Emergency access we can live with

There is no “City program in the process of being finalized and implemented” to create “immediate and dire” parking restrictions in residential neighborhoods as described in a recent letter. 

The Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Committee (EDPC) on which I serve is considering ways to improve emergency access for fire apparatus and ambulances while minimizing inconvenience to residents. Any such recommendations will be subject to Council review, and there is much work to be done before that happens.   

The Emergency Access Improvement Program came about in 2015 when our Fire Chief recommended an effort to improve “everyday” emergency access on streets where medical and fire response is particularly difficult.

That was in preference to expansion of a “Red Flag” parking restriction program that might improve emergency access only a few days each year at best. 

EDPC endorsed the Fire Department’s recommendation and was asked to work with City staff to improve life-safety response in our most at-risk neighborhoods based upon General Plan policies enacted after the 1993 fire but never fully implemented.  

The Fire Department should be commended for alerting Council to this dangerous situation and Council commended for seeking ways to improve public and responder safety.  

It would be ideal if emergency access could be improved citywide all at once. Regrettably, that’s no more practical than simultaneously repaving every street in the City or undergrounding all of our dangerous electric utility wires in one fell swoop.

The “alphabet streets” off Alta Vista were selected as the initial pilot site for emergency access improvement after EDPC Members and Council Liaison undertook a field evaluation of several neighborhoods in cooperation with the Fire Department.  

This program is being developed in the most transparent way possible. Initial proposals are being revised in response to resident feedback following a community meeting hosted by Police and Fire in August and multiple EDPC meetings last fall where residents were invited to share their concerns. 

More such meetings will be held before any recommendations are even brought to Council for consideration.  

One option we need to guard against, however, is doing nothing. All of us who live in access-impaired neighborhoods are at unnecessary risk if emergency responders are delayed when seconds make the difference between life and death in a fire or medical emergency.  

This letter was not sent on behalf of EDPC or the City.

Matt Lawson

Laguna Beach


Nordstrom vs. Ivanka

Nordstrom’s decision to drop Ivanka Trump products was a business decision.  Had the company attacked Ivanka personally, then I would have expected Donald Trump to defend his daughter.  But that is not what happened.  

The president’s tweet last week was intended to enrich his daughter by blaming Nordstrom for her misfortune (pun intended).  Nothing about this is right.  It’s 100% wrong.  I’m glad several of my Laguna friends decided to support the store by recently shopping at Nordstrom.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


City government has become dictatorial

City council person Kelly Boyd said on TV that if the council votes for an almost total marijuana, tobacco etc. smoking ban in Laguna Beach, we may need 100 cops to enforce it. We already have 50. 

The ban would not include cars and your residence, but actually smoking pot in your car can get you a DUI ticket or arrest and some apartments now totally prohibit any smoking inside, on balconies and on the property. 

A friend pointed out to me, that in his opinion, most people who smoke in public areas of Laguna where you still can, are discreet and thoughtful. Other friends disagree. 

Our municipal laws now state there can be no cultivation of marijuana in town, (ridiculous) no smoking on the beach, parks or pathways to the beach, no smoking in restaurants or their patios, no marijuana dispensaries, no alcohol in parks or the beach, no playing with Frisbees, footballs etc. on the beach and the no list goes on and on. 

It’s very hard to believe we were once a bohemian art colony. Contact your council person and tell them what you think. 

As for my opinion, I think our city government has lost the respect of many residents because it is so dictatorial but in this age of dictatorial presidents and leaders around the world, many people seem comfortable being told what to do.

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach


What’s that smell?

As I move on into my 5th decade living in this unique town I have to wonder, who is running “City Hall”?

In November the “people in power” asked & received a 2% hike to the bed tax. The city was short on funds to provide “needed services”.

On Thursday Feb 2nd the “City Staff” releases a report that there’s a “6 Million Dollar “ unexpected revenue increase! Wow!

On Friday Fed. 3rd, “City Hall” was closed. It closes every other Friday, why? It’s obviously for the “best” of the residents!

On Feb.7th at the “City Council Meeting” City Staff has 19 items for consideration to finance with the “Bonanza”! Wow! That efficiency!

By the end of the “City Council Meeting” $3,035,00.00 was allocated. Wow! That efficiency!

The underfunded pension issue will be “discussed in greater depth” at 6 p.m. March 6th in council chambers. Wow! No hurry to pay down debt! Where are the priorities!! Something smells!

On an upbeat note, Heisler Park looks the best that I have ever seen. The City landscape crew has done a fantastic job trimming & cleaning this “Beautiful Visual Gem”, walk it and enjoy!

Pat Galez

Laguna Beach


Grounding power lines should be a priority

It seems reasonable that the city concentrate on using its windfall funds and any other funds available to concentrate on under grounding power lines. Places like upper Bluebird Canyon are a disaster waiting to happen. New swimming pools are not a priority.

Van Stephens

Laguna Beach


Zeiter thanks the community for support

Thank you, thank you to the many many people who reached out to support and thank me for my “Lesson in Intolerance” article, and for exposing the ugly underbelly of the protestors with their intolerance and hatred of anyone with an opposing viewpoint.  The outpouring of support by email, phone and Linked-In was inspiring, and let me know that the silent majority is very strong, even in this left coast state.  

Many said they were afraid to speak out for fear of the backlash in this town, to be “outed” by their neighbors for their conservative views, and said that my article confirmed their worst fears. How sad is that for our little beach community? As for me, I will continue to stand up to and expose these bullies. And to the attacking letter writers, I knew you would twist facts to punish my views so I was amused by your letters which attempted to defend and excuse the shameful conduct of the protestors, or of any opposing viewpoint, like at a college campus or sports game. How sad for our country. Billy, Billy, Billy. Tyrone, Tyrone, Tyrone. Next time I›ll bring a go-pro or video camera so the facts can speak for themselves. Wonder if Billy will put that audio on his radio show? Nothing like a recording to force one to reckon with the facts as they are, not as you wish them to be.  And thanks again to the Indy and StuNews for publishing my article, as few in the mainstream media are willing to publish the “other side.” 

Jennifer Zeiter

Laguna Beach


“You can’t park there!”

You could lose your residential parking.  This is to alert all residents that a city program in the process of being finalized and implemented will be affecting many, if not most, neighborhoods, resulting in removal of some or all of the residential parking on residential streets.  

Over twenty years ago the city commissioned a comprehensive report and General Plan.  Included in the Safety Element of the General Plan, City Council Resolution 95.047 adopted June 6, 1995, is an evaluation of each neighborhood’s emergency vehicle accessibility. The report highlights approximately 16 neighborhoods designated as having impaired access. The top three most severely access-restricted of those were Bluebird Canyon, Canyon Acres, and Diamond/Crestview. City Council recently charged the Emergency and Disaster Preparedness Committee (EDPC) with the task of providing a plan to increase emergency access for the Fire Department vehicles in all impacted areas.  

The EDPC, working with the Fire and Police Departments, came up with a plan, the “Emergency Access Improvement Program”. Initially, they chose to single out one area, the Alta Vista neighborhood, not one of the top three listed above, to basically remove all or most parking on those residential streets. They labeled this a “pilot program” with the expectation of doing the same thing in all neighborhoods with poor access.  Since the City is responsible for providing emergency services access for all neighborhoods, it should approach the problem as one across the entire city. Why do this in only one area? We hope this is not designed to minimize public outcry, by dividing and conquering to quietly get this in place before broadening the implementation citywide. 

The Fire Department responds to both fire and medical emergencies. No one disputes the need for adequate emergency access.  The problem is how to best service this in a city that has been allowed to develop over almost a century with narrow winding streets with limited ingress and egress.  

In the 20 years since that report was issued not much has changed and the performance of the Fire Department has been outstanding. However, the impact of this proposal is immediate and dire. A few of the homes having no garage, which would mean that the occupants would have no parking at all. Many of the residents are elderly or have physical disabilities and would be unable to park on their own streets. Our neighborhood, and yours, will be stripped of its parking for gardeners, plumbers, babysitters, housekeepers, contractors, friends and family when this program is expanded throughout the city. Loss of residential parking will result in decreased property values

The EDPC continues to meet on this but has not been receptive to our suggestions to the use of narrow body fire equipment as used in many US and European cities. This is a solution that would benefit all areas of Laguna Beach without robbing them of residential parking. The City’s suggestion to require residents to park in their garages is admirable and unrealistic.  

Councilman Rob Zur Schmiede is the liaison for the Council to the EDPC and is doing an excellent job in understanding the resident’s concerns and trying to guide them to be receptive to our input and to solving the problem.  

The City does much to accommodate our tourists when it comes to parking.  We as residents deserve equal consideration and the right to preserve our way of life.  Putting up “No Parking” signs is very cheap but the impact on residents is great. Parking is already at a premium and we need solutions other than removal of residents’ parking.  

We ask those of you impacted by this extreme imposition to participate in the process now by writing the City Council with your thoughts and attending EDPC meetings scheduled the first Monday of each month at the Susi Q. Please check the meeting agenda at http://www.lagunabeachcity.net /cals/

 

Signed by 34 concerned citizens:

Nick Algattas, Edward Brancard, Barbara Bowman, Bob Bryson, In Chang, Suzi Chauvel, Barbara Clarence, Ron Craig, Sam Dawson, Steve, Eich, John Frost, Cindy Hudson, Emanuel Hudson, Mary Ann Loehr, Dan Dan Lui, Kari-Lyn Moore, Nan Myers, Dennis Myers, Carina Prynn, Fiona Prynn, Debbie Rider, Michael Rider, Pamela Shannon, Brett Shannon, Diane Silber, Igal Silber, JoAnn Shernoff, Leslie Smith, Mark Sommerfield, Leslie Stewart, Chuck Stewart, Trish Vogelsang and Rob Vogelsang


Rooftop bars: it’s important to consider residents’ views

I am very grateful to Village Laguna for sponsoring an informative presentation on roof top bars last Monday evening.

While there were many diverse opinions on the subject, there seemed to be no clear-cut consensus as to the future compatibility of roof top bars in our neighborhoods.

From the thoughtful comments presented by the audience, it seemed that most people had a less than favorable opinion on the existing bars and their impact on the community. 

They also commented that having roof top bars on top of historic buildings violates the very intention of preserving those beautiful buildings as none of them had that originally. Another comment was about public safety. Well it seems obvious that if you limit roof top bars to those already approved, you are doing the community a public service because less drink equal less drunk equal less DUI. And that certainly is a benefit to our community. Another insightful comment was from a gentleman who stated that 75% of the city budget comes from the resident’s contribution through property tax and 25% comes from the business community. 

If that’s true, then every commission or council decision should weighted to stand up to that ratio and benefit the residents 75% of every decision. I doubt if any city commission or council could live up to such a rule. So if we cannot depend on them to take a hard stand on the future of roof top bars, we should petition to place the matter on the ballot and let the entire community determine what type of community they want. Thanks again to Village Laguna for bringing this matter forward.

 

Don Sheridan

Village resident


On rooftop restaurants

Last Monday night I attended an enlightening panel sponsored by Village Laguna about the proliferating rooftop deck businesses in Laguna. All three panelists, Roger McErlane, Stefan Andersen, and Morris Skenderian, found these problematic in Laguna. Skenderian had little issue with the three existing rooftop restaurants, but hoped to limit future such projects.

Andersen detailed the long struggle the iconic Hotel Laguna has had with noise from across the street. Calling the police does not help the hotel, because the complaint procedure involves the hotel guests far too extensively (in the middle of the night in their pjs, Andersen pointed out.)

McErlane and Skenderian both find the aesthetics of the rooftops distasteful. Pasting “Home Depot” (McErlane’s epithet) on top of reasonably proportioned buildings is not what we want for Laguna. Skenderian agreed, and found unpleasant the junky, inside-out view from our hillsides—people, tables and chairs, heaters, umbrellas, waiters moving around, etc. 

While some in the audience thought rooftop restaurants and bars were fine, most voiced agreement with the panel that rooftop businesses are aesthetically unpleasant, are inconsistent with historical and village design, and cause noise as well as light and other visual pollution in both the day- and night-time view sheds of our homes.

One woman pointed out that in many cases the city councilseems to make decisions on an ad hoc basis instead of being guided by reasonably constructed and instituted ordinances. Most agreed that a consistent policy should be set that applies to upcoming rooftop proposals and modifications of those that already exist.

John Thomas told us that only 25 percent of city revenue comes from visitors, which means that 75 percent comes from residents. When there is a clash of interest between Laguna Beach residents and the business/tourist interests, the city should be taking account of this.

Some people said that it is very enjoyable to dine/drink outside in the breeze, overlooking the ocean. Others questioned whether it is necessary to have this happen from the rooftops rather than the many less conspicuous existing ground level venues (Splashes, Hotel Laguna, Montage, The Cliff, The Deck, Driftwood Kitchen, Las Brisas, etc.)

The issue of proliferating rooftop businesses is ongoing and the City Council needs to pay attention to residents’ concerns as well as the advice of committees like the Planning Commission. And the owners of existing rooftops should take care to foster good public relations with neighboring residents. 

Rosemary Boyd

Laguna Beach


A lesson in intolerance

A week ago Saturday, I attended the women’s march at Main Beach as an independent professional working woman, fiscally conservative with predominately liberal social views. 

I’ve voted across party lines and voted for Obama in his first term, but not his second.

Although billed as a “women’s rights” march, my suspicion was it was more likely an anti-President Trump protest. I intended to show my support for the President and to conduct a social experiment about tolerance for opposing viewpoints among my gender. I knew I’d be in the minority and expected “boos” over my signs, which read: “Thank you President Trump, I’m proud to be an American Again” and “Women for Trump.”  I also carried an American flag.

Candidate Trump was no angel, and he gets no kudos from me for some of his words and actions directed at some women, but overall I am proud of his plans to put America and its people first again, including decreasing a bloated government, renegotiating trade deals, and restoring strength to our broken foreign policy. These are much bigger issues, and it’s the package that counts, warts and all.

As I marched the sidewalk for two hours carrying my signs and my flag, I was shoved, pushed, heckled, spit on and body blocked. I was called a fascist, a racist, a bigot, a homophobe, an idiot, ignorant, a traitor and even more horrifying female directed obscenities, yes, the “C” and “B” words among them, often preceded by the “F” word. Women yelled at me, told me I didn’t belong here. When my friend came to pick me up, he too was spit on by a female teen.

All the while these “peaceful” protestors, many presumably fellow residents of Laguna, would break into chants of “love trumps hate.” 

I laughed because their actions and words were not of love, but of hate and intolerance. Not all, but most. There were many angry women who would not tolerate any other views but their own. The far majority of the signs were more about bashing our president, then about equal rights, or even women’s rights. A child, no more than 5 or 6, held a sign saying “hands off my p__sy.”

Hate is a learned behavior. People are not born racist or intolerant. It is learned, starting with their parents, then friends, life experiences and, nowadays, social media. What could have been a truly teachable lesson about exercising 1st Amendment rights and expressing views while also respecting the views of others, turned instead into a lesson for those children in attendance about how to hate, shut down opposing viewpoints, be intolerant, hurl obscenities, and denigrate those with whom you do not agree.

Given the recent racist hate incident involving local teenagers and the outpouring of support for the boy and his family, I wondered how many of the people at the march were expressing love and support on social media one day and on Saturday spewed hatred and intolerance?  

I said very little during my march, mostly listened. When the crowds would chant, “love trumps hate,” I, one voice among hundreds, would chant “make America great.”  The syncopation was perfect for both.

Although I experienced many ugly incidents, I don’t take personal offense, as these people don’t even know me. I expected opposition, but was shocked at the obscenity-laced vitriol and intolerance of opposing views.

The one incident that bothered me most was the man in his early 60s in a black fleece pullover with an Apple logo, who tore the flag from my hands and pushed it to the ground. 

My Army Ranger son spilled blood and his military brothers died defending this country so that he could have the “right” to dishonor the American flag in the exercise of his 1st Amendment rights. I abhor his actions, but must “allow” it as a constitutional “right.” More astonishing was a group of women next to him who said, “we outnumber you and we will tell police that you assaulted him.”  In other words, they would willingly lie and twist facts to punish my views. 

I stand by every word.  Next time I’ll bring a video recorder.

Kudos to the police, who kept me safe, especially the women officers. They were exemplary, a calming force, and diffused the mob mentality of normally “good” people.  And there were a few women, less than 10, who engaged in civil discussions and applauded my courage. One said, “She has a right to be here, too.” And one child’s sign said, “We are all friends.” Beautiful. Though few and far between, that leaves me hopeful that meaningful discussions can be had among people with opposing viewpoints, without shouting obscenities, denigration, and shoving.

I have to be hopeful, because the alternative path leads to a second social civil war. 

Perhaps this is why our forefathers carefully crafted the Electoral College, so that the viewpoints of the citizens of all the 50 states can be heard, not just those of several populace states.  The very thing many “peaceful” protestors accuse our president of doing, preaching hate, is the exact same thing that was displayed last Saturday towards a woman marching alone with a different point of view.

We are all better than that. At least let’s try.

Jennifer Zeiter

Laguna Beach


Juxtaposing 

What is happening in the America today reminds me of the poem by Martin Niemöller (1892–1984).  He was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. 

The poem is as pertinent today as it was in the 30’s - just substitute today’s targeted groups for the ones in the poem. 

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Johanna Felder

Laguna Beach


Laguna participants in Women’s March in LA and more in Oakland

One hundred men and women (actually 90 women and ten men) traveled in two buses from Laguna Beach to participate in what turned out to be an historic Women’s March LA.  Arriving in buses arranged through Hoffy Tours, a local tour company owned by Bill Hoffman, the group arrived at Pershing Square at 9 a.m. and quickly became part of an energized mass of over 500,000 plus marchers.  

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Laguna Beach Women’s March LA participants

Despite the bottleneck in the square, the group made their way to City Hall and back participating in a festive display of signs, chants, costumes, speakers and entertainers. There were so many marchers, in fact, that the Laguna group didn’t get to hear many of the speakers.  But it didn’t seem to matter.  The true energy came from the spontaneous display of solidarity, enthusiasm and common purpose.

Farie Momayez, PhD, commented: “The LA March was massive. The estimate was 750,000.  We left Laguna  around 7:30am  and got to LA before 9:00am. We got caught in a crowd that didn’t move (couldn’t because of the numbers.) We didn’t hear any of the speeches, and didn’t see any celebrities, but my personal and collective experience was priceless. I felt a surge of incredible energy and vigor that I had lost after the outcome of the election. I even had a talk with a Trump supporter who had come to fight, but we ended up hugging! That is enough for me to go on and continue the needed work.”

Some of the group had always been active in the 70s, but many were first time “activists” who felt, “If not now...when!”  Members of the group are currently exchanging information to form a local group to maintain the momentum through phone calls, texting, post cards and other activities to ensure accountability and the preservation of women’s and human rights.

Yolanda Mendiveles shared the following: “Everyone there was peaceful and friendly, and there was a lightness and exuberant mood in the air. There was a small group of people playing samba drums, and I saw a group of people dressed in Aztec attire as well as other costumes. I saw Rob Reiner, Anjelica Houston and Maria Shriver in the crowd along side of us.  It felt good to be part of a movement to stand up for human rights of all kinds.  To tolerate our differences with respect to honor each individual’s journey.”

Bill stated, “I don’t think we’ll ever forget that incredible March on Saturday.  Beautiful weather, positive energy, creative and nice people, wonderful signs, and most of all...standing up for respect and dignity for all.  The crowds were tremendous and, at time, slow moving, but I think we were all moved beyond words.»

Susan Mas was in Oakland for the March.  She was accompanied by Ann Tashjian, former Lagunan, and said; “I thought perhaps there wouldn’t be that many people in Oakland since everyone would be going into San Francisco.  At first they announced 40K, then 60K then 100K attended.  The March went on for four hours and it was an incredible experience - determined and joyful.”

Carole Zavala

Laguna Beach


Organizer of the Women’s March here gushes out her gratitude!

I sincerely thank you for your good works and spirit in putting on this historic rally in Laguna Beach. Thanks to the musicians, speakers and guardian angels for lending your voice, energy and generosity. Thanks to the City of Laguna Beach and KX935 for your help and inspiration. Thanks to Bill Atkins for his awesome banner, and finally, a big thanks to Barbara MacGillivray for generously donating funds for the stage and tent. 

I am so proud of our town! A community with a loving heart and a mighty roar!  Please see our flowchart.  

We put on a show people!  

A big hug and shout out to Tom Joliet for being the very backbone of this entire event.  He did all the heavy lifting and kept me sane!

And finally, thanks to our little hometown, Laguna Beach. We rallied and showcased the strength and wisdom that our country has to offer when we embrace our neighbors and our differences and come together to promote the common good. 

I am grateful! 

That trusty flowchart…a living and fire breathing document!!   We did this!!  

9:30 Sound Check with Off the Vinyl rockabilly band with Shaun Lopez

10:00/10:15 Welcome and comments from KX935 Crew throughout event with Tom Joliet, Tyler Russell, Monica Silva, Jason Feddy, Billy Fried and Mayor Toni IsemanJason Feddy with opening song…Natural Woman

10:15 Keynote Speaker Rita Conn  

10:25  Lisa M. Berman speaks on legacy and empowerment

Emily Hayden from Thurston Middle School sings “Fight Song” 

10:30  Arnold Hano speaks on the future

10:35  Monica Prado - Board of Directors of the Sawdust Festival and President of the Artists’ Benevolence Fund board of trustees- Speaks on the arts

10:40  Beth Fitchet Wood, Steve Wood and Choir 

10:45 Betsy Jenkins - Speaks on Education

10:50  Tom Joliet and his merry band of ukers rally the crowd with “If I had a hammer” sing-a-long

10:55 Jane Bening - speaks on Affordable Care Act

11:00  Joel Rafael

11:25  Hallie Jones, Executive Director of Laguna Canyon Foundation -Speaks on Environment 

11:30 Jason Feddy 

11:45 “Off the Vinyl” with Shaun Lopez for a rockabilly set

Noonish: Finale and Goodbyes.

Cindy Obrand

Laguna Beach


A huge success

The Laguna Beach Women’s March on Saturday, Jan 21 at Main Beach Park was a huge success!  Hundreds attended with many unusual signs and stood along Coast Highway interacting with people in trucks and cars who responded with waves, flags and plenty of horn honks.  Sunny weather provided great weather for participants and a stage with pa system allowed music and speakers to announce their feelings about the recent election.

CSPAN and the networks reported there were 673 women’s marches across the globe.

In Laguna, when drivers honked, the participants responded with cheers especially when large trucks used their horns. It was truly a remarkable hometown event. 

Roger Carter

Laguna Beach


What we can expect from the new John Wayne flight paths

It is really important that as many people as can attend the meeting in CdM at the Oasis Senior Center – 801 Narcissus Ave, CdM – 5-8 p.m. on Feb. 1. They will have FAA staff in front of computers to tell you what the expected impact for your house would be. 

They plug in your address and you get to see how you are affected. They will be implementing this, with little that we can do except complain loudly. And keep track of what they say vs. what they do. 

The lawsuits with Newport Beach, Laguna Beach and Orange about the environmental impact are the only recourse we have at the moment. By them saving fuel and time and with the new pin point GPS flight path narrowing to basically a superhighway, those under the flight path will have it much, much worse as it will be the same path all the time. 

So those of us who had a peaceful life when we bought our houses will now be the victims of the FAA arbitrarily changing the flight path to accommodate airlines.

Michele Monda

Laguna Beach


The Obama economy

Oh, the irony of it all.  The day Donald Trump was sworn into office on Friday, it was announced that Orange County’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent - the lowest in a decade.  

By comparison, the day Barack Obama took office, OC’s unemployment rate was 6.5 percent.  

Despite all the heated rhetoric of the 2016 presidential campaign, I guess the Obama economy really did work.

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach


“…good kids who did a bad thing, messed up big time.”

If history has shown us anything, it’s that all humans fail, sometimes miserably.

As a teenager, I behaved despicably, worse than the teens involved in the recent racial incident here in Laguna. Worse because I kept repeating mean-spirited bullying, hurting someone over and over. I later regretted what I did, profusely apologized and thankfully was forgiven. But make no mistake, they were hurt. And the family here in Laguna, whom I know fairly well, is hurt. It was a shock. Something they never expected. 

And it will be difficult to recover.

It’s been almost a month since the incident. What is needed now for that family, their friends, and yes, for the teens involved, their parents, our high school and for the entire Laguna community, is healing. 

There must be full recognition of the severity of the boys’ actions, and consequences meted out. But you don’t want wounds to fester, to linger for a long time. My hope is for reconciliation among all involved. That there is somehow a coming together, that the love predominant in Laguna would win out over the darkness of the incident. 

All of us fail, especially when we’re young. I believe these Laguna teens are good kids who did a bad thing, messed up big time. Like I have. Like some of you. What’s important is they learn from this failure, that this can be a major turning point in their lives, severing wrong attitudes and discovering the importance of treating others with respect and kindness.

There are three figures in history whom I admire most - Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. All three strongly encouraged peacemaking and reconciliation in the severest of trials because when it comes, so does the healing everyone needs.

Jay Grant

Laguna Beach


“…everyone’s responsibility to maintain a welcoming 

and inclusive community”

Ed. Note: The following letter was sent out by the school district Friday to all parents

You may have heard about an incident that occurred over the winter break regarding some LBHS students’ involvement in an alleged racially motivated act against another student.  LBHS administration was notified by police regarding the incident, and has continued to maintain regular contact with police officials as they continue to investigate the incident.

Please be assured that we are addressing this matter with the individuals involved to the fullest extent possible within the limits of our jurisdiction. While it is natural to want to know the consequences of the incident, we cannot disclose further details about any proposed or implemented disciplinary action that has or may occur due to privacy laws.   

As a school district, we continue to work on teaching cultural proficiency, including self-awareness of how each student’s ethnicity, culture and life experiences may impact others.  While this specific act does not represent the community as a whole, it allows us to use this incident as a teachable moment moving forward.  We realize this is an ongoing process that needs to be continually woven into our school and community culture.  

It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain a welcoming and inclusive community of which we can all be proud.  Working with our community partners, we will sustain a climate that values diversity and fosters inclusion to equip our students with the values they need to be global citizens.  While this work is not always comfortable or easy, it reminds us that we individually contribute to the fabric of our community.

Jason Viloria, Ed.D., Superintendent
Chris Herzfeld, Principal, LBHS
Jenny Salberg, Principal, Thurston
Chris Duddy, Principal, El Morro
Michael Conlon, Principal, Top of the World


Time to mourn, then rise up!

Seventeen year olds are deep into manhood in most parts of the world...earning food and shelter for siblings and parents. 

By 17, most girls of the world are mothers by traditional mandate. They lift the weight of womanhood by transporting water, firewood, bricks.

The average Laguna Beach 17 year-old is a child struggling to decide which party to show up to, whose Instagram to follow, what concert to attend. Drinking Nektaar or eating at Zinc are his toughest challenges. 

Yet he can’t be blamed for not realizing 10 million of the Earth’s 20 million tented refugees are under age 18. After all, that fact has nothing to do with him.

However, when given a glimpse of a world different than one’s own, it’s a humble opportunity to learn. 

Seven years ago we had that opportunity when a beautiful boy from Malawi came to live here. Lagunans embraced him. He flourished due to the profound love of his parents. He thrived, made friends, and became a superb athlete.

Friday’s news about the shameless ugly deed of five Laguna Beach “boys” left us stunned. More stunning is some people’s response that “kids that age are so stupid.”

“Stupidity” seems a trait reserved for privileged Southern California 17 year olds.

The consequence of living in an Apple-filled existence with Netflix and Starbucks, removed form poverty and Zika, may be the inability to recognize immorality and indecency. 

Wrong and right have blurred. Reputation doesn’t matter. When we see black and/or white skin, ignoring the content of character, we ignore Dr. King’s work.

This is cause to mourn. 

No family is an island, childcare is not a spectator sport and each child seeks a champion. So who among us will build a community worthy of our children knowing what Africans believe: “It takes a village to raise a child”?

Anita Razin

Laguna Beach


“…beyond comprehension.”

As residents of Crystal Cove, with children at each of the Laguna Beach Public Schools, it’s with a certain pit in our stomach that we have just read the article on the racist attack in Laguna Beach.

Regardless of whom the intended victim was, its clearly despicable. In this case, having volunteered on the Soccer field as a referee with this young man, it’s beyond comprehension.  

Maurice Possley is correct, “There must be zero tolerance for this kind of behavior.”  His family can be assured that we are all outraged about this event. Even if we are not in [the] streets marching in support. We are here. We are stronger than this racist attack.

Gary and Valerie Schaffer

Crystal Cove


Excellent symposium on Navigating Mortality

My hardiest praise to the Laguna Beach Community Clinic and its new medical director, Dr. Jorge Rubal, for the excellent symposium on Navigating Mortality they presented this past Tuesday in City Council Chambers. 

The keynoter, Fay Blix, an elder-care attorney, and the panel of experts, Dr. Rubal, Dr. Janet Chance, Mona Kurd, LCSW, Janet Clough, Chaplain, and Dr. Lauren Rubal, skillfully presented us with practical information about end-of-life care—a vital topic we all need to think about, but tend to avoid. 

This was the first annual health symposium the clinic plans to offer the community. 

Laguna Beach should be proud of its amazing community clinic, which offers high quality medical care over the life span, regardless of patients’ ability to pay. With over 15,000 patient visits per year, they deserve our thanks…and our financial support.

James Vaughan

Laguna Beach


Laguna dodged a bullet…or two

About six months ago, I called one of the city council members with an idea:  Given all the unrest between various communities and their police departments, maybe Laguna should think proactively and host a get to know you event between residents and law enforcement.  

Instead of asking why, this council member surprised me with the following response, “My feeling is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  In other words, Laguna’s got everything under control so I should put a cork in it.

Turns out that isn’t exactly true. On Tuesday, we learned that one Michael Ross was arrested on suspicion of criminal threats to public officials.  His father, Robert Mason Ross, a frequent critic of the council, also was arrested on suspicion of being a felon in possession of firearms.  Just imagine the chaos that would have ensued had they carried out their plot.  Not only that, imagine the questions that would have been asked days later.  

Thanks to some very gifted police officers, Laguna dodged a bullet earlier this week.  That said, I still have to ask:  Isn’t it time for the city to sponsor that get to know you event now? 

Denny Freidenrich
Laguna Beach

 

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