Location location location

[Park Plaza]. A solution in search of a problem.

Maybe the grain of positive idea initially but in a poorly thought out, hasty location: Making it a feel-good but irrelevant installation.

Stupid is as stupid does, here for 45 years it never ceases to amaze me how my City finds ways to blow big $$$ on what’s unimportant, minor tweaking while ignoring the larger good for residents: Commerce first, locals second.

(1) Most of the time those chairs/tables were empty. During the pilot/demo phase I went down there two to three times a week at different times of day/evening. Ditto. Many times no one there period, weekends a handful. So few go there on weekdays off-season, locals stayed away in droves, it’s success greatly exaggerated by proponents (many paid and/or on the Chamber/Visitor’s Bureau payroll). Special business interests want it.

(2) Two of the three NGO’s mentioned in support, Beautification Council and Transition Laguna (501c3 public benefit), have had their non-profit status suspended by the State Franchise Tax Board. Look them up. The Chamber is a special interest 501c4.

(3) As a land use/regulatory compliance advisor myself, I see no mention of CalTrans. Hey, City Council? Anything you do to PCH is in their domain, jurisdiction. That includes the obvious re-routing, re-circulation projections. The City paid a vendor to tell them what they wanted to hear/achieve, interesting that two-thirds of the letters were opposed, so they’re ignoring the will of the residents and blowing more of our $$$.

(4) Under CEQA, any potentially significant impacts must be considered, analyzed and mitigated. What LB is proposing will irrevocably, irreparably alter the downtown traffic circulation patterns, and there’s no proof as an improvement. It should have an independent, third-party enviro-analysis/review, not rubber-stamping. And that would include detailed feedback/input from Cal Trans expert engineers

(5) Losing those staging/parking spaces on PCH + parklet will put more stress on visitors trying to pick up/drop off or park family vehicles in proximity to the beach. That’s a Cal Coastal Commission issue because Beach Parking = Public Access. Also, the reduction of approximately 15+ spaces total must be balanced, made up somewhere else: Yet no such plan is included. It should go through the CCC to determine if the combo of parking space los + circulation alterations make Main Beach less attractive/usable/functional. Including amending not only the Downtown Specific Plan but amend our Local Coastal Plan.

(6) Downtown vendor trucks (food, Fed-Ex, OC Library, north side PCH merchants) will no longer have anywhere to park in the early a.m. hours as now. None is allowed in the alley behind The White House/Library, the meter cops chase them off or ticket them. So no staging plan in place or proposed. And look for beach visitors to fudge, use the Library lot, reducing OUR (locals) access to that facility.

(7) This is a poorly critiqued attempt that creates a cold breezeway that will not be utilized at least nine months out of the year while putting stress on other contiguous locations. During poor weather or off hours it eliminates a small yet highly valuable cut-through to assure/relieve circulation stress. And due to the wind pattern, Venturi Effect (air speeding up going through the compressed space), coupled with the car pollution, those who do sit there will be in the shadows bundled up, inhaling concentrated PCH generated particulates.

Our City Council listened to a very small yet vocal sample of residents, came up with something right out of Dumb & Dumber.

Must be an election year when fluff trumps substance.

Roger Butow

Laguna Beach


Larie Tales

March 26, 2018

Click on photo for a larger image

On March 26, 2018, Larie Tales, founder of Jeeps R Us, located on Laguna Canyon Road, passed away. Larie was born in Toronto, Canada. He was 76 years young.

The legacy of Jeeps R Us began in 1989 (nearly 30 years ago) with a very determined and talented man by the name of Larie Tales, a professional drag racer and body shop owner. Larie built the first jeep for his lovely wife Vicki and a star was born, so to speak. Jeeps R Us continues to be a brand with global recognition. 

Larie is survived by his beautiful wife Vicki, daughter Laurie, son Robert, sister Linda and his brothers Dave and Ed.

Larie’s motto from day one has always been: “If you can dream it, we can build it.” Jeeps R Us will live on. An inventory of Larie’s custom Jeep creations is still available on the lot in Laguna Canyon. 

If you would like to share stories about how Larie Tales touched your life, family and friends are planning a date for a tribute, to be announced, which will be held at the Jeeps R Us location in Laguna Canyon, Laguna Beach. 

An update will be posted on www.jeepsrus.comor the Instagram page at www.instagram.com/jeepsruslaguna.

We live in dynamic times

I went to the March For Our Lives event at Main Beach park on Saturday, March 24th and realized again that things in America are and will change and that we are living in unusual times.

I believe the Women’s March in Washington D.C., the day after the inauguration, really announced the beginning of the end of the so-called Make America Great election. America can’t be great again without fairness to citizens of all races, religions, incomes, and sexual persuasions.

A recent poll showed that most Lagunatics want a new city council. Paying some city employees millions after retirement and bus and trolley drivers nothing isn’t fair. I believe in pensions, but as Elizabeth Pearson said years ago, our city government pensions are out of whack and will eventually bankrupt the city.

We desperately need affordable housing for seniors and others and the possibility of rent control for residential and commercial buildings. We need to stop cars going 70 and 80 miles a hour on Coast Hwy. We need to help our young people who are LGBT and make Laguna a more friendly place for gays. We need to promote small business all over town with new ideas and sidewalks friendly to walkers with more benches. 

A permanent Park Plaza downtown offering a cool place for all on hot days and other times and easier crossing zones on Coast Hwy. at Broadway, Ocean, Forest and Laguna Avenues. These four intersections like others need much bigger handicap curb ramps and should be criss-cross zones for people to cross from all four corners. The Laguna Avenue signal needs longer walking times, a.s.a.p.

We are living in a dynamic time in America and come November, America will get greater.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach

From Main Beach to Washington and beyond

File this under “There are no coincidences.” What if today’s teenagers from Stoneman Douglas High School are the “thoughts and prayers” Republican members of Congress have been talking about since Columbine?

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Marching is important, voting in the primary is more important

I have just returned home from the March for Our Lives in Santa Ana.  

It was an inspirational and emotional day. Hearing the personal stories of students, teachers and others who have been affected by gun violence made a huge impact on the thousands of us who were there in solidarity.

There were many statements and chants about the importance of voting, all of which was directed to the November election.

I think there was a missed opportunity in emphasizing the importance of the June 5 Primary election, particularly for Congressional districts. Due to the rules of the jungle primary, only the top two candidates from the June 5 election will go on to be placed on the ballot in November. With so many candidates running for each Congressional district, it is imperative that voters understand the importance of voting on June 5 so that the two candidates who win are the ones that we want to vote for in November. If we do not do our job June 5, the November election will once again be a missed opportunity for change.

Candidates: Get the June 5 message out. Voters: Do your homework and make your votes count on June 5.

Jada Robitaille

Laguna Beach

Going, Going, Gone: Fence ordinance needs changing

On December 20, my downhill next-door neighbor erected posts for a six foot fence. I had no notice that this was going to be built. I immediately ran to the City Of Laguna Beach to verify that this neighbor had a building permit, and indeed they had one. I made a complaint, which was dismissed by the City. The City fence ordinance gives homeowners the right to build fences such as this as long as it is on the fence owner’s property. 

We are always friendly with our neighbors, and have cooperated to build neighbor-friendly fences. My uphill neighbors and I built a fence together, it’s four feet tall, and protects my neighbor’s ocean views. The Driftwood Estates tract is a hidden treasure of mid-century single story small homes; all the lots are terraced. Historically, no fence has ever been constructed that would obstruct anyone’s ocean view. The views on this street, Ocean Vista, have always been respected by all neighbors; we communicate with each other when trees or hedges need a trim.

Note: The owners next door have never moved into the house to this date, it has remained vacant. 

When on December 20, I asked these neighbors to please come over and view the impact that this six foot fence was going to make on my view, they declined, stating that they had a permit, and they needed their privacy. The lot line where this fence is built is uphill from their house by about 12 feet, but is level with my front yard, so they would have to look up and away from the ocean to even see my house.

I have since contacted more people at the City, nobody could help me, but it was suggested that I write to this newspaper.  

What really needs to happen is a change needs to be made to the Fence Ordinance when it affects a neighbor’s ocean view, and Design Review should be involved. I am volunteering to help start a committee to change the fence ordinance, please contact me if you’re interested in helping. I would not wish this to happen to anybody else. It seems like it’s the end of friendly neighborhoods in my town, which is the saddest part.

Melinda Zoller

Laguna Beach

Arboretum or city: that is the question

A local, well-known landscape architect has recently started a dialogue about plant life in our town. Sounds like this person was mostly about getting our City to look more like an arboretum and Roger’s Garden. I, too, am about the beauty and all that Nature has to provide that keeps us in awe. I am a gardener at heart and have had to learn that planning and planting must work hand in hand. 

However, when does the planting exceed the glory of plant life? Take trees for example, we are impressed by their beauty and often times [they offer] protection from many heated days from the sun on our homes. All of this is fine until tree roots invade another person’s property and raises their concrete driveway or even invades footings and foundations. Sidewalks, too, often times are raised and cause risks to those walking daily on our walkways.

Living in such close proximity to neighbors, trees and their roots systems can be a dangerous risk. Tree roots often are the major source of blocked sewer lines. Also, when trees are not planted with knowledge of their maximum height, views from other properties can be obstructed and Pandora’s Box is again wide open to create unrest among neighbors leading to confrontations and even lawsuits. 

Yes, I agree with this landscape architect but then again when planting trees the end result must be a major consideration for all concerned. Plant life, like all of Nature, is intended to expand as it grows. Oftentimes folks want an instant and mature looking garden by over planting and not allowing enough space in between plants to expand and develop into a well planned and beautiful garden. Plants need both food and water. They must be cared for like any living organism. Planting and caring can take on more responsibilities. So please plant wisely and keep the peace and the safety wherever and whenever we can. 

Jim Gothard

Laguna Beach

First amendment rights usurped?

My son is an eighth grade student at Thurston, like many of his fellow students he felt duped by the school administration. He felt that his 1st amendment rights were usurped by the school administration, which controlled the walk outs by turning it into an extended break, run by the school administration. The intended message, to honor the 17 dead students and seek change in gun laws that would make kids like him safer was muted.

Our children’s’ rights need to be respected and “their” voices heard.  

David Flores

Laguna Beach


Jack Morse

April 29, 1934 – March 10, 2018

Our incredible father, husband, grandfather and beloved friend, John Morse died peacefully at his home in Laguna Beach on March 10, 2018.

John, known to his friends as “Jack,” was born on April 29, 1934. He came to Laguna Beach at nine months old, and aside from his time away for college and his time in the Army while serving in Korea, he lived his entire life in Laguna until his passing at the age of 83. He was an extremely lucky man and he knew it!

Jack graduated from Laguna Beach High School in 1952 and continued on to receive his Bachelor’s from the University of New Mexico.

He was a retired LA County probation officer of 30 years and Dean of Students at Santa Margarita High School, respected by his peers and loved by his students. Upon his retirement, Jack spent his time focusing on his passions of music and teaching. He was an accomplished ukulele player who continued to serve the local community teaching ukulele classes and building incredible friendships at the Susi Q Center in Laguna Beach.

Jack loved the ocean, playing and teaching the ukulele, weekly coffee gatherings with his friends, and watching his grandkids grow up, always encouraging them to do their best and reach for the stars. Nothing was more important to him than his family and friends.

Jack’s signature everyday look was a Reyn Spooner Hawaiian shirt with jeans and a ukulele. Jack loved his time as a Laguna Beach lifeguard in addition to surfing, fishing and diving. No one knew the beaches of Laguna better than he did. That is the simple life Jack loved. He was always there to greet you with a smile, offer sage advice, or provide a steady hand. Jack was one of the kindest people you could ever meet opening his heart to many.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Susan Morse, his four children (Gretchen, Peter, Megan and Tim), and the eight grandchildren he adored.  

Our incredible father, husband, grandfather and beloved friend will be missed.

A Funeral Service in memory of Jack will be held on Friday, March 23 at 12 p.m. at St. Catherine’s Church in Laguna Beach with a reception following at Fratello’s Italian Restaurant in Laguna Niguel from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. Those who desire may make memorial donations in memory of Jack to The Susi Q Center (Laguna Beach Senior Center) 380 Third St., Laguna Beach, CA 92651.

Note: Fratellos is located at 31371 Niguel Rd, Laguna Niguel.

No good deed goes unpunished

Nearly 2.5 years ago, the City agreed to begin a 10-year rehabilitation schedule for our Sanitary Sewer System (SSS), funding $3.5 million per year for 10 years = $35 million. 

That was codified, i.e., agreed to contractually in a federal court as a result of litigation initiated by California River Watch in October 2014. My NGO, Clean Water Now was the sole Laguna protectionist group to formally join the lawsuit.

Readers can peruse and confirm the details via online historical research, CWN joined because after 15 years on this issue, little rehabilitation or improvement had taken place.

For us it was unfinished business, our previous work around 2000 on the same topic was being ignored, the City not fulfilling its promises to both California and USEPA.

One of the burning issues was the City’s antiquated, increasingly failing SSS, the specter of larger overflows looming plus one of the major defect symptoms: The buildup of H2S (hydrogen sulfide gases, that obnoxious odor of human waste) in several key neighborhood zones.

It really hit home for myself and my neighbors here in Victoria Beach and just south along PCH near Ruby’s and Montage as proven in court. Letters had been written to the City over the course of nearly a decade, demanding redress and relief. 

The City acknowledged the more pungent, problematic and objectionably smelly, deficient lift stations during the proceedings.

We along PCH here to the south were assured that we’d be a high priority being chronically affected, the lift station near Nyes Place and the one on the stairs leading down to Victoria Beach prime candidates.

So it has been with great curiosity that we’ve tracked the subsequent budgets since that compact was mutually agreed upon by all parties.

The LB Taxpayers, local media columnists, letters in MSM and individuals petitioning the City at budget hearings seem to be unaware of that compact with the court system, plaintiffs and more importantly, those concerned about SSS spills: Unsafe, hazardous beach conditions triggering closures and decimating fragile marine eco-systems.

Viewing the upcoming budgets, I can’t find earmarked funds that confirm, that sustain the City’s promises: Nor am I reassured by the lack of specificity regarding prioritization.

Myself, CWN and my neighbors are justifiably wondering: Are we being punished for being whistleblowers, for exercising our rights to petition and acquire a redress of legitimate grievances?

Obviously, no good deed goes unpunished here.

Roger Butow

Laguna Beach

Stop Taxing Our Property

A new coalition of concerned residents in town called S.T.O.P – Stop Taxing Our Property (www.stoptaxingourproperty.com), has formed to give residents all the facts about undergrounding, not just those the City and its consultants want to “educate” you about. 

The City had budget surpluses of $9.9 million in FY 2015, $9.8 million in FY 2016, and recently $4.8 million in 2017. If undergrounding is so safety essential, why haven’t those surpluses been saved for undergrounding, rather than placing the burden squarely on taxpayers’ backs? Shouldn’t we demand better planning and fiscal responsibility of our City’s leaders? Why doesn’t the City use Measure LL funds to support a revenue bond, repayable by the City, not the taxpayers? At $2.5-$3M year, those funds could support a $50-60M revenue bond debt. The City’s capital improvement plan allocates $15 million to a proposed community pool. Why is a pool prioritized over undergrounding? 

The City will spend over $240,000 on consultants to push undergrounding and biased surveys. Contrary to the article by Mr Gibbs of Underground Laguna Now, the surveys did not find that the majority of residents strongly supported paying for undergrounding. The surveys “found” what we already know, that we live in a fire threat area. But how does that equate to an imperative to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to underground utility poles?  44 percent of California is in a high fire threat area. Laguna is no different than hundreds of other cities. The ’93 fire was caused by arson, not utility poles, and the cause of the most recent fires in Sonoma and Santa Barbara have not been factually determined. There has never been a major fire in Laguna caused by utility poles.

The City estimates six 1/2 years and around $10 million before construction would even begin on undergrounding. Wireless power already exists, and is developing faster every day for mass scale use. Soon electricity transmission by wires will be obsolete. Why are we spending hundreds of millions to underground a soon to be obsolete method of delivering power?

Last December the CPUC ordered new stricter fire safety measures for electrical distribution systems in high-risk areas, and created a “Fire-Threat Map” where those measures are currently being implemented, including Laguna and Laguna Canyon Road. With these significant new fire prevention measures for utilities, including frequent monitoring and inspection of all utility poles, immediate correction of safety hazards in high fire threat areas, and major new rules for vegetation management, shouldn’t we wait and see if these safety measures work before asking taxpayers to foot the bill to underground utilities? If SC Edison doesn’t comply, wouldn’t there be substantial cause to force SC Edison to underground at its own cost?

Laguna’s urban areas(downtown and residential zones near PCH) are not high risk for widespread utility fires. California has not had an urban conflagration initiate within an urban core area in many decades. Why is the City insisting on undergrounding in these areas using the arbitrary “evacuation route” scare tactic?  No one can predict where a fire may break out, and lower urban routes (like Glenneyre and PCH) are not high risk. Fallen trees, light poles and parked cars obstruct as much as power lines. Ninety percet of all fires are human caused (cigarettes, campfires and arson), followed by lighting and lava.  Electrical transmission fires causing widespread damage are an extremely low percentage of all fires.

Many neighborhoods have already paid thousands to underground, some over $50,000. Why should these residents have to pay for others to do the same thing? Some of these neighborhoods were on so called “evacuation routes.” Many other residents would never use any of the “evacuation routes.” One council member lives on Glenneyre and her view would be greatly improved by undergrounding. Is it fair or equitable to force others to pay for that view?

The $240 median per parcel trumped out to support the undergrounding only applies if your property tax assessment is $600,000. That’s great if you bought your home many years ago, like the city council, whose average assessment is $462,000. Many other residents who bought more recently will pay thousands more. Is this equitable? Who else isn’t paying their “fair share?”

The City paid over $200,000 to put new carpet in City Hall, and has been on a hiring binge over the last three years increasing payroll and pension liabilities. City health insurance is expected to increase by 18 percent. $3 million of new vehicles were purchased in under 3 years, unnecessarily replacing vehicles with low mileage and much useful life. Millions have been spent purchasing real estate that may be desirable, but is not necessary. Shouldn’t we demand responsible spending first before taxpayers are asked to tax themselves and give the City even more? 

Ask questions, get informed.  It’s your money.

Jennifer Welsh Zeiter, local business, tax and estate planning attorney, former President of Laguna Beach Taxpayers Association, co-founder of S.T.O.P, and self-appointed fiscal watchdog.

Hotel Laguna: Time for us all to move on

It is hard for me to understand why the Andersen family seems to be using the courts to obstruct the re-opening of the Hotel Laguna by the new operators.  Given that the Andersens have been supportive of our community for many years, why would they now want to keep the landmark of our town dark? Fortunately for Laguna Beach, the new operators also have a sterling history of good deeds to improve our town, so I have much reason to anticipate how the re-opened Hotel Laguna will enhance our community. It is time for all of us to move on.

Jerry Immel

Laguna Beach

Camp David Gun Summit Part II

Hello Mr. Kail. Because I am the writer you referred to in your recent letter, who has urged President Trump to convene a summit on guns at Camp David, I thought I would introduce myself (“Laws won’t fix school shootings”).  

People’s feelings about the NRA and the Second Amendment currently are at a fever pitch. So much so, rational conversations are almost impossible to have in Congress or around our dinner tables. Are you aware that several of the teenage survivors of the shooting in South Florida, who currently are organizing student marches, have received death threats? I believe my call for a summit not only will help turn down the heat caused by mass shootings, but set the stage for productive talks. I’m sorry you disagree.

I have been told that when Jimmy Carter informed his White House staff in 1978 that he intended to bring old warriors Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel to Camp David, most of his aides, fearing failure, urged the president not to go forward with his plan. Despite all the fighting in the Middle East today, Egypt and Israel still are at peace. I firmly believe President Trump has a chance to accomplish a similar outcome with a summit on guns now.

Thanks, again, for mentioning me in your recent letter. Let me know if you want to get coffee and discuss our differences.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


James Lynwood Wilder, Jr

October 7, 1934 – February 10, 2018

James Lynwood (“Lyn”) Wilder, Jr, the down-to-earth charismatic man whose honest, reliable and considerate service to others made him beloved by many, died on February 10, 2018 in Laguna Hills. 

Lyn was 83 years old. He is survived by his wife Daneen, his children Gayle, Allison and James III, his stepsons Brandon and Aron Rainone, his grandchildren Jefferson, Keaton, James IV and Constance, and his step-grandchildren Sophia, Hendrix and Zoey. 

In addition to his family, Lyn leaves behind an abundantly grateful community, who will forever be touched by his frank, honest and passionate support of their lives. He was tall, handsome and charming, always impeccably dressed and always there with love and wisdom when needed. His playfulness and humor would never fail to ease a troubled soul. His demeanor and presentation, both sophisticated and colorful, will continue to provide us with smiles and memories for years to come.

A recovering alcoholic himself, Lyn had a depth of understanding and empathy that translated seamlessly to those in need of help. His recovery became his greatest gift. For nearly 53 years, Lyn was a pillar of the Southern California recovery community. He shared his hope and strength locally, across the country and around the world. Lyn lived his life’s motto of “love and service” as he selflessly gave of his time. His family is grateful for all the memories and stories shared about the innumerable ways in which Lyn taught, challenged, and encouraged people, and the profound impact he had on their lives. 

Lyn was born on October 7, 1934 in Lexington, Kentucky. The friendships Lyn developed in Kentucky remained throughout his lifetime and returned him to his roots for many cherished visits.  A true Kentuckian, Lyn loved thoroughbred horses and the Kentucky Wildcats basketball team.

Lyn made his way to California in 1964. He met his wife Pam in sobriety and moved to Orange County, where they had their children, Allison and Jim. He participated whole-heartedly in the women’s recovery home of New Directions for Women, which was co-founded by Pam, who passed away in 1985.

Lyn’s career was diversified. He was independent and excelled at networking, which brought him business opportunities in real estate development, oil and gas production, restaurant ownership, the insurance industry, and telecommunications. He retired at the age of 80.

While working in the telecommunications industry in 1997, Lyn met the love of his life, his wife Daneen. They were married in 2001 and have enjoyed many years of family, love, laughter, friendship, travel, and fellowship, both in Orange County and in their second home in the California desert, where they have many dear friends. Lyn’s love, patience, and persistence with those he loved and cared for will be missed. We are forever blessed to have been part of Lyn’s extraordinary life and to have shared in part of his journey. We will carry his memory in our hearts.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Lyn on March 4 at 2 p.m. at Laguna Presbyterian Church, 415 Forest Ave.  

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his name to an organization important to Lyn and his family, New Directions for Women, Inc, 2607 Willow Lane, Costa Mesa, CA 92627.


Roberta (Robbie) Bennett

February 1, 2018

Roberta Mace Bennett passed peacefully, at the age of 95, in her room at The Covington assisted living in Aliso Viejo, California, on February 1, 2018.  She is survived by her daughter, Andrea Reynolds Bennett, and by her son, Duncan Griffin Bennett and his wife Suzanne Slyman.  She was preceded in death by her sisters, Katie Stalder of Riverside and Mary Stuart of Long Beach, by her husband, A. Norman Bennett (d. 1959), and by her parents, Arthur Mace and Margaret Reynolds Mace.

Robbie was raised in Pasadena and graduated from Sacred Heart Academy and Pasadena Junior College. To the many friends of her youth, Robbie was faithful throughout her life. Summers were spent with them at Balboa Island, and with family at Big Bear Lake where her father built a cabin.   

She and Norm were married in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1945, where he was in Naval Supply School at Harvard before receiving orders to duty in the North Atlantic in WW II.  Following the war they made their home in Pasadena and raised their children. After Norm’s death of cancer in 1959, Robbie was a single mother until her children went to college. While  Andrea was in high school, Robbie re-entered the working world as a secretary in the insurance business. She was working for Pacific Mutual Life Insurance in 1972 when the company relocated to Newport Beach, and she took the opportunity to move to Laguna Beach, the arts-oriented community she had long appreciated. 

She enthusiastically began her new life, settling into her home at the Top of the World, building her garden with its view out into the open space canyons that she loved so much. She also loved her neighbors and the generations of kids she befriended in her 44 years there on Nestall Road. Her joy was enhanced by the dogs she had over the decades, especially her last one, Ringo.

Her love of nature and hiking made her an active participant in the Laguna Greenbelt movement and Sierra Club. However, her primary community in Laguna was St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, where she made her closest friends. She was active in church outreach programs, the Evening Guild (ECW), and the Vestry. In her later years, she organized weekly meals for the homeless and volunteered at Friendship Shelter. 

As much as Robbie loved her friends and Laguna, she was constantly drawn to her world travels and hiking trips to the eastern Sierra Nevada. The international travel was a particular joy for her to plan and read for, whether it was England, China, hiking in the Pyrenees, or her beloved Tuscany – all beautifully documented by the albums of photos that she so loved to take.

A service and celebration of her very full life will be held on Saturday, March 10, at 1 p.m., at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 428 Park Avenue, Laguna Beach. In lieu of flowers, it was Robbie’s wish that contributions be given to Friendship Shelter, www.friendshipshelter.org.

Laws won’t fix school shootings

The writer of the letter urging President Trump, NRA and others to meet at Camp David, is reminiscent to Dec 2012 when Obama formed a similar task force led by Joe Biden. 22 meetings and 229 recommendations later, and after multiple items signed by Obama as executive order,

School shootings continue. Laws won’t fix the problem.

William Kail

Laguna Beach

LBUSD responds to the Parkland school shooting

Our hearts are with the victims and their families, as well as with the students, staff and community at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. We are deeply saddened that we must endure yet another senseless tragedy.

A natural response to this event in Florida is to wonder what plans are in place at our schools to provide a safe environment. The District takes our responsibility for school safety very seriously because we are entrusted with protecting the children of LBUSD when they are on our campuses. 

Our District Safety Committee members develop, revise, and update safety plans through a collaborative process to ensure procedures are effective and current.  The District also works closely with our local police and fire department officials to include current best practices into our plans.

Laguna Beach Unified School District schools are required to maintain and update an annual Comprehensive School Safety Plan, the most recent version of which was approved by the Board of Education at Tuesday’s Board meeting. These plans delineate how schools will respond to a variety of school-related emergencies and include:

Building disaster plans

Hazard assessments

Evacuation plans, routes and locations

Standardized emergency management plans

Shelter in place and lockdown procedures

Student/parent reunification plans

Emergency drill schedules

As always, our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our children. We realize trying to find words to help our children feel safe and resilient in a world that sometimes feels unpredictable and scary is difficult. In the aftermath of this traumatic event, the National Association of School Psychologists notes there are effective ways to talk with students: create a sense of safety by returning to normal, predictable routines as soon as possible; listen to their concerns and feelings; suggest they limit their use of media to lower their stress and to maintain balance and perspective; and realize that sleep difficulties are common and can lead to fatigue and poor participation.

Finally, staff on our campuses are trained to report any unusual and suspicious activity, and we encourage parents and students to do the same. Please reach out to your school site administrator if you have any questions about campus safety procedures.

Jason Viloria

LBUSD Superintendent of Schools

MASS Attack on Guns

In 1980, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded by Candace Lightner in direct response to the death of her 13-year old daughter by a drunk driver. This was not the first death from a DUI, but it was the last before the group took action.

As a result, today’s DUIs are heavily monitored and penalized, indicating fewer numbers of death by intoxicated drievers. There is at least one MADD office in every state, including one in each province of Canada.

In 2018, it is time to form MASS (Mothers Against Semi-automatic Slaughter) and address the senseless killing of our kids by savage assault weapons. Let no one tell you it can’t be done. It already has.

Britta Wilder Ross

Laguna Beach

Time for a gun summit at Camp David

Two of my three children attended TOW, TMS and LBHS. Even though they are grown now, each of them has been affected by last week’s shooting in South Florida. Once again, innocent students were gunned down by a deranged teenager. So what’s the solution?

I call on Donald Trump to take a page out of Jimmy Carter’s playbook. For those who need reminding, in 1978 the former president invited the leaders of Egypt and Israel to Camp David. After more than 10 days of intense bargaining, they came up with a peace plan that still exists today. After what happened last week, I think it’s time for a similar meeting.

Mr. President, I urge you to invite the NRA, 2nd Amendment and gun safety advocates to Camp David for a week-long summit. If you have to, lock the doors so no one can leave until all three parties agree on ways to solve today’s senseless gun violence. I am a realist, so I know their process of finding common ground won’t come easy; still, I believe they owe it to the country to try.  

My three kids tell me our schools are becoming America’s killing fields. For their sake, and our nation’s future, I hope a Camp David gun summit will put an end to the unspeakable violence we keep witnessing coast to coast.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Doug Case

September 20, 1956 – January 30, 2018

Douglas Ward Case, 61, was born on September 20, 1956 in Laguna Beach and passed away on January 30, 2018. Doug is remembered by his children - Laura Ann and Charles Emerson, Daniel and Heather Case and grandson Oliver, Nicole and Jon Johnson; his parents Storm and Shirley Case; his siblings Linda Case, Scott and Laurie Case, and many nieces and nephews.

Doug grew up in Laguna Beach and was a descendent of the Thurston family. He attended the first preschool season at the Laguna Presbyterian Church. He enjoyed sports, scouting and backpacking in the Sierra mountains. Doug earned his Eagle Scout rank with Troop 35. He held the Orange County high jump record (6’ 10.25”) for several years. He graduated from Laguna Beach High School in 1974 and attended Biola University. Doug followed his grandfather Alvin Krueger into the real estate appraisal field, opening his own office in Laguna before moving to Salt Lake City. Doug especially loved adventures with his dog Bonsai and filled his free time with books, fly fishing and camping in the mountains of Utah. 

Doug’s memorial will be held at the Laguna Presbyterian Church on Saturday, February 24 at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Laguna Presbyterian Church (415 Forest Ave, Laguna Beach, CA 92651) or the American Heart Association in Doug’s memory.

Time to close Liberty Island National Park?

In an effort to assist the Trump administration in its efforts to balance the budget to reflect its objectives, I propose the following cost-saving measure for Secretary of the Interior Zinke: close the Statue of Liberty and Liberty Island National Park. 

What, do I hear knee-jerk wails of objection? Unamerican! Sacrilege!  Read the attached plaque on the base of the Statue.  No, really read it.  If that’s too tasking, read at least the most commonly recognized lines:

Bring me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to be free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, it was finally engraved on a plaque and mounted on the base of the statue in 1903.

For countless immigrants, those words have been, in their minds, emblematic of the United States and its understanding that our strength as a nation is grounded in its diversity and the contributions of each immigrant, both individuals and families that came to our country and made it theirs. Countless thousands, from Colonial times to the present, have contributed their strengths and determination, and in many cases their lives, in ways that have taken this country to its pre-eminent position in the world. 

Alas, that statue and its meaning seem true no longer.  The Trump administration seems determined to change the acceptable reasons for allowing immigration to this country.  In a mean-spirited turn of malice, the criteria seem to be now qualifying levels of education, financial worth, and not being from some backward, crudely-characterized nations.  A far cry from the “huddled masses yearning to be free”, it seems.  As a side note, I wonder how Mr. Trump’s paternal grandfather in 1885, and indeed his mother in 1930, would have fared had the current proposed criteria been in place when they immigrated. 

The New Colossus and its iconic poem are neither relevant nor representative of the Trump view of immigration.  So, let us actually be honest with ourselves and the world, and shut down Liberty Island until such time as national policy once again is in accord with the symbol in New York Harbor, and the United States of America can once again become a nation that the rest of the world sees as a shining beacon of what the best of mankind can strive for.

Bob Elster

Laguna Beach

No military parade, Mr. President

I don’t want a military parade like President Trump does. I want an America where people celebrate our nation’s long-held values and principles daily. You know, like my Laguna friends who support the Food Pantry, SchoolPower and Friendship Shelter. They are the real patriots. No amount of tanks driving by or troops marching in formation can match what they do.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Lynette Brasfield is our Features Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Maggi Henrikson is our Contributing Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster.

Katie Ford is our Ad Designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Cameron Gillespie, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Laura Buckle, Marrie Stone, Samantha Washer and Suzie Harrison are staff writers and/or columnists.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are the staff photographers.

Stacia Stabler is our Account & Instagram Manager.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising


Email: Lynette@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc.