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Village Laguna was once a PAC too

I am responding to Mr. Armando Baez (member of Village Laguna’s Board and prolific letter writer) and to Mr. John Thomas. Village Laguna (VL) only until recently changed from a 501(c)3 designation which is limited to a nonprofit charitable organization. After decades, VL temporarily changed their tax status to a PAC. Coincidentally, city hall changed the requirements for downtown banner advertising – from the organization having to be a 501(c)3 to just being a nonprofit. Getting the right to have a banner is based on being the first ones to call a specific number on a designated day at city hall – first come first served basis – and VL seems to have this process down pat and able to get their banner flying each year. Is there some kind of cozy relationship going on here?

Now VL claims to be a Mutual Benefit Corporation nonprofit. This designation by the IRS is typically used for condominium and townhome associations. Does this allow Village Laguna to hide money spending activities with respect to supporting candidates?

Being designated as a PAC seems to have a negative connotation to Mr. Thomas. At least it is honest. 

To me, VL seems to have a propensity to act for their benefit not caring what conflicts it generates among our citizens and also, I feel, not in the open.

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach


Who wanted to impose the CEQA guidelines on this city’s property owners?

On September 29 our current City Council voted 5-0 to make listing a house on the Historic Inventory as “voluntary as possible.” Afterwards, I was wondering who was the driving force behind trying to burden Laguna homeowners with the CEQA restrictive regulations?

With a little research, it seems that:

1. Many of them are well organized, well financed, well city connected, longtime vocal political elites who I believe have attempted to impose their “no growth/slow growth” vision on unaware homeowners. Once the potential impacted property owners got informed of the looming restrictions they united to voice their outrage. Thankfully the City Council listened.

2. The Laguna Beach City bureaucrats’ opinion was the CEQA guidelines were mandatory! They tried to twist the facts to achieve their goal of more layers of red tape. I wonder how many city staff and city lawyers’ billing hours were wasted on issue? Personally I think someone should be held responsible for the time and money spent on this decision. Where’s the transparency? Who actually made the “pitch” to go in this direction?

The fact is the City Council, as the local governing body, has complete discretion on this matter. They can either make it a plus or a nightmare on the homeowners who want to improve their homes. 

Still, I wonder why it took years to come to this “common sense” decision. Think, ask questions, draw your own conclusions.

So, please take the time to talk to your neighbors and have an open discussion on the future of Laguna!

Respect the past. Let’s embrace the future. Over regulation is not the way!

This is a small town your vote matters.

Patrick W. Gallis

Laguna Beach


Candidates, who are they, what are they really about?

I’ve been taking some time to learn about the candidates, met with some of them, saw some of them speak at the varied speaking locations and wondered how or why they are running, what are their reasons, their positions, and what backgrounds do they have to be effective, and finding out what is real or fake ‘news’.

Should we require the minimum from our city council candidates? Shouldn’t they not need this ‘job’? This should not be what makes them successful; they should be successful and then run for city council to make our city better, from their successful experience in life.

Do they have degrees, should they have work experience, should they have their resumes and websites fact checked? Background check?

I went onto Judie Mancuso’s site and started to ask some of these questions.

After all, these candidate will be managing millions of our dollars, are they even qualified to do that?

Here are the issues in this resume that I found concerning:

Founder / CEO / President, Social Compassion in Legislation, 2007 – Present 

Social Compassion in Legislation is a 501(c)(4) organization

The last tax return was in 2012, where does this fundraising money go to for the last few years? 2012 shows $6,880.00 in revenue.

Founder / CEO / President, California Spay and Neuter License Plate Fund, Inc., 2010 – Present 

Founded California Spay and Neuter License Plate Fund, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization…

The last tax return was in 2014 with $1,468.00 in revenue.

Positions held: Software Development Manager, Systems Manager, Business Systems Project Manager, Independent Consultant 

Various Companies and Industries 1983-2003 

What companies? She does not list ONE company as a reference.

20 years is a long time to do this type of work.

No schooling listed? Not even a B.A. or B.S. degree.

Who is vetting these candidates?

How does she earn a living?

Should we be worried if someone who doesn’t earn a living runs for city council?

This is fine if she were working on a committee for the city volunteering, but for someone to hold the purse strings and have an important job such as city council, I am far from comfortable with this possibility.

(References: www.judiemancusco.com/experience; www.guidestar.com)

India Hynes

Laguna Beach


It will take only one vote to destroy the Laguna Beach we love

Please remember this warning from the author Gore Vidal.

When a city council candidate humiliates, insults, degrades, proudly declares a lack of experience, as though that somehow elevates one from those who have worked a lifetime;

When a candidate bullies, attacks, denigrates others, demonstrates a lack of character, incivility, an unsuitable temperament, an inability to relate to opposite viewpoints, an inability to reach a consensus;

When a candidate spews out unproven rhetoric, and uses the same “scapegoat tactic” over and over again… remember before you vote:

“Words are used to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.”

We have one chance. It will take only one vote to destroy the Laguna Beach we love.

Jahn Levitt

Laguna Beach


Vote no on Measure P

I hope our residents and taxpayers will reject this pernicious proposal. The city council has been shut down on undergrounding for the canyon and is now trying to use Measure P as a backdoor method to get what they want. Just think 5 million a year, just sitting there to be spent.

There are many residents of Laguna that are on fixed incomes, so one percent here and one percent there, along with rising rents, utility and food costs becomes a major issue as to their staying in their homes.

Measure P is supported by firefighters and our former chief. I suspect that regardless of assurances, somehow some of this money will be doled out in the future to public safety employees.

I calculate that the city will pay our retired fire chief over 7 million dollars plus COLA.

If you believe in the tooth fairy then perhaps you would support Measure P. As for me, “not so much”.

George Orff

Laguna Beach


Homelessness in Laguna

Laguna’s homeless shelter was established as result of the legal settlement between the City and the ACLU. While the shelter has worked to keep 42 people from having to sleep in public spaces, the number of homeless has increased over the years and continues to be burden on our police department, emergency responders, storeowners, residents and visitors. 

The few success stories solving homelessness come from places like Salt Lake City. The plan is simple; create housing for the homeless. This simple strategy was adopted over 14 years ago in Salt Lake City and has worked to provide housing to 90 percent of the chronically homeless. “Housing First” has been both a financial and social success.

“Housing First” works because it takes the chronically homeless, who typically have a disability, drug addiction or mental health problem, off our streets and provides an appropriate site to provide the services needed to reintegrate them back into society, if possible. Of course you will never get all of them off the streets as some are mentally disabled or just can’t live off the streets. 

The funding for the Salt Lake City program came from the City, the State of Utah, and the Mormon Church. However, the majority of funding came from grants provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which now gives priority to the “Housing First” strategy over other approaches. The Friendship Shelter has received grants for this purpose and has taken scores of homeless off the streets of Laguna in the last few years. 

We should be encouraged by City Council candidates who commit to a regional solution, even though their commitment is ignited by an election. We should be less encouraged by one candidate, Cheryl Kinsman, whose solution is more boots on the ground and K9 dogs or another who thinks the homeless are the cause of high crime in Downtown Laguna. This same candidate, Peter Blake, has admitted that he never attended a City Council Meeting. Can he really be part of the solution? 

George Weiss

Laguna Beach


Remembering Harry Lawrence

Letter Gallis

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Last Monday, Oct 1 came and went with no mention of Harry Lawrence, ”Mr. Laguna”, who was the driving force behind the creation of Main Beach Park, anywhere in town.

Maybe Mayor Kelly Boyd can say a few words about this great man at this
week’s city council meeting? 

In 2008 the city council made October 1st Harry Lawrence Day! 

October 1, 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of Laguna’s “window to the Sea”.

His memory should be cherished!
Patrick W. Gallis

Laguna Beach


Talented youth responds to candidates

Hello readers, my name is Ali Rybczyk – more about my services and contributions to the community below. So – what was my takeaway as one of the handful of young adults present [at the Stu News & KX 93.5 Candidate Forum]? (And invited to come paint at the event due to my peaked interest in this election – THANK YOU by the way!) Not one of the 10 candidates’ answers evoked an applaudable response from my end – and according to my past council presence, this was the sole time that youth were even mentioned. 

The question was: When our amazing kids grow up, they are often leaving to other communities like SF, NYC, LA, even Costa Mesa for a variety of reasons (cost of living, lack of creative energy, lack of nightlife, etc). How do we retain our talented youth to get them to contribute to the future of our town?

Some vocalized references about their own adult children current state of living and thriving while others projected their what felt like underprepared responses. It’s beyond the rent and beyond the lack of nightlife – isn’t the rent here just as crazy as those places, NYC, LA, SF anyway? 

So back to the question about the actual Q…HOW do THEY plan on retaining youth contribution to future? As shared, many of the candidates started here in their youth, but none of them could clarify their agenda for the potential talented youth involvement. My question to them, have you looked inside what youth potential is ALREADY present in this community? This town is not just for LCAD student youth or youth whose families have passed down real estate to their children, or kids with trust funds. There is something more substantial for youth here than nightlife and rent (because I witness first – my peers who hustle creatively to make their lives work here: Hailley Howard Photography, Michelle Mercado of Sourced Collective, Christy Rumbaugh of Blessed Booch, musician Matt Costa and Katie Macdonald of The Flower Stand, etc). I felt like saying, “I need you all to hear me out…” 

Similar to my peers, I am a self starter-artist, entrepreneur. I live in a conveniently located funky 300 square studio that is one block to the beach. My rent is considerably high but so is everything else in the world’s current state of affair. I was born here and although I did not grow up here (moved to Boulder, CO on my first birthday), at 23 years old, I moved to Laguna. That was two years ago and what brought me back here was a calling to my roots, my grandparents, early founding members of Art-A-Fair and encouragement from my mom Robin Hiers, an artist resident at LGOCA gallery – she convinced me that my art career could “do well here.”

I followed the guidance and moved here with community at the forefront of my heart. There was no promise arriving here that anything I would do, would be well received. What has worked for me is a combination of commitment and action and also someone who makes opportunity out of nothing. No, not because I am an artist does that mean I am an LCAD student, Sawduster or have an investment from my family…I represent the creative entrepreneur, the aspiring business owner (hopeful for a space DT to teach) and the person who invests my beliefs into this community. An extension of my art involvement is working with kids with my quarterly and independent art program, “Pop Up Art Camp” – which has led me to continuous opportunities to create art with local families. I believe in this community and I want to know my “young adulthood” livelihood is believed in too! I understand that Laguna Beach is referred to a retirement community or one of the most expensive places to live – but the contrast of that is what amazing young people are doing here – and I live beyond the label and I breathe that mantra each day. It is possible and the future is changing as we speak. 

My intention with writing this is and becoming involved is that there can be a merging of residents of all ages. We may not agree on everything and I don’t expect an overnight rush of youth moving here but I do know that there are tangible things we, Laguna Beach, can begin today...and that is to come together through our shared responsibility as a coastal community to strengthen our protection for the ocean and efforts on climate change. That is a detriment to everyone. I am thankful to share my art and find new ways to get involved with this town – but the present council excluded any invitation for youth involvement and I am ready to join the candidate who hears me out.

Again, how will YOU retain our talented youth to get them to contribute to the future of our town? 

Ali Rybczyk

Laguna Beach


Laguna Beach is at a tipping point with tourists

Many destination cities around the world are experiencing negative impacts from the influx of large numbers of tourists. Venice has a population of 55,000 with a total of 20 million visitors annually and has long debated the possibility of setting a limit on the number of visitors who can enter each day. Venice is even considering eliminating alcohol sales due to the impact drinking is having on residents.

Laguna gets a stunning 6+ million visitors a year with a population of 23,000. This flow of visitors provides ample revenue to our city, lots of shoppers for our businesses and validation that we live in the most enjoyable spot in the US. Yet, Some city council candidates and their PAC supporters:

Complain we do not do enough to facilitate more visitors. 

Argue for widening our roads and building towering garages to accommodate more cars.

Advocate turning residential houses into short term lodging units.

Support building resort hotels on our shores and a more active nightlife with additional rooftop bars and “watering holes”. 

Ignore the degradation additional mass tourism would have on our Village.

Laguna has done a good job, so far, balancing the needs of our tourism business while avoiding tourism related problems others have experienced. Yet, we are at a tipping point. The decisions we make this election and during the next few years will determine whether we will turn into another overcrowded and unlivable city or we will continue to manage growth carefully.

Voting correctly this November is one opportunity we have to avoid a catastrophe. Let’s not listen to the short-sighted, private interests who want to “liberate” us and pack our council with development advocates. 

Let’s vote to keep the right balance between tourism and residents. Let’s support Candidates like Toni Iseman and Ann Christoph who will work to continue this balanced approach on our City Council.

Armando Baez
Laguna Beach


Don’t miss this year’s Lagunatics

Not sure if any of you have ever watched a Lagunatics show, if you haven’t, you have missed out on a really amazing part of Laguna Beach’s theatre history!

Lagunatics is an annual satirical musical where cast members, many local to Laguna Beach, perform parody’s inspired by Laguna Beach events. Having seen them yearly since I arrived in Laguna Beach in 2014 I am constantly amazed by how they manage to make this show better every year. I think this year in particular will be very funny based on the upcoming city council elections…

Right now our world is riddled with problems and for me when I watch this show, I am always reminded how funny and ridiculous our “Laguna Beach problems” really are.

Kids wise, it’s probably better for middle/high school kids – although some of the humor may be lost on them. I wouldn’t recommend the show for elementary children.

I am a huge lover of theatre and am on the board of No Square Theatre, and am also super busy – but this is the one thing I would never give up. No Square is everything that I love about theatre. It is a small intimate setting, with wonderful directors, choreographers, production and costume designers, all of whom have worked in a professional capacity all over the world. This is why No Square Theatre produces some of the most fabulous theatre productions in Laguna Beach. 

Don’t be fooled that the bigger the theatre the better the production, that simply isn’t true.

I really want No Square theatre to sell every ticket for Lagunatics this year.

We are so incredibly lucky to have more than one theatre in this town and I am encouraging you, even if you have never set foot in No Square Theatre, to get a ticket and watch a show. I can guarantee you will laugh your butts off!

Below is the link for the tickets, scroll down and click the BUY TICKETS button: www.nosquare.org.

I also want to mention that we do have a membership program if you would like to support the theatre even more, details of this is also on the website.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this; I hope to see many of you at the show.

Laura Buckle

Laguna Beach

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