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Seasonal ocean lifeguard testing, Feb 16 and March 2

Photos by Scott Brashier

The City of Laguna Beach’s Marine Safety Department will be testing candidates for seasonal ocean lifeguard summer positions in the coming month. Tryouts will be held on Saturday, Feb 16 and Saturday, March 2. The physical events portion will begin at 9 a.m. (sign-in starts at 7:30 a.m.) at the Main Beach Lifeguard Tower (The White Tower). 

Seasonal ocean paperwork

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Filling out necessary paperwork

Qualified applicants must be at least 16 years of age as of June 30, 2019.

In order to participate in the tryouts process, candidates must fill out an application available online, and read the attachment provided from the Marine Safety Lieutenant.

A waiver form is required of all candidates to participate in physical testing (tryouts) and training activities for the positions of Rookie and Seasonal Ocean Lifeguard I. If a candidate is under 18 years of age, the signature of a parent or guardian is required.

Seasonal ocean in line

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Waiting in line

The physical testing will consist of three events: (1) 1,000 meter ocean swim – candidates must complete a 1,000 meter ocean swim in less than 20 minutes to qualify for the remainder of the physical testing; (2) Run/Ocean Swim/Run; and (3) Sprint/Ocean Swim.

Swim caps will be issued on the morning of testing and are mandatory to swim. Goggles, wetsuits, and flotation devices are not allowed.

Seasonal ocean ready

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Ready, set, go

Complete and submit an application online at:

Candidates who have not submitted a complete application online prior to the deadline will not be eligible to test.

Seasonal ocean swimming

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Physical testing

Applicants with questions should contact Captain Kai Bond at (949) 464-6663 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Design Review Board offers ideas for process improvement


Design Review Board members and the City Council discussed ways to improve the oft-criticized design review process at a joint meeting Tuesday. 

Suggestions ranged from Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow’s recommendation for a complete overhaul of the process to the board members’ plea for better communication with applicants and ways to reduce the time and expense it takes to get a project to the board. 

“The process takes too long and is too expensive,” said Deborah Neev, an incumbent who sought reappointment to the board. “It is my understanding that the best case scenario is at least 18 months for zoning and another 10-12 months to get building permits and only then can a shovel be placed in the ground.”

Meg Monahan, whose term is not up until next year, said that when frazzled applicants finally appear before the board, they are deeply invested financially and emotionally in the project and requests for changes by the board can become adversarial.

Monahan and Neev both mentioned holding concurrent reviews by the zoning, public works building, fire, landscape and water departments instead of sequentially – an idea some local architects endorse.

Better training for new board members was also suggested.

“It takes a lot of time to understand the nuances of design review criteria, especially views, privacy and neighborhood compatibility,” said Monica Simpson, who did not seek reappointment to the board.

Neev recommended a workshop for new members, which she said should include information on conflicts of interest and Robert’s Rules of Order.

Complaints have been lodged about the lack of civility at meetings, said Simpson.

“The board should remember always to quote or reference the guidelines to an applicant instead of [saying] ‘I don’t want to see…’ or ‘I don’t like…’” said Simpson.

Extra rebuttal time should be considered to allow an applicant to fully respond to public comments, according to Neev.

Familiarizing applicants with the design review criteria from the very beginning of the process would help smooth the process, board members agreed. 

The board’s considerations include view equity and/or preservation, neighborhood compatibility, historic preservation, landscaping and the undefinable “village character,” which is frequently said to be like pornography: You know it when you see it.

“Projects frequently come before us that are not code compliant,” said board Chair Loraine Mullen-Kress, who also did not apply for reappointment. “Project compliance should be in place before the project comes to the board.”

However, Simpson said applicants should be made aware that they may not get approval for a project that meets the code but is considered too big or out of character with the neighborhood. Property development standards in the city’s Municipal Code represent potential maximum development for a given property, she said. 

“The actual development allowed will often be less than the maximum allowed,” said Simpson. “A proposed development does not have any presumptive development right of ‘entitlement’ to be built to the maximums specified.”

Possible roadblocks to project approvals being dealt with at the beginning of the process, including California Environmental Quality Act requirements or possible conflicts with the California Coastal Commission, which has not certified the city’s Local Coastal Program, was a board-wide recommendation. 

“Design review issues bubble up about every five or six years,” said Monahan. “Rather than allow it to fester, perhaps there should be an ongoing process to solicit feedback from participants. 

“The feedback could be consolidated and discussed with a committee made up of staff, board and council members, among others, at an annual meeting, followed by developing changes and action items to respond to concerns.”

Dicterow called the proposed improvements Band-Aids.

“I think a total review of all entitlements is in order,” said Dicterow.

Councilman Peter Blake was silent throughout the hearing, despite his objections to both the board membership and the process, which he verbalized throughout the election campaign and at a previous council meeting.

Suggested improvements from board members, as well as recommendations from staff, will be reviewed at the council’s Strategic Planning Workshop on Saturday, Feb 11.

Laguna Presbyterian Church hosts free movie screening of Beautifully Broken on Saturday

On Saturday, Feb 9 at 6:30 p.m., Laguna Presbyterian Church invites the public to a screening of the movie Beautifully Broken. Ebralie Mwizerwa, wife of the refugee, will be available for questions after the film. 

The film tells the true story about three families who become connected. A Rwandan refugee, fearing for his life during the 1994 genocide, flees to the United States but must leave behind his wife and daughter. Once in America he meets a business owner whose own family is fracturing as his traumatized teenage daughter confides only in her pen pal who is in Rwanda. 

Laguna Presbyterian Beautifully Broken

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Submitted photo

A scene from the movie “Beautifully Broken”

The two men become friends and open a refugee center for immigrants and work through their challenges as they also focus on saving their own families. The compelling story addresses the issues of dealing with personal struggles, violent reality, and ultimately finding healing and forgiveness.

A powerful line in the movie includes, “If everyone sought revenge with an ‘eye-for-an-eye’ theology, the whole world would be blind.” 

The film features Emily Hahn and Scott William Winters and was filmed on location in South Africa and Louisiana. It’s directed by Eric Welsh. 

The showing will be held in the sanctuary. Admission is free and free will offerings will be accepted.

To view the official trailer, visit

Laguna Presbyterian Church is located at 415 Forest Ave. 

LPAPA and CAP present “Unexpected Places,” opening reception on Saturday

The Laguna Plein Air Painters Association (LPAPA) in collaboration with Community Art Project (CAP) is proud to present “Unexpected Places”, a unique exhibition dedicated to paintings created by LPAPA members. The public is invited to join for the free opening reception with artists on Saturday, Feb 9 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. Awards will be announced at 12 p.m. at The CAP Gallery located in the Wells Fargo Building, 260 Ocean Ave, 2nd Floor. The exhibition runs through May 29.

LPAPA Newman

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Submitted photo

Debra Newman, “Pirates in Laguna,” 12 x 10 oil

LPAPA’s Unexpected Places” is a special juried exhibition of original works of art created by Signature and Artist Members of the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association. The unexpected place, that is what artists thrive on, it is where they find their inspiration. That special moment when they come upon a scene and experience the perfect glimmer of light sparking their artist emotions, these are the visions created by the Laguna Plein Air Painters!

LPAPA was founded in 1996 with a mission to preserve Laguna Beach’s rich artistic legacy founded by early plein air artists and promote the tradition of plein air painting in our community, across the nation, and around the world. LPAPA is one of the best recognized and most respected plein air art associations in the world with a growing roster of more than 500 local, national, and international artist members. In addition to providing opportunities for established and emerging artists to show their work, LPAPA has a strong commitment to education utilizing their Plein Air Project to benefit young and emerging artists and the greater community.


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Submitted photo

Diane LaMere, “Window to the Sea,” 18 x 24 oil

CAP is a nonprofit arts organization established in 1998. Among the founding directors were former members of the Laguna Beach Arts Commission, whose vision was to fill the needs not met by existing City and private art organizations, including the facilitation of placing art work on privately owned sites. Since its inception, CAP has partnered with dozens of artists and private property owners in the downtown area to install sculptures and murals in the public view.

For show details, visit 

An expanded online gallery show is available at

Nestor during the rain

Nestor during on blanket

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Photo by Leonard Porto III

Rainstorm position

Shapes and colors

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Shapes and straw umbrella

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Where’s the tiki bar?

Shapes and surfboards

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Hung up to dry

Shapes and flowers

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Bouquet from the sea

Shapes and wave mosaic

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Ocean mosaic South of Thalia St

The hills are alive

The hills blue and green

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Photo by Scott Brashier

On the clear morning of Feb 5, the vivid green of the rolling hills and the brilliant blue of the sky created a striking sight to behold

The shape of clouds

The shape of clouds

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Photo by Tom Berndt

The sun peeking through storm clouds creates strange shapes, the top one a whale, the one below the skull of a prehistoric creature

Chef Curtis Stone to Appear at Laguna Beach Taste of the Nation on May 5

The 12th Annual Laguna Beach Taste of the Nation, a much-anticipated culinary event, will be held on Sunday, May 5, at Montage Laguna Beach. The afternoon brings another stellar lineup of great chefs, sponsors, and beverage participants including Curtis Stone, Australian celebrity chef and well-known food television star. 

The event benefits Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry, raising funds needed to end childhood hunger across the U.S.

Laguna Beach Taste of the Nation is one in a national series featuring culinary creations crafted by the country’s most celebrated and generous chefs, sommeliers, and mixologists, united to ensure all children in America have access to daily nutritious meals. One hundred percent of proceeds support the No Kid Hungry campaign’s work to end childhood hunger in America.

Chef Curtis smile

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Submitted photo

Australian Celebrity Chef Curtis Stone to participate

Host chefs Benjamin Martinek of Studio and Executive Pastry Chef Lee Smith of Montage Laguna Beach are excited to welcome Australian celebrity chef and international television personality Curtis Stone to its event, as well as Xavier Solomon, executive chef at recently opened Montage Los Cabos. Other guest chefs will soon be announced.

Overlooking the Pacific, guests will savor delicious bite-sized gourmet delicacies prepared by some of the region’s best chefs, along with fine wines, craft cocktails, and desserts. Highlights of the event are a very exciting live auction and after-party with more bites and libations.

National co-presenters Citi and Sysco support Laguna Beach Taste of the Nation for No Kid Hungry®, with national media sponsor Food Network and national sponsor OpenTable.

Ticket are $250 per person for general admission (from 3 to 7:30 p.m.) and $275 for VIP admission (from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m.)

Additional information can be found here.

The Montage Laguna Beach is located at 30801 South Coast Hwy.

Free parking and free trolley to downtown area start this weekend

Starting tomorrow, Saturday, Feb 9, park for free at the ACT V parking lot (Lot 16 on Laguna Canyon Road) and take the free Laguna Beach trolley downtown, to the beach, and to the Farmers’ Market. 

This new limited stop trolley route runs every 20 minutes on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. The route includes stops at Beach Street, Forest Avenue, and ACT V. Once you’re downtown, you can hop on at any of the City’s other trolley routes and see all of Laguna Beach without having to hunt for a parking spot. 

Free parking Trolley

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Free trolleys are a great way to get around town and avoid parking hassles

The free Laguna Beach trolley system connects you with shopping, local restaurants, and destinations all over Laguna Beach. And when your beach day is done, just hop back on the trolley at the Beach Street or Forest Avenue stops and catch a quick ride back to your car at the ACT V parking lot. 

This service is provided for free by the City of Laguna Beach.

For more information on the new free trolley route from the ACT V parking lot to downtown, visit or call (949) 497-0766.

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