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Council to hear Fire Chief’s proposed strategic plan


The City Council will hold a special hearing at 3:30 p.m. today to learn what strategies Fire Chief Mike Garcia proposes for his department for the next three years.

Garcia, 53, was appointed chief in April of 2018, after 28 years in the Long Beach Fire Department. He beat out 36 other applicants for the job. His priority since being hired was to review department operations, personnel and budget to come up with the city’s first Fire Department Strategic Plan, which he will introduce this afternoon. 

“For the past several months, I have met with all fire department personnel and reviewed all previous department consultation/strategic reports to assist with determining the framework for this plan,” Garcia wrote in the summary of the item.

The department he runs is the third largest in the city, with 43 employees and a budget of $9.5 million.

Besides interviewing fire department employees, the planning process for the proposed strategies also included identifying previous department needs and opportunities through various reports, a department wide all-hands meeting and a workshop. 

The department’s vision and values were developed and documented and its mission statement was rewritten at the workshop.

It now reads: “Our mission is to protect lives, the environment, and property from the threat of fire, explosion and other disasters, through emergency action, fire prevention, public education and to provide emergency medical treatment, physical rescues and transportation to a medical facility for the sick and injured.” 

Garcia took his findings to Jan Perkins, senior partner of Management Partners, to develop the plan that he describes as a road map for where the department is going and how it will get there.

The proposed plan will help the department make informed decisions about where to best align department resources with its responsibilities in the most efficient and effective manner, according to Garcia.

Along with developing implementation of the plan, Garcia is working with City Manager John Pietig to identify funding via the current budget process.

Global youth movement of climate strikes spurs on Student Climate Strike at Main Beach on Friday

Spurred on by the growing youth movement of climate strikes across the globe, a group of students staged a strike at Main Beach on Friday afternoon. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish girl, has been striking every Friday for about 26 weeks now. Her message for urgent climate action is compelling, “Imagine what we could all do together, if you wanted to.”

Nazish Mir reports, “We had a much better turn out this time! I believe we had about 50 youth and adults. Anneliese, Thurston, and LBHS were represented. We also had some college students from Soka University in Aliso Viejo. There was a lovely young woman from Santa Cruz, visiting her grandmother who lives here in Laguna. There were some adults who also came out to support the youth.” 

While they cannot strike every Friday, a lot of people have reached out, so the kids are planning more strikes.

Global youth respect

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Submitted photo

LBHS student Charlie in middle

Laguna Beach families are working together to raise their voices and create more awareness locally. They are striking based on these facts:

--Last year was Earth’s 4th-warmest year on record, coming in behind 2016, the planet’s warmest recorded year, as well as 2015 and 2017, according to information released earlier this month by NOAA, NASA, and the U.K. Met Office.

Global youth grandmother

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Local grandmother and granddaughter from Santa Cruz

--”Nine of the 10 warmest years on record since reliable data began in 1880 have occurred since 2005. At the same time, greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels – as well as deforestation and intensive agriculture – have skyrocketed to levels not seen in more than 800,000 years.” (Axios)

--“The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt – in coastal flooding, heat waves, intense precipitation, and ecosystem change,” says Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA GISS.

Global youth help

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Nils Dahle, Ha-Jin Attenborough, Ji-Dan Attenborough, Zen with the skimboard sign

--In August of last year, Scripps researchers logged the warmest sea-surface temperature at Scripps Pier since records began in August 1916. The record temp – 78.6°F – is the highest in 102 years of measurements. The entire ocean ecosystem is impacted by the warmer weather, and very relevant to us as a coastal community.

Laguna Craft Guild presents local art show on Sunday at Main Beach

On Sunday, March 24, from 9 a.m. - sundown, the Laguna Craft Guild will hold an art show at Main Beach featuring local artists. There are always many treasures to be found at the show, you won’t want to miss it.

Laguna Craft umbrella

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Stroll along Main Beach while visiting local artists 

Laguna Craft Guild is a small group of local Laguna Beach artists that sell their handmade goods on the cobblestones at Main Beach one to two times a month. Many of them are also Sawdust Festival artists.

The show is very special and a fun way to spend a Sunday strolling along the boardwalk with friends, family, and pets while gazing at the ocean. The art show is kind of like looking for that perfect seashell along the shoreline. 

For more information, visit or follow on Instagram at @lagunacraftguild.

South Laguna Community Garden Park hosts Laguna County Fair on Saturday

The community is invited to take part in the upcoming festive County Fair at South Laguna Community Garden Park on Saturday, March 23 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

In among the rain-nourished garden beds, local crafts people will offer their unique handcrafted art. Adding to the fun will be raffled prizes donated by Laguna businesses and live music from the Garden Band. 

South Laguna jewelry

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Submitted photo

Handmade jewelry at last year’s fair

All funds raised will support the acquisition and operation of the Garden Park. Donations of non-perishable food for the Laguna Beach Food Pantry are welcome. 

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

The garden is located at 31610 Coast Hwy, on the corner of Coast Highway and Eagle Rock Way.

Dennis’ Tidbits


March 22, 2019

Super spring and super bloom 

Dennis 5Although the Vernal (Spring) Equinox and Autumnal Equinox occurs on the 20th of March and the 23rd of September of this year, the twelve hours of sun time actually occur on or about March 16th and on or about September 25th or 26th of each year. Last Saturday, the 16th had a sunrise at 7:01 a.m. and sunset at 7:01 p.m. By the 21st, sunrise will occur at 6:57 a.m. and sunset will happen at 7:04 p.m.

After many weeks of frequent rain (much needed) and cold, sunny and warm weather has made a welcome comeback here in Southern California. For the first time in ages, the entire Pacific West Coast WAS under bright sunshine here on St. Patty’s Day and Palm Springs saw its very first 80-degree day of 2019. 

Even the Pacific Northwest got in on the warmth with places like Portland seeing their first 70-degree temps of the year. It’s been a long winter here in the West so people are savoring the warmth we thought would never show up again. Laguna Canyon is brimming with green not seen in years and the mustard is going off! 

With our local deserts getting generous moisture too, desert flowers are going to be nothing short of spectacular this spring. Suddenly a ten-mile long lake has come to life in of all places, Death Valley! It’s only a few inches deep, but it’s the first time in over a generation that this lake has come into existence as Death Valley, which only collects about three inches of rain annually. It has amassed nearly double that since December thanks to several atmospheric rivers that bring plentiful moisture because that rain source is coming from a different direction. Even Las Vegas, which averages only four inches a year, has doubled that since December as well.

On the 21st, fall begins on the other side of the equator, so the Roaring 40s storm machine comes to life. Just like the North Pacific storm belt in our hemisphere, the Roaring 40s crank out intense lows that travel from west to east. Unlike our hemisphere, where land masses stand in the way, the other hemisphere can pop out storms that can occasionally travel the entire globe and come full circle. 

It is these intense lows that are responsible for much of our south and southwest ground swells that travel as much as 7,000 miles and take over a week to reach our shores. One such low is going to send us our first Southern hemisphere swell of the new season this upcoming week with possible waves of four to six feet at premier Orange County south facing breaks. Stay tuned on that one.

Local ocean temps here in Orange County are at their chilliest in four years, running at 54-57 degrees.

And finally, fifty years ago on this date, I lost my Pop to alcohol when his liver cried no more. He was only 54. I still miss him dearly. 

I’m proud to say I’ve only been drunk once in my entire life and that was when I was about 17. I woke up the next day with my head in the toilet. Never drank again to this day! That’s probably why I’m still above ground with a very healthy liver to boot. 

Nuff said, ALOHA!

Maintaining order

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Maintaining order girl

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Hardworking Police Cadet on Saturday morning

Maintaining order traffic

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Thank heavens for the Police Cadets

Mares’ tails in the sky

Mares tails clouds

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Photo by Carole Boller

These cirrus clouds occur at very high altitudes, at a temperature of about -50° to -40°C. They are commonly known as mares’ tails because of their likeness to horses’ tails.

Village Entrance update

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Village Entrance tractor

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Hard at work

Village Entrance Deere

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Clearing a pathway

LB Trophy Invitational 2019

Photos by Scott Brashier

LB Trophy track

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The Laguna Beach Trophy Invitational, which took place on Saturday and drew an estimated 5,000 spectators, started in 1937 so smaller high schools could participate in a track and field competition

LB Trophy high jump

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Presented by Asics

LB Trophy long jump

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Today the Laguna Beach Trophy Invitational accepts schools of all sizes to compete in this all-day event

More memorable photos from Saturday’s track meet by Scott Brashier below

Creature Features

Winged migration: painted lady butterflies 


Granted, it’s not the same phenomenon as frogs falling from the sky, but the sight of countless butterflies fluttering past my car on Laguna Canyon Road sparked the same “end of the world” apprehension.

However, these painted ladies don’t signal annihilation, just the opposite, they are merely a reaction to the super bloom. Rain brings wildflowers, wildflowers attract painted lady butterflies, and they bring enchantment and wonder, lots of it. Scientists estimate the painted ladies number in the millions.

No doom, only super bloom

As quoted in the LA Times, “Substantial rainfall in the deserts near the Mexican border, where the North American painted ladies lay their eggs, is the reason for the unusually large swarms. The rain caused plants to thrive, giving the painted lady caterpillars plenty of food to fuel their transformation,” said Arthur M. Shapiro, a professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis. 

The entire North American population of painted lady butterflies migrates to west Texas and northern Mexico during the winter. As caterpillars, they feed on desert annual plants – their favorites are the families of mallows, borages, and thistles and their relatives – and then once butterflies, they begin traveling north. 

Although they reside only in the warmer climates, they (often) migrate into colder regions in spring and fall, making it the butterfly with the widest distribution of any species.

Winged migration sunflower

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Nourishment from California Bush Sunflower in Laguna

California hasn’t experienced such a remarkable migration of these butterflies since 2005, when nearly a billion painted ladies attempted the trek from near Mexico to the Northwest. Most don’t complete the journey; the offspring of the first generation usually picks up where the others left off. 

It’s not because they’re slow. According to, painted ladies fly fast and far. These medium-sized butterflies can cover a lot of ground, up to 100 miles per day during their migration. A painted lady is capable of reaching a speed of nearly 30 miles per hour and reach northern areas well ahead of some of their more famous migrating cousins, like monarch butterflies. 

Painted ladies love fiddlenecks

Because they get such an early start to their spring travel, migrating painted ladies are able to feed on spring annuals, like fiddlenecks (Amsinckia), which are plentiful in Laguna Canyon Wilderness. Thanks to the super bloom, it’s a lot easier this time around, as their favorite plant is readily available. 

Painted ladies have unusual migration patterns and are referred to as an irruptive migrant, meaning that they migrate independent of any seasonal or geographic patterns. Some evidence suggests that painted lady migrations may be linked to the El Nino climate pattern. In Mexico and some other regions, it appears that migration is sometimes related to overpopulation. 

Winged migration Thornton

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Photo by Louise Thornton

Another local variety of flower to feast on

“They can live up to six weeks, but most don’t live that long. There will be waves of migration as the first generation makes it to northern California, they breed and then the next generation makes the trip to the Pacific Northwest,” Shapiro said.

In spring, painted ladies fly low when migrating, usually only six to 12 feet above the ground. This makes them highly visible to butterfly watchers, but also rather susceptible to colliding with cars. At other times, evidence suggests that painted ladies migrate at such high altitudes that they are not observed at all, simply appearing in a new region unexpectedly.

World travelers

Painted ladies – Venessa cardui – are also called the thistle (they are its favorite nectar plant for food) or cosmopolitan butterfly (because of its global distribution). They

inhabit every continent except Australia and Antarctica. The migrating populations that move from North Africa to Europe may include millions of butterflies, and migrating populations numbering hundreds of thousands of individuals are common. 

Surprisingly, these butterflies do have a downside. For you tofu lovers, the painted ladies can sometimes damage soybean crops when they are found in large numbers. The damage occurs during the larval stages when caterpillars eat soybean foliage after hatching from eggs. 

Although they’re called painted “ladies,” of course, there must be male painted ladies as well. Otherwise, no eggs. To this end, males appear to have a romantic side. During the afternoons, they use a perch and patrol method for finding mates, and although that sounds methodical, once they find a mate, the male whisks her up to a treetop (the amorous part), where they will mate overnight.

To go along with the glamorous title of painted lady, lady caterpillars weave silk tents. Who wouldn’t want a silk cocoon? Unlike other caterpillars in the genus Vanessa, painted lady larvae construct their tents from silk, which are fluffy shelters usually found on thistle plants. 

Hopefully, the migration won’t soon be over. Laguna has fallen in love with the spectacular sight of these incredible butterflies. It is reported that a few have already been spotted in the Northwest, but they appear to be staying a while in Southern California, and that makes residents happy.

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