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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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If a business is newsworthy, it is probable that we will accept such a letter.

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

Bravo Mayor Iseman

Competent leadership is hard to define, but we know it when we see it.  Mostly, competence means listening until you think you know whats right, and then doing it.  No abdication of duty until it’s safe to take credit or shift blame.

Last week Mayor Iseman got that phone call that tests a leader. Outside groups seeking confrontation sounded the call to battle in our town. Our Mayor made an informed command decision to let freedom ring in our public common on Sunday, but on terms she defined to protect the freedom of one and all.

She did that by personally putting all concerned on notice the police would be ready to use lawful force to prevent unlawful violence. She did not hesitate, rely on a spokesman, or wait for consultants to coach her. Her calm, confident, timely and unequivocal “Don’t tread on Laguna” message went out loud and clear.  

That done she called on locals to deny anyone exploiting our town for self-aggrandizing media attention a local audience. Instead of a counter demonstration in which locals would be undifferentiated from whoever might come on Sunday, our Mayor put a call out for a demonstration of local character and conscience on Saturday.    

Many of us became aware of anti-Semitic defamation targeting the Mayor and credibly attributed to outside groups coming on Sunday.  It was clear this was now about standing with our Mayor and our neighbors in a defining moment for our town.

A robust but positive narrative at the Saturday gathering allowed a unifying community spirit to prevail. There were Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, left and right, and everything in between.  

Hate speech is hard to define, but we know it when we hear it, from the left or the right.  I heard none on Saturday.  I was so proud of my town, and so proud of our Mayor.  She called us all to a deeper commitment to community that transcends partisan politics when it matters most. 

I disagree with Toni Iseman on many issues, and I am a member of a different political party.  But the office of Mayor is non-partisan, and when the stakes were highest she did her duties in a nonpartisan way.  I believe she is the most competent Mayor we have had in a long, long time.

Finally, as a former U.S. armed forces law enforcement officer I observed police operations from a distance on Sunday.  Chief Farinella’s integration of LBPD with visiting law enforcement units was exemplary.  Three arrests and peaceful orderly crowd dispersal - well done!

Our community is truly fortunate to have these two women serving and leading at a high standard of competence and excellence. 

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

City needs to educate smokers about ban

Following my recent return from a trip to Dublin you may recall my complimentary letter on the apparent effectiveness of the new smoking ban. I’m sorry, but that compliment appears to have been premature. On our first walk of Heisler Park and Main Beach we did not experience a single smoker; the walk was such a pleasure. But that pleasure was very short-lived. On every walk since we have encountered at least one or two people openly smoking. On each occasion I gently reminded them that Laguna is a no-smoking city. A few outwardly appeared to appreciate the reminder and actually put out their cancer-sticks. But the rest of the encounters have met with great resistance and complete disrespect. Today I suffered the latest pair of incidents, which prompted my letter.

At the first encounter a youngish man appearing about the age of 35 was openly smoking in a crowed area on the sidewalk near Greeters Restaurant, exposing all nearby to his second-hand smoke. I reminded him that Laguna is a non-smoking city. His reply was short but not sweet, “Yes, don’t you smoke,” as his group of men continued on their path, completely ignoring me. 

The second encounter was the last straw for me. I noticed a 50ish looking man puffing away as I walked the sidewalk through Heisler Park. I gently reminded him that Laguna is a no-smoking city. His reply was “Oh yeah? Guess you better call 911” as he put the cigarette back in his mouth and took another hit. I would have called, too, except I had left my phone at home.

My question to you is “When are we going to start educating the public about our expectations?” The only signs I am aware of stating the official policy are located at the entrances to the city. What about after these belligerent smokers are here?  We have signs informing visitors about lots of other infractions, even on lifeguard stations, but still nothing about smoking. Months ago Police Chief Farinella contacted me to advise me that a major education campaign was coming soon, including coasters and brochures. I am not impressed with the lack of visibility of your educational campaign to date. The ash tray/trash receptacle at the top of Heisler stairs behind the Inn at Laguna has not even been replaced. Is that really sending the right message?

What we really need are signs in our parks and on lifeguard towers at our beaches. May I also suggest stickers on all parking-meters. Obviously a single reminder as one is driving into our town (which may not even be seen) is not adequate; educational efforts must be stepped up.

I was very pleased when the city council voted to provide Laguna residents a healthier life. I am just wondering if I will live long enough to enjoy the cleaner air I was promised.

Russ Hill

Laguna Beach

Posters showing support for diversity?

In January 2017, all shops at South Coast Plaza displayed a small 8.5x11 poster in their windows during the Chinese New Year celebrating the occasion with the Chinese community.   The poster, which included a positive message, reflected the retail shop’s attitude towards diversity.  I wonder if our Chamber of Commerce could do the same by creating and distributing a poster that reflects the spirit of Laguna.

Nadia Babayi

Laguna Beach

Laguna Patriots does not support America First

As a conservative and the organizer for Laguna Patriots in Laguna Beach I want to state our group’s core values and clarify we have no connection with Johnny Benitez’s America First group.

Laguna Patriots Core Values are: Fiscal Responsibility, Free Markets and Constitutionally Limited Government. Also, we believe all men, no matter race, are acreated equal and are entitled to Life, Liberty and their Pursuit to Happiness!

America First rally in Laguna Beach at Main Beach this [last] Sunday evening the 20 [was] not supported by our Laguna Patriots group because we do not share the same values as Mr Benitez’s group.

Linda Dorr

Laguna Beach


Shouldn’t there be an emergency call number?

The back of the “water wise” sign is visible between the two red traffic lights in the lower photo.

So much for saving water.

Steven Pope

Laguna Beach

What traffic problem?

Now that members of the City Council have decided that we have a major traffic congestion problem, something needs to be done. They have ordered the city manager to come up with answer to the problem. If it wasn’t so pathetic, the council’s demand would be laughable. For these are long time elected officials whose lack of vision and long-standing failures to act has exacerbated the situation. Traffic throughout the city has worsened every year for at least the last decade. Yet the council has ignored the problem and their lack of vision has transformed this small quiet city to a regional party mecca. 

With every new bar, roof top lounge and nightclub they approved, the council has transformed this city and devastated our artist community. Their vision has failed to plan for traffic and parking for the new daily visitors who come to party and enjoy the beauty of our small town. 

Laguna Beach residents through their property taxes fund over 90% of the city’s budget. The city staff and council members can’t stop congratulating each other on Laguna’s strong financial condition. 

Day tourists flock to our beautiful city but they are not enriching it. They are only costing the local taxpayers money. They use our police, fire and maintenance services. Day tourist aren’t leaving cash, they only leave us their trash.

Traffic is at a standstill. The council‘s vision must be that when traffic doesn’t move, it makes it easier for the tourist to jaywalk across PCH without getting hit.

While the city council struggles to decide whether CVS can take over the Laguna Drugs location, you must wonder what the vision for our city is? Is it another big bar? Nightclub? Roof top restaurant in that space?

Laguna Beach was when I moved here 20+ years ago a quiet, clean, beautiful small town with a good school system. I never planned to witness the systematic erosion of our quality of life. 

It is time the residents who pick up the tab decide the future course of our city. The business owners in our town other than the major hotels are insignificant to the funding of our city budget.  Less day tourists in our city will not affect our city budget. But it will lessen the traffic and eliminate city service costs. The quality of life for our residents should dictate the actions of the city council.

I am unsure what the city manager’s conclusion to the traffic crisis will be. I do know that a clear vision and plan to increase the quality of life for our residents will do much to elevate the traffic problem. If the city councils over the years would have taken a residents first approach we would still be able to get across town in 10 minutes.

Jeffrey J. Kaplan

Laguna Beach


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