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A portrait of last week’s Village Laguna forum by Ali Rybcyzk

A portrait of

Click on photo for a larger image

Laguna Beach local Ali Rybcyzk created this live sketch of last Monday’s Village Laguna forum at the urging of her friends. Her art can be viewed on Instagram at @loveincludeseveryone.


Response to letter by George Weiss by former mayor

I would like to respond to a statement by George Weiss published on Sept 21 in a letter to Stu News Laguna regarding the removal of eucalyptus trees in Bluebird Canyon in late 2012.

On October 2, 2012, I was a member of the City Council that voted 4-1 to remove 11 eucalyptus trees in Bluebird that were deemed dangerous as reported by a City-contracted arborist as part of a public safety program which identified Bluebird Canyon as a very dangerous potential fire area.

One City Council member did not like the assessment of the removal of these 11 eucalyptus trees and initiated a second level review (City Council): Verna Rollinger. Residents in support of both removal and retention of the trees provided testimony to the Council.

The primary responsibility of a City Council member is ensuring the safety of the residents. The council took prudent action to proceed with the removal of the trees; Verna Rollinger was the one dissenting vote.

Elizabeth Pearson

Former Mayor, City of Laguna Beach


Car-free Sundays in Laguna Beach

When will Laguna Beach host its first car-free Sunday? Los Angeles does it, Seattle does it, Brussels does it. Amsterdam, Paris, Freiburg, and Muenster did it and look what it brought. Car-free Sundays allows people to open their eyes to the incredible amount of city space devoted to the automobile. We don’t have to wait until another OPEC Arab oil boycott to get started. Oktoberfest is September 29 to October 21, how about October 21?

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach


Ruminations of a Reprobate Republican

I am a Republican. I have voted for most Republican candidates since Dwight Eisenhower.

There have been a few exceptions. One was Nixon’s run for a second term. Another was the second term for George W. Bush.

MY Republican Party is one of fiscal stability and balanced budgets. It is a party that knew when to negotiate with other parties and to find common ground. It is a party whose elected representatives could find solutions without demeaning or insulting members of other parties. That’s not to say that campaigns were not lively. The failures and missteps of opponents were made dramatically clear during election time.

Today, MY Republican Party no longer exists. It has been overcome by a mob of antagonists, which has resulted in both principal parties of left and right resorting to insult and defamation. Truth and fact have disappeared. Today, all news that does not support a particular point of view is labeled “fake”. Narcissism appears to be the rule. Self-promotion and self-enrichment by elected representatives is the primary goal. 

Concentrating immigrants into camps and segregating children from parents contrary to law has become the New Way. Demeaning and threatening imprisonment of people who disagree with the State, and isolating national and racial groups reeks of experiences in Europe in the early 1930s. It is a sorry mess we are in.

Here in the 48th Congressional District, we have a Congressman who has been in office thirty years, almost as long as I have lived in Laguna Beach. In that time, I think he has appeared in Laguna Beach on less than five occasions. I have never heard him support a cause that was important to Laguna Beach citizens. He favors new oil drilling off California’s coast. In an article in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday, he insulted women and showed his utter disregard for those who have suffered from sexual misconduct. He supports the current administration’s tariff policy, which raises prices to us and reduces jobs in local plants and factories. He supported the federal administration’s irresponsible tax cuts, which is requiring massive new federal borrowing. These cuts are raising the national debt to extraordinary heights. This kind of activity, when practiced ninety years ago, created the Great Depression. 

According to a leading conservative magazine, no bill introduced by our Congressman in the last fourteen years has been passed by the House. During the past two terms (four years) he has introduced a mere eight bills, none of which have become law. It would be difficult to find a sitting Congressman who has done less.

Challenging our incumbent is a new face. He is a former Republican (my kind), which is good news.

He supports Planned Parenthood and women’s right to choose.

He supports common sense solutions to stop gun violence.

He supports fair taxation that closes loopholes favoring the wealthiest and reduces the growth of the national debt.

He supports Medicare for all as a solution for our health care mess.

He supports getting rid of Citizens’ United Supreme Court decision permitting unlimited campaign contributions by corporations.

He supports getting back to developing clean energy.

I support this candidate. I am a Republican for Rouda. 

James S. McBride

Laguna Beach


Sue Kempf responds to endorsement

Last week, Liberate Laguna ran a full page [ad] in the Laguna Beach Independent, endorsing me without my permission. As a candidate, my commitment is to run a positive campaign without endorsement from special interest groups. I appreciate the time and thought that any organization commits to evaluating my candidacy and understand the role they play in educating their constituencies; however, the support of my candidacy by any organization only implies that they endorse what I stand for, not the other way around.

I remain deeply committed to serving Laguna Beach in a transparent and inclusive manner. Before I cast a vote, I promise I will gather as many facts as possible and listen to all sides before acting in the best interests of our residents. I have acted in this way in my consecutive terms as Planning Commissioner and will continue to do so if elected to City Council.

Sue Kempf

Laguna Beach


Know thy budget…

Before we know it election time will be fast upon us whether or not any of us are truly prepared to make our best decision as to whom and what we will cast our vote for. I have looked, listened, and read much about the many candidates who are seeking a seat on our all powerful City Council. My major concern with this election cycle is all about our City Budget and the money therein and how all of our tax dollars are not only collected but how and who makes the spending decisions from grants and gifts and all the basic costs to run our town.

Just how much do any of these candidates and current councilmembers actually know about how our budget works? I have been to the City Budget webpage more than once to take a look-see only to discover how complex this document really is. Indeed, it is a monster to wade through and attempt to have it make any sense. Just my review of over 250 pages led me to ask the question: does the right hand truly know what the left hand is doing and choosing? 

When any government needs more, “funds” (fees, really hidden as taxes and just ask Chief Justice Roberts) are increased to make costs work without knowing the budget well enough to determine where any possible reductions can be made or even cuts can be made. Just look at the costs for permits and the costly permit process as any of us attempted to improve our property. Look at all the fee increases from dog licenses to business licenses to the cost of a traffic ticket, all leading to greater and often times more unnecessary spending, even surpluses because the money is/will be there. 

Our small government tends to behave like most if not all governments. When additional funds are needed government will use the old gimmick of fear that public services will be cut or public safety will be put in jeopardy to convince taxpayers we need to ante up to save we helpless citizens. Our political leaders must first see where the money can be saved or even cut. Yes, candidates as well as current City Council members including all City Staff must have a meaningful understanding of our City Budget. During this campaign process, each candidate needs to be asked just how much of an understanding they have about our budget. My search for the best qualified three new City Council members continues and at the time I cast my vote I will be confident that those I support will know and understand this City Budget of ours and know how to keep our tax dollars safe as well as respected.

Jim Gothard

Laguna Beach


Inclusion on City’s Historical Inventory should be voluntary

Property owners should have to petition the City to have their house on the Historical Inventory!

The City should pay to have the property evaluated as to its historical value! The City has the discretion to make it a burden or an asset to have your house on the Historical Inventory.

Please take the time to read the City of Anaheim’s Historical Preservation Program! Totally voluntary!

Personally, I think that it’s morally wrong to force property owners to have to deal with CEQA. After reading the email from California State Historian Ron Parsons, “there is no legal requirement that a city have a registration program or an Inventory.”

Yesterday I was at the LB Community Center for the 10-year anniversary!

The center is the best thing the City has achieved since the creation of Main Beach.

Three “historical structures” were moved to the Canyon to rot!

A shame but best for the community.

The City should make an effort to let homeowners incorporate existing older structures into a livable modern home fit for a family! The City should “bend over backwards” to help owners! Not make it a nightmare.

When you sit in the Council Chambers remember this should be a plus for the homeowners not a burden.

Patrick W. Gallis

Laguna Beach


Residents should attend this Saturday’s Special Council Meeting

Everyone who is concerned about property rights must show for the Special Council Meeting on Saturday, Sept 29 at 1 p.m. The Council will decide on the direction for our Historical Preservation (HP) Program.

The program proposed by staff and Village Laguna will continue the current failed and unpopular program. Registration applications have been falling for decades. Why? 1) The City requires a perpetual agreement that encumbers your property forever. No other city does this! 2) The most powerful incentive (Mills Act) is not available until after you encumber your property in perpetuity to the Heritage Committee (HC). 3) The HC is run by political appointees with little expertise. They have the power to impose subjective and arbitrary rules on your home, forever! Lagunans have voted by running away from this harmful process.

Now they want to force your home onto an inventory selected by a paid expert who lives far from Laguna. If your home was built 50 years ago you are “presumed historical”. No choice. You cannot remodel your home without doing an expensive and time consuming “CEQA review”. You will lose your property rights to obtain a traditional building permit. HC now controls your home.

There is a better way. 80 percent of the cities in California have no HP ordinance. Yet many have successful and popular preservation programs based on private incentives and voluntary participation. A good example is Anaheim. Their program is called “Freedom First”. Anaheim has five historic districts and over 350 Mills Act homes, a state record. Anaheim does not use the “hammer” of code enforcement to force you into preservation. They charge no fees and hire no consultants. Their staff is qualified to process applications. Local charitable philanthropies work with the City to encourage homeowners to participate. It works and can work in Laguna.

On Sept 29 please attend the Council Meeting. Urge them to transition Laguna away from the current unpopular ordinance and toward a new 100 percent voluntary, private incentive program that does NOT rely on code enforcement and criminal prosecution for failure to comply. The City has the legal discretion to make this decision. Just ask the 400 cities that have done it.

Doug Cortez

Laguna Beach


Laguna Beach should have an Ocean Commission

Other coastal cities like San Clemente and Newport Beach have Ocean Commissions or Committees. Laguna Beach, which is dependent on the ocean for its economics and quality of life, has none. 

A Laguna Beach Ocean Commission will monitor and post ocean conditions including visibility, surf height, local sea currents, pH (for acidity from climate change), chlorophyll plumes and sea surface temperatures to detect pollution. The Ocean Commission can also invite and sponsor scientists to live/study in Laguna Beach and track their specialty like kelp forests, tide pools, coastal estuaries, whale migration, sewage plumes, ocean warming, habitat restoration, ocean acidity, sea level rise in downtown areas and popular surfing spots, etc. and publish findings for community presentations.

The Ocean Commission can invite Coastal Commission Staff and Commissioners to regular coordination gatherings at The Ranch to put them front and center, as partners with others, in restoring the Aliso Estuary and Bring the Lagoon Back to Laguna! Open, regular communication would eliminate the unnecessary and expensive battles between the City and CCC, which a majority of Laguna and most California voters support over-overwhelmingly.

Let’s show our love and concern for the health of the ocean like neighboring coastal cities. In our election debates, seek ocean mindedness and ocean kindness.

Sound science should guide city policies.

Check it out: 

www.newportbeachca.gov/home/showdocument?id=85

www.san-clemente.org/i-am-a-/business/coastal-advisory-committee

Mike Beanan

Laguna Beach

Our Letters to the Editor policy

It is our firm intention to run any letter that any Laguna Beach resident writes about Laguna Beach based issues with few exceptions. However, we will not run what we deem ad hominem letters, defined as “of an argument or reaction directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.” We will not accept letters written about a business either positive or negative. It is much too easy for competitors to “create” letters about another business or to find a person willing to write something nice about their business. If a business is newsworthy, it is probable that we will accept such a letter. Generally, we will only change objectionable language in letters. The best rule of thumb is that the decision of the editor is final.

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