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 Volume 11, Issue 14  |  February 15, 2019                              


Police Files (Cont.)

Storms rain havoc and destruction with flooding across the City, resulting in downtown and Canyon closures

A winter storm forecasted to hit Laguna Beach and the Southern California area this week packed a punch as promised, causing flooding in the Canyon and downtown areas especially on Thursday, Feb 14, resulting in myriad closures around the City.

LagunaCanyonFlooding one

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

The Canyon was hit hard with flooding on Thursday

On Tuesday morning, Laguna Beach sent out a Nixle warning in anticipation of storm: “The Weather Service is advising a winter storm which will impact Laguna Beach Wednesday - Thursday.”

The warning said to expect intermittent periods of rain and potential localized flooding. During the storm, some homes were flooded and businesses had to close.

On Thursday at 10:33 a.m., the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach advised that the Canyon branch was closed due to flooding and that, “Top of the World, El Morro, and Thurston District Club members will be rerouted to the Lang Park Branch at 21540 Wesley Drive.” The Boys & Girls Club also strongly urged parents to pick up their children directly from school because of the severe weather.

LagunaCanyonFlooding two

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

The storm channel on the verge of collapsing, succumbs to the elements

Four minutes later, a Nixle alert was put out at 10:37 a.m., reporting, “Localized flooding is currently occurring on Laguna Canyon Road at El Toro Road. Use caution when driving.” 

The warning swiftly changed, alerting that many areas in Laguna had been heavily impacted by flooding. The Canyon was closed between Canyon Acres and El Toro Road, as well as both directions of El Toro Road at the 73 Toll Road, and downtown at Broadway Street between Beach Street and Coast Highway. The closures remained in effect all day, anticipated to last until at least 5 p.m., according to Nixle.

The storm channel collapsed between the Boys & Girls Club and the Sawdust, causing additional strife.

LagunaCanyonFlooding three

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

Some places roar like the Colorado River down the Canyon

The Susi Q Center opened its doors and was activated as a care and reception center/shelter for people in need and their pets because of safety concerns.

At 3:45 p.m., City Digital Communications Coordinator Jennifer Chapman reported on Nextdoor: “The rain has largely finished for today. The forecast calls for light, scattered showers this evening. We may have additional rain showers on Sunday. All downtown streets are open again. Evacuations have been lifted for Sun Valley Road and all others evacuated from low-lying areas in Laguna Canyon, including clients of the Alternate Sleeping Location. 

LagunaCanyonFlooding four

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

Land and trees are swallowed up

Clients of the ASL are being transported back to the ASL from the Neighborhood Congregational Church. CalTrans crews are working remove debris to reopen Laguna Canyon Road. However, residents with proper identification may return to their homes.

The beach access points for Treasure Island, Crescent Bay, Bluebird, Victoria, Boat Canyon, [and] Main Beach…are closed. We are informally calling this ‘The Love Storm’ because it occurred on Valentine’s Day. This is the final update for the day.”


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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

Both sides of the Canyon get buried in water

Nixle helped too offering a sigh of relief when it was reported that all downtown closures had been lifted as of 4 p.m. “Downtown businesses and restaurants should be open for Valentine’s.”

It wasn’t until 5:58 p.m. that Laguna Canyon Road was open in both directions.

Stu News readers reported flooding and damage, but the exact amount is still unknown.

The Montage Resort too suffered a fallen eucalyptus tree, as reported by Stu News reader John Trevino of Villa Real Estate. He said, “I’m glad it didn’t fall on PCH.”

John Trevino 2

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Photo by John Trevino

A eucalyptus tree falls at the Montage blocking a walkway

The rain total in Laguna Beach has been 2.87 inches over the past two days and 3.03 inches over the past three days, according to OC Public Works.

Mother Nature makes a splash 

LagunaCanyonFlooding waterfalls MarielenaVerdugo 25

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

Local Marielena Verdugo captures waterfalls in the Canyon caused by the storm

LagunaCanyon waterfall

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Photo by Marielena Verdugo

The ‘Valentine’s Day Storm’ brought new perspective to the Canyon 


School Board deletes by-law on gavel rotation


Board of Education members are no longer offered equal opportunities to serve as president.

The board on Tuesday voted to eliminate from its by-laws the annual election of a clerk and president and the intent that all board members would serve in turn in those offices. School District Superintendent Jason Viloria presented the deletion of the by-law that had come as a recommendation by the Board at their by-law workshop on February 6.

“He presented the item, but the board made the decision,” said Board President Jan Vickers. “We determined that the by-law did not reflect what we wanted our practices [to] be going forward. The board didn’t think it was the best practice because some of them work and they didn’t feel they had the time. Also, people travel and miss meetings as well as agenda reviews for the next meeting.”

“I help develop board policies with the school board. The board works together to develop their by-laws with the district’s legal counsel. I have no opinion on the matter,” said Viloria.

Eliminated from the by-laws was the stipulation that the board should hold an annual organizational meeting at which a president and clerk would be elected and that after serving one year, the clerk may serve a year as president. The by-law continued: It is the intent of the board that all board members will rotate through the sequence of clerk and president.

The elimination of the by-law pertaining to the rotation was discussed at a board meeting in February, raising some eyebrows. 

Since then, the board has been publically criticized for twice bypassing Dee Perry for the presidency.

“You disregarded rotation and now you are repealing it,” said board critic Howard Hills, one of the four members of the audience to speak against dumping the by-law.

Sheri Morgan expressed concern that repealing the rotation might concentrate the power in a faction of the board and dilute the clout of district parents.

“There have been irregularities and that’s not right,” said Pat Menne, Perry’s neighbor and supporter. 

The vote to repeal the by-law was 3-1-0. Board Member Carol Normandin left the meeting before the vote was taken during the hearing on the 27th of 28 items on the agenda.

Perry said she wasn’t surprised the item was scheduled so late in the agenda, nor at the outcome. Hers was the lone vote to keep the pertinent by-law intact.

“I support rotation,” said Perry, “It’s really important. We should be setting a good example for the kids; changing the rules in mid-stream isn’t right. My philosophy as a teacher is we should give everyone a chance.” 

Vickers, a board member for almost 28 years, is serving her third consecutive term as president, a blatant violation of the by-law, according to Hills.

She pointed out that Perry had nominated her for president for the second straight year at the end of her 2017 term, in a testy exchange with Hills.

Perry said the board convinced her at the 2017 organizational meeting that some big issues upcoming before the board needed a more experienced hand holding the gavel. 

“I nominated Jan because she is very experienced and intelligent,” said Perry. “I agreed to serve as clerk for one more year, but I said I wanted to be president the next year (2019).”

Hills said he was surprised when the board passed over Perry in 2017, but was shocked when they did it again after she was re-elected in November. He considered it a power grab. 

Vickers contended that the president had no more power than the other members of the board.

“The president runs the meetings – that’s it,” she said. 

However, the deleted by-law stated that the president with the district superintendent or designee establishes the agenda and also develops the board calendar.

 The item will come back to the board for a second reading, at which time amendments can be made or the changes will take effect.

Police Chief wants to exchange Blue & Whites for Black & Whites


As of January, Laguna Beach is one of two cities in Orange County with police vehicles that are mostly white. 

Police Chief Laura Farinella would like to change that and revert to the black and white police vehicles that were used in Laguna until the 1970s. Her proposal is on the March 12 City Council agenda.

According to Farinella, officers have raised concerns that the blue and white color scheme does not differentiate their cars from Animal Control, Parking Services or Beach Patrol vehicles. 

The staff report also stated that black and white vehicles represent law enforcement across the United States and that it is important for the City’s 6.5 million visitors to recognize police vehicles apart from other city and private security cars.

In the 1970s, the predominantly white vehicles with blue identification were deemed more consistent with the culture of community policing that was being proposed by police chiefs such as Neil Purcell Jr in Laguna Beach.

Jim Spreine, who succeeded Purcell in 1997, favored changing back to the black and white police vehicles, but the proposal never gained any traction.

Price is not a factor. The cost for either color scheme is the same, according to staff.

Preview of California Cool Art Auction 2019 at Laguna Art Museum attended by art loving patrons


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

A lively group of art aficionados filled the Laguna Art Museum (LAM) on Wednesday evening to get a sneak peek at the pieces up for auction. It was a truly special event, and one of two important fundraisers for the museum. 

Preview of entrance

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Crowd gathers for the preview

Several locals were spotted Mayor Bob Whalen and his wife Kirsten, City Councilman Peter Blake, Ruben Flores, Diane Armitage, Betsy Jenkins (LAM Board member), Kitty Malcolm, and Chris Tebbutt, among others. 

Attendees were also treated to a highlight tour of the auction items by Executive Director Malcolm Warner.

Preview of Warner

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Executive Director Malcolm Warner in front of “Red Lily with Delphinium” by Robert Treloar, oil on canvas

LAM Deputy Director Genny Boccardo-Dubey says, “California Cool Art Auction 2019 is celebrating its 37th consecutive year, likely the longest running art auction in the state. The auction is a fun and educational event, for both the nascent collector and the seasoned one. Prices range from $350 to $25,000 so there is something for everyone, and the live auction experience is not to be missed.”

Preview of orange

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“Diametros Petal Orange/Yellow/Pink”, 2017, Shana Mabari, Acrylic and mirrored sculpture, 24 inches in diameter

Boccardo-Duby says, “My favorite piece this year is John Mason’s Ember Vessel, from 1994. Mason passed away a few weeks ago. His wife delivered the vessel to us just a week before his passing. It is a wonderful example of his masterful control of the medium of clay, as well as his playful creativity and innovative spirit.

“This year we are excited to share a new art bidding process using ARTSY that allows people to peruse the art before coming to the event, learning about the artists, the dimensions of the work, the medium used, and bid. We already have some bids on several of the pieces. The ARTSY platform gives the artists national and international exposure and keeps the bidding process fair.”

Preview of Whalen

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(L-R) Chris Tebbutt, Matt Lawson, Kirsten and Bob Whalen

All of the works are on Artsy, which is where all of the bidding takes place this year: Note that there are two sections – the live and silent auctions.

The 2018 auction was their largest to date, totaling over $466,000.

Proceeds from the event support the museum’s mission of collecting and preserving California art, providing critically acclaimed exhibitions, and enhancing art education.

LAM is located at 307 Cliff Dr.

For more information, go to or call (949) 494-8971. 

See below for more photos from Mary Hurlbut

Couple ties the knot at Valentine’s City Hall Wedding

City Clerk Lisette Chel-Walker performed a Valentine’s Day wedding ceremony yesterday at City Hall for Alec Berkley and Siya Rajan. She has married 253 couples.

“Fun was had by all – and off they went as a married couple! Every wedding is so special and every couple makes me smile. This is the best part of my job!” says Lisette. 

Couple ties ceremony

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Submitted photo

Alec Berkley and Siya Rajan

The couple exchanged vows in front of the City Hall main entrance doors under the archway with their family and friends by their side and popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate in the “City Hall Wedding Chambers” (Conference Room D), quickly converted into a marriage celebration room due to the rain. 

Lisette says, “Alec and Siya were so beautiful!”

Congratulations, Alec and Siya.

Dennis’ Tidbits


February 15, 2019

Nadia, a doozy of a storm, terrorizes the West Coast

Dennis 5The NOAA began naming winter storms only three or four years ago. They use the same format as tropical systems, running through the alphabet alternating genders. Currently the named storm Nadia is terrorizing the West Coast, particularly California. Maximum effects from Nadia will be felt from later Wednesday into Friday before she begins trekking to the east, crossing the Continental Divide by Saturday, then reaching the East Coast on Sunday and Monday. I swear, the East coast can’t buy a decent weekend with only seven decent weekends since last May! By now I’d be relocating. Every winter has seen the entire alphabet used. They’re right on track as the letter N occurs around the middle of February.

The starting points for these named winter storms vary from system to system. Some storms hit the West Coast from the Pacific and make landfall anywhere from British Columbia to Southern California. The ones that attack the Pacific Northwest usually track east and eventually hit the northern Plains and the Upper Midwest and then on to New England. Some of those storms aren’t named until they cross the Rockies where their cold core hooks up with warmer air streaming northward from the Gulf of Mexico, bringing heavy rains and severe weather to the south end of the frontal boundary and fierce cold with blizzard conditions to the north of that boundary. Some storms form over the Gulf of Mexico coast then move up the Atlantic Seaboard where some become nor’easters with heavy rain, snow, ice, and wind.

The latest storm, Nadia, is a real doozy with two strong components. One plume of heavy moisture is streaming in from Hawaii with loads of tropical moisture. The second component is a super strong upper level low with truckloads of moist, cold, unstable air from the Gulf of Alaska. 

Today, Wednesday, those two components hooked up and are attacking Southern California the hardest with biblical rain totals with 3-5 inches on the coastal plain and up to eight inches on the south facing coastal slopes and foothills from your classic orographics in play here. 

When all is said and done, most stations will far surpass the entire seasonal normal levels. Snow levels will climb dramatically from the warm part of the storm and then drop drastically once the cold part plows through here on early Friday. Heck, Laguna might make 20 inches on the season even before month’s end! Might as well shoot for 25 or more the way we’re going.

Stay tuned, ALOHA!

A soggy day in Laguna town

Photos by Scott Brashier

A soggy Glenneyre

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Not a good day for man or car to be on the roads

A soggy PCH

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Swirling water everywhere

A soggy trees

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Blustery to the max

A soggy rear view

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Don’t look back there, it’s a tangle of traffic

2018 crime rate hits new record low, LBPD reports

The Laguna Beach Police Department is pleased to announce that overall crime in the City decreased during 2018, resulting in the lowest crime rate on record for the City. 

Crime statistics comparing 2017 to 2018 show a 14 percent overall reduction in crime. Property crime including residential and commercial burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft saw the most significant decline of 19 percent in 2018. Laguna Beach has not had a homicide since 2012.

“The overall decrease in crime is directly related to good staffing levels and the layered services of the Beach Patrol Officers,” said Laguna Beach Police Chief Laura Farinella. “It is the outstanding work of the men and women of the Laguna Beach Police Department who are to be commended for their diligent efforts in identifying crime and nuisance issues, and working to address them though creative strategies and community engagement.” 

In 2018, residential burglaries were attributed to unlocked doors and open garage doors. Identifying this trend as well as others enabled the beat sergeants and officers to conduct patrols of specific areas and engage and educate the community regarding the need to secure their homes and garages. This coupled with identifying and arresting those responsible for committing these crimes has driven down crime to its lowest levels.

2018 crime property

LBPD statistics for Property Crimes in 2018, as compared to previous years

2018 crime violent

LBPD statistics for Violent Crimes in 2018, as compared to previous years

2018 crime totals

Crime totals in 2016, 2017, and 2018

Every police department is mandated to report Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on a yearly basis, so that increases and decreases in crime can be tracked and evaluated on a national level. 

The reporting of crime is separated into two classifications, Part I and Part II. Comparing these statistics year-to-year can tell a story, and help police agencies strategically focus their resources. 

Part I crimes are the only crimes that are mandated to report. Reporting of Part II crimes is not mandated, and includes crimes such as forgery, vandalism, and drug abuse violations. The Laguna Beach Police Department does track these crimes in an effort to identify trends.

The Police Department tracks crime on a monthly and yearly basis in a data driven approach in order to effectively identify and target specific crimes and problem areas through creative strategies, enforcement, and community engagement and education.   

“We also want to thank our community and residents for being our eyes and ears in the neighborhoods, downtown and on our beaches,” Farinella said. “We encourage all residents to continue to report any suspicious activity.”

For further information, contact Captain Jason Kravetz at (949) 497-0307 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rotary Club of Laguna Beach welcomes grant submissions

The Rotary Club of Laguna Beach welcomes organizations serving the Laguna Beach community to apply for a grant today. Grant requests will be accepted for funding levels between $1,000 and $3,000. 

Grants will be awarded to projects that have a direct and meaningful impact on Laguna Beach or the surrounding community, and those projects that will produce a tangible result within the community. Humanitarian, educational, and vocational projects are favored.

Rotary Logo

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach 

Organizations may reapply for funding assistance annually. The award of a grant one year does not guarantee award of a future grant.

Restrictions: The Rotary Club of Laguna Beach does not provide grants for individuals, political parties, candidates or political organizations, fraternal and religious organizations except programs that respond to the needs of the community at large and do not promote religion. Grants will not be awarded to support an organization’s payroll or overhead costs, or for construction projects.

Requests for funding must made electronically via email to the Community Services Chair at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For 2019, the deadline for requests is April 1. Announcement of awards will be made on or before April 15.

For more information, visit

Mediterrania Gardens adds some new perks and anticipates Grand Opening in early April

Before their Grand Opening scheduled for the beginning of April (details to follow), Mediterrania Gardens continues to add more perks to entice patrons to give them a try.  A few weeks ago, they added breakfast to the menu with an assortment of unique items along with traditional morning fare.

Mediterrania Gardens inside

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Submitted photo

Stayed tuned for April Grand Opening

Effective immediately, Monday - Friday, locals, policemen, firemen, and paramedics will receive a 10 percent discount on meals.

As of Sunday, Feb 24, the restaurant will introduce Sunday Fundays. Children 12 and under will eat free, and there will be games set up for them in the back patio area.

Mediterrania Gardens is located 320 N Coast Hwy. For more information, call (949) 494-0137.

City Council accepting applications to fill one seat on Heritage Committee

The Laguna Beach City Council is now accepting applications to fill a seat on the Heritage Committee. Interviews and appointments will be conducted on Tuesday, March 19 at 6 p.m., by the City Council in the City Council Chambers. 

All applicants will be interviewed. Applicants may be contacted by City Council members prior to the interviews and appointments so please be prepared to make a brief statement about your desire to serve on a committee.

One selected applicant will serve a two-year term on the Heritage Committee with the term beginning April 1 and going through March 31, 2021. 

The Heritage Committee is currently a five-member body that acts in an advisory capacity to the Design Review Board, Planning Commission, and City Council on matters pertaining to historic preservation such as the review of modifications to a historic structure, placement of a structure on the Historic Register, and creation of a special designation plaque program. Meetings are generally held on the third Monday of the month.

Laguna Beach residents who are interested in serving on the Heritage Committee may obtain an application from the City Clerk’s office or online from the City’s website at and file by Tuesday, March 5 at 5 p.m. 

Questions may be directed to the City Clerk’s office at (949) 497-0705. Applications will not be accepted after the March 5 deadline. 

The City Council Chambers is located at 505 Forest Ave.

Future DRB members?

Future tractor

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Submitted photo

Neko Del Col and Xavier Fisher – both Lagunatics

Laguna Beach Beautification Council presents Chris Prelitz on Feb 21 to discuss sustainability 

Laguna Beach Beautiful Council (LBBC) invites locals to join together at the Montage Resort on Thursday, Feb 21 from 6 - 7:30 p.m., as Chris Prelitz, Founder of Transition Laguna Beach and noted expert on green technologies, offers a presentation on choices we can make help Laguna Beach become a sustainable city. 

“There’s no denying that our climate is changing,” said an LBBC spokesperson. “Laguna Canyon was below freezing last week and summers in Laguna are hotter and longer than ever before. Who ever thought we’d see 90-degree days at the beach? More and more residents are now considering adding air conditioning, something we’ve rarely ever needed in our coastal paradise.”

Laguna Beach Chris

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

LBBC presents Chris Prelitz at the beautiful Montage Resort on Feb 21

Before you spend thousands on adding a refrigeration (AC) system, or even a solar system to your home or office, find out how you can tweak and improve your abode to be cooler in summer, warmer in winter, and lower your electric bill at the same time. This isn’t theory, but lessons learned from over 35 years of real world experience.

Christopher Prelitz, principal of Prelitz Design + Build, has been on the forefront of sustainable design and green building for over 30 years. From building the first solar powered home in Orange County in ‘93, to a LEED Silver Dealership for Mercedes-Benz, and being selected as a judge for Dubai’s international solar art competition. At his own solar home in Bluebird Canyon, Chris typically receives a credit from SCE, instead of a bill.

Prelitz is the author of Green Made Easy: The Everyday Guide for Transitioning to Green for homes, hotels, and commercial buildings. Landscaping to reduce water consumption and planting trees for shade to reduce energy needs are a few of the simple and whiz-bang technologies that can make us more sustainable.

For more information and to RSVP, contact Leah Vasquez, President of LBBC, at (949) 494-5787 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Complimentary parking is provided by Montage. 

The Montage Resort is located at 30801 South Coast Hwy. (Executive Suite #225)

Laguna Bluebelt Photo Contest now accepting entries

The 8th Annual Laguna Bluebelt Photo Contest, capturing the unique images of Laguna’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), is accepting entries now through March 15, followed by an online Facebook vote for the “Best of the Rest.”   

The intent of the popular contest is to raise awareness of Laguna’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and encourage public support and cooperation for the restoration of local marine life. 

Laguna Bluebelt seal

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Photo by Alex Cowdell 

2018 Photo Contest Winner, “Henry the Harbor Seal” by Alex Cowdell

Photos can be taken of the beach, underwater or of any subject that is within Laguna’s MPAs that stretch from Abalone Point in North Laguna to Table Rock in South Laguna. It can include a family enjoying the beach, the tidepools or ocean, the birds or marine life that depend on it – just any part of this special place.

The support by Laguna’s business community is outstanding. This year’s Grand Prizes include two nights and dinner at The Ranch Laguna and one night at the Surf and Sand Resort with dinner at Splashes Restaurant.

Residents, visitors, ocean swimmers, divers, and surfers are encouraged to grab their cameras and capture the remarkable, diverse beauty of Laguna’s iconic coast and sea creatures. 

Photos must have been taken in the last year beginning February 15, 2018 through the end of the contest on March 15, 2019. There are two contest categories:  Professional and Amateur. 

Contest organizer Jinger Wallace notes that ocean landscape photos typically compete with underwater images depicting the magical and invisible world under the sea surrounding the community.

Winning photographs will be exhibited at The Ranch Laguna for two weeks following the contest.

Photo entries can be uploaded to the contest website at

Laguna Beach Live! announces entertaining spring concert lineup to benefit kids

Laguna Beach Live! is pleased to present two unique and entertaining concerts coming this April and May to [seven-degrees]. The concerts benefit the award-winning Live! Music & Kids program. 

The program gives students the opportunity to connect to the joy and creativity of music, critical to their academic, social, and emotional growth. 

Laguna Beach Live! presents outreach programs, at no charge, to Laguna Boys & Girls Club and Laguna public schools. 

Laguna Beach guys

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Submitted photo

M-PACT will take the stage on April 17

On April 17, M-PACT, hailed as “one of the best pop-jazz vocal groups in the world” by the San Francisco Chronicle, will take the stage. Imagine the smooth soul of Sam Smith, the percussive power of Stomp, the funk and groove of Bruno Mars, the sophisticated harmonies of Take 6, and the brass bite of the Michael Bublé Big Band…all created by the human voice alone.

Laguna Beach girls

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Submitted photo

Blues is a Woman plays on May 15

On May 15, Blues is a Woman takes the stage. This ensemble of six talented musicians blurs the boundaries between concert and theater, using storytelling and music to bring to life the colorful history of the bold and singular women who wrote and popularized the blues. The voices of these women are vibrant, challenging, inspirational, and dynamic. 

Concerts are from 6 - 8 p.m. A full bar and buffet menu is available for purchase starting at 5 p.m. when doors open for dinner and social hour. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. VIP tickets are $100 and include preferred seating, Meet & Greet with artists, and a signed CD. 

Reservations can be made at or by phone calling (800) 595-4849. 

[seven-degrees] is located at 891 Laguna Canyon Rd.

$74,000 raised for breast care at Saddleback Medical Center through Beauty In Grace

Beauty In Grace: Women’s Giving Circle continues its tangible impact, now in its third year. This year’s gift will total $74,000 to purchase cryoablation equipment and a blanket warmer for Memorial Care Breast Center at Saddleback Medical Center, Irvine.

Finding a lump in your breast is always concerning, no matter what your age. Even the knowledge that the lump is not cancerous, but a benign fibroadenoma, does not always eliminate worry, either, since these benign tumors can sometimes cause discomfort and pain, and often lead to the development of additional tumors. Women with these tumors can choose surgery to remove them, but the idea of general anesthesia and the potential scarring or disfigurement is not always appealing.

Saddleback Beauty Laguna Beach one

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Photos by Kylie Chevalier

Laguna Beach resident Ann Marie Raffo, M.D.; Beauty In Grace Chair Cathy Han, M.D.; Ruth Niebuhr, R.N.; and Nita Tewari

Memorial Care Breast Center at Saddleback Medical Center has been offering patients the option of cryoablation, an outpatient procedure that essentially freezes the tumor to destroy it. The procedure only takes about 20 minutes, using local anesthesia. Saddleback Medical Center Foundation’s women’s giving circle, Beauty In Grace, will be using this year’s membership gifts of $74,000 to purchase special cryoablation equipment currently being leased for the Breast Center.

This allows Saddleback’s physicians to continue to offer varied treatment options, like cryoablation, for fibroadenomas and select early-stage breast cancers. Each year, the Beauty In Grace giving circle pools its $1,000 membership gifts to make a significant donation to a women’s health program at Saddleback Medical Center. 

Due to the growth in membership, this year Beauty In Grace will also be funding a new blanket warmer for the Breast Center. Rooms must be kept very cool for medical equipment; patients can be offered a just-warmed blanket for comfort during their procedures.

Beauty Saddleback laguna two

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Beauty In Grace Founding Circle members, from left: Laguna Beach resident Dawn Levine; Diane Libertella; Cecilia Belew; Nora Evans, M.D., of Laguna Beach; Norene Norris-Walsh, M.D.; Jane Frederick, M.D.; Chair Cathy Han, M.D.; Mary O’Toole, M.D.; and Wende Ludas

“Because of your generosity, we can continue to raise the bar in care and provide another treatment option for Breast Center patients,” said Beauty In Grace Chair Cathy Han, M.D., at the annual member luncheon, which was held on January 24 at Shady Canyon Golf Club. Guest speaker Nicole Lewis, M.D., a radiologist with the Breast Center, explained how cryoablation technology works and why women may choose it as an alternative to surgery. 

“After local anesthesia, a needle-like probe is inserted into the tumor to deliver liquid nitrogen to freeze the tumor and destroy it,” said Dr. Lewis. The patient can watch the entire procedure on a monitor.

Ruth Niebuhr, R.N., Foundation patient liaison who worked for Saddleback Medical Center for 27 years as a cancer nurse navigator, also provided the personal story of a patient who underwent breast surgery as well as cryoablation. 

Last year, the giving circle purchased video streaming equipment for the NICU, so parents of preemies can see their baby on a smartphone when they cannot be at bedside. 

In 2017, the membership gifts helped purchase breast MRI equipment for the Breast Center. In just three years, Beauty In Grace has contributed more than $205,000 directly to women’s services at Saddleback Medical Center. 

Saddleback Beauty laguna three

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From left, Laguna Beach residents Dawn Levine and Jody Johnson, Barbara Kent, Bebe Shaddock, Jessica Denay, and Ada Bake

“It’s wonderful to see how much money has been raised so quickly by a group of amazing women with varying backgrounds,” said Cecilia Belew, president of Saddleback Medical Center Foundation. “And we love to provide them with follow-up stories from actual patients who express gratitude for how the equipment we funded directly impacted them.” 

The event concluded with Dr. Han thanking the women for being part of this special movement. “We hope each of our members invites one or two of their friends or colleagues to join next year to expand this circle.” Han said. “It would be amazing to have 100 members next year.”

For more information, click here.

Laguna Print Ad

Laguna local Judie Mancuso backs climate-friendly, plant-based lunch options for students

Assembly member Adrin Nazarian (D-Van Nuys) introduced landmark legislation this week incentivizing K-12 public schools across the state to offer healthier, climate-friendly lunch options and local Judie Mancuso stands behind it.

Under AB 479, the Healthy Climate-Friendly School Lunch Act, schools would receive additional state funding for serving a plant-based entrée and plant-based milk. The bill is co-sponsored by Animal Hope in Legislation, Friends of the Earth, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, and Social Compassion in Legislation.

 “There are so many reasons to pursue a plant-based diet, with an increasing number of studies showing both the health benefits and the environmental impact of abstaining from meat, dairy, and eggs,” said Mancuso, Founder and CEO of Social Compassion in Legislation. “This bill is about providing a choice to young people who have decided that eating animals is the wrong choice for them – and for our planet.”

AB 479 also includes critical state support for staff training, student engagement, recipe development, and other technical assistance needed to help public schools boost participation rates and successfully serve plant-based foods.

Laguna local kid

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Submitted photo

State Bill would help California’s schools cut their greenhouse gases by serving healthier food 

“AB 479 will increase access to healthy food options for low-income communities and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time,” stated Assembly member Nazarian.

“Given the effects that we and our northern neighbors are still feeling from the climate-exacerbated Woolsey and Camp Fires, there is no question that we are in a time of profound environmental crisis,” stated Los Angeles Councilman Paul Koretz. “The Healthy Climate-Friendly School Lunch Act makes the best use of our institutional purchasing power to provide both healthy food and a gateway to a safe climate for the very children whose future and whose palates it will be serving.”

Growing evidence, highlighted in the recent EAT-Lancet Commission’s comprehensive study, shows that a plant-based diet is more sustainable and environmentally friendly. According to research from Tufts University, shifting to more plant-based options can reduce our carbon footprint by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and requires less land and water for food production.

“California won’t meet its ambitious climate goals unless it tackles consumption-based emissions from the food sector. With millions of pounds of animal foods served each year, this bill will help California’s public schools reduce their carbon footprint while serving kids healthier food,” said Kari Hamerschlag, Deputy Director of Food and Agriculture at Friends of the Earth. “If every public school swapped out a beef burger for a veggie burger just once a month, it would save 300 million pounds of CO2 a year.”

California has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. Empowering schools to contribute to this effort is an important step for California’s climate strategy. Research shows that healthy, protein rich plant-based foods like lentils and beans are 26 to 34 times less carbon intensive than beef.

“As the world moves forward and progressively changes, the way we teach our youth will impact not only the climate, but our ethics, our morals, and the future that comes before us. This program is about choices. Choosing not just for ourselves, but the environment, and our children,” added Marc Ching, Founder and CEO of Animal Hope in Legislation.

The bill does not mandate a plant-based diet in schools but incentivizes schools to offer plant-based options. While numerous school districts across the state want to increase plant-based offerings, many face cost barriers since animal-based foods and cow’s milk are heavily subsidized by the federal government relative to plant-based options.

“More and more people my age understand that if you love animals, you don’t eat them. But it can be hard to find something to eat, especially at school,” said Genesis Butler, who, at age 10, became one of the youngest people ever to give a TED Talk. “I’m glad California is looking at giving us more options to help animals and the earth.”

Under AB 479, eligible entrées must be free of animal products or byproducts, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, or eggs to qualify for additional reimbursement. Schools are eligible to apply for reimbursement if they serve an increase in plant-based options from a baseline year.

Many school districts across the state, including Novato, San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, Capistrano, and others are reducing the carbon footprint of their food by serving delicious, healthier plant-based entrees. AB 479 will provide critical technical and financial support to expand these menu offerings and encourage many other schools to follow suit.

TACA hosts Autism Life and Job Skills Coffee Talk on Feb 28

The Autism Community in Action (TACA) will hold a Coffee Talk all about Autism Life and Job Skills at Oliver’s Osteria on Thursday, Feb 28, from 10 a.m. – noon.

“Don’t wait for the state. Don’t wait for the schools. Teach your kid how to use a hammer, a screwdriver, and a wrench,” urges TACA.

These wise words from Dr. Temple Grandin will be the focus at the TACA table. Join TACA for a deep discussion and sharing of ideas from household chores to paychecks. TACA will have many examples to share with guests. 

During the Coffee Talk, guests will see the TACA Chore Chart as a great example of a starting point for those new to the idea. TACA will also share real life jobs and businesses for ASD kids. 

Special guest Wendi Eusebio will present on how she and her son affected with autism have started his cupcake company and all the avenues it has opened up for him. 

Parents new to TACA will receive the Autism Journey Guide as a gift from TACA. 

There will be free parking available. This event is for the parents of children/adults affected by autism only. No childcare available.

To RSVP, visit   

Oliver’s Osteria is located at 853 Laguna Canyon Rd.

Studio at Montage receives AAA Four Diamond Rating

Forty-one Southern California restaurants, including Studio at Montage, have received the AAA Four or AAA Five Diamond Award®, the travel authority’s highest rating, over the past 12 months, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. 

Studio is located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean along the South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. Studio is Montage Laguna Beach’s Forbes Five-Star elegant, freestanding signature restaurant. Built in the Laguna Beach Craftsman-style, it serves ever-changing innovative Modern French Cuisine with California influences and has a working 1,000-square-foot raised bed garden. Studio is known for its tasting menus, impeccable, warm professional service, and Wine Spectator Grand Award wine program, comprised of approximately 2,500 selections with 30,000 bottles in inventory. 

Studio at inside

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Courtesy of

Studio at Montage is an elegant 5-star restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean

Those at the Four Diamond level, just 2.1 percent of AAA inspected and approved restaurants, are an exclusive group. They offer a distinctive fine-dining experience, employing creative preparations that are skillfully served amid upscale ambience. 

Travelers can find Diamond Rated establishments and inspector insight on and in AAA TourBook® guides available at AAA/CAA offices.

The AAA Diamond rating system provides consumers with the broadest coverage of any U.S. rating system, geographically and by number of properties rated, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. 

This year, there are 656 AAA Four Diamond restaurants located across North America, including 39 additions this year. 

The Auto Club’s full-time inspection staff reviews Southern California restaurants. The inspectors bring prior hospitality industry experience to the association to give members effective, consistent evaluations that can be used to select the restaurant that meets their travel desires.

To see the full list of restaurants, click here

For information and reservations, contact Montage at (888) 715-6700 or visit

Chabad of Laguna Beach presents Hebrew Reading Crash Course on Feb 25

Chabad of Laguna Beach presents a Hebrew Reading Crash Course beginning on Monday, Feb 25 at 7 p.m. Master a 5,000-year-old language in just a few lessons with instructor Perel Goorevitch. No prior knowledge of the Hebrew Alphabet is necessary. 

Chabad of scroll

Learn how to read Hebrew with Chabad 

Hebrew reading is taught using the highly innovative and creative Aleph Champ program, time tested and proven to be the fastest and most effective method of teaching Hebrew reading.

The cost is $50. RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Chabad is located at 30804 S. Coast Hwy across from the Montage Resort.

TOWNA Meet the Mayor Reception a major success on a rainy Sunday

The Top of the World Neighborhood Association (TOWNA) held its annual Meet the Mayor Reception on Sunday, Feb 10. Over three dozen neighbors gathered to hear from Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen and enjoy light refreshments despite the inclement rainy weather. 

Issues discussed included replacing the utility poles on major streets that are escape routes, the goats fuel modification schedule, and ensuring opening gates to the fire road to Arch Beach Heights on Red Flag days. 

TOWNA Meet blue

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Submitted photo

Gene Felder, Mayor Bob Whalen, and Sandra Lucidi-Azera at Meet the Mayor

Other topics covered included a major developer’s proposal to donate $250,000 to the City, construction being stopped at 3315 Alta Laguna Blvd, leaving a huge hole now filled with muddy water, the future of the TOW neighborhood trolley, better enforcement regarding smoking cigarettes, speeding bicyclists, and dogs off lease in the open space near Alta Laguna Park. 

The Top of the World neighborhood is surrounded by natural open space, and the TOWNA Board is concerned about the heightened fire hazard and illegal activities. 

Due to social media and the aincrease in pedestrian traffic in the mini-park and Laguna Heights open space, the public is asked to be especially vigilant to report smokers. 

TOWNA urges residents to call the Police Department’s non-emergency number at (949) 497-0701 to request increased patrols and enforcement to cite violators of the City ordinance prohibiting smoking in the open space.

Learn the art of organic gardening with Randy Ritchie on Saturday

Randy Ritchie, founder of Malibu Compost, will share organic gardening experience gained over forty years at the South Laguna Community Garden Park on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. Randy will teach attendees how to quickly transition their gardens to organic or how to slowly implement the organic protocols over time.

This class is a practical how-to on using real applications, organic protocols, and recipes that will transform gardens into the best organic gardens they can be. This is the perfect class for spring if you are looking to up your organic gardening game, or transition your garden to organic.

Learn the hat

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Submitted photo

Randy Ritchie, founder of Malibu Compost

Randy Ritche gives organic gardening classes nationwide. He is one of the founders of Malibu Compost, the producer of the first certified biodynamic compost in the United States. Stemming from a series of lectures in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner, biodynamics became the first organized organic approach to farming. 

Steiner considered the farm or garden as a self-sufficient organism to be operated with the use of compost and natural preparations in cooperation with natural rhythms. This results in healthy land and quality produce.

The Garden Park is located at the corner of Eagle Rock Way and Coast Highway. The public is invited and the class is free. 

To RSVP to the event, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For more information on the Garden Park, visit

PMMC has open slots for Sea Lions for Service Members program for post-combat veterans

Are you or do you know of someone who is a post-combat veteran? Pacific Marine Mammal Center has four slots open in their Sea Lions for Service Members program for post-combat veterans. 

This free program brings together a small group of military service members at PMMC to engage in a common experience surrounding the rescue and rehabilitation work that the center does.

PMMC has rescue

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Submitted photo

Through assisting the animals in the rehabilitation process, a healing happens for both

Not only does this program provide a common bonding experience, but the afternoon also serves as an experience that service members can identify with by seeing the struggle of animals that are fighting health battles.

Through assisting the animals in the rehabilitation process, a healing happens for both. Witnessing their recovery and later return to a normal life at sea provides a sense of hope that military veterans can draw upon to realize they can accomplish the same.

Pacific Marine Mammal Center rescues, rehabilitates, and releases marine mammals. PMMC inspires ocean stewardship through research, education, and collaboration. 

For more information on the program, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Pacific Marine Mammal Center is at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd, one block north of Dog Park.

Mandarin King celebrates 35th anniversary, its place in the community and relationships with patrons


Photos by Diane Armitage

Mandarin King has been an important part of the fabric of Laguna’s “go to” restaurants for a long time, 35 years to be exact, and residents couldn’t be happier. Mandarin King was originally founded in 1984 by James Chao and Lilly Chao, Charlie Zhang (founder of Pick Up Stix), Priscilla Fu and Glenn Fu, with an emphasis on a healthier alternative for American Chinese food. 

As time passed, the ownership transitioned to Glenn and Priscilla Fu, and in 2006, both Steven Fu and Aaron Fu became involved in the restaurant. As health care professionals by trade, the brothers shared the goal of empowering individuals to make healthier choices in their daily lives starting with food choices.

Mandarin King family

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The Fu Family

The Fu Family says, “Thirty-five years of business in Laguna Beach has truly exceeded even our own expectations. We are so thankful for the unwavering support that the City of Laguna Beach and its residents have shown us over the years.” 

It’s obvious that locals return time and again for the fantastic food, attention to detail, and the opportunity to have “made to order” meals. 

With an increasing prevalence of individuals with dietary restrictions/allergies, Aaron and Steven wanted to cater to the emerging needs of the restaurant patrons by emphasizing the restaurant’s theory of serving dishes that are “cooked to order,” encouraging patrons to order dishes that meet their dietary preferences/needs and allowing others who normally could not eat Chinese cuisine to enjoy a meal with their loved ones.

However, patrons also return for the familiarity and for the feeling of home away from home.

Mandarin King honey shrimp

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Honey Walnut Shrimp

“In the restaurant industry, it is not only about how good your food tastes (which is definitely important). But it is also about how you make your patrons feel. People are likely to forget how food tastes, but they will never forget about how you make them feel when they visit,” says the Fu Family.

They remember names and food preferences, and that makes all the difference.

Over the years, the servers always recalled that our grandson wanted extra soy noodles, and they called him “noodle boy.” 

Nevertheless, in this tough market, restaurants come and go. So what other factors account for the fact that Mandarin King continues to thrive?

Mandarin King beef

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Beef with vegetables

The Fu Family says, “As much as we would like to take the credit for the success of our business throughout the years, we cannot. This business is successful today because of all the hard work and sacrifices that were made by our devoted staff members as well as the unwavering support of our local community. 

“Being part of the Laguna Beach community for the last 35 years has allowed us to see the growth of the families first handed, and it is such an honor for us to be part of the family traditions that span across multiple generations. It is common for us to see children that started coming in at a young age with their parents who eventually started coming in with their friends/significant others and now, we are even seeing them bringing their children in. In a way, it feels like the community of Laguna Beach is part of the family.”

And patrons certainly feel a part of theirs.

Mandarin King is located 1223 N Coast Hwy

For more information, go to or call (949) 494-8992.

Police Beat Primer

Compiled by Suzie Harrison

Police Beat derives from information in the daily police and arrest logs published on the City of Laguna Beach’s website and required under CA Government Code Section 6254 (f). Additional information is obtained through communication with the Laguna Beach Police Department’s Public Information Officer.

Information in the logs is deemed reliable and Stu News Laguna is not responsible for any mistakes made available as public record by the Laguna Beach Police Department.

Any person arrested is innocent until found guilty in a court of law.

Incident Reports

Tuesday, Feb 12

S Coast Hwy | 1100 Block | Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance and Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia

11:19 p.m. Michael Neal Cantrell, 32, Canton, GA, was arrested for being under the influence of a controlled substance (bail was set at $500) and possession of controlled substance paraphernalia (bail was set at $500).

Bern Drive | 3100 Block | Check on Condition

7:40 p.m. LBPD received a report in reference to a manhole cover that was open in the roadway in front of the RP’s house. According to police records, “She called Frontier and they were supposed to come out, but they haven’t. She is scared someone will fall and trip into it. Canister with wires hanging out of it also.” LBPD was alerted that it was a Verizon access panel open, not a manhole cover. Verizon was advised of the situation and four large cones were placed around it. “RP did state she called Frontier and they were supposed to send somebody out this week, unknown when. Frontier will get someone out, possibly not until tomorrow morning.”

Aster St | 400 Block | Animal Calls

4:14 p.m. LBPD received a report in reference to a swarm of bees in a fruit tree. According to police reports, the hive was “the size of [a] cantaloupe.” The resident called back and said they would be contacting a “bee hive company.”

S Coast Hwy | 100 Block | Warrant 

11:20 a.m. Daniel Jason Galindo, 31, Fountain Valley, was arrested on an undisclosed warrant. Bail was set at $5,000.

Monday, Feb 11

S Coast Hwy | 31800 Block | Battery

8:50 p.m. Gary Wayne Horton, 73, Laguna Beach, was arrested for battery. Bail was set at $500.

S Coast Hwy | 30800 Block | Animal Calls

4:37 p.m. LBPD received a report regarding a dead pelican on the beach.

N Coast Hwy | 500 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol 

3:39 p.m. A 38-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Broadway St | 200 Block | DUI with 2 Prior DUI, Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content 0.08% or Higher 

3:36 p.m. Karl William Dienstbach, 65, Mission Viejo, was arrested on suspicion of DUI with two priors (bail was set at $15,000) and driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher (bail was set at $15,000). 

N Coast Hwy | 1300 Block | DUI

2:14 p.m. A 48-year-old Virgin Islands man was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

N Coast Hwy | 600 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol 

11:05 a.m. A 71-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

Morningside Drive | 1200 Block | Animal Calls

8:43 a.m. LBPD received a report in reference to multiple coyote sightings early in the morning. According to police reports, the RP stated she saw one at 6 a.m. that was very large, which frightened her. She requested a patrol car in the area.

Avenida Sevilla | 600 Block | Animal Calls

8:43 a.m. LBPD received a report regarding a large brown coyote five minutes prior to the call.

S Coast Hwy & Vista Del Sol | DUI

2:18 a.m. A 29-year-old Santa Ana woman was arrested on suspicion of DUI. Bail was set at $2,500.

Sunday, Feb 10

S Coast Hwy | 31100 Block | Animal Calls

1:37 p.m. LBPD received a report of a pelican injured on the sand. The pelican was captured and held at Lifeguard Tower 3. The bird was later transported to Huntington Beach to released.

Cliff Drive | 300 Block | Disorderly Conduct – Alcohol 

1:18 p.m. A 64-year-old Laguna Beach man was arrested for disorderly conduct related to alcohol. Bail was set at $500.

S Coast Hwy | 1800 Block | Public Service Request – Water Removal

11:10 a.m. LBPD received a report in reference to flooding in a business, in the restroom, and request for assistance in getting the water turned off in the building. The business was assisted and the water was turned off in the building.

Laguna Canyon Road & NB State Hwy 73 | DUI – Drugs and Alcohol

2:52 a.m. A 23-year-old Newport Beach man was arrested on suspicion of DUI – drugs and alcohol. Bail was set at $2,500.

N Coast Hwy & Beverly St | Warrants

2:40 a.m. Natasha Yvette Moore, 40, Riverside, was arrested on an undisclosed warrant (no bail was set) and on second undisclosed warrant (bail was set at $26,000).

Laguna Canyon Road | 20600 Block | Warrant 

1:32 a.m. Parker Dong Pyun, 38, Aliso Viejo, was arrested on a warrant for possession of methamphetamine. Bail was set at $10,000.

Laguna Canyon Road | 2200 Block | DUI with 1 Prior 

12:15 a.m. Yanira Wendy Zeigler, 36, Long Beach, was arrested on suspicion of DUI with one prior. Bail was set at $10,000.