Historic Preservation and misinformation

City staff has been assigned to revise the Historic Preservation Ordinance by the City Council and there has been a great deal of misinformation disseminated with the intent to scare owners of historic cottages. Many of these the issues are covered in the City’s list of Frequently Asked Questions about historic preservation.

For example, see: http://www.lagunabeachcity.net/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=17721 

If my property is a historic resource:

Can I make repairs?  Yes. In-kind repairs and in-kind replacement of deteriorated features of a building are allowed without CEQA review.  

Can I add on? Yes. The Heritage Committee reviews proposed additions and changes to historic properties, and many are approved every year. Retaining the exterior historic character of the building is the overriding criterion.

Will the ordinance impair the value of my property? All properties are different, but realtors report that buyers are especially seeking buildings with historic Laguna character and these houses sell readily at market prices. The potential for Mills Act property tax relief is a significant benefit for new buyers. 

Gene Felder

Laguna Beach

Unmasking CEQA and historic preservation

As an owner of a C rated cottage, I have followed the events surrounding the city’s process to amend its outdated Historic Preservation Ordinance (HPO). A recurring point made by those whose support HPO recodification goes something like this:

Even if Laguna Beach were to eliminate the HPO in its entirety, to the extent a Laguna Beach resource is deemed historic, it would still be subject to the onerous California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) restrictions. Since we’re subject to CEQA with or without the HPO, let’s amend the HPO in a manner that exempts ourselves from parts of CEQA so that we can have some control of our own historic preservation.

The notion of “we’re subject to CEQA except when we legislate not to be” has always struck me as a bit odd and frankly, dangerous, partly because if a municipality has the right to exempt itself from CEQA, it is not bound to do so in a manner less restrictive on its constituents. Given I am working on a project in a different part of California that requires a CEQA compliant document, I decided to dial up my environmental team and pay for an answer to the following question: “What is a historic resource pursuant to CEQA?”

Much to my surprise, I learned that CEQA has clear criteria of which only one need be met for a home to qualify as historic. Simply stated, these criteria are that a home must have a historic event, person, relic or architect associated with it or that it represents a special kind of workmanship. Based on these criteria, my cottage, while old and cute, does not qualify as a historic resource pursuant to CEQA. So why is my cottage C rated under the guise of historic preservation?

The answer to this question rests in the position that the city may have already exempted itself from CEQA by creating its own rules for what it deems worthy of preservation, rules that unfortunately appear to be far more subjective, less quantifiable and less related to historicity than those provided by CEQA. Some have said the entire concept of historic preservation in Laguna Beach has little to do with CEQA but rather is a thinly veiled attempt by the city to preserve our cottages without having to pay for that privilege. I’m not ready to go there just yet, but I do wonder why the city has yet to implement a voluntary and (real) incentive based historic preservation system as provided for in its General Plan. 

Regardless, it seems pretty clear to the extent the standard for historic resource qualification as provided by CEQA is not met, the issue of historic preservation in Laguna Beach is not at all a “CEQA issue”, but instead rests squarely in the laps of our local elected officials.

Dave DiCesaris

Laguna Beach

LGBT Pride month

On May 9, Tuesday, at the Laguna Beach city council meeting, mayor Toni Iseman will proclaim June LGBT PRIDE month. 

We can all proud of Laguna’s open door for members LGBT community dating back decades whenmany of these fellow citizens had to live life in the “closet.” History tells us that Main Beach was a welcome destination for gays when they flocked to the sand south of the old life guard tower and when we had one of California’s first gay bars right behind the beach called Dantes. 

When the pile driver worked ever so slowly to set the supports in the sand for the new board walk, the beach was impossible to use and for reasons not known, LGBT people began gathering at West St. beach in south Laguna on one of our town’s largest expanses of sand and today West St. is a international destination for thousands with multiple websites available when you enter West St. beach on your computer. West St. beach offers portable restrooms, volleyball courts and its own county lifeguard in the summer. 

Today we also have the Main St. Cabaret, Koffee Klatch and our sixty plus art galleries, shops, restaurants and hotels, which attract many LGBT locals and visitors. We also have the newly remodeled and re-designed hotel, golf course and restaurants in Aliso Canyon - a short walk from West St. beach. 

Looking forward, we should help our young people who are LGBT, encourage the opening of a public restaurant and dance venue such as the “Boom Boom Room”and remind local seniors that the Susie Q has a LGBT group that meets the first and third Friday at 3 p.m. 

Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer for West St Beach and if it’s warm, there will be LGBT people from all over to enjoy the sand and sea. 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

Climate change is an opportunity too

Southern California has the opportunity to be the leader in clean tech for the entire country, taking on climate change while creating thousands of clean energy jobs. Yet, lifetime politician Dana Rohrabacher thinks global warming is a myth and has done nothing to protect our pristine coastline.

After watching what’s happening in Washington DC, it’s more clear to me than ever that Orange County deserves a Congressman with a better vision for the future of our families.

That means we can embrace common sense and end the divisiveness in order to build real, lasting change.

While Trump and Rohrabacher would expand offshore drilling, threatening our coastal homes and devastating our clean water, I will work to reduce our use of fossil fuels and invest in clean, renewable energy.

While Trump and Rohrabacher are supported by fossil fuel companies and shady SuperPACs, I will work to abolish Citizens United and the special interest money undermining our democracy.

While Trump and Rohrabacher support unlimited fracking on our public lands, I will work to bolster anti-fracking efforts and fully ban it in California. 

I watched my dad build a business from nothing, and know personally from my own business what it takes to innovate, create jobs, and build a successful team to achieve important goals.

We can turn our region into one of the greatest clean energy job creators in the world—but we need new leadership to make it happen. I’m ready to be that leader—to put service above self, and country over party in order to solve problems and fix what’s broken in Washington.

We have so much to do. But if we recognize that we’re all in this together, we can get it done. 

I’m fired up.  Let’s do it!

Harley Rouda

Laguna Beach

“Sell like hotcakes”

Those who oppose the historic preservation ordinance say that being identified as historic resources will diminish the value of their homes and make them difficult to sell, but this is counter to real estate ads in the local paper. Three real-estate sections of the Indy has several listings for historic cottages.  In fact, one was advertised recently as a “historic Village cottage restored to perfection by one of Laguna’s great cottage architects, Greg Abel,” another is written up as a secluded cottage “design awarded by Greg Abel,” and another as a “Classic Laguna cottage.” 

Many of these Laguna cottages are C-rated, and are in demand and have value.  If fact, a realtor testified at a resent Planning Commission Meeting saying, these cottages “sell like hotcakes”.  

When revising the historic Preservation Ordinance it is imperative to recognize the C ratings as historical resources. 

Darrylin Girvin

Laguna Beach

Inside Hillary Clinton’s campaign

I’m not surprised the authors of “Shattered” found Hillary Clinton’s inner circle more loyal than competent. I was sensing the same thing last fall.  

Here’s what I wrote in the Register on Sept. 19: “It’s time for Hillary to fire her brain trust. If (she) was a commodity on a grocery store shelf, I wouldn’t trust the Mook/Podesta team to handle the marketing. At this point, I would have fired all of them by now.”

Trust me, it wasn’t easy to write my commentary. My Democratic roots run deep. My father was a delegate to the 1952, ‘56 and ‘60 Democratic National Conventions. As an 11-year-old, I shook hands with Sen. Jack Kennedy two months before he was elected president in 1960. My older brother, who worked for Sen. Clair Engle (D-Calif.) decades ago, served as a federal elector in 2000 and 2008.

Two years after graduating from USC in 1970, I served on Capitol Hill as a staff assistant to Rep. Don Edwards (D-San Jose). One afternoon in August of 2008, I was part of a group that helped Barack Obama raise more than $1 million at the Balboa Bay Club.  

Despite knowing I would receive blowback from my Democratic friends here in town, I felt it was my responsibility to speak out as I did. By all accounts, it looks like “Shattered” authors, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, and I ended up on the same page.  

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

LGBT Heritage and Culture Committee

I am on a mission to see the rich heritage and culture of the LGBT community reflected in Laguna Beach. To be clear, I am not trying to “bring the gay back.” That ship has sailed. Rather, I want the LGBT community (visitors and residents, young and old alike), to be honored; to find our life experiences reflected in the policies, businesses, art, culture and celebrations within the city of Laguna Beach.

To that end, I have created the LGBT Heritage and Culture Committee who’s mission is to do just that. We are comprised of community leaders from City Council, Chamber of Commerce, Visit Laguna, Susi Q Senior Center and other impassioned members from our business and resident community. Our intention is that it eventually become an official city-appointed committee.

For decades, the LGBT community has had a major role in shaping the city of Laguna Beach with world-class arts, culture, character and overall quality of life that it is today. That is why I specifically want to honor our senior LGBT population for the enormous contribution they have made to our city. They deserve something in return and that is exactly what our Susi Q Senior Center is providing as home to the largest LGBT senior citizen club in Orange County, ClubQ. But LGBT seniors also deserve to be honored through community celebrations, public art, as well as support from the City of Laguna Beach and business community as well. 

This is happening in ways you may not even know. The Garden of Peace and Love, the final resting place at Mountain Street for scores of residents that died of AIDS, is now being saved from literally falling off the cliff thanks to the activism of the incomparable Audrey Prosser. And there’s a new public Artist Bench that is being designed to reflect LGBT history near that same location thanks to the private donation of a local couple celebrating 30 years together. Love this.

Prosser is also working with others to preserve the history of the LGBT community in Laguna Beach by helping to build an archive of photographs, oral histories and artifacts at UCI’s Library of Special Collections & Archives. Time is running out in collecting many of these stories from an aging population that has lived through the golden years of the Boom Boom Room to the devastation of AIDS.

Yes, time marches on. The LGBT community in Laguna Beach is evolving. We no longer have an AIDS crisis or such a need for bars as a safe place of respite from the more intolerant areas of Southern California. Now, thanks to progress, we have more gay parents and families such as mine. We have children that are coming out in middle school. We have transgender kids coming out in our elementary schools. Teachers, parents, kids and our community need resources to be able to respond to these needs. Bravo to our school district administrators for doing a phenomenal job in sensitively addressing these needs and ensuring a safe learning environment for all students.

I invite our City Council, the arts community, businesses, and residents alike to participate in this effort to see our rich LGBT heritage and culture honored and reflected throughout our city. 

Chris Tebbutt

Laguna Beach

Signage program value?

I agree with other residents’ comments printed in Stu News Laguna. (Although the Planning Commission meeting held to examine the signage plan could be a comedy skit for the other SNL). 

Let me suggest that there should be a Cost/Value examination of this plan. In the real world when you wanted to spend your company’s money on some program a C/V analysis was mandatory. Simply stated you compared the project costs to the expected revenues or other monetized results. You can guess what would happen to the project if the value came out below the cost. 

Since the CofC is backing this endeavor, I would guess that they anticipate the walkers will spend more money if they are directed to new areas of the town. It’s going to have to be a big number considering the City only reaps 1% of the sales tax collected from retail sales. Do the math and don’t forget the cost of the lawsuits filed for tripping on our decrepit sidewalks!

The other math analysis that needs to be conducted is alternate directions rendered via the internet on our cell phones. I would bet that a 1950’s signage program as proposed could not compete with using your cell phone to find a specific destination you were seeking! 

Even if the signage was in place, picture a family huddled around the sign trying to get their bearings. How much of a line do you think would form patiently waiting for their turn to read the sign? Now picture all those people interested in a destination, busily working their cell phones for a better answer----all at the same time!

Another signage program that should be evaluated is a system of digital monitors in each tourist bus. You have undivided attention from every bus rider for about 10 minutes. What a perfect way to inform all these potential walkers.

I’m sorry but the internet and digital communications trump signs that hope visitors will read (if they can even read). It’s time to end the dream world and look at the reality of effective communications.

And finally, if you really want to encourage walking, close off all parking in all downtown for the weekends creating a “shopping/entertainment” park. You might even get some of us residents to experience that! Just say’n!

Dennis Myers

Laguna Beach Resident (22 years)

Thank you, James Utt, for not returning to the classroom

Thank you, James Utt, for not returning to the classroom to teach, and recognizing that your liberal bias would seep into any classroom you enter. Thank you, because we already have a liberal invasion in our education system, where professors stray far off course syllabi to indoctrinate young minds into “their” way of thinking, masquerading as education.  This has been going on for decades, but has reached a crisis point.  I remember a criminology/sociology professor at UCSB in the early 1980’s who gave me an “F” because I wrote my final paper refuting his professorial liberal view that all criminals could be rehabilitated and prisons should be eliminated. I appealed and received an “A”, but that was my first taste of liberal bias in the classroom.  It still reeks, but it’s nothing like the liberal affront facing students across the nation today. Something is seriously wrong with our education system when teachers such as Olga Cox at OCCC are permitted to isolate, call out and shame conservative minded students, and declare, in her sexual education class, that President Trump’s election was an act of terrorism. The student was suspended for recording her political rant, but was shortly reinstated after community outrage against the teacher. In Santa Cruz, a teacher assigned 7 books in an English Literature course, all of which were about black rights, the black lives matter movement and glorifying the Black Panthers. Those resources may have been appropriate for a Black Studies class, but not English Literature. The student objected to the resource selection and was told to either drop the class or leave the school. In Florida, a Muslim college teacher filed a complaint against a Christian student who vocally opposed the teacher when she exalted Islamic extremism in her classroom, and said that Jesus’ crucifixion was a hoax and that Jesus’ disciples did not believe in God. She gave the straight A honor student an “F” in her class, and then had the student suspended claiming she felt threatened by the student’s opposition to her teachings. The teacher, who also filed a false police report against the student, is on a US watch list for supporting terrorism.  And just last week, at Cal State Fresno, yet another extreme left teacher tweeted at #TheResistance that President Trump should be hung, encouraging his assassination, and calling for the execution of two Republicans for each immigrant deported. Something is very wrong in our education system that permits these teachers to spew their extreme political beliefs, while at the same time “teaching” our children.

So yes, I’m very glad you are not teaching in our childrens’ classrooms because we already have too many teachers who cannot differentiate the subject matter they are supposed to teach from their political beliefs. There is a reason why President Trump won the election, and there are many millions of people who, for the first time in years, have hope that the downward and wrong direction this country was headed under Obama will be re-routed and uprighted, and that the flow of extreme liberal bias that has been allowed to seep into our education system and indoctrinate our youth will cease. Our children need to be taught to think critically for themselves, and not simply become indoctrinated followers.  If they develop that skill, they will be able to identify for themselves bias from fact, intelligent thought from rants. And maybe one day, the news media, on both sides, will get back to reporting real facts, not political opinions masquerading as facts. Unfortunately, it is likely too late to save California.  It’s already being taxed to death by our governor and legislature.

Jennifer W. Zeiter

Laguna Beach

New signage program concerns

I’m not opposed to new signage if it reduces the number of signs citywide. It’s uncertain that the new signage does that. It wasn’t a stated goal of the Staff Report. My main objection is that the process used has been closed to citizens.

The signage program started with the Chamber and City govt: “We have a two-year Economic Development Action Plan that was developed by the City Council Economic Development/Business Assistance Subcommittee in collaboration with the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and Visit Laguna Beach” (Excerpted from the City’s website)

In 2016, I was informed a member of this Subcommittee that between 250 and 750K would be budgeted for the signage program. It was a done deal, they said. At last week’s Planning Commission Meeting (safe to say that most Commissioners were befuddled) we learned that this «Disneyland» like signage, color coded to each Business District, (red for downtown) along with the recommendation that benches and trash cans be color coordinated is the recommended proposal of the Steering Committee for this project.  The Steering Committee consisted of two-member of the City Council. City Staff, Arts Commission, Planning Commission, Chamber of Commerce, and Visit Laguna. No Citizens!!

Having two-member of the City Council assures only one additional vote of approval is needed. The Planning Commission was not given the choice of rejecting the Pilot Program for this project, only advised to make comments and suggestions.

So who on the City Council would likely be the third vote?  Council member Steve Dicterow. His campaign manager was on the Subcommittee.  Larry Nokes, President of the Chamber of Commerce who is one of the main supporters of signage program is a friend and huge supporter of Mr. Dicterow. It’s highly unlikely that Mr. Dicterow would vote against the interests of two of his closest confidant’s friends and supporters or recuse himself. In the unlikely event he does, would Kelly Boyd vote no?

A democratic process was not followed! Are we surprised? Not one citizen was on the Steering Committee. The City seemingly has no confidence in its Parking, Traffic and Circulation Committee. What about non-profit organizations who advocate for walking and biking, like Transition Laguna or Laguna Streets? Are there no qualified persons on any of these organizations that could have provided a voice for citizens?

I urge the City Council to do the right thing and reject the Pilot Program. The Staff Report claims that the new signage is for residents and will, “enhance the customer experience for residents in a way that visitors also enjoy.  If it’s for residents why weren’t we informed or involved in the process?

If you don’t want Laguna to look like Disneyland please express your concerns on April 18at 6 p.m. at the City Council Meeting. Approval of the signage Pilot Program will be assured if your voice isn’t heard. 

George Weiss

Laguna Beach

Visitor survey results

Those of us who live in Laguna know that we are being overrun by visitors, but you’ve got to love it when Stu News reports that Visit Laguna, whose mission is to market Laguna as a travel destination, has done a survey of those visitors and that ten percent of the visitors surveyed said that “less traffic and fewer people would have enhanced their experience.”

John Thomas

Laguna Beach

Creativity of proposed Wayfinding signage

The proposed Wayfinding signage has a primary purpose to direct tourists to businesses; residents already know where and how to find their way. The how is important and signs don’t do it. More signs mean visual blight without character or meaning -people use APs-for that and trolleys and wayfinding has grown up. While parking signs are already in place and doing their job, more doesn’t mean better. What Laguna needs is a better way:  continuous, unbroken sidewalks along highways and safe pedestrian corridors that are both beautiful and practical. Working with Cal Trans, the Beautification Council and City Planning, this community can certainly find better solutions than the proposed double- posted 12’-17’ high stacked color-coded signs sporting the well branded golden arches. With their copious print and circular maps to find food, gas, festival. So, who reads and wants these commercial relics stuck into narrow and decrepit sidewalks? Solution: Instead of more consultants, more signs and more confusion trying to read them, we need collective endemic talent, our pro-active groups and a council who listens to them to create a way to encourage walking, sightseeing, appreciation of the many historical and beautiful elements Laguna offers between north to south Laguna from Tree Streets to Hip district, to coves and parks, from the downtown beaches and shopping to the arts district and beyond. It can happen only if we remember to share Laguna and make wayfinding an extraordinary experience in the same creative spirit that brings so many and keeps us here. Beautifully landscapes highways, an arbor of flowing trees, meandering sidewalks, art-markers leading to a new area, highlighting a special place (our own Hollywood Star) this is possible when we recognize creativity does not stop at the edge of a canvas or stage.

Leah Vasquez

Laguna Beach

City Blue bus from North Laguna

Once again today I tried to use the City Blue bus from North Laguna, only to find that the route and the schedule had been changed, with no notice to the ridership.  Although the controversial issue is covered well in [the news], I can find no department name, nor manager name that accepts responsibility for the proposed and on-going changes to our bus service. 

 I understand the need for changes – I am often the only passenger on the bus, and I often see it circling its route empty – so it is expensive and wasteful.  However, we in North Laguna are also taxpayers and shoppers, and elderly and handicapped, and car-less or reluctant to drive and park downtown…all groups that the city should be encouraging to seek alternative transportation.  A six-passenger golf cart would probably be adequate to serve this area, at much lower cost.

I urge all North Laguna residents (owners AND renters) who value this service to attend the City Council meeting on May 9 when the changes and proposals will be discussed. 

Barbara C. Ring

Laguna Beach

New data collection antenna

Tuesday the LBCWD installed a new data collection antenna on the hill where the Dartmoor reservoir tanks are buried. This tower (as well as 2 others in Laguna) will be used to read customer’s meters as well as identify leaks and water waste according to the helpful person I spoke with at the Water Dept.

Click on photo for larger image

Data collection antenna

Although I appreciate their efforts to be efficient and conscientious, a big ugly antenna on top of the hill is a blight to the beautiful greenbelt open space we have worked so hard to preserve. In a town with more view ordinances and restrictions than I care to think of it is ironic that our own utility company is ‘exempt’ and therefore permitted to deface our hills. Soon it may look more like Saddleback than Laguna.

Brenda Madison

Laguna Beach

City Bus Schedule

With the recent demise of our second car, I’ve had to rely on the bus to get downtown. As an occasional passenger over the past twenty years, I’ve always found our city bus convenient and reliable. This changed last summer, when the city rerouted the Top of the World bus and discontinued convenient stops at either end of our street with no notice whatsoever. To catch the bus now, I need to leave my house twenty minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive. My timely arrival at the bus stop made no difference last Thursday, however, because, contradicting posted schedules on the city’s website and at the bus stop, the 5:20 p.m. bus did not show. A trolley finally trundled by at 6:10 p.m., too late for me to salvage plans I’d made to meet friends before Art Walk. During my cool, 40-minute wait in blowing fog, I downloaded the Laguna Beach Visitor’s Bureau trolley app and tried tracking a few of the buses. It appears the buses it tracks aren’t the ones that serve my neighborhood, because the one I eventually caught didn’t show up on the map. 

Trying to catch a bus at the library the next day proved equally frustrating. The posted schedule shows a lunch break between noon and 1 p.m., but a lady sitting on the bench told me some buses now run during lunch hour. I called the Visitor’s Bureau to check the schedule, and the one they had was outdated. I called the transit center to ask where I could get a current schedule and they said they didn’t have any. I caught the bus, along with two ladies helping a blind woman, simply by waiting until it arrived. The friendly driver gave me a new schedule, but I know service is scheduled to be curtailed after summer.

As noted last week, more than six million tourists visited Laguna in 2016. A recent article also quoted city residents bemoaning reduced, rerouted and inadequate public transit service. With traffic and parking the primary concerns of most city residents, how can our city government justify curtailing a program that gives people an alternative to driving through town? Two groups currently rely on city transit: teenagers not old enough to drive and people unable to drive either for financial or physical reasons. A reliable transit system is essential to reducing traffic and pollution and maintaining our quality of life. Rather than curtailing transit service, our city should be fixing its broken system by providing updated schedules and routes that serve riders’ needs, then advocating bus ridership for all residents, just as they have promoted the service to visitors. 

Ellen Girardeau Kempler

Laguna Beach

Stu News is a great combination of news and information

I have just recently found Stu News and I wanted to let you know it is fabulous!  What a great combination of news and information,  Articles are concise and well written and I never thought I would say this but I really like the ads,  I have found many places I now visit in Laguna through your ads.

Thanks so much and keep up the great work!

Andrea McGinley

Laguna Beach

Harley Rouda runs against Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

Harley Rouda, a local resident and Democrat will run against Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who has been in office 15+ years and is considered one of the most ineffective representatives in U.S. history.

Laguna Beach residents who went to a recent resistance training session in Newport Beach were surprised to find 700+ people at the meeting in predominately republican Newport Beach.

The so called “failing” New York Times has seen 132,000+ paid subscriptions on-line and in print since election day. This represents a dramatic growth ten times the same period last year.

Planned Parenthood too has seen record-breaking donations since the electionnumbering 400,000+.

In a short period after the new president’s travel ban, the A.C.L.U. had 356,206 donors - two thirds who were new donors who gave twenty four million $$$, more than the total for 2016.

For myself, I am watching much less news because 45 (Trump) is so depressing.

I hesitated writing this letter because I read in the Christian Science Monitor weekly magazine that 45 was sending agents to resistance meetings to get the names and information about leaders and participants to add to his lists of those who don’t care for him, but here it is - another letter to our local media.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

As Rohrabacher fights to revoke women’s healthcare, it’s time we fight to revoke his seat

The extremists alt-right movement made history this past week, but not the good kind.

 For the first time since Dick Cheney held office, the Vice President was called upon to push through legislation that failed to garner majority support in the Senate. Their dangerous motivation: gut and defund Planned Parenthood — the most trusted health provider for women, throughout America, since 1916.

Fanatic right-wingers tout this as a victory for their “pro-life” movement. But in reality — either they have chosen to ignore the facts, or they really are waging a callous war on our nation’s women.

Why? Because despite claims to the contrary, abortion-related procedures comprise a mere 3% of Planned Parenthood services. So if extremists really want to reduce abortions, as they claim, defunding Planned Parenthood makes no sense.

Not only does Planned Parenthood refuse to accept any federal dollars for abortion services which has been the case since 1976, Planned Parenthood’s proactive care and education programs actually prevent over 500,000 unintended pregnancies annually — leading to an estimated fewer 200,000 abortions each year. Given that funding for abortion services is separate, these proposed appropriation cuts (that will likely lead to an increase in abortions) exclusively decimate the remaining 97% of Planned Parenthood operations that consist of basic medical assistance for almost 3 million Americans. That’s flat out coldhearted and just plain wrong to increase unplanned pregnancies.

Republicans are essentially closing life-saving medical facilities by targeting women, particularly low-income women and their families. Based on the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s analysis, within one year of defunding Planned Parenthood, 650,000 women will face reduced access to health care, and 390,000 women will lose all access.

As our country looks for ways to increase affordable medical services, we should be looking for ways to empower and expand Planned Parenthood’s footprint — not annihilate it. In fact, the organization ought to serve as a beacon when it comes to cutting waste and improving efficiencies in a massive healthcare bureaucracy. Serving as one of the most effective organizations within our health care infrastructure, their reimbursement model prevents fraud and reduces waste throughout all 50 states.

Most importantly, Planned Parenthood fills a void left by the shortcomings of our fragmented industry, directing 79% of their efforts towards patients at or below 150% of the poverty line.

While some of our representatives in Congress deny the benefits of Planned Parenthood, they also ignore the fact that for many Americans, Planned Parenthood acts as a supplement for primary care. Over 50% of Planned Parenthood health centers are located in areas with medical facility shortages, and almost all branches operate with extended hours, prioritizing access to care for underserved communities.

I have long supported and donated to Planned Parenthood, along with over 10 million people worldwide, because they offer a vital service to millions of women who desperately need it. Our government, charged with promoting the common welfare, should take steps to strengthen programs that benefit the general public. In fact, in many cases, Planned Parenthood addresses a healthcare market failure better than Congress can. The same CBO report estimated a net increase of $130 million to taxpayers if the government cuts off Planned Parenthood.

Meanwhile, fringe, alt-right extremists in Washington like Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who claim the “only purpose for Planned Parenthood is abortion,” must stop ignoring the truth as they hold irresponsible hearings using taxpayer dollars.

The basis for these Congressional investigations into potential Planned Parenthood malfeasance: doctored videos that concoct an ungrounded narrative of evil. Not only were their claims of illegal activity debunked, the creators of the videos have since been charged with felony counts. Yet right-wing radicals trudge onward, stripping our vulnerable populations of vital services while perpetuating anti-abortion rhetoric.

We cannot afford to let these entrenched extremists in Washington sacrifice Planned Parenthood as a pawn in their game of political chess. We need members of Congress ready to stand up for women, and thus Planned Parenthood, by advocating for the equal protection under the law for all Americans. An attack on Planned Parenthood is an attack on the American values I will defend in Congress.

While Rep. Rohrabacher fights a productive health care service, it’s time we make him fight to keep his seat.

Harley Rouda

Democratic challenger for Rep Rohrabacher’s Congressional seat

Laguna Beach

Rattlesnakes present a real danger

My name is Kasey Konkel and I have lived in Orange County for 48 years. I have always know that rattlesnakes present a real danger but I never realized just how serious that danger was until recently and I am hoping that you can assist me in alerting the public to take extra care in protecting themselves and their pets.

With all of the heavy rain across the county, more snakes are slithering around. My dog was bitten by a rattlesnake 12 days ago while she was on leash at Top of the Word park in Laguna Beach. My dog, Gracie, was just three feet away from me when she stuck her head into a wild flower bush on the dirt trail and likely surprised a sleeping snake. The snake tried to sink its fangs into the bridge of her nose, but due to the boney structure of a pointer’s muzzle, the snake was unsuccessful and attacked her jaw line.  Gracie was rushed to the nearest vet within the hour, and despite biannual rattlesnake vaccines, Gracie suffered the horrific effects of the rattlesnake venom. Once the dog’s flesh is penetrated with the poison, it turns black and dies. The skin and fur slough off and the dog is left with raw, open wounds which are susceptible to infection. Gracie is being properly cared for and she will survive the attack.

However, many dogs do not live once they are bitten and some die en route to the animal hospital.

A Rattlesnake Avoidance Training for dogs and their owners has been organized by Laguna Beach native, Suzanne Thornton Parker and is hosting the event in San Juan Capistrano on May 13th, 2017 from 8 AM to 5 PM. She is very knowledgeable about canines and has partnered with a very experienced rattlesnake avoidance trainer. In the training, dogs learn to detect and avoid rattlesnakes by scent, sight and smell. The owners will learn how recognize when their dogs can sense the presence of a rattlesnake. The training is approximately 20 minutes long and cost is $125.

My intention is keep dogs and their owners safe with approaching warm weather.

Thank you so much for time and assistance.

Kasey Konkel

School Board needs adult supervision on safety

As the only 2016 School Board candidate who included campus security in my platform, it came as good news that School District staff finally proposed visitor screening and sex offender cross-check for our schools.  

While opposing excessive cost of outside consultants too often doing jobs senior district staff is paid to perform, I recognized we lack staff qualified to manage security issues.

Accordingly, I supported funding for a carefully selected expert to develop a serious emergency response program.

Like fences and gates, visitor screening is just one necessary but intermediate step in addressing security needs to protect our children. Instead of half-measures, I’ve advocated a strategic security plan for years.  

Not surprisingly, the School Board’s current President stated she “wasn’t really comfortable…” with enhanced security, “…because it’s hard to accept we are at this point in society…a shame we need to do it.” Too bad she didn’t think about the social impact when our School Board President voted in 2002 for the School District contract that resulted in the “Real Laguna Beach” reality television show.

Even after production that had begun on campus was shut down by parent protests, that School Board blunder made LBHS the most well known public school in the nation, along with Columbine and fictional Ridell High in the movie “Grease.” The show featuring LBHS students resulted in multiple threat evacuations and loitering by sexual predators at our high school. 

Because the show was syndicated for wide commercial distribution worldwide, LBHS is permanently at higher risk than almost any other high school in America. The only thing worse than over-reaction is under-reaction by our School Board for over a decade.  

Without drama or alarm I called for a comprehensive program of school employee training, emergency communications, and counter measures to protect students, school employees and campus visitors, especially between the onset of a man made or natural disaster and the arrival of first responders.

Obviously, some but not all plan elements should be made public. Thus, it has been utterly irresponsible for current staff repeatedly to talk publicly about the surveillance cameras installed after vandalism incidents as “active shooter” counter-measures monitored by local police. It is also reckless to announce that the schools are dependent on local police for all counter measures.  

That kind of incompetence is why some serious adult supervision is needed in our schools to make kids truly safe.

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

Super article on Tom Joliet

As a life long Lagunan I am so happy to read about the super teacher and mentor, Tom Joliet. I taught for 30+ years and recognize good teaching...Tom sure shows that in his uke classes at the Suzy Q. Nice man and a real Laguna person. Thanks for the article.

Judy Jameson

Laguna Beach

Bus schedule changes

As of this morning, the City has changed the local city bus schedule to once an hour, on the half-hour from the Depot.

No notice to the passengers nor the public; no printed schedules on board.

Barbara C Ring

Laguna Beach

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