Real Talk presents discussion group on Empowering Youth, our Underestimated Treasure 

Real Talk Laguna Beach will present Empowering Youth, our Underestimated Treasure, on Wednesday, April 18 from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. in the Susi Q Community Center, located at 380 Third St. 

This event is free and facilitated by Dr. Ding-Jo Currie and Ridvan Bruss. 

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Dr. Ding-Jo Currie

The goal is to stimulate important community dialogue about ways to empower youth to participate in the decisions of a community, encourage their contributions, and foster their growth and love for service. 

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

Watch those leaks before your money goes down the drain


Is all your money going down the toilet? Okay, maybe not all your money, but let’s say a huge part of your water bill is going down the toilet. According to McKeown Plumbing, here in town, toilets are one of the biggest issues.

“We see that a lot,” they said. “People don’t always know that they’re running.”

Until they get their bill. Or a call from the City.

“The smart meters the [district] installed are picking up water loss,” McKeown continued. “People call and say they have a high water bill, or the [district] will notify them if usage is not consistent with the past.”

These situations explain in part why the Water District is asking Lagunans to make the pledge to save water by visiting Not only does the City want to become the Most Water Wise city in its category for the fifth time in this Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge as a matter of pride – the mayor wants to save residents money too.

The pledge helps alert friends and neighbors to water usage too and offers tips to help conserve water.

Toilets and irrigation leaks are the number one causes for a call to the plumbing service, followed by dripping faucets and showers. But, of course, drips are easier to notice and get taken care of before the water bill hits the roof. 

The smart meters were installed by the Laguna Beach County Water District in 2017. The District’s website states that, “The project included enhancing every residential and commercial water meter with new, state-of-the-art technology that wirelessly communicates usage data to the District. The new meters are able to collect multiple remote meter reads per day, allowing for better leak detection and improved customer service.”

They’ve got plans for the coming year to improve even further, “In 2018, a customer web portal will be launched to give you access to your own detailed water usage information, as well as allow you to better manage and budget your water consumption. The ability to better understand and view your water use in near-real-time can have a profound impact on water consumption and your conservation efforts.”

The meters, usually located by the curb in front of your house, are housed in concrete boxes and labeled “water.” Homeowners have the responsibility to keep them visible and accessible, as a public right-of-way.

We’re aiming to make Laguna the most water-wise city again, and every little bit helps. Now go check to make sure your toilet’s not still running. 

Oh, and make that pledge now…

Free paint/E-waste drop-off and shredding event this Saturday, April 14 at City Maintenance Facilities

Residents and businesses are invited to participate in the annual free drop-off event to dispose of unwanted paint, batteries, CFL bulbs, and E-Waste on Saturday, April 14 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the City Maintenance Facilities, 1900 Laguna Canyon Road. 

Get rid of your E-waste this weekend

Free shredding service will also be available on site. This service is sponsored by the City and Waste Management. 

For more information, including a detailed list of acceptable E-Waste items, please visit or contact Liz Avila at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Heavenly images of St. Catherine Church

Photos by Scott Brashier

Click on photos for larger images

Lines of beauty

Guest column

How not to prune a tree: Don’t top or lop – lace!

By Prof Chris Reed

I like to walk around my Village neighborhood looking at trees and gardens. Take a look at the pairs of photos below. Which tree looks better?  


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Photos by Chris Reed

To my eye, the tree whose trunk has been topped (above left) is a sorry sight. It has lost its natural beauty. It looks disfigured. Kudos to the City for hiring a good trimmer (above riht).

 Likewise, a tree whose branches have been cut short is a sad sight.  


Click on photos for larger images

Photos by Chris Reed

See the left photo above. Is “knuckles in a blender” too strong a metaphor? Compare the same tree, a melaleuca, grown naturally (right photo above).

Why do trees get pruned badly? Well, it’s cheap and easy to prune badly. There are commercial tree trimmers out there that should advise you better, but don’t. Often it is done to open up a view. Sometimes I can see no reason why. Do people trim trees just because they think they should be trimmed? 

“Shaping” leads to misshaping

Put a chainsaw in a man’s hand and he has to cut something down. “Shaping” it is called, erroneously. It leads to misshaping.

The results of shaping – i.e., topping and trimming – are often bad. A lopped branch will typically explode in multi-shoot growth followed by pompom bursts of leaves.  They will quickly re-block a view and need pruning again and again. A cheap pruning job ends up being expensive. You get an ugly tree and have to keep paying a tree trimmer to come back. 

What is the solution? Lace! Remove selected branches at the trunk. A well-laced tree can actually improve a view! 

Resist that fatal snip

So please,do not top your trees. Do not shorten leading branches. Resist that fatal snip. Instead, lace. Let trees grow naturally. Drive around Pasadena and San Marino to see the beautiful result.

And keep concrete away from the roots. Roots need to breathe. Prioritize trees over cement.

If a tree is impossibly large for its site, have it removed and plant a smaller one.  Choose a lacy variety. Pay attention to estimated size at maturity. Leave plenty of room for the roots. Have patience. Enjoy watching it grow. To me, instant landscaping is a myth. 

To better understand and enjoy Laguna’s trees, join a Laguna Beach Beautification Council-sponsored Tree Walkabout on Saturday, April 14 or Friday, April 27. To sign up, go to

Increased fines proposed for nine safety-related parking violations


The City Council will review tonight a proposal to increase fines by $20 for nine parking violations defined as safety issues in a staff report. 

Staff is recommending approval, but Councilwoman Toni Iseman is less than happy with the proposal for across-the-board increases. Iseman is a longtime supporter of graduated fines reflecting the seriousness of the violation, as was requested by the council at the Aug 8, 2017 meeting.

“This defies logic,” said a raspy-voiced Iseman on Monday. “It’s not complicated. There are serious violations and nuisance violations. The fee should match the violation.”

The current fine is $43 for the nine violations recommended for increases to $63 by the police department.

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Increased fines will be recommended for blocking emergency vehicle access

Recommended for an increase:

--Parking at a red curb; 

--Parking a vehicle in a space with a red flag painted in the asphalt during a Red Flag warning, applicable only in the Diamond Crestview neighborhood;

--Blocking Emergency Vehicle Access;

--Parking within 15 feet of fire hydrant or within 15 feet of an entrance to a Fire Station that obstructs access.

Police Chief Laura Farinella and City Manager John Pietig were unavailable for comment.

Other parking fines also to be raised to $63 for parking violations if approved: 

--Obstructing traffic;

--In a fire lane;

--In a no-parking or stopping zone on a state highway;

--In or obstructing an intersection.  

Increases do not include the $300 fine for parking in a handicapped space or the $100 fine for parking on private property without the owner’s consent. 

The proposed fine increases are an item on the Consent Calendar, which will be approved without discussion unless “pulled” by a member of the audience or the council. 

Iseman may not be able to attend the meeting due to illness.

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