Protecting the open space at Top of the World

Ed. Note: This letter was sent to us by Jerry King – it was written to him by Fire Chief LaTendresse

I wanted to get back to you regarding the email you recently sent.  

Earlier this week, I had several meetings with Chief of Police Laura Farinella, Police Captain Darin Lenyi, Supervising Park Ranger Barbara Norton, Executive Director Hallie Jones of the Laguna Canyon Foundation, and the City’s Digital Communications Director Jennifer Chapman regarding the concerns of neighbors in the Top of the World neighborhood and activities in the adjacent open space area.  It is important to know that the City has not stopped our proactive patrols in the area, and we have too noticed an increase in the number of cigarette butts discarded on the trails.  We will continue to address this problem.  Below is a list of some of the different proactive approaches we will be taking, both from the City’s perspective and from the OC Parks:

Continue with proactive patrols with enforcement officers (Police, Fire and OC Park Rangers)

These will occur both during daytime hours and after hours when the park area is closed

City staff be implementing the use of the new Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV) to access more areas more efficiently when necessary  

Communicating in the City’s weekly updates the dangers of smoking in open space areas. This is picked up by the local media

Working for the first time with the City’s new Digital Communications Director

Post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram the dangers of smoking in the open space areas

Watching sites like “Yelp” for advertising  the area as a place to go after hours and intervene when possible

Work with the OC Park’s Public Information Officer to provide information to visitors

Send messages via the City’s Nixle messaging system

Schedule community volunteers staff an information booth and hand out flyers on fire safety at the entrance to the park off of Alta Laguna

Use CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)members

Use COP (Citizens on Patrol) members

Red Flag Patrol members

Train neighborhood residents to volunteer to staff the information booth

In addition, we have had our City staff conduct a thorough cleaning of the park to try to get rid of any butts found in the area so we can better monitor the activity.  The City also continues to use video cameras and speakers to monitor the park and new cameras have been included in the budget to enhance coverage in areas of the City.  We are also researching the potential of having volunteers assist with monitoring the camera systems; however, this is still under consideration.  The signs will be maintained and we get weekly updates of any citations that are issued so the sign remains current. 

As you can see, we do take the concerns of the residents very seriously and we continue to remain vigilant on this item.  

Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions.  Again, thanks for your concern.


Stop blaming  Obama

Anthony Pica (letters 5-31-16),stop blaming Obama for everything the pisses you off. You’re living in a new global age, one that is trying hard to leave the horrific events of past wars in the past. That’s not to say the sacrifices of the fallen on all sides is not revered or respected. 

The point is placing blame and shame on subsequent generations and regenerating old hatreds is not productive. You’re quick to point out the Japanese atrocities committed during WW 2, all true and horrific. However, you neglect to mention that America is also responsible for the same type of behavior many times, over many generations dating back to the Pilgrims.

Do I need to mention Lt William Calley who led Company C of the 23rd Infantry Division in the My Lai Massacre. My Lai if you have forgotten was the mass killing by these American soldiers of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968. The Victims included men, women, children, and infants. Some of the women were gang-raped and their bodies mutilated.  

Certainly not America’s finest hour. 

You can twist it anyway you want but all President Obama was attempting to do in visiting Hiroshima was to reflect upon on the horrors of war and to promote global peace and respect for humanity.

Norm Marshall

Laguna Beach


Firefighters know how to cook and give back to the community 

The Laguna Beach Fire Department made our night last night not by saving our lives but by cooking us dinner! We were the lucky recipients of a wonderful meal prepared by 12 of Laguna’s finest—the winning bid from an auction to benefit Susi Q Senior Center. 

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Firefighters prepare dinner in the kitchen of Ruth Stafford and Pat Payne

The friendly, helpful crew (on their days off) prepared a 4-course meal, served all 8 guests, and cleaned up as though they were never there! They also brought entertainment.

The fire truck came, the bagpipes played, and a general show of community spirit made for a super fun night. Thanks Guys! 

Laguna Beach Seniors appreciate your support and we all thoroughly enjoyed your culinary skills. Please do it again at next year’s Auction!

Ruth Stafford and Andrea Wallace

Laguna Beach


America:  Vote for Hillary’s VP

Several of my Laguna friends are “uuuuge” Bernie Sanders fans.  I believe Bernie’s campaign themes will have an impact at the Democratic Convention in July, but I don’t think he will be the party’s presidential nominee.

That said, I’m not sure if the following will unify the Democratic Party or throw it into turmoil, but here’s a way Hillary Clinton can (1) pick her running mate and (2) be assured of wall-to-wall free media coverage two weeks prior to the nominating convention in Philadelphia this summer.  For better or for worse, call it a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook.  

Here it is:  

Week One: Clinton announces her four vice presidential finalists.  Yes, just like they do on The Voice or The Apprentice (pardon the expression);  

Second, she then asks America to vote for their top two choices.  Talk about democracy in action.  People can tweet, email or text their picks;

Third, Clinton announces the results.  Now her list of running mates is down to two;

Week Two: Clinton again asks voters to tweet, email or text their top choice for a running mate; and,  

Finally, like The Great Race or Survivor, Clinton announces the winner to the country.

I realize there are a few kinks to work out, like how to prevent Republicans from voting for a Democratic vice presidential running mate, but why sweat the small stuff?  

Assuming that and other details can be worked out, I think this plan is nearly foolproof.  Why?

To begin with, Clinton announced her four vice presidential finalists (signaling she’d be comfortable with any of them).

And last, Clinton would prove she’s capable of out-doing The Donald at his own public relations game.

For those who study it, politics is not a game.  It’s serious business.  Still, I think it’s important to acknowledge that in 2016 something fundamentally has changed in the way America picks its leaders.  Call it the selfie campaign or the twitter election, we all are witnessing a changing political landscape.  

Time will tell if it’s for the better or not.  Hey, I’m getting excited about voting for Clinton’s running mate.  I hope my Laguna friends also will vote.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


“To thine own self be true.” Laguna, who are you?

I’m writing because the crime reports, in our once reasonably bucolic hometown, are increasingly alarming and sickening. Armed robberies and high speed chases, pedestrian roulette, sometimes crazy crimes involving young children or perpetrated by young and old, and by criminally inclined out of towers. Even the current [Stu News Laguna] edition’s op-ed re cigarette butts on nature trails just leaves me scratching my head - the idea of combining nature and fitness with smoking is simply idiotic - not to forget the fire danger.

In the Laguna of my youth, our town’s grandfathers would fish off the beach at dusk, ditching class to be at the beach for the sun or surf was a worthy risk, it was ok to fish with pole or spear, search for shells at low tide, surf, run and otherwise frolic at the beach and on the rocks with my friends and with our dogs. It was fun and exhilarating to hike, bike and explore our neighborhoods, hillsides, and our food and shopping districts. 

The cinema was once a single lovely theatre with double features preceded by cartoons, and, for a time, had Saturday midnight concerts.

That Laguna is deeply and immovably etched into my soul. Alas, based on what I read in the ‘paper’, that Laguna is eroding and receding, becoming some other place, and this makes me sad.

Jean-Pierre Garau

Gresham, OR


No short term lodging – at all

Our sister city, St. Ives, in Cornwall, England, is a popular seaside town filled with artists and writers drawn to St Ives by its extraordinary natural beauty and rustic charm, very much like Laguna Beach.

Unfortunately St. Ives is suffering from “Ghostification,” a process where neighborhoods disappear as a town is taken over by “Holiday Lets” (STL) and by second homes (holiday bolt-holes) that stand mostly empty, which means the gradual decline of its community.

This is a future I fear for Laguna Beach. 

Allowing any form of Short Term Lodging now will make holding the line against the future proliferation of Airbnb, HomeAway (formerly VRBO) etc., next to impossible. Neighborhoods as we know them will be in danger of disappearing as participating homeowners and the city alike are seduced by the money generated by STL. It is just a matter of time.

It’s no use just being against Short Term Lodging--we must take action, our voices must be heard.  Please contact me or show up at City Council at Public Comment (6 p.m.) and voice your opinion against STL in all our residential areas and support the Planning Commission STL Ordinance.  Better yet make the moratorium on STL permanent.  

Charlotte Masarik

Laguna Beach


Obama in Hiroshima hit a new low

President Obama was in Hiroshima Japan this week hitting a new low on an apology tour. I cannot be quiet about this. This man is a disgrace to the United States of America. He told reporters he was there to honor all lost in World War II.  Well I’ve got news for you, the Imperial Japanese military, which he is including with our war heroes committed thousands of war crimes in World War II resulting in the deaths of millions of civilians and prisoners of war. And yet this president, this anti-American disaster stabbed all of our World War II vets in the back and spit on their graves. 

So how do you feel about this president spitting on US military deaths in World War II? Do you have grandparents or parents who were one of the potential 1 million landing force in Japan? Did you know he had no plans to visit Pearl Harbor? Why didn’t he go to Pearl Harbor and apologize to the dead American soldiers still buried there?

He goes there and apologizes and says he’s there to honor all war dead not our war dead. He forgot about the rape of Nanking?  He forgot about the Banka Island massacre where Australian army nurses were raped and slaughtered by the Japanese? He forgot about the Bataan Death March conducted by the peaceful Japanese war machine? He forgot about the Sandakan Death March? He forgot about murder and cannibalism on the Kokoda Track? He forgot about murder and cannibalism of captured American pilots? He forgot about the murder of American pilots at Midway? He forgot about the forcing of women into slavery in Japanese army brothels? He forgot about the mutilation of Dutch civilians in Borneo? There’s many more but I’m too disgusted to list them all.

I want the President to get on Air Force One right now and fly to Pearl Harbor, stand over that monument on the bridge of the Arizona and apologize…to the 900 men who are still in the Arizona entombed 75 years afterwards, and he has the audacity to go to Hiroshima.

While I have the highest regard for the Japanese, but guess what? They were devils during World War II. It took two nuclear weapons to bring the military junta in Japan to their knees after fire bombing them for six months. Two nuclear weapons. And he’s over there to start Memorial Day Weekend. 

President Truman made the decision to drop those bombs ending the war, which saved millions of American and Japanese lives. We have nothing to apologize for.

Barack Obama, the most evil anti-American enemy of the American people. It’s a sad day and a new low.

I have written Congressman Rohrabacher of the 48th district to demand this president be censured upon his return in response to his despicable behavior. I suggest you do the same.

Anthony Pica

Laguna Beach


Over and over again

Back in 1999 a steering committee drafted a vision plan for Laguna; The Laguna Beach 2030: A Framework for Strategic Planning. Therein are seven vision concepts that define our village planning strategy, this is one of them:  Resident and Visitor Mobility: We will be a safe and enjoyable community to walk and bicycle with convenient transit and smooth traffic flow. 

Since 1999 the LB traffic management exercise goes like this: Somebody says, “we need to reduce traffic congestion”. A Councilperson says “we need to study it first” another says “let’s hire another expert”. The Council approves the agenda item and instructs the City Manager to hire the consultant. The City Manager says, “You consultants, give me a solution to our traffic congestion problem.” The consultants say, “Sure Mr. City Manager, how do we get the job?” City Manager says: “Laguna will build bike-lanes, pedestrian paths, transit stops and trolley hops, but to win this contract you must move cars as fast as possible.” The consultant says, “Sure Mr. City Manager, we’ll give you a parking lot and a rainbow, everyone in Laguna will be happi!  Hire us!”  City Manager says, “You’re hired.” 

And that’s how Laguna got its Downtown Parking and Management Plan, its Village Entrance Plan, its Laguna Canyon Burn Site TIA, it’s Laguna Canyon Road/Downtown Parking Analysis, its Downtown Specific Plan. None of these plans solve our auto-saturation problem because the devil is in the details: the vehicles counted do not include Lightrail, Busses, Trolleys, Ubers, Ride-Shares bicycles or pedestrians, the solution method only includes cars. Next a grading system measures the success of the plan, the only measure is how fast the cars move (vehicle delay). That is why no matter the congestion management plan drafted by CLB, our traffic congestion becomes worse and worse.

Our Laguna Beach city manager continues to make the same mistake over and over again, state and national transportation institutions offer us modern solutions while he embraces implementations from 1929. In the Traffic and Congestion Town Hall the city manager showed no future vision and his presentation no substance. This city manager is visibly challenged by a knowledgeable audience, car-centric solutions are no silver bullet for Laguna Beach no matter how often repeated.

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach


Thank you!

We just wanted to say how much we enjoy your newspaper, and how happy we are to have Dennis McTighe’s column and Barbara Diamond’s sharp writing to look forward to each week.

You folks do a really good job!

Thank you, and bravo,

David Serrurier and Barry Fogel


Give parklets a chance

My goodness, when did Laguna get so uptight? 

The city gave approval for this [parklet] project, Alessa went ahead with the plan and now there is screaming? Any construction project halfway finished is ugly - how about waiting to make a judgment when it is completed with the flowers, basil and trees? 

Of course the space is slanted, that’s the way the parking places are striped and this way removes the fewest number of parking places. Also, having people sitting and looking at your business, waiting for a table and walking in front of your business is not going to hurt your business! Loosen up folks; let’s give it a try! 

Marcia Sanserino

Laguna Beach


The parklet is a failed experiment already

I was down on Forest Ave yesterday doing some shopping when I got a good look at the parklet. And because I was going into different shops, I heard from several merchants who are deeply distressed by it. 

First, I must say that though I spend a good deal of time in Europe I have never seen anything that looks like this. It’s ugly, awkward, and in no way inviting. It’s a corral-like structure, a somewhat hostile-looking environment. Suffice it to say, the “parklet” does nothing to increase the charm and appeal of Laguna. Frankly, I was embarrassed by it.

But what is perhaps more important is the fact that it is unfair. It gives a benefit to restaurants (more seating) and does this on the back of other shop owners. It appears to me to be discriminatory. I don’t think Laguna will benefit by favoring one business (restaurants) and diminishing accessibility for other businesses (shops). 

I realize that the “parklet” (who in the world came up with this name?) is an experiment, and from my response and that of the storeowners I talked to, it is a failed experiment. 

I urge the city to remove it as quickly as possible.

Sharon McErlane

Laguna Beach


Smoking in Alta Laguna wilderness

Ed. Note: This letter was addressed to City Manager, John Pietig

A short while ago, I spotted several newly planted hinged signs positioned near the entry to the Laguna Wilderness at the North end of Alta Laguna Boulevard.  I was hoping these might be a measure taken to address the very real issue of smoking in the wilderness area…perhaps displayed to signal the closure of the trails during high fire danger days.  

I’m afraid that was wishful thinking!

Submitted photo

First of all…these signs address a condition whose season has already passed.  And talk about misplaced priorities!  In the order of threats to the community, are you really ranking a muddy trail over the prospect of a devastating wildfire?  Even more confounding…the permanently affixed placards are not even designed to be converted to address the growing menace of visitors smoking in restricted areas.

If you think this is not an issue…join me on one of my morning hikes.  I pick up cigarette butts not only on the Carolyn Wood Knoll but also out on the trails and fire roads.  Not just a few butts…but many.  I trust it’s not going to take a catastrophic wildfire to validate my concern.  What’s at risk is not just the wilderness area…but the homes and lives of those who reside near the potential burn area.

With fire season soon to be upon us…its time to become super aggressive in dealing with the scourge of smoking in the backcountry. If that means posting personnel in the sensitive areas and issuing citations…then do it!   If that means blocking or restricting access to vulnerable areas...then do it!  If that means launching a major social media campaign to alert visitors to the city/county’s No Smoking stance…then do it!

Don’t hire a consultant to study the problem; don’t form a committee to discuss the issue.  Don’t put it on the agenda for the City Council to review.

Don’t hope that some other department or agency will take care of this matter.  Don’t hope the problem will go away on its own.

Smoking in the wilderness areas is a very real problem that demands immediate attention and a proactive plan of action.

Just do something meaningful…now!

Jerry King

Laguna Beach


Thanks to our local photographers

The photo Dennis Piszkiewicz shared today (5/17) - late afternoon light - is absolutely gorgeous.  

One of my favorite parts of your paper is seeing all of the shots by our local photographers.  I would like to thank them for being so generous with their work.

Meg Monahan

Laguna Beach


Trump is the “Third Party” we need

I was amused or maybe dismayed by recent letters to the papers and TV commentators dealing with various pros and cons about a third party candidate for President. Come on folks, we already have the best possible “Third Party” candidate we have ever had.

Trump is as independent as it is possible to be; why do you think both Republican insiders and most Democrats fear him. He is far too independent for the Washington élite to control and answers to none of them.  He only answers to us voters.

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to finally get a smart, proven, self reliant, America First, patriotic, independent President that answers to no one but we voters.  Don’t’ worry that he doesn’t know everything Washington and international politics, (nobody does) but he is so successful because he knows how to organize and hire all the skilled specialists and experienced people we need.

He won’t be building his team based on payback of finances and or political support.  A real Independent with good chance of wining at last.

Dave Connell

Laguna Beach


Calling for regulated short-term rentals

Since the 1990s all Laguna Beach homeowners have had the right to apply for an administrative use permit for short-term rentals on their home. The moratorium on acceptance of applications will be lifted at the end of October, and anyone can apply. That has been the law since the 1990s. 

Now we have a group of folks in town who want to take that right away from all of you homeowners. Somehow they think they know better than you or your neighbors what is best for you to do with your own home. The folks want to prevent you from ever being able to rent your own house out when you go out of town, prevent you from ever doing a home exchange with somebody, prevent you from ever hosting anyone in your home. However, for some reason, if you want to do any of this for longer than 30 days at a time, they have no problem with it. Weird isn’t it? 

There are a group of resident homeowners who have come together once we learned that this right was potentially going to be stripped from us and formed Home Sharing 4 Laguna. We want to preserve property rights. We want to give homeowners the right to apply for permits. We want those permits to be available to even less people than they are available to now.

Because issues that arise with any short-term rental are usually because there is no homeowner there to manage it, we want to limit permits to only owner occupied homes. We want regulation. We want occupancy tax revenue from these rentals for the city. 

It’s really quite straightforward, no one should be stripping away property rights from homeowners. We all bought our homes with these rights in place...they are valuable, they allow us options for earning revenue that is often needed to keep our homes. Who the heck are they to try to get the city to take these valuable property rights away?  

We are so glad we have a brilliant City Council that is creating reasonable, solid regulation to protect homeowner’s rights and the quiet enjoyment of our city.

Greg Burzell

Laguna Beach


Reducing downtown Laguna traffic

Ed. Note: This letter was sent to the City Council

Here is a suggestion for the City Council and CalTrans regarding reducing the traffic congestion on PCH in downtown Laguna.  That is, build a two or four lane overpass (elevated section) of PCH starting on the hill somewhere between Legion St and Laguna Ave and ending on the hill somewhere between downtown and Aster St. This elevated overpass would primarily be for through traffic and could include a scenic walkway. The bypassed current section of downtown PCH would primarily be for local traffic.

Long ago the State did this on PCH north of the San Francisco Bay Bridge building a mile or so long elevated road right over PCH bypassing an entire small town that had been causing long delays for cars going both north and south on PCH. It was a great success though some of the small town business people initially objected because the fear of losing some customers. 

Incidentally, just in case the environmental extremists are right and years from now the ocean rises and floods downtown, the elevated section of PCH will save Laguna and save PCH as a major highway.

Dave Connell

Laguna Beach


Our Country in a Laguna Beach Microcosm...

Since this story first hit the news about a week ago, I have followed the all too typical uproar and pre-conceived opinions that always immediately appear after a controversial story makes the papers or social media these days...No one has all the facts yet, but everyone has an opinion...We live about four blocks from Urth Caffe and the place has had lines out the door to the sidewalk consistently since they opened several months ago...This is why they posted the forty-five minute time limit for their customers...I’ve never seen a time limit on a table before and that’s one of the reasons my wife and I get our food from there to go, but the signs have nothing to do with anything other than simply that....customer turnover. 

Aside from the fact that the owner’s wife is Muslim, Laguna Beach is a tourist town that attracts all kinds of people from all over the world, so it is very obviously not in the interest of any local business to discriminate against anyone. 

Having said that, I was not there when this happened and neither were any of the people that are ranting across the news and social media, yet I see vehement opinions supporting both sides of an issue they know absolutely nothing about. And, of course, the ridiculous level of bigotry and politicization of this (yes, I have seen President Obama and his Sharia Law blamed on one thread) has run rife...This has become a consistent pattern in our culture and it is despicable. How about we wait until we hear all he facts from everyone involved before forming a baseless opinion..?? Racist establishment..?? Racist employee..?? Attention seeking types filing a frivolous lawsuit..?? Something else entirely..?? 

How about we all take a deep breath and wait for the whole story..?

Marshall Aren

Laguna Beach


Nice to have you back, Barbara Diamond

Judy and I ran into Barbara Diamond the other day. We were pleased to learn that she is now back in Laguna, but saddened to hear of the tragic passing of her son, whom she tended in his last illness.

Barbara has been a long-time friend, and a mentor on all things Laguna – not only to me, but to all of us.  It has felt strange these many months not to see her sitting at the press table at City Council meetings (and, not incidentally, chatting at breaks about what’s really going on up there on the dais.

It was also welcome news that she has begun journalistic writing again.  

I think I speak for the town when I say we’re glad she’s back.

Gene Gratz

Laguna Beach


There’s no going back

Yep, there was no surprise reading about the Muslim women suing the Urth Caffe.  During my visit there, I was basically told “too bad” after complaining about a barking dog under a neighboring table.  

You want to see their real side: “follow the money”. And it’s become inevitable for Laguna as well – there’s no going back.

Gary Simpson

Laguna Beach


If you can’t beat ‘em, hack ‘em

A few days ago, Stu News ran an online poll asking, “Do you favor allowing Laguna Beach homeowners to have short term (30 days or less) rentals?”   

Last Thursday, after the poll had been active for several days, the results were 81% opposed versus 19% in favor.  More than 4 to 1 opposed.

Then, within a matter of minutes, the “yes” votes jumped from 60 to 738.

Shortly thereafter, Stu discovered the poll had actually been hacked 

If someone is willing to cheat on something as innocent as a Stu News survey, just imagine what they will do to cheat on whatever well-meaning regulations the City would come up with if we open the door a crack to short term lodging and if there are a few bucks on the line for the short term lodging operators. 

We already know that Airbnb and the other platforms do nothing to cooperate with cities, and do nothing to try to self-regulate, which they could easily do.  Their own public spokesmen are quoted in the New York Times as saying that “they operate in so many places they cannot possibly get into the specifics of local policy.”  Gosh – they just can’t be bothered.

We know local short term lodging operators “coach” their paying transient “guests” to try to foil local enforcement.

We know that Airbnb and other short term lodging internet platforms provide their clients with sophisticated tools and support to advance their own program.  See the “Toolkit” provided at  http://www.stradvocacy.org   which was created by a joint effort of Airbnb, HomeAway, TripAdvisor and FlipKey.  It’s “the book” these platforms send to their clients teaching how to convince cities to allow short term lodging.

We know that the Airbnb propaganda machine has the capability to stuff online ballot boxes.  A local pro-short term rental group whipped up an online petition for the April 12th City Council meeting showing support for short term lodgings.  Checking that website a couple of days ago, they have rounded up 166 people saying they support short term lodgings, but of those almost half identify where they live.  43% of those who identify where they live come from outside Laguna. 

So we know that using online resources, the pro-Airbnb group can easily distort appearances.

But even using all the tools and resources available to them, this group couldn’t muster enough pro-short term rental responses in Stu’s poll to make it look like the majority of locals supported their view, so “someone” simply hacked Stu’s survey source code and added nearly 700 phony votes with a mouse-click.

All in all it is unrealistic for our elected officials to believe that they can allow what is intended to be a limited amount of short term lodging in residential zones and that the City can dream up restrictions that will control widespread abuse.

People who stoop so low as to hack Stu’s poll will take advantage of any small opening. 

The ordinance the Planning Commission has unanimously recommended is already a compromise that is more than fair, allowing those who have been playing by the rules to continue, allowing home exchanges, allowing new permits in commercial zones where the hotels are meant to be. 

What the Planning Commission has recommended offers the best chance for regulation and enforcement.  

People who are going to cheat will still cheat.  If the City Council adopts the Planning Commission’s recommended ordinance, it will be much harder for the cheaters to hide behind whether the owner is really home or not when “homesharing,” or whether this is one of the weeks that the rental was allowed, or whether this is really a primary residence or not, or any of the other loopholes that would be built into the Rube Goldberg machine the City would have to build to try to “allow just a little of this.”

Restricting new permits to the specific geographic limits of the commercial zones will make it pretty clear whether someone is offering short term rentals inside or outside a physical boundary line 

The real people who really live here are overwhelmingly opposed to turning their hometown into one big off-the-books hotel.

John Thomas

Laguna Beach


Modern day flop houses?

In the ‘60’s, they were crash pads and even earlier, flop houses. Cheap, quick places to pile up transients on floor mats and bunk beds while boosting the wealth of out of town slumlords.

But the clever, hip, disruptive on-line sharing economy has changed all of that…or has it?

Laguna Beach City Council remains bewildered and flip-flopping each time another group floods Council Chambers with plaintive screams of injustice masking personal greed. Certainly, there are residents that have poorly managed their finances and used their homes as an ATM money machine to pay for a bad mortgage or extravagant lifestyle. They perceive their house as an investment to be leveraged rather than a home for life. Sad, but hardly justification for abandoning decades of laws, zoning regulations and hundreds of thousands of hours of citizen participation to create the town we love and remains cherished by millions of visitors.

When a house is just an investment, where is your home? Where is your community? Who are your neighbors and friends when you grind more profit from your neighborhood to bring even more overnight tourists? Why must the City Council cave in to “mob-ocracy” at each meeting to bailout a few residents with failed financial plans? Is a Laguna Beach community of neighborhoods or simply another profit center for greedy investors and corporations?

Alternatives for homeowners to gain income exist. The big family house with only one or two remaining residents can offer a rented room to a local artist, college student, senior, veteran or other nice person in critical need of housing. New roommates can help overcome loneliness while helping out with many household chores, dog walking and even basic landscaping or gardening. A new roommate might even enlighten and stimulate an otherwise routine, boring, isolated lifestyle. Lonely singles in a big house can find a new friend and reliable source of monthly income.

In May, a bold effort by the City, Chamber of Commerce and local foundations to promote citizen involvement will be launched. Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars will be spent to induce more public participation. Yet the best incentive for achieving this goal is to respect the generations of work to create Laguna as a place worth living and calling a home. Abandoning basic residential zoning and laws mandating affordable housing because AirBandBS is a mysterious billion dollar juggernaut with no actual real assets is not compromise as much as it is a sign of weak leadership, appeasement and a lack of commitment to honor the many contributions of citizens to make Laguna truly liveable and the envy of other communities. Why participate when our rules and regulations are worthless?

The latest on-line business of the “sharing economy” is simply another scam by a handful of financially challenged locals and an army of outside carpetbaggers. Laguna Beach is foolish to succumb to slick AirBandBS advertisements and the drum beat promoting a Scamming Economy uber alles.

Mike Beanan

South Laguna


West Street Beach on Memorial Day weekend

If you have L.G.B.T. friends, remind them thatwarm weather on Memorial Day weekend, May 27 - 30, will see crowds at one major attraction that continues to make our town unique, the internationally gay beach, West St. in South Laguna.

A huge expanse of sand, volleyball courts, portable restrooms and a lifeguard assigned to the beach in the summer make this a beautiful destination.The L.G.B.T. community spends billions on travel. Business owners in Laguna ought to encourage gays to spend it here.

West St beach is minutes from a nine-hole golf course, wonderful hotel rooms, a huge pool and patio dining in Aliso Canyon, Laguna’s “Little Yosemite.”

Trolleys run year round on weekends and every day in the summer to a friendly gay bar and cabaret, coffee house, the best bakery in town on the alley and a intimate beach at Mountain Avenue.

In the old days, Laguna had a popular gay beach south of the Main Beach guard tower, until Main Beach park was being built when year long construction somehow sent L.B.G.T. people south to he beach below Camel Point, dubbed West St. Our historic gay beach was famous for summer crowds and silver service picnics on the sand and the nearby big, public bar, Dantes, which on holidays ordered 500 cases of “Bud”, before draft beer became popular.

After gays moved south, West St. had an unofficial mayor and a ten watt radio station that transmitted a pre-recorded program on weekends the crowds could pickup on their radios.

Launch the summer Memorial Day weekend. West st. beach is alive and well.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

 

Shaena Stabler and Stu Saffer are the co-owners. Shaena is the Publisher and Stu is the Editor-in-Chief.

Lynette Brasfield is our Managing Editor.

The Webmaster is Michael Sterling.

Katie Ford is our in-house ad designer.

Allison Rael, Barbara Diamond, Diane Armitage, Dianne Russell, Laura Buckle, Maggi Henrikson, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers.

Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle and Suzie Harrison are columnists.

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