LCAD should not be the undertaker for a dying art form

I write as the wife of a community member who has discovered his passion for the art of sculpting stone through the LCAD community class that has been offered for almost 40 years. I have read your article and received a communication from President Jonathan Burke that while he is saddened to see the program come to an end, the basis of the decision is health concerns associated with the process of grinding and carving the stone. 

I am grateful that the Michelangelo’s, the Da Vinci’s and the Donatello’s of the world did not share that concern, what an utter loss that would be. That said, the students remain ready and willing to address and remediate any legitimate health concerns. A significant supplier of the stones [that the] students carve prides himself on supplying stones that do not contain dangerous levels of silica as referenced in President Burke’s email to your paper. 

Your article also made note of the students’ willingness to take further substantive steps to reduce and thus mitigate concerns associated with any dust, but those suggestions seem to have been ignored without any evaluation of their efficacy.  

It should be of great importance to this community, that prides itself on supporting the arts, that stone sculpting itself has given so much to this world and our landscape in helping us understand those that came before us. It is because of the timeless quality of stone, and its enduring effects, that we have been allowed to peek into the lives and cultures of those we would never have known had it not been for the earliest of cave drawings etched in the walls by our ancestors wishing to tell a story.  

Our predecessors’ manipulations of stone have allowed us to ponder the wonders of societies lost to us such as those who gave us the Moai statues on Easter Island. Having recently visited Florence, I cannot imagine that a city touched as it is by such glory would echo its transcending sound of the sanctity of art without the accompaniment of its sculptures. A Duomo with unembellished walls and sans its carvings seems like heresy. The Accademia Gallery without David or The Hall of Prisoners with their haunting stories to tell would lie empty in spirit and reality. 

The stories of artists, communicators, engineers, and creators who use stone to communicate their vision and narrative have been with us since the earliest of times. This is an art form that should not be displaced and LCAD should not be its undertaker.  

Christy Joseph

Laguna Beach

“Dust-up at LCAD campus” article raises questions

With all the new acquisitions of property in Laguna for LCAD across the street from the main campus, I find it unbelievable that they cannot find a safe space for the sculpture program to continue. They have additional buildings, parking lots and display areas that I have observed as the fine program has expanded considerably.

If the powers that be really believe in this program, they will find a way for the sculpting program to have a continued home. 

I am an artist in Laguna and long time resident and believe strongly in supporting all the arts.

As a community, we support LCAD not only by word and money but by patiently dealing with the stop signal they had installed instead of building an overpass. 

We support LCAD and expect that they will do better to maintain this program than to respond with a two-sentence email to the well crafted letter of support from Christy Joseph.

It is my hope that the LCAD’s Board of Directors and President will use their artistic skills to create a much-needed and deserved space for sculpting.

Jan Fritsen

Laguna Beach

About Memorial Day

I’m grateful to live in a country where a guy like me can freely express himself without fear of retribution (or worse).  In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom -- and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.”

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

The sharks are leaving us

FYI; I enjoy a lonely little beach called Poche in north San Clemente. You will see two benches and a permanently installed American flag there. Even on a sunny Sunday, there may be only 3 or 4 people there.

But it has also been the favorite beach of great white sharks for the last month. Evidenced by the constant presence of helicopters. Sharks like rocky bottom hunting grounds, seals, and squid. Also, pelicans enjoy squid. And the skies have been heavily populated with pelicans diving constantly for the unfortunate squid. Interestingly, squid swim very close to shore to escape being food. Not a plan. They are trapped there by the sharks, and are targeted by the pelicans. And the sharks were swimming right where you may be wading waist deep. Also not a plan. But all things come to an end. The sharks will be leaving us, as the pelicans are now somewhere else. That spells the end of the run. And the return of surfers who will slowly paddle out, not without some trepidation, to catch some waves. I noted that most surfers near the pier, sat on their boards with their feet up on the board. Not dangling over the sides. Life in SoCal goes on. And Jaws will return next year, if the squid do the same. 

Tom Berndt

Laguna Beach

No place quite like this in the world

Saturday I took a trolley north from south Laguna to Divers Cove, in Heisler Park. The trolley was filled with local young people going from beach to beach. I walked north to Monument Point and the flagpole and there sat a friend. We looked north to see Picnic Beach, the “giggle crack” at Divers, Fisherman’s Cove, Shaw’s Cove, Seal Rocks, paddleboarders and pelicans dating back to pre-historic times. 

Later I walked north by Rock Pile beach. I could feel the ghost of Tom Rizzo, musician and surfer who loved Rock Pile and taught young Latinos how to surf thru the rocks.

Ending up on a bench at the pickup basketball courts at Main Beach, I was amazed - as I have been many times at a group of men playing basketball with what looked like a ten year old and teenage boys. It was a pickup game I will never forget because the two boys, who were guarding each other kept making great moves and scoring baskets - to the astonishment of the adult players and onlookers. 

After a while, I walked south remembering when south of the old guard tower was an LGBT friendly, destination beach, much like West St. is now, and on that beach the occasional silver service brunch was served on the sand by gays. Memories of DANTES big, public gay bar right there came back to me too. Hundreds of locals and visitors from around the world inside DANTES and on the porch and on the beach enjoying another whimsical day in beautiful Laguna. 

Today is important, but so are memories. There’s no place quite like this in the world. 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

Remembering Stu

With Stu’s passing, Laguna’s colors, maroon and white, aren’t quite so bright today. RIP Stu. You made a real difference in town.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Draft historic preservation ordinance actually loosens restrictions

Laguna’s historic inventory, professionally developed and officially adopted in 1981, lists properties built before 1940 that had kept their historic value at that time. Since the Inventory was adopted by City Council resolution, it does not lose its validity, but it does need to be culled of properties that no longer possess historic character.  As originally adopted, the inventory was simply an official listing of those properties that, at the request of the property owner, were eligible for inclusion on the city’s historic register. 

Question:  What has changed from 1981 to now?  Answer: California state law.

Without exception, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) now requires local jurisdictions to treat all properties that are 45 years or older as potential historic resources—whether or not they appear on a local inventory.  After official review, being determined to have no significant historic value is the only way for a property to be exempted from provisions that relate to treatment of historic resources.

The current process of revising Laguna’s historic preservation ordinance is designed both to satisfy state law requirements and to make life easier for owners of historic properties.

The ordinance specifies that, whenever allowed under state law, local, more flexible guidelines can be developed for guiding remodels of historic properties that, along with other similar properties, enhance the character of our city and its neighborhoods rather than being individually significant. Laguna has previously had no such guidelines, employing the state and federal standards that are not tailored to local conditions. Far from “tightening” restrictions, the draft ordinance seeks to loosen restrictions that in the past have proven to be problematic. 

In addition, when alterations for remodels or maintenance preserve the character of a historic property, the proposed ordinance offers multiple incentives, including more relaxed development standards than non-historic properties enjoy as well as reduced city fees and opportunities for reduced property taxes. It also provides that the City rather than the property owner will pay for the state-required historic evaluation that potentially historic buildings 45 years or older undergo. 

Far from “tightening” restrictions, the draft ordinance seeks to clarify requirements, loosen restrictions that in the past have proven to be problematic, and provide additional incentives for owners of historic properties. It seeks to balance preservation of Laguna’s historic resources while providing increased flexibility and benefits for property owners. 

Charlotte Masarik

Laguna Beach

Time to get H.E.L.P.?

Laguna has an Environmental Sustainability Committee to advise City Council on issues pertaining to Laguna Beach and its environment, an Urban Planning Coordinating Committee, a Heritage Committee for mostly structural historic preservation and a view Restoration Committee but no HELP… Habitat, Environmental open space, Land acquisition and Preservation committee and we desperately need it!

H.E.L.P. would identify, recommend and secure open space preservation in collaboration with  city departments LBBC, Laguna Canyon Conservancy, Harbors Beaches and parks and other regional, state and federal groups, Sierra Club, etc.

It would include representatives who care about Laguna’s environment and physical features and work with existing groups and the city to target projects.

It would review and recommend restoration, maintenance and scheduling for vegetation, cleanup and mitigation of waste, creek restoration, ensure physical continuity for Laguna’s habitats as well human access routes, review and propose land to be included in open space as well advocate and represent the city coordinating land continuity with adjoining cities.

Your support and consideration for a permanent HELP committee is most welcome and needed.

Thank you for all you do,

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach Beautification Council

Hearsay is not evidence

I take exception to anyone making libelous remarks about our President or anyone without any basis in fact.  No evidence has come out that President Trump ever provided highly classified information to the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador during their recent visit to the White House nor whether any such information, if provided, was already allowed by our intelligence community since Russia is one of our allies in the war on terrorism.  The only such reports came from media stories insinuating such.  Hearsay is NOT evidence and no intelligent, adult should be reporting such in a letter to the editor.  A Special Prosecutor has been chosen to investigate allegations of Russian interference in President Trump’s campaign and, until such investigation turns up any evidence, speculation is both premature and immature.

I hope the readers take all this into consideration.  We are a Country of laws and everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Gary Zaremba

Laguna Beach

Honorable men are acting like children

President Trump’s terrifying braggadocio, exemplified by his disclosure of highly classified intelligence to Russia’s foreign minister and its ambassador to the U.S. during their visit to the White House last week, has me much less enthusiastic about his possible removal from office.

I owe my reaction to the absolute spinelessness of Republican leaders. What makes otherwise honorable men such as national security advisor H.R. McMaster and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer act like children in defending this president? Why hasn’t Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), an 80-year-old with nothing to lose, come out with both barrels blazing?

I watched my young son’s reaction to all this discord, and it makes me think we have let his generation down. We should have been greater than this.

Skip Maison

Laguna Beach

Proposing another NannyState ban

The NannyState now imposes a citywide smoking ban. And Iseman wishes she could even invade our homes with her assault on personal liberties. Wasn’t she the clown who wanted to spay/neuter the poor sea lions that wash up on our beaches?

I propose another ban! No one with less than a three digit IQ may serve on the Council! Call it the Waters/Pelosi Amendment!

Just sayin’

Matt Smith

Laguna Beach

Who is the real showboat?

Back in December of 2011, I suggested that former Speaker Newt Gingrich, a GOP presidential contender then, ought to spend more time with rank and file supporters than “showboat Donald Trump.”  A few people in town told me the way I characterized the real estate magnate was less than polite.

Now skip ahead to last week, when President Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt he fired FBI Director James Comey because he was a “showboat.”  All I can say to my friends today is, “It takes one to know one.”

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Denny’s selective memory

Surprised the GOP voted along party lines? Uhhh, only 4 Dems voted against in 2010, and Pelosi said, “we have to pass it, to see what’s in it”.

Kinda’ selective memory on your part sir. And if new bill allows states to allow pre existing conditions, I’m sure liberal California will allow you and Cher to get your meds. 

You really are on Obamacare??

Bill Kail

Laguna Beach

Phone booth installation is creative and fun

I for one LOVE the art installation in the phone booth. The first morning that I noticed it I laughed nearly all the way to Tustin, where we have our business. The second morning I wanted to stop and take a photo, but the tree trimmers were busy at work there, so I couldn’t; the third morning I got lucky, got a spot, took some photos, and have shared them with nearly everyone I know.

I think it is very creative, very fun, and to me, it represents all of the tourists who cram our beaches and sidewalks. It also reminded me of a time when I was a senior in high school (in Michigan) and we had a competition between the classes to see who could cram the most people in a VW bug. (The seniors won, by the way, and I was on the floorboard of the passenger side, along with one of my best friends.)  

After reading your article, I know that the artist’s intentions were probably not my interpretation, but that is what is great about good art—we all see it differently. And if it gets you thinking and talking about it, that means it worked.

Marge Kehrer Flamme

Laguna Beach

Respectable but hardly world-class

The phone booth is a respectable effort but hardly world-class art.  

If Laguna is to be the “go-to” place for art, installations like the work of Niki de St. Falle or Claes Oldenburg would garner attention from sophisticated art aficionados.

Robert Story

Laguna Beach

“Where is the restraint on this government overreach?”

Too many Laguna homes are being pulled into the “historic” category by vague and overly broad language in the proposed Historic Preservation Ordinance.  Nearly every older home in Laguna could be seen as historic in these terms.  Where is the restraint on this government overreach?  

I might believe the proponents are motivated by historicity if they restricted this taking to a small number of homes.  And, if the proponents are truly interested in historicity, then why restrict controls to just the exterior?  Why aren’t the interiors included?

Clearly, there is another agenda behind this.  Proponents want to prevent changes to the character of their neighborhoods and declaring homes “historic” is how they want to do it.  Fortunately, we have a city agency charged with protecting neighborhood character, the Design Review Board (DRB).  The many wonderful neighborhoods with older homes in our city are not a result of historic preservationists.  Rather, they are a tribute to the work of the DRB and to creative homeowners, architects, and builders.

It has been stated that historic designation has no negative impact on property values, but Laguna residents I have spoken with would not want to buy a home with the restrictions of a historic designation.  They want a Laguna charmer but not one that limits them to “in-kind” repairs.

Let’s not confuse neighborhood character with historicity.  Likewise, let’s not conflate “old” to mean “historic.”  Before we take the property rights and property value from our neighbors, there should be a truly compelling historic story.  I think it is nonsense to believe that thousands of Laguna homes have this level of historicity.

Dan Summerl

Laguna Beach

Values of owning and living in a historic property are more than financial

In reference to the pending Historic Preservation Ordinance a lot has been said about a historic designation being an impediment to selling, and devaluing the property. 

We did not find that to be true. 

We purchased our home at 424 Jasmine Street in May, 2015. It was listed on the Historic Inventory and we understand that the seller, Ross St. Clair, had been worried that he would not be able to sell the property for what he thought it was worth.  But the property sold the same day it was put on the market and it sold for the asking price—to us!  We had been searching for a home in Laguna Beach for some time and his asking price was not low.  

At the time that we learned it was on the market, we were told that we had a two-hour window to see the house, and that if we liked it, we had to make an offer that afternoon. Our realtor said there were four other offers made that day as well. Before our offer (which was a full price offer) was accepted, the seller’s realtor spent a lot of time making sure that we understood that this house was on the Historic Inventory, and the restrictions associated with this. We were pleased to be purchasing a home with history, and for us it was a draw, not a deterrent.

Subsequent to purchasing the home, we placed it on the Historic Registry. 

From there we applied for a Mills Act contract. This was recently granted to us, and will provide a meaningful financial decrease in our property taxes, such that we are confident that we can keep the house in good repair, and representative of its history. 

This past month our home was appraised in an effort to refinance. We were happy to see that the appraisal reflected the work we had put into it, but also that the value was retained. We believe that the Mills Act contract will increase the value even more, were we to want to sell.

But the values of owning and living in a historic property are more than financial—there is the value of enjoyment, and feeling a part of Laguna’s history.  

Without the city’s historic preservation program the home we now enjoy could have been demolished before we or some other buyer who appreciates historic properties would have had a chance to buy it.

Monica Thompson

Laguna Beach

Why Mar-a-Lago matters

In 2015, Trump said he would “rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done.” Now, he is golfing and visiting a Trump-branded property every few days!

I’m deeply concerned with Trump’s taxpayer funded trips to Trump properties, Mar-a-Lago.

Here’s why:

Trump is putting taxpayer dollars directly in his pocket by visiting his properties so frequently. The Secret Service has spent tens of thousands of dollars on golf carts alone at Mar-a-Lago, and that’s the tip of the iceberg! 

While Trump spends our tax dollars at Mar-a-Lago, he’s also hosting high-profile meetings with foreign heads-of-state there, like the Prime Minister of Japan. Talk about a photo op for his own property!

After Election Day, Mar-a-Lago doubled its membership fees to $200,000. That’s a lot of money in Trump’s pocket! 

Nobody should be allowed to profit for the presidency. I’ve had enough. It’s time for our representatives in Congress to stand up to Trump’s abuse of power and waste of taxpayer dollars. 

Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago have already cost $25 million. That’s enough to pay for over 2,000,000 Meals on Wheels! 

If Congress continues to sit on its hands, our representatives should be held accountable for their complicity to Trump’s corruption. I’ll remember their inaction when I step into the voting booth.

Ann Marie McKay

Laguna Beach

House vote to repeal Obamacare

After last Thursday’s vote to repeal ObamaCare, I told a conservative friend in town I think I suffer from a pre-existing condition. It’s called I Don’t Like Republican Hypocrites or IDLRH.

It’s bad enough the House reversed course on ObamaCare. What’s worse, a number of lawmakers admitted they simply followed the GOP party line ... and didn’t actually read the bill.  

Americans need their congressmen and women to be inquisitive, thoughtful and principled. As far as this voter is concerned, none of these qualities were on display when the all-important health care vote was taken.

I can’t write anything else now.  That’s because my IDLRH symptoms are acting up.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Airport traffic overhead is enjoyable to some

Let me just say...not everyone dislikes a little aviation traffic.  I for one enjoy watching a little commercial air traffic fly overhead…it is certainly not excessive in volume or frequency.  We have much bigger problems in this country and world.  

I could get “snarky” but I’ll just keep my powder dry for now.

Pat Forrest

Laguna Beach

Keep the C system 

It is important to keep the Contributing rating (C) system as the City revises the Historic Preservation ordinance because taking away their historic status would probably lead to the loss of a number of them, and the neighborhoods and the City would be the poorer for it.  

These historic beach cottages contribute their Charm and Character to the town and what makes Laguna Laguna.  

If Laguna wants to preserve the distinctive character of its neighborhoods the Cs must be preserved and our General Plan policy requires it.

Most of our historic structures are beach cottages not unlike the cottages at Crystal Cove and are often not as substantial as the structures that are considered historic in other parts of the country. This means that they may be underappreciated by professionals trained elsewhere. However, in their modest scale, their homegrown character, and their simplicity they accurately reflect our past, and we value them. 

It is important that our Historic Preservation Ordinance recognizes C structures as historic resources.

Johanna Felder


Village Laguna

C-Rated and CEQA

The proposed amendment regarding historical properties (Zoning Ordinance Amendment 17-0388 and Local Coastal Program Amendment 17-0389) presented at the April 19 Planning Commission meeting is an improvement over the ordinance we have:  for example, it calls for drafting special guidelines for evaluating alterations to “C”-rated properties, and it’s important that these guidelines be in place before any change to the ordinance goes into effect.

CEQA allows the City to adopt its own “performance standards” to mitigate changes in “C”-rated structures without the need for individual EIRs. As the PC staff report explained, these standards can be as strict or flexible as is necessary to avoid the loss of historic character of neighborhoods or streetscapes. If the City decides that houses don’t need to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards if they simply make a significant contribution to the look of the neighborhood, it can make its own rules for alterations to those structures.

This is one of the ways that the proposed amendments are an improvement over the ordinance we have, and I hope the City will make sure these special guidelines relating to C-rated properties are included when changes to the ordinance are made.

Rosemary Boyd

Laguna Beach

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