhere and it resonated with her; it was now a part of her surfing mantra. 

Now she sat and waited – it was just her and the waves. She had waited all summer for this, for the Brook Street Classic to be declared open. The conditions were perfect. All she had to do was not let the waves take advantage of her. 

That moment of calm before the wave rolled towards her – it felt like an hour and, as she began to paddle, all of her worries, all of her fears were compressed as though onto the head of a pin, and before her the sea and the sky opened up into a grand vision, like the evocative paintings of Constable. She was floating on air as the wave took her like an anaconda attempting to shake her from its back.  She moved with speed and an absence of formality – everything was intuitive. Soon, she found herself careering beneath the wave in a breathtaking tube, her fingers brushing against the wall of water as if tickling it. 

As she paddled into shore, she kept in check the inner smile that lit her up inside and her face remained poker straight. Until, that is, she was paddling back out toward the waves and into her next adventure. 

She surfed twice more, keeping her aggression and radical energy focused upon the waves, she wasn’t a graceful surfer; she surfed short board and she wanted to conquer the waves and finish with an exclamation. She was in it to win it. 

***

“Look at this, Rita,” Gillian’s father Richard said as he stabbed at the LA Times with his index finger, his face like a schoolboy. “Gillian’s in the LA Times! They’ve written a piece about her. They’re even following her progress in Hawaii this month!”

Gillian’s mother paced across the living room to the kitchen where Richard sat at the breakfast bar. She held out her hand for the paper excitedly and Richard handed it over. She read the article and began to laugh. 

“Our daughter!” She beamed. 

“That’s our girl!” Richard exclaimed, looking out to the ocean from the living room window beyond. 

“Well, we can’t take any credit,” Rita smiled, “except for a move to the beach.”

“It was all she needed.” 

They both re-read the article, emphasizing and repeating certain sentences out loud:

“Skill beyond her years,” “A determination in her eyes” – they enjoyed reading the praise for their daughter. Gillian had never wanted to stay in and play with dolls. Everything had been about getting out of the house, being independent and chasing the sun down until dusk. 

***

“Taco Tuesdays is one of those things you just can’t put into words,” Gillian said, between a mouthful of fish taco down at The Cliff in Laguna. 

“You just did,” Jake laughed, pushing his hair out of his face and slurping the last of his coke from a tall glass. 

Live music was playing, it was “Hotel California” by the Eagles and everyone was in taco bliss as the sun set golden over the waves. 

“Here’s to Hawaii!” Jake cheered, holding up a taco as half its contents spilled onto the plate in front of him. “Daymn,” he laughed. 

“Hawaii!” Gillian said back through a muffled mouth of taco. 

“Who would have thought it: starting out at Thalia, then the Brook Street Classic and then a national amateur title and now – Hawaii! What’s next Breithardt? Australia?” Jake wanted to make the question sound nonchalant, but really, he wanted to know because he would miss her. He was in love and – well, he couldn’t surf – which just added to his anxiety. Gillian’s surfing career had taken off since she won in her group at Brook Street and three years ago she had turned pro. He hadn’t got to see much of her the past few months while she travelled through Europe, surfing in Portugal and Spain. 

Gillian looked up at him and smiled – she knew what was going on. It had been six years now and she knew that face well. They’d met at The Cliff after her Brook Street victory and had become friends. At 19, things had become more serious. She touched his hand across the table, 

“I don’t know Jake, I thought I might hang around here for a while.” 

Jake looked down and smiled, “It’s your birthday in two weeks.” 

“Good memory!” 

“It’s what you hired me for,” Jake joked – he was always quirky. 

“It is,” Gillian said with mock sincerity. “I’ll be 22, and I expect champagne and flowers and … ”

“Did I miss something? Last time you tried champagne, which I believe was in Hawaii when you won your tournament, you told me you didn’t know what all the fuss was about and that you were happier with a coke down at the Cliff.”

“Well, you’re right about that!” she exclaimed with a smile. 

“I’m always right,” he said with a mischievous grin, leaping to his feet and pulling her from her chair. 

“Jake!” she cried, as the plastic chair hit the wooden deck. But no one heard or cared, they were all too busy whooping it up as the band played the opening chords to ZZ Top and their Sharp Dressed Man. 

They danced until the band wound down which was only after their third encore – and by this time everyone was pretty merry on tequila. 

As they walked back to Gillian’s apartment on Oak Street, they swayed together under the twinkling night sky. There were no cars, no people – just the distant sound of the ocean reaching the shore. 

“I love this sleepy town,” Gillian said, grabbing Jake and kissing him. 

Jake looked back at her. She was a bit drunk, but he was going to say it anyway. “I love you Gillian.” 

“Do you?” she smiled and kissed his cheek.

“Of course I do,” he said, kissing her back. 

“Then come with me to South Africa.” 

“South Africa? What?” Jake stepped back and Gillian took a step forward, trying to close the gap. 

“Yeah, there’s…” 

“Wait, you’re going to South Africa? When?” Jake furrowed his eyebrows. 

Gillian gulped, she realized she had messed up, it had all come out wrong, “Next week, it’s – I have to, the whole US team has to be there.” 

“What?” Jake looked stunned. “You didn’t even tell me, you just said you were going to stick around for a while.” 

“I was going to tell you, I was just enjoying everything – I mean, being with you. I didn’t want to ruin it.”

Jake pulled back a bit. “Enjoying everything? What am I to you? You couldn’t just tell me you were going? You didn’t think I could handle it?” 

She tried to reach out and grab him back, but he was already walking away. “No, that’s not – it’s not what I meant. I know you’re behind me on this – I don’t know why I said that,” she called at him. “Please – c’mon Jake!” 

He didn’t look back. He just kept walking, fast, until he was out of sight. The last she saw was the back of his burgundy hoodie as he made his way around the corner. 

***

“Turn that off. The line’s bad, I can hardly hear her,” Rita gestured to the TV where a clip of Reagan was being broadcast on the news. Richard grabbed the TV remote and flicked the television off, then positioned himself next to Rita in hopes of hearing his daughter’s voice too. 

“It’s crazy here, the waves are insane!” He could hear Gillian’s voice crackling down the line. “Have you heard from Jake, has he called?” 

“No, not yet, but I’m sure he’ll come around – you know he’s sensitive,” Rita said as she looked anxiously at Richard. 

“Just focus on your surfing, Gillian. You need to keep safe, we’ll let you know when he calls – because he will,” her dad said affirmatively. Rita smiled at him and nodded. 

“Any idea when you’ll be back?” Rita asked now, her eyes hopeful. 

“In about two months, we’re going to be travelling a little bit more mom … What?” Gillian was interrupted by a female voice behind her, “I’ve got to go, Mom, we’re having pizza and it just arrived.” 

“Love you Gill!” Richard called. 

“I love you too, Dad!” She called back and then the line was empty – she had gone.

***

 The morning air was already warm and the sea air smelled of salt and kelp as Gillian surfed the waves at Thalia. She cruised the waves, just like the surfers she had watched as a child. She had turned that vision into her reality. As she surfed, she could see the shape of a man on the beach – he was watching her. She knew it was Jake – and now she knew that for sure as she glided into shore on a gentle wave. She felt her stomach flip. They had spoken once on the phone since she had returned from South Africa, and it hadn’t exactly been warm. 

She walked up to him now, her board under her arm, wiping the saltwater from her face. 

“Hi,” she began gently. 

“Hi,” he said, not giving anything away. 

“How is everything going?” 

“Good, it’s… I’m fine.” 

“Would you like to,” she paused, her heart racing. “Would you – 

“It’s Tuesday, isn’t it? I thought I’d ask you, but you beat me to it.” 

She laughed, breaking the tension. 

“Pick me up at 6?” she said, hopeful. 

“You know the drill,” Jake smiled and then waved a goodbye as he walked down the beach. He’d walked all the way from Fisherman’s Cove where he lived on the beach. 

When she was sure that he wouldn’t see her, she jumped in the air and did a dance. 

***

Gillian held Jake’s hand as he spun her around and the band sang, “You spin me right round baby, right round!”

She grinned; it was the first day she had felt truly herself since they had that fight. She was so happy about her date that she had made a stop at Laguna Surf and bought a new board. She had been putting it off for a little while, but seeing Jake on the beach had made her feel like it was time for a fresh start. 

They danced and drank until they couldn’t stand, then gulped down iced water at a table overlooking the ocean. 

“Come on, let’s get out of here,” Jake said, downing the last of his water. 

“Don’t you want to stay to the end?” Gillian asked. She was surprised because Jake never left until the bitter end – he was all about the music. 

“I want to take a walk. C’mon, let’s go to Ruby Street Park.”

“Ruby?” she said screwing up her face, then she caught herself. “Ah, OK.”

It was a bit of a walk farther up the hill, but it didn’t take them long and they talked the whole way. Jake laughed when she told him the story of how she had won a car in South Africa and then brazenly sold it the next day – right in front of the judges – to one of the spectators who had been watching the tournament. 

As they reached the little park at Ruby Street, they wandered through it to the wooden platform and sat on the well-worn bench overlooking the ocean. 

They sat in silence for a while, watching the half-moon illuminate the water below as it smacked up against a rock intermittently and crickets chirped in the giant Aloe beside them. 

Jake put his arm around Gillian and she turned to look at him. 

“I’ve missed you so much,” she said, trying to hold back her emotions. 

“I don’t ever want to feel like that ever again in my life,” he said, looking away from her. 

“I’m sorry, I should have told you about South Africa, I know it was stupid and …  ” 

“No, the way I felt when I wasn’t with you – when we weren’t close – I don’t ever want to feel like that again.” 

She looked at him now and shook her head: “But we’re always close Jake, even when we’re not.” 

“I don’t – 

“Listen,” she said, and placed her head onto his chest. She could hear the rhythmic beating of his heart in her ear and she breathed out with a sigh. “It’s you.” 

He smiled and placed his head on her chest now. “I hear you,” he said with a smile. 

“Are we weird?” Jake said, raising an eyebrow. “Guys don’t usually listen to girl’s hearts … because they have boobs.” 

“Never was there a truer statement,” she said, creasing up with laughter and they both laughed. They watched the waves rolling into shore and a hummingbird moth fluttered at high speed on a honeysuckle nearby. 

“Do you think we’ll come back here, when we are ghosts, back to Laguna?” Gillian asked now, as she took in the scene around her. 

Jake shook his head, “I would hope so,” he raised his eyebrows earnestly. 

“Me, too,” Gillian said, nodding her head affirmatively. “I’d like to come back here with you; and watch the moon just like this and walk the beach in the sunshine. I’d like to smell the kelp and watch the Garibaldis swimming as I’m sitting on my surfboard waiting for the next wave.” 

“Then you will.”

She turned to him now, “I’d like to see you, watching me surf from Thalia Beach – just like you did today, because it made my day.” 

  ***

Jake stood up on the grassy hill that overlooks the ocean at Brook Street. There were thousands of people swarming the beaches and cliffs. Barbecue smoke wafted through the air and car radios blared. Jake waved a hand in front of him as the thick smoke from a barbecue floated under his nose, its acrid mix of charcoal and burning meat filling his nostrils. He turned around, annoyed – he wanted to concentrate on the ocean but the sounds of boom boxes, car radios and voices screeching filled his ears instead. He could barely hear the ocean, hear the beat that Gillian had described to him. It’s like a heartbeat, she had said – the rhythm of the ocean.

Jake moved farther along the cliff to get away from the people and get a clearer view of where Gillian would be surfing. As he wound his way through the crowd a tall kid in a yellow shirt elbowed him hard.

“Hey! Watch it!” Jake exclaimed, but the kid just stared at him with dead eyes, swaying slightly. The jerk’s on something, Jake muttered to himself as he kept walking. 

Finally, he found a place on the cliff with a little space and pulled his sweater from his waist before sitting on it. He checked his Casio, it was 2:20; she’d be up soon. 

A hummingbird zoomed past him and onto a fireweed and when he turned his gaze from its iridescent red feathers, there she was. He liked to tease her, calling her ‘Venus’ –  she surfed in a white bikini riding the waves to the shore. 

Watching her now, he felt prouder than he could ever say. She took on the waves like they were nothing, riding them as though she had their every unpredictable move written down already. 

He smiled as he watched her cascading down a wave and winding around it at speed – he couldn’t wait to tell her when she came to shore; he had been learning to surf while she was in South Africa. He had started with some lessons with the lifeguards at Doheny Beach. A low rolling wave, she would say – rolling her eyes – he just knew it. He would walk to Thalia tomorrow and surprise her on the beach, except this time he would have a board and he’d – well, he’d try to catch a wave. He was getting better now; he could catch them if it wasn’t big surf. 

He smiled to himself as he watched her communing with the waves. It didn’t come to him naturally like the way it did for her – he was more of a mechanical type of guy. He helped his father to run their car showroom and enjoyed helping him fix up the cars. But there was something about catching his first wave – that weightless feeling of being propelled by something completely out of his control – that had pestered him ever since. 

***

Gillian and Jake watched the sun set as the band began to play at The Cliff. The sun melded into a pyramid before flattening out in a blaze of red across the ocean.

“It’s like the ocean extinguished it,” Gillian said, turning to Jake and sipping on her coke. 

“Gillian,” Jake began, and her eyes met his with curiosity. He felt himself gulp, “nothing.” He chickened out. 

“What?” 

“Oh, nothing, I was just – I thought maybe you’d like to go to the Dirty Bird this evening, you know, a change from here.” 

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” she smiled. “Isn’t that what you always say?”

He laughed, “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” 

“I’m always right,” she said, laughing, and pulled away from the table to go join the band across from them. 

“U2,” she yelled. “Unforgettable Fire!” 

Jake chased her, grabbing her waist as the drummer began to beat the drums and the guitarist hit the opening chords.

They jumped up and down and moved like nobody was watching. Jake watched Gillian as she threw her arms in the air and shook her hips. He took her hand in his and span her around and as she finished her rotation, he pulled her close to him and kissed her. 

“I love this place!” she shouted over the music.

He smiled at her; he couldn’t wait to show up at Thalia beach tomorrow – she wouldn’t suspect a thing. 

***

“There’s an article in Stu News,” Richard said as he scrolled the internet. “A local man is writing about his experience with transplant surgery – apparently he has been asked to be part of a study.” 

“Oh,” Rita replied as she buttered a sandwich for her lunch. “I think I heard one of the kids in my eighth grade class talking about something to do with that – her father apparently is being interviewed by doctors from San Francisco.”

“Mmm,” Richard replied, engrossed in the article, his glasses illuminated by the computer screen. 

“It would be amazing wouldn’t it – after all these years – if we… ” 

“I’d better get going,” Rita said, ending the conversation. Richard could see that her eyes had become glassy, and he knew better than to continue the conversation. “I don’t want them to think I’m ready to retire, they’ve asked me three times now!” she said, forcing a smile. 

“I think you’re a smidgeon past retirement,” Richard said, attempting to be funny and change the energy that lay heavy between them. 

As Rita closed the front door, Richard found himself reading the article again. It fascinated him. 

***

“We thought that you should be here,” Rita said as she led Jake into the living room which overlooked Thalia Beach. Gillian’s father sat on a large green couch opposite a man. At first, the stranger’s back was all that Jake could see. He took a glance at him as Rita ushered him toward an armchair. What if he’s ridiculously ugly and horrible – I’m not sure I could handle it, Jake caught his mind wandering. That’s so bizarre, why would I even think that? What’s wrong with me? It’s because she was so, everything – that’s why you’re thinking it, he can’t deserve it. 

Jake sat down awkwardly as Rita sat beside Richard and nodded to the man in the armchair. Jake was surprised at how old Gillian’s parents looked. Still, he shouldn’t be – they must be in their seventies by now – he was startled by the passage of time – God, it has really been that long. 

“This is Darren,” Richard said, gesturing to the man in the armchair opposite him. 

“Hi,” Jake said, smiling. It was a genuine smile, but he couldn’t pretend that this situation wasn’t throwing him. “So, you – ”

“Darren received Gillian’s heart after the accident,” Rita said, her voice level, until she said the word ‘accident.’ Richard placed a sun-weathered hand upon hers. 

Jake shifted in his armchair. He had seen the guy who was responsible for all the devastation. He had been less than a foot from him, looked into his intoxicated eyes. He had even told him to ‘watch it’ after the guy had knocked into him. Jake felt that he should have just called the cops, made the guy go home, driven him home, anything. He had gone over this in his mind so many times after the accident. Gillian had simply been walking from her place to the convenience store to get some soda. The intoxicated kid’s car had gone up onto the sidewalk and Gillian was right there. She was knocked down and hit her head. She never woke up. 

Jake felt a tear roll down his cheek – he couldn’t help it. He wiped it away fast. He felt like it wasn’t his place to cry. For them it was even worse – they had lost their daughter. 

Jake now noticed that, in front of Darren, Gillian’s parents had placed photos of her, magazine articles, newspaper clippings. She stood in her white bikini atop her short board, on the front of a surf magazine. She was posthumously honored in the surfing Hall of Fame. 

“We’ve been talking with Darren – he got here a little early,” Richard said now, and Jake nodded, “ – and it comes as no surprise to him that Gillian was a surfer.” 

“No.” Darren shook his head, smiling, he had friendly green eyes and Jake found himself warming to the guy. “I, well – ” he opened his palms, trying to express what he wanted,  “there’s so much to say.” 

“I bet,” Jake nodded. “It’s OK – please.” 

“When… I received my donor heart – Gillian’s heart – I was just so happy that I had a chance again. I was 21 and I couldn’t run, couldn’t do any of the things I wanted to. I’d always had this genetic issue with my heart – it was weak and there was a hole. I felt like a horse that wanted to run but was shackled. My spirit said one thing and my body another. I honestly thought that I wouldn’t make it to 22.” 

Jake moved his hand over his mouth, it was hard to imagine someone so young contemplating such a fate. 

“After the operation – when I began to recover – I began to have these vivid dreams of the ocean at night,” Darren gestured to the ocean through the window.

“It’s where she was happiest,” Rita interjected, squeezing Richards hand. 

Darren nodded in agreement. “I would dream every night of the ocean, and it felt good, it felt free. It got to the point where my mom was asking me if I was ok, if I was depressed, because I kept wanting to go to sleep early. But that was because I wanted the dreams to come and set me free. I was still recovering and I had to be careful. But as time progressed, I got better, my body got stronger – and then the visions of the ocean started to come during the daytime as well. I’d be in the supermarket, or walking on a particular street and then suddenly, I’d get this weird feeling – I’d feel like I needed to be in the ocean.” He shook his head. “I thought I was losing it.” 

“Were there any particular places you felt this more than others?” Jake asked, curious. 

Darren thought about it for a moment, “Yes… I remember one day I was driving to work – at Sound Spectrum – the music store here in Laguna Beach.”

“I know it well, still buy records there.” Jake smiled, remembering Gillian’s face when she’d find a new record she loved. 

“Right, well, there was this one day where, instead of going to work at the store I drove down to Thalia, parked my car and just walked down to the beach and jumped in the ocean. I felt like I needed the water on my body,” Darren began to laugh and the tension lifted as everyone laughed, imagining this grown man, leaping into the sea like a kid. “It was crazy! But I did it – and then of course, I started noticing surfers. Well, once I’d bought a surfboard, you couldn’t keep me off it. I’ve competed at Thalia, Long Beach, Brook Street. I love it.” 

“Which foot do you surf with?” Jake asked, interested. 

“I’m right-handed, but I surf goofy.” 

Jake slapped his knee. “Gillian was a goofy foot!” 

“It doesn’t surprise me,” Darren smiled. “I hated the ocean, couldn’t stand it, scared the life out of me. But not anymore, thanks to her.” Darren looked earnestly at Richard and Rita. “She changed my entire life, in more ways than I could ever comprehend.” 

Jake nodded – it was incredible to hear. “Did, you… was there anywhere else you felt drawn to?” 

Darren thought about it again and shrugged. “Y’know, I’m not sure, but I started going to Ruby Street Park now and then, just to eat my lunch some days when I worked at the record store. That was new. I still do it now even, sometimes – something about the place. But it’s probably nothing.” 

Jake smiled, he kept it to himself. It was between him and Gillian. He had moved away from town not long after the accident. He couldn’t stand the memories around every corner. Now he was back in Laguna Beach. Maybe there was something here for him again. It always seemed to him as a kid that people came to Laguna for something. To heal, to discover themselves, to live out a dream – something – and right now, he felt like he was living in a dream, staring at a man who was kept alive by Gillian’s heart. 

“What do the doctors say?” Jake asked now, curious. 

“They call it cellular memory; but it’s more than that, I’m telling you. They’ve been putting together people like me with the families of donors – if they’re willing, of course – and what they’ve been finding is astounding. People’s memories, their love, their fears – it seems to be carrying through in some donor organs and influencing the lives of their recipients.” 

Rita smiled at Darren as a tear rolled down her cheek, “Do you mind if I…” 

Darren knew exactly what she meant and stood up, walking toward her. She stood and they hugged, Rita placed her ear against Darren’s chest and listened to his heart beat. 

It’s you. Gillian’s words echoed in Jake’s mind. 

***

 Jake paddled out into the ocean far away from the other surfers, far away from the noise of the beach, until he could only hear his own breathing and feel his heart thundering in his chest. It was the first time he had been back on a board since Gillian. 

The sky was overcast and the sunset was hidden from view as dark cumulonimbus clouds clustered above. At the horizon a burning yellow light rose upwards, halted by the layer of cloud. Jake paused and sat upright on his board. He was alone. The ocean lapped calmly now and Garibaldis swam beneath his board. 

A pod of dolphins swam by, their dorsal fins bobbing in and out of view, and he felt one cold raindrop hit his cheek, he touched it with his fingers. It was California on the 29th of July –  Gillian’s birthday: it wouldn’t rain. The sun pierced the cloud and a beam of light cascaded downwards hitting the water beyond.

Jake looked back towards the beach in the distance. It had been many years since he had been back to Thalia Beach, and now here he was once more. He let out a sigh. He remembered one of their last conversations at Ruby Street Park. 

Gillian had said, “Everything has an element except humans. Dolphins have the ocean; they are one with it. They know how the water feels around their bodies – really feels; they’re symbiotic with the waves. Birds have the air – they feel it like it’s solid as rock. They carve their way through it and float upon it –  they use it to migrate thousands of miles without any dumb engine. Some creatures live in the trees and some in the earth, but what do we have? We can’t feel anything.” 

And then Jake had stopped her. He had looked her in the eyes and then Gillian had said, “We can feel love.” 

Jake said it out loud – We can feel love.


Steel sworn in as U.S. Congresswoman

Former Orange County Board of Supervisor Michelle Steel was sworn in as a member of the United States House of Representatives on Sunday, Jan. 3, to represent California’s 48th Congressional District.

Steel won the seat in the November election beating one-term Democrat incumbent Harley Rouda, garnering 51 percent of the vote. The final margin of victory was just over 8,000 votes on a total of nearly 400,000 cast.

“This is my American dream, and I am honored and humbled to serve my community as one of the first Korean-American women ever elected to Congress,” said Steel following the swearing-in. “Taking the oath of office to represent the nation that has blessed me with so many opportunities is a moment I will never forget.”

Steel sworn Michelle Steel

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Courtesy of the Office of Michelle Steel

Michelle Steel, member U.S. House of Representatives, California’s 48th District

Steel retired from her seat on the Board of Supervisors last week after serving for six years, including two as the chairwoman in 2017 and 2020.

“As the Chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, I was committed to supporting businesses owners and workers, fighting against high and unfair taxes, supporting our seniors, and making sure our veterans receive the care they so rightly deserve,” said Steel.

Prior to serving as the supervisor for the Second District, she served two terms on the State Board of Equalization as one of the state’s 12 constitutional officers – the nation’s only elected tax board – where she represented more than nine million residents, including all of Orange County. At the time, Steel was the highest-ranking Korean-American elected official in the United States.

Born in South Korea, Rep. Steel lived in Japan before emigrating to the United States. She has been married to her husband Shawn for 39 years. They have two daughters.

California’s 48th district includes Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, the unincorporated area of Midway City, and portions of Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and Westminster. 

Meanwhile, Rouda, Steel’s November opponent and an Emerald Bay resident, has already announced his intentions to attempt to regain the seat in 2022 and is actively fundraising to do so.


To 5G or not to 5G? City has little control

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Laguna Beach has little say in the installation of telecommunication facilities that keep locals talking on their cell phones.

In April, the city was compelled by the Federal Communications Commission to approve revisions to the guidelines for site selection, visual impact and screening of the facilities to create a comprehensive set of design criteria for small wireless facilities. City Manager John Pietig was directed to bring to the council potential strategies for city opportunities for regulating the facilities and associated infrastructure, over which the city has little authority. 

“We are trying to figure a way to map out 5G antenna sites to minimize their impact,” said Pietig.

The city has very little discretionary power over the facilities City Attorney Phil Kohn told the council at the April meeting.

Failure to adopt the regulations at that meeting would have meant the city would have defaulted to federal rules. 

Kohn told the council that the federal government had constrained, if not prohibited, local government regulations in telecommunication issues.

Local regulations related to radio frequency emission impacts on the environment, human health and safety concerns could not be imposed to restrict cell towers, according to City Attorney Travis Van Ligten. However, he did offer information that all wireless facilities in Laguna at that time met FCC regulations and were deemed safe.

Some residents disagreed.

Stacy Dumas said that technologies had not been proven to meet safety standards before they were being installed. Thomas Fleming said he was concerned about the radiation coming from cell towers. Cathy Bartels called pollution from the sites a crime against people and the environment.

There has also been griping about poles being installed for telecommunication facilities in neighborhoods where residents have made a considerable investment in undergrounding utility poles.

Tech supporter Matt Lawson countered that 5G was going to happen and the city should be mindful of the benefits as well as the concerns. 

Councilwoman Toni Iseman sympathized with the critics of the installations in April.

And still does.

Iseman has been hearing that 5G facilities have been installed in town and she wants to know whether the rumors are true.

“Staff tells me we don’t have any,” said Pietig.

Iseman has contacted Community Development Director Greg Pfost with a flurry of questions. 

“It still is very unclear to me how decisions are made regarding new and existing cell infrastructure,” Iseman emailed. “For example, I asked regarding the other 4G equipment near the Montessori School if they needed to go through a public process in order to upgrade it to a 5G.” 

She was informed that it was up to the director of the Planning Department.

Anthony Viera, who handles antenna reviews for the city, summed up the city’s position.

The City is prohibited from rendering decisions based on the technology utilized, and therefore the replacement of 4G equipment with 5G equipment is not considered in the review process and does not influence which review process to which a project is subject, Viera opined.

Furthermore: “As a courtesy to residents and businesses, the City issues a notice following the approval of each administrative use permit,” he reported. 

“The notice will identify the project scope and include a citation to the Federal requirements which prohibit the City from imposing a discretionary review process.

“We find that, at a minimum, the courtesy notice reduces the shock that residents might otherwise experience when they see construction workers making changes to antennas and related equipment.” Additionally, the director’s decision may be appealed to the City Council within 14 calendar days from the date of the decision.

“An expert concluded that the Cleo and Glenneyre equipment would not be a significant impact on the school,” Iseman noted. “But [the expert] was doing the research for this. That made it very clear that there is no plan for how cell infrastructure will be rolled out in the city and that the federal government has created a lot of rules to eliminate local power and grease the wheels.”

Iseman also asked Pfost if the city’s policies are the same as other communities that are pushing back against 5G.

The Sierra Club, which opposes 5G installations, issued a statement that the cities of Mill Valley, San Anselmo and Ross in Marin County, and Palm Beach, Fla. have adopted ordinances opposing 5G.

Pietig said staff is working on a report on that will be presented to the council this fall.


Local cancer survivor to be featured in Rose Parade TV special on January 1

Five cancer survivors who have ridden on City of Hope’s Rose Parade float in years past will share what the experience meant to them in a short video that will air January 1 during a two-hour Rose Parade TV entertainment special. 

The special will air on ABC, Hallmark Channel, KTLA, NBC, and RFD-TV at 8 a.m. and on Univision at 7 a.m. on January 1, 2021.

Donna McNutt, 59, Laguna Beach, Calif.: Donna McNutt was 54 years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 multiple myeloma, a rare blood cancer that forms in plasma cells of the immune system. An Orange County doctor said McNutt might be able to live five more years. McNutt didn’t believe in expiration dates and came to City of Hope to see a renowned blood cancer specialist. She received a lifesaving stem cell transplant and now has her cancer at bay. McNutt is able to make memories with her husband and three children. “I believe my relationships are the best they’ve ever been because I don’t wait until tomorrow to say something that I need to say today,” she said. (For her story, click here.)

Local cancer survivor Donna McNutt

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Submitted photo

Laguna Beach resident Donna McNutt 

The survivors will be accompanied by Stephen J. Forman, M.D., a City of Hope hematologist-oncologist who has ridden or walked alongside the comprehensive cancer center’s float for five years.

The world-renowned cancer research and treatment center has participated in the Rose Parade for 48 years. 

“In previous years when I participated in the Rose Parade, I was always struck by the large numbers of people along every block who recognize us, having themselves been touched by the care and research City of Hope does to help them or someone they know or love,” said Forman, director of the Hematologic Malignancies Research Institute at City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases.

“Many people recognize our float and yell words of encouragement or, in many cases, expressed profound heartfelt expressions of gratitude for City of Hope. Sometimes, without words, you could see the emotion in their faces in a quiet, thoughtful, and sometimes tearful way. Our connection to those people has less to do with the gorgeous design of our float’s floral display and more to do with how City of Hope is a special place of care.”

City of Hope has participated in the Rose Parade for 48 years. In the TV special, five cancer survivors from its 2019 and 2020 floats will reminisce about what the experience meant to them. Details about their cancer journey are below: 

Caitlin Herron, 16, Stevenson Ranch, Calif.: The chemotherapy and full-body radiation that then 12-year-old Caitlin Herron underwent to treat a rare form of leukemia potentially stunted her growth, sidetracked her puberty, and took away her ability to have children in the future. However, Herron, now 16 and in remission, said she prefers to think about the positive impact the disease has had. “Cancer made me want to do all I can to give back. I really want to be an advocate for anyone going through cancer because it’s a difficult process,” she said. Herron is now a sophomore in high school and hopes to inspire other cancer patients to continue to pursue their dreams despite all the hurdles and battles they may encounter. (For her story, click here.)

Local cancer survivor float

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Submitted photo

Rose Parade City of Hope float

Ivan Garcia-Burgos, 28, Mesa, Ariz.: Ivan Garcia-Burgos was 21 years old when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a blood cancer that hinders the body’s ability to fight infection. Garcia-Burgos endured high doses of chemotherapy to prepare his body for a stem cell transplant. He lost 50 pounds over the course of his treatment and said, “There were times that I wanted to call it quits.” But he remembered all he still had to live for and decided to fight. He is now cancer-free and has created a nonprofit called Ivan’s Choice Leukemia Foundation (www.ivanschoice.org) to pay it forward and give families insight so that they’re more emotionally prepared to handle the disease and treatment. (For his story, click here.) 

Jeff Carpenter, 60, South Pasadena, Calif.: Jeff Carpenter was 56 years old when he was given a grim diagnosis: lung cancer that had spread to his brain. He was astonished because he had never smoked a day in his life, but the condition explained his uncharacteristic panic attacks, erratic behavior, blurred vision, and bouts of nonsensical speech. In the emergency room, he was told he had three to six months to live. As a man who had devoted 11 years to building his own airplane, Carpenter knows what it means to be resilient and dream big. He came to City of Hope, underwent intricate brain surgery, radiation therapy, and leading-edge targeted therapy that eliminated all tumors in his lungs and brain. (For his story, click here.)

Abraham Laboriel, 73, Tarzana, Calif. (fluent in Spanish): When Abraham Laboriel was diagnosed with a blood cancer called multiple myeloma in 2016, he swore he wouldn’t let the disease beat him. He chose to be treated at City of Hope because his wife, a pediatrician, told him, “We need to find a doctor who doesn’t find your case ‘interesting.’ City of Hope has performed more than 15,000 bone marrow and stem cell transplants. We’re going there.” During the two-week transplant process, Laboriel and his wife stayed in a bungalow on campus at City of Hope where he could eat home-cooked meals in a private space and play musical instruments with his two sons. Laboriel, originally from Mexico, is recognized by many as “the most widely used session bassist of our time.” He has played in more than 4,000 recordings and soundtracks, including Coco, Jurassic World, Frozen, The Incredibles, and Incredibles 2. He has worked with people such as Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Dolly Parton, Elton John, Ray Charles, and Madonna. (For his story, click here.)

City of Hope is an independent biomedical research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases. Founded in 1913, City of Hope is a leader in bone marrow transplantation and immunotherapy such as CAR T cell therapy. City of Hope’s translational research and personalized treatment protocols advance care throughout the world. Human synthetic insulin and numerous breakthrough cancer drugs are based on technology developed at the institution. A National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, City of Hope has been ranked among the nation’s “Best Hospitals” in cancer by U.S. News & World Report for 14 consecutive years. Its main campus is located near Los Angeles, with additional locations throughout Southern California including in Newport Beach.

For more information about City of Hope, go to www.cityofhope.org.


COVID-19 UPDATE: As of April 3

According to data released by the Orange County Heath Agency today, Friday, April 3, Laguna Beach has the highest per capita rate of reported COVID-19 cases, 1.242 cases per 1,000 residents. Reported cases in Laguna Beach increased to a total of 29, though just one new case was reported in Laguna Beach today.

Laguna Beach City Manager John Pietig is among the reported Laguna Beach cases.

“I am in good spirits, will continue to work from home, and expect to make a full recovery,” Pietig said.

Pietig participated in the March 31 City Council meeting at which he announced that City Hall, city and county beaches, beach parking, parks, trailheads, city and school district athletic fields and sports courts, and the city’s trolley service will be closed though April. Closures will be reviewed by the council at future meetings.

The public may comment on agenda items or non-agenda item by email to City Clerk Lisette Chel-Walker at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Completed forms must be submitted no later than 3 p.m. on April 6 for the April 7 meeting, which gives council members time to review comments.

Written comments may be submitted up to noon on April 7. These comments will be provided to the council at 3 p.m., prior to the meeting, which may not give council members sufficient time to review them before the meeting, according to city release.   

Comments may be submitted to the city clerk by email during the meeting. The city will attempt to identify the writers and their positions on the air but the public is advised to keep the comments brief and to the point or they likely will not be read into the record and only summarized. 

Check the city’s website on April 7 to see if a call-in or link system has been added to the communication menu.

COVID 19 Update

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Governor Newsom’s stay at home order has been in effect since March 19

The City Council on Tuesday took an even-handed approach to the problem of renters of residential and business properties facing eviction for non-payment of rent, as well as the effect on landlords who may be depending on the income from tenants.

No formal vote was taken, but all five council members agreed to sending letters to property owners asking them not to pursue eviction for overdue rent through May 31, but also directed staff to formulate an urgency ordinance requiring landlords to defer rental payments and evictions during the COVID-19 crisis. The ordinance is expected to be on the council’s April 7 agenda. 

Council members said the city must be fair to both landlords and renters, some of them fearing evictions while they are unable to work due to illness, are staying at home to prevent the spread of the virus, or are not employed in essential industries. 

Via email to the council: “Due to the [COVID-19] crisis, my partner was laid off and I’ve lost 18K in bookings, which I will not recover,” wrote Laguna Beach photographer Geoff Ragatz. “Any future work is cut off until this crisis moves forward.

“Thankfully, we have a bit of savings to get us through the next couple of months, but after that, not having any work will become an issue. Add to that, my lease is coming due.” 

Ragat said he has no intention of not paying rent, but also no intention of signing a 12-month lease in these troubled times. 

“I am sure there are plenty of people in town who rent or lease under the same circumstances,” Ragatz wrote.

He asked the council to consider their plight. 

Ragatz’s email was in response to a recommendation by Mayor Bob Whalen and City Manager John Pietig, who also serves as Director of Emergency Services for the city, to urge landlords to defer any action against tenants adversely affected by the pandemic. 

Catherine Jurca urged the council by email to go further than sending a letter to landlords and put a moratorium on all evictions through May 31.

“I should say that I have no skin in the game,” wrote Jurca. “My partner and I are homeowners with ample resources and steady jobs, even in this crisis, for which we are grateful.

“But others are not so fortunate. Please use your authority to protect people from the terrible economic consequences of this disease.”

The proclamation of the existence of a local emergency issued by Pietig and ratified by the council at the March 17 meeting, authorized the city manger to make and enforce rules and regulations for the protection of life, health, safety, and general welfare of people and property within the city related to the local emergency.

All essential services are in operation. 

-Compiled by Barbara Diamond


The William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation donates $17 million to nonprofits 

The William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation (“the Foundation”), the charity founded by retired asset manager Bill Gross and his son and daughter, announced this week that it donated a total of $17 million to 51 nonprofits in 2020, including $2.4 million targeted toward COVID-19 relief efforts in Southern California and around the world. 

During a year when the need was greater than ever, the Foundation donated to organizations providing for both food as well as medical aid related to the devastating effects of COVID-19. The Foundation’s largest donation of $3.5 million went to Doctors Without Borders, which is responding to COVID-19 in more than 70 countries by caring for patients, offering health education and mental health support, providing training for vital infection control measures in health facilities, and supporting response efforts by local authorities. 

The William closeup

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Bill Gross

Locally, the Foundation gave to organizations providing COVID-19 relief including the Second Harvest Food Bank, Orange County Food Bank, the Laguna Food Pantry, and United Way of Greater Los Angeles. Additional donations continue the Foundation’s support of meaningful activities around the world that include an effort to end life-threatening hunger in 47 countries (Action Against Hunger), international human rights campaigns (the VII Foundation), the promotion of practical solutions for sustainable development (the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network), and homelessness (the Salvation Army’s homeless shelter program). 

“Jennifer, Jeff, and I have tried this year to identify and support organizations doing their best to bring relief and assistance during the pandemic,” said Mr. Gross, the co-founder of PIMCO, a signatory to the Giving Pledge, and a longtime resident of Orange County. “I believe in donating to where it can do the most good, when it is most needed. Whether it is restaurant employees, domestic workers or unemployed musicians, anyone affected by the pandemic, whether directly or indirectly, deserves assistance to help get through this challenging time.”

The William Laguna Food Pantry

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Laguna Food Pantry, a recipient of donation from the William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation

The following nonprofits providing COVID-19 relief or affected by the pandemic received donations from the William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation in 2020: Laguna Beach Community Clinic, Laguna Food Pantry, Sally’s Fund, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, Laguna Beach Festival of Arts, Friendship Shelter, Ocean Institute, Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, Orange County Food Bank, National Domestic Workers Alliance Coronavirus Care Fund, World Central Kitchen, MusiCares, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, Christ Child House, Mission Hospital, ʻĀina Ho’okupu o Kīlauea, CASA of Los Angeles, Orange County United Way Pandemic Relief Fund, OneOC Emergency Volunteer Center, Orange County Rescue Mission, and Someone Cares Soup Kitchen. Recipients of donations of more than $1 million include: Doctors Without Borders – $3,508,000, Action Against Hunger – $2,806,400, VII Foundation – 

$1,520,000, and Salvation Army Homeless Shelter Anaheim – $1,403,200. 

Other recipients of donations included: Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Lestonnac Free Clinic, Harbor Day School, Think Equal, Millennium Promise, Share Our Selves, US Coalition on Sustainability, Pharia Foundation

American Indian College Fund, Columbia University, World Childhood Foundation, charity: water, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Climate Nexus,

Kauai Community Cat Project, Food on Foot, GRAMMY Museum, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Stray Cat Alliance, CHOC Children’s Foundation, Ecumenical Hunger Program, Hoag Sport Charity, and OutFront Minnesota Community Services 

These contributions support Bill, Jeff and Jennifer Gross’s longstanding commitment to provide financial resources to organizations that provide a direct benefit to the communities in which they serve. The Foundation’s contributions have made a meaningful impact to local communities throughout Southern California and globally, and provide financial support to those in need through contributions in three primary areas: Humanitarian Efforts, Education, and Healthcare. Mr. Gross is a signatory to the Giving Pledge, a global, multi-generational commitment by some of the world’s wealthiest individuals and couples to give a majority of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes, either during their lifetimes or in their wills. 

For more information about the William, Jeff and Jennifer Gross Family Foundation, visit www.grossfamilyfoundation.com

For additional information about Bill Gross, visit www.williamhgross.com.


COVID-19 numbers climb in Orange County: 31 reported cases in Laguna Beach

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, April 4, show that COVID-19 numbers continue to climb throughout the county, with 31 reported cases in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach, with a population base of 23,358, has the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 cases in Orange County at a rate of 1.327 cases per 1,000 residents. Two new cases were reported in Laguna Beach today. 

Newport Beach (population 87,180) and Irvine (population 280,202) both have 70 reported cases of COVID-19, per capita rates of 0.803 and 0.250 per 1,000 residents, respectively.

There are 786 cumulative reported cases to date in Orange County, including 75 new cases reported today, resulting in, sadly, 14 deaths. 112 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 71 are currently in ICU, up by 33 from yesterday.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

COVID 19 numbers climb 1

COVID 19 numbers climb 2

COVID 19 numbers climb 3

COVID 19 numbers climb 4

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 4;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


New rounds of funding now available for qualifying small businesses

This week the application period to apply under the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program opened. Businesses now have until January 8 to do so.

Small businesses will be eligible for grants from between $5,000-$25,000, depending on revenues.

The approval process for notifications on the first round will begin on January 13.

A second round of grants will occur at an as-yet-to-be-determined date in the future. Applicants who submitted their application and submitted all documentation in the first round do not need to reapply; qualified applications will be automatically rolled over into the next funding round for consideration.

Round 2 is the final application window for the program. Grant awards for businesses in the second application window will be made in two decision rounds for funding.

Grant amounts for both rounds range from $5,000-$25,000 based on the business’ annual revenue that is documented in their most recent tax return. Businesses with $1,000-$100,000 in annual revenue are eligible for $5,000; greater than $100,000 up to $1,000,000 are eligible for $15,000; and, greater than $1,000,000 up to $2,500,000 are eligible for $25,000.

To find the necessary documents to file, go to https://careliefgrant.com/.

Eligibility requirements for businesses are as follows:

--Must meet the definition of an “eligible small business” meaning a sole proprietor, independent contractor, 1099 work, and/or registered “for-profit” business entity (e.g. C-corporation, S-corporation, limited liability company, partnership) that has yearly gross revenue of $2.5 million or less (but at least $1,000 in yearly gross revenue) based on the most recently filed tax return) or a “small nonprofit” (registered 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) having yearly gross revenue of $2.5 million or less (but at least $1,000 in yearly gross revenue) based on the most recently filed Form 990).

--Active businesses or nonprofits operating since at least June 1, 2019.

--Businesses must currently be operating or have a clear plan to reopen once the State of California permits reopening of the business.

--Business must be impacted by COVID-19, and the health and safety restrictions such as business interruptions or business closures incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

--Business must be able to provide organizing documents including 2018 or 2019 tax returns or Form 990s, a copy of an official filing with the California Secretary of State, if applicable, or local municipality for the business such as one of the following: Articles of Incorporation, Certificate of Organization, Fictitious Name of Registration, or Government-Issued Business License.

--Business must be able to provide acceptable form of government-issued photo ID (such as a Driver’s License or Passport).

--Applicants with multiple business entities, franchises, locations, etc. are not eligible for multiple grants and are only allowed to apply once using their eligible small business with the highest revenue.

Grants will be determined by:

--Geographic distribution based on COVID-19 health and safety restrictions following California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and county status and the new Regional Stay-At-Home Order.

--Industry sectors most impacted by the pandemic.

--Underserved small business groups served by the state-supported network of small business centers (i.e. businesses majority owned and run on a daily basis by women, minorities/persons of color, veterans, and businesses located in low-to-moderate income and rural communities).

To apply, go to https://careliefgrant.com/.


Sunset surfing

Sunset surfing sky

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Under a red-orange sky, surfers enjoy the last bit of light as it falls into a layer of clouds


COVID-19 counts pass 1,000 cases in OC 

The County of Orange surpassed 1,000 reported COVID-19 cases today, April 8, with a cumulative case count of 1,016 and 91 new cases. The first Orange County case of COVID-19 was reported on January 25. To date, the County is reporting 17 deaths.

The County Public Health lab and reporting labs have tested 11,791 people, of which 8.6 percent were confirmed positive with COVID-19.

In an effort to flatten the curve, the California Department of Public Health has ordered residents to shelter in place with the exception of those who work in essential functions or for essential activities, like grocery shopping.

On Friday, April 3, the OC Health Care website www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus began including a hospitalization chart showing cases over time so the community can access historical data on the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.

“While we want to provide information that best educates our community during this pandemic, it’s important to understand that hospitalization numbers capture a point in time and will fluctuate daily,” said County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick. “Looking at historical data over a period of weeks can give us a better understanding of trends in our community.” 

“We are grateful for the local and state partnerships that have allowed us to take the necessary measures to ensure Orange County is prepared for a likely increase in demand on our hospitals,” said Chairwoman Michelle Steel, Second District. “We will continue to assess the situation and determine any additional steps we need to take to ensure our community will have the services it needs.”


Where’s Maggi?

Where did Maggi spy this sculpture? Let us know if you’ve seen it too!

Send your answers in to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The location will be revealed in Tuesday’s edition, and we’ll let you know who got it right.

Where's Maggi 12 25 20

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Led by Laguna frontman, The Alive launches video of “The Man” produced by local filmmaker

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Just last week, the rock band The Alive launched a video featuring their new song, “The Man.” Led by local Bastian Evans, who sings lead vocals and plays guitar, The Alive also features brothers Kai Neukermans, 16, on drums and Manoa Neukermans,12, on bass guitar. 

Coincidentally, this article comes out on Bastian’s birthday, so today he turns 16. Happy Birthday, Bastian!

To add to the local connection, Laguna’s own Tate Warner directed, filmed, and edited the music video for this track – filmed in Laguna within a 24-hour period. Tate also took the “The Man” photo and created the art that became the graphic for the single.

Chris Evans, Bastian’s dad, says, “The instruments were all recorded in L.A. but some of the vocals were actually recorded at our house in Laguna.”

Friendships go way back

Tate and Bastian have been friends since middle school and are now both juniors at Laguna Beach High School.

The Alive friendships go back even further. Bastian, Kai, and Manoa have been skating and surfing together since the boys were between ages six and eight. 

“Kai and I were in our first band The Helmets from when we were eight years old. We learned a lot and played amazing shows like Lollapalooza Chicago, Argentina, Chile, Austin City Limits, and BottleRock,” says Bastian. 

Led by band

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Photo by Geoff Whitman

The Alive: (L-R) Bastian Evans, Kai Neukermans, and Manoa Neukermans

“When that band broke up, we wanted to start a new band. We were kind of the ‘survivors’ or ‘still alive.’ We thought it would be cool to have a positive and inclusive name. One of our favorite bands is The Bad Brains who always talk about PMA or positive mental attitude. So The Alive seemed like a good positive name.” 

The Alive formed in 2018 when Bastian, Kai, and Manoa were between 11 and 13 years old. According to a 2018 interview in Riff Magazine, Bastian said, “We were looking for a bass player and a singer for a while, and Manoa played bass. Because he was the brother of the drummer, he was there, always around.” 

They are influenced by Queens of the Stone Age, Black Sabbath, Rush, Herbie Hancock, and The Meters.

Since The Alive launched, they’ve built a noteworthy resume of shows including some major festival sets.

Managing the logistics and details of performing – from booking shows, coordinating travel, to recording, mixing, marketing, social media, and then releasing or publishing songs – would be daunting for any musicians, especially for those as young as The Alive band members.

Chris says, “We handle management among all of the parents – but we’re encouraging the boys to participate and to learn as much as possible about the whole process.” 

Led by Bottlerock

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Photo by Graham Clark

The Alive performing at BottleRock

They’ve performed at Lollapalooza Chicago, Argentina, Chile, Austin City Limits, WSL Kelly Slater’s The Founder’s Cup, BottleRock’s main stage, Boardmasters England, Ohana Fest, Sold-Out Jam Cellars Ballroom with Taylor Hawkins’ Chevy Metal, Bowlpark Chile, Punta de Lobos Chile, Deadfamous Newquay England, Surf Music & Friends Spain, ISA World Surfing Games, KJEE July 4, and more. 

Kai and Manoa live in San Francisco, so they send ideas back and forth for writing, and they travel to rehearse before big shows.

Although their final musical products are a collaboration, Bastian says, “I write a lot of the lyrics and melodies because I’m singing vocals, but we all write and create together. We’ve all had teachers and coaches helping us to get better at playing our instruments. Also learning about recording, writing, and publishing music. We’ve learned a lot from other musicians about touring, playing festivals without sound checks, and making sure you have the right gear.”    

Led by Bastian

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Photo by Geoff Whitman

Bastian Evans

The Alive was named one of Stab Magazine’s “30 Under 30 Culture Shifters of Tomorrow” and the boys have been featured in Whalebone Magazine NY, Fuel TV, Santa Cruz Waves, Riff Magazine, Surfline, Guitar Player, Soundwaves TV and Blurred Culture. Combining their passion for surfing, ocean conservation and music, The Alive! has performed benefit concerts for Surfrider Foundation, Surfers Against Sewage in England, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, and Save The Waves. They are BYOBottle artists working to reduce single-use plastics.

There’s no doubt “The Man” has an agenda. Bastian says, “The song is based on anyone that is clearly lying to you. It can be for anyone or a politician that is openly trying to deceive us and damaging our future for their gain. As kids, we’re not allowed to lie or cheat in school or at home. We’ll get in trouble. But it seems like our government leaders are dishonest all of the time. Being dishonest or hiding the truth should not be okay for anyone. We’re not old enough to vote but our generation can see what’s happening and we don’t want to ‘wear the legacy’ as we say in the song.”   

Regarding partnering with Tate, Bastian says, “We worked on the idea for the video with Tate before filming and then Tate crushed it filming, directing, and editing! We had so much fun. I’ve been friends with Tate since 7th grade when we moved here from Santa Barbara. Tate is on the surf team with me, and he’s been friends with Manoa and Kai for a few years too – he’s been with us for Ohana Fest set and BottleRock and other shows. He’s a really creative and talented photographer and filmmaker.”

Led by Tate

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Submitted photo 

Tate Warner

Tate started by filming friends and family. Tate says, “I started making quick videos of my friends getting clobbered in shore break when I was 11. Then I would document family road trips, and all of a sudden, I was shooting concerts, models, brands, and bands. Huge thanks to The Alive for putting me to work.” 

Ben Warner, who is Tate’s dad and founder and executive director of the Coast Film Festival, says, “We’re really proud of Tate for what he has accomplished and for his ongoing passion for making videos and films. He works hard at improving his talent. He’s got a creative eye and studies other filmmakers, especially old school ones, and shoots as often as he can. Growing up in Laguna Beach has helped him too. The surf and active lifestyle and a posse of friends motivated him to make videos when he was younger. He still shoots with his friends and has mentors that give him access to some pretty cool shoots. Even with all of that, he still remains focused on doing well at school and going to college.” 

Performances postponed due to pandemic

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of The Alive performances for this year have been postponed until 2021, but they have been spending a lot of time writing, composing, and mixing their originals. 

Bastian says, “We had Lollapalooza Chile, Shaky Knees in Atlanta, BottleRock Napa and Japan all postponed…all because of COVID. We were so bummed, but we feel really sad for all of the people that work at those festivals or tour full time. COVID has been really hard for them. The promoters, stage crew, roadies, artist relations, security, catering, and even the parking crew – they’ve all always been so cool to us.”     

To Laguna, The Alive say, “Thanks for the support! Hopefully, we can play more shows in Laguna Beach soon.”

Download or stream their new single, “The Man,” and check out the video by Tate Warner on YouTube by clicking here. 

Check out Tate’s short videos on Instagram @t8warner and on Youtube.


Woman’s Club thanks community for supporting annual Adopt-a-Family program 

This year has certainly not been a typical year. As a result, organizations found it necessary to adapt to these unprecedented times by reaching out for help to continue traditions of helping families during the holidays.

The Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach did something they’ve never done before in order to continue their program of adopting local children from families in need during the holidays. 

They asked the community for help. 

And the community delivered! 

“The Club has a very long history of participating in an Adopt-a-Family program,” says Acting President Kitty Malcolm. “In the past, we were able to raise money to buy gifts for children of lower-income families through the Tarnished Treasures sale. 

“In the last two years, we switched from the sale to holding a Paddle Raise at our Holiday Luncheon. This helped raise more money, which enabled us to adopt more children.” 

However, due to the COVID-19 limitations, the Clubhouse has been closed since March, and the Club has not been able to continue its business as a rental venue, which is their primary source of income. 

Woman's Club presents

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Wrapped gifts for Adopt-a-Family

“Like many others in our community, our financial situation has been significantly reduced,” says Kitty, “and with no immediate end in sight, we were concerned we would not be able to participate in the program this year. Our members have always been very generous in supporting our programs, and that generosity grew to the point that in the last few years we were able to purchase all of the gifts on the Wish List of each child.” 

According to Nancy Shurtleff, Chair of the Adopt-a-Family committee, with the community’s help this year, gifts were purchased for 34 local children in need. 

Shurtleff comments that the major items these kids ask for are clothing and a toy. “This year, due to the outpouring of generosity of our members and the Laguna community, we expanded our Adopt-a-Family program to include the local Waymakers Youth Shelter and the six at-risk children who will be staying there during this Christmas holiday. We were able to provide Christmas stockings filled with gifts, as well as hygiene products, blankets, sports, and exercise equipment.” 

Waymakers Laguna Beach Youth Shelter provides caring and healing housing and support for abused, at-risk youth, and children experiencing mental health crises between the ages of 12-17. 

Woman's Club firemen

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Woman’s Club partnered with LBFD on “Spark of Love” campaign

Malcolm says, “We also expanded our support of local children by ‘adopting’ and partnering with our Laguna Beach Fire Department and their ‘Spark of Love’ Toy Drive for local children in need this holiday season. We provided 35 gifts, including games, basketballs, and soccer balls. Nancy and Kathleen Reedy are the angels behind this program. Most of their time starting right after Thanksgiving is spent identifying the children, purchasing the gifts, wrapping the gifts, and then managing to get them all ready so that the families can pick them up right before Christmas. Countless woman-hours are spent pulling this all together, and these ladies continue to do it with an undaunted spirit. 

“We know many people are hurting and feeling lost, lonely, and sad at this time. Many organizations are not as prosperous as they were last year, yet the community and our membership really pulled through for us and these children. 

“We are so thankful for their compassion and kindness! Thank You, Laguna!” 

The mission of Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach is to provide a nurturing environment for women and encourage them to develop and enrich social friendships, gain knowledge, and provide services within our community in meaningful activities. 

The Woman’s Club is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. The Club’s tax-exempt Federal ID# is 95-1694579. 

The Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach is located at 286 St Ann’s Dr.

For more on the Club, visit www.wclb.org, call (949) 497-1200, follow on Facebook @womanscluboflaguna.beach, and on Instagram @womanscluboflaguna.


A sunset farewell to 2020

By Tom Brotherton




LBUSD COVID-19 Dashboard

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Courtesy of LBUSD

For more information and to access the dashboard, visit www.lbusd.org/resources/covid19/covid-19-reporting

 


Governor Newsom announces upcoming Regional California Stay at Home Orders

Yesterday, December 3, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new Regional Stay at Home Order that will go into effect if intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity drops below 15 percent in a region.

As of Friday afternoon, December 4, 2020, this order is not currently in effect. The state predicts the Southern California region will be under these restrictions in “early December,” as soon as the Southern California region reaches 15 percent intensive care unit capacity or below. The Southern California region includes the following counties: Orange, Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.

According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), current projections show that without additional intervention to slow the spread of COVID-19, the number of available adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds in the State of California will be at capacity in mid-December. This is a sign that the rate of rise in cases, if it continues, is at risk of overwhelming the ability of California hospitals to deliver healthcare to its residents suffering from COVID-19 and from other illnesses requiring hospital care. ICU beds are a critical resource for individuals who need the most advanced support and care and the ability to add additional ICU capacity is limited by the lack of available ICU nurses and physicians as a result of the nationwide surge in hospitalizations and ICU admissions. 

Because the rate of increases in new cases continues to escalate and threatens to overwhelm the state’s hospital system, further aggressive action is necessary to respond to the quickly evolving situation. While vaccines are promising future interventions, they are not available to address the immediate risks to healthcare delivery in the current surge. The immediate aggressive institution of additional non-pharmaceutical public health interventions is critical to avoid further overwhelming hospitals and to prevent the need to ration care.

Governor Newsom announces

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Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

The Regional Stay At Home Order will go into effect within 24 hours in regions with less than 15 percent ICU availability. It prohibits private gatherings of any size, closes sector operations except for critical infrastructure and retail, which will be allowed to operate at 20 percent capacity, and requires 100 percent masking and physical distancing in all others. Worship and political expression are permitted outdoors, consistent with existing guidance for those activities. Restaurant takeout and food delivery will continue to be permitted.

The order will remain in effect for at least three weeks and, after that period, will be lifted when a region’s projected ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15 percent. This will be assessed on a weekly basis after the initial three-week period. 

Click here for more information about the order.


Laguna Beach and 20 other cities file brief supporting Sheriff

Yesterday, December 24, the City of Laguna Beach joined 20 other Orange County cities filing a legal brief supporting Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes’ challenge to a court order mandating the release of more than 1,000 inmates.

This legal challenge was filed in response to a December 11 order by the Orange County Superior Court to release up to half of the total inmate population from Orange County jails, in a declared effort to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. If the order stands, the inmates could be released in early January.

The Laguna Beach City Council on Monday, Dec 21 voted to support Sheriff Barnes in his legal challenge to this court order. The following cities have also joined the effort: Cypress, Dana Point, Garden Grove, La Habra, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Stanton, Westminster, Tustin, Yorba Linda, and Villa Park. 

The amicus brief contends that the trial court’s ruling did not provide adequate deference to the discretion provided to the duly-elected Sheriff Barnes under the controlling legal authorities. Instead, the trial court improperly gave itself the discretion properly afforded Sheriff Barnes. That kind of discretion requires careful analysis of risk factors, such as the potential for recidivism and risk to known victims and potential victims. Such an analysis was lacking in the trial court’s order.

Further, Sheriff Barnes has already taken significant action to reduce the jail population by releasing nonviolent offenders and medically vulnerable inmates during 2020. The brief argues that the focus on an inmate potentially catching COVID inside the jail fails to consider an inmate’s chances of catching COVID outside the jail too. The news is replete with stories showing the recent and significant increased risk of catching COVID by law-abiding citizens.


LBUSD COVID-19 Dashboard

LBUSD COVID 19 Dashboard 1 5 21

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Courtesy of LBUSD

For more information and to access the dashboard, visit www.lbusd.org/resources/covid19/covid-19-reporting

 


“Stay-at-Home Order” continues

Tuesday of this week, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that the Southern California region will remain under the State of California’s “Regional Stay-at-Home Order.” The County of Orange, along with 10 other Southern California counties, were originally placed under the state’s regional stay-at-home order on December 3.

As a result, Orange County residents will continue to be required to stay at home as much as possible and not gather with other households to reduce exposure due to our region’s available intensive care unit (ICU) capacity being under 15 percent.

The Southern California region may come out of the stay-at-home order if at such time hospital ICU capacity projected four weeks out reaches above or equal to 15 percent.

Then, individual counties such as the County of Orange will return to the appropriate Blueprint for a Safer Economy tier as determined by case rate and test positivity. If the ICU capacity for the Southern California region is less than 15 percent after the three-week period, the ICU capacity will be assessed weekly to determine when the order can be lifted.

For more information, visit the state’s COVID-19 website at https://covid19.ca.gov

There are several steps Orange County residents can do at this time:

--Get tested for COVID-19, especially those with any symptoms.

--If you test positive for COVID-19, stay home and let close contacts know. A close contact is someone you were within six feet of for at least 15 minutes within a 24-hour period during the infectious period.

--Stay home if you don’t feel well. 

--Stay home when possible, and when you leave the house, avoid crowds and stay six feet apart from people not in your household.

--Do not gather and do not mix households.

--Wear a face covering when you are around people not in your household, especially when indoors.

--Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

--Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

--Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

--Understand and comply with the State’s Guideline for Your Business and Events.

Orange County residents can search for a business or activity type by visiting https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/.


Like-minded groups show unity at Summit

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Councilman Peter Blake’s statements made against Village Laguna and its members, and ads placed by others accusing the organization of a variety of misdeeds, appear to have re-energized the group.

A standing room only crowd, estimated at 200 or more, attended a meeting Tuesday night at the Neighborhood Congregational Church organized and underwritten by Village Laguna. The meeting featured speakers from local, nonprofit community groups concerned about the direction in which the city is headed. 

“We need to protect what we have,” said George Weiss, past president of the Laguna Beach Beautification Council. “The charm and character of Laguna Beach is what we need to protect. We need to make sure Laguna isn’t overdeveloped.”

The meeting focused on three main topics: preserving the city’s heritage, protecting the environment and preventing overdevelopment – the hot-button issue said facilitator Merrill Anderson, who explained the format. Speakers each had two minutes to explain their concerns and why their organization was participating in what was billed as a Summit. Following the speeches, the audience was encouraged to post comments on any or all of the three topics and to volunteer their services to help the cause.

“Those comments are being compiled and the results will be sent to folks who left their email addresses,” Village Laguna President Johanna Felder said Wednesday. “We will also hold a follow-up meeting to discuss a plan on how to move forward.”

Felder was the first speaker from the represented groups. 

“It used to be that big planning projects in our city were made collaboratively,” said Felder.

Community groups, often at odds with one another, and city staff worked together to prepare a document that reflected a consensus of shared values, she said. 

“Arguing for respect for these values at a council meeting nowadays is likely to expose the speaker to scorn and name calling from the [council] dais and other members of the audience,” said Felder. 

She hypothesized that is likely to have a chilling effect on public participation – what Blake refers to negatively as “activism.” (By definition, elected officials are activists.)

“We need to speak up and insist that it stop,” said Felder. “We hope this meeting will help us develop a shared understanding of the challenges facing Laguna Beach and what we can do together to meet them.”

Council meeting regular Jennifer Zeiter said after the meeting that it was worth going to. 

She observed one heartwarming occurrence. Two neighbors with opposing views seated next to one another at the meeting talked and found they had more in common than they thought.

Zeiter would have liked to see more groups such as LGBTQ included. She thinks different perspectives would have added meat to the meeting. 

“We need to find a balance between pro-development and charm,” said Zeiter, “I didn’t see that balance at the meeting.” 

Developers Mo Honarkar and Cindy Shopoff, both donors to a well-endowed anti-Village Laguna PAC, wanted to buy a table at the meeting, but were refused admission, as were “Let Laguna Live” members.

“We informed them that it was not a public meeting,” said Felder. “We weren’t looking for a debate.”

 Plans for the meeting had been in works for about two months. The only unexpected glitch was the unexpected number of like-minded folks who attended.

“We were overwhelmed and delighted,” said Felder.

Most of the speakers had the same playbook. Many, if not most, fear that “big money” and changes to the development process will homogenize the city. Better communication between the organizations is needed to preserve Laguna’s unique identity, according to Charlotte Masarik.

“We don’t stay here with such fervent loyalty, people don’t move here and visitors don’t come here to find a place like every other California city,” said former Mayor Ann Christoph. “We all know how Laguna’s quirkiness, small scale and beauty are appreciated. We can’t let that be worn away on our watch.”

The groups represented at the meeting included the Canyon Alliance of Neighborhoods Defense Organization. President Penny Milne said overdevelopment of the canyon is a major concern of the residents. 

“Almost five years ago, the city authorized the Laguna Canyon Planning Study,” said Milne. “Hundreds of us spent thousands of hours to characterize and develop standards around what the canyon is and what it should be. “Despite three years of input and two years of waiting, we are no further forward in protection for the canyon.”

They want it in writing.

Speakers also included representatives of Laguna Greenbelt, Transition Laguna, Laguna Canyon Conservancy, the Laguna Beach Democratic Club, the Urban Tree Fund, Top of the World Neighborhood Association, the South Laguna Civic Association, the Laguna Beach Beautification Council and the Historic Preservation Coalition.  

Donations were requested at the meeting to help defray costs. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Loveseat Conversations

Loveseat conversations white

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Photo by Scott Brashier

“Loveseat Conversations” during the daytime. Laguna Beach artist Gerard Basil Stripling has responded creatively to the pandemic with his latest sculpture, currently on exhibit on the front lawn of City Hall. This timely and fitting temporary sculpture installation, created of acrylic, will be on exhibit through January 8, 2021.


Where’s Maggi?

If you’re walking around, solo, distanced, and enjoying our town, perhaps you’ve been where Maggi has been…Where is this?

Send your answers in to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The location will be revealed in Tuesday’s edition, and we’ll let you know who got it right.

Where's Maggi 1 8 21

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Follow the yellow brick road

Follow the girl

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Golden pathway from Cleo Street to Catalina Island. “Dorothy, you’re not in Kansas anymore.” (Slightly reimagined from “The Wizard of Oz”)


Residents question wisdom of 5G installations

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The City Council on Tuesday took steps to maintain as much control as possible over the design and location of proposed installations of small wireless facilities, based on a recommendation by city staff and consultants. 

HG Green consultants made a presentation to the council, which included an overview of the new 5G and fiber installations technologies and the challenges in complying with federal law, which has preempted local authority over small cell wireless facility installations and management of local rights-of-way. What city officials and residents want and what can be done are subject to federal regulations. 

“We may not have a choice,” said City Manager John Pietig. “There are legal impediments to the city’s powers.”

Residents weigh in

The possible effects of small cell installations on health concerned many of the 26 speakers at the three-hour-long hearing on Tuesday. Speakers complained of headaches, nose bleeds and cancer due to proximity to telecommunication installations.

“Fight,” said John Hensley. “My career is in technology, but I don’t embrace 5G. There are a lot of health issues.”

Emergency & Disaster Preparedness Committee member Tim Templeton had a different view. He said the council should be mindful of 5G’s critical role in enabling more rapid, better targeted and more informative emergency alerts. 

“But emergency warning systems are only as effective as the mobile networks that support them,” said Templeton. “And according to RootMetrics data – the accepted standard – much of the city experiences inferior wireless coverage.”

City consultant David Zelenok said he has in his home a P.O.T.S., an acronym for Plain Old Telephone Service. Emergency Operations Coordinator Jordan Villwock has advised keeping a landline to be used in the event of an emergency when cell towers may not be functioning

What’s Next?

Six staff recommendations were approved for action:

--An amendment to the municipal code adding conditions for individual below grade, non-discretionary permits.

--While the amendment is being processed, staff should review right-of-way work permit applications for all fiber optic cable installations that service proposed small cell locations being reviewed by the Planning Commission. Once approved by the commission, Public Works shall issue the right-of-way work permit. Right-of-way work permit applications for speculative fiber optic installations that do not serve a proposed small cell location should not be issued until the Planning Commission approves the above-grade installation to the extent possible.

--Development of a strategy to implement an efficient permit process for small cell sites to minimize the number of utility poles and health risks and still comply with federal and state requirements, including adding specific design standards for small cell sites and to maximize local revenue.

--Creation of a template master lease agreement for locating equipment on City-owned street lights and other City-owned infrastructure.

--Staff was directed to evaluate whether the City can declare a moratorium on 5G technology installation.

--Pieteg was directed to return to council with a proposal to develop a Broadband Master Plan.

Broadband Master Plan proposed

“Broadband” commonly refers to high-speed internet access. The proposed plan will include guidelines on how to process small cell locations, developing best practices in public policy, reviewing how the city can leverage existing infrastructure to facilitate small cell deployment and provide policies to help further manage rights-of-way in the future.

The plan will also help in reviewing infrastructure needs, propose design guidelines, evaluate construction policies and provide co-location incentives to minimize the number and scale of excavations when installing fiber infrastructure in rights-of-way. 

Among the goals of the plan is to retain as much control of locations as possible.

Laguna Beach Chat founder Michael Morris said the staff recommendations were prudent in light of the restrictions. 

“We should maintain as much our autonomy that we can,” said Morris, a regular attendant of council meetings. 

The city’s proposed plan would include how the installations are to be disguised from view and a standardized aesthetic requirement, including the design for attachments to street lights. Below grade installations are another goal.

A more immediate need, according to staff, is to review the installation permit process to ensure adequate time to review multiple requests for small cell facilities at multiple sites.

There are currently 37 applications for installation permits waiting approval, none of them for 5G facilities. Stalling approval of the permits has been blocked by Washington’s creation of a “shot clock” to shorten the time cities have to process applications.

Small cell installations – why and where

The new forms of wireless technology are beginning to be deployed in small cell format, according to city staff. The new systems are smaller than traditional cell sites and may be installed on light poles, traffic signals or small power/telephone poles. They operate with the current 4G/LTE technology or the newer 5G technology. 

Wireless carriers contend that more small cell facilities are necessary to meet the demand for wireless data usage from an increasing number of devices dependent on their service.

Demand for broadband is growing annually from 25 percent to 43 percent, according to Zelenok.

“Speed is what really matters,” said Zelenok. ”The standard today for broadband will seem slow in the future.”

Most cell phones and homes don’t have broadband – only if residents can download a three-megabit file in 1.0 seconds do they have broadband, Zelenok said 

New forms are expected to greatly improve capacity by providing more data at faster speeds but citywide coverage would require installation of a 5G network, which would include sites in residential neighborhoods, where no facilities are currently located.

Councilwoman Toni Iseman, never a fan of federal usurpation of local control over the telecommunication sites, questioned whether Laguna Beach residents actually want 5G.

The possible installation of poles in neighborhoods that had paid thousands to underground utility poles is not a selling point. 

“Maybe the providers should do a survey,” Iseman said. 

Representatives of AT&T, Verizon and Crown Castle – which designs and builds shared communication facilities – attended the council meeting.

“The city has a good plan, but a line of communication should be opened between staff and providers,” said Crown Castle spokesman Tim Brown.

All of the providers at the meeting have applications pending.


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

It’s time for the New Year…here’s a little ditty from the history books

Fair Game Tom Johnson newThursday is New Year’s Day Eve, the end of 2020. It can’t come soon enough for most.

It got me thinking about the history or tradition behind the rolling out and rolling in of the New Year.

First off, certain holidays throughout the year are referred to as “Hallmark holidays.” For example, Boss’s Day, Teacher Appreciation Day, and Grandparents Day are some of them. The goal is simple, to sell greeting cards and other related items.

New Year’s Day isn’t one of those. 

It’s a day I always used to recover from a hangover from the previous night’s celebration, but those are stories kept for another day.

Here’s a little history lesson: The earliest recorded festivities associated with a New Year’s celebration dates back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, that celebration coincided with the arrival of the first new moon following the vernal equinox. 

Okay, so what exactly is that you might ask? 

Well, the new moon is the time when the sun and the moon are aligned, meaning the sun and earth are each on opposite sides of the moon. Couple that with the vernal equinox, which is the time in spring when the sun moves north across the equator. Figure it in March.

The New Year stayed that way when next the Romans and their calendar came along to follow those Babylonians. Both celebrated a 10-month calendar.

Then, out of nowhere, comes this “legendary second king of Rome, Numa Pompilius, who succeeded Romulus.” Numa decides to add two new months to the calendar with the wave of his proverbial wand, naming them Ianuarius and Februarius and putting them at the start of the calendar. Hence 12 months versus 10. 

With it the timing of the New Year changed.

Still, in 567 AD the Council of Tours made another attempt to abolish the January timeframe as the New Year, before the Gregorian calendar eventually came into play in 1582.

The Gregorian calendar made it simple by dividing the year into 12 months, each with 28-31 days and designated the first day of the first month as the New Year.

Bingo, sound familiar?

And now, because most of the world today utilizes the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Day is among the most celebrated holidays in the world.

Traditions over time have added fireworks at the stroke of midnight and the singing of Auld Lang Syne to the New Year’s traditions.

Fireworks, however, weren’t created until the 1830s in China, with the modern skyrocket fireworks not coming about until the early 20th century.

Auld Lang Syne, on the other hand, was derived from a poem written by Robert Burns in 1788. Auld Lang Syne, loosely translated to mean “for the sake of old times,” became a popular way to say goodbye to the past.

So while fireworks and Auld Lang Syne are somewhat recent additions to the celebration mix, resolutions still date way back to those original Babylonians who used to commit resolutions to their gods.

And that my friends, is a very condensed history of New Year’s Day. 

With that, join me in ringing out the old (although the usage of “wringing” might be more appropriate) and welcoming in 2021. 

To those Babylonian gods, can we please have a better year?

Tom Johnson is the publisher and a partner in Stu News Newport.


Loveseat conversations

Photos by Scott Brashier

Loveseat conversation front

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Laguna Beach artist Gerard Basil Stripling has responded creatively to COVID-19 restrictions during the holiday season with his latest sculpture titled "Loveseat Conversations," currently on exhibit on the front lawn of City Hall

Loveseat conversations back

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The project is part of the “Fostering Creativity in a Time of Crisis Grant” awarded to Laguna Beach artists and funded by Wayne Peterson through the Laguna Beach Community Foundation and facilitated by the City’s Arts Commission


Fire Files

LBFD knocks down earning morning structure fire in the Canyon Thursday

On Thursday, May 30, at approximately 6:07 a.m., LBFD responded quickly to a reported structure fire at the 1900 block of Laguna Canyon Road. 

According to LBFD Engineer/Parademic Pat Cary, “It originated inside the building in the back alley. That was the area of origin.”

Cary reported that all Laguna Beach engines were involved in the structure fire – Engine 1 was first on scene, Engine 2 was second, Engine 4 was third, and Engine 3 was fourth on scene. Plus, Truck 22 responded from Lake Forest. 

“All total, there were 17 personnel who responded,” Cary said.

Fire Files Structure Fire

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Courtesy of LBFD

LB Fire knocks down early morning structure fire on Thursday

The first arriving companies found a one-story strip mall with moderate smoke showing from an end unit. A rapid, offensive interior attack with coordinated vertical ventilation allowed firefighters to find, isolate, and extinguish the fire quickly resulting in saving the remainder of the building.

“We knocked down the fire within 15 to 20 minutes of the fire actually being called in and us getting there,” Cary said. “We cut holes in the roof of the building to allow ventilation, which releases the hot smoke and gases. This helps lower the temperatures on the inside and make the situation more tenable for firefighters.”

All fire agencies, including Newport Beach and OC Fire, were integral in getting the fire out quickly. Cary explained their involvement.

“What Newport Beach and OC Fire do, is they come into the city and they backfill our station and run the 911 calls. It’s an automatic aid agreement, whenever we get a fire or conversely they get a fire, we help each other out,” Cary said. “We utilize our surrounding agencies and they come in and they will literally park their engine in front of our station and they will take all the calls from the city that happen.”

No injuries reported and the fire remains under investigation. 

Typically investigations can last a day or a couple of days depending on the intricacies of the fire,” Cary said.


Holiday heaven

Holiday heaven pink

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Photo by Zack Mical

Sweet dreams are made of this


Sally’s Fund receives gift of new vehicle from the Wayne Peterson Fund of the Laguna Community Foundation

Sally’s Fund this week received a happy surprise – the gift of a new vehicle to help with the nonprofit’s mission to provide needed transportation to seniors for free.

“Sally’s Fund is extremely appreciative to the Laguna Community Foundation for selecting our organization as a recipient of a gift from the Wayne Peterson Fund,” said Rachael Berger, executive director of the nonprofit. “We have been in need of a new vehicle for quite some time, and with the pandemic, we can only transport one person at a time in order to keep the elderly healthy. 

“With the cancellation of the local trolley, seniors fear riding the bus, and now that we’ve expanded to deliver groceries each week to 150 seniors sheltering in place, our new 2021 Honda Odyssey will be put to good use.”

Sally's Fund Santa

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Submitted photo

Rachael Berger, executive director of Sally’s Fund, and driver Rick Robey (aka Santa)

Local artist Bill Atkins designed the beautifully colorful Sally’s Fund logo and attached it to the new vehicle. 

Atkins is well known around town for the logos, posters, and graphic designs he has created for local organizations including the Laguna Beach Garden Club, Fete de la Musique, and Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association, to mention just a few.

Berger added, “We have an incredibly supportive community that cares deeply for the senior population, and we are so grateful to carry on the legacy of our founder, Walter von Gremp, who was determined that seniors who no longer drive should be able to remain in their homes for as long as possible.” 

Sadly, Walter passed away recently at the age of 92. However, Sally’s Fund continues his mission to provide transportation and other services to make life easier for the frail elderly.

For more information about Sally’s Fund and to donate, go to www.sallysfund.org.


Staff recommends approval of amended ASL contract

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Laguna Beach has offered nighttime shelter to homeless adults year-round since 2009. 

Friendship Shelter Inc. operates the Alternative Sleeping Location, better known as the ASL, under contract with the city. City staff is recommending the council approve on Tuesday an amended contract for the services provided by Friendship Shelter.

“I don’t think I will be voting for this,” said Councilman Peter Blake on Sunday. “I don’t understand why Friendship Shelter gets a contract year after year without anyone questioning it. And I don’t think they are doing all that great a job.”

Councilwoman Toni Iseman said it is too early to comment. She wants to hear from fellow council members and the public. 

“Kelly (former Council member Boyd) and I worked on this for a long time,” said Iseman. “We do know that other communities listen to Laguna because we do such a good job.” 

The proposed amendments began with meetings in 2016 between city and Friendship Shelter staffs to discuss modifications geared toward moving more of the shelter participants into permanent county housing. 

Two programs designed to forward the goal are considered by the staff to be in the best interests of Laguna’s homeless. The first pilot program encourages enrollment by participants that guarantees them a place to sleep every night for 30 days. Priority is given to locals and to the most vulnerable. A drop-in daytime program makes vital services more accessible for enrollees, as well as other local homeless folks, reducing impacts to Main Beach and the downtown area.

City and Friendship Shelter staffs have expressed a desire to amend and restate the original contract and continue the pilot programs.

They have successfully partnered to apply for a grant that would help fund the daytime program. If the city council approves the proposed contract, the grant will be incorporated into the service provider agreement, which will decrease the contract rate for operational services and consumable supplies relative to the current contract.

Under the new terms, the city will pay $350,200 for services related to the ASL operation from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.


Somewhere over the rainbow in Laguna Beach

Somewhere over the rainbow

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Photo by Michelle Highberg

Looking to brighter days ahead on the horizon


Remembrance for Walter von Gremp

By Arnie Silverman

Goodbye forever, old fellows and gals.

Goodbye forever, old sweethearts and pals.

Gee but I’d give the world to see 

that old gang of mine.

That old, and I mean that literally, gang of mine has been gone for quite a while now. Oh, we still contact each other sporadically, but our gathering together once or twice a week is a thing of the past. The saddest thing of all is that the beloved leader of our group, the one whom all respected and loved, Walter von Gremp, passed away on Saturday.

Comprised primarily of successful, retired men and a woman, we used to meet at lunchtime at one of the round tables in the patio behind what was then The Coffee Pub across from the post office on Forest Ave in Laguna. On a good day there could be up to some 12 people jammed together around one of those tables, each simultaneously loudly expressing an opinion or declaration solving the world’s problems or sarcastically attacking one of the group members to the amusement of all.

Though I was a “member in good standing,” I was a relative newcomer. I had an office nearby on Ocean Ave and each day, while I preferred lunching while sitting on one of the benches at Main Beach and ogling the beautiful young ladies in their skimpy swim attire, for variety I would often choose one of the local places for a bite. On the day of my “joining” the group I found a table in the patio and, alone, quietly ate my morsel and pondered some business issues I was having. Although deep in thought, I heard boisterous comments interspersed with loud laughter and good-natured ridicule. I listened to what was being said and heard barbs being darted at various members of the group followed, again, by laughter. It was déjà vu “all over again” as Yogi Berra is alleged to have said, as those cruel but humorous taunts reminded me of the frivolous New York insults that I once mastered. As I smiled at a few of the comments, one of the men, Walter, invited me over to join them. From that time on I was an “accredited” member. 

Remembrance Walter and Ann von Gremp

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Submitted photo

Walter and Ann von Gremp

Walter, I observed, was the leader/conductor of the group. He had founded a successful insurance company which after years of significant growth, he sold to one of the larger insurers. Financially secure then, he owned a spacious home set high in the hills of Emerald Bay in North Laguna with a panoramic view of the ocean. An army brat, he had traveled widely as a child and attended UCLA, which he never let us forget. I tried to counter him with a superior school, Rutgers, but to no avail. One of the best of raconteurs, he could regale you with stories (often repeated and repeated and repeated) of his life and places where he had been. His impressive memory often astounded us as he remembered the minute details of places, events, and people he encountered in his travels. 

Walter was a devoted family man and community member who established, among other charities, Sally’s Fund in Laguna, and contributed to multiple causes and organizations like the local VFW. He was one of the most generous men I ever knew, and in his prime he participated in and led various community projects and organizations.

As to the sessions around the round tables, it was Walter who, again, “ran” the gatherings. In time the demographics of the group changed to the extent that the devout Roman Catholic Walter found himself surrounded by a majority of Jews – Dick Frank, Norman Goldfind, two Harrys, and me. The humor that emanated from that was often uproarious.

He had many enviable qualities including empathy, generosity, and compassion. He was worldly, thoughtful, knowledgeable, very well read, and intellectually a credit to UCLA. I never heard him demean anyone and as he sat in his “catbird” seat near The Coffee Pub, it was amazing to hear him greet everyone who passed through the patio by their first name. 

To say I will miss him is a gross understatement for his passing on leaves a vacuum in my life that will remain until my time runs out. 

Good night sweet prince and flight of angels sing thee to thy rest.


County surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 cases: 35 reported cases in Laguna Beach

The County of Orange surpassed 1,000 reported COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, April 8. The cumulative case count is now 1,138, with 62 new cases reported today, April 10. The first Orange County case of COVID-19 was reported on January 25. To date, the County is reporting 17 deaths.

The County Public Health lab and reporting commercial labs have tested 12,870 people as of today, April 10.

In an effort to flatten the curve, the California Department of Public Health has ordered residents to stay at home with the exception of those who work in essential functions or for essential activities, like grocery shopping.

On Friday, April 3, the OC Health Care website began including a hospitalization chart showing cases over time so the community can access historical data on the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19.

“While we want to provide information that best educates our community during this pandemic, it’s important to understand that hospitalization numbers capture a point in time and will fluctuate daily,” said County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick. “Looking at historical data over a period of weeks can give us a better understanding of trends in our community.” 

For more information, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 10;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


Where’s Maggi – the answers!

Where did Maggi find this artful mosaic? It’s on Ocean Ave in front of Whole Foods. Who knew? Mark Porterfield knew, and so did Nancy Wade, C. Deborah Laughton, and Judy Barry.

Thanks, everyone, for playing along! 

Check in on Friday for a new challenge.    

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Mosaic art pieces on Ocean Ave


Milk and Politics

Milk and guys

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Photo by Mary Aslin

Walter von Gremp and friends at Friday coffee gathering at The Coffee Pub in 2007. From an original pastel “Milk and Politics,” by Laguna Beach artist Mary Aslin. Mary says, “Walter was such a fine human being, and I’m just so grateful to honor his memory in this way.”

www.maryaslin.com

 


1,299 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC: 37 reported cases in Laguna Beach

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, April 14, reflect that there are 37 reported cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach, with a population of 23,358, has the highest per capita rate in OC, with 1.584 cases per thousand residents. However, Laguna Beach has only had three new reported cases of COVID-19 in the last week, since April 7.

The City of Laguna Beach has taken strong measures to protect its residents, closing its beaches and trails weeks ago, and enacting an urgency ordinance on Friday, April 10 requiring all Essential Workers in the city to wear protective face coverings.

The city with the second highest per capita rate in OC is Newport Beach with 87 reported cases, 0.998 cases per thousand. 

Anaheim is the city with the most cases at 148, with a population of 359,339. Irvine, with a population of 280,202, has 103 cases.

There are 1,299 cumulative reported cases to date in Orange County, resulting in, sadly, 19 deaths. 122 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 62 are currently in ICU.

802 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Orange County by HCA Public Health Lab and commercial labs since yesterday (out of 14,977 cumulative tests countywide).

For more information, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 14;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


Where’s Maggi?

Where is she now? Let us know if you’re onto her!

Send your answers in to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The location will be revealed in Tuesday’s edition, and we’ll let you know who got it right.

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Governor’s Order for Beach Closures

From Cal OES/Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

City Council Members:

Thank you for your ongoing leadership protecting Orange County communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Governor’s March 19, 2020 Executive Order EO-N-33 directs all residents to heed current State public health directives to preserve public health and safety. Current State public health directives prohibit gatherings of any size and direct residents to stay home unless participating in essential workforce activities or authorized necessary activities. As explained here, among other things: “Californians can walk, run, hike and bike in their local neighborhoods as long as they continue to practice social distancing of 6 feet.” These restrictions are in place and are necessary to protect all Californians from the spread of COVID-19.

Last weekend, state and local beaches in Orange County experienced exceptionally heavy visitation that generated a high concentration of beach visitors in close physical proximity. State public health leadership reviewed conditions on these beaches and determined that this beach visitation created unsafe conditions. These conditions threaten the health of both beach visitors and community members who did not visit the beach but are threatened by worsening spread of the virus, including first responders and health care providers.

In response, our State Department of Parks and Recreation is shifting to full closure of all Orange County State Beaches on a temporary basis. These beach closures will take effect tomorrow (today) morning, May 1. Additionally, beaches operated by local governments in Orange County are directed to institute full closure starting tomorrow (today), May 1, to restrict the gathering of visitors that create unsafe conditions. Full closure means that there is no public access to these beaches on a temporary basis to protect public health. All restrooms are closed, and there are no parking facilities open for visitors, or recreational boats. No activities are permitted on the beach (including sunbathing, walking or running or watersports).

We understand that many Californians are eager to spend time and recreate outdoors given the public health crisis necessitating the state’s Stay-at-Home Order. We continue to encourage residents to spend time outdoors in their neighborhoods and local parks that remain open for activities while maintaining safe physical distance. Additionally, we are hopeful and confident that we can collaborate with local Orange County leaders to identify measures that can restore safe beach access as soon as possible. But until such time as those measures are in place, this additional step to preserve public health and safety has proven essential.

This is a critical moment in California’s battle against COVID-19, and Californians have stepped up to limit the spread of the virus. Temporary beach closures in Orange County will help to ensure continued progress on limiting spread of the virus, which will expedite our process to restore important activities within our economy and communities.

Thank you very much for your ongoing collaboration and leadership during this critical time.

Sincerely,

Mark S. Ghilarducci, Director

Governor’s Office of Emergency Services

Wade Crowfoot, Secretary

California Natural Resources Agency

cc: 

Don Barnes, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner 

Kirsten Monteleone, Dana Point Chief of Police 

Robert Handy, Huntington Beach Chief of Police 

Laura Farinella, Laguna Beach Chief of Police 

Jon T. Lewis, Newport Beach Chief of Police 

Edward Manhart, San Clemente Chief of Police 

Philip L. Gonshak, Seal Beach Chief of Police 

Senator Patricia Bates 

Senator John Moorlach 

Senator Tom Umberg 

Assemblymember William Brough 

Assemblymember Cottie Petrie-Norris 

California Coastal Commission


Dennis’ Tidbits

By DENNIS McTIGHE

January 5, 2021

Some swell action recently

Dennis 5We’ve been getting some pretty consistent swells as of late with generally good conditions, as incoming strong Pacific systems are moving in at a more southerly latitude, the way it should be. We’ve already had more surf since mid-December than we had almost all of last winter.

How about last Thursday’s spectacular sunset? It was definitely in my all-time top ten. The colors were off the charts. Speaking of sunsets, in just four days the sun will begin setting at 5 p.m.; by the end of this month it will set at 5:18, and by the end of February it will set at 5:48.

Local ocean temps are still hanging in there at around 58 degrees, around two degrees above normal for early January. Our warmest January water temp was 63 in 1995 and our coldest was 49 in 1949.

While we’re on the subject of January 1949, this week is the anniversary of the record-breaking cold spell that lasted almost a week from January 5-11, 1949. How cold was it? Kids were building snow people at Top of the World, thanks to over two and a half inches of snow that stayed on the ground for nearly an entire day! Both high and low temps were shattered over the course of that week in most communities of not only Southern California, but much of the far west and desert southwest, and many of those records still stand to this day.

For instance, downtown L.A. recorded a burly 28 degrees one morning with a high that day of 43! Downtown Laguna shivered in 24-degree cold with an unofficial 19 out in the Canyon. Those records remain intact. Big Bear Lake recorded a minus 12. Palm Springs plummeted to 17. San Diego reported a 29, the only time in their long history that they recorded a sub-freezing minimum temp. 

Las Vegas sank to eight degrees with a whopping 16.7 inches of snow! Their high temp that day was 32, the coldest by far of all time and the only time ever that the mercury failed to rise above freezing for the maximum temp! Their normal January high temp is 57.3 and their average low is 33.6. Phoenix had two inches of the white stuff and Flagstaff recorded its coldest temp ever with minus 23 with a high of 0. Tucson collected nearly a foot of snow, the most ever for a one-day total and that record still stands, and the list goes on.

What was the reason for all this madness? A displaced polar vortex actually happened west of the Continental Divide, and it was one of the strongest on record, powered by an unusually strong high pressure over Western Canada with a central pressure of 1,062 millibars or 31.34 inches of mercury. This vortex was riding on the edge of an equally strong low-pressure trough that reached as far south as the tip of Baja, California, as a deep upper-level low was parked just off Point Conception, so all the ingredients were in place for some unprecedented atmospheric dramatics. 

At one point in Santa Barbara there was not only snow, but also hail, sleet, and thunder all working in concert with the white stuff. Nothing like that wild and crazy week has happened since. My Pop took pictures of the snow that week in Laguna but I lost all of those photos in the Laguna fire on October 27, 1993. My Pop also had photos of the 1939 tropical storm but those photos also went up in flames. Too bad! 

See y’all on Friday, ALOHA!


LB CARES grant program extended for restaurants and bars

The application deadline for the City of Laguna Beach’s LB CARES grant program has been extended to January 19 for restaurants and bars experiencing impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program will provide direct financial assistance by offering a $5,000 grant per qualifying restaurant or bar on a first-come, first-served basis.

LB CARES is a one-time grant relief program. To qualify, restaurants or bars:

--Must have been ordered to change operations to takeout and delivery only, or to close

--Must be located in Laguna Beach and have a Laguna Beach business license

--Must confirm that they have experienced a hardship due to COVID-19 closures and restrictions

--Must confirm that they are complying and pledge to continue complying with all State and local orders

LB CARES Slice

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Slice Pizza and Beer

LB CARES grant applications for restaurants and bars will now be accepted until January 19 at 5 p.m. Grants will be awarded up to the funding amount of $650,000 on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Visit www.lagunabeachcity.net/LBCares for program details, eligibility restrictions, and to apply. Submissions received prior to January 5 will be notified by email on or before January 7. Restaurant and bar applications received after the initial January 5 deadline will be notified after the January 19 deadline closes.

In conjunction with LB Cares, the City of Laguna Beach is also pleased to announce the launch of the Laguna Beach Business Assistance Services Program. This new program is being established to help local businesses and nonprofits access available resources offered by state, federal, and county government, help determine the best resources to meet each business’ unique circumstance, and to help businesses with the process of preparing and submitting applications. 

These services are completely free to all Laguna Beach small businesses. 

For more information, visit the program’s website at www.lagunabeachcity.net/BusinessAssistance or contact Project Manager Jeremy Frimond at (949) 464-6673 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Where’s Maggi – the answers!

Where is this goose flying? It’s over Gelato Paradiso and the Peppertree Lane, on the alley side. 

Who knew? Janet Bescoby did, as did Bob Roper, John Campbell, Bill O’Hare, Nancy Wade, and Mary Hill.

Thanks, everyone, for playing along! 

Check in on Friday for a new challenge.

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Goose flying over Peppertree Lane


COVID-19: 1,051 new cases reported in OC today, 10 new deaths

The OC Health Care Agency reports that there have been 147 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, an increase of three cases today, a per capita rate of 6.293 cases per thousand residents. The county reports that there have been 41,578 cumulative cases countywide to date, an increase of 1,051 cases today. Sadly, the county reports that 734 people have died due to COVID-19 in OC, including 10 new deaths received today. There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

However, a glitch in the California Department of Public Health’s data system has contributed to a number of “missing” case results, some of which have not yet been reported in state or county data. 

According to Dr. Clayton Chau, Acting Orange County Health Officer, the data glitch involved some 300,000 tests statewide, whose results – positive or negative – were not initially released.

The data glitch has been fixed, according to the state’s website, however not all data has been released.

“Recent issues found in the state’s electronic laboratory system that contributed to delays have been corrected. Today’s data include some cases from prior days, and we continue to work through the backlog,” the state’s website reads.

Until then, Dr. Chau said, the state has “paused” its watch list – meaning counties will not be added or removed from the list until after the glitch has been fixed and the backlogged case data released.

In regards to OC elementary schools that may be applying for a waiver to reopen in-person learning, Dr. Chau said those applications are also on hold. The county is accepting applications, but informing applicants that their applications cannot be processed until the data glitch is resolved.

“The conversation can’t start until we know what our community case rate is,” Dr. Chau said.

While daily positive cases and the testing positivity rate have been affected by the glitch, hospitalization and ICU data has not, according to Dr. Chau. The county reports that 36 percent of ICU beds and 64 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide. 

Dr. Chau explained that the county also looks closely at hospital staffing levels, as having enough beds or ventilators does not necessarily mean the county will have adequate staffing.

The county reports that 441 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (includes ICU); 141 are in ICU.

The county estimates 31,445 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data as of August 11, as reported by the County; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 4,606 new cases and 15 new deaths reported in OC, 11 new cases in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 1,775 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 15 new deaths reported today (December 20). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 4,606 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today – an all-time daily high for new cases, following yesterday’s 3,445 new cases – marking a seven-day surge of 21,914 new cases and 124,428 cumulative cases to date. 

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 12.1 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 51 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,682 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+81 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 375 are in ICU (+14 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 430 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 11 new cases reported today and 39 new cases reported since last Sunday’s report.

Santa Ana experienced an increase of 887 new cases today; Anaheim experienced an increase of 787 new cases today.

The county estimates 72,627 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*From OC Health Care Agency: Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data as of December 20, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


Holiday Virtual Greeting from the Laguna Community Concert Band

The Laguna Community Concert Band extends glad tidings and good cheer to Laguna Beach. Its gift to you is the group’s virtual rendition of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. ” Twenty-two band members perform this piece, edited by Band Manager Lynn Olinger.

For additional information about the band and other concerts, visit www.lagunaconcertband.com

 


Wave of beauty

Wave of beauty

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Photo by Steve Allegaert

From Cress looking south to Mountain, a beautiful wave breaks


Crushing Hunger delights Laguna Food Pantry with another hefty donation

As the pandemic persists, so does the need for food and supplies for South Orange County.

Crushing Hunger, a project initiated by Laguna Beach High School students in 2017, spearheaded an end-of-year push via Zoom to friends and family, directing them to the group’s Amazon Wish list for Laguna Food Pantry’s most needed items. 

After the items were delivered to Crushing Hunger’s garage and sanitized, current club members, LBHS students Hannah Williams, Fiona McCue, Sophia Pachl, and Molly Starr, made the special delivery of food sent from all over the country, along with a generous donation of $1,000 from the Hannah S. and Samuel A. Cohn Memorial Foundation, to the Laguna Food Pantry.

Crushing hunger pantry

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Submitted photo

Crushing Hunger club members (L-R) Hannah Williams, Fiona McCue, Sophia Pachl, and Molly Starr with Laguna Food Pantry Director Anne Belyea

According to Crushing Hunger, each wish list addresses specific food needs that anyone can choose from – from wherever they are – based on budget and preference, and shipping is free.

Crushing Hunger was inspired by the story of seven-year-old Kaden Newton, a Texas boy who started a nonprofit called Mac and Cheese and Pancakes.

After visiting a local food pantry, Kaden realized the pantry didn’t have a lot of kid-friendly foods. So for his birthday, he created an Amazon Wish List for just those two items. On his birthday, a room in his home was stacked high with Mac and Cheese and pancake mix.

That inspired the LBHS student project and is also a way for the teens to meet community service hours at Laguna Beach High School. Months later, it has turned into teamwork for a passion.

For information on Crushing Hunger, go to www.crushinghunger.org.


Secondary reopening: A message from Dr. Jason Viloria, Superintendent

By Jason Viloria, Ed.D., Superintendent

Dear Thurston and LBHS Communities,

I want to provide you with more information about steps we are taking to address the implications of Orange County’s return to the purple tier on the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) framework, which prevents LBUSD from reopening its secondary schools on Monday, November 23. As you all know, [Monday’s] announcement was completely unexpected and has left us with more questions than answers. I share the frustration many of you have expressed that we are not able to reopen as planned on Monday.

I have been in contact with officials at the Orange County Health Care Agency (OCHCA) to reiterate that LBUSD has the highest level of health and safety plans in place and is fully prepared to reopen safely on Monday for those who selected that option. I am appealing to OCHCA to grant us a variance to allow secondary schools to reopen as planned next week. I am also requesting that we be provided the updated timelines under this revised “emergency brake” framework in the event they do not grant our request to reopen secondary schools, as we should not have to wait until January to reopen if our cases improve in Orange County.

I know many of you are disappointed in the CDPH announcement as am I. I will continue to advocate with local and state officials to allow us to safely reopen our schools.

The above letter was emailed to Thurston and LBHS families on November 17.


New vaccine roll-out tiers announced

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a change in tiers for COVID-19 vaccine priorities.

Phase 1B is designed for high-risk individuals unable to work from home, who live or work in high-impact geographic areas, or who are most likely to spread to co-workers or to the public. It breaks down into two categories:

Phase 1B Tier One

--People ages 75+

--Workers in education and childcare, emergency services, food, and agriculture

Phase 1B Tier Two

--People ages 65+ with an underlying health condition and/or a disability

--Workers in transportation and logistics; industrial, residential, and commercial sectors; critical manufacturing; incarcerated individuals; and the homeless and unhoused

Governor Newsom is expected to make an announcement today (December 29) on potentially extending the current Stay-at-Home Order as an expected surge is anticipated following the holidays.


Reopening of secondary schools delayed

By Jason Viloria, Ed.D., Superintendent

Dear LBUSD Community,

Yesterday afternoon, Governor Newsom announced that California would be pulling the “emergency brake” due to increasing COVID-19 cases and as a result, Orange County will move into the purple tier, the most restrictive tier, effectively immediately.

What does this mean for reopening secondary schools?

Unfortunately, this means the reopening of our secondary schools for in-person learning will be delayed and students in grades 6-12 will remain in Phase I, distance learning only.

Previous guidance received by the District indicated that we could reopen middle and high schools even if Orange County moved into the purple tier on Tuesday, as the CDPH Framework was adjusted on Tuesdays and the restrictions in purple tier would not have been in effect until late next week. We were also operating under the guidance that since we had reopened classes and a learning center for students with disabilities and English Learners, we would be permitted to continue our planned reopening. However, the guidance has been updated to indicate that even though we have opened selected programs, we cannot commence in-person instruction for all grade levels.

Will elementary schools remain open for in-person learning?

Yes. Since elementary schools opened on October 5, they may remain open for in-person learning.

When will secondary schools reopen?

At the earliest, secondary schools could reopen in January, if Orange County is able to move out of the purple tier criteria in the next few weeks.

While tier assignments were evaluated once per week, they may now occur any day of the week and may occur more than once a week when the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) determines that the most recent reliable data indicate that immediate action is needed to address COVID-19 transmission in a county. In order to shift from purple to red, Orange County would need to demonstrate metrics consistent with red tier criteria for three weeks. State guidance indicates that schools can reopen for in-person instruction once their county has been in the Substantial (red) tier for two weeks. Tiers take effect the day after assignment.

We will continue to update you as we receive more information. You will receive more specific information about Trimester 2 distance learning from your site principal. I appreciate your continued patience and flexibility as we navigate these ever-changing frameworks during the pandemic.

The above letter was emailed to District families yesterday, November 16.


LBSCA sister city San Jose del Cabo celebrates the holidays with special nativity scenes

In January 2008 when Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association (LBSCA) Inc. was formed, Menton, San Jose del Cabo, and St. Ives were chosen as our sister cities. LBSCA is a broad-based, Laguna Beach City Council-approved, all volunteer, nonprofit organization.

LBSCA nativity

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Submitted photo

Plaza Mijaries, 2020

The LBSCA has a primary goal to establish and maintain long-term relationships between the City of Laguna Beach and its sister cities, Menton, France, San José del Cabo, Mexico, and St. Ives, England. These partnerships will encourage a collaborative exchange of cultural, educational, and business activities. 

LBSCA sister tree

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Submitted photo

Festive tree in plaza, 2020 

San José del Cabo is a resort city on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. It’s known for its sandy beaches and colonial buildings. The San José missionary church, rebuilt in 1940, faces Plaza Mijares in the heart of the historic district. Nearby art galleries exhibit work by local artists. East of the city is San José Estuary, a nature reserve with bird species like hummingbirds, ibis, and herons. 

LBSCA closeup nativity

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Traditional Nativity Scene, 2020

San Jose del Cabo’s main square is officially called Plaza Mijares but is often referred to simply as the Plaza. Here, at the heart of San Jose del Cabo, the town’s historic colonial atmosphere, laid-back friendliness, and tranquility are evident, especially during the holidays. 

Taken this year, the people of the community are displaying resiliency and a positive attitude.

For more information about LBSCA, go to www.lagunabeachsistercities.com.


George Weiss to speak at first Laguna Canyon Conservancy Zoom meeting on January 11

As with most nonprofits, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the Laguna Canyon Conservancy (LCC) this past year. President Gayle Waite says, “However, now we are moving to Zoom meetings and we have our first one next Monday evening.” 

The first LCC Zoom meeting will feature Laguna Beach Councilmember George Weiss as the speaker on Monday, Jan 11 starting at 7 p.m. For the Zoom link, click here. Attendance is limited to 100; however, the public is invited. To suggest questions, send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at least a day prior to the meeting or use Chat during the meeting.

​Waite says, “The pandemic continues to keep us from physically meeting but we are moving forward with plans for Zoom meetings in the coming few months.”

George Weiss closeup

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Councilmember George Weiss will speak at LCC’s Zoom meeting on Jan 11

The second 2021 meeting will be on Monday, Feb 1 at 7 p.m. The guest speaker will be Hallie Jones, Executive Director of the Laguna Canyon Foundation. Meetings instructions will be sent out in advance and posted on the LCC website.

The Laguna Canyon Conservancy is an all-volunteer group dedicated to monitoring the issues that could have an effect on the wilderness parks and open space connected to Laguna Canyon. LCC selects well-informed speakers and provides a forum for learning about the alternatives that face preservation efforts.

What’s been happening at LCC? Plans are underway to transfer the huge collection of LCC papers and photographs assembled over 30 years by Carolyn Wood to a permanent archive home at the UC Irvine Libraries. This massive undertaking is being spearheaded by Harry Huggins with assistance by Jackie Gallagher and should be completed by spring.

LCC is important to park users and residents of Laguna Beach for determining the optimal choices in preservation and protection of our surrounding open spaces, which improves our environment, community health, and surrounding beauty in what would likely have been an urbanized landscape. If all of the 22,000 acres of preserved open space were included in Laguna Beach city limits, it would be nearly 85 percent of the total area. 

For more information on LCC, go to www.LagunaCanyonConservancy.org.


Dennis’ Tidbits

By DENNIS McTIGHE

January 8, 2021

Living in the dark ages

Dennis 5Beginning this Saturday, the sun will set at 5 p.m. and later. It’s a slow crawl at first out of the Dark Ages.

The long, cold winter for many is in full swing. Winter storms are generated, as are many of the thunderstorms of summer, from disturbances along the boundary between cold polar air and warm tropical air masses. These are the fronts where air masses of different temperatures and densities wage their perpetual war of instability and equilibrium. The disturbances may become intense low-pressure systems, churning over tens of thousands of square miles in a great counterclockwise sweep. 

Three key elements make a winter storm: cold air (below freezing temps facilitate the production of snow and ice); moisture (which forms clouds and precipitation); and lift (which raises the moist air to form clouds and causes precipitation – the collision of warm and cold air, creating a front).

In the Pacific, these disturbances form along the polar fronts off the east coast of Asia and travel northeastward toward Alaska, but some, particularly those forming along the mid-Pacific polar front, take a more southerly track, striking the United States as far south as Southern California, with more frequency during El Ninos, and less during La Ninas. 

Few Pacific storms cross the Rockies, but some do, redeveloping to the east. One region of such redevelopment lies east of the Colorado Rockies and the storms that come out of that region are called Colorado Cyclones. Another region of storm redevelopment is east of the Canadian Rockies from which come the so-called Alberta Cyclones (or Clippers). Both types take an eastward path, their most frequent ones converging over the Great Lakes. The lakes themselves are generators of severe local winter storms and forge other storms drifting northward that originate from the Gulf of Mexico and the Southern Plains.

On the east coast, winter storms often form along the Atlantic polar front from near the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas, and in the general area east of the Southern Appalachians. These are the notorious Cape Hatteras storms, Nor’easters, which develop to great intensity as they move up the coast, then drift seaward toward Iceland where they finally dissipate.

Because these storms form over water, they are difficult to forecast and occasionally surprise the Atlantic megalopolis with paralyzing snows. These crippling storms occur every winter with frequencies varying from year to year, but historically not one single winter has escaped the wrath of at least one of these monsters.

For some parts of the U.S., the Northern Rockies for example, storms with snow followed by cold are a threat from mid-September to mid-May. During one of the colder months from November to March, it is not unusual for several separate storms to affect some area across the continent. Intense winter storms are frequently accompanied by cold waves, ice or glaze, heavy snow, blizzards, or a combination of these, often in a single winter storm, with precipitation types changing several times as the storm passes. 

The common feature of these storms is the ability to completely immobilize large areas and to isolate and kill persons and livestock in their path. In the north, the severity of these storms makes their threat a seasonal one. Further south, the occasional penetration of severe winter storms into more moderate climates causes severe hardship and great loss of warm weather crops, like the March of 1993 mega-storm. 

Here in Southern California we’re basically immune from all this madness and that’s why we live here! 

ALOHA!


Dennis’ Tidbits 

By DENNIS McTIGHE 

January 12, 2021

Setting expectations

Dennis 5Here on Sunday, the sun will set at 5:01 p.m. and will not set before 5 p.m. until the first Sunday in November, and in about three or four days, the sun will start rising about a minute later each day. Right now it’s still locked in at 6:58 a.m. The sun will also be rising about a minute earlier each day in about three or four days. 

Our earliest sunrise occurs in early June at 5:41 a.m. PDT and our latest sunset of the year occurs at 8:08 p.m. PDT from June 21 through about July 6.

Surface ocean temps across the county are at their lowest readings in years at 54 in Huntington and Newport, 55 in Laguna, and 56 in San Clemente.

Laguna’s rainfall since last July 1 is a paltry 1.04 inches, way below the normal to date of 5.02 inches. We’re on pace to break the record for Laguna’s driest season of 3.71 inches in the 2006-07 season. At its current pace, the 2020-21 season would finish at 3.03 inches. Of course a lot can happen between now and June 30, but as of now, that’s where we stand.

Since the turn of the new century, only two seasons have recorded at least 20 or more inches, 2004-05 and 2010-11, only one per decade since 2000. 

Looking back, the 1930s had three such seasons with at least 20, the 40s had two, the 50s had two, the 60s had three, the 70s had three, the 80s had two, and the 90s were really wet with four. There was 1991-92 with 21 inches, 1992-93 with 27.36, 1994-95 with 25.04, and the record 1997-98 season in Laguna with 37.27 inches.

Nearly everyone east of the Pacific coastal ranges remembers significant winter storms – days of heavy snow, interminable blizzards, extreme inconvenience, economic loss, and, sometimes, personal tragedy. For Wyoming, Kansas, and Texas, the blizzard of 1888 was one of the worst on record. January 11-13 of that year brought the most disastrous blizzard ever known in Montana, the Dakotas, and Minnesota, combining gale winds, blowing snow, and extreme cold into a lethal, destructive push from the Rockies eastward. 

That same year, the Eastern Seaboard from Chesapeake Bay to Maine got its biggest storm of the century. From March 11-14, 1888, a blizzard dumped an average of 40 inches of snow over southeastern New York and southern New England, where you couldn’t pay me enough to even visit. The storm killed 200 in New York City alone and total deaths were more than 400.

There have been countless other winter storms but one that really stands out is the winter of 1977-78, one that was unusually harsh, one of the very worst of the 20th century. That winter’s most devastating punch was the Northeast Blizzard of ‘78. From February 5-7, 1978, the blizzard created absolute havoc along the Eastern Seaboard. Over two feet of snow fell in places like New York City and Boston, with winds of 55 mph, which caused massive snowdrifts, drove seas through seawalls, undermined homes, destroyed beaches, breached protective dunes, and left many areas devastated from Cape May, N.J. to Maine.

Our climate here even in a “stormy winter” is still a walk in the park compared to what they have to endure back east every winter at some point, and that’s why we live here! We are so blessed! I honestly don’t see how they do it back there. 

(The 9th edition of the Weather Almanac helped me put this column together.)

See y’all on Friday, ALOHA!


California travel advisory urges 14-day quarantine after any out-of-state travel

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the country, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued travel advisories urging visitors entering their states or returning home from travel outside these states to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus.

The travel advisories urge against non-essential out-of-state travel and asks people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country.

In addition to urging individuals arriving from other states or countries to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival, the states’ travel advisories recommend individuals stay local and limit their interactions to their immediate household.

Click here to read the California Travel Advisory for Non-Essential Travel.

-Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach Community Newsletter, November 16


Laguna lights

Laguna lights

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Scott Brashier

The lights of Laguna bring hope for the promise of a new year


Boys & Girls Club and KX FM Radio to host School Board Candidate Forum on October 5

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach and Laguna’s KX FM Radio will host a School Board Candidate Forum via Zoom on Monday, Oct 5 at 7 p.m.

Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach’s CEO Pam Estes and KX FM General Manager Tyler Russell McCusker will moderate the forum along with host of the evening, BGC Board Member, Jimmy Azadian. School Board Candidates Jan Vickers, Amy Kramer, Sheri Morgan, and Kelly Osborne will all be present to give a brief statement and answer questions submitted by the community.

“2020 has been a year like no other. Through the good, the bad, and the ugly, it is clear more than ever that we all need to put our voices to work and vote! The School Board Candidate Forum is the perfect opportunity to educate ourselves on the topics at hand, hear what our candidates have to say about them, and what our candidates stand for. It is then up to us to show up on November 3 and vote! Our youth are depending on us,” explains BGC-Laguna CEO Pam Estes.

“We have a call out to the community,” states Estes. “The School Board serves our community and our youth. It is important for us to know what is important to you. We need you to submit questions and topics you would like to hear our School Board candidates discuss. We will bring these questions directly to the candidates. Between now and Wednesday, Sept 30, send questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Prior to the forum, each candidate will receive the same 25 questions selected from those submitted. Estes and McCusker will select 8-9 of these questions to ask live, on air on October 5th. Each candidate will have the same amount of uninterrupted time to respond. This will allow candidates an even ground to explain their platform and how they will address the community’s needs. 

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and nonpolitical organization focused on the youth of our Laguna Beach community. KX FM Radio’s vision is that locally focused FM radio is a vital component to the community. Both are inspired by the youth of the community and look forward to helping shape their future by presenting the School Board candidates.

The School Board Candidate Forum is open to anyone in the community, capping at 1,000 participants. To receive the Zoom link, click here to register. The Zoom link for the forum will also be on the Boys & Girls website at www.bgclagunabeach.org and on social media (@bgclagunabeach) the day of the event. 

To contribute questions for candidates, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Wednesday, Sept 30. 

To donate to BGC Laguna or for any other inquires, contact

Jennifer Costales at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., visit www.bgclagunabeach.org, or call (949) 494-2535.


Guest Column

Create the holiday that you are longing for

By Dr. Vidya Reddy

Merry Christmas, Oh DEER what a year. Just ZOOMING by to say Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas from Six Feet Away!’

It’s Christmas. Here’s a very, very simple message. 

Can we all agree that we do what we do because we want to feel a certain way?

We plan our holidays in pursuit of getting to feel the way we want to feel. 

But what if we turned it all around to realize that we don’t actually need all those external circumstances to be a certain way for us to get to feel the way we want to feel? 

Imagine this holiday, Christmas and New Year’s, being everything you ever dreamed of, perfect in every sense – what feelings are you experiencing? 

Create the doctor

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Johnny Antezana

Dr. Vidya Reddy

Joy? Love? Connection? Peace? Pleasure? Relaxation? Meaning? Community? Safety? Balance? Creativity? Or something else? 

Now that you know what the feelings you’re longing for are, you can simplify everything by going for the feeling first and realize how much power you have over your own life quality. 

If you long to feel joy, you can put on a great song and dance. 

If you wanna feel love, you can hang out with a pet or stay extra long in a hug. 

If you wanna feel connection, you can reach out to that friend that you’re missing. 

If you wanna feel peace, you can go out in nature and sit for a while, leaning on a tree or a rock. 

Create the peace

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Kavita Reddy

Create the moments you want

If you want to feel pleasure you can enjoy that piece of chocolate for at least a minute and really taste it. I could go on and on but I think you’re getting it. 

Life is a long string of moments linked together through time. 

You can affect those moments. Create lots of moments in presence where you create the feeling that you want to feel and you don’t need everything to be perfect around you. 

You don’t need to control everything that happens this Christmas. You can relax.

As a thought exercise, I’ve learned a lot of things over the past few months, and I feel compelled to share them with you in the spirit of robust helpfulness. If you would like more information, techniques, and meditation based on Life Lessons, please refer to my podcast: https://naturally-happy.com/podcast/.

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time.

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

www.Naturally-Happy.com.


Peregrine Falcons: An ongoing story of persistence against the odds

By Michelle Daneri 

Conservation Coordinator, Laguna Canyon Foundation (LCF)

On a recent trail assessment in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, I spent a moment taking in the beautiful views around me and thought to myself, this seems like the perfect habitat for a Peregrine Falcon. With its high cliffs and sprawling vegetation, the area seemed like an ideal place for a falcon to perch and rapidly descend on unsuspecting prey. Not much later, I heard the familiar high-pitched call and saw a Peregrine Falcon perched within a cavity in the rock face. 

A wildlife sighting like that is life-affirming. The Peregrines are an “indicator species,” and tell a broader story of a healthy eco-system. Their presence also weaves into a larger narrative of conservation and the continual work we all have to do to protect wildlife and our wild places.

Until it was outlawed in the 1970s, widespread use of DDT almost wiped out the Peregrine Falcons. Working its way up through the food chain, DDT caused the birds to produce eggs whose shells were too thin and therefore less successful in hatching. They were once on the U.S. Endangered Species List, and through conservation efforts have bounced back significantly. However, populations in the eastern U.S. have never returned. We are fortunate that they remain abundant on the Pacific Coast today where they commonly feed on the shore birds in the area.

Peregrine Falcons flying

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Alyssa Moreno, LCF

LCF Restoration Technician II Alyssa Moreno returned to the area and photographed the Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcons are remarkable in every way. Reaching speeds of over 200 mph, they are the fastest animal on our planet. They have adapted to the urban environment, perching on skyscrapers and hunting pigeons. I fondly think back to the falcons I observed when I was a Park Ranger in Austin, Texas. If I spotted a single pigeon wing on the ground and heard the Peregrine Falcon’s distinct shriek in the wind, I could often look up and see one perched on a high-rise. It’s difficult to be unimpressed by their presence; their very existence tells the story of persistence, adaptation, and conservation.

Like most stories in nature, the Peregrine Falcon’s is an ongoing tale of fighting against the odds. We are still dealing with the untold environmental consequences of DDT. Just last month the LA Times reported on the dumping of half a million gallons of DDT off the coast of Catalina Island between 1947 and 1961. It is unknown what the long-term consequences are, although it is clear that the bird population has declined in the surrounding Channel Islands. It is not difficult to imagine contaminated fish working their way up the food chain to affect predators like the California Condor and Peregrine Falcon. If this troubles you as it does me, remember, each of us can play an important role in protecting the wildlife in our own communities. While we cannot go scuba diving to remove the toxic waste off Catalina, we can refrain from using rodenticides that all too often kill mountain lions and birds of prey alike when they feed on poisoned rodents.

When we are fortunate to live close to these wild places, it is up to us to be good neighbors and stewards for the native flora and fauna. That way we will continue to see these extraordinary falcons calling these canyons their home, a life-affirming experience.

For more information about LCF, go to www.lagunacanyon.org.


Laguna Radio Inc. raffles off 1964 Ford Mustang to benefit KX 93.5 FM

At The Taste of Laguna Music & Food Festival on October 3, someone will become the proud owner of a 1964 Ford Mustang. The special raffle is being conducted by Laguna Radio Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. The winner does not need to be present to win. 

Tickets are $25 each or five for $100, and one hundred percent of the proceeds of this raffle benefit KX 93.5, aiming to lead the rebirth of FM radio, and enrich listeners with alternative music, views, and culture that elevates Laguna Beach on a global scale. 

Built March 19, 1964, this Mustang was the 2,041st one off the original assembly line. Only 1,274 cars of this model, this color (Wimbledon White), and this package were sold. The engine is a 170 cubic-inch, six cylinder, 3-speed manual. 

Laguna radio exterior

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Raffle winner will be drawn at The Taste of Laguna Music & Food Festival

This Mustang prototype was selected as the pace car for the 1964 Indianapolis 500, so some parts were “borrowed” from the Ford Falcon, including the horn ring on the steering wheel. A previous owner of this vehicle completely restored it in 2005, utilizing all original replacement parts, including a fully rebuilt engine. This car originally sold for $2,320.

Winners will be notified via phone and certified return receipt mail within seven days of the drawing and will be posted on the KX 93.5 website.

There is no limit to the number of tickets one person may purchase. Out-of-state winners can pay for the car to be shipped to their location. Ticket purchasers must be 18 years of age or older to participate and must have a valid Social Security number. 

Laguna radio interior

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Mustang was number 2,041 off the original assembly line

Raffle tickets may be purchased at www.KX935.com or in-person at 1833 S Coast Hwy #200, Laguna Beach. Cash, credit, checks, or money orders (made payable to Laguna Radio Inc) will be accepted.

All ticket order forms must be received with full payment no later than 8 p.m. on Oct 3, 2019 to be entered into the drawing. Laguna Radio Inc. will not extend ticket sales beyond the current drawing date of 8 p.m. on Oct 3, 2019 or beyond a maximum of 5,000 tickets sold, whichever comes first.

For complete official rules, go to 

www.kx935.com/mustangraffle-official-rules.


Dramatic images of Silverado Fire captured in Irvine-Laguna Wildlife Corridor

In late October and early November of this year, the Silverado Fire burned over 12,000 acres in inland Orange and Riverside Counties.

These images were captured by LGB’s cameras and show the Silverado Fire moving through a portion of the Irvine-Laguna Wildlife Corridor in the northern part of Irvine.

About a week later, the Bond fire erupted near the area, but avoided the Corridor. 

Motion-activated cameras posted in the Corridor to study wildlife movement captured dramatic images and a dramatic video of the action on October 26, 2020 (click here). The memory card miraculously survived, although the fire damaged the camera beyond repair.

Dramatic images fire

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Silverado Fire

What lessons can we learn from this documented event? Notably, a photo shows that coyote returned to the area less than 24 hours after the fire moved through this part of the Corridor. The Laguna Greenbelt, Inc. science team was happy to see that the Corridor is serving its intended purpose of providing access to habitat after a devastating event such as a wildfire. 

Scientific research has shown that habitat corridors are avenues for wildlife to escape, and also for return after such events. This process is vital to the resilience of our local wilderness habitats, particularly as we experience the ongoing effects of urbanization and climate change. 

Dramatic images coyote

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Coyote returns to area less than 24 hours after fire moved through

The Irvine-Laguna Wildlife Corridor is a 6-mile-long habitat connection between the Santa Ana mountains in inland Irvine and the coastal wilderness parks around Laguna Beach and neighboring cities. Laguna Greenbelt, Inc. is a nonprofit organization committed to open space preservation in Orange County and has been supporting the design and completion of the Irvine-Laguna Wildlife Corridor for over two decades. 

More information on the Corridor is available at www.wildlifecorridor.org/press-kit.


George Weiss to speak at first Laguna Canyon Conservancy Zoom meeting on Monday

As with most nonprofits, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the Laguna Canyon Conservancy (LCC) this past year. President Gayle Waite says, “However, now we are moving to Zoom meetings and we have our first one next Monday evening.” 

The first LCC Zoom meeting will feature Laguna Beach Councilmember George Weiss as the speaker on Monday, Jan 11 starting at 7 p.m. For the Zoom link, click here. Attendance is limited to 100; however, the public is invited. To suggest questions, send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. at least a day prior to the meeting or use Chat during the meeting.

​Waite says, “The pandemic continues to keep us from physically meeting but we are moving forward with plans for Zoom meetings in the coming few months.”

George Weiss closeup

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Councilmember George Weiss will speak at LCC’s Zoom meeting on Monday, Jan 11

The second 2021 meeting will be on Monday, Feb 1 at 7 p.m. The guest speaker will be Hallie Jones, Executive Director of the Laguna Canyon Foundation. Meetings instructions will be sent out in advance and posted on the LCC website.

The Laguna Canyon Conservancy is an all-volunteer group dedicated to monitoring the issues that could have an effect on the wilderness parks and open space connected to Laguna Canyon. LCC selects well-informed speakers and provides a forum for learning about the alternatives that face preservation efforts.

What’s been happening at LCC? Plans are underway to transfer the huge collection of LCC papers and photographs assembled over 30 years by Carolyn Wood to a permanent archive home at the UC Irvine Libraries. This massive undertaking is being spearheaded by Harry Huggins with assistance by Jackie Gallagher and should be completed by spring.

LCC is important to park users and residents of Laguna Beach for determining the optimal choices in preservation and protection of our surrounding open spaces, which improves our environment, community health, and surrounding beauty in what would likely have been an urbanized landscape. If all of the 22,000 acres of preserved open space were included in Laguna Beach city limits, it would be nearly 85 percent of the total area. 

For more information on LCC, go to www.LagunaCanyonConservancy.org.


Victor Quijada’s RUBBERBAND brings fusion of styles to Laguna Dance Festival on Sept 28

By DIANNE RUSSELL

From choreographer Victor Quijada’s dance background – the 1980s hip-hop scene in Los Angeles to contemporary dance in New York City to the ballet in Montreal, Canada – he created RUBBERBAND dance group, a fusion of contemporary and hip-hop. 

On Saturday, Sept 28, RUBBERBAND dance group will perform Vic’s Mix as part of the Laguna Dance Festival at The Irvine Barclay Theatre in conjunction with performances by Parsons Dance Company and Ballet West at 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, RUBBERBAND will again perform and Quijada will be teaching a master class on stage. It begins at 2 p.m. – and there will be a pre-talk at 1 p.m. with Quijada and Laguna Dance Festival Artistic Director Jodie Gates. 

The blending of contemporary and street dancing

The Guardian describes RUBBERBAND’s style: “Super-stretched jumps morph into crouching rolls; top-rocking footwork muscles in on high stepping bourrées; and below the movement’s surface, silky classical phrasing is worked into the choppy rhythms of street dance. The result is a unique dynamic that’s both tough and elastic.”

Quijada describes it as a “cross-pollination” of his dance careers. “In 2002, at age 26, I founded RUBBERBAND in order to embrace all the different parts of my dance experiences – not only what I had learned in my professional career, but also what I had experienced in those L.A. nightclub cyphers.

 “Jodie Gates [now Vice Dean, Artistic Director, and Professor of Dance at USC Kaufman School of Dance] first invited me to come teach a workshop during the Laguna Dance Festival in 2016. It was the first time I had ever been to Laguna Beach…what a discovery!”

Hip-hop roots

Although Quijada is currently based in Montreal, his career began in California when he was just a boy in the San Gabriel Valley – in the cities of West Covina and Baldwin Park. 

Victor Quijada close up

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LB Dance Festival

Artistic Director of RUBBERBAND Victor Quijada

“I started hip-hop dancing when I was seven or eight. Then in 1983 I started seeing all the movies and music videos, they were so exciting, seeing Latinos being creative and cool. As a young kid, I discovered and fell in love with hip-hop culture. In my late teens, I was involved in the underground L.A. hip-hop freestyle dance scene.” 

That’s when he got the nickname “Rubberband.” Quijada graduated from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and became the protégé of L.A.-based choreographer Rudy Perez.

It was a combination of circumstances that led to his current home base in Montreal. Quijada explains, “As with a lot of things in life, it was half-chosen and half-fate. I left Los Angeles at age 20 to join Twyla Tharp’s company in NYC. Then I moved to Montreal to join Les Grands Ballets Canadiens at age 24. 

“For the first couple of years, I did the classics, and was satisfied – that’s why I joined the repertory company, but I realized there were still boxes I was trying to check. I was wondering what the next chapter was going to be.” 

How RUBBERBAND became a hybrid

It didn’t take long to find out what that would be.

“Before I moved to Montreal, I was dipping into choreography. When I got to Montreal, in my spare time I created a workshop with dancers from the company, showing around town, a more grassroots testing of my choreography ideas. It’s an amazing town. I found opportunities to show my work. It was feeding me. The hip-hop culture was bubbling in Montreal at the time with graffiti events, open mics taken over by B boys, and freestyles. It was popping. It helped me reconnect to my roots from L.A. I was back in the clubs – like my teenage years.” 

Soon he realized his diverse dance experience could be combined to form a cutting-edge style.

Victor Quijada group

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LB Dance Festival

RUBBERBAND performs “Vic’s Mix” 

 “At that time, I had a need and desire to take what I was performing in the ballet and incorporate it. I knew they couldn’t remain separate dance modes, but hip-hop wasn’t on the radar for concerts. The intersection of contemporary with hip-hip didn’t exist at that time. But the club scene in Montreal reminded me of who I was at the base.”

However, eventually the two worlds collided.

Quijada says, “I was in the ballet from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then in the clubs from 10:30 p.m. until 4 a.m. I couldn’t continue being two separate people, so I had to find a way to bring the two together.”

Vic’s Mix – a retrospective

Vic’s Mix is a remix of Victor Quijada’s work over a period of years, orchestrating the clash between hip-hop and classical composition.

When asked about performing in a small venue such as The Barclay, he says, “This show can shrink or go bigger.”

The company consists of 10 core dancers and two apprentices. “That number of dancers needs a big stage.” So in this performance, Vic’s Mix uses seven dancers. 

Quijada says, “I am so happy to bring Vic’s Mix to the Laguna Dance Festival. Vic’s Mix is like a greatest hits album of the first 15 years of the company! It’s a complete capsule from periods of my career and includes some of my funny bone and full-length work. It shows the work and makes a space for humor.”

When it premiered in December of last year, Quijada says that it was far beyond what he had done before. “It was a challenge to push beyond the boundaries, a make it or break it moment. But when I could hear the audience laugh at something, I knew they were there 100 percent. It was profoundly gratifying.” 

It has since toured in 10 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

Music plays an important part in the production. Vic’s Mix includes original music by Jasper Gahunia (and that of various composers). In choosing, Quijada asked, “What happens when movements with energy and urgency are put with classical music? The juxtaposition is inspiring.”

Victor Quijada handstand

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Facebook

Hip-hop

 “It’s a retrospective and includes some of my favorite moments. The first act is the earlier part of my career and looks at those experiments when I was asking ‘what more could hip-hop be if it wasn’t just to rap?’ Does the movement change how the spectator sees and receives it? What if I follow a compositional format and do what I’ve seen – it will be a new classification with different vocabulary, and what would the result be?”

Quijada witnessed the evolution of how hip-hop became worldwide.

A rich vocabulary

“Back 20 years ago, as part of the popular culture, ‘Breaking’ was underground, it was still on the cusp of being popular. It was an underground culture, but now it’s popular. Today’s contemporary influence by hip-hop has a place. I wanted to keep it alive and show it’s still valid and happening. Across the country, urban dancing needs to be seen as a valid and rich vocabulary. This is the approach I introduced to my students – that what we were doing 20 years ago is still very relevant.” 

In creating RUBBERBAND, Quijada has done something unique with the language of dance, so make sure you don’t miss out on this innovative performance.

He says, “I’m also very excited to share a special split bill presentation with Parsons Dance Company and Ballet West; both of these companies are such longstanding institutions in the world of dance.”

There’s no doubt that the audience should be prepared to be astonished.

The Irvine Barclay Theatre is located at 4242 Campus Dr, Irvine.

For information about RUBBERBAND, go to www.rbdg.org.

For more information about the Laguna Dance Festival and tickets to upcoming shows, go to www.lagunadancefestival.org.


St Ives, Laguna Beach Sister City, celebrates the holidays with English style

St Ives, a sister city of Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association (LBSCA), is a town in Cornwall, England, known for its surf beaches, like Porthmeor, and its art scene. Although famous for its beautiful town and beaches, and lighthouse, St Ives has also been home to some of the greatest artists and sculptors from all corners of the globe. Like Laguna, it is now world-famous as an art centre. 

St Ives Santa and sailors

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Photo by Ron Tulley, LBSCA

Santa arrives each year, coming into the harbor on a lifeboat. He then goes to his grotto where children can come to see him

The seafront Tate St Ives gallery has rotating modern art exhibitions, focusing on British artists. Nearby, the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, in the modernist artist’s former studio, displays her bronzes and other works. Boat trips go to Seal Island, just west of town, to see the seal colony. 

In January 2008 when Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association (LBSCA) Inc. was formed, three cities were chosen as our sister cities, and St Ives was one of them. LBSCA is a broad-based, Laguna Beach City Council-approved, all volunteer, nonprofit organization.

St Ives Fore Street

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Photo by Ron Tulley, LBSCA

Fore Street, main shopping street

The LBSCA has a primary goal to establish and maintain long-term relationships between the City of Laguna Beach and its sister cities, Menton, France, San José del Cabo, Mexico, and St Ives, England. These partnerships will encourage a collaborative exchange of cultural, educational, and business activities. 

St Ives store window

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Photo by Ron Tulley, LBSCA

Shop windows throughout the town are decorated with a Christmas theme 

From the first days of Christianity in Britain, St Ives was named after the legendary tale of a young missionary called St la, who according to her legend, floated there from Ireland on a leaf. The town grew with the development of the harbor during the medieval era. The local fishermen made a living catching mackerel, pilchards, and herring. This industry-led to the growth of the town around the scenic harbor producing an enchanting maze of narrow cobbled streets known as the “Downalong” that wind around the harbor.

These streets are traditionally decked out for the holidays.

For more information about LBSCA, go to www.lagunabeachsistercities.com.


Community and family remember Walter von Gremp and his legacy 

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Although Walter von Gremp has always been known by residents as the founder of Sally’s Fund, he’s also been described as Laguna’s Pied Piper, fiercely loyal to his employees, a highly sought-after attendee at social gatherings, and by close friend Arnie Silverman, “one of the most generous men I ever knew.”

Sadly, he passed away last Saturday at the age of 92.

Husband to Ann for 64 years, he was the father of four sons – Tom, Bill, Jim, and Andrew – and daughter Katie, and grandfather to nine. 

Walt and Ann were quite proud that their children were able to be there for each other. Their sons Jim and Andrew acquired many properties “west of the 405,” and for Andrew, that time was more fulfilling than he’d imagined. 

Community Walter closeup

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Walter von Gremp

Their eldest son Tom says, “Andrew gave me his DNA in a bone marrow transplant he went through when not running the rental units – 21 surprising years ago.” 

Walter and Ann were married in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1956. According to his family, she was his devoted caretaker for the last ten years while he was confined to bed. As a symbol of his love for her, he had a statue of a woman holding an infant placed across the street from the Post Office on Forest Ave in the pocket park owned by the Laguna Presbyterian Church.

Richard Dix expands on the statue’s history, “In 1998 or 1999, I became the church building and grounds elder. The pocket garden was a real mess back then, and Walter must have noticed its condition from across the street during one of his daily Coffee Pub meetings. With his own funds, around $8,000 I think, he hired an architectural landscaper who designed the space and added benches and brickwork. The statue was placed to honor motherhood and children. As time went by, no one was taking care of park, and Walter would pay for any rehabilitation work out of his own pocket. He was excited when the Laguna Beach Garden Club and my wife Polly, who is a member, adopted the garden and managed it for about 10 years.”

community Walter statue

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Walter placed this statue in the Laguna Presbyterian Church pocket garden to honor his wife Ann

Both von Gremps were extremely active in the community for many years. Ann continues to live in Laguna among family and friends and until last year served as treasurer of Sally’s Fund. Walter was voted Patriots Day Parade Citizen of the Year in 1992, served as president of Little League for two consecutive years, was the originator of what became the Shaw’s Cove Yacht Club, and, of course, was the founder of Sally’s Fund. He also contributed to multiple causes and organizations such as the local VFW.

Walter was born in Fort Benning, Georgia, while his father was a captain in the army. Tom says, “Back then, the military moved them around every five years, so my grandfather left the service, and they relocated to the West Coast.”

In 1940, eleven-year-old Walter lived in Los Angeles with his father Walter and mother Sally.

Walter attended UCLA and after spending time in Brentwood, moved to the San Fernando Valley. The von Gremps continued to support UCLA and in 1988, the von Gremp Workshop in Economic History graduate degree program was inaugurated.

In 1977, from a bedroom in their San Fernando Valley home, Walter started an insurance company which ultimately turned into a 12-and-a-half-million-dollar company with 125 employees.

However, in the beginning, the original company was very much family run.

Community Walter and family

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Submitted photo

Walter and Ann with family

Tom says, “I was president and my mom was chairman of the board. She was the power behind the throne. In 1982, my family decided to leave the San Fernando Valley and moved to Laguna Beach. We had a small office above Reef Liquor. Then my father built an office on South Coast Hwy – across the street from what is now Mozambique – and we had 100 employees. It was wonderful to be able to work with him there. Then he built another building in Laguna Hills, and 95 percent of the employees continued with him.”

At the time, his business was the largest privately owned company in Laguna. Walter sold it to a Chicago-based company in 1996, and he retired in 1997.

“He really looked out for his employees,” says Tom. “It was very important to him that the people who worked for him in Laguna Beach would be taken care of. When he sold, he made certain that the employees were guaranteed a contract for three years.”

Successful and astute as a businessman, Walter had a fun side too, his family and friends attest.

Community Walter in tuxedo

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Submitted photo

A black tie affair 

“Every afternoon at a certain time, weather permitting, he’d go down to Shaw’s Cove, and he and a bunch of his friends would play gin rummy,” says Tom. “It became the Shaw’s Cove Yacht Club, and they even had a flag. My parents were very well liked and would be invited to all the social gatherings, and sometimes I’d tag along.”

In an accompanying remembrance piece, Arnie Silverman talks about another group at the Coffee Pub, where Walter was also the leader. 

Tom says, “They would meet there at the Coffee Pub every day to talk and pretend they ran the world.”

Walter’s granddaughter Ashley shares a memory, “He was a wonderful and caring grandfather to all of his grandchildren, always ready with a huge hug and a silly joke. Christmas won’t be the same without his annual, very animated reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. And no one had a memory like my Granddad…he could tell you a story from any point in his life, remembering every street name and every detail, making all of the tales he told so rich and full, keeping you on the edge of your seat!” 

Community Walter and Sally

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Submitted photo

Walter with his mother Sally

Of all his legacies in the community, the most well-known is Sally’s Fund. 

Walter’s son Jim and his wife Steph maintain positions on the Sally’s Fund board and continue Walter’s efforts for the nonprofit, which meant so much to him. 

Tom says, “Liz Breem is in charge of making certain all the ‘I’s’ are dotted.”

Considered a vital part of the community, Sally’s Fund was founded in 1982 when several local community members realized how many seniors were being forced into institutional living because of a lack of transportation. Walter was moved to take action after reading stories in the local paper detailing the struggle some of his neighbors had while trying to stay in their homes. 

Realizing the need was even greater than initially thought, Walter and Ann provided “significant financial support” to the organization, which was able to hire some part-time employees as a result. This new, more formal organization became Sally’s Fund, named in honor of Walter’s mother who had recently died. It became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity in 1986.

Before the pandemic, every year there was a home tour fundraiser at Emerald Bay. 

“The bridge between isolation and community” is how Rachael Berger, Sally’s Fund managing director, describes the work her organization does for seniors. 

Which is exactly what Walter achieved during his long and productive life – he brought comfort and connection to lonely seniors, and joy to his family and friends. He will be missed.


City of LB Recreation Division invites residents to start 2021 with fun, fresh air, and exercise

Time to shake off the holiday letdown and begin the new year with some healthy exercise and fresh air – or maybe some canine behavior tips. This winter, the City of Laguna Beach Recreation Division is offering several fun and exciting ways to accomplish these goals with limited in-person outdoor youth and adult classes as well as online classes for all ages and dogs too!

Take advantage of classes like: LB Water Polo, Youth Soccer classes, Skyhawks Tot classes, Tennis for all ages, Pickleball, and online dog and puppy training.

Pickleball has become a big hit with all ages. Pickleball classes will be held at Alta Laguna Park for all levels. For those who have never played or those who want to expand existing skills, these are the ideal classes. Classes are taught by experienced instructor Hai Nguyen and staff. The course will cover the basics of pickleball rules, terminology, primary skills, coordination, strokes, and more. The City is offering three class sessions beginning on Thursday, Jan 14.

City of Charley

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Charley attended one of Penelope Milne’s classes when he was a puppy

For the little ones, the Skyhawks Tot classes are a perfect fit. Held at Bluebird Park, this program requires parent participation. Soccer Tots is the City’s flagship program. Playable on almost any surface, these soccer-themed motor skill classes are extremely easy for youngsters to get into. Younger age groups focus on developing motor skills and self-confidence while older age group classes focus more on developing core soccer skills and personal focus with an introduction to light competition.

The Recreation Division has not forgotten our four-legged friends.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many families have been working and schooling from home and found it a good time to adopt a puppy or dog. For both training and fun activities for dogs, Penelope Milne, CPDT-KSA, CBCC-KA, of DubDubDog Animal Behavior Services, will be conducting two weekly online sessions beginning this week (this session will be held on Tuesdays and Fridays). For an example of a group online class, go to www.whatagoodpuppy.com

City of pool

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Community pool open on reservation-only basis

Field and facility information: Riddle Field is closed for maintenance through Feb 1. 

The community pool is open for limited lap swim on a reservation-only basis.

Laguna Beach playgrounds are currently open.

Susi Q Center and Lang Park Center are still closed.

Recreational Committee Scholarships are currently available to use towards classes. For an application, click here.

To access the catalog for more information on all programs offered and to register for classes, click here.


Boys & Girls Club leader to be honored at this weekend’s Laguna Hero Fest

The MY HERO Project is proud to announce that Pam Estes will be the recipient of the 2019 Community Hero Award for her ongoing support of local youth. Estes, who is Chief Executive Officer for the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, will receive the award at the annual Laguna Hero Fest this weekend. 

This is the 12th anniversary of the Laguna Hero Fest, which honors individuals and organizations who have made contributions to the Laguna Beach community. The event takes place Saturday, Nov 16 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, Canyon Branch. 

Since Estes joined the Boys & Girls Club in 2001, the number of youths served rose from 850 to more than 4,000. She and her 50-person staff have created a lovely, safe space for local school kids to learn, play, and grow. Physical outlets, from team sports to gardening, encourage physical activity, while art, education, and STEM programs nurture young minds. Summer camps and field trips create a sense of community and promote each child’s love of learning. 

Boys & Girls Pam

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Pam Estes to be honored at Laguna Hero Fest on Saturday, all are welcome to attend

Saturday’s Laguna Hero Fest will be a family-friendly afternoon that will include art activities, live performances, and the screening of inspiring films. MY HERO Media Arts mentors will help students create unique works of art and kids will work with rapper/hip-hop dancer Trey Carlisle in choreographing an original performance. Filmmaker Marc Ostrick will show a film Made in Madras, the story of a teenage soccer player living on the streets in India. The film is this year’s winner of the People’s Choice Award at the MY HERO International Film Festival.

“The MY HERO Project has had the opportunity to work with the leadership at the Boys and Girls Club over the years and it is with great admiration and respect that we select Pam Estes to the be recipient of the Laguna Hero Fest 2019 Community Hero Award,” says Jeanne Meyers, Co-founder and Director of The MY HERO Project. “Pam has guided this most important local institution serving thousands of youth and families since she came on board 18 years ago.”

The MY HERO Project is a Laguna Beach-based organization with a mission to celebrate heroes from all walks of life. Support for the Laguna Hero Fest comes in part from the City of Laguna Beach and the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach. 

Art activities for the festival are being funded by the FOA Foundation and media partners include Stu News Laguna and local radio station KX 93.5. 

Tickets are free but donations are welcome to support the ongoing work of The MY HERO Project. 

RSVP at www.myhero.com/laguna

The Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach, Canyon Branch is located at
1085 Laguna Canyon Rd.


Where’s Maggi – the answers!

Where did Maggi spy this sculpture? Nancy Wade knew it is at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach, and so did Jane Swintek, Jerry Immel, Nanci Nielsen, and Sandi Werthe. 

Thanks, everyone, for playing along! 

Check in on Friday for a new challenge.    

Where's Maggi 12 29 20

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Sculpture at entrance to Mission Hospital Laguna Beach


Farewell sunset

Farewell sunset sky

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Photo by James Vaughan

One of the last sunsets of 2020


Laguna Beach Rotary presents Grapes for Grads® XV logo design winner, Natalie Mayoral

The Rotary Club of Laguna Beach awarded $500 to this year’s Grapes for Grads® logo designer, Natalie Mayoral. 

Mayoral is Texas native that moved to Southern California to pursue an education in design. She is currently a senior in her last semester at Laguna College of Art + Design, studying Graphic Design + Digital Media.

Natalie states, “I am appreciative for being given this opportunity to design the logo for the 2020 Grapes for Grads scholarship fundraiser. It is an honor to be a part of something that helps support fellow artists and designers like me that are in pursuit of their education.” 

Laguna Beach award

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(L-R) Peggy Wolff, LBUSD Board of Education President; Dana Herkelrath, Assistant Chair of Graphic Design and Digital Media, LCAD; Natalie Mayoral, winning artist and senior at LCAD; and Kerri Redeker, Executive Assistant to the Provost, LCAD

Natalie’s design will be printed on all of the event promotional materials including flyers, ads, and event signage. Each year a student artist from LCAD is selected to create the Grapes for Grads logo.

The Rotary Club of Laguna Beach is proud to host the 15th annual premier wine tasting event held in Laguna Beach. Grapes for Grads® raises scholarship funds for graduating seniors from Laguna Beach High School and students attending Laguna College of Art +Design.    

The Scholarship Fundraiser and Wine Tasting event will be held on Sunday, April 26 at Festival of Arts grounds. This festive event brings together over 80 noted wineries, culinary offerings from five of the best restaurants in Laguna Beach, live music by Typical Gypsys, marvelous raffle prizes, and silent auction opportunities. LCAD students will be performing live demonstrations in painting throughout the event. 

For more information about sponsorship, advertising opportunities, silent auction donations, or ticket purchases, visit www.GrapesForGrads.com.


Dennis’ Tidbits 

By DENNIS McTIGHE 

December 25, 2020

My origin story, thanks to two Franks

Dennis 5Mele Kalikimaka, everyone! Hope it’s a healthy and happy one for y’all.

Roughly 30 percent of our country will have a white Christmas this year. We’re only four days into winter and it already sucks for a good portion of the country, with full-on blizzard conditions from the Northern Plains to the upper Midwest. And then there’s the miserable Northeast and New England, where they can’t buy a nice weekend the entire winter, and here we sit at the beach wearing shorts and flops! 

We are so blessed to have ended up in this tiny piece of paradise. Once you’re here it’s hard to leave and it’s so easy to see why. Personally, that’s my Christmas gift 365 days a year and to this day I never take this place for granted and don’t plan to anytime soon.

My Mom and Pop first discovered Laguna way back in September of 1939 on a tip from my Pop’s musical buddy. You might have heard of him. He went by the name of Frank Sinatra. Here’s how it all went down: my father, Frank James McTighe, was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was part of a fourth generation of McTighes in that city, so he had some pretty deep roots there. 

After he graduated high school, he attended Villanova College, a renowned Catholic university in Philadelphia, where he earned his Masters in business and economics, graduating in June of 1939. When he wasn’t in school he was an accomplished musician, and became good enough to be a member of the Glenn Miller Band, playing the five-string banjo and the mandolin. The top three swing bands at the time were Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, and Hugo Winterhalter. They would tour much of the Atlantic Seaboard and even places west of there.

One night in June of that year, the Glenn Miller Band had a gig in Atlantic City. Frank Sinatra’s band, called “Les Brown and his Band of Renowns,” were playing at the same concert that night, and their lead singers were Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong. Frankie’s nickname was “Blue Eyes,” and Armstrong went by the nickname “Satchmo.“ At the break my Pop met them and they all became friends. 

During that gig in June, Pop met his future wife, Monet Mae Lemore from Halifax, Nova Scotia. She had just graduated nursing school and happened to be in Philadelphia with a couple of girlfriends from the same nursing college. They were celebrating their degrees and went to see the big bands. As the story goes, while on his break between sets, Pop saw Monet and their eyes immediately locked. Talk about instant love! They were married only nine weeks later on August 29, 1939, in Atlantic City, where my Pop’s band and Les Brown’s were playing again. 

During the break my Pop hooked up with “Blue Eyes“ and introduced Frank to his new beautiful wife, Monet. They all talked for a few minutes between sets and Mr. Sinatra congratulated my Pop and Mom. Then Frank asked my folks where they planned to spend their honeymoon. My folks told Frank they had never been to the West Coast. My Pop said he and Mom had endured so many brutal winters back east, so maybe it was time for a change.

Frank replied: “If you happen to make it to Southern California in your travels, there’s a tiny little artsy beach town about 50 miles south of L.A. called Laguna Beach, population 9,800. I know you’ll both immediately fall in love with the place. When I’m not with the band I go to Laguna every chance I get when we’re playing out west.”

The next day my folks gathered up a few things and hopped in his 1937 Ford and headed west, happy, free, and easy, and very much in love. They took their time and about ten days later arrived in the L.A. area, grabbed a Southern California road map and headed south on Highway 1, finally arriving in Laguna Beach. Finding themselves at the south end of Heisler Park in North Laguna, they parked the car, walked 50 feet or so to the famous gazebo, and saw the panoramic view of the coast. 

The decision was made right then and there, instantly. “We’re done with the East Coast! We’re moving here!” And the rest is history. That’s what this place does to you.

Have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday! ALOHA!


New Year’s Day swim

New Year's water

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Heralding in the new year with a brisk swim


Dr. Keys Keel is offering curbside COVID-19 testing and flu vaccines at his South Laguna office

From the comfort of one’s car, residents can now receive COVID-19 testing and flu vaccines outside the office of Keys S. Keel, M.D. Dr. Keel has been in the office since 1992, serving Laguna for 35 years. 

His office staff includes Denise Duda, office manager, medical assistant, and biller, who has been with Dr. Keel for 22 years, and Elvia Gomez, a licensed esthetician who has been with the doctor for two years. 

Dr. Keel closeup

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Dr. Keys Keel

Dr. Keel and staff will be offering the following COVID-19 testing:

--Abbott ID Now COVID-19 Testing: This test is a rapid molecular in vitro diagnostic test utilizing an isothermal nucleic acid amplification technology intended for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARS-Cov viral RNA in direct nasal swabs. The ID Now has received Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA. Results are within 15 mins.

--COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Testing: Nasal swab is performed; detects live, active infection. Results are within 20 mins. 

--COVID-19 Expedited PCR Testing: Nasal swab is performed; specimen is sent UPS to an outside lab. Results are within 24-48 hours. 

--Antibody Testing: Finger prick, testing IGM and IGG; can detect past infection of COVID-19. Results are within 15 minutes.

Dr. Keel received his medical education at University of California, Irvine in 1984. He was president of his Medical Class in 1983. He also did his residency at UCI.

He has been on the active Medical Staff at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach since 1986. 

Although he specializes in Family Practice, he also provides cosmetic services.

Dr. Keel’s office is located at 31542 Coast Hwy, Suite 3. For more information, call (949) 499-3915.


The Jenal family adjusts to the new normal

By DIANNE RUSSELL

The Jenal family – John and Carrie, and their three children Makenna, a 15-year-old, 13-year-old Dane, and 11-year-old Declan – was to be the focus of Stu News’ “Laguna Life and People” feature for today. However, to fully celebrate their story, we are holding it for a few months. Since so much of their lives revolved around sports and school, now that we’re all indoors, Carrie reports the changes:

“Our lives and schedules have changed dramatically these past 10 days. Initially, with the closing of our schools and stopping of all athletic activities our family was looking forward to a forced break. However, the novelty wore off quickly, and we had to establish a new schedule to accommodate all of our needs. 

“Our new reality is mom working from home, three kids learning remotely, and dad working lots of overtime. We needed to balance school work, physical fitness, chores, emotional well-being, and set limits on screen time.” 

The Jenal group

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The Jenal family: (L-R) Makenna, Declan, John, Dane, and Carrie

“We are employing family time strategies to adjust to the lack of social interaction, sports activities, church, and lack of engagement in our community as a whole. Video chatting with friends, family, co-workers, and school friends has been our favorite way to stay connected. 

“We have enjoyed playing board games, doing puzzles, watching classic movies, going surfing, and skateboarding, hiking our local trails, running the high school track, playing basketball, and baseball at the park. However, due to recent outdoor restrictions, we will find alternative physical activities to keep us regulated (which do not include playing ball in the house).” 

Look for their full story sometime in the near future.

Readers: If you would like to tell us how your lives have changed due to the restrictions, please send your story to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Dennis’ Tidbits

By DENNIS McTIGHE

December 29, 2020

Rainless no more, but still unlikely to catch up to normal

Dennis 5From now through around January 12 or 13, the sun will rise at 6:58 a.m. at our latitude, and will rise a tiny bit earlier each day from then on.

This installment is my last one for 2020, and in about three weeks I’ll be starting my tenth year with Stu News Laguna. It’s been a great ride! Love to go another ten but that’s entirely up to the Big Boss upstairs.

Our 2020-21 rainfall since last July 1 is a paltry 0.61 inches (as of Sunday). Normal rainfall for this date is 4.04 inches, so we’re playing catch up already; I seriously doubt if we will catch up, but as we all know by now the weather is constantly throwing us a curve. With this La Nina firmly in place, even 10 inches seems like a long shot.

Our two wettest months of the year are January and February, with an average of 3.03 inches in January and 3.11 in February, making up about 44 percent of our annual rainfall in just those two months. Laguna’s annual rainfall from my records dating back to 1958 is 13.95 inches. There have been three rainless Januarys since 1958. Those were in 1961, 1972, and 1976. Other dry Januarys have been 0.13 in 1963, 0.14 in 1975, 0.17 in 1984, and 0.33 in 1994. 

Our wettest Januarys have been 1969, with a staggering 18.81 inches, also the wettest month of all time here in Laguna with that Biblical amount falling in just eleven days. Then there was 12.56 in 1995, and 11.77 in 1993.

There have been two rainless Februarys, 1959 and 1984. Other dry Februarys have been 0.08 in 1997, 0.13 in 1972, and 0.17 in 1977. Our wettest Februarys were 15.02 inches in 1998, our second wettest month on record, then 13.68 inches in 1962, followed by 12.75 in 1980, and 8.91 in 1978 and 2005. January and February amounts vary greatly from year to year.

On September 10, 1939, happy newlyweds Frank and Monet McTighe concluded their long journey across the country from the East Coast and arrived here in beautiful Laguna Beach. They were on their honeymoon and their first stop was the famous gazebo that overlooked the panoramic view of Laguna and the entire coastline. The decision was made then and there: Southern California was to be their new home, and they never looked back thanks to a tip from my Pop’s musician buddy Frank Sinatra. 

They were absolutely enamored with the place. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm late summer day as they walked on the path by the old Victor Hugo on down to the beach where they put their feet in the warm clear Pacific for the very first time. It was an El Nino summer with the air and water an inviting 75 degrees. After that, they walked out to the end of the old wooden fishing pier that stretched from the north end of Main Beach and out past Bird Rock. 

Little did they know that the very pier they wandered out on would be reduced to mere toothpicks only two weeks later. More on that in Friday’s edition, so I’ll see you next year. 

ALOHA, everyone!


Waymakers receives generous donations from Ebell Club of Laguna Beach

Waymakers, a nonprofit organization that builds safer communities by helping individuals make their way through conflict and crisis to a place of strength and stability, has been chosen as the only nonprofit to be adopted by the Ebell Club of Laguna Beach this holiday season. 

A large donation of clothes, undergarments, toys, and games were gifted to Waymakers’ Laguna Beach Youth Shelter, which serves as a “safe haven” for homeless, runaway, abused, and at-risk youth. 

The Ebell Club of Laguna Beach, formerly called the Junior Women’s Club, was founded in 1933 and is comprised of women who give back to the Laguna Beach community through philanthropic and volunteer events. Today, the group provides scholarships to Laguna Beach High School students and supports the community through a variety of events and projects. 

Waymakers receives tree

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Donations under the Waymakers Christmas tree 

Donations from the Ebell Club of Laguna Beach were dropped off at the door for the children at the shelter, due to COVID-19 restrictions, with the goal of celebrating together in 2021. Since opening its doors 42 years ago, Waymakers’ Laguna Beach Youth Shelter has helped hundreds of homeless, runaway, and struggling Orange County youth and their families between ages 11 and 17, most who are trying to cope with issues kids should never face, such as early-childhood trauma. 

“We are so grateful for the community members from Ebell Club who have continued to give gifts and household items to the Laguna Beach Youth Shelter this year,” said Carol Carlson, program director at Waymakers. “As our needs have increased, so has our community’s generosity, and we could not have provided our services without this assistance.” 

The shelter’s mission goes beyond a place to stay, providing a place for homeless, runaway, and at-risk youth 24/7, 365 days a year. As emergency crisis and intervention programs, the Laguna Beach Youth Shelter aims to achieve family strengthening and reunification, homeless prevention, diversion of at-risk youth from the juvenile justice system, and school drop-out prevention. 

In addition to providing youth with a safe haven and protection from the dangers of the streets, the shelters also provide youth and their families with professional comprehensive services including individual, group and family therapy, academic support, job/career readiness, life skills, and aftercare. The trained staff has an excellent success rate of reuniting children with their families, at over 90 percent, by finding solutions to their complex challenges. 

For more information on Waymakers, visit www.waymakersoc.org.


Realtor assists in obtaining 10,000 medical grade masks for local front line workers

Many frontline workers in Laguna Beach are breathing a little easier, thanks to a local effort that supplied them with coveted medical-grade N95 masks. 

In mid-March, local realtor Marcus Skenderian was approached by a client who had access to a bulk quantity of KN95 masks. Knowing Skenderian’s extensive community connections, the client asked for his help coordinating and distributing masks to first responders, municipal work, and retail sites where they are most needed. Through the generosity of his client and family friends, Eric Kramer and Lisa Griffin, within four weeks, they were able to deliver 10,000 masks to first responders, health care facilities, and essential businesses in and around Laguna Beach.

Realtor assists fire truck

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(L-R) Kellen Kramer, LB Firefighter Grant Bracy, Lisa Griffin-Kramer, and Marcus Skenderian

Recipients of masks included the City of Laguna Beach for city workers and city hall staff, Friendship Shelter, Laguna Beach Community Clinic, Mission Hospital Laguna Beach, Hoag Family Medicine on Ocean Avenue, Laguna Family Health Center, Caduceus, The Mail Stop, The UPS Store, and others. Supporting the effort were Mayor Bob Whalen, City Manager John Pietig (who recently recovered from COVID-19), and Fire Chief Mike Garcia.

Realtor assists Caduceus

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Staff at Caduceus

“One of the recipients at a nonprofit healthcare site burst into tears when we called to explain what we were trying to do,” Skenderian said. “They were making do with what they had and supplies were running low. No one had asked them if they had a need. I was shocked to hear that Caduceus only had 12 masks remaining at the time we contacted them. They are on the front line of the coronavirus in our community. Within two days, we were able to get them 500 masks.”

Realtor assists fire truck

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Submitted photo

(L-R) Mike Austin of Friendship Shelter and Lisa Griffin-Kramer

Some of the costs were reimbursed by the recipients, but remaining costs for the masks, which were $2.07 each, are yet to be covered. Contributions are welcome; contact Marcus at (949) 295-5758 if you’d like to contribute to the cause. 

“There is much coronavirus-related tragedy occurring daily, yet there are also blessings and lessons to be learned,” Skenderian noted. “We continue to be inspired by the many stories of kindness, offers to help, donations, and people collaborating to support a community that gives us all so much. More than ever, I am appreciating the people of our town and how they rally to meet a need.”

For more information about the Skenderian Group, go to www.skenderiangroup.com.


Ruminations about the Year of the Ox, not to mention the Year of the Sheep

By Lynette Brasfield

Imagine my chagrin when I found out that, according to the Chinese Zodiac, my birth year was the Year of the Sheep! I mean, sheep aren’t known for being witty, brave, or independent-minded, qualities to which I have always aspired. Nor do sheep age gracefully.

And those chins! (Or lack of them.)

Then I discovered that 1955 could also be considered the Year of the Goat.

I felt marginally better. At least goats were known to be obstinate and capricious, not necessarily traits to celebrate, but closer to the truth when it comes to my character.

And in Laguna, they protect us from fires by grazing grassy fuel, which is admirable.

At last I realized that GOAT also stands for Greatest Of All Time. Which sounds good, but Greatest at What? There’s the rub.

But enough about me.

Ruminations about goat

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Goats have their uses

This year, 2021, is the Year of the Ox. And that’s no yoke. (See earlier comment about aspirations to be “witty.”)

More accurately, the Year of the Ox begins on February 12 (Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day) and lasts until January 30, 2022. The Chinese Zodiac takes 12 years to complete. The zodiac animals are, in order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. 

According to Asian astrologers, the ox denotes “the hard work, positivity, and honesty that will be manifested in all of us in the coming 12 months.” 

“All of us” seems wildly optimistic, right? But who am I to rain on an ox’s parade?

However, 2021 isn’t going to be all fun and games. The zodiac website continues: “This is going to be a year when we will fully feel the weight of our responsibilities, a year when it is necessary to double our efforts to accomplish anything at all.”

Now, that I believe. Here’s to the success of vaccinations! 

Last year was the Year of the Rat. (Seems appropriate, given the plague of COVID-19, not to mention…well, I won’t. Time to move on.)

Ruminations about Costa Rica

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Submitted photo 

“Sometimes you just have to take the bull – or the ox – by the horns.” (photo from 2019 in Costa Rica)

So let’s talk about me again.

Apparently this year, Goat people “might encounter some difficulties in maintaining their focus, they might lose their calm and also some money. At the same time, they need to control their behavior and watch what they say, so they don’t get in trouble.”

That’s a tall order any year for me. 

But I’m liking the Year of the Ox overall. Plodding teamwork seems the perfect antidote to 2020’s chaos and craziness, don’t you think?

To check out your horoscope for the Year of the Ox, visit: www.thechinesezodiac.org.

Happy new year!


Guest Column

New Year, new beginnings, year of big changes coming 

By Dr. Vidya Reddy

Hello! Happy New Year.

So much has happened over the past 365 days – highs and lows, challenges and breakthroughs, movement and stagnation, sadness and celebration, beginnings and endings, and through it all – you’ve been brave and scared. 

Maybe you’ve grown and learned to shed that which no longer serves us. Maybe you’ve blossomed and bloomed, or maybe you’re just now standing at the precipice of a rebirth.

So here we are in the sacred, precious, present moment.

What are we going to do with it? 

New Year doctor

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Photo by Johnny Antezano

Dr. Vidya Reddy

This is our opportunity for new beginnings. This is our opportunity to venture into the unknown. To step into the uncertain, to actually move beyond our comfort zone. 

And here we are with a clean slate as we move into the new year, an open plan with 365 new 24-hour periods in which to manifest our dreams and desires.

Many times, the days will go by and suddenly it’s spring. Those personal agreements we made with ourselves will have drifted into the ether.

Why do we float away from the intentions that are so important to us? Back to our conditioned patterns, back into the habits that don’t serve us or our loved ones, our bosses, our partners. It’s just natural and human to revert to our conditioned stories and behaviors.

But we can break out and change that now!

The key is putting our dreams out there and slowly, consistently growing into them throughout 2021. 

Step by step, bean by bean, growing into our dreams. And when you find yourself reverting to our old “norm,” don’t beat yourself up – just take a new baby step toward your dream. If you would like more information, techniques, and meditation based on Life Lessons, please refer to my blog: https://naturally-happy.com/blog/.

So, this year, let’s dream magnificent dreams. Let’s play big!!

New Year check

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Let’s lead with love

Let’s set heroic trajectories and remind ourselves each day that the journey of 1,000 miles is accomplished by placing one foot in front of the other…step by step…one day at a time. We have infinite possibilities. 

Let’s start by setting our course for the new year – making a commitment to show up each day and be present. Meditate every morning so that the seed of each day begins to grow in stillness and silence and unfold with infinite possibilities.

Let’s lead with love, compassion, and forgiveness. 

And know that every decision is a choice between a grievance and a miracle. And then let’s place one foot in front of the other and celebrate the baby steps, knowing they are miraculous and will deliver us to where we want to be with grace and ease.

Now is the defining moment when we need to draw a line between everything that’s ever happened and everything that ever will.

All the words society currently uses to describe these moments don’t really do them justice – fresh start, new beginning, second chance. They just don’t tell the full story.

Because in reality, we desire a total extraction from the scenario we’ve created – with all its consequences and after-effects – and the chance for a complete do-over – a reentry into a new world where we are whole, pure, perfect, unstained, untainted, and unconditioned.

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time.

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

www.Naturally-Happy.com


Wi-Fi 6: Future-proofing your connection

The next generation of Wi-Fi connection isn’t just about speed, though faster Internet connections are a nice bonus. Instead, Wi-Fi 6 was designed as a much-needed upgrade to help networks connect more devices more efficiently – a service we’ll need more and more as the number of Internet-connected devices in our homes and businesses grows. 

The Benefits of Wi-Fi 6

Most of us use Wi-Fi so often in our lives, we rarely stop to think about where it comes from, or how it works. Wi-Fi is essentially a very high-frequency radio signal that connects devices to your home or business’ router, which then connects you to the Internet via a local network. 

Since 1999, a group of telecommunications companies called the Wi-Fi Alliance has regularly come together to improve the most current available version of Wi-Fi, and make upgrades that allow people to more quickly and easily access the Internet. Wi-Fi 6, the latest generation of Wi-Fi produced by the Wi-Fi Alliance, brings a number of benefits to users. It’ll still be doing the thing it’s meant to do – connect you and your customers to the Internet – but it has new technologies that will make that happen more efficiently. Wi-Fi 6 has a much higher theoretical speed than its predecessor, Wi-Fi 5 (which is still commonly used around the world). 

Wi Fi 6

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Courtesy of Cox Communications

Wi-Fi 6 was designed as a much-needed upgrade to help networks connect more devices more efficiently

More importantly, however, Wi-Fi 6 was created for a world in which dozens of Wi-Fi-connected devices put demands on networks in every business. Wi-Fi 6 speeds may not be very fast at first, when fewer devices need to connect to the Internet. However, when many of these devices are trying to get online at once, that’s when Wi-Fi 6 really shines. It lets routers communicate with more devices at once, lets routers send data to multiple devices in a single broadcast and lets Wi-Fi devices “check in” with routers to ensure an adequate connection. All of those features combined will help keep Wi-Fi connections strong as more devices start jockeying for data in our businesses than ever. 

Evolving Needs, Evolving Service

As any business owner knows, it’s important to be able to adapt to your customers’ changing needs – and as time goes on, those needs definitely include Wi-Fi. 

That’s why it’s so important for companies to think about what we call the “population of connected devices” putting demands on their Wi-Fi network. In most brick-and-mortar businesses, that includes the standard technologies like laptop computers and smartphones. A significant number also use products like smart TVs to broadcast messages and information. As the Internet of Things becomes more prevalent, even the current security systems used by many businesses feature Wi-Fi-enabled cameras. 

And that’s before customers enter the picture. Almost every one of them is likely carrying a smartphone. If your business has a waiting room, many of your customers will want to check their emails or stream video to keep themselves occupied. This, in addition to the already increasing need for Wi-Fi by business equipment, can strain a network even when there aren’t that many people inside. 

This problem is magnified exponentially for hospitality businesses, schools, transportation hubs, and other dense environments. Once coronavirus restrictions are lifted and people begin to gather indoors in greater numbers again, it will be even more important for our Wi-Fi networks to be able to handle multiple connections more efficiently. That’s what Wi-Fi 6 provides. 

Looking Ahead 

Cox is a 121-year-old, family-owned business, so we’re used to thinking in terms of decades, not years – and always looking ahead to the future. Cox Business has been testing every Wi-Fi 6-supporting product available, to make sure we’re offering our business customers the most reliable, solid hardware with our service. Every router, smart TV, security camera, phone, and other essential Internet-connected device that comes with our broadband services has been vetted by product experts at our headquarters’ labs in Atlanta, so you know you’re getting the best. 

Wi-Fi 6 will not replace other generations of Wi-Fi, but it will be the primary mode of connecting to the Internet for most people within a few years. This is why we’re looking ahead now and making sure all of our new business customers are equipped to better serve their own. 

This is paid content by Cox Communications. Cox provides residents in the Laguna Beach area with digital cable television, telecommunications and Home Automation services. Cox also provides scholarships to local high school students in its service area through its Cox Cares Foundation. For more information, visit www.cox.com.


Pumpkin carving at the Promenade

Pumpkin carving arrangement

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Don’t miss out on the city’s First Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest. We look forward to seeing what our artistic community can come up with. Entries are due on Monday, Oct 26 – enter at www.lagunabeachcity.net. The top pumpkins will be put on display at the Promenade starting Friday, Oct 30. Awards will be given to the Most Original, Scariest Pumpkin, Best Overall, and, of course, the Mayor’s Award.


Bright star

Bright star sun

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Photo by  Mary Hurlbut

Even the lifeguard station decked the halls


Guest Column

What to do when you’re feeling stuck: steps to greater clarity in 2021

By Dr. Vidya Reddy 

The year 2020 was one of great, sometimes difficult life lessons! I was feeling stuck, stuck, stuck. I’d like to share a few steps on how I got unstuck. 

Sometimes we feel as if we’ll always be trapped. As if the place we find ourselves in feels like quicksand. But really, this feeling of being stuck is merely a pause…a rest…before we launch into our dreams, into where we want to be in 2021! 

Think of everything in your life that you’ve been worried about in 2020…or somewhere you’re feeling stuck in your life.

How about that conversation you recently had with a close friend of yours? Maybe you’ve been obsessing over what someone else is thinking. How about the internal conversations you’ve been having with yourself about all the issues that 2020 presented us: your health, your aging, your love life, your relatives, your money, your career path?

What aspect of those issues has your attention been focused on? Successes or failures? Satisfaction or fear? Self-reflection or rumination? And how much has your attention been on these issues?

Let’s cut to the core right now and explore your current state of attention.

In the space below, write down the three biggest challenges, fears, or concerns that have been consuming your attention over the past few days…three places where you feel stuck the most. Next to each issue, write down what you perceive as the most likely outcome of each situation:

Where my attention is right now? An exercise for when you are feeling stuck or confused: 

Issue and expected outcome 

1. __________________

2. __________________

3. __________________

It all comes down to attention. Wherever your attention is, you’re giving power and energy – consciously or unconsciously – to the outcome you anticipate.

What to doctor

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Photo by Johnny Antezana

Dr. Vidya Reddy 

If you fear the outcome, it prevents your natural ability of intention to unfold. If you are working toward the outcome, you are in the process of manifesting the outcome. When we expand our thinking and allow more possibilities to enter into our awareness – even just a little bit – our Sacred Power of Attention will begin to provide solutions.

So now write down the same three biggest challenges, fears, or concerns that have been consuming your attention over the past few days.

Except this time, instead of writing down the most likely outcome, write down what you believe to be the best possible outcome – the one that would be a great solution to the challenge, transcend your fear, or ease your concerns. 

An outcome that would replace any anxiety you have with relief, satisfaction, and happiness.

Issue and best possible outcome 

1. __________________ 

2. __________________ 

3. __________________ 

Using the Power of Attention is like shining a flashlight in the darkness. Wherever we point its beam instantly becomes the reality of the moment.

Do you notice the difference in how you feel when your attention is on the best possible outcome rather than a feared outcome?

The skeptic in you might say, “Well, of course I feel better when I think about the best thing that could happen.”

But that’s the whole purpose of this process, to help you realize that it’s always a choice of where we want to place our attention. Sometimes when we get so familiar with the possibility of a negative outcome, we start expecting it, believing that it’s the only outcome – and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But outcomes are in the future, and the future is never carved in stone. At best it’s a guess of what we believe is likely to unfold.

What to praying

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Photo by Pieter Baetens

Which outcome does my heart truly long for?

Let’s do the exercise just one more time, but this time, next to your three biggest challenges, fears, or concerns that have been consuming your attention over the past few days, write down a third possible outcome.

Not your most likely outcome, or the best possible one, but an outcome that could unfold that you’d never thought of before.

Issue and third possible outcome

1. __________________ 

2. __________________ 

3. __________________ 

Now you have three different outcomes for each pressing issue: the expected outcome, your best possible outcome, and your third possible outcome.

As you reflect on each issue, or each area where you are feeling stuck, there even may be additional outcomes that have come to mind.

Now, place your hand on your heart, and for each issue, ask yourself, “Which outcome do I truly desire?” Not “Which one do I expect?” but “Which outcome does my heart truly long for?”

As the answers flow, write the desired outcomes below:

My desired outcomes

1. __________________ 

2 __________________ 

3. __________________ 

This is a pretty simple, yet fairly powerful process.

It can be intense to look at your life and start moving it in the direction of your dreams. But where you once were stuck or resigned to a particular outcome – you now can see other possibilities.

Remember: we have very little control over the outcomes that unfold in our life. We can influence them, spark them, direct them – but in the end the Universe decides.

We do, however, have total control over our outlook.

What we have just done through this exercise is expand our outlook! This is hard work. But you are cultivating your awareness at a very high level and this is where intention comes into play.

In Peace, Love and Gratitude. 

‘Til next time. 

Dr. Vidya Reddy, ND, AMS, DAC, CLC 

www.Naturally-Happy.com


Environmentalists fault Caltrans presentation on proposed Laguna Canyon Road project

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Local environmentalist groups, riled about the format of the Caltrans presentation on proposed changes to Laguna Canyon Road, are organizing a public forum to voice their concerns that they claim were stifled during Wednesday’s presentation.

The presentation included charts on the project and its impact on the environment, handouts describing the project and how it was presented, videos, and a cadre of Caltrans staff stationed to answer questions one-on-one. But there was more buzz about the hearing process than the project itself. The “open house” did not offer an opportunity for public discourse that would have enabled the crowd and Caltrans officials to participate in the hearing of all of the participants.

“There is virtually no benefit in this format,” said Barbara MacGillivray, founder with her husband, filmmaker Greg MacGillivray, of the One World, One Ocean Foundation. “We couldn’t hear their views and benefits of the project and we couldn’t express our views. It was just a cacophony of voices.”

Local forum planned to address environmental concerns

MacGillivray said she was collaborating with Laguna Canyon Foundation Executive Director Hallie Jones and others on a forum in a local facility, the date to be announced. 

The public comment period on the environmental document that was the raison d’etre of the Caltrans presentation ends July 10.

“It seems this format was a way to avoid dealing with a unified public voice,” said Betsy Jenkins.

Lindsey Hart, Caltrans’ chief of public affairs for Orange County, said that was the opposite intention of the open house.

“We want to make sure we respond to questions and comments on the final environmental document,” Hart said.” Comments can be made to the court reporter here, on comment cards, by mail or email till July 10.”

Comments for inclusion in the environmental report can be sent to court reporter: Norm Grossman gets the ball rolling

Many of the estimated 110 people at the open house were unaware of the court reporter. However, former Planning Commissioner Norm Grossman took advantage of the service. 

“I made my comment short,” said Grossman. “The project violates zoning and the general plan and I provided documentation.”

environmentalists smita deshpande norm grossman

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Photo by Cheryl Kinsman

Smita Deshpande and Norm Grossman

The purpose of the estimated $39.3 million project, according to one chart displayed at the open house, is to bring Laguna Canyon Road up to design standards, improve safety on the stretch of road that has a high incidence of accidents and reduce flooding.

“We should not make the same mistake the city made in in 2004 by turning down $8 million for a flood control channel on Broadway,” said Cheryl Kinsman, who was on the City Council at that time. “I am willing to listen to anyone who wants to give us $39 million.”

Founder of STOP supports CalTrans plan

Jennifer Zeiter, founder of Stop Taxing Our Property, said she supports the Caltrans project 110 percent.

“It won’t cost the taxpayers a dime,” Zeiter said.

The proposal includes the extension of the outbound merging lane 1,200 feet on the 133 from El Toro Road; extends the inbound merging lane by 900 feet; includes the installation of a concrete block channel in the riparian area on the inbound side before reaching El Toro Road; creates shoulders; undergrounds utility poles in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park land on the north side of the highway between El Toro Road and the toll road; and relocates poles on the south side. 

A steep slope on the right side of the inbound lane will be contoured, rather than contained by a wall, as requested by environmentalists. 

Adverse impacts on the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park identified by Laguna Beach environmental groups include the extension of the inbound merge lane that would require vehicles to cross two lanes of traffic to get in or out of the park’s Willow parking lot.

LCF objects to channeling of riparian area and proposed location of undergrounding, citing impacts on habitat

The Laguna Canyon Foundation objects to the proposed channeling of the riparian area on the inbound side of Laguna Canyon Road before reaching El Toro Road, citing serious impacts on habitat.

Foundation director Jones said the Foundation also opposes the project’s plan to underground utilities past the proposed shoulder and into parkland, describing it as a “take.” 

environmentalists harry huggins lindsey hart

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Photo by Cheryl Kinsman