A Letter to the LBUSD Community

By Superintendent of Schools JASON VILORIA

Our hearts are with the victims and their families, as well as with the students, staff and community at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We are deeply saddened that we must endure yet another senseless tragedy.

A natural response to this event in Florida is to wonder what plans are in place at our schools to provide a safe environment. The District takes our responsibility for school safety very seriously because we are entrusted with protecting the children of LBUSD when they are on our campuses. 

Our District Safety Committee members develop, revise, and update safety plans through a collaborative process to ensure procedures are effective and current.  The District also works closely with our local police and fire department officials to include current best practices into our plans.

Laguna Beach Unified School District schools are required to maintain and update an annual Comprehensive School Safety Plan, the most recent version of which was approved by the Board of Education at Tuesday’s Board meeting. These plans delineate how schools will respond to a variety of school-related emergencies and include:

Building disaster plans

Hazard assessments

Evacuation plans, routes and locations

Standardized emergency management plans

Shelter in place and lockdown procedures

Student/parent reunification plans

Emergency drill schedules

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

A view of LBHS campus: security is key

As always, our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our children. We realize trying to find words to help our children feel safe and resilient in a world that sometimes feels unpredictable and scary is difficult. In the aftermath of this traumatic event, the National Association of School Psychologists notes there are effective ways to talk with students: create a sense of safety by returning to normal, predictable routines as soon as possible; listen to their concerns and feelings; suggest they limit their use of media to lower their stress and to maintain balance and perspective; and realize that sleep difficulties are common and can lead to fatigue and poor participation.

There are additional suggestions in the links below, with resources for educators and parents.

Talking to Children About Violence

Five Tips to Help Children Cope with a National Tragedy

Helping Your Children Manage Distress

Finally, staff on our campuses are trained to report any unusual and suspicious activity, and we encourage parents and students to do the same. Please reach out to your school site administrator if you have any questions about campus safety procedures.

Coast Inn sub-committee meeting productive, says attorney: Issues are raised for owner to address


Councilmen Rob Zur Schmiede and Bob Whalen took their first and probably their last look on Monday as members of the Coast Inn Restoration sub-committee for the proposed project.

A crowd of project opponents crammed into a small meeting room at the Susi Q to hear a discussion between the council-appointed sub-committee, city staff and representatives of the property owner. The meeting resulted in a list of issues that the project owner, architect and attorney must address, working with city staff.

“I thought it was a very productive meeting,” said project attorney Larry Nokes. 

After hearing public comments from the project opponents and staff responses to questions, the sub-committee bowed out of the process. 

“I don’t want another sub-committee meeting,” said Zur Schmiede, with which Whalen concurred. 

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Coast Inn now: decisions awaited

Zur Schmiede opened the meeting by advising the standing-room only audience and the Coast Inn representatives that the sub-committee would not render an opinion of the applicant’s position on the issues.

The council appointed the sub-committee at the Jan 23 hearing on the project. They came to the meeting with lists of issues they wanted addressed. 

Zur Schmiede’s list included questions about the California Environmental Quality Act, better known as CEQA; parking; the threshold that tips a project into a major remodel; bluff top encroachment, seating occupancy versus building occupancy, rooftop uses, variances and trash.

Whalen said his list was similar to Zur Schmiede’s, but with a couple of additions: deliveries and historic design, including whether the project approved by the Heritage Committee made mention of proposed rooftop uses.  

Nokes added noise to the mix.

Project architect Marshall Ininns and Nokes answered questions posed by the sub-committee. 

Senior Planner Martina Caron and Development Department Director Greg Pfost clarified staff positions on issues as requested, beginning with compliance with CEQA requirements.  

The project is consistent with the Secretary of the Interior guidelines for historic restoration, and no environmental report was required for the project, Caron said. 

Pfost also explained why the project is not a major remodel: is just scrapes under the 50 percent threshold at an estimated 49-plus percent. 

Variances requested include the height above the city code limit and the deficit in parking spaces. 

The lack of real spaces is not an issue: The project has grandfathered spaces and a 37.8 percent reduction in required spaces approved by the Heritage Committed as an incentive for putting the Coast Inn on the city’s Historical Register. There is no designated employee parking.

“The employees are going to park in the neighborhoods,” opined Whalen. “They are not going to pay half of the day’s pay to park.”

As for concerns about noise, Ininns said an analysis showed it was no louder than created by traffic on the highway. 

Neither councilman specified traffic impacts, one of the issues raised by the 14 speakers from the audience, who commented on every item on the lists.

South Laguna resident John Thomas said the traffic study commissioned by the applicant reported an astounding increase of 1,265 to 1, 625 trips a day, added to the daily average of 36,800 trips estimated by Caltrans.

Opponents also objected to the proposed rooftop swimming pool and bar, which pushes the height above the 36-foot-limit that has existed in Laguna since the 1970s, as well as the size and the designation of the project as a restoration.

No one in the audience spoke in favor of the project. They had not been urged to attend the meeting, Ininns said.   

Whalen said the project representatives had heard the issues raised by the sub-committee and it was up to them to provide resolutions. 

“The next step is up to the owner; then we meet with staff and go back to council,” said Ininns, who has worked on the project for four years.

Besides the Coast Inn, the project includes the defunct Coast Liquor, a mid-century modern structure designed by the late Chris Abel, and the Olympic Cottage behind it across Mountain Road from the hotel.

Restoration is well underway for future headquarters of Laguna Canyon Foundation and surrounding areas


Just off Laguna Canyon Road, at the base of Stairsteps Trail, a house that was built in 1940, and which had been slowly rotting away – the wood almost consumed in its entirety by termites – is quietly being transformed into Laguna Canyon Foundation’s new headquarters. 

Executive director of LCF Hallie Jones is giving us a tour of the building now under reconstruction. She points out the future conference room on the upper level, which she hopes will become an epicenter for environmental groups to gather and discuss best practices for habitat restoration and more. 

These gatherings might include, among others, the City of Laguna Beach, the Fire Department, OC Parks, and California Fish & Wildlife as well as private groups.

“Our goal now and in the future is to partner with groups who have similar concerns about wilderness preservation and in that way focus all our efforts for maximum impact on the environment,” she says.

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Photo by Adam Dubich

Inside the house before restoration: quite a challenge, and you can’t even see the termites in this picture…

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut 

Inside the house with all new wood framing

Hallie gestures to the dusty area directly in front of the structure. 

“We’re planning a wildflower meadow with interpretative trails just there. Beyond that is the DeWitt Riparian Reserve, which is currently undergoing habitat restoration, and we’ve already begun planting native vegetation on the three acres that surround the building. 

“The idea is that these areas will complement each other to create a seamless habitat, with each enhancing the other.”

In all, 110 acres, acquired by the City of Laguna for open space, surround the property, formerly owned by the DeWitt family.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut 

LCF staff and volunteers plant native vegetation on land that was once an incineration and dumpsite

Our little hard-hat tour group clatters downstairs, entering a large space that will house exhibits to educate the public about our wilderness parks and its creatures and plants.

As we stop in the cool of the room, Dave Csira, a director and vice president of LCF and chairman of the fundraising committee, also on the tour, points out a section of wall that at first glance looks quite innocent – now, anyway.

“On one of her first visits, Hallie leaned with her hand against that wall, and it gave way, revealing a cluster of little white maggots,” he tells us with some relish, clearly and justifiably proud of the transformation of which he’s been part since its inception. 

“Ended up we had to reframe the structure completely, from inside out, which was a major task,” Dave adds. “Then bring it up to commercial code, taking into account such things as ADA compliance issues, a beefed-up fire sprinkler system, and so on.” 

Dave’s son, Chip Csira, President, Csira Design-Build, signed up as the general contractor and has been a great asset, providing services at enviable price points and offering credits as unexpected challenges arose.

“He’s also a wilderness fanatic, what can I say?” Dave shrugs.

The need for ADA access led to a brainwave on the part of the landscape architect and fellow board member, Richard Ramsey: that the ramp leading up to the entrance could curve around to form a staging area, a kind of amphitheater in front of the building, where visitors can listen to presentations. 

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Photo by Adam Dubich

An exterior view of the house before construction began

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut 

The same view, partway through reconstruction 

Hallie notes that everyone involved in the project has shown a lot of initiative and dedication. “We’re so grateful for the grants we’ve been given. We need $1.5 million for a quasi-endowment and we’re halfway there.”

“We’ll get there,” Dave says.

Restoration is clearly the name of the game here, both with regard to the buildings and the habitat – preservation and restoration, not reinvention. 

The house definitely needed a large dose TLC, as readers can tell from the before photos published here. 

Hallie tells us that the plan is to retain several historical features within the structure, including a sixties-style “bottle wall.” Also, care was taken to not to damage a large shady pepper tree or a cactus plant, instead building with their preservation in mind.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut 

“Bottle wall” will be featured as part of the history of the house

Dave points out unexpected curves along the wall where straight lines would probably make more sense. “Those will stay,” he says, because they’re part of the house’s history.

Our group makes its way upstairs again and stands outside, admiring the habitat restoration work being done by park employees in the hot sun. 

We ask about the reaction of the Sunny Vale neighbors, their homes visible from the new headquarters, to the repurposing of the structure.

Restoration will benefit the entire community

“We’ve had many great conversations with them,” Hallie says. “They’re supportive because they understand the value of preservation. We’ve promised, no night events, no loud noise or intrusive lights.”

Plus, Dave notes, the presence of LCF provides a quite a few valuable benefits to the nextdoor community tucked down below, as well as Laguna itself: “This place will serve as a useful lookout for possible fires or illegal camping, too, so LCF can be the eyes and ears for that.”

Not to mention that LCF’s commitment includes management of fuel modification strategies – in plain words, preventing fires – and flood mitigation.

“It’s going to be a great value to the community, Laguna-wide, for all kinds of reasons, including education,” Dave says. “Now we just need the funds to ensure that we have the resources to finish this and pay for maintenance in the future.”

So there you have it. If you’re as passionate about the wilderness as our little group, visit www.lagunacanyon.org to contribute toward a project that will preserve and protect our environment for years and years to come.

Learn to cope with stress using the Ayurvedic Stress Management system at workshop

Stress can affect your body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior in negative ways. Unchecked stress can also contribute to health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. In a time when the pressure to live the perfect, productive and social media-worthy lifestyle is causing more stress and anxiety than ever, we desperately need a way to cope.

Dr. Vidya Reddy, a naturopathic doctor and co-owner of the Buy Hand store, invites you to spend an afternoon learning ancient stress management techniques.

From the land of Ayurveda and yoga hails an ancient weapon against stress and depression: mindful breathing. This event will take place on Feb 18, from 3 p.m.- 5 p.m. located at Buy Hand back patio, 1175 S Coast Hwy. The cost is $70 up till Feb 12, then after it becomes $80.

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Submitted Photo

Dr. Vidya Reddy invites you to learn how to cope with your daily stress 

For of thousands of years, mindful breathing techniques have been the quickest, non-medicinal and simplest way combat stress and anxiety. Breathing is the new yoga. Dr. Vidya will teach you systematic breathing techniques suited to your ayurvedic constitution.

This class marks the second in a monthly series about enhancing your life and health through the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda. Upcoming workshops include: ayurvedic cooking, introduction to meditation, using ayurveidc essential oils, food combinations, chakra healing and gemstone healing. Dates and times to be announced.

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

OmSweetOm for regular people who enjoy yoga: No mirrors, no judgment, no pretension at Yoga Sapien


Ask Yoga Sapien teacher and co-founder David Taylor how he’s doing, and the answer comes back the same every time, “Livin’ the dream…” which he clearly is, every moment, as he welcomes newcomers to Laguna’s brand new “yog-abode” in Boat Canyon, up the stairs from Pavilions. 

And that’s exactly how Liz Campbell, the other co-founder of Yoga Sapien, feels too. 

“I look around at this great beautiful space and I can’t believe this is happening, it’s been my dream for so long,” Liz says, gesturing to the moss-covered walls – yes, real moss – and the barn doors that slide open to reveal an expansive, airy yoga space with inviting wood floors.


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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Liz in tree pose

Full disclosure: I started doing yoga a few years ago with Liz at the now-closed Ritual Arts studio, and felt incredibly welcome there. 

In the months since Ritual shut its doors, I’ve been too intimidated to try another studio, fearing that my version of tree pose – “falling tree” – and general lack of coordination would be an object of quiet mockery or an annoyance to those attempting to keep their focus. 

I also could not find a place that struck a balance between a too New-Agey vibe, and a too Western “let’s push these poses to the limit, come on, you can do it” vibe.

That’s where Yoga Sapien excels. I may not be able to hold my balance, but this place certainly does. 


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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Liz knows how to keep a balance, personally and professionally

Liz has a calm sweetness about her, an instant empathy with her students, and an absolute acceptance, even celebration, of everyone’s singular challenges – as she says, “No one is perfect, that’s why it’s called yoga practice.” She makes sure to modify her classes based on the mood of the day and after enquiring about any injuries or excessive stress.

What sets Yoga Sapien apart?

I asked Liz to tell me what she thinks makes Yoga Sapien different from other studios, given that my fandom makes me obviously biased.

“In this beautiful place we want to emphasize that yoga is for every human being, no matter their physical condition, that’s why we chose the word Sapien – we believe everyone can evolve and find a stronger connection between mind, breath and body through yoga. We’re not a fitness program, we’re all about yoga.”

 “Also, we are the only studio that I know of that offers a ‘Book-a-Buddy’ program. You can buy a package of 10 classes, as one example, and you can share that with friends or family, no hassle.” 

“Healthwise, we have a fantastic air filtration system that pulls out all the bacteria so we’re breathing healthy air all the time,” Liz adds. 

“We have a great app that makes booking appointments easy and simplifies so much else. We sell ginger and turmeric shots, and kombucha made locally by Dana Crawley of Laguna Elixirs.

“And on a practical level, we have plenty of parking here in Boat Canyon,” Liz adds. “And we’re affordable.”

For me, it’s the yoga teachers who make the difference. One of my faves from Ritual Yoga, Cole Jacobs, teaches at Yoga Sapien also. 

Cole is a cross between an accomplished yogi and a natural comedian – his classes are great fun, and varied, as all Yoga Sapien’s classes are. You’ll likely be doubled over at some point for one reason or another. And you’ll emerge nicely stretched and toned.

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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Yoga Sapien lobby

Yoga Sapien offers full weekly class schedule that ranges from Supportive Chair Yoga, Gentle Vinyasa and Dynamic Vinyasa, meditation/breath classes, sound vibration and the popular Yamuna Body Rolling (impossible to explain – you have to try it!).

The full schedule is available on the website, www.yogasapienlb.com.

Yoga Sapien had a soft opening on January 1 and officially opened on January 14.

The studio is offering two free weeks of unlimited yoga to Laguna Beach residents and residents in contiguous cities such as Newport Beach, Aliso Viejo and Laguna Niguel.

Also, Yoga Sapien offers donation-based classes for those who might be financially challenged.

The studio is located at 601 N Coast Hwy, #208, next to Massage Envy, above Pavilions.

Dennis’ Tidbits


February 13, 2018

Surfers and snowboarders are going to have to fly far to find waves and snow during this flattest winter ever

Local ocean temps remain at least five degrees above normal due to the absence of any significant winds from the west and northwest that usually follow after the passage of rain bearing cold fronts, so there’s been virtually minimal upwelling and abundant sunshine has kept surface temps quite mild for this time of year. All reporting Orange County beaches are seeing surface temps hovering in the 60-62 range. It was a different story in February of 1989 when on this date temps were a burly 49 which tied the record for cold water set in January of 1949 and briefly in April of 1974.

Laguna’s rain total this season remains at 2.19 inches, over 6.5 inches below the normal to date of 8.71 so there’s really a lot of catching up to be done which at this point I doubt will transpire. 

Last year at this time we were well ahead of the game at 11.98 inches. Looking ahead, there’s no appreciable precipitation seen for us for at least the next week or longer. It’s not just California that’s thirsty but the Pacific Northwest has been really dry so far this February with a scant quarter of an inch in Portland, Oregon where normally the first half of the month pops out nearly three inches. Last February was their wettest on record with 10.33 inches, breaking the old record of 10.03 set in 1996.

Laguna’s driest February on record occurred in 1951 with only a trace of rain. Other dry Februarys were 0.01 in 1984, 0.08 in 1997, 0.13 in 1972, and 0.17 in 1977. 

Surfers and snowboarders are gonna have to fly to find waves or snow as this is by far, hands down the flattest winter ever and Big Bear has accumulated a measly total of 8.8 inches of snow making it the most snow starved season on record compliments of the enemy called La Nina. Despite multiple eviction notices she refuses to pack up her stuff and hit the road as in beat it

And finally there’s an amazing band of young dudes out of Michigan called Greta Van Fleet. When I first heard a couple of their tracks last week I thought for sure it was Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin! They’re that good and they’re barely 21 years old. ALOHA!

Shaena Stabler is the Owner and Publisher.

Lynette Brasfield is our Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Cameron Gillespie, Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

Mary Hurlbut, Scott Brashier, and Aga Stuchlik are the staff photographers.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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