Back to you, Peter Navarro

Thank you for setting me straight. In fact, I was truly impressed by your defense, and now believe we share many of the same opinions.  My portfolio could indeed use some improvement and I will certainly look into your investment analysis.

However, you are mistaken in some of your assessments and for others you are simply wrong. However, I appreciate the dialogue because ultimately it is in the free exchange of opinion that is the hallmark of a thriving democracy.

Even though I have been counseled by some not to respond, thereby provoking another response, I am doing so because it is in the process of public discourse that ideas and opinions can be fully examined. Therefore, I do not understand why you maintain some of the negative assessments that you do given your lack of any reasonable criterion that would support them.

C. Penney – Hall

Laguna Beach

The Community Clinic was (and is) there for flood victims

While the whole downtown and all of the Canyon was impassible the day after the big flood, our Laguna Beach Community Clinic was open for business and serving our citizenry.

Even though Dr. Tom Bent’s own home had flooded, he, the Clinic Medical Director, left his wife holding the wet vac as he made his way by foot down the Third Street Hill to open the Clinic. Dr. Niall Cullen and Dr. Chau Ngo and Jamie Fontaine, administrative assistant and volunteer coordinator, who all managed to get into town from the south, joined him.  Flood-bound Nicole Sicotte, the Clinic Charge Nurse, provided constant assistance via phone.

The Clinic was up and operating and serving residents and flood victims even while the rest of the downtown was completely immobilized.

In the aftermath of the disaster they have also partnered with the Laguna Relief and Resource Coalition to be sure those affected by the flood disaster have access to prompt medical attention.

As a community, we need to acknowledge this kind of dedication. It gives us comfort to know our community partner will go to extreme measures to fulfill its mission.

PS - I think Dr. Bent’s wife [Carolyn] deserves special accolades as well!

Ann Quilter

Laguna Beach

New year…

Nancy Hamm

Hamm PhotoWith the hectic holiday season past and the New Year upon us I am left mourning the sweet spot of the week that falls in between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s a rare time when we are all home; our schedules are empty and our tummies well fed.

Getting back to the grind of things last week was like leaving the womb and walking into the world of reality, a back log of things that were put on hold until there really was no more excuse left to use. Somehow saying that we can’t make a play date because we have plans to spend the afternoon baking cookies just doesn’t seem as weighty as it did a few weeks ago.

There was no easing into my routine. Since the first day back I’ve dealt with two doctor appointments and an overzealous preschool teacher who gave me an at home project that I now have to lug back and forth to school from here to eternity. In addition to those obvious joys I now have a child who doesn’t want to get out of his pajamas much less leave the house. I have to admit that I can’t blame him because life just seems way better curled up on the couch watching Mary Poppins (even if it is the 100th time).

Although our Christmas was as near to perfect as we could get. New Year’s Eve should have been a sign of things to come. With great eagerness on the part of my husband and good friends we rang in the New Year at a legendary tiki lounge. Needless to say, my imagination was no match for what was in store.  Half the men donned velvet jackets and fez hats, while women with beehive hairdos and gold lamé dresses worked the floor. The other half was clad in Hawaiian themed outfits despite the near freezing temps outside. It was a schizophrenic crowd and because of the loud tiki band I spent much of the night observing my surroundings as if in an episode of the Twilight Zone.

If this experience wasn’t enough to bring me out of my blissful withdrawal from reality the next night didn’t pull any punches. I had no intention of cooking on New Year’s Day so we made our way out to dinner and upon being shown to our table my son vomited down the front of my poor husband. We walked out before we had a chance to sit down. My husband peeled off his soiled clothes in the parking lot; we drove home with the windows open, my jacket shielding his bare chest and our son wondering aloud to no one in particular what had happened.

Things don’t seem to be evening out, just last night after spending about five minutes casually wondering “what’s that smell?” I noticed out of the corner of my eye the lampshade bubbling and waving in front of the heater. What I had been smelling was melting plastic. Thankfully a potential crisis was averted.

I’m not sure if I should take these events as a sign of what’s to come this year or as a sign that a good sense of humor is a vital part of daily life.

Regardless, the latter certainly helps.


Nancy Hamm is a wife and mother to a 4 year old with cerebral palsy. She is currently working on her first novel.

Keeping in touch with Laguna

I spent the holidays with my son and his family in Byron Bay, NSW Australia.

Because of your online newspaper, StuNewsLaguna, I got all the news about what was happening here in Laguna Beach when the flooding occurred. The pictures, the stories, etc. were all welcome for someone away from home at such a devastating time and anxious to hear what was happening…Thanks!

Byron Bay, as a side note, is very much like Laguna Beach.  Close in size and population, a tourist town, Artist Colony, a Beach Community, publishes two newspapers weekly, a City Council that gets locals riled-up, etc.

Last year someone published the results of a poll online that asked who had the most beautiful girls out of a given number of cities in the world. Laguna Beach and Byron Bay were in the top Ten.

Interesting isn’t it?

Daga Krackowizer

Laguna Beach

The good and the bad…?

In the short time John Pietig has been city manager, he has brought a breath of fresh air to our town. His waiving of rebuilding fees is great, but only til January 10? This sounds too much like our last city manager.

His leadership during the rains was great. A wall of water went thru Anneliese “willow brook” school and numerous homes in Laguna Canyon and a friend who has lived near the “creek” for 35 years said he never heard anything like the most recent rains.

Ann Quilter raised millions for the Susi Q Senior Center, where Chris Quilter is doing a great job. Ms Quilter is the ideal person to lead our town’s effort to not only help those who were flooded but begin planning a way to stop such devastation in the future.

As I inferred above, our city is a case of the good and the bad. Laguna has hundreds of small businesses. I took a car for repairs to a small shop in Laguna Canyon, which has been there 40 years and asked the owner what happened to the sign out in front. “The city had it removed. They really don’t want small businesses out here.”

A friend, who happens to be black, was homeless but now has housing. He got several tickets from the Laguna police. When he went to court, without saying anything, the judge dismissed all of the tickets. It sounds like the days of Martin Luther King, but some citizens believe that if you are black, you will be harassed by the Laguna Beach Police Department.

Roger Carter

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Alex Wentzel

Alex PhotoOur dear friend Alex Wentzel passed away on Wednesday, January 5.

Alex touched many people in his active life. From the formation of RUFF (Rescuing Unwanted Fury Friends) to getting the Laguna Beach City Council to approve a Dog Park, to being the first President of the Log Cabin Republican Club of Orange County, to being on the first ASF Board of Directors (AIDS Services Foundation), to being the treasurer of the successful city council campaigns for Wayne Peterson and Cheryl Kinsman and a board member of the Laguna Beach Taxpayers Association. In addition, he was chosen by KFI, as the “Citizen of the Week” for all of Southern California.

Our condolences to his partner Richard Anderson - they would have celebrated their 51st year together on Valentine’s Day.

There will be a memorial service and celebration luncheon on Saturday, January 22.

Frank Ricchiazzi & Borden Moller

“…a moratorium, assessment and evaluation is both prudent and mindful before further building is done in Laguna Canyon.”

Laguna Canyon is a wondrous place where diversity and habitats thrive. It is a natural watercourse revealing itself as a subterranean canyon once covered by ocean. For millenniums it continues as a natural watercourse where lake and rain overflow to the ocean and change is natural and inevitable.

Development changed how this canyon impacts lives and economy.

The 1969 fifty-year flood event forced closure of septic tanks along the canyon but brought sewer and municipal water beyond the big bend inevitably increasing use of the land.

With impervious surfaces covering a larger portion of the canyon floor and hillsides, fire and floods continue to decimate structures, compromising the land, habitats and resulting in loss of property and life. Such events severely compound the collective and personal costs as well as emotional strain on those left without.

We all are concerned, lending our help and best wishes to those in times of need.

To rebuild what will undoubtedly suffer the same fate again and again is a necessary though difficult discussion.

To halt permits in areas historically subject to natural forces and to carefully assess Laguna Canyon’s livability would be prudent.

In time of economic stress it could be the most responsible decision we can make as a community and could save lives. Those who were here in the 90’s remember two lives lost during another storm in the canyon. Would any wish to build and rebuild in an area of danger only to have such devastation again and again...and yet we do, and it will.

Would we rebuild to pass it on to heirs or others even for an economic gain knowing the probability?

To avoid repeating such mistakes, a moratorium, assessment and evaluation is both prudent and mindful before further building is done in Laguna Canyon.

If what has just been experienced - the third time in 40 years isn’t enough, we need to consider what should if there should be any further building or rebuilding in those areas of the canyon that are along the watercourse, in the flood plain, next to a culvert, catch basin or below a watershed or channel or where structures and lives are obviously in harm’s way.

The only real relief for victims who endure such catastrophe is future prevention - often through difficult decisions.

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach

Laguna Canyon resident 1964-71

Cause for yet more shame in the Village Laguna ranks?

Ed. Note: Mr. Navarro’s letter was written in response to a Dec 24 letter in a print LB newspaper

Having spent the better part of the holidays digging out from under the mud that inundated my canyon neighborhood, it’s time to deal with some more mud that a Village Laguna Board Member -- Cindalee Penney-Hall – has thrown at me in a letter to the local press.  Here are appropriate corrections to her latest unguided missive:

1.     I am not a “right wing Ubercon.”  I’m a registered Democrat – an environmentally sensitive, fiscally conservative Clintonite.  Suggesting otherwise is just “reverse McCarthyism” and cause for yet more shame in the Village Laguna ranks.

2.     I have never done an interview for Fox News.  I am a regular CNBC contributor and have appeared on 60 Minutes (as one of the good guys) and am generally known in the media field as a straight-shooting economist rather than a right- or left-winged ideologue.

3.     My book “If It Rains in Brazil, Buy Starbucks” is not about “analyzing weather reports” but rather about stock market investing in a global economy.  Try reading it Cindy; it might save your portfolio a few bucks.

4.     My book “The Coming China Wars” is a sobering analysis of how China has cost the U.S. millions of jobs through its unfair trade practices – I do like to “think globally” but reserve the right to “act locally.”

5.     My books have sold quite well thank you.

6.     Accusing me of wanting to “plunder” either historic structures or open space is counterfactual.  I have a long political history of supporting environmental causes plus my wife and I recently bought a 1927 “fixer” house in Laguna, which we are working hard to preserve historically.

7.    To tar every professional hired by someone trying to improve their property as a shill is more “McCarthyism.”  Laguna Beach is noted for an unusually gifted and talented group of development community professionals; and one of my beefs with you Village Laguna elitists is precisely this high and mighty, we are purer than everyone else attitude with which you use to lord over people and denigrate local architects and designers.  It’s beyond stupid and on the far side of arrogance.

8.     Now let’s evaluate your most serious claim, namely, that Village Laguna brought “a true expert in historical preservation” to make its case at the City Council appeal of the 154 Pearl Street DRB decision.  The facts are these: The property owner hired a highly experienced and well-respected historical consultant, as did the City.  Both said essentially the same thing and supported the project.  As for your “true expert,” the primary focus of the lady in question has been on cultural landscapes and historical landmarks and a review of her qualifications certainly doesn’t support the claim she is any more qualified than the other two professionals you turned your nose up at.  So yet another “truth” set forth by Village Laguna is simply false.

Here’s my bottom line. After four public attacks on my character in six weeks by Village Laguna, I say keep throwing your mindless missiles – because with every sentence you write or speak, you just further discredit yourselves – Baez using Village Laguna power for his personal use, Penney-Hall distorting the truth, Hano being King Arnold.

And know this: The days when Village Laguna could operate behind the scenes rigging elections and votes on the DRB and City Council are now over.  Your group – and your key servant Verna Rollinger – are under scrutiny precisely because your politics have become such a disruptive and dysfunctional force in the community.  Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Peter Navarro

Laguna Beach

The grass is always wetter…

Though the flood relief is important in Laguna Beach, it is critical here in Queensland.

There are floods...then there are floods.

Dan Foster

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Queensland, Australia

The Night, Night, Night, Night, Before Christmas © 2010


By Moore & Livingston - Revised by: Mrs. Claus


‘Twas the night, night, night, night,

Before Christmas, when all through the Clouds;

The tornadoes were stirring and the thunder was loud.


The sandbags were stacked by the galleries with care,

In hopes the Pineapple Express will not come here.

The homeless were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of latte’s danced in their heads.


And me in my wet suit and papa in his cap,

Had just settled down for a paddleboard nap.

When out on the ocean there arose such a clatter,

I stood on the board to see what was the matter.


Away to the boardwalk I flew like a flash,

Tore open the Guard Station and threw up the sash.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

A storm that would scare everyone till New Year.


The rain was a comin’ like never before,

Our Forest Avenue house had mud to the door.

The Palm trees thrashed, and the mud rushed in,

I knew in a moment it wasn’t St. Nick.


His reindeer were in the canyon almost floating away,

But then he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

“Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of Act V! To the Top of the World!

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”


With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too,

No Way was he gonna let our kids cry boo hoo!

And I heard him exclaim, as he dropped off the toys,

Merry Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!


Mrs. Claus of Laguna Beach

Santa House Photo

Anneliese Schools launches flood relief campaign

Anneliese Schools announced an official launch to an urgent community outreach fundraising initiative, with the objective of raising $1 million in capital and building supplies within 30 days. The school is scheduled to re-open on Monday, January 3.

The Willowbrook Campus, one of the three, has been severely impacted by the recent floods. This well-known five-acre property houses not just two-year-olds through sixth graders on a daily basis, but is the home to an astounding aviary, as well as a pasture for goats, pigs and miniature horses.

This is the single worst event to impact the campus in its history. No children have been harmed, however their environments are devastated. Regrettably but surprisingly, only four exotic birds have been lost amidst the hundreds that that are housed on the campus.

As a legacy in the Laguna Beach community for 40 years, Anneliese Schools has served and provided the educational foundation of many of our community leaders.  This outreach program is hopeful that those that once supported the Anneliese program will rise to the occasion to do so again.

Nine learning classroom centers have been decimated including the new computer lab and the recently installed teaching kitchen for the children. The designated per grade gardens were also destroyed.

Although the parent and staff volunteer initiative is actively underway, the rebuild of the campus will require more than the current resources available. Governor Schwarzenegger ratified a state of emergency declared by the City of Laguna Beach and initial contact has been made with FEMA. It is not likely that those funds will be made available with the immediacy required.

The Anneliese School is in dire need of immediate action from parents and corporate partners.  To make a donation or for more information please visit The school is firmly committed to re-build, re-open, and re-affirm its place in the community.

Your support is deeply appreciated.

Terry Herkimer, Executive Director


This must be applauded

Thanks to the City for downtown flood response.

I’ve heard of trial by fire, but trial by flood is something new. The ink of freshly minted City Manager John Pietig’s business cards had barely dried when our little Hamlet was inundated with one of the worst floods I have ever seen here.

I was downtown at around 5 a.m. on Wednesday and witnessed, front row, the City’s response. Pietig and Public Works Guru Wade Brown orchestrated a spectacular clean up effort, which literally saved the Christmas retail season for downtown merchants.

Seeing the scope of the devastation at sunrise, I felt certain that there was no chance downtown Laguna would be functional for a day or perhaps two. But the symphony of work by Pietig, Brown and dozens of City workers, private contractors and nameless volunteers had the town up and pretty much running by early that same afternoon.

Many businesses were open by 1 p.m. and, inexplicably, there were actually customers. Given that the storm hit three days before Christmas, perhaps the most important three days in a retailer’s year, this must be applauded.

The calm coordination and effectiveness of their efforts was, in a word, incredible!

Mark Christy

Laguna Beach

Bush tax cuts will save the day

President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi are Keynesians.  John Maynard Keynes encouraged deficit spending during economic downturns to increase aggregate demand.  This is a hard theory to resist particularly for politicians who address every problem or potential problem with the same solution, to increase the power and size of the government. Keynes postulated that the multiplier effect would boost the economy.  President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have stated many times that government money going to people who would immediately spend it was best, that is propensity to consume.  So the candlestick maker gets some government money, and spends it promptly buying items from an Indian Chief, who promptly makes purchases from the baker, and on and on.  The theory is that the economy grows.

Unbelievably, there is no consensus if President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal Keynesian policies worked.  Roosevelt took office March 4, 1933, and five years later the country still had 15% unemployment.  Prior to the Great Depression, the U.S. economy suffered numerous financial panics and recessions.  Despite little Federal Government intervention, the economy bounced back more quickly.  So many economists believe that Roosevelt’s Keynesian policies prolonged the Depression and delayed recovery.

More recently, Japan embraced Keynesian policies, primarily “investing” in infrastructure. A 2.4% budget surplus in 1991 turned into a deficit of 4.3% by 1996 and 10% by 1998, with the national debt to GDP ratio reaching over 200%. The Keynesian policies did not work and the two decade period is referred to as Japan’s lost decade.

Of course, if Keynesian theory worked, the government really does have to make payments, it could just drop money from helicopters and the economy would grow.  Or the government could hire half the unemployed to dig ditches and then hire the other half to fill the ditches back up.  The formerly unemployed having a high propensity to spend would then have the candlestick maker, Indian Chief, and baker’s businesses booming. If Keynesian theory worked, Zimbabwe would be a wealthy country.

During the 1930s depression, President Herbert Hoover and Roosevelt kept on increasing tax rates.  Roosevelt kept on increasing regulations.  Without certainty and a stable tax and regulatory environment, businesses cannot plan and determine which business expansions or new business enterprises will pencil out.  President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have continued these practices.  Imagine you have a business idea, and are using a spreadsheet to forecast your projected revenue and expenses.  What do you put down as your expenses for taxes, health care costs, and thanks to proposed cap and trade legislation, energy costs?

The Bush tax cuts have been in place for nearly a decade.  Some progressives have referred to this as Bush Tax Cuts for the Rich.  However, President Obama said in his December 7, 2010 press conference “A typical working family faced a tax increase of over $3,000 on January 1st”.

Congress and President Obama have agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years.  Hopefully, the Keynesian policies are at an end, and the government has now provided some certainty to taxpayers so entrepreneurs can consider expanding their current business or to start a new business.  Let’s hope so.

Gene Felder

Laguna Beach

With a strong heart and a greater appreciation for the force of nature - we will recover

This past week has been extremely challenging and has tested our very souls. The mud and floodwaters took our studios, art work and everything we had work so hard to accomplish.

We would like to thank our friends and family who have arrived at our property with a shovel in their hand: Bob Bonn, Patty and John Enfield, Edward (The Stand), Sharbie Higuchi, Lisa and John Mansour, Kit and Gary Poeschl, Jan Sattler, John and Phalen Slowsky, Mike Tauber and all of you who have called and offered your help and support.

A special thanks to David Sheperd at the Inn at Laguna Beach and the Aliso Creek Inn for housing the Dominguez family.

To all effected by this storm of destruction, with a strong heart and a greater appreciation for the force of nature - we will recover.

Wishing us all a better 2011.

Sian and Troy Poeschl

Larry and Maggie Spencer

City and Red Cross were quick and caring for our homeless

On behalf of the homeless people who call the City of Laguna Beach ’s Alternative Sleeping Location home, I am writing to express our profound thanks for the quick work and caring approach that the City and the Red Cross took in ensuring appropriate shelter was available for our residents during the recent flooding.

The ASL was rendered inaccessible due to the storms and flooding overnight on Tuesday, December 21.  The City efficiently, effectively and safely evacuated all residents very early Wednesday morning to a Red Cross – operated shelter at the high school.

The Red Cross volunteers were helpful and accommodating to our residents and the City staff was effective in returning us safely to the ASL when it was safe to do so on Friday morning.

In a time of leadership transition for the City government, from our perspective all responses to the storm and its aftermath worked smoothly and effectively.  Special thanks to City leaders, City staff and the Red Cross.

We are grateful!

Dawn Price, Executive Director

Friendship Shelter

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Ken Anderson

Long-time Laguna resident

Active in arts community

Ken Anderson PhotoGeorge Kenneth (Ken) Anderson, who moved to Laguna Beach from Detroit, Michigan with his wife Bette in 1987, died Saturday, Dec. 18 at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach. The cause of death was septic shock, following partial recovery from an ischemic stroke in November 2008.

Ken served as a B17 pilot in England in World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters and two Battle Stars. He was a B29 pilot instructor and flew in the Michigan Air National Guard, remaining in the Air Force Reserve as an Academy liaison officer until his retirement in 1971 as a Lt. Colonel.  His civilian career included management positions in marketing and sales with the Ford Motor Company until 1987 and his educational background included a BBA from the University of Michigan, an MBA from Wayne State and (his “favorite”) Associate Degree in Fine Arts from Saddleback College.

After relocating to Laguna Beach Ken was able to pursue his life-long interest in art.  He was a gifted photographer who also studied and created watercolors, sketches and sculpture. He supported and/or became active in a number of local art organizations, including CAP, LOCA, Orange County Art Museum (as a docent), the Festival of Arts and the Laguna Art Museum. He served on the City’s Arts Commission and was a board member of both LANO and Neighborhood Watch. He was a member of Village Laguna and active in the DFC Society. He loved Laguna and had many friends here.

Survivors include Ken’s wife, son Merrill and grandsons Aaron and Evan (Iowa), his sister Marion (Florida) and a number of extended family members in Michigan. His final wishes included cremation and burial at sea. In lieu of flowers, any contributions can be sent to Laguna’s Friendship Shelter, Community Clinic or R.U.F.F.

Love it when readers like us

Appreciate the letter about cyclists and motorists. I thought cyclists were under the CVC but seems they don’t operate that way. Now I know.

Also - got one of the bags Saturday at Vons. They are really cool! Attached pouch with caribiner clip to keep it portable and handy. Good size and can fit over the shoulder for carrying. Neat!

Keep up the good stuff. I like the Tuesday update along with the Friday edition.


Charlie Ferrazzi

Laguna Beach & Huntington Beach

Fish and Game Commissions “X-mas” gift

Protection of our new Marine Reserves and enforcement of the Fish and Game regulations will be easier than people would think.  Already, many of our residents are aware of the importance of restoring our marine habits.  Likewise, tourists to Laguna share a desire to see our marine life rebound.

Not only is the public better educated and sensitive to the need to restore our fisheries due to precipitous declines, but Laguna has it’s own resources that will be helpful. In addition to our Marine Protection Officer, we have lifeguards, animal control officers and even the police that can write tickets. We have substantial community resources to aid enforcement officials like Laguna Ocean Foundation’s Tidewater docents and educators. Finally, the general public can easily understand the meaning of “No Take” and can alert enforcement officials when necessary. We no longer have to remember all the different fish you can or can’t take and what size they have to be or whether it is the right season - it’s simple, No-Take of any species.

I look forward to the new Laguna State Marine Reserve and think it will bring restoration of the marine habitat and an increase in the local eco-tourism industry.  Many thanks to our City Council and all the local groups and individuals who made this happen by writing letters and attending the numerous public meetings over the last two and half years.  Thanks to the Fish and Game Commissioners for this “X-mas” gift to Laguna!

Sandy Dildine

Laguna Beach

Compared to Dana Point and Corona del Mar, Laguna is years behind on bicycle routes and lanes

In support of “Give Bikes a Route” by Justin Gresh: The new policy for mobility from our Federal Department of Transportation gives equal consideration to pedestrians, bicycles, buses and private automobiles. Adopting this policy into the LB City General Plan would be the first step to bringing bike lanes to Laguna. If adopted, approved and implemented by the City, the new policy would construct a mixed mode transportation system in Laguna Beach and relieve the traffic congestion we experience in our automobile saturated town. For every commuter you accommodate safely by walking, biking, and busing, you eliminate one car and free a parking space. Optimally, imagine if 75% of the commuting traffic in Laguna began walking, biking or busing across town, auto congestion and demand for more parking would vanish. For the remaining commuters and contractors who must drive, the relief from traffic congestion would be refreshing.

Our Department of Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood took a progressive stand in May of this year, he said “People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized. We are integrating the needs of bicyclists in federally-funded road projects. We are discouraging transportation investments that negatively affect cyclists and pedestrians. And we are encouraging investments that go beyond the minimum requirements and provide facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.”

At the state level effective January 1 2011, AB-1358 is legislation that mandates equal consideration be given to four modes of mobility for cities and towns in California.

At the local level, Long Beach appointed a committee to advise their city council on urban planning issues. On December 1, 2010, the Sustainable City Commission for Long Beach voted unanimously to support Class I separated bicycle, pedestrian and ADA (American Disabilities Act) access on the new Gerald Desmond Bridge. In Dana Point the city has adopted traffic calming as city policy. Evidence of their work are the bike lanes in town, in the harbor and on PCH but stopping at the Laguna boundary.

In Laguna the Task Force for Complete Streets advises our city council about balanced mobility, the same mobility infrastructure Long Beach and our neighboring cities have already built. Compared to Dana Point and Corona del Mar, Laguna is years behind on implementation.

For Corona Del Mar and Newport Beach their city council take advice from a Bike Safety Committee formed by local residents. At their motto is “a new vision of urban life where people matter more than motor vehicles”.

Last week the city of Newport Beach declared they intend to become the most bike-friendly city in all of Orange County. Mr. Gresh already knows how Laguna Beach ranks on that score.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

Council Members have our backs and deserve our support

Council should be commended for protecting our 24,000 residents and $15-20 billion in residential property by enacting some prudent rules regarding decorative tiki torches and fire pits, similar to our long-standing restrictions on fire works.

Since the devastating 1993 fire that consumed the homes and hopes and dreams of nearly 400 Laguna Beach families, we are fortunate in not having had any repeats.  But we dare not forget that most of us live only “one spark away” from a similar disaster.

While there may not be documented cases of fires in Laguna Beach caused by tiki torches and fire pits, the potential risk from these purely decorative open flame amenities far exceeds any conceivable benefit in our fire-prone residential neighborhoods.

By demonstrating the City’s leadership position on fire safety, these new rules also help encourage major fire insurance carriers to keep doing business in Laguna Beach. With insurance companies getting more selective, many local homeowners have experienced great difficulty in keeping their private fire coverage.   It could well diminish the value of our homes if the only fire insurance option in Laguna was the very limited, very expensive “last resort” coverage offered by our fiscally challenged state government.

Our Council acted responsibly to prevent a serious problem, in stark contrast to the federal government’s failures of foresight that led to 9/11, the Katrina flood in New Orleans and the BP oil spill.  The Council Members have our backs and deserve our support.

Best wishes for a wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy, Fire-Safe New Year.

Matt Lawson

Laguna Beach

Amy Kramer

Design Review: Re-Do Part Deux


City Council recently re-appointed three incumbent members to the Design Review Board completely ignoring the one highly qualified incumbent who happens to be an architect and a new candidate who also happened to be  highly qualified with structural, architectural and design knowledge, experience working in the field, and the ability to read blueprints. The results?

The same old, same old.

Many times I have witnessed the baffling re-appointments of DRB members each time a position opens on that board. Instead of selecting from the experienced pool of possible candidates, council simply throws the same people back into the mix. Instead of the professional real estate person or architect or structural engineer, the same people are re-appointed each and every time. Why even publicly notify residents that positions are coming up for availability when council obviously has predetermined their selection?

Unfortunately, the effects of DR authority tend to render some of its members a little power drunk. Agendas, ideology and personal vendettas are carried out on the dais as residents come in to have the fate of their personal, financial and time-sensitive investment decided for them. And whatever happened to professionalism?

Understandably, some of the DR members may not be fully able to understand plans and blueprints, but surely they should be held accountable to the highest, if not mediocre, standards of professionalism.

Talking down to applicants, eye rolling and making non-verbal cues to fellow board members, or at fellow board members, is simply unacceptable.

The issues with DR are a thousand-fold but it all comes down to this: people who sit on this board should be experienced in reading blueprints and site plans, understanding what the process means to applicants and neighborhoods alike and have the ability to remain as objective as possible without interjecting their pet peeves, personal grievances, etc. into their decisions and discussions.

With that in mind perhaps the whole Design Review process should again come under examination. DR needs another makeover - an extreme makeover. The Design Review Task Force did it’s best to move the process of DR in a more efficient and amicable direction, but in reality the changes have put all of the burden on the applicant and created a culture of complaint for anyone within earshot of any targeted project.

The current state of DR makes the applicant responsible for all notifications and meetings, they must provide the compromises, they are responsible for making the neighbors “happy” or at least satisfied (because are they ever really happy?), and the applicant pays for all revisions, changes and corrections. The applicant also has the pleasure of being put on the spot or targeted as the enemy. Maybe DR members should just start with the same idea of due process: innocent until proven guilty.

Laguna Beach deserves a Design Review Board with members who are professional, understand architectural and site plans and understand the need for objectivity. Hearing each project one by one in a conference room setting or having staff work through neighborhood compromises, something different, can also help create more agreeable outcomes and compromises.

And most importantly, DR members should only be allowed to serve two terms on the board. That way we don’t have members throwing tantrums about being picked as alternates and threatening to leave. They would have to leave anyway.

Sometimes that’s a good thing.


Amy Kramer is a wife, mom, president of Laguna Beach Republicans, and facilitates a conservative women’s group. Send comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Kathryn Harrod “Kitty” Smith


After more than a decade of combating immune suppressive health problems from Myasthenia Gravis, Kathryn Harrod Smith (Kitty) succumbed to cancer on Dec 1, 2010. She was 55.

Kitty was a generous, loving, giving Mother, Sister, Friend and Wife. An accomplished sailor, talented chef, impromptu party planner, design guru, crossword aficionado, and passionate animal rescuer, Kitty was so much to so many.

Kitty, daughter of Jodeane Collins Harrod and Ron Harrod, was a native Californian raised in Corona del Mar graduating from Corona del Mar High School in 1972.   She then attended ASU as an Interior Design Major.

Kitty Smith PhotoAfter her marriage to Robert Smith of Indiana they moved to Laguna Beach converting a tiny bungalow to a multi-story home for family and friends to gather for good times.  Everyone thrived on Kitty’s embracing hospitality and open door principle. Time with Kitty was always abundantly filled with great food, good wine, lively conversations and much laughter.

Her days were full; running errands for the disabled, taxiing kids to n’ fro events, cooking up great meals for family and the neighborhood, caring for the animals; and making life better for everyone around her.

Kitty is survived by her husband Robert Smith, son Collin, daughter Cassie, home in Laguna Beach, her sister Janeanne Rinaldi and husband John in Santa Barbara and father Ron Harrod in Corona del Mar.  In lieu of flowers Kitty’s family would appreciate donations to your favorite Animal Shelter.

Memories recounted, glasses raised, laughter and tears shared for Kitty will be ongoing; daily, weekly and forever by all whose lives were so enriched by having Kitty a part of them.

No date has yet been set for Kitty’s Celebration of Life get together.

Loved by many, missed by all, Kitty is once again with her Mom and many beloved family members, pets and friends who preceded her.

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