Laguna Beach Beer Company to open this week

Laguna Beach’s newest eatery and drinking establishment, Laguna Beach Beer Company, is slated to open this week, any day now. The brewery and restaurant, co-owned by Laguna Beach residents Brent Reynard and Mike Lombardo, has been a “long dream coming” for the duo, who launched their first location a few years ago in Rancho Santa Margarita but always wanted to open in Laguna Beach too.

Laguna Beach Beer Owners

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Photo by Scott Brashier

(L-R) The Laguna Beach Beer Company team: Rob McClaire, Russell Swarts, Brent Reynard and Mike Lombardo

“It’s been a long road, but due to the hard work of many people our dream has become a reality and we couldn’t be more excited ot share it with our Laguna Beach community and everybody that visits us!” exclaimed Brent Reynard, CEO & Co-Founder.

Laguna Beach Beer Company, located at 859 Laguna Canyon Rd in the heart of The Hive, will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and will be kid-friendly all hours of the day. The brewery will serve original craft beers, as well as a selection of delicious “brewpub” menu items including artisan flat breads, sandwiches, salads, and more.

Laguna Beach Beer Kids

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Kids are welcome at Laguna Beach Beer Company, which is slated to open this week; there is even a special ‘groms menu’…

For more information, including the latest information on an opening date (which might be today) call Laguna Beach Beer Company at (949) 715-0805.


Political notebook banner

Gallery owner Peter Blake files Intent To Run form

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Art Gallery owner Peter Blake publicly announced on Saturday that he is running for City Council. His Intent To Run form was filed on Tuesday. 

Blake pulled no punches in his announcement. He doesn’t like the direction the city is going aesthetically, politically or commercially.

“I see no one who is willing to address controversial issues the way I will,” said Blake, 53, a resident of Laguna since 1987. 

He declares himself beholden to none. 

Gallery owner peter

Photo from website

Peter Blake

“I own no property. I am not running on behalf of any business or merchant. I have no interest in expanding tourism. My only allegiance is to the residents of this community.”

Blake has opened two businesses in Laguna, a clothing store and his art gallery, originally on Gallery Row, now located on Ocean Avenue, but he owns neither building.

He said his experience in the move to Ocean Avenue and experiences others have had in dealing with the Design Review Board leads him to the inescapable conclusion that the design review process should be revised.

“It should be based on law, not on the opinions of board members,” Blake said. “I am tired of hearing horror stories of taking two to four years to build in this town and requiring architects, builders, consultants and lawyers.”

Wants term limits for committees, boards and commissions

Although he believes the ballot is the way to limit terms of elected officials, he wants to see appointments to city committees, boards and commissions replaced after two terms – especially the Design Review Board and the Heritage Committee.

“Who are these people who dictate what Laguna Beach architecture should look like?” said Blake. “We should be focusing on really special structures and not forcing people to be on a list they don’t want to be on,” referring to the proposals to revise the city’s Historic Preservation Ordinance, mired in discord.

Blake’s objectives include enactment of strong enforcement of laws pertaining to panhandling, public nuisances, low-level crime, drug use, and trespassing.

“We have opened Pandora’s Box and I want to shut it”

“I do not want the homeless fed, or provided with showers or permanent housing,” Blake said. “We have opened Pandora’s Box and I want to shut it.”

On the other hand, he urges aggressive legal representation against the ACLU.

He considers the so-called “War Against Trees” to be a war against views and would take steps to strengthen the city’s view preservation ordinance.

Blake said he would work to bring CVS into the downtown, a proposal he considers was mishandled. He would support closing Forest Avenue to vehicular traffic. 

“We don’t see people who paint idyllic pictures of Forest Avenue shopping there,” Blake said.

And the South Laguna Community Garden wouldn’t get funding from him.

“Not one penny for a garden for one percent of the population,” said Blake. 

Blake did not take a position on undergrounding, short-term lodging or accessory dwellings, all subjects likely to crop up at the forums.

He plans to participate in all candidates’ forums, which should provide a lively debate in light of his positions on some of Laguna’s most sacred shibboleths.

“By the time anyone votes for me, they will know exactly what they are getting,” said Blake.

(Campaign Compliance was hired by Blake to deal with all the paperwork involved in running for office, starting with the 501 Intent to Run form and the 410, which is filed with the Secretary of State in order to open a bank account for campaign donations.) 

Over the weeks, Barbara Diamond will interview each and every candidate who files to run for City Council. She’ll also attend and report on at least one fundraising event per candidate as well as candidate forums.


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

The SAND is back open and clean-up efforts from the spill continue

Tom new picLaguna Beach and Orange County maintained beaches have reopened this morning following the oil spill that occurred Saturday, Oct. 2. That does not include the immediate shoreline or water, which is still anticipated being closed for the near future. 

Maps from the last 24 hours show the highest concentration of oil moving to the south of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach towards offshore Laguna Beach. With storms now coming into the area and upcoming high wind forecasts set to increase, negative impacts of oil movement may result in the coming days. 

The U.S. Coast Guard remains the lead agency coordinating the response for the oil spill incident. A unified command has been established and consists of Amplify Energy, the U.S. Coast Guard and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The effort includes 14 boats that are conducting oil recovery operations with three Coast Guard boats enforcing a safety zone 1,000 yards around oil spill recovery boats. Additionally, seven aircraft have been used for overflight assessments and five shoreline cleanup and assessment teams have been dispatched to assess beaches from Laguna Beach to Dana Point Harbor, with shoreside and water clean-up being conducted by 300+ personnel from government agencies and private response organizations.

And while the public had been advised to steer clear of the beaches and all wildlife being affected, that is now changing. Volunteers are now being encouraged to register to help. Requirements: volunteers must be at least 18 years of age, be able to life 25 pounds and be “willing to follow county COVID procedures”

If you’d like to register, go to https://calspillwatch.wildlife.ca.gov/Volunteer.

Other ways to help are through donations. There are several good local organizations that could use the help, specifically, the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center and the Surfrider Foundation.

The Ranch at Laguna Beach is an example of a local business reaching out joining them to make a difference. The resort initially closed their oceanfront Lost Pier Café as a result of the beaches closing, but now with the sand back open so is the restaurant. Today, 100 percent of today’s revenue will be donated to the clean-up efforts. So please, get out there and support them. 

The monies will be split equally among the resort’s local environmental partners, Surfrider Foundation and Pacific Marine Mammal Center. 

Elsewhere, State Senator Dave Min is reportedly putting forth legislation to have the oil rigs off the coast removed permanently and ending future drilling. I like it, but I’d feel better if it was coming from Congresswoman Michelle Steel, only because it’s a federal issue.

That being said, City Council joined Min’s effort by signing the letter to OC federal representatives asking them to lead a legislative effort to end all offshore drilling in federal waters off the coast of California, including drilling performed under current leases. 

The desired action goes beyond dictates under Sen. Diane Feinstein’s West Coast Ocean Preservation Act and Rep. Mike Levin’s American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act.

• • •

Looking for something to do this Sunday, Oct. 10th? Why not visit the Laguna Craft Guild on the cobblestones at Main Beach, next to The Greeter’s Corner Restaurant?

The Laguna Craft Guild hosts the downtown area’s longest running art fair. You’ll find handmade jewelry, ceramics, blown glass, painting and photographs. Everything is the work of our local artisans.

Check it out 9 a.m. until one hour before sunset. (If there’s rain, the event will be pushed back one week.)

• • •

Speaking of events in town, Laguna Beach Water District’s SmartScape Waterwise Expo is planned for tomorrow, Oct. 9th, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. The expo will take place at their headquarters at 306 Third St., and cover issues such as possible drought conditions, water use efficiency and more. 

They’ve promised a family-fun event.

• • •

Finally, it’s been nice to be out there among you this week meeting with people in town, while also viewing the Laguna Canyon Conservancy program that featured the Laguna Residents First ballot initiative and the viewing of a very long City Council meeting.

All good!

If you feel we need to meet, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can perhaps meet for a cup of coffee on the parklet fronting Moulin.


Rotary Club announces community service grants and local scholarships

The Rotary Club of Laguna Beach is proud to announce its Community Service Grants and local scholarships for 2021. Despite canceled fundraising events due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the Club was able to draw on past event revenues from its Grapes for Grads and Classic Car Shows to continue its yearly tradition, since 1931, of serving the community and recognizing outstanding students.

Community Service Grants totaling $13,500 were awarded to the following organizations: the Laguna Beach Community Clinic, the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach Seniors (Susi Q), the Laguna Food Pantry, the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, No Square Theater, and Laguna Beach High School.

Students benefit from grants

Local high school students were awarded a total of $14,000 for scholarships in various categories. They included: Shelby Thomas (Harry Bithell Service Above Self Award), Grace Wilson (Youth Services Award), Matthew Berk (Grapes for Grads Business Award), Michael Pinto (Grapes for Grads Business Award), Grace Gilles (Grapes for Grads STEM Award), Eliyah Dawson (Grapes for Grads STEM Award), and Audrey Sutton (Grapes for Grads STEM Award). Additionally, the Rotary Club honored Students of the Month in various subjects during the school year with scholarships of $500 each.

Outstanding students from the Laguna Beach College of Art and Design were awarded a total of $8,000 in scholarships. They included: Spencer Wilson, Clair Foxworth, Aridithi Arunganapathy, Gabrielle Angeles, and Clarris Majia.

With the recent easing of COVID restrictions, the Rotary Club is looking forward to resuming its major fundraising events. Watch for the Classic Car Show coming late this September in the City lot across from the Festival of Arts. The Grapes for Grads will follow next spring at the Festivals of Arts venue. Watch for further details on both events!


Local high school student coordinates shoe drive

It’s amazing that a pair of shoes can really affect someone’s self-esteem. Some kids don’t have a pair of shoes, and therefore won’t attend school because of that. 

Enter Kai Jay Rose, a freshman at Laguna Beach High School, who is coordinating a shoe drive for a community service project. Kai Jay is continuing his sister Jessie’s shoe drive with Soles4Souls (S4S), because by collecting unwanted shoes in the community, his family believes they can really help alter someone’s life.

Local high school Kai Jay

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Courtesy of the Rose family

Kai Jay Rose wants to turn unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity

When you visit the Soles4Souls website at www.Soles4Souls.org, there’s a quote that rings true, “People living in poverty want a better life, but many lack opportunity.

At S4S, they turn unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity, by keeping them from going to waste and putting them to good use – providing relief, creating jobs and empowering people to break the cycle of poverty.

Shoes, whether they are new or gently loved, are wanted. They can be dropped off at two locations: The donation boxes at Artists Theater at Laguna Beach High School, 625 Park Ave., or 2925 Mountain View Drive at Top of the World. It would be helpful if the shoes are paired together with a rubber band or tied together with the shoe laces. The shoe drive continues through January 15, 2022.

For more information, visit www.Solea4Souls.org.


Fire above Emerald Bay has forced evacuations and closed schools

Fire above fire in dark

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Photo by Bree Burgess Rosen

An early morning major wind-impacted brush fire has forced mandatory evacuations in Emerald Bay and Irvine Cove, and an evacuation warning for all residents north of Broadway. The initial report of fire came in at 4:09 a.m.

The fire is being referred to as the “Emerald Fire.”

ALL SCHOOLS in the Laguna Beach Unified School District have been closed for the day.

There is no reported impact to any structures at this point.

Fire above house in foreground

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Photo by Devon Dick

Fire units from surrounding cities have been summoned for additional aid, including additional strike teams.

The fire has been initially reported at seven acres, but concerns have been voiced that it could approach 100 acres.

Coast Highway is closed in both directions.

Reports around 6:24 a.m. announce that City sirens have been utilized in the North Laguna area to alert for potential evacuations.

Fire above from Main Beach

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Photo by Cindy Ferguson

Fire roars in distance from Main Beach

Helicopter air drops are underway.

Click www.lagunabeachcity.net/live-here/emergency-management/evacuation-planning for all City Evacuation Zone Maps.

It is critical that people in Laguna Beach register to receive emergency alerts. Sign up at www.alertoc.com and to sign up for Nixle, text 92651 to 888.777. For ongoing updates, go to www.lagunabeachcity.net.

(This is a breaking news story and updates will be made as available.)


Silverado and Blue Ridge Fires continue to burn through OC

The Silverado and Blue Ridge Fires continue to burn through Orange County. Smoke coming into our city is coming from these fires and there is still no threat to Laguna Beach at this point. The Laguna Beach Fire Department has increased staffing and is ready if anything were to happen. Click here for a current evacuation map and other information from the City.

The City announced Red Flag warnings yesterday, October 26. The dangerous fire weather conditions were highlighted by erratic winds of 25-35 MPH with gusts of 35-40 MPH in the canyons, along with extremely low humidity levels.

Silverado fire 1

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Courtesy of LBFD/City of LB

The Silverado and Blue Ridge Fires are burning through Orange County

At 7 a.m. yesterday morning, Orange County Fire Authority notified local fire agencies of a five-acre brush fire in progress at the Silverado and Santiago Canyon areas. That location is directly east of the City of Tustin and north of the City of Lake Forest.

By 8 a.m., that fire had spread to approximately 50 acres and was growing rapidly. The winds pushed the smoke towards Laguna Beach. Smoke and the smell of fire were highly noticeable. 

By this morning, October 27, the fires had encompassed some 11,000 acres and were forcing a mandatory evacuation to about 100,000 residents.

Laguna Beach residents should take this time to evaluate their emergency preparedness levels. Please refer to the Ready! Set! Go! Program available on the Fire Department website (www.lagunabeachcity.net/readysetgo). Register for AlertOC which is the City’s mass notification system by going to www.alertoc.com – make sure you include your cell phone number, text number, and email addresses so the City can contact you no matter where you are. In order to ensure you are contacted during an emergency or Red Flag Warning, register with Nixle by texting 92651 to 888-777.

Silverado fire 2

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The City encourages residents to evaluate their wildfire action plans by visiting www.lagunabeachcity.net/readysetgo

Wildfire smoke poses potential health risk

Smoke from the fires may pose a health danger to some Orange County residents, especially those in certain high-risk groups.

“Everyone should take precautions to stay cool and drink plenty of water to reduce health risks related to the heat and wildfire smoke,” said Dr. Clayton Chau, County Health Officer. “Additional precautions are especially needed for older adults, those with preexisting medical conditions like heart or lung disease, those with disabilities, children, and those who may be working outdoors.”

Precautions to Reduce Health Effects of Wildfire Smoke:

--Avoid any vigorous outdoor or indoor activity.

--People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should remain indoors.

--Keep the windows and doors in your home closed.

Silverado fire 3

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Photo by Vincent Wallstein

Take care to reduce the effects of the wildfire smoke we are currently experiencing

--Use your air conditioner on the re-circulate mode, if available, to limit the intake of outdoor air and keep your home comfortable.

--Keep your airways (nose and mouth) moist by drinking extra amounts of water. This helps your body filter out potentially harmful particles in the smoke.

--Seek medical attention if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or severe fatigue.

To view current air quality conditions by region in an interactive map, go to http://www3.aqmd.gov/webappl/gisaqi2/home.aspx.


Elise Chen wins LBUSD Elementary Spelling Bee Championship

The LBUSD PTA hosted the annual Laguna Beach Unified School District Fifth Grade Spelling Bee Championship Finals at El Morro Elementary School on Thursday, April 25, with 10 competitors from El Morro and 10 from Top of the World Elementary School vying for the top spot. 

Elimination rounds were held earlier in the month at each school to determine the finalists. The winner was TOW’s Elise Chen, who engaged runner-up Zoe Tran, representing El Morro, in a rapid-fire challenge, alternating turns to spell words that advanced to the sixth- and then seventh-grade spelling word lists. 

Elise Chen standing

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Submitted photo

Fifth Grade Spelling Bee Champion Elise Chen

At the conclusion of this heated contest, PTA program chairmen Lisa Jensen and Melissa Vermilya treated competitors and spectators to an ice cream social. Tom Fay once again served as emcee for the championship and presented each word to the students to spell, while Kathleen Fay returned as the spelling bee judge; both are PTA volunteers. Elementary school principals Chris Duddy of El Morro and Michael Conlon of TOW oversaw the event.


Planning Commission to review Broadway
storm drain project

By BARBARA DIAMOND

The Planning Commission on Wednesday will review a project proposed by the Public Works Department to shore up the storm drain along Broadway from Beach Street to the Main Beach outlet.

Repairs are needed to extend the life of the culvert, built by the city in 1928, and to improve the flow of water. Improvements will include the transition structure at Beach Street, where the flow plummets from 2200 ccs a minute to 800 ccs. Sometimes called the pinch point or the choke point, the precipitous drop is blamed for some of the flooding downtown in severe rainstorms. The cost is estimated at $750,000.

“We should have done this years ago when the county was willing to pay for it,” said former Mayor Cheryl Kinsman, the lone supporter of a storm drain proposal voted down by the council in 2002. 

The county’s proposal was rejected by the council, partially due to complaints about the adverse impacts on downtown businesses by the disruption of traffic during construction. 

Terry Brandt, former director of municipal services (now Public Works), said at the time that business owners complain about flooding until the sun comes out. 

Construction of the new transition structure will impact traffic, but Public Works will attempt to mitigate the disruption. A traffic control plan will be reviewed by Public Works that will identify temporary closures and detours required during construction to minimize traffic impacts in the area of the project.

Planning Commission Storm

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Storm drain in March: rock debris in the channel before it goes under Beach St

The county Flood Control District, which had proposed the 2002 project, owns the majority of the channel, which begins as a natural creek in Laguna Canyon. Farther along, the channel is encased in concrete that runs along SR-133 until it reaches Forest Avenue, and the channel goes underground into reinforced concrete boxes. 

The city owns and maintains the part of the culvert between Beach Street and Main Beach, except for the portion under Coast Highway that belongs to Caltrans. 

Laguna’s share of the storm drain was built in 1928. 

Most of the channel is in fair condition, according to the staff report written by Project Director Thomas Perez, who joined the city staff in January. However, the last 50 feet, including the Main Beach outlet, is in a state of disrepair that requires replacement, he reported.

The city’s project does not include improvements in the right-of-way under Coast Highway. Caltrans is developing construction documents for its property under the highway, but no final design or schedule is available at this time.

Requests for proposals will be posted on the city’s website, and online, in newspaper advertisements and with a service that sends information on proposed projects to contractors.


Laguna loses friend and local historian Francis Cabang Jr., former owner of the Royal Hawaiian 

Based on comments from friends and acquaintances throughout his many years in Laguna, Francis Cabang Jr. was loved by everyone he met. He was widely known as a “great guy” and a “class act,” and someone who was always ready with a smile. Sadly, Laguna lost a long time staple of the community on May 13. Francis Jr. was born on June 1, 1956 and graduated from Laguna Beach High School in 1974. 

His family has a long history in Laguna. Francis Cabang Jr.’s father, Francis Cabang Sr., was one of the first owners of Royal Hawaiian, which opened in 1947, and Francis Jr., along with other members of the Cabang family, ran the restaurant until 2006 when it changed ownership and underwent a major remodel.

Evidently, Francis Jr. was a wealth of information on Laguna and full of fun facts as many of his friends attest. He laughed a lot and he made others laugh as well. 

Laguna loses close up

Photo from Facebook

Francis Cabang Jr.

Bree Burgess Rosen of No Square Theatre says, “Francis’ little brother Rufino has been in many, many of our shows, and writes for both Lagunatics and LagunaTots as well. Rufino was in the first Lagunatics in 1992, and we have been close for the 27 years since. Louisa, the now grown daughter of Julie Cabang, was also in our children’s shows way back. 

“Of course I knew Junior, as well as the rest of the family. He was a great guy. Terrific. A sweet flirt. The family are all very close and spend a lot of time together, with Rufino driving down every week to have family dinners and take momma to visit Francis Sr.’s gravesite. Junior was a devoted brother and son. He was also a bit of a local historian and, best of all, he was quick with a smile, a hug, and a laugh. He will be missed by many, including me and certainly our No Square family. I know the family is heartbroken. It’s a terrible loss.”

Repeatedly in friends’ observations, Francis is remembered for his kindness, decency, and thoughtfulness. It’s apparent that he touched many lives, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.


Marine Safety Files

Off-duty LB lifeguard helps OC Lifeguards in rescue of mother and children at Aliso Beach

On Sunday, May 12, at 3:35 p.m., OC Lifeguards responded to the south end of Aliso Beach to rescue a young adult male who was having difficulty in the high surf. As the lifeguard pulled him in, he saw a female child having difficulty in the water. 

“The lifeguard also pulled the child to safety and the child began breathing immediately. A second lifeguard rushed in and rescued an adult female who was in the water non-responsive. This female was brought onto the sand,” LBPD Spokesperson PIO Sgt Jim Cota said. “The lifeguards administered CPR and the female then began breathing.” 

OC Lifeguards Chief Jason Young explained, “We had lifeguards respond to that area where they performed a rescue of two individuals in the water. The male individual was escorted out of the water and they proceeded to two individuals that they pulled out of the crack in the rocks. They were able to get both victims back to shore. Both of them required medical attention. Paramedics were dispatched and met the two lifeguards on the beach to take over their care and the individuals were transported to Mission Hospital.”

The female is the mother of the child and mother of the young adult male. The victims are from out of town.

According to LB Marine Safety Capt Kai Bond, an off-duty Laguna Beach lifeguard, Jakob Herbert, facilitated in the rescue. 

“He was skimboarding on that beach and he noticed there was somebody face down in the water, and he swam and made the rescue of one of the two victims without fins or a floatation device,” Capt Bond said.

Ocean conditions were rough on Sunday with dangerous surf.

“Ocean conditions were extremely hazardous on Sunday. We had surf in the 4 to 6-foot range from the south/southwest. The surf was building in size and the tide was coming in. That all attributed to the situation that pulled those people out through the rocks,” Chief Young said. “We advise the public that it can be dangerous anytime by the rocks. Especially during high surf, you should stay off any area where there are rocks and keep back from the water’s edge.” 

As of press time, Chief Young did not have any information on the victims’ current status.


COVID-19: 4,514 new cases and 27 new deaths reported in OC, 10 new cases in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 1,874 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 27 new deaths reported today (December 30). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 4,514 new cases of COVID-19 today, marking a seven-day surge of 21,753 new cases and 156,573 cumulative cases to date. 

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.9 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 40 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,145 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+39 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 479 are in ICU (+6 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 503 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 10 new cases reported today and 52 new cases reported since last Wednesday’s report.

Anaheim experienced an increase of 718 new cases today; Santa Ana experienced an increase of 718 new cases today.

The county estimates 86,873 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna. 

*From OC Health Care Agency: Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

COVID 19 County 12 30 20 1

COVID 19 County 12 30 20 2

COVID 19 County 12 30 20 3

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data as of December 30, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 2,701 new cases and 29 new deaths reported in OC, 3 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 1,972 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 29 new deaths reported yesterday (January 7). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 2,701 new cases of COVID-19 in OC yesterday. There have been 177,733 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.6 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 33 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,251 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+2 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 502 are in ICU (+17 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 550 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including three new cases reported yesterday and 45 new cases reported since last Thursday’s report.

The county estimates 106,962 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

COVID 19 County 1 7 21 1

COVID 19 County 1 7 21 2

COVID 19 County 1 7 21 3

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 7, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 3,544 new cases and 26 new deaths reported in OC, 9 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 1,998 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 26 new deaths reported today (January 8). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 3,544 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 181,277 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 4.5 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 34 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,259 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+8 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 514 are in ICU (+12 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 559 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including nine new cases reported today and 46 new cases reported since last Saturday’s report.

The county estimates 109,904 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

COVID 19 County 1 8 21 1

COVID 19 County 1 8 21 2

COVID 19 County 1 8 21 3

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 8, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 4,204 new cases and 43 new deaths reported in OC, 9 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,041 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 43 new deaths reported today (January 9). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 4,204 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 185,481 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.1 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 34 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,221 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+38 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 528 are in ICU (+14 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 568 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including nine new cases reported today and 55 new cases reported since last Saturday’s report.

The county estimates 111,854 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

COVID 19 County 1 9 21 1

COVID 19 County 1 9 21 2

COVID 19 County 1 9 21 3

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 9, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


School Board stands by current honors grade weighting policy

An information item on LBUSD’s current grade weighting policy was presented on Tuesday night at the board’s regular meeting. After hearing a presentation from Assistant Superintendent Dr. Alysia Odipo, Ed.D, as well as public comment from 15 local residents, none of whom were in support of the policy, the board decided not to move the item forward as an action item at a future meeting. Board member Dee Perry dissented.

In February 2016, the Board voted to remove grade weighting from honors courses that had previously been weighted by the district. The policy change did not affect grade weighting of AP courses, which have remained weighted.

At the time, then-board president William Landsiedel and current board member Dee Perry dissented, while current board president Jan Vickers, current board clerk Carol Normandin, and then-board member Ketta Brown supported the decision.

The decision has been challenged publicly by local residents, who argue that the shift in grade weighting puts LBHS students at a disadvantage in the college admissions and scholarship application process, as well as discouraging high-achieving students from taking the more rigorous honors courses as freshman or sophomores, because there is no incentive for them to do so. A petition to reinstate and retroactively add back weighting to honors courses in which the “bump” has been removed, organized by local Amy Kramer, has received 441 signatures.

According to Dr. Odipo, who led with a presentation, LBUSD is currently in the process of adding back honors course weighting to a number of courses previously stripped of the bump, pending UC approval. LBHS currently offers 21 weighted AP courses, 8 honors courses that are pending UC approval, and 4 previously weighted honors courses that are now unweighted.

One of the primary criteria for determining whether a course is weighted or not, Odipo said, is that it “must be comparable in terms of rigor and coursework to AP courses.”

The other is to align with the UC system, which she said is a good metric for California public schools to measure against.

Terri Meisberber questioned the value of UC alignment, stating that a small percentage of LBHS students actually attend UC schools (10 to 15 percent according to Odipo). She also pointed out that other nearby school districts like Capistrano Unified offer grade weighting on 9th grade honors courses.

“We want the board to focus on the 87 percent of students at LBHS [that don’t attend UC schools],” she said. “What is the harm in using the same classification as other school districts such as Capo?”

Ilana Rosenberg, who has children at both Sage Hill and LBHS, said that LBHS is stuck between public and private school policy. “It seems like LBHS falls between a private school like Sage Hill and many of the public schools that are in the area, and I feel it needs to go one way or another.

“If LBHS does not want to weight certain honors or accelerated courses in 9th or 10th grade, then as far as I’m concerned these classes shouldn’t be offered.”

Board member Carol Normandin suggested that the unweighting of certain honors courses has helped strengthen the school’s AP program, which is at its peak according to LBUSD data.

In explaining her position on grade weighting, Normandin said, “There is an entitlement cost…these kids don’t have resilience, they’re going to fall apart.”

Board member Peggy Wolff said that the board has not based its decision on whether or not students apply to the UC schools but rather on it being a solid criteria to judge the rigor of a class by. 

“The UC system is well respected; we are meeting it. Before we had no criteria, honors classes could be willy-nilly and not have criteria. We’re telling our students in AP US History and AP Euro that that is a valuable college-level course and Honors English 9 is not equal to that,” she said.

Board member Perry dissented because she feels it puts students at a disadvantage for merit scholarships and because of the large number of constituents opposed to the policy, she said.

Board member James Kelly, a former college president, disagreed, stating that colleges recalculate GPAs for scholarship consideration, and also that, on a more macro level, scholarships are used by colleges to attract students to “sign on the dotted line” after being accepted.


COVID-19: 5,953 new cases and 63 new deaths reported in OC over last two days, 15 new cases in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 1,845 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 63 new deaths reported today (December 26). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date. (Note: Today’s newly reported cases and deaths are a reflection of cases and deaths from both today and yesterday due to the Christmas holiday.)

The county reported 5,953 new cases of COVID-19 – including 3,196 new cases from yesterday and 2,757 new cases from today – marking a seven-day surge of 24,441 new cases and 144,263 cumulative cases to date. 

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.7 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 45 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,957 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+39 since Thursday’s report – includes ICU); 432 are in ICU (+27 since Thursday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 475 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 15 new cases reported today and 56 new cases reported since last Saturday’s report.

Anaheim experienced an increase of 1,109 new cases today; Santa Ana experienced an increase of 913 new cases today.

The county estimates 79,794 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna. 

*From OC Health Care Agency: Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data as of December 26, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 3,121 new cases and 50 new deaths reported in OC, 5 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,091 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 50 new deaths reported today (January 10). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 3,121 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 188,602 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.1 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 34 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,216 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-5 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 547 are in ICU (+19 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 573 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including five new cases reported today and 35 new cases reported since last Monday’s report.

The county estimates 113,309 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 10, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


Council will consider a hike in trash collection rate

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Tonight, the City Council will consider gradual increases in trash collection over the next three fiscal years.

Property owners were notified of the proposed increases and of their right to submit letters of opposition. Seven letters had been received by the date of the preparation of the agenda bill. 

The proposed increase will cost owners of single units $5.56 more than the current $222.35 in fiscal year 2019-2020, which begins on July 1. The increase will jump by $11.26 in fiscal year 2020-2021 and by $17.10 in 2021-022.

Owners of duplexes will see an increase of $36.52 over the three-year span. The increase will be $35.24 for owners of triplexes. The bill for fourplex owners will jump to $44.29 in three years and to $52.58 for fiveplex owners. 

City staff is advising approval of the increases, made necessary, they report, by inflation plus collection and landfill disposal costs. Without the increase, the city would be in the hole for almost $98,000 by fiscal year 2020-2021, according to staff.

Fees for solid waste collection are included on property tax bills. Property owners will first see the increases on their November bill. 

Laguna’s rate is in the middle of the county, 16th out of 33 cities. The increased rates would drop it down a notch, assuming no other cities raise rates at the same time, according to the staff report.

The agreement with Waste Management was first approved by the council in 2013. It expires in 2023.


COVID-19: 2,752 new cases and 78 new deaths reported in OC, 15 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,625 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 78 new deaths reported today (January 23). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 2,752 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 221,493 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 8.6 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 36 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,818 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-78 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 482 are in ICU (-34 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 690 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 15 new cases reported today and 52 new cases reported since last Saturday’s report.

The county estimates 152,368 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 23, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 1,795 new cases and 13 new deaths reported in OC, 7 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,638 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 13 new deaths reported today (January 24). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 1,795 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 22,288s cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 9.5 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 35 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,732 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-86 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 467 are in ICU (-15 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 697 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including seven new cases reported today and 55 new cases reported since last Sunday’s report.

The county estimates 153,862 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 24, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19 numbers climb in Orange County: 32 reported cases in Laguna Beach

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, April 5, show that COVID-19 numbers continue to climb throughout the county, with 32 reported cases in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach, with a population base of 23,358, has the highest per capita rate of COVID-19 cases in Orange County at a rate of 1.370 cases per 1,000 residents. One new case was reported in Laguna Beach today. 

Newport Beach (population 87,180) has 73 reported cases and Irvine (population 280,202) has 75 reported cases of COVID-19, per capita rates of 0.837 and 0.268 per 1,000 residents, respectively.

There are 834 cumulative reported cases to date in Orange County, including 49 new cases reported today, resulting in, sadly, 14 deaths. 137 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 56 are currently in ICU.

136 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Orange County by HCA Public Health Lab and commercial labs since yesterday (out of 9,933 people tested cumulatively so far).

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 5;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 4,406 new cases and 26 new deaths reported in OC, 8 new cases in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 1,901 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 26 new deaths reported today. There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date. (According to the county, updates posted today reflect data from January 1.)

The county reported 4,406 new cases of COVID-19 today, marking a seven-day total of 23,279 new cases and 161,589 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 7.5 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 39 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,097 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-31 since Thursday’s report – includes ICU); 501 are in ICU (+6 since Thursday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 513 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including eight new cases reported today and 38 new cases reported since last Saturday’s report.

Santa Ana experienced an increase of 896 new cases today; Anaheim experienced an increase of 736 new cases today.

The county estimates 91,679 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna. (There will not be any updates tomorrow, January 3, due to scheduled maintenance with CDPH. Updates will resume on Monday, Jan 4.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data from January 1, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


Laguna light

Laguna light

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Photo by Scott Brashier

“The glorious lamp of heaven, the Sun.” –Robert Herrick


1,221 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC: 35 reported cases in Laguna Beach

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, April 11, show that COVID-19 numbers continue to climb throughout the county.

Today’s numbers reflect that Laguna Beach, with a population of 23,358, has the highest per capita rate in OC, with 1.498 cases per thousand residents. However, Laguna Beach has only had four new reported cases of COVID-19 in the last week, since April 4.

The City of Laguna Beach has taken strong measures to protect its residents, closing its beaches and trails weeks ago, and enacting an urgency ordinance on Friday, April 10 requiring all Essential Workers in the city to wear protective face coverings.

Local doctor Dr. Gregg DeNicola of Caduceus Medical Group says his office is seeing a decrease in positive COVID-19 results, as well as less people testing overall.

The city with the second highest per capita rate in OC is Newport Beach with 84 reported cases, 0.964 cases per thousand. 

Anaheim is the city with the most cases at 135, with a population of 359,339. Irvine, with a population of 280,202, has 95 cases.

There are 1,221 cumulative reported cases to date in Orange County, resulting in, sadly, 18 deaths. 118 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 63 are currently in ICU.

418 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Orange County by HCA Public Health Lab and commercial labs since yesterday (out of 13,288 cumulative tests countywide).

For more information, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 11;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 3,259 new cases and 29 new deaths reported in OC, 15 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,120 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 29 new deaths reported yesterday (January 11). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 3,259 new cases of COVID-19 in OC yesterday. There have been 191,861 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.9 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 35 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,221 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+5 since Sunday’s report – includes ICU); 544 are in ICU (-3 since Sunday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 588 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 15 new cases reported yesterday and 50 new cases reported since last Monday’s report.

The county estimates 117,211 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 11, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 3,824 new cases and 28 new deaths reported in OC, 11 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,148 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 28 new deaths reported today (January 12). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 3,824 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 195,685 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 6.4 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 34 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,200 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-21 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 535 are in ICU (-9 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 599 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 11 new cases reported today and 58 new cases reported since last Tuesday’s report.

The county estimates 121,434 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 12, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 3,847 new cases and 31 new deaths reported in OC, 10 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,179 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 31 new deaths reported today (January 13). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 3,847 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 199,532 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 6.9 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 35 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,180 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-20 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 544 are in ICU (+9 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 609 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 10 new cases reported today and 62 new cases reported since last Wednesday’s report.

The county estimates 125,400 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 13, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


1,277 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC: 36 reported cases in Laguna Beach

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, April 12, show that COVID-19 numbers continue to climb throughout the county.

Today’s numbers reflect that Laguna Beach, with a population of 23,358, has the highest per capita rate in OC, with 1.541 cases per thousand residents. However, Laguna Beach has only had four new reported cases of COVID-19 in the last week, since April 5.

The City of Laguna Beach has taken strong measures to protect its residents, closing its beaches and trails weeks ago, and enacting an urgency ordinance on Friday, April 10 requiring all Essential Workers in the city to wear protective face coverings.

Local doctor Dr. Gregg DeNicola of Caduceus Medical Group says his office is seeing a decrease in positive COVID-19 results, as well as less people testing overall.

The city with the second highest per capita rate in OC is Newport Beach with 85 reported cases, 0.975 cases per thousand. 

Anaheim is the city with the most cases at 146, with a population of 359,339. Irvine, with a population of 280,202, has 97 cases.

There are 1,277 cumulative reported cases to date in Orange County, resulting in, sadly, 19 deaths. 107 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 52 are currently in ICU.

240 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Orange County by HCA Public Health Lab and commercial labs since yesterday (out of 13,528 cumulative tests countywide).

For more information, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 12;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


Council considers censure of Blake, neighborhood plan, and summer programs

By SARA HALL

City Council has an interesting and packed agenda for tonight’s meeting (March 9), including a request to censure a council member, a proposed plan aimed at neighborhood and environmental protections, and updates on summer parking programs, trolley services, and events.

A noteworthy item during regular business will be Council’s consideration of Councilmember George Weiss’ request for censure of Councilmember Peter Blake.

Weiss’ request for censure is based on two categories of “unprofessional acts” that violate the Rules of Decorum, he states: “First, insulting public communications directed to or about different Laguna Beach residents, which convey the (false) impression that community input is held in disdain by the City Council. Second, public derisive comments about fellow long-term Councilmember Toni Iseman.” In his request, Weiss notes several instances during city meetings, posts on social media, and comments on newspaper articles, when Blake used slurs or other offensive, disparaging, or derogatory language.

The comments are a violation of the Rules of Decorum, Weiss concluded, and they also “create a negative impression of Laguna Beach’s City Council.” “Councilmember Blake’s comments look and sound like abuse of a fellow Councilmember,” Weiss wrote. “They establish a hostile environment for community members to speak without fear of oral or written intimidation. They are not conducive to open dialogue and dissent, which are inherent components if citizens’ democratic rights.”

They also harm the reputation and stature of the council, he states.

Council consider Peter Blake

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Submitted photo

Councilmember Peter Blake

While Blake has the right to free speech, Weiss wrote, elected officials must adhere to a higher standard, as outlined in the Rules of Decorum and Civility Policy.

Referencing the Council’s adoption of the Rules of Decorum and Civility Policy in 2019, staff points out in their report that “city officials who intentionally and repeatedly do not adhere to these rules may be reprimanded by the presiding officer or formally censured by a majority vote of the members of the city body of which such city official is a member.”

The censure is meant to “provide an intervention” so Blake “can be encouraged to embrace respectful disagreement and more effectively give open-minded consideration to all viewpoints.”

A censure by City Council is to be “treated as an official expression of disapproval or criticism.” There is no fine, suspension, loss of compensation or benefits, or any other form of penalty or discipline. 

Any council member may make a motion either to take no action on the censure request, or to deny or approve the censure request.

During the meeting, Blake will have an opportunity for rebuttal and is eligible to vote on any motion made. Other council members will be allowed to ask questions or make comments. Public comment will also be allowed.

Also on the agenda is an extensive proposal aimed at reducing the negative impact of visitors (particularly in highly visited neighborhoods near beaches, parks, and trails) and increasing safety, sanitation, and environmental measures. Staff recommends Council approve the Neighborhood and Environmental Protection Plan, which provides enhanced services and programs, and appropriate $688,000 from the Measure LL Fund for one-time program costs for both fiscal years and $247,700 from the Parking Fund for the FY 2020-21 ongoing costs.

Council considers clean sign

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The Neighborhood and Environmental Protection Plan aims to increase sanitation and safety near beaches, parks, and trails

Also proposed is a service agreement amount not to exceed $18,000 with Laguna Canyon Foundation for the ambassador program at Carolyn Knoll Wood trail head and viewpoint and Alta Laguna Park area.

The item also includes modifying existing contracts to enhance cleaning services, adding specific city staff/officers, and authorization for city staff or Council representatives to meet with the California Coastal Commission staff to discuss the possibility of implementing residents parking permit programs in areas not near the coast and in areas near the coast if alternative parking sites could be identified.

Residents recently requested at various meetings that the city look into developing a series of programs to address the impact of visitors to residential neighborhoods.

Many of the city’s residential neighborhoods have been “significantly impacted by visitors parking on their streets, leaving trash behind, and engaging in nuisance behaviors and illegal activities,” according to the staff report. 

Some of the suggested policies include: Prohibiting the use of plastic straws and single-use containers on beaches and trails; prohibit restaurant’s distribution of plastic straws and single-use to-go containers; regulate shade structures on public beaches to preserve public safety sightlines; and convert city water fountains to include bottle filling stations at parks, beaches, and trails.

Other proposals include adding park gates, neighborhood signage, parking considerations in specific neighborhoods (including possible permit programs), providing trail ambassadors, starting litter picker crews, installing cameras, creating a neighborhood improvement team, year-round lifeguard coverage for certain areas, prohibit the feeding of wild birds in city parks, adjust operating hours of certain parks, and more.

During the consent calendar portion of the agenda, Council will consider adopting a resolution proclaiming the need to continue the local emergency in connection with COVID-19 and authorizing emergency orders, rules, and regulations, for an additional 60-day cycle.

“Given that COVID-19 is still categorized as an active pandemic and is impacting the operations of both the private and public sectors,” staff is recommending the continuation, the report reads.

City Council will also receive a status update on the trolley services with a 2021 summer parking management plan.

Council considers trolley

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Council will hear an update on the summer 2021 plan for trolley services

The staff recommendation for the summer 2021 Parking Management Plan includes the trolley service on the Coastal, Canyon, and Summer Breeze routes between June 25 and September 6, and directs staff to modify service levels as appropriate to respond to ridership demand, and state and local health orders.

Staff is also proposing the introduction of a pilot program beginning in the fall that would provide on-demand residential transit service that would replace hourly trolley service on the three neighborhood routes. 

The recommendation includes working to negotiate a lease agreements with: Mission Hospital Laguna Beach for peripheral parking lot use in an amount not to exceed $68,000, and authorize the provision of free parking at the Mission Hospital lot; Laguna College of Art and Design for peripheral parking lot use on weekends; Festival of Arts for the lease of the parking spaces in city parking lots if the Pageant of the Masters show moves forward; and The Irvine Company to lease a portion of the Spectrum Terrace lot from June 26 to September 6, to provide free peripheral parking for the Summer Breeze trolley service.

The seasonal residential parking permit program in the Canyon Acres neighborhood (if the Sawdust Festival opens), summer parking pass for $30 that offers unlimited parking in select city parking lots, and summer parking meter and parking lot rates and hours are also included.

An item regarding recreation and events is also on the consent calendar. If approved, certain events will continue, like the July 4 fireworks, and recreation activities with move forward with COVID-19 precautions.

If approved, Council will direct staff to schedule outdoor recreation classes and camps for spring and summer 2021 in compliance with state and local health orders; and approve the continued suspension of most indoor recreation classes and city-sponsored events that draw large crowds through summer 2021, or until the county progresses into the later stages of the state’s reopening plan.

It also directs staff to proceed with planning efforts for the July 4 fireworks display and authorize the city manager to execute an agreement with the fireworks display vendor, Pyro Spectaculars by Souza, in an amount not to exceed $35,000.

The agenda is available online here. The meeting begins at 5 p.m. To participate via Zoom, you may click here from your computer or smart phone. You may also call (669) 900-9128 and wait for instructions. The Webinar ID is 955 0557 8235#. The meeting can also be watched live on Cox channel 852.


1,376 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC: 36 reported cases in Laguna Beach

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, April 15, reflect that there are 36 reported cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach, with a population of 23,358, has the highest per capita rate in OC, with 1.541 cases per thousand residents. However, Laguna Beach has only had one new reported case of COVID-19 in the last week, since April 8.

The City of Laguna Beach has taken strong measures to protect its residents, closing its beaches and trails weeks ago, and enacting an urgency ordinance on Friday, April 10 requiring all Essential Workers in the city to wear protective face coverings.

The city with the second highest per capita rate in OC is Newport Beach with 90 reported cases, 1.032 cases per thousand. 

Anaheim is the city with the most cases at 156, with a population of 359,339. Irvine, with a population of 280,202, has 105 cases.

There are 1,376 cumulative reported cases to date in Orange County, resulting in, sadly, 22 deaths. 104 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 45 are currently in ICU.

328 people have been tested for COVID-19 in Orange County by HCA Public Health Lab and commercial labs since yesterday (out of 15,305 cumulative tests countywide).

For more information, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 15;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 8,990 new cases and 25 new deaths reported in OC, 25 new cases in Laguna Beach (two days of data)

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 1,926 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 25 new deaths reported yesterday (January 4), which included two days of data. There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 8,990 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday (two days of data), marking a seven-day total of 23,116 new cases and 170,579 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 6 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 33 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,178 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+81 since Saturday’s report – includes ICU); 500 are in ICU (-1 since Saturday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 538 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 25 new cases reported yesterday (two days of data) and 55 new cases reported since last Monday’s report.

The county estimates 97,443 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

 

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 4, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 1,003 new cases and 47 new deaths reported in OC, 2 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,109 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 47 new deaths reported yesterday (February 1). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 1,003 new cases of COVID-19 in OC yesterday. There have been 233,394 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 10.9 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 49 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,362 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-50 since Sunday’s report – includes ICU); 384 are in ICU (-8 since Sunday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 730 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including two new cases reported yesterday and 25 new cases reported since last Monday’s report.

The county estimates 179,803 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 1, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 768 new cases and 53 new deaths reported in OC, 7 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,162 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 53 new deaths reported today (February 2). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 768 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 234,162 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 10 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 50 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,330 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-32 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 370 are in ICU (-14 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 737 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including seven new cases reported today and 31 new cases reported since last Tuesday’s report.

The county estimates 184,257 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 2, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 546 new cases and 37 new deaths reported in OC, 1 new case in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,199 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 37 new deaths reported today (February 3). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 546 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 234,708 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 12.2 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 51 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,298 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-32 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 363 are in ICU (-7 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 738 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including one new cases reported today and 30 new cases reported since last Wednesday’s report.

The county estimates 188,422 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 3, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 779 new cases and 42 new deaths reported in OC 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,493 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 42 new deaths reported yesterday (February 11). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 779 new cases of COVID-19 in OC yesterday. There have been 240,999 cumulative cases to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 13 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 51 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 965 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-44 since Wednesday’s report – includes ICU); 298 are in ICU (-12 since Wednesday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 767 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 27 new cases reported since last Thursday’s report.

The county estimates 209,270 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 11, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 1,145 new cases and 51 new deaths reported in OC over last two days, 5 new cases in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,544 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 26 new deaths reported on February 13 and 25 new deaths reported on February 12. There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 517 new cases on February 13 and 628 new cases reported on February 12. There have been 242,144 cumulative cases to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 12.5 percent. 56 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 839 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-126 since Thursday’s report – includes ICU); 270 are in ICU (-28 since Thursday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 772 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including five new cases reported over the last two days and 23 new cases reported since last Saturday’s report.

The county estimates 212,470 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 13, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 253 new cases and 38 new deaths reported in OC

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,848 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 38 new deaths reported yesterday (February 22). There have been five deaths of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 253 new cases yesterday. There have been 244,885 cumulative cases to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 15.9 percent. 59 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 556 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-21 since Sunday’s report – includes ICU); 179 are in ICU (-11 since Sunday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 785 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 10 new cases reported since last Sunday’s report.

The county estimates 224,933 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 22, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 250 new cases reported in OC

OC Health Care Agency reported 250 new cases of COVID-19 in Orange County today (February 23). There have been 245,135 cumulative cases to date.

Sadly, the county reports that 3,848 people have died due to COVID-19 in OC. There have been five deaths of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 18.9 percent. 61 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 539 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-17 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 152 are in ICU (-27 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 785 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including nine new cases reported since last Tuesday’s report.

The county estimates 226,386 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 23, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 325 new cases reported in OC, 4 new cases in Laguna Beach

OC Health Care Agency reported 325 new cases of COVID-19 in Orange County today (February 24). There have been 245,460 cumulative cases to date.

Sadly, the county reports that 3,848 people have died due to COVID-19 in OC. There have been five deaths of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 16.9 percent. 61 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 515 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-24 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 151 are in ICU (-1 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 789 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including four new cases reported today and 12 new cases reported since last Wednesday’s report.

The county estimates 227,622 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 24, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Laguna to introduce new fire chief and in-house ambulance service in the first days of July

TOM MARCHLaguna Beach has a new Fire Chief. His name in Niko King and he comes to the city with almost three decades of experience. He’ll assume the duties from retiring Fire Chief Mike Garcia on Tuesday, July 5.

There will be a community meet & greet following Chief King’s swearing in ceremony. The badge presentation and meet & greet will take place from 4-6 p.m. on July 5 in the City Council Chambers, where refreshments will be served.

• • •

The City of Laguna Beach has received their first of two ambulances to initiate their new In-House Ambulance Transport Service that begins next Friday, July 1.

The plan is to have dedicated ambulances, staffed 24 hours a day with two EMTs, placed at Fire Station #1 at 501 Forest Ave. and at Fire Station #4 31646 2nd Ave. The ambulances will be dispatched by the Laguna Beach Emergency Communications Center.

• • •

The City is planning a fireworks show on the Fourth beginning at approximately 9 p.m. The show will originate from Monument Point in Heisler Park.

Outside of that, fireworks are outlawed within the City of Laguna Beach. That includes those titled “Safe and Sane.”

Laguna Beach Police, Fire and Marine Departments can and will seize any fireworks, including firecrackers, bottle rockets, mortars, roman candles, or anything that flies/shoots through the air, and those in possession may be cited for a misdemeanor offense, which carries a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to six months.

This is especially a sensitive time for dog owners, whose pets do not normally do well with the noises created. 

And, everyone should be concerned about the fire dangers. One misplaced firework could cause tremendous damage.

Residents who see and/or hear fireworks being used within the City can call the non-emergency hotline at 949.497.0701. Officers in the area being reported will be dispatched to investigate.

• • •

Other things that come into play during particular holidays, such as the Fourth, and certainly in the warmer summer weather that we need to be reminded of, are: 

–NO alcohol is allowed on the beaches.

–There is NO smoking in public places.

–Single-use plastics are NOT allowed on beaches, trails or in parks.

–NO drones are allowed to be used over City beaches, Heisler Park, Main Beach Park, Treasure Island Park, or Crescent Bay Park without a valid Remote Pilot Certificate issued by the FAA.

–NO canopies, awnings, umbrellas, tents or covers over six feet in height or wider than six feet square on or in any public beach, park; and, any canopy, awning, umbrella, tent or cover installed, shall have no more than one side closed to public view.

– No portable barbecues are allowed on City beaches or in parks.

– No dogs are allowed on City beaches from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. during the summer season, which extends from June 15 through September 10.

–All OC Park trails will be closed at sunset.

The Laguna Beach Police, Fire and Marine Safety Departments will be strictly enforcing all of these ordinances.

• • •

Heal the Bay just released their latest Beach Report Card that assigns letter grades from “A-to-F” for some 500 California beaches.

Two local beaches scored perfect water quality grades in all three segments year-round (Summer Dry Grade/Winter Dry Grade/Wet Weather Grade): Laguna Lido and Treasure Island.

Most other areas along the Laguna Beach coast also graded out well. 

A link to the complete 2021-2022 Beach Report Card, including all grades, can be found here.

• • •

Maybe you’re thinking about running for a Laguna Beach Unified School Board of Education spot. If so, there will be a virtual orientation for potential 2022 candidates next Thursday, June 30 at 12 p.m.

Interested parties should contact Victoria Webber at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by Wednesday, June 29, in order to receive the link for the Zoom session.

• • •

Remember the elections…seems like months ago. Anyway, here’s our final look at the unofficial results (minimal votes continue to trickle in) and who is advancing on to November.

U.S. Representative 47th District 

*Katie Porter (D) – 86,719, 51.71%

*Scott Baugh (R) – 51.765, 30.86%

Amy Phan West (R) – 13,944, 8.31%

Brian Burley (R) – 11,950, 7.13%

Errol Webber (R) – 3,341, 1.99%

State Senator 36th District

*Janet Nguyen (R) – 120,124, 57.30%

*Kim Carr (D) – 89,503, 42.70%

State Assembly 72nd District

*Judie Mancuso (D) – 59,003, 43.31%

*Diane Dixon (R) – 58,120, 42.66%

Benjamin Yu (R) – 19,111, 14.03%

OC Supervisor 5th District

*Katrina Foley – 64,877, 41.76%

*Patricia “Pat” Bates – 34,458, 22.18%

Diane Harkey – 28,800, 18.54%

Kevin Muldoon – 27,223, 17.52%

(* Advances to November Election Day)

Other key races around OC included District Attorney Todd Spitzer who easily outdistance a field that included runner-up Pete Hardin. Spitzer received 62.49% of the vote and seems well on his way to a November victory. 

Cottie Petrie-Norris, who currently represents Laguna Beach but is moving to a new District, defeated Steven Choi in the newly redrawn 73rd Assembly District while getting 56.22% of the vote; and, Michelle Steel outpaced a field of three others with 49.03% of the vote in the 45th District U.S. Representative race.


1,969 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC: 36 reported cases in Laguna Beach

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, April 25, reflect that there have been 1,969 reported cases of COVID-19 in Orange County to date, including 124 new cases reported today. This marks the highest single-day increase for the County. There are 36 reported cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach, with a population of 23,358, has the highest per capita rate in OC, with 1.541 cases per thousand residents. However, Laguna Beach has only had one new reported case of COVID-19 since April 9.

The City of Laguna Beach has taken strong measures to protect its residents, closing its beaches and trails last month, and enacting an Emergency Order requiring all essential workers and essential business customers in the city to wear protective face coverings.

Los Alamitos has the second highest per capita rate in OC, with 15 reported cases, 1.280 cases per thousand residents.

Newport Beach has the third highest per capita rate in OC, with 93 reported cases, 1.067 cases per thousand residents.

Anaheim is the city with the most cases at 265, with a population of 359,339. Irvine, with a population of 280,202, has 124 cases.

Sadly, the County reports 38 deaths due to COVID-19. 159 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 70 are currently in ICU.

The County Public Health lab and reporting commercial labs have tested 23,285 people as of today.

For more information, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 25;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 1,376 new cases reported in OC, 3 new cases in Laguna Beach 

OC Health Care Agency reported 1,376 new cases of COVID-19 today (January 5) in Orange County. There have been 171,955 cumulative cases to date.

Sadly, the county reports that 1,926 people have died due to COVID-19 in OC. There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 4.9 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 31 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,236 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+58 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 504 are in ICU (+4 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 541 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including three new cases reported today and 48 new cases reported since last Tuesday’s report.

The county estimates 100,658 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 5, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 3,077 new cases and 17 new deaths reported in OC, 6 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 1,943 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 17 new deaths reported today (January 6). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 3,077 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 175,032 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 6 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 32 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,249 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+13 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 485 are in ICU (-19 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 547 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including six new cases reported today and 44 new cases reported since last Wednesday’s report.

The county estimates 103,960 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 6, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


LBUSD COVID-19 Dashboard

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Courtesy of LBUSD

For more information and to access the dashboard, visit www.lbusd.org/resources/covid19/covid-19-reporting

 


COVID-19: 252 new cases and 40 new deaths reported in OC, 1 new case in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,810 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 40 new deaths reported today (February 21). There have been five deaths of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 252 new cases today. There have been 244,632 cumulative cases to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 15.7 percent. 59 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 577 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-14 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 190 are in ICU (-6 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 785 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including one new case reported today and 10 new cases reported since last Sunday’s report.

The county estimates 223,522 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 21, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


Where’s Maggi?

Where did Maggi find this hill?

Send your answers in to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The location will be revealed in Tuesday’s edition, and we’ll let you know who got it right.

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Miki Izumisawa, chef and owner of 242 Café Fusion Sushi, passes

Laguna Beach mourns the loss of Miki Izumisawa, chef and owner of 242 Café Fusion Sushi, who passed away on Thursday, July 28.

The restaurant website reads: “Closed until further notice - RIP Chef Miki,” and the 242 Café Fusion Sushi Instagram post states, “242 Café Fusion Sushi will be closed until her will is executed, we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause our beloved customers.” It is expected to reopen, but no date is set.

To provide the opportunity for the community to come and pay their respects, there will be an open viewing today (Tuesday, Aug. 2) from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at St. Francis By The Sea American Catholic Church, 430 Park Ave., Laguna Beach.

A shrine has been set up at the front entry of the restaurant so people can come by and pay respects if they are not able to attend the viewing. They are welcome to leave photographs, flowers, or whatever they are so inclined to leave in remembrance of Chef Miki.

Miki Izumisawa memorial

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Photo by Scott Brashier

A memorial to Chef Miki Izumisawa in front of 242 Café Fusion Sushi

“Miki was a gift that just kept giving, she was so full of artistic wonder, it just spilled over and touched everyone she shared space with. Anyone who has tasted her sushi art can attest to the love that was infused into every bite,” said Tawna Renee Bliss, 242 Café Fusion Sushi manager.

“She was tough as nails but fair. She never belonged to any demographic or genre, she was unapologetically herself, and this is so much of what fueled her devotion to her art and community. This, and her love for nature. If she wasn’t creating edible masterpieces, she was capturing and exploring the masterpieces of Mother Earth with her camera.

“Miki will be deeply missed, but we have promised her we will carry on her legacy. 242 Café Fusion Sushi will continue to serve the community of Laguna Beach, as this is what Miki wanted. Her art and legacy lives on, because legends never die,” said Bliss.

Honoring Chef Miki’s legacy

Here in Laguna, we are surrounded by the arts, and this was certainly evident with respect to Chef Miki elevating the level of sushi to a culinary artform. She was in the rare category of female sushi chefs for nearly 30 years, concocting dishes that were visually stunning – educating and exciting the palate through the blending of ingredients from diverse cuisines. Before coming to Laguna, Chef Miki worked for Nobu in Las Vegas introducing “fusion-sushi cuisine,” so when she opened Café Fusion in 2000, she bolstered this concept even further. 

“We would like you to enjoy our ‘Art’ with all of your five senses, so that it becomes a healing energy in your body. Each dish is a handcrafted piece of art where our cooking ingredients come together like paint on a canvas. The main themes of my art are Nature, Gaia (Mother Earth), Space and Feelings,” said Chef Miki, in a story written by Associate Editor Dianne Russell that ran in Stu News in 2017. 

Miki Izumisawa space roll

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Photo by Lynette Brasfield

Chef Miki Izumisawa putting the finishing touches on Aroma of Space Roll, melding together unexpected flavors and textures…that were “out of this world”

Chef Miki believed the choice of this location for her restaurant was truly serendipitous. The same yin-yang symbol (fusion of the two cosmic forces) tattooed on her upper back was etched into the concrete in front and on a block in the back of the building – seemingly fate led her here. Yin-yang also meant a starting point for change, which was apparent in her all-female team, who she looked upon as family.

Studying in Japan with the renowned Naka Bokunen, a woodblock print artist famous for his Okinawan landscapes, Chef Miki’s love for nature translated into her dishes. “I name the dishes out of aspects of nature to convey the significance of nature,” she shared. She is noted for giving back by donating part of Café Fusion’s revenue to nature conservation groups such as WWF…whereby she sent out her appreciation of planet Earth.

When asked which were her signature dishes, she would reply, “Everything is signature,” as her reputation drew the likes of celebrities including Pink, Andre Agassi and his wife, Steffi Graf as well as Freddy Kruger to sample her cuisine. But locals loved sampling her signature dishes, too, which just happened to be everything on the menu.


2,074 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC: 36 reported cases in Laguna Beach

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, April 26, reflect that there have been 2,074 reported cases on COVID-19 in Orange County to date, including 105 new cases reported today. This marks the second highest single-day increase for the County, while yesterday was the highest. There are 36 reported cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach, with a population of 23,358, has the highest per capita rate in OC, with 1.541 cases per thousand residents. However, Laguna Beach has only had one new reported case of COVID-19 since April 9.

The City of Laguna Beach has taken strong measures to protect its residents, closing its beaches and trails last month, and enacting an Emergency Order requiring all essential workers and essential business customers in the city to wear protective face coverings.

Los Alamitos has the second highest per capita rate in OC, with 16 reported cases, 1.365 cases per thousand residents.

Newport Beach has the third highest per capita rate in OC, with 43 reported cases, 1.078 cases per thousand residents.

Anaheim is the city with the most cases at 285, with a population of 359,339. Irvine, with a population of 280,202, has 127 cases. Dana Point, with a population of 34,249, has 22 cases.

Sadly, the County reports 39 deaths due to COVID-19. 148 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 55 are currently in ICU.

The County Public Health lab and reporting commercial labs have tested 25,552 people as of today.

For more information, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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94 reported cases of COVID 19

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 26;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 3,221 new cases and 16 new deaths reported in OC, 10 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,195 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 16 new deaths reported yesterday (January 14). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 3,221 new cases of COVID-19 in OC yesterday. There have been 202,753 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 7.4 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 33 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,169 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-11 since Wednesday’s report – includes ICU); 544 are in ICU (+0 since Wednesday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 619 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 10 new cases reported yesterday and 69 new cases reported since last Thursday’s report.

The county estimates 129,485 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 14, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 3,158 new cases and 82 new deaths reported in OC, 9 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,277 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 82 new deaths reported today (January 15). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 3,158 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 205,911 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 7.2 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 36 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,101 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-68 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 534 are in ICU (-10 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 628 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including nine new cases reported today and 69 new cases reported since last Friday’s report.

The county estimates 132,950 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 15, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 3,454 new cases and 43 new deaths reported in OC, 10 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,320 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 43 new deaths reported today (January 16). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 3,454 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 209,365 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 7.8 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 37 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,065 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-36 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 542 are in ICU (+8 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 638 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 10 new cases reported today and 70 new cases reported since last Saturday’s report.

The county estimates 135,203 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 16, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 361 new cases and 33 new deaths reported in OC, 3 new cases in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,577 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 33 new deaths reported on Sunday (February 14). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 361 new cases on Sunday. There have been 242,505 cumulative cases to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 11.3 percent. 56 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 790 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-49 since Sunday’s report – includes ICU); 257 are in ICU (-13 since Sunday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 775 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including three new cases reported on Sunday and 13 new cases reported since last Sunday’s report.

The county estimates 213,158 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 14, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 658 new cases and 40 new deaths reported in OC over last two days, 1 new case in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,617 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 17 new deaths reported on February 15 and 23 new deaths reported on February 16. There have been five deaths of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 289 new cases on February 15 and 369 new cases on February 16. There have been 243,163 cumulative cases to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 15.3 percent. 56 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 748 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-42 since Sunday’s report – includes ICU); 235 are in ICU (-22 since Sunday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 776 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including one new case reported over the last two days and 11 new cases reported since last Tuesday’s report.

The county estimates 217,220 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 16, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 166 new cases and 27 new deaths reported in OC, 1 new case in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,644 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 27 new deaths reported today (February 17). There have been five deaths of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 166 new cases today. There have been 243,329 cumulative cases to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 15.4 percent. 57 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 719 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-29 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 235 are in ICU (+0 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 777 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including one new case reported today and nine new cases reported since last Wednesday’s report.

The county estimates 218,943 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 17, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 324 new cases and 41 new deaths reported in OC, 1 new case in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,726 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 41 new deaths reported today (February 19). There have been five deaths of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 324 new cases today. There have been 243,989 cumulative cases to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 14 percent. 59 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 636 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-27 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 215 are in ICU (-15 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 778 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including one new case reported today and 11 new cases reported since last Thursday’s report.

The county estimates 222,087 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 19, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 391 new cases and 44 new deaths reported in OC, 6 new cases in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,770 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 44 new deaths reported today (February 20). There have been five deaths of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 391 new cases today. There have been 244,380 cumulative cases to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 15.1 percent. 63 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 591 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-45 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 196 are in ICU (-19 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 784 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including six new cases reported today and 12 new cases reported since last Saturday’s report.

The county estimates 222,990 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 20, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


PMMC and community mourns passing of John Cunningham, co-founder of PMMC

By DIANNE RUSSELL

In the past few days, many in the community have called John Cunningham, co-founder of Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC), a “gamechanger.” There’s no doubt that he was – in more ways than one. It appears that he positively affected everyone (and everything) he came in contact with, whether it be human or pinniped. 

Sadly, earlier this week, Laguna lost another legend.

Cunningham was one of the co-founders of Friends of the Sea Lions, now known as the Pacific Marine Mammal Center. While John spent his summers as a Laguna Beach Lifeguard, education was his first love. He taught science in the Laguna Beach Unified School District for over 30 years and was widely known for creating a marine science curriculum for the school and an experiential course in survival skills that people still talk about today. 

John received his BA from California State University Long Beach and received his MA from the University of Redlands. John and his wife, Stephanie, moved to Laguna Beach in 1965. 

PMMC and couple

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Courtesy of PMMC

John and his wife Stephanie in late 2019 at the last sea lion release that he attended at Aliso Creek Beach

Pacific Marine Mammal Center began as Friends of the Sea Lion (FSL) in 1971 with only three volunteers: Jim Stauffer, John Cunningham, and Dr. Rose Ekeberg.

John, who co-founded FSL with Jim Stauffer, continued to be intimately involved with the organization. He was honored at the PMMC “Call of the Sea” Gala in September of 2019. The fundraiser served as an opportunity to reflect on his contributions to the organization and the greater community over the years. The event kicked off with a tribute video and as reported, there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd as they gave him a standing ovation.

On PMMC’s 50th anniversary in February 2021, he said, “In 1971, Jim Stauffer, Dr. Rose Ekeberg, and I started a small group known as the Friends of the Sea Lions. With the help of a handful of Laguna Beach high school students, our mission was to rescue, rehabilitate, and release sick and injured seals and sea lions along the Orange County coast. Today, 50 years later, I am so proud to still be a part of what’s become a world-class nonprofit now known as the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.”

FSL was the first licensed marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation center in the state of California. It began with two lifeguards, a veterinarian, and a concerned little girl for a sick harbor seal on the beach. 

PMMC and hosing off

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Courtesy of PMMC

Cleaning up outdoor area at PMMC

In the spring of 1971, a little girl approached Jim Stauffer, a Newport Beach lifeguard, on the beach. The little girl told Jim that she had seen a seal on the beach. Jim hopped in his lifeguard Jeep and went to go investigate. What he found was a young Pacific harbor seal. When Jim placed the animal in his Jeep, it leaped right out. Jim decided the animal must be healthy and just needed to rest, so he returned to work. 

Concern for the animal nagged at him all day. When Jim returned to check on the small seal, it was still on the beach. Jim picked up the seal and took it to the Dover Shores Animal Hospital, where Dr. Rod La Shell examined the animal and found that it had lungworms. With advice from Dr. La Shell, Jim nursed the harbor seal back to health and released the animal back into the ocean. 

Word of Jim’s nursing skills soon spread. Whenever there was a sick or injured seal or sea lion on the beach, lifeguards would contact him. Within a few weeks, Jim was caring for a second a California sea lion. John, another lifeguard, began helping Jim care for the animals. 

The Department of Fish and Game issued the first permit of its kind in California. Jim was allowed to temporarily house seals and sea lions at his home. 

PMMC and barn door

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Courtesy of PMMC

John at the barn door of the marine mammal hospital

With the organization growing quickly, a facility other than Jim’s home and pool was necessary. At that time, the local SPCA was using a barn owned by the City of Laguna Beach. In 1976, when the SPCA relocated, the building was offered to Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Jim, John, and a few volunteers began renovation of the barn that still functions today as the Center’s rehabilitation hub.

During the school year, John taught at Laguna Beach High School and, in 1972, he developed a marine science class. One of the requirements for the students of John’s class was volunteering at Pacific Marine Mammal Center. Dr. Ekeberg of Laguna Canyon Animal Hospital provided medicine and medical advice, as well as housing some of the animals at her clinic.

“John was such an inspiration,” says PMMC Chief Executive Officer Peter Chang. “He made an overwhelming and lasting impression with everyone that he touched. He was always so thankful to the entire Pacific Marine Mammal Center family for carrying on something that he was so extremely passionate about. He left an incredible legacy. In fact, a great deal of what we do today is a result of what John instilled into the fabric of our culture and operations. Although he’s moved on, he will never be forgotten. He is someone that will be missed dearly.”


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Sue Kempf is on top of OUR world

Fair Game Toms new headshotSue Kempf was named the Mayor of Laguna Beach Tuesday evening by her fellow City Councilmembers. And, good for her, she’s been a calming voice on a what at times can be a contentious group.

“I am humbled and honored to serve our community as Laguna Beach Mayor,” said Kempf. “Over the last few years, our Council has worked together and made great progress on quality-of-life enhancements, additional fire safety and mitigation measures, and process streamlining improvements for our community. 

“Collaborative work within the City Council and with City Staff is key to continuing that momentum and moving forward together. I look forward to partnering with residents, our business community and my colleagues on the City Council to enhance services and further define our priorities for the future,” added Kempf.

She was elected to the Council in 2018 but has been active in city affairs since moving to town in 1999. Her Council initiatives include this year’s Neighborhood & Environmental Protection Plan designed to mitigate visitor impacts on neighborhoods, to enhance City services for residents and to add environmental protection programs. She’s also contributed to the implementation of the 2019 Wildfire Mitigation and Fire Safety Plan that reduces the threat of wildfire in Laguna Beach; and she was instrumental in the creation of the Promenade on Forest, outdoor dining and economic recovery programs for local businesses. 

Kempf’s qualifications are strong: served on the View Preservation Task Force, co-chaired the Disaster/Emergency Preparedness Committee, this after graduating from the City’s first Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training class and she served three terms on the Planning Commission. 

Her professional life included being Executive Director for Verizon’s four primary data center locations in the Western United States. She also spent three years as President of Mirion Technologies Dosimetry Services and served as Managing Director of Vodafone

And in her spare time? Well, glad you asked, she’s been a basketball coach at the Boys and Girls Club for several years and I’m told can handle her own on the golf course.

She retired from her software career in 2017 and lives in town with her spouse, Cheryl.

Fair Game SNL Sue Kempf

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Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

New Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf

“Sue is going to do an outstanding job as Mayor,” said outgoing Mayor Bob Whalen. “She is fully engaged with the community and focused on tackling a number of issues on behalf of residents. I have full confidence in her and we are all very fortunate to have her in this role as mayor.” 

Speaking of Whalen, after three consecutive terms as Mayor, he’ll now settle into the number two role as Mayor Pro Tem. He, along with Kempf and Councilman Peter Blake gave him the required three votes.

However, Councilman George Weiss at the same time nominated fellow Councilperson Toni Iseman for the role, but that effort fell short. Iseman then complained of the three (Kempf, Whalen and Blake) continuing to vote against the efforts of Weiss and Iseman. 

One has to wonder if she’d still be complaining if was regularly three votes the other way?

• • •

The Promenade is busy this weekend. First off, Santa is on the entertainment deck at Forest and Glenneyre tomorrow (Saturday), from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

There’s also the usual entertainment planned: tonight, is Andrew Corradini from 6-8 p.m.; tomorrow is Upstream from 6-8 p.m. and Sunday features Adam Lasher from 5-7 p.m.

Enjoy it this weekend, as the Promenade will not host performers beginning next weekend until March 3.

• • •

Ruben Flores is probably best-known in town for owning Laguna Nursery. But two years ago, Flores ran for an open city council seat. As part of that run, like all candidates, he raised money.

Well, with that remaining campaign money burning a hole in his pocket, Ruben did a wonderful thing recently, donating the account’s remaining $10,000 to a group of local non-profits, including LOCA, Glennwood, Urban Tree Fund, LCAD, LAM, PMMC, Laguna Canyon Foundation, Laguna Beach Garden Club and South Laguna Community Garden.

Nice work, Ruben!

• • •

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) District 2 is holding its Christmas lunch welcoming Post members and a guest on Sunday, Dec. 19 from 12-3 p.m. at the American Legion Hall, 384 Legion St. If you would like to attend, RSVP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Sounds like great company and a great time.

• • •

Reminder, we’ve decided to add what we feel will be a fun new item to Stu News in the New Year. Pictures of YOUR pets! Afterall, who doesn’t love sharing a photo of the one part of their life that offers complete unconditional love.

So, snap a photo of that family favorite, then tell us a little about him or her: name, age, breed (if desired), family’s name, and maybe one line about what makes them so special.

Send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll find a special spot to regularly run your fave pets.


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

District lines are changing making choices for office a free-for-all

Fair Game Toms new headshotLP.L. (Public Law) 94-171 was enacted by Congress in December of 1975 requiring the Census Bureau to provide states the opportunity to identify data to assist in conducting legislative redistricting for proper representation.

A census is completed every 10 years offering the new data. Upon receiving that latest data in the last year, confusing times are upon us as the District Lines are implemented, and they are affecting politics, including candidates and races moving forward.

An example is that earlier this week I was convinced that Newport Beach City Councilperson and former Mayor Diane Dixon was going to run for a newly redrawn Orange County Supervisor district that would include both Newport Beach and Laguna Beach.

However, that quickly became old news by mid-week. Here’s why.

Two years ago, Dixon ran for the California Assembly against Laguna Beach’s own Cottie Petrie-Norris. Although it was a very close race, Petrie-Norris prevailed and has since served the 74th Assembly District with aplomb.

Everyone, including me, expected Petrie-Norris to run for re-election in 2022. And, perhaps because of her hard work representing all of us, no opposition had even hinted about stepping forward to challenging her.

Then, the District lines were redrawn which moved both Newport Beach and Laguna Beach to a newly drawn 72nd District. That, coupled with a home move by Petrie-Norris to Irvine, left the race for representation in Sacramento for this area wide open.

Almost immediately, Dixon dropped her OC Supervisor efforts and moved into the race for the 72nd with a formal announcement. 

That elicited this response from Republican Party of Orange County Chairman Fred Whitaker, “After speaking with Diane Dixon, I’m excited that she has made the decision to jump into the Assembly race for the newly drawn 72nd Assembly District. (She) has proven to be a fearless campaigner and was a top-performing nominee in 2020 for the old Assembly District 74. This makes Diane the best candidate to represent the Republican Party in this new district which is largely the same and she has my personal endorsement.”

Dixon added, “Our new district needs a representative who reflects the common-sense conservative values of the people who live here. I will be a strong voice for a less intrusive state government, with lower taxes, balanced budgets that spend less and enhance public safety.”

That’s all great, but what about Petrie-Norris? I messaged her Wednesday evening asking if her moving was true, and if so, what her plans included?

“Yes, true!” said Petrie-Norris on news of the move front. “I will be running for re-election in the new AD73. This new district includes 60% of my current seat. 

“Since 2018, I have been honored to represent 2 of the 3 cities – Irvine and Costa Mesa – and I am excited to represent Tustin as well,” added Cottie. “I will be running against Steven Choi (presently represents 68th Assembly District from Irvine), if he decides to run in this new district.”

The new District according to Petrie-Norris includes Irvine, Costa Mesa and Tustin.

Wasting no time, Petrie-Norris already informed me that she’s “honored to have the early endorsements & support of Tustin councilmembers Leticia Clark and Beckie Gomez.”

All of the above sounds simple enough, but there are other candidates rumored to be looking to jump in, primarily at this point into the new 72nd District race.

In other offices, Dave Min is the current State Senator. He’s early into a six-year term, so he will not be up for any 2022 race, although his District may slightly change.

On the Congressional front, Michelle Steel beat Harley Rouda in 2019 for the 48th Congressional seat. Now, however, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach will be in the 47th moving forward.

The 47th will also include Seal Beach from the north to Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa and Irvine. 

That race will certainly include Steel, but what about Rouda? Well, Katie Porter, an OC Democrat heavyweight, who presently serves the 45th, had her city (Irvine) removed from her representation moving forward. So, she’s in search of a new district. Speculation is that she’ll represent her hometown and run, could it be true, against Steel?

That would be a huge race with plenty of implications.

That race would probably force Rouda to the sidelines, asking him to be a good soldier.

Then, finally, back to the OC Supervisor. Laguna and Newport have been recently served by the 2nd District. Moving forward will have them both in the 5th. Katrina Foley, who presently reps. the 2nd, will run as the incumbent in the 5th.

I know, I’m confused by all of this too.

Anyway, that 5th District now begins at Sunset Beach, includes Huntington Beach and runs south along the coast down to San Clemente. With incumbent Lisa Bartlett termed out, figure South County’s Diane Harkey as the one to challenge Foley.

As for Bartlett, I’ve heard rumors of her next steps, but don’t have a definite landing spot.

We’re all definitely going to need a scorecard.

• • •

Before I check out to enjoy a Christmas with family, I wanted to take a moment and wish all of our readers, supporters and even the haters of Stu News, a very Merry Christmas!

I’m lucky because tomorrow morning I’ll wake-up to celebrate with my three grandchildren (5, 2 and 1) and witness the joy of Christmas through their eyes. What could be better! 

It’ll possibly be the visit from Santa Claus, perhaps the middle of the night sounds of the reindeer up on the rooftop, or the fact that Santa himself drank and ate the milk and cookies left behind for him near the fireplace. All in all, it’ll be perfect.

I so hope that you too are filled with joy and happiness during this season.

We should all also remember that there are those who aren’t as lucky. Some without a roof over their heads, others struggling with no food or little to offer their loved ones…and others simply struggling with life issues.

I’m so thankful to our City, the fire and police departments, to so many non-profits, small business owners and readers alike who have collected presents for the not-so-fortunate, for the many who have worked to provide meals for the hungry and for those who in some small way worked to make Christmas better for someone else. Thank you!


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Music fills the air and the streets in the Fête de la Musique

TOM MARCHWhat a cool buzz the town had Saturday. The 2022 Laguna Beach Fête de la Musique filled the Main Beach Cobblestones, city sidewalks and many surrounding store fronts with the different sounds of music. Thirty-three different locations to be exact.

It was delightful. And I wasn’t alone. People gathered and looked on, others danced, or simply tapped their feet, to enjoy the rhythm of each of the different genres. 

The Fête de la Musique, celebrating its 15th year in Laguna Beach and taking place in some 1,000 cities around the world, was presented locally by our Laguna Beach Sister Cities Association, along with their sponsors – The Ranch, Hobie Sports and Tuvalu.

When I arrived at the Cobblestones midday, the Laguna Community JaZz Band, fronted by Lisa Morrice, was performing. And performing well, I might add! Crowds were beginning to fill the surrounding walkways and grass areas as the day began to take shape; a mime on roller skates skillfully moved around delighting everyone she encountered with her unique sense of humor through her mannerisms, while beachgoers enjoyed the adjoining sand, the water and waves, and volleyballers volleyballed nearby. “Volleyballed,” is that even a word?

Fair Game SNL Lisa Morrice

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Photo by Jeff Rovner

Lisa Morrice performed with the Laguna Beach JaZz Band Swing Set and kept the tunes coming while the energetic mime on roller skates continued to engage the crowd 

Fair Game SNL Sandro and Tamara Eristavi

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Photo by Jeff Rovner

Sandro and Tamara Eristavi, returned to the Fête, belting out their multi-lingual tunes on the Lumberyard Patio near the Beach House

Anyway, you get my drift, it was a nearly perfect setting! As I later walked along Forest, restaurants appeared to be overflowing out into the parklets. And besides just the music, I even encountered a collection of belly dancers making their way down the sidewalk. It certainly gave the sense that we’ve come a long ways in the past couple of years.

Check out our Friday’s edition for complete Fête de la Musique coverage and photos.

Fair Game SNL Rick Weber, tenor

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Photo by Jeff Rovner

Tenor Rick Weber entertained crowds in front of the Free People boutique

• • •

Later, I headed up to the Hotel Laguna to check out their new “Beach Club,” the new members-only venue downstairs, overlooking the spectacular beachfront.

The exclusive club invites private members and hotel guests to an extremely comfortable setting…think plush couches and chairs, a complete bar, dining, TVs, elaborate local artwork…all just steps from the sand. It is certainly luxurious comfort.

One notable “first member” arrived and told me that they looked everywhere around town for some desirable office space, then, after comparing prices and seeing what was available, made the decision that it made more sense to work out of there, utilizing his laptop, and entertaining his clientele in a perfect setting.

It was hard to argue.

Fair Game Mo Honarkar and his daughter Hasty

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Hotel Laguna owner Mo Honarkar and his daughter Hasty, who is overseeing the interior design and marketing efforts of the Beach Club, extended a warm welcome

Fair Game Beach Club couches and chairs

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The comforts of the “Club” are wonderfully casual, yet luxurious…replete with ocean views

Hotel Laguna owner Mo Honarkar and his daughter Hasty took me through the space acknowledging the upgrades that have been completed so far. They first pointed to the ceiling, where a ho-hum popcorn finish had previously covered the space, only to be removed to uncover wonderful wooden beams and a shiplap look in one area and fabricated metal beams adorning the other. 

Fair Game Beach Club bar

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The bar area, where mixologists will be pouring inventive cocktails, shows off the newly opened ceilings

Mo pointed to windows, previously covered on both sides by plywood, only to be uncovered to allow in lots of natural light to brighten the entire area.

He also walked me out onto the beachfront, where members may enjoy umbrellas, chairs and personalized service…all just steps to the sparkling sea.

Fair Game Beach Club beach umbrellas

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

And, when you choose to go outside, you can do that, too, with full service

It truly is a one-of-a-kind space and should be on everyone’s must see list as a place to check out.

And if the tray passed hors d’oeuvres, drinks and impeccable attention to detail were any indication, the Club certainly has a bright future.

Fair Game Beach Club umbrella pavilion

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Reserve your spot in the sand…here


City of Laguna Beach welcomes new Fire Chief Niko King

The City of Laguna Beach welcomes Niko King as the city’s new Fire Chief.  King brings almost three decades of well-rounded fire experience to the position and will begin his service to the City of Laguna Beach on July 5.

King’s fire experience includes 28 years with the Sacramento Fire Department, where he most recently served for six years as Deputy Fire Chief.  He has extensive supervisory and management experience, and his background includes expertise in the areas of fire operations, administration, fire prevention, emergency preparedness, training and development and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) divisions. Prior to becoming the Deputy Fire Chief, King served more than five years as Sacramento’s Assistant Fire Chief overseeing the Training Division to include a new recruit academy. King spent years as a Strike Team Leader in the field, a Type III Incident Commander leading an All-Hazards Incident Management Team, as well as a member of FEMA’s Incident Support Team under Urban Search and Rescue, with several federal activations to large scale disaster sites across the country.

City of Newport Beach welcomes new Fire Chief

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Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach’s new Fire Chief, Niko King

“Chief King is recognized as a professional, dedicated, fair leader of high integrity who motivates others and has a great passion for the fire service,” said City Manager Shohreh Dupuis. “We are delighted to have Chief King continuing the Fire Department success in providing outstanding services to our community in fire prevention, fire protection and emergency management.”

King holds a master’s degree in Homeland Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School; a Master of Science degree in Emergency Services Administration from California State University, Long Beach and a bachelor’s degree in Applied Sciences, Business Administration and Organizational Communication from California State University, Sacramento. King is relocating to Southern California and said he has always enjoyed visiting Laguna Beach.

“I am excited and honored to be selected to serve as the next Chief for the Laguna Beach Fire Department,” King said. “I look forward to working with the great men and women of the Fire Department, the city’s leadership team, local residents and businesses owners in continuing to ensure the department carries out its mission at the highest level.” 

King will take over duties as Chief from retiring Fire Chief Mike Garcia on July 5.  King is the city’s 20th Fire Chief and will have a salary of $225,500 per year. The public is invited to meet Chief King at a badge presentation and swearing-in ceremony on July 5 at City Hall (Council Chambers) from 4-6 p.m. Refreshments will be served.


2,151 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC: Laguna Beach no longer has highest per capita rate in OC

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, April 28, reflect that there have been 2,126 reported cases of COVID-19 in Orange County to date, including 34 new cases reported today. There are 36 reported cases of COVID-19 to date in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach, with a population of 23,358, previously had the highest per capita case rate in OC at 1.541 cases per thousand residents. However, Los Alamitos, with a population of 11,721 and 20 reported cases, now has the highest per capita rate in OC, with 1.706 cases per thousand residents.

The City of Laguna Beach has taken strong measures to protect its residents, closing its beaches and trails last month, and enacting an Emergency Order requiring all essential workers and essential business customers in the city to wear protective face coverings. 

Laguna Beach has only had one new reported case of COVID-19 since April 9.

Newport Beach has the third highest per capita rate in OC, with 96 reported cases, 1.101 cases per thousand residents.

Santa Ana is the city with the most cases at 313, with a population of 337,716. Irvine, with a population of 280,202, has 127 cases. Dana Point, with a population of 34,249, has 23 cases.

Sadly, the County reports 42 deaths due to COVID-19, including three today. 178 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 74 are currently in ICU.

The County Public Health lab and reporting commercial labs have tested 27,737 people as of today.

For more information, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

2,151 reported cases 1

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 28;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 610 new cases and 1 new death reported in OC, 2 new cases in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 1,875 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including one new death reported yesterday (December 31). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 610 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, marking a seven-day total of 18,873 new cases and 157,183 cumulative cases to date.*

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.9 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.** 40 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,128 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-17 since Wednesday’s report – includes ICU); 495 are in ICU (+16 since Wednesday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 505 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including two new cases reported yesterday and 45 new cases reported since last Thursday’s report.

The county estimates 89,228 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna. (There will not be any updates later yesterday, January 1, or on January 3 due to the New Year’s Day Holiday and scheduled maintenance with CDPH. Updates will be posted on January 2 reflecting data from January 1. Updates will resume as normal January 4.)

*Case counts from Thursday included data for 30 hours instead of the standard 24 hours. As a result, yesterday’s cases received are notably lower because of the new cases received were accounted for in yesterday’s count.

**Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

COVID 19 County 12 31 20 1

COVID 19 County 12 31 20 2

COVID 19 County 12 31 20 3

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data as of December 31, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 336 new cases and 41 new deaths reported in OC

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,685 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 41 new deaths reported yesterday (February 18). There have been five deaths of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 336 new cases yesterday. There have been 243,665 cumulative cases to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 14.9 percent. 58 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 663 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-56 since Wednesday’s report – includes ICU); 230 are in ICU (-5 since Wednesday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 777 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 10 new cases reported since last Thursday’s report.

The county estimates 220,609 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

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COVID 19 County 2 18 21 2

COVID 19 County 2 18 21 3

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 18, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


Tributes to Barbara Diamond

By DIANNE RUSSELL

A reflection of the special place Barbara Diamond had in the lives of so many residents, fond memories of her continue to pour in. All agree that she knew the pulse of Laguna like no other and reported with the utmost respect and consideration for all concerned. Barbara was the heart and soul of the community’s news, a gifted journalist, and a cherished friend. 

“Barbara knew everyone and the history of everything. She always worked to report the story in a balanced manner,” says City Manager John Pietig. “Her interview style was one of asking questions with the intent of gaining information and insight, not to try and capture a quote or statement to cast someone in a bad light. Nonetheless, she wrote the story as she saw it. 

“She was also at every significant town event, in the background, gathering information for her stories. Not to mention the hundreds of City Council meetings she attended while asking people to sign in so that their names could be accurately recorded for the record.

“In addition to her reporting skills, Barbara was a die-hard Angels fan and loved talking about them when she had time.

 “Barbara was unique, and I will miss her.”

Tributes to honoree luncheon

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Barbara at 2019 Patriots Day Parade Honorees Luncheon

Joan Gladstone remembers their business relationship – old school all the way. ‘“Drop the press release off to my house on Diamond Street,’” said Barbara Diamond. And I did, that day and for the next four years, when I did PR for the developers of Montage Laguna Beach. Barbara was old school, and not just because she didn’t have an email address. She was old school in ways I deeply admired. She was absolutely devoted to getting the facts straight and writing a balanced story. She was a consummate journalist and role model.”

From Stephany Skenderian, a member of the Birthday Club: 

“Barbara had a great laugh, a terrific smile, a spirited style, and many, many talents. As a friend you felt the warmth and depth of this special lady and oh, the stories! Barbara lived and enjoyed a full life. She will be missed.”

Another member of the Birthday Club, Anne Johnson says, “Somewhere in the room with pen poised over notepad, she waited for a nuance of context or even better, for a pithy quote to nail her story. At all our major City events, usually wearing red, and always with a touch of San Francisco panache, she warned us that with pen poised, we could be quoted. But pen gone and smiling warmly, she welcomed some of us into her private world as friends, and those of us admitted honored and treasured that friendship and can’t believe she has left us forever. Wherever she is, I hope there is pen and paper! We shall miss you at all our gatherings – both public and private, Dear Barbara.”

Tributes to notebook

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

On the job 

John Campbell remembers, “I always loved her personal license plate BFD, that was Barbara alright. Whenever she saw my wife Lu and I she would always come over to ask two questions, have you been to your place in Italy recently and how many miles did you bike today?

“My wife and I used to cycle quite a bit and since Lu and Barbara were the same age, she always marveled at how far Lu would ride her bike. Most of the time we would ride down Coast Hwy to Jamboree, take the Back Bay bike trail back to Laguna Canyon Road and back into Laguna, basically about 34 miles round trip. Well, one day Lu & I, to celebrate her 78th birthday, she wanted to ride 78 miles. So from our office on Forest Ave, we rode to the Santa Ana River trail, up that trail, past Anaheim stadium, past the Kaiser Hospital almost to Prado dam turning around at mile 39. By then we had a head wind riding back down the Santa Ana River trail, so Lu got behind me which was like riding behind a billboard for her and we made it to Huntington Beach to rest for a little bit, but then we were back on our bikes and we finally made it back to Laguna Beach. Well, when we told Barbara the story, you would have thought we just went to the moon and back. Remember, they were the same age. Barbara just shook her head in disbelief and congratulated Lu for her accomplishment.” 

Itributes to parade

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Grand Marshal Barbara at the 2020 Patriots Day Parade 

 “It’s like the lights went out when I heard that Barbara has passed,” says Mary Fegraus, a Laguna Beach resident since 1973. “We have lost another Laguna Treasure, one that knew our community inside and out. Barbara is our historian, one who took the time to get the story right. Always factual, but written with thoughtfulness and insight into the article subject. Barbara cared about our community and knew how to put that into words. I will always cherish the chats we had over the decades, whether it was a Planning Commission issues in the 1980s, preservation of the open space in the 1990s and onward to today, Barbara knew how to ask the question. Barbara wasn’t just about stories, she cared about you and your life. We have lost an icon, one that will be dearly missed by our community.”

To submit your remembrances of Barbara for publication, email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For those wishing to donate to Barbara’s LBHS Scholarship Fund, please send donations to: LBHSSF, P.O. Box 1569, Laguna Beach, CA 92652. Please include “Barbara Diamond Excellence in Journalism Award,” to be placed on the memo line or written separately and included in the envelope. All donations are tax-deductible; LBHSSF is a 501(c)(3).


Jody Gerber receives LCAD Trustee Choice Award

Laguna College of Art + Design is proud to announce that Jody Gerber has received the 2021 Trustee Choice Award. Her painting Illusion was purchased by the LCAD Board of Trustees to be part of the College’s permanent collection. Gerber received her Master of Fine Art degree in Painting at LCAD’s 2021 Commencement ceremony.

“We are very proud of the work produced by all LCAD students and this is one of ways we hope to honor their dedication and commitment to mastering the skills demanded by figurative art,” said Terry Jones, chair of LCAD Board of Trustees. “This will be a tradition that will enrich LCAD’s remarkable permanent collection and inspire each new generation of students.”

Jody Gerber Illusion

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Submitted photo

Jody Gerber’s “Illusion” painting wins LCAD Trustee Choice Award

The award was initiated in 2020 by LCAD Trustee and alumnus Suzanne Chonette. Graduating students in the Jonathan Burke Fine Art BFA, Baccalaureate, and MFA degree programs are eligible. Work is selected by LCAD Chairs Hope Railey, Betty Shelton, and Peter Zokosky. LCAD trustees then vote to select three finalists and one winner. Gerber was announced at the 2021 LCAD Commencement ceremony.

“It is an honor to be a trustee of LCAD and this is one way I can turn the spotlight on our emerging, extraordinarily talented graduates,” said Chonette. “Jody inspired me with her thoughtful and quietly powerful work that makes the viewer question as they interact with her work.”

“I was honored to be considered among a group of amazing finalists for the LCAD Trustee Choice award,” Gerber said. “Winning this award for 2021 is particularly meaningful to me. As I near the end of a Master of Fine Arts degree, I realize the challenges that lie ahead but also what is attainable. This is a reminder that with effort, great things are possible.”

Years ago, Gerber longed for the opportunity to get a college degree, but her focus was on raising her children. “I pushed through many sleepless nights in order to obtain my academic goals,” she said. “After earning an undergraduate degree, I relocated to Southern California to continue my education. I am grateful for my experience at LCAD and all that I learned from my amazing professors, mentors, and classmates.”

According to Gerber, Illusion is about stepping into the light and coming into view. “Making ourselves vulnerable reminds us of the importance of accepting our imperfections. Are we conscious of our potential? Sometimes we may need to give ourselves permission to feel alive,” she said. 

Gerber hopes her paintings open the opportunity for dialogue about the issues surrounding human trafficking. “As I raise awareness of this criminal act happening all around the world, I hope to give assurance to the survivors and acknowledge that they can be whole again,” she said.

The three Trustee Choice 2021 Honorary Award winners are Jessica Niemeyer, BFA, for Ritual; Holly May Martin, BFA, for Cowgirl in the shadow of the Herd; and Renae Wang, MFA, for Taco Truck.

The 2020 Trustee Choice Award Winner was Pegah Samaie, BFA and MFA LCAD alumnus, for To Love and Obey, which is now exhibited in the lobby of the LCAD Administration Building.

For more information about LCAD, visit www.lcad.edu.


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

You’ve told us what’s on your mind and we assure you, we’re listening

Tom new picSo earlier this week I introduced myself and our new editor Lana Johnson. I also reminded everyone, and this is hugely important, that Shaena Stabler is still a huge part of the management team and will continue to be. 

Some people over the last couple of days wrote as if Shaena was being put out to pasture; honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. To let you know, Shaena and I talk from sun-up to late in the evening about stories, issues and strategy and will continue to do so.

That will make a lot of people happy because most of the letters I received told of their “love” for Shaena.

But there were also other letters talking about past issues with Stu News on a couple of fronts. To be honest, it’s nothing I didn’t expect. When you run a paper like ours, people love you or hate you, depending on the day of the week.

Here are some of the comments and my responses to them: one writer called us “liberal” and accused us of “not publishing differing views.”

I can’t speak about the past and don’t necessarily want to, as that won’t get us anywhere. That being said, we will print all letters and guest opinions that are submitted and done in good taste. And, we’ll run them prominently. I never want to be accused of picking and choosing letters and stopping differing viewpoints.

You should know that our goal will also be to bring balance to stories. There’s an old adage in the news business that goes like this, “if one side thinks you’re too liberal and the other side complains that you’re too conservative, you’re doing it right.”

Still another writer said, “I now have one foot out the door after reading your letter. Sounds like you’re trying to become just like every other publication in America with opinion pieces and people’s ‘takes’. I’ve always liked Stu because it just covered what’s happening in town with little to no spin.”

I promise you we’ll continue reporting on what’s happening in town as rule #1.

To further explain that, I’ve always operated community newspapers with the following four principles: 1) We want to be the community watchdog and properly/fairly present the news; 2) we want to offer a thriving opinion section for people to share letters, differing views or opinions, remembering that they all have to relate back to Laguna Beach; 3) we want to be the reservoir of information for the community by finding a home for most everything going on in town, from a Boy Scouts awards ceremony, to a school bake sale, and such; 4) we want to be the community cheerleader in that when someone needs our help, we’re there to support their effort.

Next, a couple of people expressed their long relationship with Stu News and invited me/us to tour and/or sit down with them at their business or facility. One example was the Susi Q Center. Well, not only do I want to tour the Susi Q, but I want to offer them free space to promote what’s going on there through a regular calendar and accompanying stories.

I’m sure there are other, similar, organizations in town that we should be doing the same thing for. If you’re one, contact me.

Another letter writer asked to be a columnist. That’s certainly a bigger discussion that I’m happy to have and explore. But, if it’s a person that represents only one-side of an issue, they might be better off submitting timely guest columns. These are defined as such and allow someone to air their opinions and express their side of an issue.

But remember, balance requires us to also listen to the other side in these instances. So don’t be alarmed or upset when we do.

Another writer accused Stu News of sharing letters prior to publication with city decisionmakers. I, quite frankly, have no idea if this happened or not, but I can assure you going forward that it won’t happen in the future.

The most hurtful comment was, “Has Stu News become a Hitler type of rag?”

Of course, the letter wasn’t signed, which is usually the case in these instances.

Going forward, please know I’m a big boy…I can take your differing opinions. There’s no need for name calling or negative accusations. Also, it’s taken a lot more serious when a letter’s signed and contact information is offered up so we can begin a dialogue.

As far as “Hitler,” I find this kind of reference pretty offensive. My father’s family were Dutch Jews and many, many of them lost their lives unfairly during his reign. If you want to call us names, at least stay above board.

Okay, that’s that. We’re moving forward…we’re having fun…Lana is talking to lots of folks in the community and we’re receiving a great flow of good news happening around town.

We’re excited to be in town.

• • •

On a fun note, Greg MacGillivray sent us this photo:

Fair Game LB tarnished cup

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Photo by Greg MacGillivray

(L-R) Joe Hanauer is presented the “tarnished cup” from Mayor Bob Whalen

Earlier this week the Laguna Art Museum awarded their coveted “tarnished cup” award to current board chair Joe Hanauer. Mayor Bob Whalen handled the duties.

Joe, nice to see you shine! Sort of.


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Anti-Semitic threats reported at local school, District assures they’re working to ameliorate the issues

Fair Game Toms new headshotIn the week leading up to the Christmas holidays, the national media reported threats popping up on social media sites around the country that called for school shootings and bombings on school campuses prior to the holiday break.

At the same time, according to a local parental group, the Laguna Beach Unified School District community was made aware of a reported “threat of gun violence posted by a Thurston Middle School student.” The threat was reportedly posted saying, “Today is the Day I shoot up the school.” 

The threat was reportedly online including a photo taken by a TMS student on the bus with his face covered, before entering the school on Friday, Dec. 17. 

Obviously, that day came and went with no reported violence or incidents, which, of course, is a great relief.

However, these local parents complain that the incident was not properly conveyed to the school community in its entirety. School officials, on the other hand, say that they immediately reported the incident to Laguna Beach Police to investigate.

And, according to LBUSD Public Information Officer Shelley Spessard, a community-wide message “was distributed to all parents through the school district’s regular communication channels.”

She also said that the District staff then subsequently met during the holiday break to discuss the issue and their plans to ensure safety following the holidays and the return to school.

According to a letter issued to the District and other City elected officials on behalf of the above listed parental group, “The posted threat was enough to make many of our children and parents feel TMS to be unsafe for our students. Even more disturbing were the threats of violence committed by the same student, who was also involved with at least two other known anti-Semitic incidents at TMS, in the past 2 weeks. Said student has also exhibited other harmful behaviors towards students (examples below). With an escalation of violence having occurred, we want to ensure this safety issue is dealt with immediately.”

The other “examples” cited were swastikas reportedly being drawn on a Jewish girl’s notebook, the wishing of “Happy Holocaust” to a Jewish girl, the writing of “I hate the Jews” in German on a student’s class project and several other patently offensive gestures towards the Jewish community.

The letter continued by saying, “We do not want our children going back into a hostile environment after Winter break without this being resolved.”

LBUSD officials, however, assure me that proper action continues to play out and that investigations continue both on the police front and within the District.

• • •

OC Parks has closed access to Table Rock Beach in South Laguna Beach following a rock formation appearing to break off from the cliff and falling down upon the sand. 

Fortunately, perhaps because of cold and rainy winter conditions, no one was injured on the beach. 

The beach is expected to remain closed until clean-up is completed and the cliff is inspected for any concerns moving forward.

The offices at OC Parks was closed over the weekend and yesterday due to the holidays.

Fair Game rock on the beach

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Courtesy of Susan Skinner

A rock apparently broke off from the cliff above and fell onto the beach, perhaps as a result of an abundance of moisture following last week’s rain

Table Rock Beach is an off-the-beaten-track locally known beach that offers a sandy beach in a deep cove. It’s highlighted by rocks of all shapes and sizes and a massive cave at the back of the beach.

When open, it is accessible by the public and owned by the County of Orange.

• • •

Three local families have made wonderful contributions that were accepted by city leadership at the December 14 City Council meetings. Bobbi and Bob Roper, the Crevier family and the Offield Family Foundation donated monies allowing the City to purchase two new police dogs and a new vehicle to manage that purpose.

The two dogs will allow for seven-day-a-week coverage on the streets and will assist the LBPD in apprehensions, drug discovery and more.

One dog is expected to arrive in the first quarter and then a second one in the second quarter.

They’ll replace Ranger, a valued member of the department, who recently passed away from cancer.

• • •

As we clean out the in-box and prepare for a New Year in 2022, there’s still plenty to talk about.

There’s a Save the Date for the 2022 Laguna Beach Music Festival. It’ll be the 20th Anniversary and take place March 28 through April 3.

The event will feature four-time Grammy-winning mandolinist, singer and songwriter Chris Thile as the artistic director. NPR calls him a “genre-defying musical genius who proves that music has no limits as he continuously crosses from classical to rock to jazz and bluegrass.”

The Festival is a co-presentation of Laguna Beach Live! and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County featuring classical and contemporary concerts, community outreach programs and special events.

Tickets are on sale here.

• • •

Here’s also a reminder that the Laguna Beach Cultural Arts Center will present Bare Bones Theatre’s new play reading on Tuesday, Feb. 22. 

L’Dor V’Dor (From Generation to Generation) by Lojo Simon will be presented. “The play explores assimilation, identity and what we inherit from the generations who have gone before us through the story of on ordinary American family on the morning of their daughter’s bat mitzvah.”

Check it out and find ticket information here.


Proposed ballot initiative discussion raises questions, concerns and support 

By SARA HALL

A discussion of a proposed ballot initiative this week led to concern by some that a recent fiscal report wasn’t thorough enough regarding the benefits, raised questions about the cumulative impact and comments that the initiative had good ideas that were poorly executed.

On Tuesday (Jan. 11), council heard a fiscal impact report and land use implications analysis for a Laguna Residents First PAC proposed ballot initiative that would require voter approval on certain commercial development projects.

The agenda item also led to a conversation about over-development in Laguna Beach, and even some agreement on what most residents would like to see for the future of the town.

They all live in Laguna Beach for a reason, Mayor Sue Kempf said in reply to an accusation that some councilmembers want extreme development in the city.

They like the town, including the scale of it and the look and feel of it. They don’t want tall buildings in Laguna and the height limit is there for a reason, she added.

“Nobody is pro-development up here,” Kempf said. “And I think the whole council would like to protect that, now it’s just a matter of how you go about doing that.”

The commercial building stock is clearly aging, she said, and that needs to be addressed. It’s also a challenge when the town is in the Coastal Zone and has to comply with regulations from the California Coastal Commission.

“It’s a balancing act that we have here. We have to keep the town vibrant and make it look good without doing too much. So, it’s a tricky thing. If you swing the pendulum one way too far or the other way too far, you get in trouble,” Kempf said. “I’m very keen to protect the town that we have, make it look better and make sure its sustainable going forward.”

None of them are in support of over-development in Laguna Beach, agreed Mayor Pro Tem Bob Whalen.

His concern isn’t regarding the big projects, but the smaller projects and the cumulative impact provision.

“It sort of acts as a drag net to pull in a lot of other projects,” Whalen said.

Due to some of the public testimony, Whalen asked for more staff analysis on the cumulative effect and the impact on housing.

There was also some concern from councilmembers about the parking variances and ensuring that developers are required to mitigate for loss or lack of parking. 

Proposed ballot initiative beach hotel and houses

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Discussion about a proposed ballot initiative led to concerns about over-development and protecting the character of Laguna Beach

There was no vote on Tuesday, but council directed staff to further study the initiative regarding Whalen’s points and send a memo to councilmembers before it returns in February for a status update on the signatures.

Laguna Residents First submitted some 2,600 signatures to Laguna Beach City Clerk Ann Marie McKay on Monday (Jan. 10). If the Orange County Registrar of Voters certifies at least 1,845 signatures, the “Beautiful Laguna Overlay Zoning District” initiative would qualify to be placed on the ballot this November.

If the initiative passes, voter approval would be required on “major” commercial projects that exceed 22,000 square feet of floor space, create 200 or more additional daily trips by vehicles, fail to meet allowable on-site parking requirements, attempt to combine lots that exceed 7,500 square feet of total area (6,000 square feet in downtown), or exceed a height of 36 feet.

The initiative also covers all property in the city located within 750 feet of the centerline of either Coast Highway or Laguna Canyon, which effectively encompasses 51% of all parcels in the city.

At their November 2 meeting, council directed that the analysis be completed by Kosmont Companies, a Manhattan Beach-based real estate and economic development advisory firm.

Council also previously directed staff to have the initiative reviewed by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, investigate potential better approaches to parking, provide further analysis of the cumulative effect provision and the proposed initiative’s impact to outdoor dining, provide an analysis of lot consolidation policies; and refine the list of projects that would have triggered the proposed ballot initiative in the last five years.

On Tuesday, Kosmont President Ken Hira provided an overview of the report. It was focused on examining the near-term and long-term impact on the general fund if the measure is approved.

Laguna Beach has not seen a lot of development in recent years, which could indicate a potential need for rehabilitation in the next 10 to 20 years. Retail and hospitality, for example, are in a far more fluid and dynamic environment all across the state, he explained.

“The commercial world…it’s changing,” Hira said. “We are in the middle of a land use revolution.”

The current “doorstep economy” (the rise of home delivery services) are emblematic of the need for operational changes and flexibility, he said.

Laguna Beach’s fiscal health and sustainability relies, at some level, on the vitality of restaurants, retailers, and hotels – and their capacity to remain competitive, Hira said. The timing of adding a voter required approval process is “less than ideal” given the fluidity in today’s environment, he added.

Kosmont’s research found that voter approval requirements could add a “significant element of risk and uncertainty that can discourage investment in new projects, as well as the rehabilitation of underutilized or blighted properties.”

According to the report, if a project goes through the process, the city could see lost revenue opportunities if the project is not approved or pursued.

“The initiative could have a noticeable negative fiscal impact to the city’s general fund over the next decade,” Hira said.

Expected revenue loss could range from $1.5 million to $2 million per year within the first five years based on a hypothetical 10% to 30% range of voter approval, according to the Kosmont report.

A provision in the initiative factors is the “cumulative effects” of other projects within a half mile of the project site that occurred within the past eight years, explained Community Development Director Marc Wiener. If the total adds up to more than 800 average daily trips or 88,000 square feet, then it would be considered a major development project, regardless of the scope of the actual project, he said.

Answering a council question about how to protect out-of-scale development, Wiener said they can study the neighborhood, the downtown for example, and identify the areas where they want to keep the small-scale character. They also can look for opportunities for potential larger buildings, he added, and cap how large the lots can be (in the case of lot mergers).

Given the average 50-60-year-old age of the commercial building stock, it’s likely that more rehabilitation or expansion projects will be proposed in the future, Hira noted. So the longer the voter requirement is in effect, the greater the potential annual loss to the general fund, he said.

Proposed ballot initiative beach hotel and houses

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Photo by Scott Brashier

The discussion also included the impact of development on neighborhoods

The argument of losing potential revenue is important, said Councilmember George Weiss, but has to be balanced with what the community will gain in terms of quality of life or the impact on neighborhoods.

His comments were echoed by several public speakers who said that’s a key goal of the initiative. This is the result of the public’s frustration from feeling ignored, said Councilmember Toni Iseman.

Click open story button to continue reading…


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

As the school year ends, it’s celebration time, and it begins tonight with the Honors Convocation

TOM MARCHThis evening is the 2022 Honors Convocation at Laguna Beach High School beginning at 6 p.m. It will be preceded by a donors mixer in the library from 5-6.

Here are some numbers to impress you with to explain tonight’s importance: 105 students will be on the receiving end, with 138 scholarships being presented and 249 awards. A total of $408,050 will be handed out.

That translates to a lot of college assistance.

There are memorial scholarships, citizenship awards, arts and medical awards, a number of scholarships from local clubs and organizations, an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, ocean lifeguard and clean ocean scholarships, and a scholarship on behalf of Village Laguna, Friends of the Library and Laguna Canyon Conservancy. There are sports-related scholarships from the surf team to water polo, golf, the Red Guyer, and even the band. 

All in all, it’s quite a community statement.

One award we’re proud to be associated with here at Stu News is the Barbara Diamond Excellence in Journalism Award. Barbara helped make Stu News and it’s certainly nice to remember her and the many others like her that will be recognized this evening.

• • •

Speaking of seniors and school and such, although granted it’s not the Rose Parade where you have to get out there days in advance to reserve a spot on the sidewalk to get good viewing…I did want to remind everyone that next Wednesday, June 8th, at 3:30 p.m., the Laguna Beach High School graduating class will parade down Ocean Ave

It’s your chance to line the street and cheer them on. This has become one of those cool small-town, family and community mainstays. The Class of 2022 Parade will begin at City Hall and meander down to Main Beach. Once they arrive at the beach, it’s photo time and the cap toss.

I’m told bubbles, cowbells and Big Heads are more than welcome!

• • •

And just a reminder, Laguna Beach High School’s graduation will take place next Thursday, June 9 on Guyer Field beginning at 7 p.m. Again, this is a TICKETED EVENT. 

If you don’t have a ticket and would like to watch, you can see it on the LBUSD Media Channel.

• • •

I’m sure as we speak, Mayor Sue Kempf is busy planning an expansion of her trophy cabinet. And for good reason. This past week, Laguna Beach was recognized as one of the winning cities in the Annual Wyland National Mayor’s Challenge for Water Conservation.

The month-long challenge garnered 334,603 pledges to change daily water habits, including reducing pollution to fixing leaks and cutting water waste by more than 1.3 billion gallons.

Cities recognized with the most participants included Laguna Beach, Palm Coast, Fla., Miramar, Fla., Sacramento and Houston, Tx.

Now, all those making commitments from the above-mentioned cities will be entered into a drawing for thousands of dollars in eco-friendly prizes, including home irrigation equipment, apparel, home improvement gift cards, cleaning supplies and free utilities for a year.

• • •

What to do with that yard and food waste from around the house? Well, the City of Laguna Beach is conducting a free composting workshop for residents on Saturday, June 11 from 10-11 a.m. in Bluebird Park.

You’ll learn how to recycle yard and food waste into organic fertilizer using simple composting techniques.

For more info, go to www.lagunabeachcity.net/recycling or contact the instructor, Lisa Ryder, at 310.874.2499.

Attendees will be eligible to enter a raffle for a chance to win a free compost bin.

• • •

Just a reminder that the Art-To-Go exhibit presented by The Artists Fund at Festival of Arts of “What the World Needs Now” runs through June 28 at Laguna Beach City Hall. More than 45 originals donated by Festival exhibitors are on display. The theme was inspired by the Pageant of the Masters’ “Wonderful World” program, and the 1965 song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Artists responded with subjects such as “A Big Kiss” by Carol Heiman-Greene and “Sweet Love Sweets” by Brad Neal.

• • •

Don’t forget the KelpFest tomorrow on the Cobblestones at Main Beach, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. This free festival is hosted by the Laguna Ocean Foundation that promotes ocean literacy, community involvement and interest in nature for residents and visitors.

KelpFest will feature activities, exhibits, informational booths and educational resources about the shoreline and ecology of Laguna Beach.

Everyone of all ages is welcome.

• • •

Correction: The promotion for El Morro Elementary’s 5th grade will take place on Wednesday, June 8 at 8:15 a.m. A ceremony for students, teachers and guests will follow in the multi-purpose room. 

A previous listing said the ceremony was on Thursday, June 9.


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Stu News team is off to the Sawdust Art Festival Thursday and we’re hoping to see you there

TOM MARCHI’m excited. Last week we mentioned that we want to get out into the community with a roving office that moves to new places within town. This Thursday, the Stu News team will “work” out at the Sawdust Art Festival. What better place to start!

And, I say work in quotes because, although we want, and need, to get some work done, it also gives us the opportunity to connect with folks out and about in the community.

The idea for Sawdust came to us from noted local artist Joan Gladstone, or as she’s better known in Sawdust Festival parlance, Booth #201.

While we’ll certainly join Joan to see what she has going on in her neck of the woods, we’ll actually station ourselves in the shade by the waterfall near the Main Stage. Sawdust Art Festival Director of Marketing & PR, Franky Duschane, is helping us with the particulars.

The idea is to invite our staff, so we’re there to meet with community members, hear story ideas and, quite frankly, to just get a better pulse on the community and what’s going on with you.

We’d love to have you come by, join us and say hello. And if you’re a Sawdust Festival booth participant, we look forward to visiting with you and checking out your wares.

But, remember, this is not planned as a one-time deal. We’d like to do this regularly…it could be a corner booth in a restaurant, the library, Susi Q…any place that has people that we can potentially interact with.

The plan is to announce the next location in Stu News as to where and when we plan to be somewhere. We’ll even commit to a house ad promoting it. Heck…we could be on a hotel pool deck or watching lawn bowling. There aren’t any places we wouldn’t consider unless it’s a hot place in the direct sun…and even then, we’ll just bring the shade covering.

I would add that with a little creativity, some cool local spots might also bring some additional ink leading up to the event and definitely afterwards.

So, put your thinking caps on and let us know.

• • •

No Square Theatre is planning something unique to a special community during their upcoming musical run of FOOTLOOSE (August 5-14). 

On Thursday, Aug. 11, No Square Theatre will present a special performance that will include adaptations for attendees with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families and friends. The theatre group has worked with a medical adviser and parents of kids in the spectrum, to “develop appropriate modifications for this audience.” 

This performance is made possible through a grant from the FOA Foundation.

According to those in the know, ASD affects each person differently and opportunities for live theater are rare. No Square has endeavored to make live theater a positive experience including advance preparation to the cast, director, choreographer, musicians, ushers and other volunteers.

Some of the accommodations include the event being held in a small venue, with no blinking lights and no loud noises. 

The special performance with be held at 7:30 p.m. at the No Square Theatre in Historic Legion Hall, 384 Legion Street. 

Tickets to all performances are available at www.nosquare.org, from $15-$30.

No Square Theatre is made possible by sponsors such as the local lodging establishments & City of Laguna Beach, Patrick Quilter, Dorene & Lee Butler Family Foundation, Yvonne & John Browning, Chris Quilter, Rotary Club of Laguna Beach, FOA Foundation and Laguna Real Estate Charitable Assistance Fund.

• • •

Laguna Live! presents opera this Thursday, July 28 from 7-8 p.m. at the Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach, 286 St. Ann’s Drive. 

In their Live! Music Insights: The Voice as an Instrument, the evening will showcase two acclaimed singers in two presentations this summer. Oriana Falla, praised by Opera News for her “palpable purity” and by LA Opus for her “large, lovely and vibrant [voice], along with Arnold Livingston Geis, who was praised by Opera Today for his “sizable lyric instrument” and “honeyed tone on all registers,” will give a presentation and unique insights on The Voice as an Instrument.

This will then be followed by a concert on Saturday, Aug. 13 at the Neighborhood Congregational Church.

For more information and tickets, visit www.lagunabeachlive.org/. Thursday’s presentation is $10 in advance and $15 at the door. The concert is $35 for general admission and $75 for VIP.

• • •

The Coast Film Festival (CFF) recently announced that their fourth annual film festival will be held November 9-27. The In-Person Festival runs November 9-13, followed by the Video-On-Demand Festival from November 16-27.

CFF is “committed to presenting the best films, art and music that represent outdoor lifestyle, culture, conservation and adventure. The in-person festival returns to the Festival of Arts Grounds, and the VOD portion will be available globally through the event website.”

The festival will include 60+ documentaries and adventure films; Q&As with film directors, athletes, and special guests before and after screenings; speaker panels and workshops; Youth Filmmaker and environmental stewardship programs; live music; art exhibitions and artist signings; a lively exhibitor village with sponsors, non-profits and environmental partners; networking opportunities with filmmakers, athletes and creators; and party time with local food, drink and silent disco. 

Tickets will go on sale after Labor Day.


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Candidate filings begin filling the field for November City Council race with three open seats

Fair Game Tom Johnson headshotThe candidate filing period for Laguna Beach does not come to a close until Friday, Aug. 12. 

Several candidates have filed their Campaign Disclosure Statements (Form 460) detailing monies raised during the period of January 1 through June 30.

Highlights from these include the following: Incumbent Peter Blake collected $10,050, which is added to a $1,500 loan, for a fundraising total of $11,550. After some campaign expenses, he currently maintains $5,967, with his fundraising continuing.

Toni Iseman, a stalwart in Laguna politics, appears serious in her claims of not running for re-election, with no reported fundraising reported.

Ruben Flores, who ran previously a couple of years ago and narrowly lost to George Weiss, shows a statement with a paltry $440 of contributions from one donor, with expenditures of $50.

The only other filing included was Louis Weil, who appears to be active on the campaign trail, collecting $20,974 in monetary contributions to go along with a $10,000 campaign loan, offering an overall balance of $30,974. Of that, Weil has spent some $19,432 laying the groundwork for what lies ahead.

Two other candidates have filed their Candidate Intention Statements (Form 501) and include Mayor Sue Kempf, which is in my estimation great news, and also Mark Orgill, another person that truly understands the ins and outs of this community.

Is anyone else out there? Time will tell.

• • •

As our accomplished city hall reporter Sara Hall so eloquently reported recently, “A majority of the Laguna Beach City Council voted (recently) to officially oppose three local measures on the November ballot aimed at curbing large development and increasing hotel worker wage.

“At the meeting on Tuesday (July 19), most councilmembers agreed the initiatives were confusing, over-reaching, or unnecessary.”

Those initiatives include: the Laguna Residents First PAC’s proposed initiative requiring voter approval for major development projects in an overlay zone which encompasses 51% of all parcels in the city which council voted 3-0 to oppose (with George Weiss and Iseman abstaining); the second initiative is a hotel worker wage and workplace conditions initiative with a 4-1 council vote to oppose (Weiss abstaining); and the third was a hotel overlay initiative regarding land use that all five council people opposed.

• • •

While there are probably a few people around town who would wish to rid Laguna Beach Councilmember Blake of his “tongue,” and hence his ability to attack them from the dais, KX FM and Ed Steinfeld with The Mornings with Ed Show, went the opposite direction on yesterday’s show. 

Because of Peter’s very successful segment recently during KX FM’s Takeover Week, where he raised the highest amount of donations among the 50+ participants, Blake was presented with the Silver Tongue Award live on Ed’s show yesterday morning. 

Fair Game Peter Blake

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Courtesy of KX FM

City Councilmember Peter Blake, in studio at KX FM, received the vaunted Silver Tongue Award for raising the most money in the station’s recent weeklong fundraiser

Congrats to Peter for delivering the goods! KX FM and the community should truly appreciate his efforts. 

I remember the times when people on opposite sides of issues could vehemently disagree but unite afterwards on efforts that benefit those they represent. This would be an example of that. I miss those days for those on both sides of local issues.

The Silver Tongue Award itself, was crafted by local multi-media artist Heather Reichard, from Art-A-Fair

• • •

Erin Slattery, current Events & Marketing Manager for the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce, has been appointed President/CEO. She officially replaced Interim President/CEO Paula Hornbuckle-Arnold yesterday. 

Fair Game SNL Erin Slattery

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Courtesy of Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce

Newly appointed Chamber President & CEO Erin Slattery

“In a short time, Erin has proved her ability to understand the Chamber’s mission and the nuances of running this office,” said Chairman of the Board J.J. Ballesteros. “We look forward to working with her in this new and challenging role.” 

Hornbuckle-Arnold will steward Slattery through the transition period and continue to serve on the Board of the Directors for the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce.

“After working at the Laguna Beach Chamber for the past four months, I realized the CEO position was a perfect fit for me. I am thrilled that the board agreed,” said Slattery. “I am a third-generation Laguna Beach resident and I have seen the city grow and change. I am excited to be able to support our residents and businesses as we continue to move into the future.”

Slattery grew up in Laguna Beach and has a long Laguna legacy with her family. Her grandfather was Fred Lang, the renowned landscape architect of which Lang Park is named after. 

• • •

Laguna Live! has more Summer Grooves Jazz Concerts. Next up is the Will Brahm Trio with “sensational soul vocalist” Adryon de Leon. The concert is this Thursday, Aug. 4, from 6-8 p.m. at the Woman’s Club of Laguna Beach.

Two weeks later on Thursday, Aug. 18 will be Maiya Sykes bringing blues with her all-star trio.

Doors open at 5 for their social hour. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door.


2,252 reported cases of COVID-19 in OC: One new reported case in Laguna Beach today

Numbers released by the OC Health Agency today, April 29, reflect that there have been 2,252 reported cases of COVID-19 in Orange County to date, including 108 new cases reported today. There are 37 reported cases of COVID-19 to date in Laguna Beach, including one new reported case today.

Laguna Beach, with a population of 23,358, has the second highest per capita rate in OC at 1.584 cases per thousand residents. Los Alamitos, with a population of 11,721 and 22 reported cases, has the highest per capita rate in OC, with 1.877 cases per thousand residents.

Newport Beach has the third highest per capita rate in OC, with 97 reported cases, 1.113 cases per thousand residents.

Santa Ana is the city with the most cases at 330, with a population of 337,716. Irvine, with a population of 280,202, has 126 cases. Dana Point, with a population of 34,249, has 23 cases.

Sadly, the County reports 44 deaths due to COVID-19, including two deaths today. 175 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19; 70 are currently in ICU.

The County Public Health lab and reporting commercial labs have tested 29,940 people as of today.

The County is not releasing data on the number of individuals who have tested negative following a positive test at this time.

For more information, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus.

Numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna.

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data, as of April 29;

Click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 2,144 new cases reported in OC, 5 new cases in Laguna Beach

OC Health Care Agency reported 2,144 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday (December 28), marking a seven-day surge of 21,426 new cases and 149,607 cumulative cases to date. 

Sadly, the county reports that 1,846 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County. There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.9 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 43 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,031 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+41 since Sunday’s report – includes ICU); 453 are in ICU (+10 since Sunday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 483 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including five new cases reported yesterday and 49 new cases reported since last Monday’s report.

Anaheim experienced an increase of 416 new cases yesterday; Santa Ana experienced an increase of 373 new cases yesterday.

The county estimates 82,710 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna. 

*From OC Health Care Agency: Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data as of December 28, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 1,448 new cases and 47 new deaths reported in OC, 4 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,367 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 47 new deaths reported on Sunday (January 17). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 1,448 new cases of COVID-19 in OC on Sunday. There have been 210,813 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.5 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 36 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,026 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-39 since Saturday’s report – includes ICU); 538 are in ICU (-4 since Saturday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 642 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including four new cases reported on Sunday and 69 new cases reported since last Sunday’s report.

The county estimates 136,506 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 17, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 3,995 new cases and 110 new deaths reported in OC over last two days, 18 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,477 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 110 new deaths reported over the last two days. 46 new deaths were reported on January 18 and 64 new deaths were reported on January 19. There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 3,995 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today, which represents a two-day total. 1,681 new cases were reported on January 18 and 2,314 new cases were reported on January 19. There have been 214,808 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.5 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 34 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,007 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-19 since Sunday’s report – includes ICU); 523 are in ICU (-15 since Sunday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 660 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 18 new cases reported today, which represents a two-day total, and 61 new cases reported since last Tuesday’s report.

The county estimates 143,618 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 19, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 1,701 new cases and 31 new deaths reported in OC, 6 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,508 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 31 new deaths reported today (January 20). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 1,701 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 216,509 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 5.4 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 34 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,975 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-32 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 527 are in ICU (+4 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 666 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including six new cases reported today and 57 new cases reported since last Wednesday’s report.

The county estimates 147,280 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 20, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 1,276 new cases and 29 new deaths reported in OC, 4 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,868 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 29 new deaths reported yesterday (January 28). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 1,276 new cases of COVID-19 in OC yesterday. There have been 228,297 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 8.5 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 41 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,592 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-47 since Wednesday’s report – includes ICU); 439 are in ICU (-9 since Wednesday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 712 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including four new cases reported yesterday and 42 new cases reported since last Thursday’s report.

The county estimates 170,229 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 28, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 1,460 new cases and 107 new deaths reported in OC, 4 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,975 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 107 new deaths reported today (January 29). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 1,460 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 229,757 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 10.1 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 43 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,521 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-71 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 426 are in ICU (-13 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 716 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including four new cases reported today and 41 new cases reported since last Friday’s report.

The county estimates 171,134 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 29, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 1,279 new cases and 43 new deaths reported in OC, 4 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,018 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 43 new deaths reported today (January 30). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 1,279 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 231,036 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 9.9 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 47 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,442 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-79 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 394 are in ICU (-32 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 720 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including four new cases reported today and 30 new cases reported since last Saturday’s report.

The county estimates 173,862 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 30, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 1,355 new cases and 44 new deaths reported in OC, 8 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,062 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 44 new deaths reported today (January 31). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 1,355 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 232,391 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 9.8 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 48 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,412 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-30 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 392 are in ICU (-2 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 728 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including eight new cases reported today and 31 new cases reported since last Sunday’s report.

The county estimates 175,513 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

COVID 19 County 1 31 21 1

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 31, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 942 new cases and 25 new deaths reported in OC, 3 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 3,383 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 25 new deaths reported yesterday (February 8). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 942 new cases of COVID-19 in OC yesterday. There have been 239,206 cumulative cases to date.

The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 9.6 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 51 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,046 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-47 since Sunday’s report – includes ICU); 331 are in ICU (-4 since Sunday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 765 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including three new cases reported yesterday and 35 new cases reported since last Monday’s report.

The county estimates 201,372 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

COVID 19 County 2 8 21 1

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COVID 19 County 2 8 21 3

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on February 8, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


Remembering Barbara Diamond

By DIANNE RUSSELL

All who knew Barbara Diamond are still reeling from the news of her passing. Today – and in Friday’s edition – friends and colleagues offer their thoughts and memories in loving tribute. 

“I have so many memories of Barbara, all good,” says Kelly Boyd, former Laguna Beach Mayor. “I enjoyed getting her phone calls, not always about council business. They would start with ‘on the record’ or ‘off the record.’ We would have some very interesting conversations.

“Knowing I would be leaving the council soon, at one of my last meetings as Mayor, I made sure to recognize and honor Barbara with a proclamation at a council meeting. She was not happy with me for putting her in the spotlight, but still she said, ‘I love you.’ Coming from Barbara, that was a real compliment. I loved her also.

“I will miss you to the moon, as will all that knew you. RIP.”

Remembering Barbara Kelly Boyd

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

On July 24, 2018, (then) Mayor Kelly Boyd honored Barbara with a Proclamation: NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that I, Kelly Boyd, Mayor of the City of Laguna Beach, California, do hereby proclaim that Barbara F. Diamond (BFD) is a highly-respected, trusted and talented Laguna Beach legend, resident and journalist.

Barbara was cherished and respected by her colleagues at Stu News and all her friends, old and new.

Former Stu News Editor Lynette Brasfield says, “I will miss Barbara. She was an excellent journalist and an extraordinary woman. When I became editor after Stu died, she was extremely supportive, welcoming me into the fold and introducing me to her friends, many of whom are Laguna’s movers and shakers. Knowing I didn’t enjoy small talk, she told me sternly that I needed to network, though, she said, she had worked with enough editors to know that wasn’t their favorite thing. I was in awe of her journalistic skills, her kindness, her sense of humor, and her willingness to attend nearly every Council meeting and nearly every nonprofit gala. Talk about stamina! I don’t think I ever saw her without a notebook in her hand.”

Laura Buckle, former colleague of Barbara’s, says, “Like many people in Laguna, my knowledge of Barbara started by reading Stu News. I had no idea of who she was or where she lived, but I always thought that her writing was so detailed and also very non-biased in an arena where it is so hard to hold back at times.

“When I started writing for Stu News in 2015, I was invited to a birthday ‘mixer’ and that was the first time I met Barbara Diamond. She was strong, witty, quick, vibrant, beautifully dressed, and told me that she had recently visited Watermarc for brunch off the basis of my review (I took that as a huge compliment). We talked about England, she loved it so much, about her past, how she had always been a journalist, her journey to Laguna Beach, our children (and her case grandchildren), and about the death of her beloved son. I came away even more in awe of this huge personality. 

“During our conversation, she told me lived on Diamond Street and once a month or so I would knock on her red door and say, ‘hi,’ and she was always so gracious and loved a cup of tea!

“Once, due to her ill health, I covered for her during an election night at the Playhouse. It was one of the most challenging writing roles I’ve ever had – using recording, dictation, and shorthand – to document the council members battling. She sent me a note a couple of weeks later saying I did a great job. I don’t know how she managed it every week. 

“I hadn’t seen her in a while. I moved out of Woods Cove and COVID-19 kept me away. I’m sad, and I wish I’d listened to one more story. Luckily, we have pages and pages of her words to remind us of the wonderful woman she was.

“My thoughts are with your family, ‘Barbara Diamond of Diamond Street.’ I will miss you lots xo.” 

Remembering Barbara glasses

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Barbara at State of the City meeting on May 6, 2019

“Barbara Diamond painted with words,” says Denny Freidenrich. “Early Laguna artists like Anna Hills, William Wendt, and Edgar Payne painted gorgeous landscapes. Reporter Barbara Diamond, who suddenly passed away last week, ‘painted’ pictures of today’s Laguna with her words. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you wanted to know what was happening in town, you had to read Barbara’s posts. She clearly understood that a picture was worth a thousand words, maybe more. Write on, Barbara. You will be missed.” 

Former Mayor Elizabeth Pearson recalls memories of a special club. “The Birthday Club originated on Barbara’s birthday, November 2nd. I had a party for her with the people on the list below in attendance and we all had such a good time, we decided to make it a ‘club’ where we all celebrated together. 

“We would take turns hosting a dinner, cocktail, or dinners to celebrate the
birthdays – so we could all come together again. 

Remembering Barbara with Elizabeth

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Submitted photo

Barbara and Elizabeth Pearson 

“We traveled to Carol Reynolds’ family home in Cape May, which gave us the picture (below). We also got together and rented a limo to go to the horse races in Del Mar and Santa Anita and would drink champagne in the limo. 

“Barbara once thanked me for creating the Birthday Club, which started with
her, because she hadn’t really become close to too many people in Laguna –
and that this gave her a group of friends that she cherished. 

January party – January 1, Elizabeth Pearson; January 13, Martha Anderson 

March party – March 16, Kristine Thalman; March 20, Stephany Skenderian

April 7 – Carol Reynolds 

May 11 – Peggy Ford 

June party – June 1, Martha Lydick; June 8, Anne Johnson

July 22 – Kathleen Blackburn 

August 31 – Renae Hinchey 

November party – always at Elizabeth’s

November 2 – Barbara Diamond 

December party – Lunch, always at Barbara’s

December 1 –  Cheryl Kinsman

Remembering Barbara birthday club

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Submitted photo

The Birthday Club on vacation a Carol Reynolds’ family home in Cape May, New Jersey

Johanna Felder says, “Laguna will miss Barbara Diamond. I knew Barbara for over 30 years and always admired her devotion to reporting the local news. She would sit through those city meetings hour after hour and week after week. She was a journalist in the real sense of the word. I always knew she would not only accurately quote me but would also be fair in her reporting. No one will be able to fill those high heel shoes.”

“I am shocked and saddened to hear the news of Barbra Diamond’s passing. I am in tears. I will never forget Barbara and how incredibly welcoming she was to me when I started in my position nearly 25 years ago,” says Sharbie Higuchi, Director of Marketing/PR at the Festival of Arts. “At that time, she worked for the Laguna News-Post and her office was in the ‘pink’ building. I remember her office filled with stacks of papers as she offered her advice and knowledge about Laguna to me with a comforting smile. Always smartly dressed and a pad of paper in hand. I will sorely miss her…a true pillar for the news community and Laguna Beach.” 

From Charles Michael Murray, “Barbara is and will always be a pillar of the community breeze of Integrity, Past, Present & Future. Her view, words, voice, and smile will prevail with the coastal winds that will continue to embrace our Laguna Beach. Thank you, Barbara.”

To submit your remembrances of Barbara for publication, email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

For those wishing to donate to Barbara’s LBHS Scholarship Fund, please send donations to: LBHSSF, P.O. Box 1569, Laguna Beach, CA 92652. Please include “Barbara Diamond Excellence in Journalism Award,” to be placed on the memo line or written separately and included in the envelope. All donations are tax-deductible; LBHSSF is a 501 (c)(3).


Hotel Laguna project hits roadblock with Coastal Commission, “de novo” review to be held

By SARA HALL

Work on Hotel Laguna hit another speed bump this week as a state agency found a “substantial issue” with potential compliance requirements, forcing the project to pause until a permit hearing can be held.

On Wednesday, May 12, the California Coastal Commission unanimously agreed with the recommendation from CCC staff (based on an appeal submitted by local residents) that the project raises a “substantial issue” regarding conformance with the Local Coastal Program based on potential inconsistencies with the LCP and the California Coastal Act.

There was a brief presentation by District Director for San Diego Coast and South Coast Orange County Karl Schwing, but no hearing on Wednesday as no commissioners objected to finding a “substantial issue” with the Hotel Laguna project, located at 425 South Coast Hwy. At least three commissioners are required to object to the finding for a hearing (which would have included public comment) to take place.

Since commissioners agreed that there is a substantial issue regarding the project’s conformance with the LCP, then CCC staff will bring the matter back for a “de novo” review of the application at a later date. 

At the de novo hearing, the Coastal Commission will review the application based on the merits of the project, which will use the LCP as the standard for review. In addition, since the project is located between the first public road and the sea, it must also be consistent with the public access and recreation policies of the Coastal Act. 

The hearing will include an opportunity for public comment.

Mo Honarkar, lease owner of the hotel, said they anticipated the decision and will work with CCC staff during the process.

“Our team appreciates the opportunity to work with the Coastal Commission staff,” Honarkar said in an email to Stu News Laguna on Thursday. “Plans for the hotel have been submitted and we look forward to addressing their concerns prior to the hearing.”

It is unfortunate that this delay will prevent an early summer opening for the restaurant, he added.

“The Coastal Commission’s decision was expected, and our hope is that the de novo hearing is scheduled sooner rather than later so we can resume with the Hotel Laguna’s restoration,” Honarkar said.

Hotel Laguna project

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut 

Hotel Laguna will return to the Coastal Commission for a “de novo” review

The Laguna Beach Company, owned by Honarkar, has been working with historical preservation consultant and specialist Robert Chattel of Chattel, Inc., since they acquired the property’s lease in 2019. The aim is to ensure Hotel Laguna is properly renovated and restored.

Chattel already submitted the first part of the application for the hotel to be placed on the national registry of historic places and continues to guide the team through the project, officials confirmed.

Local residents Mark and Sharon Fudge appealed the Design Review Board’s approval of the Coastal Development Permit to the CCC. 

The appeal comes after the city issued an exemption in October for the project to remodel the main and basement floor levels and do improvement work. The Fudges appealed the exemption to the CCC in November, but Honarkar withdrew the claim and applied for a Coastal Development Permit before the hearing. After the DRB approved the permit (with some conditions) at their February 25 meeting, the Fudges again appealed the decision to the Coastal Commission. 

Coastal staff recommended that the Commission determine that a substantial issue exists with respect to the grounds on which the appeal was filed.

On Wednesday, Schwing explained that the appellants allege that the approved development raises a number of LCP consistency issues, including that the city should have required a bluff edge determination, that the city’s approval of development on the sandy beach is inconsistent with the LCP, that it constitutes project piecemealing, that the city’s approval enables further improvements to unpermitted development without resolving outstanding violations, and that the discontinued non-conforming uses cannot be re-established onsite unless they conform with the current LCP.

Because of these potential inconsistencies with the LCP and the Coastal Act, Schwing concluded in the staff report that “a substantial issue exists with respect to whether the local government action conforms with the policies of the city’s certified LCP and the scenic and visual policies of the Coastal Act.”

The hotel has long been an iconic structure in the city, the Fudges wrote in the appeal, but has fallen into a state of disrepair.

“While repairs are necessary, none of the work can be done to create an expansion of use or an expansion of the building without bringing the uses and structure into conformity with the current codes,” the Fudges wrote. “The economic life of the building has been exhausted and now is the time to review the appropriateness of the development in light of sea level rise and other modern-day constraints.”

Last week, work on Hotel Laguna was ordered to stop after city officials sent a letter to the developer alleging that unpermitted work was done to the exterior of the property.

Community Development Director Marc Wiener issued the stop-work order on Wednesday, May 5, in a letter to Honarkar, noting that there has been a continued pattern of working on the project without permits, which is disappointing.

For the stop-work order to be lifted, the necessary entitlements must be obtained and provided to the city with the requested information. 

Although, as Wiener noted in the letter, Honarkar worked with the city on processing and obtaining after-the-fact permits when the project was halted from July to the end of last year. 

It’s important that work on this historic landmark is done in the correct manner and in accordance with the applicable regulations, Wiener wrote.

Hotel Laguna’s team is in the process of evaluating the issues raised in both the city’s letter and the CCC staff report, Honarkar wrote in an email to Stu News Laguna last week. They believe there are several misunderstandings about both the work proposed in the CDP and the prior work that has occurred over time at the hotel property, he said.

“We look forward to clarifying these issues with staff from both agencies, and working toward acceptable resolutions that will allow the Hotel’s restoration to be completed so that it can remain an important and vital asset to our community,” Honarkar said.


Laguna legend Al Roberts continues to give to the community he loved

Although longtime resident and local Laguna legend Al Roberts passed away on February 7, 2021, his spirit of generosity is alive and well. It was just announced that gifts of $105,000 each from his estate will be given to six of his favorite local charities, according to Clark Collins, Trustee, and Ken Jillson, Al’s partner of fifty years. 

“The Clinic owes a debt of gratitude to Al Roberts. He generously supported the Clinic for decades. Al and Ken have been true friends of the Clinic, always accessible, among the first to lend their support at critical junctures, and to join in celebrating our achievements. We are truly grateful.” –Jorge Rubal, MD, MBA, CEO, the Laguna Beach Community Clinic

Laguna legend dog

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Courtesy of Ken Jillson

Ken Jillson (on left) and Al Roberts at Lake Louise

“Human beings are the authors of their own acts, with responsibility for their honorable values. Having his heart in the community, Al Roberts through his philanthropic deeds gave aesthetic form to ideas and dreams conceived in this community in order to make this a better place for all of us. Laguna Beach Seniors is grateful to Al’s legacy gift which will support our hybrid technology upgrades at the Susi Q.” –Nadia Babayi, Executive Director, Laguna Beach Seniors at the Susi Q

“Al Roberts’ infectious love for Laguna Beach and its people will long be honored at the museum where he made history by raising money to bring attention to the AIDS crisis and where he made many memories with lifelong friends. Laguna Art Museum is deeply moved by Al’s act of generosity which will allow the museum to better serve others, and which inspires us all to be more like him.” –Julie Perlin Lee, Executive Director, Laguna Art Museum

Laguna legend Taylor

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Courtesy of Ken Jillson

“Art of AIDS” at the Laguna Art Museum in 2002 – (L-R) Penny Marshall, Dr. Arnie Klein, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Jack Kenefick, Al, and Merv Griffin

Three additional gifts will go to: the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, MenAlive – the OC Gay Men’s Chorus, and the LGBTQ Center OC.

In addition to being the CEO of Jillson & Roberts Gift Wrap from its founding in 1974 to its sale in 1994, Mr. Roberts co-founded the AIDS Services Foundation Orange County in 1985; headed up development of Hagan Place on Third Street and Mermaid in Laguna Beach, a twenty-seven-unit apartment complex for low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS; and co-chaired Art for AIDS for several years, a star-studded joint venture of ASF and the Laguna Art Museum.

A limited number of Al’s distinctive memorial books are still available. Please contact Clark Collins at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request a copy or make a donation in Al’s honor to: Laguna Beach Community Clinic, 362 Third St, Laguna Beach, CA 92651, Attn: Dr. Jorge Rubal.


Downtown Specific Plan changes get green light from Coastal Commission

By SARA HALL

The California Coastal Commission unanimously approved changes to Laguna Beach’s Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) this week, primarily aimed at relaxing parking restrictions and allowing more uses in the neighborhood. 

Commissioners voted 7-0 on Wednesday (Dec. 15) in support of an amendment to the city’s Local Coastal Program regarding the Downtown Specific Plan. 

The DSP is a planning document that serves to guide growth, design and development standards in downtown. The updated plan was adopted by the city council in July 2020 but needed the CCC’s certification before it can be implemented.

On Wednesday, commissioners commended the public process and commented that the changes to the DSP would help improve the area. 

It sounds like there was “excellent” process, said Commissioner Katie Rice. The modifications will go back to the council, she pointed out, so people who objected can raise their concerns at the local level.

She supported the DSP changes and the city’s efforts to invigorate the area. 

“I appreciate the content also, of the IP amendment, and what the city is proposing doing as they look forward for their community and their residents toward greater vibrance, (of an) inclusive, 21st century city and downtown,” Rice said.

Commissioner Mike Wilson commended the city’s effort to relax the parking constraints.

“Parking requirements often create blight and this is a way to address that,” he said. 

On Thursday (Dec. 16), Mayor Sue Kempf said in a prepared statement that she was pleased with the CCC’s decision. It will enable the city to attract high quality retailers with innovative businesses, fill empty storefronts and provide more flexibility to longtime retailers.

“These revisions support rapidly changing resident and visitor needs and will enhance the city’s vitality, while maintaining the special qualities of our downtown,” Kempf said.

The update to the Downtown Specific Plan strikes a balance between allowing greater flexibility in land uses with a streamlined review process, City Manager Shohreh Dupuis explained in the message. 

Coastal Commission-approved updates to the plan primarily: Add new parking requirement of three spaces for each 1,000 square feet of gross floor area for certain non-residential uses, such as office, retail and food service in downtown; allow most uses in downtown as permit-by-right rather than require a local Condition Use Permit to streamline and reduce barriers to new business; allow the city to change the “Allowed Uses and Permit Requirements Table” by city council resolution on an as-needed basis rather than through an LCP amendment; and allow for the re-use of public parking in downtown.

Dupuis emphasized that the updated DSP does not include any new standards or provisions that would allow nonconforming structures to be replaced or reconstructed up to the original height, nor does it specifically allow or promote second-story additions to historic buildings. The updated DSP does not modify the city’s Historic Preservation Program and retains a list of properties in the downtown that are on the city’s historic register and those eligible for the national and state registers.

Downtown Specific Plan Forest Ave

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Forest Avenue in downtown Laguna Beach

On Wednesday, Kempf spoke to the CCC and emphasized that she was the only member of city council speaking officially on behalf of the city. This amendment has support of the majority of the council, she noted. 

There were 20 public meetings at the time, said Kempf, who was on the Planning Commission for much of the process.

“I don’t think we could have vetted this anymore if we tried,” she said. 

The previous DSP was well-intentioned, she added, but was overly restrictive and resulted in a direct negative effect on the downtown. It discouraged high quality tenants, innovative businesses and caused a lack of property investment, she said. 

“We have a situation here where the parking requirements are so difficult to achieve that each site would have to be developed with a multi-level parking structure,” Kempf said. 

 It was last updated in 2008. It’s now out of step with visitor and resident preferences, Kempf said. 

“As a city, we’re taking steps to create more parking in our downtown,” to lessen the burden on business owners and making it easier for people, Kempf said. 

Both George Weiss and Toni Iseman spoke (as individuals, not representatives of city council) opposing the amendment as written. They raised concerns about parking and historical significance

Several other commenters echoed their points, suggesting that the amendment return to the city level for further public review. Not all of the modifications before the CCC were included in the previous public discussions, several people pointed out. 

The new modifications have been sprung on the community and they are still trying to determine the potential ramifications, said resident Judi Mancuso. 

How this amendment will impact downtown is still unknown, several people agreed, particularly regarding historical buildings. 

Some speakers worried that the changes to DSP would drastically reduce protections to historic resources, which would be detrimental to the community character. Reducing the parking requirements could eliminate an incentive for property owners to preserve their buildings and place them on the historic register, a few commenters noted. 

Longtime resident and Village Laguna board member Ann Christoph urged the commission to consider the “lack of provisions” to protect the historical resources of the downtown. The DSP amendment is less diligent on this issue, she said. 

 “One hundred years of history can be experienced in our city,” she said. “At the same time, this is a living, active downtown; proving that we can not only live happily within a historical setting, we can thrive and offer a unique perspective for our visitors and residents.”

Other speakers heard concerns regarding building height and the land use definition. 

Downtown Specific Plan Broadway

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Broadway Street in downtown Laguna Beach

On the other side of the issue, in support of the amendment, several speakers noted that the DSP would more likely encourage property owners to improve and restore their historical buildings. The less restrictive parking regulations are needed to make the downtown more attractive to both business owners and the public, some agreed.

Kent Russell, a downtown property owner, said the current code is limited and restricts new businesses and new ideas from coming in. They want to maintain Laguna’s character, he said, but also adapt with the times. 

“Our downtown is at a crossroads,” Russell said. “This is about making our downtown viable.”

Retail is struggling right now, it’s difficult out there, Russell said. This DSP amendment would create more flexibility with the process and a more adaptable parking code, both of which would help create a sustainable downtown. Part of that is ensuring that both residents and visitors have a positive experience and enjoy coming downtown, he added. 

“We as a town love the fact that we’re unique, we love the fact that we’ve got charm, all of us do,” Russell said. “The real risk is if we stay where we are, we’re going to…get stale.”

Others agreed about the need for the downtown to adapt in order to remain vibrant. 

Many of the buildings were constructed long before any of the current parking problems were an issue, noted Jeff Redeker. These changes are a flexible solution to help attract businesses to the downtown, he added. 

~~~~~~~~

Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Laguna.


Revisiting the top stories of 2021

By SARA HALL

2021 was an eventful year for Laguna Beach, as quite a lot happened: The community mourned losing local icons, a councilmember was censured for the first time in the city’s history, a new city manager was selected, work on a historical hotel stopped and started again and LBPD lost a beloved K-9 officer.

Here’s a round-up of some of the top news stories covered by Stu News Laguna over the past year. This is PART 1 in a two-part series.

January

City Manager John Pietig announced his retirement on January 7, following 20 years of service to the City of Laguna Beach.

Pietig started his career with the City of Riverside for 10 years, followed by two years with the City of Alhambra, then a decade as Laguna’s assistant city manager before being promoted to the top leadership position.

He planned his last day to be in June, giving the city time to hire a replacement. Council began the search immediately, holding a closed session discussion on January 5. There were reports of interest from Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis.

A recruitment firm was hired to start the process, which included gathering public feedback.

• • •

Revisiting January

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Promenade during summer 2020 

City Council voted unanimously on January 12 to extend the outdoor dining and retail display temporary use permit program, including the Promenade on Forest, through December and directed staff to solicit proposals for analysis, design and entitlement for the conversion to a permanent plaza.

The experimental Promenade was opened to the public in June 2020 as an experiment to test whether restaurants and shops would benefit from the creation of a gathering spot downtown.

• • •

Historical preservationists filed a lawsuit on January 11 alleging that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act when it revamped its Historical Preservation Program in 2020.

The Laguna Beach Historic Preservation Coalition, Village Laguna and Preserve Orange County opposed the city’s approval of the program without an environmental impact report, as well as the requirement for an owner’s consent for a property to be considered a local historic resource.

• • •

A Delaware company filed a lawsuit claiming properties controlled by Laguna Beach real estate mogul Mo Honarkar have defaulted on a $195 million loan and has asked the court to foreclose on the properties used as collateral for the loan.

The suit, filed on behalf of LCC Warehouse 1 LLC, identified 19 properties primarily located in Orange County, the majority in Laguna Beach, as “borrowers” of the loan and also names Does 1-110.

LCC Warehouse 1 LLC is the successor-in-interest to LoanCore Capital Credit REIT, which funded the loan on Nov. 16, 2018.

February

During public comment at the February 9 City Council meeting, former Laguna Beach resident Judie Dike spoke about a brutal carjacking in the lower-level parking lot at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach. She implored the council to protect the community and asked for better security measures, including cameras in the lower parking lot.

Dike said she brought the incident to the public’s attention four months after it happened in October 2020 because the hospital has not agreed to install security cameras in certain areas.

Staff from Providence Mission Hospital Laguna Beach presented planned security enhancements during the City Council meeting on March 23, including new cameras and an additional security guard.

• • •

Revisiting February

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Barbara Diamond 

On February 10, longtime local journalist Barbara Diamond died. She was 88.

The community mourned Diamond as a cherished and revered figure in Laguna Beach and iconic reporter with Stu News. Tributes continued to pour in from residents, sharing memories and remembering her as the heart and soul of community news. She was well-respected, kind and vibrant, and many described her as a one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable icon.

After separating from her husband in 1980, a visit to Shaw’s Cove with her three boys turned into a stay that graced and elevated our city for 41 years. When she purchased her historic home on Diamond Street in 1985, she became known as “The Diamond of Diamond Street.”

The city honored Diamond with a proclamation and press chair dedication.

• • •

In an 11th hour development, the appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of the Rivian reuse and remodel project at South Coast Cinemas was withdrawn during a meeting on February 23.

Before moving on to the regular agenda, Laguna Beach City Council dealt with the announcement of the withdrawal of the appeal. After a recap of the agreement between the appellant, the Laguna Beach Historic Preservation Coalition and Rivian, council unanimously approved the withdrawal of the appeal, 4-0. Councilmember George Weiss recused himself from the discussion and vote (to accept the withdrawal of the appeal) because he previously spoke in front of the Planning Commission.

March

Revisiting March 1

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Submitted photo

Peter Blake 

On March 9, City Council unanimously agreed to censure Councilmember Peter Blake.

After about two hours of discussion and public comment, Council voted 4-0-1 for the censure, with Blake choosing to abstain.

Councilmember George Weiss requested the censure based on two categories of “unprofessional acts” that violate the Rules of Decorum and Civility policy. In his request, Weiss notes several instances during city meetings, posts on social media and comments on newspaper articles when Blake used slurs or other offensive, disparaging, or derogatory language.

This was the first time the council has had to enforce the civility policy since its adoption in 2019. This was also reportedly the first time in the city’s history that a Laguna Beach City Councilmember has been censured.

Later, on April 6, council repealed a municipal code provision from 1953 that criminalizes the use of certain language at City Council meetings. Speakers questioned the timing of the item in regards to the recent censure. The second reading of the item on April 20 turned into a heated argument, hashing up old comments, questioning the meaning of a threat, and, for some, emphasizing the need for a stronger code of conduct policy.

• • •

Revisiting March 2

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Neighborhood & Environmental Protection Plan aims to increase sanitation and safety near beaches, parks and trails 

City Council on March 9 unanimously approved the Neighborhood & Environmental Protection Plan, aimed at reducing the negative impact of visitors (particularly in neighborhoods near beaches, parks and trails) and increasing safety, sanitation and environmental measures.

The $2 million resident-serving program will be funded 100 percent by visitors through the city’s parking fund and Measure LL Transient Occupancy Tax revenues.

Council directed city staff to pursue seven policies as code amendments, including prohibiting use of plastic straws and single-use plastic containers on city beaches and trails and prohibiting restaurants from distributing single-use non-recyclable to-go containers.

April

On April 4, a 3-year-old Lhasa apso dog was stolen outside of Ralphs at 700 South Coast Highway. The dog’s owner had secured “Beauderaux” to a bike rack while shopping. After discovering the dog was missing, he reviewed surveillance footage with store employees and saw an allegedly intoxicated male take his dog and flee in a silver sedan. 

Around the same time, police received two separate calls about an intoxicated man with a similar description of the vehicle. Officers located the Honda and conducted a vehicle enforcement stop in the 300 block of Cypress Drive. The driver was identified as Christopher Barbee of Artesia and was arrested on suspicion of DUI and felony theft of the dog. 

An officer noted that Barbee’s passenger was in possession of Beauderaux, who was later reunited with his emotional and grateful owner. 

• • •

Bushard’s Pharmacy opened a new COVID-19 vaccination site on the old Laguna Drug property. Assistant City Manager Shohreh Dupuis worked with the property manager, the Fritz Duda Company, to provide the property at no cost to Bushard’s.

The pharmacy managed the operation of the site and offered vaccinations every Tuesday and Wednesday.

• • •

Revisiting April

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Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

Shohreh Dupuis 

Following a nationwide search, three resident listening sessions and several closed session candidate interviews, council unanimously selected Shohreh Dupuis as the next city manager. Councilmembers voted 5-0 on April 27 during a special closed session held in a conference room at city hall.

Dupuis’ employment contract was approved at a regular council meeting on May 4. Dupuis began work in her new role on June 12.

There was an extensive search to find the right person for the role. The listening sessions emphasized several key issues in the city, including listening and working with citizens, the division in town and a love for the city.

• • •

On April 27, Laguna’s only radio station KX FM 104.7 announced that Tyler Russell McCusker, who founded the station in 2012, will step down as general manager and be succeeded by Alyssa Hayek, KX FM’s former music director. 

Monica Silva-McCusker passed the torch of development director to nonprofit professional Jayne Herring. And Erica Delamare, who started two years ago at KX FM as an intern, will be promoted to music director. 

May

Revisiting May

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

(L-R) Councilmembers George Weiss and Toni Iseman, Mayor Bob Whalen, Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf and Councilmember Peter Blake cutting the ribbon at South Main Beach Restroom

The city held a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 4 to celebrate the completion of renovations to the South Main Beach Restroom and the installation of the first of 35 bottle refill stations planned throughout the city to reduce ocean pollution from single use-plastic bottles.

In addition to the new refillable bottle water station, renovations to the restroom include a hand-painted ceramic tile mural called “Outburst” by artist Lynn Basa, all new plumbing fixtures and piping, an energy-efficient electrical system, new outdoor shower facilities, new concrete floors and improved ADA accessibility.

• • •

A complaint was sent to the Fair Political Practices Commission objecting to comments made during an overheard conversation between Laguna Beach City Councilmembers while on break during the May 4 meeting. 

At the meeting, council took a short break while staff loaded a presentation. The video went to a static screen, but audio from the dais microphones continued to record and a conversation between Councilmembers George Weiss and Toni Iseman could be heard. 

The two discussed an appeal of a Design Review Board-approved project that was on the agenda later that night for 1007 Gaviota Drive. Weiss called the project “nasty” and “bad” during the exchange, saying he still had questions and would likely vote against the project.

Mike Gray, who owns the property in question, sent the complaint to the FPPC regarding Weiss’ comments.

• • •

A stop-work order was issued to Hotel Laguna on May 5 after city officials sent a letter to the developer owner of the hotel, Mo Honarkar, alleging that unpermitted work was done to the exterior of the property. 

The order was later partially lifted, allowing the remodel of the first-floor restaurant, lobby, bar and kitchen areas to be completed.

Work on the hotel hit another speed bump May 12 when the California Coastal Commission unanimously agreed with the recommendation from CCC staff (based on an appeal submitted by local residents) that the project raises a “substantial issue” regarding conformance with the Local Coastal Program based on potential inconsistencies with the LCP and the California Coastal Act. It forced a portion of work on the project to pause until a permit hearing can be held.

• • •

At the City Council meeting on May 18, during council and staff reports, City Manager John Pietig introduced the “acting police chief” Jeff Calvert during a presentation.

At the time, police officials and Calvert himself referred inquiries from Stu News Laguna to the city manager’s office. Officials noted that Chief Robert Thompson was still an employee of the city but was out of the office and that Calvert was the acting police chief. Further questions regarding the change in leadership went unanswered.

In a May 21 press release, the city announced that Thompson resigned and that Calvert will work as interim police chief, effectively immediately. The position was later made permanent

Thompson, who had only worked for LBPD since January, was later reinstated as the police chief for the City of Dixon.

June

On June 4, Laguna Beach High and Thurston Middle school officials shared near identical messages about schedules for 2021-22, both providing tentative examples that stuck close to a more traditional program.

The announcement comes on the heels of a parent and student protest on May 21 against the suggested “4x4” calendar, which the school district listed during a presentation as an option they were considering. The 4x4 model would have students enrolled and fully completing four different courses each semester, rather than completing six courses (seven with an early “zero period”) over the entire school year. 

Both examples in the June 4 message displayed six periods with a zero-period option.

Revisiting June 1

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Courtesy of City of Laguna Beach

Corp Fillers and K-9 Ranger, officers from local K-9 training group and LBPD personnel 

On June 9, officers from a local K-9 training group joined Laguna Beach Police Department personnel and Ranger’s handler Corp Zachary Fillers in paying tribute to K-9 Ranger, who started with the department in January 2015. 

K-9 Ranger was recently diagnosed with cancer, and over the last few months, Corp Fillers worked tirelessly with veterinarians to try and treat the disease. Unfortunately, K-9 Ranger’s health rapidly deteriorated to the point where he was in pain and no longer comfortable.

More than 50 residents and city employees came together wearing yellow on June 15 at city hall to formally recognize the city’s re-emergence from COVID-19 restrictions and celebrate their post-pandemic lives.

Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf and longtime resident Denny Freidenrich welcomed friends and neighbors, many of whom hadn’t seen each other in the last 16 months, for a community photograph. 

A fire broke out on the 73 Freeway on June 15 and Orange County utilized a new firefighting helitanker.

The Boeing chinook CH-47 helitanker was put into action after several small fires were sparked along the freeway and closed traffic from Newport Coast Drive to El Toro Road. 

About 100 firefighters, including air support from the CH-47, limited the burn to just eight acres.

The helicopter has a carry capacity of 3,000 gallons and the ability to fly at night.

Revisiting June 2

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

The city has entered into escrow to acquire the property at 31727 Coast Highway, most recently occupied by Italian restaurant Ti Amo by il Barone 

City Council decided to move forward with acquiring property in South Laguna for future civic uses, including as a replacement for the neighborhood’s local fire station. 

In a split 3-2 vote on June 15, council authorized the city manager to enter into an agreement with Rincon Consultants Inc. in the amount of $89,199 to provide consulting services for the preparation of an initial study for the acquisition of 31727 Coast Highway and for a possible Mitigated Negative Declaration, if determined to be appropriate. Council members Toni Iseman and George Weiss dissented. 

The city entered into escrow to acquire the property at 31727 Coast Highway, most recently occupied by Italian restaurant Ti Amo by il Barone. The city offered $2.7 million.

Editor’s Note: This is PART 1 in a two-part series. PART 2 will appear in the Tuesday, Dec. 28 issue of Stu News.

~~~~~~~~

Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Laguna.


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Political action groups begin putting ducks in a row as the 2022 election year awaits

Fair Game Toms new headshotThe different factions of Laguna Beach politics began rolling out 2022 efforts this week.

First up was Laguna Forward, a non-profit PAC whose mission is “to see our community grow and prosper while honoring Laguna’s rich history of responsible growth.”

Wednesday evening, the group kicked off their 2022 monthly meeting calendar with a Zoom presentation from recently elected Mayor Sue Kempf. Kempf comfortably talked her way through a number of different issues facing the community, from parking to The Promenade, homelessness, county beaches, business climate, the revamping of Riddle Field, and much more.

Sue’s calm demeanor and knowledge of the town certainly confirmed that Laguna Beach remains in good hands following the comfortable leadership change from former Mayor Bob Whalen to her.

Kempf also answered a number of questions and voiced her interest in hearing from the residents moving forward with their concerns.

Sally Anne Sheridan, who oversees Laguna Forward, announced that moving forward the organization would feature speakers at all upcoming meetings, beginning with Police Chief Jeff Calvert in February, City Manager Shohreh Dupuis in March and Community Development Director Marc Weiner in April.

Laguna Forward is a membership organization that you can find out more about at www.lagunaforward.com.

• • •

And, not to be confused, there’s another PAC in town called Village Laguna. Their mission states their desire “to preserve, enhance and celebrate the unique village character and cultural heritage of Laguna Beach; to foster community spirit and address social needs; and to work toward restoring and protecting our ocean and coastal habitats.”

Village Laguna is the effort behind the Initiative that they would argue brings about responsible growth.

Village Laguna has announced its Zoom general meeting scheduled for this Monday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. The discussion will be aimed at affordable housing challenges in Laguna Beach brought on by the State of California.

Alex Rounaghi and Laura Sauers, co-chairs of the Housing and Human Services committee, will present a summary of the programs and actions the committee, staff and consultants have proposed, time permitting followed by a Q&A.

All are encouraged to attend, responding to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the Zoom log-in info.

Village Laguna was founded in 1971 as a non-profit mutual-benefit community organization by concerned citizens opposed to the construction of high-rise buildings along the Laguna Beach coastline.

For more information about Village Laguna, visit www.villagelaguna.org.

• • •

Newport Beach City Councilperson and former Mayor Diane Dixon recently announced a run for the 72nd Assembly District. Earlier this week, Dixon received the endorsement of the Republican Party of Orange County.

One other candidate, Scott Voights a city councilperson and former mayor of Lake Forest, has also announced.

I should say, that was until the middle of this week when Stu News confirmed that Laguna Beach’s own Judie Mancuso has decided to take a run at the Democrat side of the aisle. Mancuso is the founder, CEO and president of Social Compassion in Legislation, where she has spearheaded a number of issues particularly where they negatively impact animals, including 18 that have been signed into state law in California.

Let’s put it this way, if animals could vote, Judie would win convincingly because of that longtime advocacy on their behalf.

Judie is also a multi-time candidate for Laguna Beach City Council.

This week she is in the very early stage of organizing her campaign. More to come as it becomes available.

The newly drawn Assembly District includes the cities of Aliso Viejo, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest, Newport Beach and Seal Beach.

• • •

After some recent controversy was voiced by concerned parents regarding student safety, Thurston Middle School is participating in the 2022 Great Kindness Challenge, presented by Kids for Peace. Schools around the globe are participating to promote a culture of kindness.

“Each school is given a checklist with various acts of kindness as tasks to complete throughout the week. The challenge is to participate in as many kind acts as you can, which range from helping someone with a task to hugging a friend or just being nice to yourself,” said the Thurston media release. 

While this challenge promotes positivity and encourages kindness to strengthen school culture and community, it also is a reminder to students that their individual acts of kindness contribute to changing the world for the better.

Thurston Middle School will be promoting Kindness Week activities during lunch time, by each day highlighting a different activity, including Kindness Grams, Kindness Photobooth, Coloring for Kindness, The Great Wall of Kindness, and on the last day of the week, they will encourage students to sit with someone new. 

Alongside the activities, students can also participate in the spirit week, where they can dress up based on the theme of each day, such as wearing bright colors for “Kindness is Colorful” day or wearing sports gear to “Team Up for Kindness.” The hope of these various activities is to get everyone involved and in the spirit of the week’s theme.

• • •

 This straight from the Pageant of the Masters Valentine’s Day press release this week: “Let Cupid’s arrow strike your heART this Valentine’s Day! Pageant of the Masters, the nation’s most iconic presentation of living pictures, is spreading the love with new releases of its witty, art themed, virtual e-cards. Offering eight different options of iconic artworks and “punny” notes to choose from, the experts of all thing’s art have once again made it easy to celebrate love digitally (and artistically) this year.

To send a Pageant of the Masters Valentine’s Day e-card today, visit www.jotform.com/festivalpageant/valentines.

• • •

Laguna Beach jewelry designer Adam Neeley won top honors at the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) annual Spectrum Awards. Neeley was recognized also for Best in Show.

Now, AGTA will prepare for a special exhibition and awards gala celebrating their very finest of modern gemstones and design in Tucson, AZ, February 1-6.


Fair Game

By TOM JOHNSON

Officer killed in Saturday’s police copter crash in Newport Beach had Laguna Beach ties

Fair Game Toms new headshotThis past Saturday evening started out like many others. A group of family and friends were gathered at the house to simply enjoy each other’s company and catch up. Suddenly, at 6:43 p.m., my phone lit up, with the first call coming in from a friend of mine who was out on the Balboa Peninsula. His accompanying text said that he had just “witnessed a helicopter lose control and hit the water in Newport Beach.” He further expressed that he was shaken.

Other calls followed!

I immediately contacted my connections within the Newport Beach Police Department and had a “police helicopter” confirmed as going down, with a “rescue attempt currently in progress.”

It was terrible news. Still, more calls came in, and more texts. Some were questions and some were from eyewitnesses in the area.

As the night wore on, we sadly found out that a Huntington Beach Police helicopter, HB1, was in the water upside-down between the Lido and Balboa peninsulas. Divers had arrived on the scene and joined many boaters already in the area attempting a rescue.

Both officers on board were eventually located and rushed to a nearby trauma center. Unfortunately, one of the officers was shortly thereafter pronounced dead, with the other reported in stable condition.

Deceased was Huntington Beach Police Officer Nicholas Vella, a 14-year veteran of the department. He leaves behind a wife and teenaged daughter.

The death hit home here in Laguna Beach, as expressed in the following Facebook message posted by Laguna Beach Police Chief Jeff Calvert:

“It is with tremendous sorrow to learn about Officer Nick Vella’s passing last night following the helicopter crash in Newport Beach. Nick started as a civilian Beach Patrol Officer with the Laguna Beach Police Department, and after attending the police academy, became a full-time police officer in December 2003.

“He was an exceptional officer and had a larger-than-life smile.

“I was one of Nick’s Field Training Officers back in 2004 and had the pleasure of releasing him on his own as a solo officer. A quote from my last evaluation, ‘Nick is a team player and will be an asset to our organization. I look forward to working with him and assisting him with his career goals.’

“After four years, he left the Laguna Beach Police Department and joined the Huntington Beach Police Department to pursue his dream of becoming a helicopter pilot.

“He was loved by our PD team and the Laguna Beach community and will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the Huntington Beach Police Department.”

A memorial has been building since Sunday morning with flowers and remembrances in Vella’s honor draping a Huntington Beach Police cruiser, outside their headquarters.

Other efforts, including some fundraising opportunities to support the family are in the works. (Unfortunately, some people try and take advantage of situations such as these and set up fake accounts, so please beware.)

In the meantime, the second officer, a 16-year veteran, who has not been identified, was released from the hospital Sunday morning and is expected to recover. 

The helicopter, which is contracted to also serve the cities of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, was headed to a disturbance call in the vicinity of 18th St. and Balboa Blvd., before reportedly plunging into the water nose first shortly after flying over the end of Lido Isle.

The National Transportation Safety Board will determine the cause of the accident and is expected to release preliminary finds within the next 10 days or so. Preliminary reports say the pilots “made a call indicating mechanical problems, followed by a second call saying the helicopter was going down.”

It’s a sad day and time for all of our first responders, and perhaps a reminder to continually keep them in our prayers and good thoughts.

• • •

Here in town, in discussions following the Emerald Fire, City Manager Shohreh Dupuis credited team members at City Hall and Councilmembers for their “coordinated response,” specifically recognizing Councilmember Toni Iseman, who was the first to alert (Shohreh) of the fire. She also recognized Fire Battalion Chief Crissy Teichman for her “quick arrival” to the scene and Mayor Sue Kempf who helped open the Emergency Operations Center.

Police Chief Calvert noted that while only two dispatchers were working at the time the fire broke out, they still were able to assist in having officers on scene within five minutes, despite their switchboard being overwhelmed with phone calls.

Additionally, Councilmember Iseman commented that as a result of “emotional effects of the Emerald Fire,” Woods Cove residents are ready to have their utilities undergrounded and urged prioritization considering fire dangers and frequent power outages. 

• • •

Perhaps the agenda item grabbing most of the attention on last week’s City Council agenda was the determination of the Council’s options for the Laguna Residents First Ballot Initiative petition.

The item, moved by Mayor Pro Tem Bob Whalen and seconded by Councilmember Peter Blake, carried unanimously 5/0 to 1) “receive and file the certification of the ballot measure from the Orange County Registrar of Voters;” and 2) to submit “the measure, without alteration, to the voters at the November 2022 general municipal election and direct staff to prepare the appropriate Resolutions for consideration and action at a subsequent meeting.”

Council also adopted the ordinance accepting the California Coastal Commission’s revisions to the City’s Downtown Specific Plan.

Next, Council also adopted the Coastal Commission’s changes for The Coast Inn project. It was moved by Councilmember Weiss, seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Whalen and approved 5/0.

A similar request for the Red Dragon project has been pushed back to April 26, at the applicant’s request to continue.

• • •

Just a reminder, the State of the City, held in conjunction by the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce and the City of Laguna Beach, is on the calendar for Tuesday, March 1, at the Montage Laguna Beach.

Two keynote speakers highlight the event, Mayor Sue Kempf and Chamber Board Chair J.J. Ballesteros.

Make reservations to attend on the Chamber site at www.lagunabeachchamber.org.

• • •

Another request for players to participate in this season’s 70th annual celebration season of Laguna Beach Little League. Opening Day is Friday, March 4 at 5 p.m. at the newly revamped Riddle Field.

You’ll love what they’ve done!

One of the evening’s highlights will be a parade of players around the field. In fact, everyone who has a current or past uniform is encouraged to show it off. And, for those walking in the parage, you’ll receive a flag to wave.

Fair Game SNL green pennants 2.22

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Courtesy of LBLL

Also, a Ruby’s food truck will be onsite, as will offerings of Gelato Paradiso and Jedidiah Coffee, along with cool new swag in the form of T-shirts and sweatshirts. Then, of course, the Riddle Field rededication and an exhibition game between Laguna Beach Rotary and members of the VFW.

It’ll be a great night, but first get those kids registered at www.beachbaseball.com or @lagunabeachlittleleague.


COVID-19 Update: Governor closes OC beaches

By BARBARA DIAMOND

Two days after Laguna Beach officials approved a cautious reopening of city beaches, Governor Newsom ordered all Orange County beaches closed.

Newsom announced his decision at a press conference on Thursday. He said media coverage of the hordes that swarmed the county beaches over the past weekend and ignored health experts’ advice to stay at home or at least maintain social distance recommendations prompted his decision. 

“The city beaches in Laguna Beach are already closed and scheduled to be closed until May 4,” City Manager John Pietig stated in a release issued Thursday after Newsom’s press conference. “Based on the governor’s order today, I expect the county beaches in the southern part of the city will also be closed this weekend. 

“Laguna Beach will send its plan, which was approved by the City Council on Tuesday, to reopen the beaches on weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. for active use only and in compliance with social distancing mandates, to the governor’s office for approval. The city will not reopen beaches until its plan is approved by the governors’ office.” 

COVID 19 update fences

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

City’s limited reopening of beaches on May 4 must be approved by Governor Newsom

Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner on Wednesday said the governor had the authority to close the beaches, but it was “not a wise idea.” 

Governor Newsom did not include other counties in his order.

“It should be acknowledged, San Diego and L.A. and others have done an outstanding job, and we want to just focus on where there’s a problem,” Newsom said on Thursday.

The city of San Diego reopened its beaches Monday to active users ranging from swimmers to walkers, while Los Angeles beaches remain closed.

South Laguna residents reported a calamitous situation over the weekend in their neighborhoods as well as on the county-owned beaches in their area, despite attempts to limit beachgoers by closing the parking lots. 

Newport beaches were also in heavy use over the weekend, but the City Council decided on Tuesday to keep the beaches open, a decision negated by the governor’s order.

Laguna Beach residents weighed in on the city’s plan for a limited reopening of the beaches, pro and con. 

“Old people should stay home – they are vulnerable,” said Mark Dunning by phone to Laguna’s City Council. “Those who are not vulnerable should be let out.”

A North Laguna woman asked that Crescent Bay residents be allowed to go to their beach. She supported opening other beaches until noon for active use.

COVID 19 update south laguna

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

 South Laguna last weekend

However, South Laguna resident Diane Armitage said she was frightened last weekend by the crowds. 

“Kids were coming in from everywhere,” said Armitage. “They were cocky and drinking openly in cars – swearing and gunning up and down the street. It felt like a war zone.” 

Another woman suggested the problem in South Laguna was exacerbated by the closure of the rest of Laguna’s beaches. 

There were also questions raised about the city control over South Laguna beaches – which is to say none. When asked by Mayor Bob Whalen to close county beaches within Laguna’s city limits, the vote was 4-1, with only Fifth District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett siding with the city.

In other actions affected by the COVID-19 epidemic, the council voted to hold a proposed increase in sewer user fees to 5 percent in fiscal year 2020-21, rather than the 10 percent previously approved. The vote was unanimous, but Councilman Peter Blake said during council comments on the item that as a small downtown business owner, he would be willing to pay the 10 percent increase. 

The council also voted 5-0 to direct staff to work with local nonprofits to investigate and implement Restaurant Delivery: Home Meals for Seniors, a new state program to provide meals to eligible seniors during the COVID-19 “Stay-At-Home” order as soon as possible. The council appropriated $5,000 from the General Fund Reserve to cover the portion of the costs not covered by state or federal funds.


COVID-19: 2,452 new cases and 1 new death reported in OC, 10 new cases in Laguna Beach

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 1,847 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including one new death reported today (December 29). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 2,452 new cases of COVID-19 today, marking a seven-day surge of 21,645 new cases and 152,059 cumulative cases to date. 

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 8.9 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 42 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 2,106 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (+75 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 473 are in ICU (+20 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 493 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including 10 new cases reported today and 56 new cases reported since last Tuesday’s report.

Anaheim experienced an increase of 390 new cases today; Santa Ana experienced an increase of 201 new cases today.

The county estimates 84,716 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna. 

*From OC Health Care Agency: Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

COVID 19 County 12 29 20 1

COVID 19 County 12 29 20 2

COVID 19 County 12 29 20 3

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data as of December 29, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 1,330 new cases and 66 new deaths reported in OC, 8 new cases in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,704 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 66 new deaths reported yesterday (January 25). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 1,330 new cases of COVID-19 in OC yesterday. There have been 224,618 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 9.2 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 38 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,703 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-29 since Sunday’s report – includes ICU); 447 are in ICU (-20 since Sunday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 705 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including eight new cases reported yesterday and563 new cases reported since last Sunday’s report.

The county estimates 158,291 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

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Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 25, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


COVID-19: 1,365 new cases and 64 new deaths reported in OC, 1 new case in Laguna Beach 

Sadly, OC Health Care Agency reports that 2,768 people have died due to COVID-19 in Orange County, including 64 new deaths reported today (January 26). There have been “less than five deaths” of Laguna Beach residents to date.

The county reported 1,365 new cases of COVID-19 in OC today. There have been 225,983 cumulative cases to date.

ICU capacity remains very low and hospitalization numbers very high. The percentage of adult ICU beds currently available in OC is 10.2 percent unadjusted and 0 percent adjusted.* 38 percent of ventilators are currently available countywide.

The county reports that 1,677 individuals are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 (-26 since yesterday’s report – includes ICU); 437 are in ICU (-10 since yesterday’s report).

The county reports that there have been 706 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Laguna Beach to date, including one new case reported today and 46 new cases reported since last Tuesday’s report.

The county estimates 163,200 “recovered cases” according to its data criteria.

For questions about the data presented by the county, call (714) 834-2000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the data dashboard, click here.

COVID-19 numbers are updated daily by Stu News Laguna and reported on our social media pages @StuNewsLaguna.

*Adjusted ICU capacity takes into account the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU (the higher the percentage of COVID-19 positive patients in the ICU, the more the adjustment).

COVID 19 County 1 26 21 1

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Click on photos for larger images

Courtesy of OC Health Care Agency

Orange County COVID-19 case data posted on January 26, as reported by the county; click here to visit page that is updated daily


Barbara’s Column

Crazy about art 

By BARBARA DIAMOND

LOCA raised $11,000 in the local art organization’s first-ever online auction held last weekend.

“For the Love of Art” was the suggestion of LOCA board member Vinita Voogd (pronounced Vogue like the magazine), based on the successful Laguna Plein Air Painters Association online auction, under the direction of her good friend Rosemary Swimm

“When our annual Birthday Bash was canceled because of COVID-19, I told our board that I would be happy to organize an auction,” said Voogd.

The Birthday Bash raises the most money for LOCA, other than grants, and funds the art education programs provided by the group.

“I said the online auction would get our name out there and let LOCA members know we are still here, and we’ll see how it goes,” said Voogd. 

It went so well she will recommend the online auction become an annual event, along with post-COVID Birthday Bash. 

Crazy about red mask

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Photo by Mike Tauber

Rich Fair and Vinita Voogd getting ready for auction

“We had 62 pieces of art in the auction donated by more than 50 artists –some of them donated more than one piece,” said Voogd. 

Auction items included original paintings, one-of-a-kind textiles, jewelry, ceramics, and photography.

The highest valued art was donated by Sandra Jones Campbell, and it brought the highest bid: $1,300.

“A woman bought it as a Valentine’s gift for her husband,” said Voogd.

Voogd was assisted on the auction committee by LOCA board members Cindy Fletcher, Valerie Gorrell, Birthday Bash Chair Linda Velasco, and Rich Fair, also contributors of artwork for the auction.

Fair said he was put in charge of implementing Voogd’s concept. He named the event, created the logo, and built the website, with the assistance of his son, Caine

The auction was announced on Instagram and Facebook and received more than 50,000 impressions, Fair said. 

Crazy about Sandra

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Photo by Mike Tauber

LOCA auction: Kate Cohen, LOCA instructor, on left and Sandra Jones Campbell

Proceeds will be divided equally between the artists and LOCA, to be used to fund its goals.

LOCA has been raising money for almost 30 years to pair artists with art students and art lovers.

Mada Leach and the late Anne England founded Laguna Outreach of Community Artists in 1992 in response to cuts in art education in local schools.

(The unwieldy name, eventually dropped, was selected for the acronym LOCA – which translates from Mexican Spanish as crazy, which pretty much defines the group’s feeling about art.) 

England, who died in 2018, and Leach wanted to ensure quality arts education programs in Laguna Beach Schools and fair compensation for participating artists for their time and expertise.

Crazy about Obermeyer

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Photo by Mike Tauber

“Divers Cove” by Michael Obermeyer 

Leach is a member of the LOCA Emeritus Board, along with Betty Haight, Pat Whiteside-Phillips, and Kathy Jones

An honorary member of the board, Leach also serves on the staff as Education Coordinator. Sherry Bullard has the same titles. K.C. Mechling manages the office and Mike Tauber is in charge of marketing. 

Bullard, Leach, and Tauber all had pieces in the auction.