Potential for hazardous situation on Coast Highway

Warning: Since the City Council is not willing to avoid a hazardous situation on Coast Highway I am issuing a warning.  The Drake Restaurant is replacing Tabu and increasing its previous seating capacity of 56 to 89 with a 112 person occupancy.  The restaurant is located adjacent to one of the most dangerous intersections in Laguna.  The City Council has concluded that having a valet parking lot just south of Nyes Place and a drop off and parking location on Hinkle will not impact traffic and contribute to an already dangerous situation.  

Entering and exiting Hinkle on to the Coast Highway is a challenge. If the plan is approved I suggest that you approach this section of the Coast Highway with extreme caution.

Ronald Kotkin

Laguna Beach

Restoring Community Diversity Through Property Rights

City Hall should not leave the public in the dark about the new state law creating a right to develop in-law and rental suites. The purpose is to promote more use of already occupied land, instead of reducing open space for housing California’s exploding population. This is a major people power change in land use policy in our state, intended to accomplish a collective development policy goal by shifting control back to property owners.

The city should not pretend nothing changes under the law until the city does a new local ordinance. To the contrary, unless and until a local ordinance is enacted to implement the new law, the city is mandated now to permit eligible projects under state law, and local laws inconsistent with the new state law are null and void.    

This can restore real socio-economic diversity our town needs, instead of regimented, privileged, elitist sameness defended in the name of diversity. In many other towns City Hall staff view this as a loss of justification for government budgets, but in Laguna our city staff is overworked and has more important missions. Bringing prohibited but ubiquitous in-law and rental suites out of the shadows will reduce safety risks, neighbor-on-neighbor rancor and homeowner contempt for the city government.  

For new detached and attached units the city can still regulate some features and impose requirements less restrictive than the state law, if needed to prevent abuses that degrade safety and unduly aggravate parking congestion.  But the big news is that approval is administrative without design review for existing structures, including garages, and it is reported that parking rules or lot size cannot routinely be used to deny a permit if the new suite is within the footprint of what is now standing and near public transportation.  

The city should embrace the new law, manage it affirmatively, not make it unduly complicated or expensive.  The city should not play off village charm against affordable housing for seniors or artists. 

Auxiliary dwelling suites should not be a privilege of the wealthy when the greater need is broad. We can restore our working class and middle class through new housing options not subsidized or controlled by the city.  We say we want to do that, but the city does not have the means, so now the state has done it for us. Let’s use it to unite not divide the community.   

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

Russian adoptions vs. Russian campaign donations

What do the NFL, prime time television and Russia have in common?  September, and the start of a new football season, new TV programs, and a renewed interest in Russiagate starring members of the Trump family and one special guest. 

Who knew that the Trump Musketeers -- Donald Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort -- all were hard of hearing?  What originally was dressed up as a meeting between these three insiders and a Russian government attorney to discuss adoptions has now turned out to be a meeting about Russian donations to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. I repeat, donations.

Just like Richard Nixon, who approved virtually every word his White House staff uttered about the Watergate break-in and cover up, we now know Donald Trump dictated a memo falsely claiming the purpose of last year’s meeting was about adoptions.  

How do we know the president’s memo was false? We have Manafort to thank for that. His written account of that fateful meeting clearly includes the word “donations” in the margins. 

I guess if all three Trump campaign parties were attending a raucous Rolling Stones concert in Madison Square Garden and trying to hold a conversation with Russians, one might confuse the word adoptions for donations, but that is not what happened. They all met in a private Trump Tower office where, I am sure, everyone in attendance could hear a pin drop.

Federal law prohibits a foreign entity from donating to a presidential campaign. The fact that Don Jr., Kushner and Manafort ignored obvious red flags and took the meeting is bad enough.  I’ll leave it to the investigators and, perhaps, the courts to decided if what they did was illegal. 

What I’m having trouble wrapping my arms around is President Trump’s personal involvement in this sordid affair.  Was he simply trying to protect his son when he dictated his memo, or was he deliberately trying to send investigators on a wild goose chase? Either way, the shadow of Nixon and Watergate looms large over this current Russiagate mess. 

I was teaching at Anneliese’s on Manzanita when Richard Nixon resigned in 1974. Once it was discovered conversations in the Oval Office were being recorded, there were no more audibles for the beleaguered president to call. I wonder if a similar situation will befall 45 and his Trump Musketeers?  

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

The County needs to supply more trash bins

Monday morning, early arrivals (7 a.m.) to Aliso Beach were confronted with what looked liked the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Everyone was in a state of shock upon witnessing the mass of trash strewn from the north end of the beach, to the south. Aliso Beach is a County beach. Not City of Laguna [Beach]. 

Submitted photo

Taken at Aliso Beach, 7 a.m. Tuesday morning

It appears that the county made no effort to accommodate the mountains of additional trash accumulated by the quite large population of beach goers. Everyone was attempting to escape the heat on Sunday. The County should have anticipated this, and supplied additional trash receptacles. 

However, the word got out to our resident seagulls. There had to be over 1000 birds feasting from the overflow of trash. Thereby making the situation far worse. 

County employees did later arrive to start clean up. But someone at our County needs to start thinking ahead. The cost of the clean up likely was far more expensive than the cost of bringing in extra receptacles.

Monday was truly “Labor Day “ for the unlucky County employees.

Tom Berndt

Laguna Beach

Laguna Patriots and the Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade Association: A clarification

In response to several recent inquiries regarding a political group called “Laguna Patriots,” the Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade Association wishes all to know that we are not associated with this or any other political organization. We exist to promote the idea of love of country and community by putting on Laguna Beach’s annual community parade.

Indeed, since its founding over fifty years ago, the association has recognized that, in such a diverse community as ours, patriotism exists in many forms. This is why our by-laws have long prohibited entries of a political or religious nature. Instead---as most Lagunans already know---it is one time in the year that we all come together to recognize and celebrate who we are.

Charles J. Quilter II

President, Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade Association

Laguna Beach


Clifford Charles Corwin Jr.

March 16, 1950 – August 29, 2017

Clifford Charles Corwin Jr. passed away on August 29, 2017 at the University of Washington Medical Center, surrounded by his family after a courageous 14 year battle with Cancer. He is survived by his devoted wife Sharen Corwin, his children Candice Ramos (Roderick), his son Anthony Corwin (Alison) and his beloved grandchildren Garrison (10) and Beckett Ramos (7) and Emmie (6) and Mylie Corwin (3). He is also survived by his brother Charles Corwin and extended family members. Cliff was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, friend and colleague.

Born in Burbank, California on March 16, 1950, he grew up in and around Southern California with his family, eventually settling in Laguna Beach, California.  In 1967 he graduated from Laguna Beach High School and then went on to attend California State University Long Beach, ultimately completing his degree and earning a teaching credential from Chapman University.  

After college, Cliff moved to Orlando and worked for the Walt Disney Corporation where he would meet and marry his beloved wife Sharen Corwin (Shellenbaum).  Cliff and Sharen returned to California where he spent a short time teaching and coaching until he began his career in the Produce Business.  Cliff continued to work in the Produce Business for the next 37 years until his death. 

Over the span of his career he worked with various companies and firms throughout California, Arizona and Washington, but ultimately found his most fulfilling position with his last employer, Skagit Valley’s Best Produce based out of Mount Vernon, Washington where he was the Executive Sales Director for the past 18 years.  At Skagit Valley’s Best Produce he found not only his most rewarding and fulfilling job, but he found a family of co-workers who supported Cliff and his family during his long battle with Cancer.

His infectious smile, warm heart and devotion to those he loved will be forever missed.  The courage he showed while fighting cancer over the past 14 years will continue to serve as an inspiration to all those who knew him.

Born and raised in Southern California it was Cliff’s wish to be returned to his place of birth for his final resting place.  Services will be held at 10 a.m. on September 21, 2017 at O’Connor Mortuary 25301 Alicia Parkway Laguna Hills CA 92653.  

A benefit account has been set up at Peoples Bank to help his family with burial and medical expenses. Those wishing to do so, can send a check to Corwin Family P.O. Box 2344 Mount Vernon WA 98273. Checks need to be made payable to “Corwin Family Benefit Account” 

Another alternative would be to make a donation to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in Cliff’s name, it was at the SCCA where Cliff received the most tremendous care and support by the entire staff while he waged his battle against cancer.

False assumptions aren’t helpful

For all of the hype (and hate) from the letters I read for the last week regarding the America First protest and the false assumption that it was being organized and attended by white supremacist groups, the violence and four arrests have all been from counter protesters (those who were also described in the same letters as peaceful and loving).  

In reality, the organizer of the protest, Johnny Benitez, is an American with Columbian roots who was there with his group to peacefully protest Illegal immigration and the setting up of Sanctuary cities (like the one in Laguna Beach) that harbors them.  

The protest was also to provide visibility to reduce Illegal immigration in the U.S. and, especially, support (and hopefully reduce) the victims of Illegal aliens who commit violent crimes once they’re here.  

I would think that freedom-loving, law-abiding American citizens throughout our Country would be much more accepting of the message, instead of spewing hatred against it, especially in a place as peaceful, laid back and beautiful as Laguna Beach.  

Kudos to the Police Department for doing such a great job controlling the crowds so it didn’t get any more out of hand and swiftly arresting the agitators.

Gary Zaremba

Laguna Beach

Thanks to Linda Dorr of Laguna Patriots

Thank you Linda Dorr of Laguna Patriots for clearly and unquestionably disavowing America First and their xenophobic message that they are attempting to present as “patriotism.” 

The counter protest was not organized to prevent free speech, but rather to proclaim where we stand as a community, for unity and diversity. Laguna Beach has specifically been targeted by this outside group because of our reputation as a progressive community. I am proud to be part of the over 2,000 people that showed up proclaiming equality and acceptance for people of all nationalities, race, gender and sexual orientation! As a community, let us continue to stand firmly together, proudly proclaiming our message! 

If America First is truly trying to honor victims of crime, why not honor them where those crimes were committed? And why not honor all victims? There are many, many more that have been committed by our homegrown Americans! Instead, they opt to spread a misleading xenophobic message, in a city that has nothing to do with them or their message. And they are led by individuals with known and documented histories and alliances of racism and white supremacist ideologies. I do not oppose free speech, but I do oppose hate, and will be there whenever and wherever people like this choose to spread such poison in my town, to ensure my inclusive and positive message is proclaimed again and again.

Ann Marie McKay

Laguna Beach

Is it time for “We Are The World” 2017?

Now that we all have caught our breath following last weekend’s alt-right and anti-protests in Laguna Beach and Boston, for example, I have to ask: Is it time for a 2017 version of “We Are The World?”  

For those too young to know or those too old to remember, the idea of an American response to reports of widespread famine and death in Africa was the brainchild of legendary entertainer Harry Belafonte. With the help of fundraiser Ken Kragen, the two convinced Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie to write a song in January of 1985. What happened next was a complete surprise. Late one night, a star-studded collection of pop stars came together, under the direction of Quincy Jones, to record “We Are The World.” That song, which really became an anthem, and video were released two months later (and still are heard and watched today). They immediately became international sensations.  

“We Are The World” received numerous honors, including three Grammys, one American Music Award and a People’s Choice Award. It was supported with a critically-acclaimed music video, a home video, a special edition magazine and a simulcast, as well as with books, posters and shirts. The merchandise sold helped raise over $63 million (which is the equivalent to nearly $140 million today) for humanitarian aid to Africa and the United States.  

So now I’m wondering: In the aftermath of what recently happened in Charlottesville, is it time for today’s artists to record a new song and/or release a video? A lot of good came from the original collaboration 32 years ago. I think it’s time for another blockbuster anthem now.  

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Who are the Laguna Patriots?

Main Beach, Laguna is where it all started for Laguna Patriots. It was early spring in The Tax Revolt of 2009 when Laguna Patriots led by Linda Dorr gathered to protest about more California tax increases and Washington’s big government spending.    

Laguna Patriots consist of 150 members affiliated with the national group, Tea Party Patriots, and they honor and support the three core values of fiscal responsibility, constitutional limited government and free markets. Every activity Laguna Patriots participate in is based on these three Core Values.    

The protest demonstrations by Tea Party Patriots are part of a grassroots movement against government spending called Taxed Enough Already, or TEA giving name to the Tax Day Tea Parties...and come more than 235 years after the original Boston Tea Party revolt against taxes. 

From a Conservative’s viewpoint, Obamacare is not fiscally responsible and does not utilize competitive free markets for affordable healthcare. Therefore, at sites like Main Beach and a local hospital, protests took place throughout the last eight years where Laguna Patriots held their signs saying “Uncle Sam, Hands Off My Healthcare!”

Submitted photo

Linda Dorr at a protest in Washington DC

In March of 2012, Linda Dorr joined The Tea Party Patriots in Washington D.C. in front of the SCOTUS, Supreme Court, protesting the limited healthcare given for breast cancer screening and treatment based on local doctors’ testimonies in this field. This cancer was a sensitive subject for Linda as she was diagnosed nine days after the first Main Beach Laguna protests with stage 0 breast cancer. 

Communications from Washington D.C. are important for the tea party as Laguna Patriots pass along the Washington updates to educate the Laguna community through rallies, TV and radio live interviews on current topics, letters to the editors, local meetings and regional seminars.

Regional seminars are important for Laguna Patriots to join with other tea party groups across America to have different break out groups on a variety of important topics of the day to learn the latest government infringements. Many ideas are discussed on how to rein in Washington from government abuse.

There are other activities Laguna Patriots participate in on a regular basis. They contact local, state and national representative offices with face-to-face meetings or by telephone to voice their opposition to proposed and current bills. 

Laguna Patriots have visited local schools on September 17, Constitution Day, when all schools are required to teach the U.S. Constitution. It is a core value for students to learn and understand the U.S. Constitution and how this important document provides a government by the people and for the people. 

Also, Laguna Patriots work with the Howard Jarvis Association to make sure Californians don’t have unreasonable taxation, “taxation without representation”. This is especially true in light of Sacramento government’s goal of repealing Prop 13, a yearly one percent property tax based on purchase price of a new home introduced by Howard Jarvis and passed into law in 1978. 

We fight for our freedoms because free people can’t be controlled!

Linda Dorr

Laguna Beach

Bravo Mayor Iseman

Competent leadership is hard to define, but we know it when we see it.  Mostly, competence means listening until you think you know whats right, and then doing it.  No abdication of duty until it’s safe to take credit or shift blame.

Last week Mayor Iseman got that phone call that tests a leader. Outside groups seeking confrontation sounded the call to battle in our town. Our Mayor made an informed command decision to let freedom ring in our public common on Sunday, but on terms she defined to protect the freedom of one and all.

She did that by personally putting all concerned on notice the police would be ready to use lawful force to prevent unlawful violence. She did not hesitate, rely on a spokesman, or wait for consultants to coach her. Her calm, confident, timely and unequivocal “Don’t tread on Laguna” message went out loud and clear.  

That done she called on locals to deny anyone exploiting our town for self-aggrandizing media attention a local audience. Instead of a counter demonstration in which locals would be undifferentiated from whoever might come on Sunday, our Mayor put a call out for a demonstration of local character and conscience on Saturday.    

Many of us became aware of anti-Semitic defamation targeting the Mayor and credibly attributed to outside groups coming on Sunday.  It was clear this was now about standing with our Mayor and our neighbors in a defining moment for our town.

A robust but positive narrative at the Saturday gathering allowed a unifying community spirit to prevail. There were Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, left and right, and everything in between.  

Hate speech is hard to define, but we know it when we hear it, from the left or the right.  I heard none on Saturday.  I was so proud of my town, and so proud of our Mayor.  She called us all to a deeper commitment to community that transcends partisan politics when it matters most. 

I disagree with Toni Iseman on many issues, and I am a member of a different political party.  But the office of Mayor is non-partisan, and when the stakes were highest she did her duties in a nonpartisan way.  I believe she is the most competent Mayor we have had in a long, long time.

Finally, as a former U.S. armed forces law enforcement officer I observed police operations from a distance on Sunday.  Chief Farinella’s integration of LBPD with visiting law enforcement units was exemplary.  Three arrests and peaceful orderly crowd dispersal - well done!

Our community is truly fortunate to have these two women serving and leading at a high standard of competence and excellence. 

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

City needs to educate smokers about ban

Following my recent return from a trip to Dublin you may recall my complimentary letter on the apparent effectiveness of the new smoking ban. I’m sorry, but that compliment appears to have been premature. On our first walk of Heisler Park and Main Beach we did not experience a single smoker; the walk was such a pleasure. But that pleasure was very short-lived. On every walk since we have encountered at least one or two people openly smoking. On each occasion I gently reminded them that Laguna is a no-smoking city. A few outwardly appeared to appreciate the reminder and actually put out their cancer-sticks. But the rest of the encounters have met with great resistance and complete disrespect. Today I suffered the latest pair of incidents, which prompted my letter.

At the first encounter a youngish man appearing about the age of 35 was openly smoking in a crowed area on the sidewalk near Greeters Restaurant, exposing all nearby to his second-hand smoke. I reminded him that Laguna is a non-smoking city. His reply was short but not sweet, “Yes, don’t you smoke,” as his group of men continued on their path, completely ignoring me. 

The second encounter was the last straw for me. I noticed a 50ish looking man puffing away as I walked the sidewalk through Heisler Park. I gently reminded him that Laguna is a no-smoking city. His reply was “Oh yeah? Guess you better call 911” as he put the cigarette back in his mouth and took another hit. I would have called, too, except I had left my phone at home.

My question to you is “When are we going to start educating the public about our expectations?” The only signs I am aware of stating the official policy are located at the entrances to the city. What about after these belligerent smokers are here?  We have signs informing visitors about lots of other infractions, even on lifeguard stations, but still nothing about smoking. Months ago Police Chief Farinella contacted me to advise me that a major education campaign was coming soon, including coasters and brochures. I am not impressed with the lack of visibility of your educational campaign to date. The ash tray/trash receptacle at the top of Heisler stairs behind the Inn at Laguna has not even been replaced. Is that really sending the right message?

What we really need are signs in our parks and on lifeguard towers at our beaches. May I also suggest stickers on all parking-meters. Obviously a single reminder as one is driving into our town (which may not even be seen) is not adequate; educational efforts must be stepped up.

I was very pleased when the city council voted to provide Laguna residents a healthier life. I am just wondering if I will live long enough to enjoy the cleaner air I was promised.

Russ Hill

Laguna Beach

Laguna Patriots does not support America First

As a conservative and the organizer for Laguna Patriots in Laguna Beach I want to state our group’s core values and clarify we have no connection with Johnny Benitez’s America First group.

Laguna Patriots Core Values are: Fiscal Responsibility, Free Markets and Constitutionally Limited Government. Also, we believe all men, no matter race, are acreated equal and are entitled to Life, Liberty and their Pursuit to Happiness!

America First rally in Laguna Beach at Main Beach this [last] Sunday evening the 20 [was] not supported by our Laguna Patriots group because we do not share the same values as Mr Benitez’s group.

Linda Dorr

Laguna Beach

Posters showing support for diversity?

In January 2017, all shops at South Coast Plaza displayed a small 8.5x11 poster in their windows during the Chinese New Year celebrating the occasion with the Chinese community.   The poster, which included a positive message, reflected the retail shop’s attitude towards diversity.  I wonder if our Chamber of Commerce could do the same by creating and distributing a poster that reflects the spirit of Laguna.

Nadia Babayi

Laguna Beach

Hate is not welcome here

The violence of this past week has shaken our nation to its core.

This weekend, we witnessed in horror the despicable acts of hatred and domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, where Klan members, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the Alt-Right gathered – not in peace but in violence. Pure and simple, they attacked America and America’s values.

A young woman, Heather Heyer, was murdered by a homegrown terrorist as she stood up for tolerance, justice and decency. As we watch what is happening in our country, a lot of us are scared. But Heather Heyer refused to give into fear and she refused to be intimidated by this small group of white supremacists who have been emboldened by Trump’s election.

On Monday, I learned that an Alt-Right rally is being planned for this weekend in Laguna Beach. Over the last several days, I have spent many hours with friends, activists and community leaders. We are united in our sorrow. We are united in our outrage. We are united in our resolve to stand up for our town, our country and our fellow Americans.  

On Saturday, August 19 from 10am-12pm, a Unity Rally will be held on Main Beach. Progressive groups from across the 48th District are coming together to plan and to support this event: Indivisible OC-48, Together We Will, Planned Parenthood, WAVE, the Laguna Beach Democratic Club and many more. To demonstrate diversity and unity, ribbons of every color will be tied around trees and light posts in Main Beach and downtown.  

The message for the Unity Rally in Laguna Beach is simple: Hate is Not Welcome Here. Not in our town. And not in our country. 

Beyond what is happening here in my hometown, I am also calling for the immediate dismissal of Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. American taxpayers should not be paying the salaries of hatemongers. Period. 

The current President has failed the most basic test of leadership and humanity.

And the Republican-led Congress is failing our people, who deserve an America in which all are treated fairly – by one another and by our government. Weak rebukes by fearful politicians, tolerating the intolerable, are just not good enough. 

Make no mistake, Donald Trump has given a green light for those with hate in their hearts to step forward. But this is not about Republicans and Democrats; this is not about right and left. This is about right and wrong. And now, more than ever, we have to stand shoulder to shoulder, locked arm in arm to fight bigotry and hatred. 

As the venerable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Harley Rouda

Laguna Beach


Shouldn’t there be an emergency call number?

The back of the “water wise” sign is visible between the two red traffic lights in the lower photo.

So much for saving water.

Steven Pope

Laguna Beach

Let’s ignore them

There has been much worry and angst about the rally this Sunday at Main Beach to “support victims of crimes by illegals and refugees.” 

Apparently this group has been here three times before - who knew? We didn’t even realize we were ignoring them, but we did! They exercised their right to peacefully assemble and express their point of view, skewed though it may be.  

Let’s ignore them once again and deny them the attention and the fight they crave and are coming to our town to find. 

Those of like mind: we don’t need to engage. Enjoy your Sunday with family and friends. Dedicate yourselves to finding a unifying, helpful, ongoing volunteer project that lifts up other people. We’ll all get together to take a stand against racism, hatred, and injustice - but on an alternative date. 

Barbara McMurray

Laguna Beach

What traffic problem?

Now that members of the City Council have decided that we have a major traffic congestion problem, something needs to be done. They have ordered the city manager to come up with answer to the problem. If it wasn’t so pathetic, the council’s demand would be laughable. For these are long time elected officials whose lack of vision and long-standing failures to act has exacerbated the situation. Traffic throughout the city has worsened every year for at least the last decade. Yet the council has ignored the problem and their lack of vision has transformed this small quiet city to a regional party mecca. 

With every new bar, roof top lounge and nightclub they approved, the council has transformed this city and devastated our artist community. Their vision has failed to plan for traffic and parking for the new daily visitors who come to party and enjoy the beauty of our small town. 

Laguna Beach residents through their property taxes fund over 90% of the city’s budget. The city staff and council members can’t stop congratulating each other on Laguna’s strong financial condition. 

Day tourists flock to our beautiful city but they are not enriching it. They are only costing the local taxpayers money. They use our police, fire and maintenance services. Day tourist aren’t leaving cash, they only leave us their trash.

Traffic is at a standstill. The council‘s vision must be that when traffic doesn’t move, it makes it easier for the tourist to jaywalk across PCH without getting hit.

While the city council struggles to decide whether CVS can take over the Laguna Drugs location, you must wonder what the vision for our city is? Is it another big bar? Nightclub? Roof top restaurant in that space?

Laguna Beach was when I moved here 20+ years ago a quiet, clean, beautiful small town with a good school system. I never planned to witness the systematic erosion of our quality of life. 

It is time the residents who pick up the tab decide the future course of our city. The business owners in our town other than the major hotels are insignificant to the funding of our city budget.  Less day tourists in our city will not affect our city budget. But it will lessen the traffic and eliminate city service costs. The quality of life for our residents should dictate the actions of the city council.

I am unsure what the city manager’s conclusion to the traffic crisis will be. I do know that a clear vision and plan to increase the quality of life for our residents will do much to elevate the traffic problem. If the city councils over the years would have taken a residents first approach we would still be able to get across town in 10 minutes.

Jeffrey J. Kaplan

Laguna Beach

What does Rep. Rohrabacher think?

With this weekend’s neo-Nazi demonstrations planned for Laguna and Huntington Beach -- a torch-lit vigil at Main Beach and a book-burning rally in Surf City -- I wonder what my elected member of Congress, Dana Rohrabacher, thinks about all of this?  

I am asking because he has remained silent compared to what numerous Republican leaders have said in the aftermath of Charlottesville.  This list includes among others:  former Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky; House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin; Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and, Rep. Ed Royce of Orange County. They all have denounced racism in America and those who promote it like the KKK and other white supremacist hate organizations.  

If Mr. Rohrabacher thinks silence is the best antidote for what is about to happen in his congressional district, then he isn’t paying attention.  That, or he simply doesn’t care.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

The impact of Charlottesville on Laguna

The impact of what happened Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia has not been lost on my Laguna friends and yours truly.  Talk about your darker angels.  It is beyond a crime when someone makes himself out to be judge, jury and executioner.  That is exactly what a KKK sympathizer did when he drove his car into a crowd of protesters killing one and injuring 19.

Last year the KKK began recruiting followers, both here in Orange County and across the country, by leaving candy, hate messages and a toll-free telephone number in bags on people’s driveways.  This past weekend in Virginia, they traded in their robes and hoods for slacks and white golf shirts.  But don’t be fooled.  No matter how sweet the KKK tries to flavor its message or dress like they are about to tee off at a country club, their message is the same as it always has been: hateful and disgusting.

When President Kennedy delivered his inaugural address in 1961, he told the world, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” I believe the same could be said today to those who hate their fellow Americans.  

Twenty years after Kennedy, presidential candidate Ronald Reagan called America, “A shining city upon a hill.” Unlike the KKK, both Kennedy and Reagan were appealing to our better angels. Their messages were hopeful and full of grace. My hope is no one in town forgets this as we all move through the next few days and weeks. 

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

The town is dying

Merchants, the Festivals and Art Galleries are reporting sales are flat. There’s even a rumor that one art festival may close forever. Person after person is saying desirable visitors are shunning Laguna Beach because of traffic, congestion, parking and dangerously overloaded trolleys. Many say today’s visitors are made up to a large extent of lookyloos not people really wanting to interact with artists, craftspeople, galleries, shops and festivals. One festival has offered Montage guests with free passes and few are attending. 

It’s time the City Council finds ways to discourage visitor crowds. Taking down the ABC TV camera on the Hotel Laguna would be a good start. The town is dying. Merchants say they can’t exist on attendance by visitors two months a year. Others are straining their regular employees asking them to work evenings and extending hours hoping to accommodate customers. OCTA has banned route number one buses from going to the bus dept. on weekends and now you insult us with a $350,000 plan to erect Disneyland like signs and suggest multi storied parking garages to generate cash to pay your outrageous city salaries and 90 percent pensions. Of course – you need more cash. Sales taxes, property taxes, recreational course fees, building and plan fees, business licenses, dog licenses, OCTA cash grants, $$$$$ from Laguna Woods for animal services, animal shelter charges, meter & parking lot fees, resident parking sticker fees, parking tickets etc. etc aren’t enough for the greed that has come to characterize city government.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

What Laguna can learn from Dublin

My wife and I recently returned from a visit to Dublin, Ireland. During our time there we observed several cultural differences from life here in Laguna. A few of the differences we would not hope to see here, but some we think would actually benefit our community. Sometimes great benefits to a community come from simply borrowing ideas that work elsewhere.

First, our compliments to all who supported the restrictions on smoking in public which recently went into effect.  Probably the most negative habit we observed in Dublin was the huge number of people standing to the side of walkways at building entries, smoking their cigarettes and subjecting anyone walking nearby to the displeasure of errant smoke.  One of our first impressions upon arriving back home and walking through Heisler Park and Main Beach Boardwalk was the absence of cigarette smoke encountered along our path. Thank you for that!

We would like to suggest a few observations from Dublin that could positively affect our life experience here in Paradise for your consideration:

1.    Free Local Museums:  All museums in Ireland are free to all residents (in fact, we were not charged either). It has always bothered us to think that in the US it costs money to have exposure to culture, whether museums of art, history, or whatever. It’s no wonder so many Americans are lacking in that area. In Ireland culture is promoted by making access to museums absolutely free. While your (city council) influence is strictly local, it would not seem far-fetched to make our local museums free, at least to residents of Laguna if not everyone.

2.    Exercise Equipment in Parks: In most of the parks we walked through in Dublin we observed outdoor exercise equipment similar to the types seen in for-profit gyms across our nation. We also observed similar equipment in Parks in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Heisler Park would be an excellent venue for workout stations we residents could use along our walking paths. It would benefit especially local seniors whose main exercise is walking. I’m confident such equipment would be appreciated in other local parks as well.

3.    Crossing Streets on Red Lights:  While this seems potentially problematic on its surface, it works very well in Dublin.  It doesn’t really make sense to stand at a traffic light waiting for green when no cars are coming. People often don’t wait already. Ticketing people for jaywalking when entirely safe seems against the spirit of the law, and could easily be modified.

4.    All Police in Plain Clothes:  It was explained to us that police in Dublin all (except for SWAT teams) patrol in plain clothes, that is, not in uniform. The reason stated was that not knowing exactly where police are located makes crime less likely, because potential criminals don’t know if they are standing next to a police officer or not.  Our thought is that it certainly makes police officers less of a target.  Perhaps something to consider.

While there were other things about Dublin we thought would work well in the US, the four ideas listed above were the ones we considered to have the greatest value while being locally implementable. We encourage you to consider each to determine which might work to make Laguna even better.

Thanks for reading.

Russ and Raella Hill

Laguna Beach

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Lynette Brasfield is our Features Editor.

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