A huge success

The Laguna Beach Women’s March on Saturday, Jan 21 at Main Beach Park was a huge success!  Hundreds attended with many unusual signs and stood along Coast Highway interacting with people in trucks and cars who responded with waves, flags and plenty of horn honks.  Sunny weather provided great weather for participants and a stage with pa system allowed music and speakers to announce their feelings about the recent election.

CSPAN and the networks reported there were 673 women’s marches across the globe.

In Laguna, when drivers honked, the participants responded with cheers especially when large trucks used their horns. It was truly a remarkable hometown event. 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

What we can expect from the new John Wayne flight paths

It is really important that as many people as can attend the meeting in CdM at the Oasis Senior Center – 801 Narcissus Ave, CdM – 5-8 p.m. on Feb. 1. They will have FAA staff in front of computers to tell you what the expected impact for your house would be. 

They plug in your address and you get to see how you are affected. They will be implementing this, with little that we can do except complain loudly. And keep track of what they say vs. what they do. 

The lawsuits with Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Orange about the environmental impact are the only recourse we have at the moment. By them saving fuel and time and with the new pin point GPS flight path narrowing to basically a superhighway, those under the flight path will have it much, much worse as it will be the same path all the time. 

So those of us who had a peaceful life when we bought our houses will now be the victims of the FAA arbitrarily changing the flight path to accommodate airlines.

Michele Monda

Laguna Beach

The Obama economy

Oh, the irony of it all.  The day Donald Trump was sworn into office on Friday, it was announced that Orange County’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent - the lowest in a decade.  

By comparison, the day Barack Obama took office, OC’s unemployment rate was 6.5 percent.  

Despite all the heated rhetoric of the 2016 presidential campaign, I guess the Obama economy really did work.

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach

“…good kids who did a bad thing, messed up big time.”

If history has shown us anything, it’s that all humans fail, sometimes miserably.

As a teenager, I behaved despicably, worse than the teens involved in the recent racial incident here in Laguna. Worse because I kept repeating mean-spirited bullying, hurting someone over and over. I later regretted what I did, profusely apologized and thankfully was forgiven. But make no mistake, they were hurt. And the family here in Laguna, whom I know fairly well, is hurt. It was a shock. Something they never expected. 

And it will be difficult to recover.

It’s been almost a month since the incident. What is needed now for that family, their friends, and yes, for the teens involved, their parents, our high school and for the entire Laguna community, is healing. 

There must be full recognition of the severity of the boys’ actions, and consequences meted out. But you don’t want wounds to fester, to linger for a long time. My hope is for reconciliation among all involved. That there is somehow a coming together, that the love predominant in Laguna would win out over the darkness of the incident. 

All of us fail, especially when we’re young. I believe these Laguna teens are good kids who did a bad thing, messed up big time. Like I have. Like some of you. What’s important is they learn from this failure, that this can be a major turning point in their lives, severing wrong attitudes and discovering the importance of treating others with respect and kindness.

There are three figures in history whom I admire most - Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. All three strongly encouraged peacemaking and reconciliation in the severest of trials because when it comes, so does the healing everyone needs.

Jay Grant

Laguna Beach

“…everyone’s responsibility to maintain a welcoming 

and inclusive community”

Ed. Note: The following letter was sent out by the school district Friday to all parents

You may have heard about an incident that occurred over the winter break regarding some LBHS students’ involvement in an alleged racially motivated act against another student.  LBHS administration was notified by police regarding the incident, and has continued to maintain regular contact with police officials as they continue to investigate the incident.

Please be assured that we are addressing this matter with the individuals involved to the fullest extent possible within the limits of our jurisdiction. While it is natural to want to know the consequences of the incident, we cannot disclose further details about any proposed or implemented disciplinary action that has or may occur due to privacy laws.   

As a school district, we continue to work on teaching cultural proficiency, including self-awareness of how each student’s ethnicity, culture and life experiences may impact others.  While this specific act does not represent the community as a whole, it allows us to use this incident as a teachable moment moving forward.  We realize this is an ongoing process that needs to be continually woven into our school and community culture.  

It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain a welcoming and inclusive community of which we can all be proud.  Working with our community partners, we will sustain a climate that values diversity and fosters inclusion to equip our students with the values they need to be global citizens.  While this work is not always comfortable or easy, it reminds us that we individually contribute to the fabric of our community.

Jason Viloria, Ed.D., Superintendent
Chris Herzfeld, Principal, LBHS
Jenny Salberg, Principal, Thurston
Chris Duddy, Principal, El Morro
Michael Conlon, Principal, Top of the World

Time to mourn, then rise up!

Seventeen year olds are deep into manhood in most parts of the world...earning food and shelter for siblings and parents. 

By 17, most girls of the world are mothers by traditional mandate. They lift the weight of womanhood by transporting water, firewood, bricks.

The average Laguna Beach 17 year-old is a child struggling to decide which party to show up to, whose Instagram to follow, what concert to attend. Drinking Nektaar or eating at Zinc are his toughest challenges. 

Yet he can’t be blamed for not realizing 10 million of the Earth’s 20 million tented refugees are under age 18. After all, that fact has nothing to do with him.

However, when given a glimpse of a world different than one’s own, it’s a humble opportunity to learn. 

Seven years ago we had that opportunity when a beautiful boy from Malawi came to live here. Lagunans embraced him. He flourished due to the profound love of his parents. He thrived, made friends, and became a superb athlete.

Friday’s news about the shameless ugly deed of five Laguna Beach “boys” left us stunned. More stunning is some people’s response that “kids that age are so stupid.”

“Stupidity” seems a trait reserved for privileged Southern California 17 year olds.

The consequence of living in an Apple-filled existence with Netflix and Starbucks, removed form poverty and Zika, may be the inability to recognize immorality and indecency. 

Wrong and right have blurred. Reputation doesn’t matter. When we see black and/or white skin, ignoring the content of character, we ignore Dr. King’s work.

This is cause to mourn. 

No family is an island, childcare is not a spectator sport and each child seeks a champion. So who among us will build a community worthy of our children knowing what Africans believe: “It takes a village to raise a child”?

Anita Razin

Laguna Beach

“…beyond comprehension.”

As residents of Crystal Cove, with children at each of the Laguna Beach Public Schools, it’s with a certain pit in our stomach that we have just read the article on the racist attack in Laguna Beach.

Regardless of whom the intended victim was, its clearly despicable. In this case, having volunteered on the Soccer field as a referee with this young man, it’s beyond comprehension.  

Maurice Possley is correct, “There must be zero tolerance for this kind of behavior.”  His family can be assured that we are all outraged about this event. Even if we are not in [the] streets marching in support. We are here. We are stronger than this racist attack.

Gary and Valerie Schaffer

Crystal Cove

Excellent symposium on Navigating Mortality

My hardiest praise to the Laguna Beach Community Clinic and its new medical director, Dr. Jorge Rubal, for the excellent symposium on Navigating Mortality they presented this past Tuesday in City Council Chambers. 

The keynoter, Fay Blix, an elder-care attorney, and the panel of experts, Dr. Rubal, Dr. Janet Chance, Mona Kurd, LCSW, Janet Clough, Chaplain, and Dr. Lauren Rubal, skillfully presented us with practical information about end-of-life care—a vital topic we all need to think about, but tend to avoid. 

This was the first annual health symposium the clinic plans to offer the community. 

Laguna Beach should be proud of its amazing community clinic, which offers high quality medical care over the life span, regardless of patients’ ability to pay. With over 15,000 patient visits per year, they deserve our thanks…and our financial support.

James Vaughan

Laguna Beach

Laguna dodged a bullet…or two

About six months ago, I called one of the city council members with an idea:  Given all the unrest between various communities and their police departments, maybe Laguna should think proactively and host a get to know you event between residents and law enforcement.  

Instead of asking why, this council member surprised me with the following response, “My feeling is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  In other words, Laguna’s got everything under control so I should put a cork in it.

Turns out that isn’t exactly true. On Tuesday, we learned that one Michael Ross was arrested on suspicion of criminal threats to public officials.  His father, Robert Mason Ross, a frequent critic of the council, also was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms.  Just imagine the chaos that would have ensued had they carried out their plot.  Not only that, imagine the questions that would have been asked days later.  

Thanks to some very gifted police officers, Laguna dodged a bullet earlier this week.  That said, I still have to ask:  Isn’t it time for the city to sponsor that get to know you event now? 

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach

Now, I am an activist

Thanks to the “Indy” for highlighting Carrie Reynolds’ new role as an activist.  I’ve never marched for or against anything – until now – now I’m an activist.  I’m joining 39 other women and men from Laguna to march in Santa Ana on Jan 21.  

I’m marching for equal treatment and respect for all religions, races, genders, gender identities, and the freedom for people to marry the person they love.  Very troubling remarks were made by the country’s president elect during the campaign and they continue to be tweeted daily.  It is vitally important that we stand for the principles and values our country was founded on and stand for human rights.  

I hope others from Laguna will join in making this important statement to our new government.  Here’s the information:  Saturday, January 21, 2017. Starting Point: French Plaza Downtown Santa Ana (Corner of 4th and French). Ending Point: Old Orange County Courthouse, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Meg Monahan

Laguna Beach

Trump will tweet from the White House

Last week’s news that Donald Trump, once he is sworn into office, will continue tweeting from the Oval Office is alarming.  Given there could be any number of unforeseen replies, will there be a White House filter?  

I can imagine President Trump sending the following 3 a.m. messages.  First to Russian President Vladimir Putin:  Hey, bro, next time you’re in town, lets take off our shirts and sauna together; second, to Chinese President Xi Jinping:  Watched you on TV.  Were you wearing one of my ties?  And last, to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un:  Would you like me to send my barber to Pyongyang?

Not that any of these tweets would set off an international firestorm, but they are instructive.  Namely, while most Americans are asleep, what will our next president be saying in the middle of the night?

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Thank you, Barbara Diamond

Thank you Barbara Diamond for the lovely centennial story on Laguna Presbyterian Church. Although we weren’t Presbyterian, Laguna Presbyterian Church is forever etched into my life and soul. I recall the lovely song of her church bells, of being a pre-school student in the first class of 1961, of Boy Scout meetings in the basement in the early 70s.

Anna Hill’s 1921 vision for the church and for Laguna Beach, as Barbara stated, is exactly what I long for my beautiful hometown.

Jean-Pierre Garau

Gresham, OR

Homeless and cold nights

The holidays are upon us. Many still struggle with last minute shopping or writing those last holiday cards.  On the other hand, some of our poorest neighbors - 80% of whom are, according to the City, disabled - struggle with what most of us assume is a third world problem, viz, finding a safe place to sleep.  

For these, our poorest citizens, there is a conflict between the biological necessity of sleep and the City’s characterization of roofless sleep as criminal.  Laguna provides indoor space for 45 of our unhoused but, at least for the past ten years or so, on any given night there are about 70 persons needing such space.  Everyone involved in the decision to accommodate only 45 persons was aware that the decision would also establish a criminal subclass.  Anyone care to explain?

Having consciously decided to create the situation, the City continues its crusade to root out this most human conduct by having the police issue citations to the self indulgent souls who give in to their biological need.  In some sort of indirect recognition of the apparent cruelty of this enforcement program, the City absolves itself by noting that - despite the impact on mental health - the poor can simply stay awake all night and sleep during the day when sleeping is not illegal.

In the pending lawsuit brought by some locals experiencing homelessness, the trial judge wrote back in February that a “…community’s moral and ethical values may be best reflected in how it treats its most vulnerable.”  Which sentiment embarrasses you: that expressed by the trial judge or that demonstrated by the City’s enforcement?

If a further hint is sought, isn’t the kind treatment of the vulnerable a value recognized by all of the religious and philosophical systems that contributed to Western ethics?

In closing, thanks St. Mary’s for finding room in the inn for some of our poor on two recent nasty nights.  I hope that the City will take inspiration from your example and end its obscene enforcement campaign. 

James Keegan

Laguna Beach

Is the city stepping on Agate beach access?

A design for rehabilitation of the public beach access at the end of Agate Street was postponed and is currently up for City Council Appeal on Tuesday December 13th.  This is a widely used access and viewing area where the public enjoys coveted views of the unique surf break, Catalina sunsets, Pearl Rock and the famous Arch.

Basic reasons for the Appeal:  1) the approved plan reduces the usable area of the viewing platform by over half, down to the size of a large parking space.  2) Seating needs to be at least wooden benches, if not art benches, similar to those approved for Mountain and Oak Street.  3) Wheelchair access ramps to the viewing platform have been eliminated.  4) No view studies on the remaining views have been performed.  The view of the Arch from the bench is in jeopardy despite past Conditions of Approvals.

Why is this Public Works project not utilizing more public input to preserve this asset rather than being treated like a liability?  It appears the design team’s focus is to minimize the overall size and aesthetics, and reduce the liability of loitering, rather than enhance these public gateways to our beaches.

The City Council understands the issues at stake after physically walking the site and feeling the impacts of this poor design.  Granting this Appeal will allow Council to mandate specific modifications to make this a more palatable design.  With just a little effort and openness to small changes by the design team, this can be achieved, and the existing million dollar public views will be preserved.  Please help save the assets of this public beach access by supporting the City Council’s vote to Appeal.  Let’s preserve and enhance, not reduce and restrict Laguna’s public assets.

Peter Mann, Ocean Way 

Laguna Beach

Remembering Sandy Hook

Four years ago tomorrow, 20 children and 6 adults were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.  I vowed then I would never forget that day and I haven’t.  I still grieve for the brothers, sisters and parents whose hearts were broken that terrible morning.

Despite President Obama saying Dec. 14, 2012 was the worst day of his presidency, one could argue that virtually nothing has been done since then to prevent unstable individuals from getting their hands on the kind of weapon used in the massacre.  

Make no mistake about it, if a shooting like the one that occurred at Sandy Hook ever happens here, it would be tragic.  But, given that the White House, Congress and state lawmakers have failed to reach a compromise on gun safety issues, it would not be shocking.

I hope you will join me in a moment of silence tomorrow.  It’s the least any of us can do to remind the families of the victims we still care, even if we live 3,000 miles away.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Run again, Howard

Add my name to the list of people who know and love Howard Hills for his integrity and commitment to Laguna’s youth. Howard would have brought intelligence and true love of governance and community to Laguna’s school board.  

This was not to be, but I hope he will run again and also continue to speak out for the best use of resources to insure the highest quality educational opportunities for Laguna’s schoolchildren.

Hedy Buzan Williamson

Laguna Beach 

A lump of coal for the police volunteers

Laguna Beach rolled out the Yuletide cheer last Friday for Hospitality Night.  The cold temperatures didn’t put a chill on the crowds of happy friends, families, and visitors who enjoyed seeing Santa, the ice rink, two Wish Fairies, the carolers, the band, decked out local businesses, and consuming tamales and hot cocoa.  

The city of Laguna really pulled out all stops to make it a special night.

The only crimp in the festivities were the roving groups of police volunteers, scowling back when greeted with a “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” and asking to sniff or look into people’s cups of hot cocoa.  I even saw them stop one of the Wish Fairies, get right into her face and have her pour out a cup of warm milk. Who trains these people? I thought the idea of public service meant you serve the public—not snarl or accost them. 

I’ve been planning to volunteer for the next Citizen’s Academy for Police Volunteers, but question whether I can work with uncivil people. The Police Volunteers deserve a lump of coal in their stocking for increasing the chill on Hospitality Night.  

George Weiss

Laguna Beach

LBPD Citizen Academy possibilities

On Thursday, December 8, 2016 the twenty-third Laguna Beach Police Department Citizen Academy graduated. The graduation ceremony was held at Tivoli Too. Eighteen citizens graduated from the program and have joined the Citizen Academy Alumni, now 447 strong. Attending the graduation ceremony were family members of graduates and representatives from the Laguna Beach Police Department.

This is a great civic program, especially for local youth and seniors.

A number of practical applications could easily be added to augment and improve the much-appreciated traffic enforcement and also enhance the participant’s community communication skills.

Residents and visitors will benefit from a non-confrontational neighborhood ambassador trained in laws and local codes. These “Ambassadors” would be visible all year, especially weekends and summers both on foot throughout the village, in neighborhoods and on beaches as well offering their more visible help with traffic circulation.

Additional emphasis and training could provide important public emergency information, educational and code compliance flyers to residents, business and the public as well as handing out warning slips (not tickets) to help mitigate scofflaws further promoting safety, cleanliness and appreciation of this beautiful city.

The program can offer much needed help and consistency to improve a myriad of community concerns including nuisance and reporting dangerous behaviors. Involvement and alert eyes and ears help us all.

I applaud Laguna’s police department for providing a public opportunity to further improve safety and code compliance.

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach

Hills’ 47-years as a School Board advocate

I was disappointed to readTom Hinmon’s letter to the StuNews editor (Nov. 30), admitting he “never met” Howard Hills, but feels free to call him a “hateful” person. Hinmon’s choice of the word “hateful” expressed what was in his heart, not Howard’s. Howard is the least hateful person I know.

Judge for yourself if hate-speech against Howard is justified. At the first School Board after the election Howard publicly congratulated the successful candidates and made two public comments at LBUSD.org(Nov. 15 Board Meeting - 9 min. 40 sec. and 38 min. 10 sec.) At that same meeting LBUSD PTA Council President Tammy Skenderian recognized Howard for his commitment and “passion” as a candidate. Well done, Tammy.

Without any evidence, Hinmon also asserts Hills covets a seat n our City Counicl. Howard was Navy JAG and a constitutional lawyer in the White House and Congress. Considering his experience, Howard was often asked if he was“over-qualified” for School Board; his typical answer was “Governance of local schools is a lot more important than what happens in City Hall, Sacramento or Washington.”

What is remarkable about Howard is that he had no need, much less ambition to hold office, no kids in schools who might benefit, no business interests in town. School Board advocacy simply continued a forty-seven-year record of volunteering as a student, parent, and grandparent in our local schools. Howard ran at the request of many in our community who have observed how the School Board has functioned over a long period.

Missteps by the School Board over the past ten years include budget and staffing fiascos, excessively delayed and costly renovation of the tennis courts, an aborted decision to start school before Labor Day without noticing the public, inappropriate involvement in the Social Host Ordinance, and reluctance to have recordings of School Board meetings made available to the public who couldn’t attend in person (finally rectified - with no little effort - by Howard).

Howard is openly critical of the School Board failure to perform its role under state law more effectively and independently, and his candor about these issues was taken personally by some. Still, five thousand voters embraced Howard’s platform for enhanced school governance.

His pledge to bring knowledge, consistency, and standardization in policy-making by the School Board would have been a great gift to our community. Howard worked hard for our kids, feels good about his campaign, and accepted the outcome in good spirits that showed respect for the democratic process. Those who were afraid to have someone with different ideas and skills than the rest of the School Board, should now do the same.

I wish the new School Board well, hope its members will address the issues that Howard highlighted, and thank them for their service.

Tijana Hamilton

Laguna Beach

True sportsmanship begins with coaching direction

ED. Note: This letter was sent to the principal of Boron High School from the football sideline crew 

Dear Principal Wiggs,

I am a member of the Laguna Beach High School varsity football homegame “chain gang” (first down chains, and downs marker). The current four volunteers have 32 years (combined) on the gang. We work on the “visitor” side of the field, putting us in close contact with every visiting team.

In our post-game discussions, we agreed that the coaches and team fielded by Boron on November 18 demonstrated the best features of competitive high school sports, team spirit, and sportsmanship we’ve ever seen. Throughout the game, regardless of circumstances, they demonstrated excellence.

Despite the heat of the game (and the outcome of the CIF playoffs being on the line) your coaches provided positive guidance to players regardless of how plays evolved. Coaches interacted strongly with the officials and the team, but without the negative actions and language we often see and hear.

Players were both competitive and aggressive, but at the same time showed respect for officials, coaches, and the opposing players. Boron team members maintained their excellent demeanor beyond the final play, saying thanks to the officials and other participants.

It’s obvious that more than just football is being addressed by the Boron school, coaches, and football team. Please commend your coaches and players for a job well done.

Brad Martin

Laguna Beach Chain Gang

No Red Ribbons on World AIDS Day?

Feeling very disappointed in Laguna today. In years past World AIDS Day was something special. Almost 200 former residents were remembered by having red ribbons placed on trees throughout the downtown area. 

We just got back from our morning walk. With the exception of the World AIDS Day banner across forest nothing. Not one ribbon.

Scott Alan

Laguna Beach


Saw the article in the LA Times on the citations issued for lack of [liquor] license [to Art Walk galleries]. Really too bad Laguna PD has stooped to this level. Warnings would have been more than sufficient. Going undercover to “bust” small gallery owners who are barely making it is an embarrassing mark on Laguna Beach and our way of life.  

The Laguna PD needs to be better than that, it’s not Serve and Protect it’s becoming Harass and Collect. Just my $.02. They could have accomplished the same results in a very different and more community friendly way. Shame on them.

Phillips R. Sweet

Laguna Beach

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