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It is our firm intention to run any letter that any Laguna Beach resident writes to us with few exceptions.

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The best rule of thumb is that the decision of the editor is final. 


The Coast Inn should be a local gem, and it can be

As a small business owner and resident in the neighborhood of the Coast Inn, I am deeply frustrated by the opposition that this project has faced since it was announced.

I have carefully reviewed the documentation related to the project, and it is clear that the developer has longstanding entitlements to renovate the property as has been proposed.

The opposition that the project is facing is coming from a small but vocal group of people who are concerned about the impact the project will have on the surrounding neighborhood.  

The fact that the hotel and liquor store existed long before most people lived in the neighborhood doesn’t seem to register with the critics.

The argument that there’s not enough parking doesn’t hold up when one considers that ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft have forever changed parking requirements.

And finally, one only has to take a walk from Bluebird to downtown on Coast Highway to see the number of vacant storefronts to understand that our town is facing tremendous challenges as the economy is going through transformational change.

The Coast Inn should be a local gem, and we have a group willing and able to make it happen.

To be clear, a revitalized Coast Inn will be good for our business—more visitors, more foot traffic, more vibrancy in our neighborhood.

But the issue goes far beyond what it means for one business.

At the heart of this is whether or not the City of Laguna Beach will adopt a progressive and business friendly position, encourage sensible development, and acknowledge and embrace a rapidly changing marketplace in order to ensure the health and unique character of our special town.

If it is going to be business as usual, I fear that we will simply become a nice place to live for those who can afford it, and the Laguna Beach most of us know and love will be gone forever 

Don Meek

Co-Founder, The Soul Project

Laguna Beach


Coast Inn developer opposes rooftop decks

The owner/developer of the Coast Inn has been dismissive of the concerns of the many neighbors surrounding his development, yet he is well aware of the issues they face, should his project be approved.  

In September 2012 and January 2013, Chris Dornin addressed Planning Commission and City Council with statements in opposition to the rooftop deck at Mozambique. The issues that he presented five years ago are the exact issues that the neighbors around his proposed Coast Inn rooftop deck will be presenting to City Council at Tuesday’s hearing: parking in front of homes, traffic, noise, view, trash, privacy, etc.  

What follows are exact excerpts from his statements which demonstrate that he is well aware that his project will negatively impact the surrounding neighborhoods.  (Video of the full statements is available on the Laguna Beach City website.)

Chris Dornin Statement Sept 12, 2012, Planning Commission Meeting:

“…There’s literally no parking in front of our house during the evenings...”

“…They may have their noise studies but you need to remember this is well above where Coast Highway is and it flows right up hill and it flows right into our bedrooms...”

“…The idea that it’s not going to intensify the traffic is completely silly.  Why spend all this money if you are not going to increase business and increase traffic flow...” 

“…This is going to add significant money to the restaurant in revenue if they are able to do this and it’s going to have detrimental impact to the values in our neighborhood and views like myself.  It is a nightclub.  They charge.  We hear it.  It’s loud.  It’s a privacy, noise and view issue.”

Chris Dornin Statement Jan 15, 2013, Appeal to City Council: “Wear hats”

“…Umbrellas do not provide an ocean view, they are a convenience for the customers. The customers can wear hats. If it’s too sunny, wear hats. They don’t need umbrellas...” 

“…We shouldn’t all sacrifice and the owner make no compromises for any of us and all to the detriment of our home values.  It’s going to have a massive detrimental impact to our home...” 

Terry Meurer

Laguna Beach


Supporters’ party is outrageous ploy

I just received a copy email of what the Dornins are planning at the Coast Inn to get letters of approval for the project. Party at the Boom Boom Room. Let us know you’re coming, sign up have some food, drinks? and music to put you in the mood for us to tell you what our plans are and support us.

This is an outrageous ploy by an applicant for a project coming before you this month. They should be held accountable at the CC meeting. I hope you look at this as subterfuge and that the support letters they say they’re hoping to get are from people that actually live in Laguna Beach. If they don’t they should be discounted entirely.

I am not against preserving the Coast Inn and bringing back its historic character, it needs some loving care. But, the plans as they exist now, will leave nothing but a shell of what the Coast Inn was and the neighborhoods surrounding it will be the sacrifice.

Darrylin and Tom Girvin

Laguna Beach


50 years ago today – a watershed year

If you are at the older end of the baby boomer generation like I am, then you probably remember 1968 as a watershed year in American history. It was the pivotal year in which the public’s overall attitude quickly shifted from optimism to confusion. After struggling to make sense of the battle for Hue in Vietnam early in the year and listening to the Beatles’ “White Album” months later, the gap between my parents’ WWII generation and my own was widening by the day. Despite the fact that half a century has elapsed, we still seem to be struggling with many of the same issues today. For example:

Fifty years ago today, North Korea captured the Navy intelligence ship USS Pueblo. The ship was monitoring North Korea from the Tsushima Strait, an ocean channel dividing Korea and Japan. The Navy insisted its ship was operating in international waters, but North Korea said the Pueblo had entered its territory, and dispatched warships and aircraft to intercept it. 

Accounts differ on both sides as to what really happened. Eventually, there was an exchange of gunfire and one American was killed. The North Korean military boarded the Pueblo, captured its crew and brought the ship to port. The Pueblo’s 82 surviving crewmembers reported they were routinely tortured and starved while in captivity. It took 11 months to resolve the incident but set the stage for continued tensions between the two nations. Today, as it continues to develop its nuclear capabilities, the U.S. considers North Korea one of its most challenging problems.

Time marches on is a constant in our lives. Every so often, it pays to look back. I think the Pueblo incident is one of those times.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Agate Street stairs are similar to the Woods Cove disaster – but worse

Thank you, thank you to James Pribram for pointing out the total disaster at Agate Street steps.

This is similar to the Woods Cove stairs disaster but worse.  Does the City even interview the construction company on their experience with the ocean or just take the lowest bid, not considering what the consequences will be?

Obviously this company did not consider tides, surf and sand movement and without experience building on the ocean should not have been hired to do this job. The giant blocks and metal runway are a hazard and liability to the public.

My husband and I have been picking large metal rods out of the ocean there that have been left by the company when they first put up a ridiculous green cloth construction fence that lasted about two days.

The City should have learned its lesson from the Woods Cove steps, which had a similar problem – the company hired had no clue how to build on the oceanfront.

Julie Ross

Laguna Beach


Tempest in a teapot over Agate: Response to James Pribram’s column on 1/16

As a retired builder, overlapping into my current profession as an enviro-consultant specializing in land use and regulatory compliance, this confrontation is a result of a poorly understood process.

Beachgoers have complained for years about this “Stairway To Nowhere,” as the previous one during certain periods ended well short of the sand: Hence people were stranded, either took a literal “leap of faith,” at risk of physical harm due to that gap distance, or were forced to use either Center or Bluebird.

[The current strategy] was signed off on, as the column notes.

First you must demolish, then create/secure a safe, resilient construction zone...Note these blocks are temporary, not permanent structures, too heavy to roll around willy-nilly, pell-mell.

We used a metaphor during construction activities, especially with demolition elements: Like an omelette, eggs must be broken, moreover at times adjustments are made during removal/installation.

Pribram’s parents live close nearby [and] were probably notified of hearings per CEQA et al, as the Project was also posted at the top of the stairs landing per local/state regulations. I saw and read it, went to the City’s website, and I was satisfied that it was basically a reasonable solution to a long-standing unsafe and unacceptable Coastal Access issue.

As critical as myself & my NGO, Clean Water Now, has been over our 20 year history, in this instance where the City finally responded (albeit we feel slowly, we have frustrated friends and family that demanded a remedy), the installation (after two site visits recently) is acceptable to industry and obviously CCC standards.

Personally, the Project’s not as invasive nor housekeeping as slovenly as alleged: Take photos, document complaints/violations using a GPS stamp that secures time/date/exact location of said evidence.

I think one important lesson is to read posted notifications.

Go online or downtown to the Community Development counter, educate yourself as to the Project, its purpose, its duration, the Best Management Practices proposed, etc.

The Marine environment is important, fragile, so yes, be more vigilant: But educate yourself.

The answers, the reasons for certain logistics that seem unacceptable/irregular might already be there.

Land Use is a boring topic, but it’s where the rubber meets the road regarding planning, where your City is going.

Roger E. Bütow

Founder & Executive Director, CLEAN WATER NOW

Laguna Beach

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