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Ted Nugent says shoot Democrats like rabid coyotes

Ted Nugent’s recent comment that Democrats, the media and academics be shot like rabid coyotes is, in a word, “un-American.”  For the most part, here in Laguna, we don’t shoot coyotes.  

I am a 60-something father of three who loves this country. As a lifelong Democrat, I have helped many people seek elective office – including Barack Obama when few knew his name in 2007. Unlike Nugent, I never have advocated violence against Republicans, the alt-right media or ultra-conservative professors. That’s what terrorists do. To remain silent in the wake of Nugent’s statement is, in another word, to be “complicit.”    

Ted Nugent and his followers are a very small group of unpatriotic Americans. The vast majority of us are better than they are. I urge all elected officials, regardless of their political affiliation, to immediately repudiate Nugent’s hate-filled comment in the strongest words possible.   

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Laguna Beach, you still got soul!

It was exciting to watch our city decide March 27 to make our first downtown public plaza a permanent reality. After fans of the Park Plaza experiment this fall showed up in force at city hall, the City Council voted unanimously to reinstitute the block-long stretch near Main Beach into a car-free gathering spot – as part of their larger developing plan to improve the flow of downtown traffic and pedestrians.

I loved how longtime residents and groups from Laguna Beach – Billy Fried, Bill Hoffman, Chris Prelitz, Ruben Flores, the Beautification Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Transition Laguna, and others, from varied personal and professional backgrounds, teamed up to promote this public gathering space in the heart of downtown.

It was equally heartening to see our city officials, especially the city manager, assistant city manager and police chief, recognize the potential of this plaza, embrace the idea and navigate the many bureaucratic hurdles.

Unlike the proponents of other local projects for profit, such as expanding hotels, restaurants and shops, these Park Plaza advocates were after nothing more than helping Laguna Beach retain its prized identity as a forward-thinking community with a village atmosphere.

Also, as someone who used that treacherous shortcut on Park Plaza for more than 20 years to return to our Top of the World home, I’m happy to spend an extra minute or two getting through town to enable the new pedestrian plaza. (And, since pedestrians regularly stepped into the crosswalk against the light there, I believe we will all be safer when it’s blocked off for good.)

Let’s hope the City Council continues to sustain the momentum of this collective effort. A few councilmembers even offered ideas to explore similar pedestrian plazas in other parts of downtown. (To many residents, lower Forest Avenue is the no brainer.)

The greater point of this little Park Plaza victory, I believe, is that we still have the ability, despite our differences, to turn a creative vision into a source of community enjoyment and pride.

Laguna Beach, you still got soul!

Janine Robinson

Laguna Beach


Living peacefully with our wildlife

Last week I was delighted to encounter two coyotes during a morning walk on the trail above my neighborhood. I was equally delighted and awestruck this morning to see a beautiful white-shouldered hawk perched on a neighbor’s balcony. Spring is here and many wild animals with whom we share our neighborhoods and natural surroundings are beginning to breed. They are mating, building their nests and dens, and will soon be hunting food for their young. While they do so, let’s encourage their natural sense of hunting by discouraging their dependence on humans for food. 

Please take the following precautions: Keep your small pets inside at night and supervised during the day, avoid leaving food and water outdoors for animals, secure your garbage cans, and close your screen doors. If we tune in to Nature, we can find wise ways to coexist with our wild neighbors. Let’s avoid another extermination of coyotes like we had in Laguna Beach in 2016.

And as for that white-shouldered hawk on my neighbor’s balcony? When my neighbor realized it was eying her pet rabbit, she took the bunny indoors where it will stay for the remainder of spring. We then admired the hawk until it flew off into the canyon across the street where it likely will find its next meal – in the wild.

Cheryl Procaccini

Laguna Beach


Trump labels Comey “Untruthful Slime Ball”

Last fall, the president called NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick an SOB. Some time later, the commander-in-chief derided North Korea’s leader as a “Rocket Man.” Now he is attacking former FBI director James Comey as an “untruthful slime ball.” All of which leads me to ask my GOP friends in town: When is enough enough?  

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

How to solve traffic congestion – the blog Laguna Streets offers this wry look at the reasons we’re all so congested…


Just a Hole in the Ground

UndergroundLagunaNow.org reads, “Above ground utilities are the single biggest threat to our public safety.” The proponents of undergrounding use fear to motivate voters to approve the ballot measure. The proponents want to bury SoCal Edison’s 19th century power lines and pass the costs onto property owners and Laguna’s retail sector through bond measures approved by voters, but their headline is false and unsubstantiated. Statistical data show the top three greatest threats to public safety are falls, poisonings and motor vehicles not utilities, the occasional gas-burp from Bluebird Substation notwithstanding.  

As long [as] property owners are asked to pay for a $200 million 30-year commitment to dig a hole and bury obsolete utilities, it is prudent to review what to bury in the hole. Over time technology shifts are disruptive and largely unpredictable like the smart car, the smart phone, like distributed renewable power. How these technologies play out is uncertain, but the future will arrive and now is the time to study how renewable power will enter the value chain, define operating models and business in Laguna Beach. Solar energy systems worldwide have been consistently underestimated by the EIA (US Energy Information Administration). In Laguna, solar power utilities were not considered when undergrounding citywide.

The annualized cost of $200 million to underground power lines at three percent for 30 years is $10.2 million per year – alternatively this funding could be directed to build Laguna’s sustainable energy future for 2050. If Laguna became a clean power producer and sold power back to utility companies, SoCal Edison would happily bury their power lines at their cost not ours. UndergroundLagunaNow should propose a modern power utility rather than bury obsolete utilities, propose sustainability not creative financing, [and] motivate voter approval with facts, not public fear. 

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach


Main evacuation routes vs key evacuation routes

The undergrounding project should be scaled back and limited in scope to reduce the enormous cost burden on resident taxpayers and our many seniors on fixed incomes.  

Main Evacuation Routes are readily established as PCH North/South and Laguna Canyon Road because every resident of Laguna Beach would seek to utilize one or more of these main evacuation routes, in case of an emergency. Measure LL funds should be exclusively used to purchase Utility Credits from other cities to be used for Main Evacuation Routes. However, the city has chosen to develop an ill conceived plan of mapping neighborhood «Key evacuation routes” that is entirely unfair to a majority of residents who will not use these routes during an evacuation. The current mapped “key evacuation routes” should be collectively and exclusively funded by Neighborhood Assessment Districts.  

I find it particularly disturbing our City Council would choose to burden the many senior residents of this community to pay the cost to improve the aging infrastructure of publicly held billion dollar company, Edison. The census indicates that 40 percent of residents are renters which means a large majority of voters needed to approve a Bond Measure will not be property owners. However, a General Obligation Bond property tax assessment cost will most certainly be passed along to renters and adversely impact the rental market. This demonstrates a lack of compassion for those residents who struggle economically. It appears our current City Council prefers community gentrification by attrition. 

In addition, $242,000 of your taxpayer dollars is being spent on marketing surveys, promotional mailers, power point and video presentation to manipulate residents using Psychology 101 scare tactics to get residents emotionally invested in the underground concept by selling fear. It would make prudent sense to utilize a share of these funds and approach a potential partnership opportunity with Elon Musk to ask him to develop a Solar City, USA model here in Laguna Beach by forming a sustainable energy development team. Laguna Beach may be able to take the lead to develop a sustainable energy model as the future vision for our community. Perhaps, residents will have potential benefit by a tax credit and derive income by selling our excess power to Edison! We won’t know what current technology will bring until we take the opportunity to explore the possibilities that may be available to our seaside community. 

Lorene Laguna (Auger)

Laguna Beach


Smart people can surely figure out a way to permit ADUs

The City Council will be considering an ordinance regarding the restriction/regulation of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU’s) sometimes referred to as “granny units” on May 9. This ordinance pretty much squelches any plan to add living quarters for a multitude of residents. This is just sad.  

It is like a kick in the stomach to residents who may have thought that someday they would be able to build a “granny flat” for their aging Mom or Dad or even a caregiver for themselves someday.   

It dissolves any hope that a resident could build some living quarters for their adult children who are trying to save for a home someday or who have recently graduated and cannot afford to pay the astronomical going rental rates in the OC. 

Instead of embracing a solution to the housing crisis and finding ways to make this work, the City’s proposal does its level best to obstruct or totally restrict an affordable solution. Its basic intent is...let them move somewhere else! 

It puts a damper on any hopes of promoting a student housing option for LCAD who is desperately seeking options for students, many of whom are commuting from the Inland Empire due to lack of affordable student housing.

There are so many legally questionable restrictions in the proposed ordinance. It appears that using and hiding under the guise of “impaired access” is the only road they can take to maximize the restrictions on ADU’s and they have chosen that path. 

There must be some opportunity for compromise on this? Is an on-site parking requirement the answer? Legal shield or waiver of liability? Mitigation agreement?

There has to be a way to figure this out...there are a lot of intelligent people in this city!

Kristine Thalman

President, Laguna Beach Seniors


Rebuttal to Guest Column by Bob Whalen in 10/31/17 issue of Stu News Laguna: 

Why Underground Powerlines?

Why do City Councilmembers think it’s the resident taxpayers’ responsibility to pay for these misguided “Key Evacuation Routes” (“KER”) on state-owned LCR, Glenneyre/Monterey St and Virginia Way at double expense bonds and forever one percent sales tax to finance [the] Proposed Underground Tax and Bond agenda that “our Council” voted 5-0 to pursue? There’s no fire danger on our City owned streets mentioned above. It’s a dinosaur concept…and for these additional reasons: Edison/SDG&E have funded Undergrounding Programs of $125k annually. Caltrans is already planning/responsible to widen and underground Laguna Canyon Road (LCR); controls that State Owned Right of Way; and will pay with power companies like Big Bend area in 2016. I observed when there’s a serious fire like 1993, smart residents and guests did head for the Beach as a quick fourth real escape route, where you’re safe/can see what’s happening, as government officials, and resting firefighters did and they parked on Coast Hwy. You’re not going to head for any “KER” mentioned above…who “thought” those up?

I estimate the actual undergrounded portion of Laguna is closer to 80 percent (not the 40 percent Whalen purports), when you exclude CalTrans/State-owned LCR Right of Way, and no fire issue streets/North Laguna alleys. The City shouldn’t ask residents to pay for state-owned LCR undergrounding! Existing annual Edison/SDG&E Funding, credits purchased can take care of the few real powerline/traffic conflict locations left in the City for safety without bonds and one percent added sales tax that hurts local business and taxpayers. (Link to Bob Whalen’s Guest Column: http://stunewslaguna.com/archives/front-page-archive/26953-guest-column-bob-whalen-103117

Councilmember Whalen no longer mentions the topic of residents: 1-who paid for undergrounding in previously completed private districts, 2-are currently paying these Underground Tax Assessments (CFD’s), and 3-who [will] soon pay the $40 to $80k cost (Coast Royale, SoLag). Where’s this “Second Ballot measure” to exempt them now Bob, vs your current proposal for previously paid residents to pay a second time, to favor 20 percent plus of residents who haven’t paid, including four of five Councilmembers, ready CFD residents put on hold? I can comment both sides of the argument of the City’s Bond/Tax Measure – have one residence with, one without underground/views. I chose to pay off, instead of double cost/30 year bond.

The City has managed 40 plus years of these Undergrounding Assessment Districts since the 1970s, and it now proposes to dupe past participating owners to pay it twice? Those seven active City’s Districts that were almost finalized are now on hold (to chase this obsolete idea of undergrounding taxation) with another bond measure against our properties, and a one percent forever sales tax that isn’t directed at specified items! Could this big $$$ actually go to pay unfunded Pension Plans or free undergrounding for those who haven’t paid for it – which might be the real reason, not fire safety and ”KER”? Informed residents say yes, absolutely – look at other City slush funds misdirected from other purposes (i.e. Parking Fund for decades, $4 million from Measure LL – Bed Tax allocated on 10/24/17). 

The City Proposal to underground with 24,000 residents voting on a ballot is deceptive. Actually, 14,400 resident owners/taxpayers would bear this expense. It’s manipulative to propose a measure for a vote when 40 percent of residents are renters; and additionally 17 percent are absentee owners who can’t vote on what financially affects them. It’s also a disservice and betrayal of trust to owners who paid to underground for uncluttered ocean views. Forcing owners to pay twice constitutes fraud in my view, and could start a class action lawsuit for past payment damages by 40 plus years of previously paid owners as plaintiffs. Ask the Coast Royale owners after they pay their assessment to pay it twice, not!

I think all Laguna Locals should view this YouTube Video: “Tony Seba: Clean Disruption – Energy & Transportation” www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b3ttqYDwF0, to see the future of Energy/Transportation, that will shock you to see changes, future and overhead utilities are ancient technology, obsolete in 10-20 years. This Illustrates questionable leadership and lost $$$ spent to date by City to underground, and if understood, no need for undergrounding ballot vote.

To share a joint idea with another like-minded Lagunan – we suggest inviting Elon Musk to town as our guest. He’s a forward thinker, would be a great neighbor, and ask him to partner up to make Laguna Beach the first Solar City with his roof tiles, battery back up/Peaker Units, and his Tesla cars and trucks. If we added farming upper Laguna and Aliso Canyon valley floors after planner Sir Ebenezer Howard’s 1898 model for a Garden City, linking our work/jobs, farmlands, residential neighborhoods and recreational parks with pedestrian/bikeways it would be the live/work Utopian City of sustainability, surrounded by Greenbelts & Pacific Ocean. After all, Elon just works up the road in Hawthorne @ SpaceX, and he might need a second getaway beach home he can rocket to.  

Bryan T.S. Menne

54 year Laguna Resident, Former OCFD Paid Call Firefighter South Laguna-Station 6, Land Planner & CA Registered Landscape A

Letter sent to Mayor Boyd about Poet Laureate program

We would like to congratulate you on the success of the first Poet Laureate program in Laguna Beach and also give credit to the hard work and imagination of Kate Buckley, who proved to be an outstanding choice.

In her capacity, she held multiple public presentations, offered educational outreach and created the city’s first literary festival. She was democratic in her approach, extending a platform to distinguished local writers as well as those who may have been writing their first poem or story. She also taught workshops to children and disabled adults, facilitated public readings, wrote a commemorative poem and organized an innovative bus trip through town entitled “Poetry Moves You.”

It should also be noted that creating a program like this from scratch is exceptionally difficult and time-consuming. Each element needs to be imagined and invented, then the scaffolding designed and put in place out of nothing. The things Kate accomplished should be lauded both privately and publicly.

Let us also offer commendation to the government of Laguna Beach for the vision behind this continuing program. Yours is a city known internationally not just for its physical beauty but for the pioneering artistic spirit that its residents uphold. We see the written word as a vital part of this enviable civic identity and we will keep coming back to Orange County’s premier artistic city to read and write.

Tom Zoellner, Associate Professor of English, Chapman University

Also signing for: Victoria Patterson, Grant Hier, Francesca Bell, Eric Morago

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